Hearthstone's Year of the Kraken: The Big Losers

With Hearthstone set to introduce Standard mode, the meta is about to undergo a seismic shift. Today, Shacknews takes a look at the cards that are left standing and looks at which of those cards took the biggest hit with this change.


Yesterday, Blizzard revealed its big plan for Hearthstone moving forward. While a Wild option will be available as a free-for-all for all of the game's cards, there will also be a new Standard game mode. This is not only meant to be more welcoming to newcomers, but is also meant to shake up the game's competitive element going forward. Competitive tournaments will only be conducted in Standard play, which is bound to mean a seismic shift in Hearthstone's meta.

Steve Watts and I already analyzed the big-time Hearthstone staples that will be missed the most. But what kind of ripple effect will the loss of Goblins vs. Gnomes and Curse of Naxxramas have on other cards that are still playable? Today, Shacknews is breaking down the biggest losers as Blizzard prepares to launch the Year of the Kraken.

Mysterious Challenger

Well, Secret Paladin was bound to take a hit at some point, but no one could have expected this. Mysterious Challenger lost its greatest tool with the removal of Avenge. In the current game, a Mysterious Challenger play would often be followed by opponents running head-on into a Noble Sacrifice, which would not only lead to an Avenge buff on an enemy minion, but still leave the Challenger standing. That was a stinging combination and one that would often demoralize anyone that played against this deck.

That's not to say Secret Paladin is completely unviable now, but not having Avenge does take away a lot of this deck's teeth. Worse yet, the loss of Muster for Battle and Shielded Minibot means using the Challenger to call on Competitive Spirit doesn't seem like such a hot idea anymore.

Gorillabot A-3

Holy cow! Where do we even start here? First of all, forget the idea of the Mech Mage. It's toast, now that about 90 percent of Hearthstone's Mechs are off the board. Now where does that leave Gorillabot A-3? Well, it leaves it about as harmless as a wind-up toy.

Under the old meta, Gorillabot A-3 could keep the Mech train rolling and call forth any number of powerful machines. Under Standard rules, Gorillabot's Discover options are basically down to Harvest Golem, Clockwork Knight, Alarm-o-Bot, Demolisher, and... er... another Gorillabot. That's it. For 4 mana, there are far greater options out there, but the Gorillabot A-3's viability has been reduced to scrap.

Speaking of scrap, while Gazlowe may not have been the best competitive option, his viability is just as deep in the junk pile, especially with the removal of Spare Parts that could trigger his effect.

Cabal Shadow Priest

Cabal Shadow Priest is still a fairly powerful card, especially if the Standard meta leans towards aggro decks, as seems to be the initial indication. But let's not pretend that her best playmate, Shrinkmeister, isn't a devastating loss.

For only 8 mana, Cabal Shadow Priest could be played in conjunction with Shrinkmeister to steal a 3 or 4-attack minion from under an opponent's nose. Those minions could often be game-changers if they were something like a Sludge Belcher, Sunwalker, or even Ysera. Mind Control can still steal a minion, but at 10 mana, it's not as effective and deflating as laying down two minions and stealing an opponent's. Cabal Shadow Priest will still get a lot of play in the new Standard meta, but it won't be quite as powerful as it was before now that Shrinkmeister has been squashed like an ant.

Grim Patron

Hasn't the Patron Warrior suffered enough? As if watching his partner, Warsong Commander, get nerfed to oblivion wasn't enough, the Grim Patron has now lost another two valuable partners. Much to the further chagrin of the Warrior, Grim Patron will no longer be able to rely on Unstable Ghoul or the Death's Bite's Deathrattle effect to call in reinforcements.

There are still a few options for Patron Warriors, like Wild Pyromancer, Whirlwind, and Bouncing Blade. However, those options are rapidly diminishing and Grim Patron is now finding hiimself more handicapped than before. He also won't be able to hide behind Sludge Belcher anymore, since he's off to roam the Wild, as well.

Plus, the removal of Death's Bite is also a huge hit to Grommash Hellscream, since activating his Enrage effect by hitting your opponent's face with the weapon assured a whopping 14 damage. Warrior is going to be in a strange place in Standard.

Reliquary Seeker

This Warlock minion was an unsung hero of zoo decks. A mere 1 mana could potentially call down a 5/5 minion, which is wild for that cheap a cost, especially if you can boost that further with Brann Bronzebeard. That made Reliquary Seeker an ideal companion for zoo players, but they'd have to get six other minions on the board first. One of the biggest helpers on that end, Imp-losion is no longer on the table. Imp-losion was great for filling up the board quickly, especially if there was a spell damage minion already on the board. That means Reliquary Seeker will need to rely on cheap 1-mana drops or hope that some low-cost giants are ready to fill the board.

Reliquary Seeker was already a circumstantial play at best, but Imp-losion at least made this minion an intriguing option. But now the Seeker's viability is pretty much out the window with the switchover to Standard.

Museum Curator

Under the old meta, Museum Curator was an interesting Turn 2 play for Priests. A good Deathrattle minion sounds like a good idea, right? But with the switchover to Standard, a lot of those viable Deathrattle minions are getting taken off the table. The three Deathrattle Mechs (Piloted Shredder, Piloted Sky Golem, Sneed's Old Shredder), Sludge Belcher, Haunted Creeper, Deathlord, Mechanical Yeti, Dark Cultist, and even Nerubian Egg will all be gone under the new meta. That means a lot of good Deathrattle minions won't be available anymore, leaving a precious few options, like Leper Gnome, Harvest Golem, and Huge Toad. These options aren't exactly ideal.

Museum Curator basically has two good reason for staying a part of anyone's deck. Cairne Bloodhoof may not be a Shredder, but he'll certainly do nicely, given what's available. Then there's Sylvanas Windrunner, which could potentially turn the tide of the game. It's a gamble, for sure, so if you do decide to trudge along with Museum Curator, play him along with Brann Bronzebeard to make your odds slightly better.

Blade Flurry

Oh, dear! While not as severely wrecked as the Mech Mage, the Oil Rogue has taken a mortal blow with the switch to Standard. The loss of Tinker's Sharpsword Oil essentially leaves the Oil Rogue rusted and while it doesn't leave Blade Flurry completely useless, it does take a lot of its potency away.

It's still possible to get some use out of Blade Flurry. Deadly Poison is still around, after all. Rogues may even want to take a chance with Poisoned Blade and try sharpening it every turn, though the loss of Antique Healbot makes that option a little less savory. Make no mistake about it, though, Tinker's Sharpsword Oil (and Goblin Auto-Barber, to a lesser extent) was the quickest way to a high-attack weapon. That path is now gone and that's left the Oil Rogue sunk in a tar pit.

Anything in your current deck that stands to take a big hit with the switch to meta? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments. Come back to Shacknews tomorrow when we take a look at the cards that stand to gain the most from the Year of the Kraken.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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