Another Hearthstone expansion is on the horizon, called Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, and we're back with another round of our weekly card reviews leading up to its release in December. Keep in mind this expansion introduces new "Faction" cards, which can be used by any one of three classes. This week was largely focused on the "Grimy Goons" faction, with some neutral cards peppered in for good measure.
- Grimy Goons: Hunter, Paladin, Warrior (Symbol: Crossed Clubs)
- Kabal: Mage, Priest, Warlock (Symbol: Round Potion Bottle)
- Jade Lotus: Druid, Rogue, Shaman (Symbol: Blossoming Flower)
(4) Backroom Bouncer (4/4)
Whenever a friendly minion dies, gain +1 Attack.
This effect makes Backroom Bouncer very similar to the classic card Cult Master, albeit with a much less dramatic effect. It has fine vanilla stats and you could conceivably cook up a scenario in which it grows strong behind Taunts. Realistically, though, you'll probably only get it up to a 7/4 or 8/4 at best, which makes it similar to Ancient Shade. It might find a home in aggressive Warlock decks, as a beefed up Darkshire Councilman, but otherwise, there are better four-drops.
(2) Blowgill Sniper (2/1)
Battlecry: Deal 1 damage.
This slightly beefed up Elven Archer is nothing too exciting. For an extra Mana, you get one extra attack and Murloc synergy. One mana for one stat is a pretty bad deal in Hearthstone math, but the Murloc tribe takes the edge off slightly by allowing you to combine it with other cards. Still, it's very likely to be a niche card and not particularly useful for most decks.
(2) Dirty Rat (2/6)
Taunt. Battlecry: Your opponent summons a random minion from their hand.
This looks to be a card similar to the design space explored by Deathlord, which has been phased out of Standard. It's a taunt