Another Hearthstone expansion is on the horizon, called Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. That means it's time to review the new batch of cards leading up to its release in early December. We're kicking off with a large review of every card revealed last weekend at BlizzCon, and we'll update with a new set of card reviews every Friday.
One important note to keep in mind for Mean Streets cards is that new "Faction" cards are being introduced. These multi-class cards are marked with a small banner under the Mana cost token, which signifies they can be used by one of three classes:
- Grimy Goons: Hunter, Paladin, Warrior (Symbol: Crossed Clubs)
- Kabal: Mage, Priest, Warlock (Symbol: Round Potion Bottle)
- Jade Lotus: Druid, Rogue, Shaman (Symbol: Blossoming Flower)
(5) Alley Armorsmith (2/7)
Taunt. Whenever this minion deals damage, gain that much Armor.
This Warrior card is awful for Control vs Control matches where your opponent is likely to take it down in one or two relatively easy shots. In those cases, you'll only get a piddling 4 Armor, their minions will still be alive. As a class-specific solution to guard against aggressive decks, though, it's perfect. It may take them 4-5 small minions to take it down, which would take out most of those smaller minions and gain you 8-10 armor in the process. Warrior doesn't traditionally struggle with aggressive decks due to its armor ability, but this gives it a crowd control option attached to a minion.
(3) Auctionmaster Beardo (3/4)
After you cast a spell, refresh your Hero Power.
This card is very much like some that we saw in The Grand Tournament expansion, when Inspire effects led to designs that allowed you to use a hero power multiple times per turn. Auctionmaster Beardo has decent stats for the cost, and as long as you keep it on the board you could come up with powerful combinations of spells and hero powers. But it's unlikely to stay on the board for long, and Inspire didn't go far as a mechanic in general. At best you could keep in on the board and be able to combine a 0-cost spell with two Hero Power triggers the next turn, and it's hard to envision a situation that would make that play necessary.
(6) Big-Time Racketeer (1/1)
Battlecry: Summon a 6/6 Ogre.
This card provides 7/7 in stats across two bodies, which make it strictly better than the classic Boulderfist Ogre. It's not likely to replace any of the stronger 6-drops currently in the game, but as a Common card it makes a nice beefy minion for beginner players and a great Arena pick. One drawback, of course, is that it's a 1/1 for 6 mana, which you'll have to keep in mind anytime you use a card that summons or transforms a random 6-drop.
(0) Counterfeit Coin
Spell: Gain 1 Mana Crystal this turn only.
The Coin began as a bonus to mitigate the disadvantage of going second in a match, but it's slowly shifted to a major advantage for Rogues, and Blizzard has leaned into it with cards that give out coins as Deathrattle or attack effects. The Counterfeit Coin lets a Rogue guarantee they'll have a coin to play, at the cost of a limited card position. As a result, Counterfeit Coin isn't likely to be a two-of, but spell-heavy Rogues that rely on Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Combo-based effects will find some good use for it.
(6) Dragonfire Potion
Spell: Deal 5 damage to all minions except Dragons.
This can be reasonably compared to Lightbomb, which was cycled out of Standard upon the new season, but it's a removal spell that's very targeted towards Dragon Priest players for obvious reasons. That said, if you are running a Dragon-based Priest deck, this is a must-have. It's usually a board clear, and if you only have dragons on the board, it only wipes out your opponent's side. Or, you can wipe out your own if the situation is desperate enough.
(5) Drakonid Operative (5/6)
Battlecry: If you're holding a Dragon, Discover a card in your opponent's deck.
This card is incredibly powerful, and paired with Dragonfire Potion, it stands a good chance of making Priest the premiere class for dragon lovers. A holding effect is usually limited, but this is a mid-range card, which gives you a decent chance to have drawn one by then. It's also a dragon itself, so it can trigger other holding mechanics. Finally, the Discover effect lets you do a more selective version of Thoughtsteal, giving you an extra card and insight to your opponent's deck in the process. All that and decent vanilla stats make for quite the combination.
(3) Fel Orc Soulfiend (3/7)
At the start of your turn, deal 2 damage to this minion.
Soulfiend very similar to Injured Blademaster, with a few notable exceptions. It only takes effect at the start of your turn, which means that you'll have one defensive turn with it at full stats. It injures itself constantly, so for Priest players who might have good reason to need a constant healing target, that could come in handy. For most other classes, it's not very useful to have a minion with an expiration date. On the other hand, for Priests, this card is often much worse than Injured Blademaster in decks that rely on resurrection effects.
(5) Finja, the Flying Star (2/4)
Stealth. Whenever this attacks and kills a minion, summon 2 Murlocks from your deck.
Finja is a neat design wrapped into a card that isn't very good. For 5 mana, the stats are easily outmatched by just about anything else your opponent might have on the board. It would realistically two two fatal attacks in at most, which does amount to four free Murlocs, at the cost of 3/1 in stats. That also thins out your deck that much faster, so if your opponent can stabilize, you'll lose. That makes it more suited to beating aggressive decks with an even more greedy and aggressive deck, but by turn five you're probably on the losing end of it anyway.
(2) Friendly Bartender (2/3)
At the end of your turn, restore 1 Health to your hero.
This kindly tauren is one of the more interesting anti-aggro cards recently, giving players a new low-cost option to keep from being overwhelmed. Most aggressive decks outright ignore your minions as much as possible and overwhelm you with numbers. Friendly Bartender comes with a small healing effect, which in itself isn't big, but it could be enough to make the difference in death over the course of four or five turns. That forces your opponent to deal with it, which probably means trading a spell or minion into it, which then means that much less damage while you work on stabilizing the match.
(1) Getaway Kodo
Secret: When a friendly minion dies, return it to your hand.
This Secret functions very similarly to Mage's Duplicate, but with half the effect for 1/3 the Mana cost. The lower cost means it could be combined with high-cost cards like Tirion Fordring or Ysera very easily, giving you an insurance policy for some of your best and brightest. But, an effect like this is best paired with Deathrattle, so you can double the effects, and that purpose is arguably already served with the Paladin secret Redemption, so we'll have to see if Getaway Kodo is any better in practice, or better yet, if it can be paired with Redemption for double the value.
(2) Grimestreet Informant (1/1)
(Faction: Grimy Goons) Battlecry: Discover a Hunter, Paladin, or Warrior card.
We've reached the first of the new Faction cards, this one belonging to the Grimy Goons. These Discover effects cross class boundaries, giving you more options. However, here's reason to believe this might not be as great as it may seem. Most of them come with stat trade-offs, which tends to signify the impact of the effect. Discover effects are generally very good, but on a scale, they get better as the pool of cards gets smaller. That's why Discover effects with a card pool like Dragon or class Spells are among the strongest ones. By spreading the Discover effects among three classes, you have a much larger pool and that dilutes the chances of getting the kind of minion or spell you really need in a given moment.
For all those reasons, I'm skeptical of these effects in general, and I hope that the other Faction cards have more to them. As far as these effects go, though, a 2-mana 1/1 is fine, and on-par with some other existing Discover cards.
(2) Grimestreet Outfitter (1/1)
Battlecry: Give all minions in your hand +1/+1.
Paladin gets a strictly better version of the Hunter's Forlorn Stalker. While that minion was restricted to buffing only Deathrattle minions, the Paladin Grimestreet Informant impacts all of your minions entirely. It has poor stats for the cost, but even if it only hits two minions it more than pays for itself. The low cost also makes it a very viable option to combine with card draw, so you can ensure a nearly full-hand gets hit with the effect. That said, it should be used judiciously. Sacrificing that much tempo would be foolhardy against an aggro deck, so make sure to play with minions that are closer to on-curve stats depending on the situation.
(3) Grimestreet Smuggler (1/1)
(Faction: Grimy Goons) Battlecry: Give a random minion in your hand +1/+1.
It's a given that neutral cards are less powerful than similar class cards, and Grimestreet Smuggler fits that to a tee. Grimestreet Outfitter has a much more powerful effect, albeit at the cost of weaker stats. This could be a sign that Blizzard is treating Faction cards like neutral cards, even though they're not fully neutral. Either way, this is a fine effect, but it's competing for a popular spot on the Mana curve, and the effect probably isn't big enough to replace other popular three-drops
(5) Grook Fu Master (3/5)
This card is in a strange place. Its stats are too low to be very good, but even if they were only bumped slightly, it would suddenly become overpowered. This card may be good for Arena, but in constructed it doesn't really have a place. Windfury makes for difficult card balancing, and there's no reason to think Grook Fu Master will escape the no man's land that Grotesque Dragonhawk occupied.
(1) I Know a Guy
Spell: Discover a Taunt minion.
Blizzard's various attempts to introduce a Taunt Warrior have been largely ineffective, and there's no reason to think a Discover spell that eats a card slot would be any different. There is bound to be some experimentation, especially in an effort to find powerful class-based Taunts like Tirion Fordring and Al'Akir the Windlord, but on the whole it's not likely to be consistent enough to justify simply not putting in a Taunt minion of your choosing.
(3) Kabal Courier (2/2)
(Faction: Kabal) Battlecry: Discover a Mage, Priest, or Warlock card.
For all the reasons for skepticism about Grimestreet Informant (above), the same applies here. There is a chance that Kabal effects will play more nicely together, especially in a spell-slinging class like Mage. Plus the stat-line is fairly decent and aligned with what you might expect from a card draw. On the whole this is decent, but doesn't do much to justify or assuage the concerns about faction-based Discover effects.
(3) Kabal Talonpriest (3/4)
Battlecry: Give a friendly minion +3 Health.
This is essentially an inverted Dark Cultist, right down to the Mana cost and stat-line. Whereas the Cultist had a Deathrattle with a random effect, however, Talonpriest lets you choose your target as a Battlecry. That is usually an advantage, since you can guarantee the effect takes place and pick the minion most advantageous for it. The Dark Cultist wasn't totally without merit, though, since its Deathrattle effect could force your opponent to make sub-optimal plays in order to make sure it would be the last of your minions to die.
(4) Kazakus (3/3)
(Faction: Kabal) Battlecry: If your deck contains no duplicates, create a custom spell.
Kazakus is one of the most interesting new cards of the set so far, and it implies big effects for the faction Legendaries. A 4-mana 3/3 is a stat-line shared with other Discover cards that have much smaller effects. That means that for just one extra mana, you're able to craft a custom spell to be usd later in the game, from a wide range of effects. You can even pick the spell cost to determine how big the impact should be. Expect this one to be a must-have for spell-users, even with the more difficult to replicate Reno-Jackson-like effect.
(4) Kooky Chemist (4/4)
Battlecry: Swap the Attack and Health of a minion.
This card is fine, but unexciting. It's essentially the Crazed Alchemist, but with 2/2 more in stats for 2 more Mana. That makes it an utterly vanilla upgrade to an existing card that doesn't see much play. It's possible that could turn around, but not terribly likely without other cards that synergize really well with it.
(10) Kun the Forgotten King (7/7)
Choose One: Gain 10 Armor; or Refresh your Mana Crystals.
This is quite a Legendary. At 10 mana it's the most expensive a minion can be, but the addition of the Old Gods has shown that 10-mana minions are playable in a sufficiently slow deck. The Gain 10 Armor effect is good, but fairly underwhelming compared to the other option, which essentially lets you spend 10 mana all over again. The dream is to pair this with Aviana and then unleashing a flurry of minions all at once, but even without that scenario playing out, it still essentially lets you put down a free 7/7 on the board along with whatever else you want. Yipes.
(5) Lotus Agents (5/3)
(Faction: Jade Lotus) Battlecry: Discover a Druid, rogue, or Shaman card.
The last of the three Faction-based Discover cards has the weakest stats, with a body that makes it brittle and easy for your opponent to trade up. What's worse, Rogue and Shaman cards are often situational, based on synergy with combos or Totems. Druid should provide some decent options, but that's only 1/3 of the choices. This is likely to be the worst of these kinds of cards, so take that critique alongside all of the other concerns about faction discover in general.
(5) Lotus Assassin (5/5)
Stealth. Whenever this attacks and kills a minion, gain Stealth.
This is a strong card with some really cool Rogue flavor. It's a beefy mid-range body that can emerge from the shadows, strike for a kill, and then slip right back into the darkness to strike again. Paired with some basic healing like Earthen Ring Farseer, Rogues can get a lot of use out of such a cleverly designed minion.
(5) Lunar Visions
Draw 2 cards. Minions drawn cost (2) less.
A card-draw spell that's arguably better than Nourish, which already sees plenty of play in Druid decks, Lunar Visions could pan out in a number of different ways. If you draw two spells, you're sad because you just spent a full 5 mana for two cards and no cost reduction. As long as you have at least a 50/50 split of minions to spells, you'll draw one card, and it's equivalent to a perfectly reasonable 3-mana draw-2. The dream, of course, is to draw two minions, both of which would get reductions, and at that point Lunar Visions is absolutely fantastic. So as long as you're packing a reasonable number of minions in your deck, you have a chance to make this good at least, and great at best. Paired with the Kun legendary, you can use his 10 mana bonus to play a bunch of minions at once.
(3) Manic Soulcaster (3/4)
Battlecry: Choose a friendly minion. Shuffle a copy into your deck.
Mage's reliance on spells tends to mean they burn through removal and need more cards to compete with a minion-heavy deck. That has brought about lots of Mage cards that let you essentially run decks that are larger than 30 cards, through Discover mechanics or shufling other cards into your deck. Manic Soulcaster is built for these kinds of greedy, long-game Mages, built from the same philosophy that currently has Prince Malchezaar running in a popular Mage deck. Paired with Reno Jackson–at least until he cycles out of rotation–you could last quite a while in a control match-up.
(1) Mark of the Lotus
Spell: Give your minions +1/+1.
Token Druid is one of the longest class types in Hearthstone, and with a card like Mark of the Lotus entering rotation, that isn't going to change anytime soon. Power of the Wild fulfills the same purpose for double the cost, albeit with the option of summoning a Panther instead. That makes it more versatile, but for Druids who only use the buffing option, Mark of the Lotus is an obvious substitution. It still both summons and buffs apprentice tokens from Violet Teacher, but you can do it twice for the same cost.
(1) Meanstreet Marshal (1/2)
Deathrattle: If this minion has 2 or more Attack, draw a card.
Paladin is getting an interesting card design that may be tricky to pull off effectively. A 1-mana 1/2 is pretty bad by itself, but adding a card draw makes it pretty good on the whole. It's a situational Deathrattle that forces you to buff your Marshal to get the best results. That may encourage you to buff with spells, or even just use an Abusive Sergeant to have it run into a higher-cost enemy. On the whole the Paladin cards seem primed at buffing up smaller minions, and Meanstreet Marshal is one of the more subtle examples.
(1) Mistress of Mixtures (2/2)
Deathrattle: Restore 4 Health to both players.
Those concerned about feature creep with Enchanted Raven can rest easy knowing a 1-mana 2/2 is available as a Neutral card, albeit with a significant effect. This card is very elegantly designed. By applying the healing effect to both players and sticking it on a low-cost, relatively brittle body, it works perfectly in control decks that need to stall for better healer options against aggressive decks. It's low cost, and a relatively brittle body, which means that aggro decks can't really avoid it triggering the effect. And since it hits both players, even Priests won't be able to use it like a smart-bomb as they did with Zombie Chow.
(1) Patches the Pirate (1/1)
Charge. After you play a Pirate, summon this minion from your deck.
Patches is basically a one-time value-add for any Pirate in your deck. It can only be used once per game, but you can make any pirate come alongside a small charge minion, and that could be valuable. The downside is that it takes up a card slot, and you don't want to draw it before you can summon it from another pirate. More often than not, though, you'll be able to mulligan it out and summon it. The best combination is likely with Southsea Captain, which will instantly make it a 2/2 with Charge.
(3) Pilfered Power
Spell: Gain an empty Mana Crystal for each friendly minion.
This card appears to have a strong effect, but in practice it may not work out as well as it seems. Wild Growth gives you one mana crystal for 2 Mana. Since half-crystals don't exist, let's scale that to at least two crystals for the three Mana here. That means you need to have two friendly minions on board–easy enough–and then essentially pass on turn three. That's the ideal scenario, and it still only puts you ahead by two crystals, during which your opponent doesn't pass a turn and has a greater chance of stalling out your increased Mana ramp.
For maximum effect, you'd want this to be a big swing, such as with a Token Druid. But those minions are hard to keep on the board and don't really stack up until turn 5 or 6, when you're close enough that the Mana bump isn't as much of a help anyway.
(1) Pint-Size Potion
Give all enemy minions -3 Attack this turn only.
In a Priest match-up of minions vs minions, this is a huge advantage. You can basically render them almost useless and take them out at your leisure, Or, you could combine it with a card like Shadow Madness, Potion of Madness, Confuse, or Cabal Shadow Priest to permanently trade up, permanently hobble, or even take control of them. All of those options at only 1 mana is definitely not pint-sized.
(5) Piranha Launcher
Weapon. After your hero attacks, summon a 1/1 Piranha.
This weapon isn't great on its own, but it may find some use in a beast synergy deck. At a 5-Mana 2/4, it's a pretty slow weapon, so most of the benefit comes from its effect of summoning several Piranhas. You can only do that once per turn, but if you combine it with other cards that buff Beasts or take effect when you have a Beast on the board, it may be worthwhile in longer games. That will require Control Hunter to take hold, which hasn't historically happened.
(1) Potion of Madness
Spell: Gain control of an enemy with 2 or less Attack until end of turn.
This card is a lower-scale version of Shadow Madness, applying to 2-Attack or less rather than 3-Attack. That's a pretty tiny change, to the point that the 3-Mana cost difference between the two is absurd. If anything, Potion of Madness makes a strong case for why Shadow Madness should be revised to cost less, likely at 3 Mana. It's an easy way to combine with other spells and trade your opponent's own minion into itself.
(5) Second-Rate Bruiser (4/5)
Taunt. Costs (2) less if your opponent has at least three minions.
Why is this only a second-rate Bruiser? He seems pretty first-rate, especially as an answer to aggressive decks. Warlocks and Shaman tend to fill the screen with weak minions, so getting your Bruiser out for only 3 Mana would be simple, and they'd be forced to trade with it. In a pinch, in longer control games, a 4/5 with Taunt for 5 isn't altogether horrible, so it's even not useless in that case. More than anything this is likely to break the stronghold of aggro Shaman, which tends to count 0-cost Totems among its screen-filling numbers. Those won't do any good against the Bruiser.
(3) Shaku, the Collector (2/3)
Stealth. Whenever this attacks, add a random card to your hand (from your opponent's class).
The Rogue Legendary is oddly underwhelming this time around. We already have lots of options for grabbing an opponent's cards. It's a whole arch-type of Rogue. But Shaku's low stats make it unlikely to last more than one turn after it sheds its Stealth status, which means you'll be lucky to get two uses out of it. A 2/3 that adds one card from your opponent's class isn't all that impressive, and despite its theoretical potential to grab an infinite number of cards, it's much more likely to only get one use most of the time.
(3) Small-Time Recruits
Spell: Draw three 1-Cost minions from your deck.
This is an odd card for Paladin. It fits into the apparent attempt to make an archtype that depends almost entirely on buffing smaller minions, this time by making sure you can find them when you need them. And three Mana for a draw three is fantastic, so as long as you have plenty of 1-Cost cards, you'll definitely get the full use out of it. On the other hand, the strategy of flooding the board with small minions and buffing whatever survives seems fairly aggressive, which doesn't fit with a card that forces you to give up one of your early turns. We're likely to see some experiments with this new arch-type of Paladin Blizzard is trying to develop, and if it works, Small-Time Recruits will be an auto-include, but it's hard to say yet if it will work or not.
(2) Stolen Goods
Spell: Give a random Taunt minion in your hand +3/+3.
Taunt Warrior continues to struggle to find a foothold, and this isn't likely to be the card to help it break into the big time. While 2 Mana for 3/3 in stats is certainly big, and you could pretty easily target it by making sure to only use it when you have one Taunt minion in hand, it's just not a strong enough effect to justify taking up a card slot and organizing your entire deck around Taunt effects. Unless Warrior has some really strong synergy cards still coming, it's a likely bet this latest attempt isn't going to take off.
(2) Trogg Beastrager (3/2)
Battlecry: Give a random Beast in your hand +1/+1.
This card is decent for the cost and can help buff up your Mana curve so that you can get a future turn that's a little above average. Paired with Bran Bronzebeard, it's an even stronger effect. Next to the Paladin's Grimestreet Informant, though, it seems pretty underpowered and dull. It's fine, but not likely to be any kind of game-changer.
(3) Wickerflame Burnbristle (2/2)
Divine Shield. Taunt. Damage dealt by this minion also heals your hero.
At first glance, Wickerflame seems pretty unimpressive. A 3-Mana 2/2 that heals a little. Combined with Divine Shield and Taunt, though, it actually all adds up to a big effect, as long as your opponent doesn't have any easy removal tools like Assassinate. If your opponent tosses two minions at it, that's four health worth of healing. Even if they ping the Divine Shield and attack into it, that's still two health. Plus, you can consider the damage prevented by Divine Shield to be a form of health saved, which means that Burnbristle ends up gaining you anywhere between 2-7 in health easily.
Then consider that the rest of the Paladin expansion cards we've seen have been centered on buffing up small minions, and this is a relatively low-cost one himself. Combined with some buffing spells he could heal for much more, and he even heals when your opponent is attacking into it. If you buff to a 6/6 and your opponent needs to trade several minions into it, it will deal the 6 damage, and therefore restore 6 health, each and every time.
It's a good fit for current control Paladin, as well as the potential for a more buff-centered token Paladin.
(6) Wind-up Burglebot (5/5)
The stats are unimpressive, but a 6-Mana 5/5 isn't unheard of for a minion with a big effect. Think Emperor Thaurissan or Sylvanas Windrunner. So the question is, does Burglebot have what it takes to hang with heavy hitters like that? The answer is: maybe sometimes, but more often than not, no. His card-draw effect only triggers when he both attacks and survives the attack, which means at this stage in the late game he might get one hit. At that point you're drawing one card for one Mana, and that's not a great deal. Worse, he could get no effect at all if your opponent removes him before he can take a turn.
Burglebot would actually be best in a class that can keep him healthy and safe, like Priest. But at that point you may as well simply play Northshire Cleric and draw a card for healing itself, cutting out the middleman Burglebot entirely by removing the attacking requirement from the equation.
Be sure to check out all of our of Card Reviews for Hearthstone's Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, and take a look at our full gallery of all the revealed cards!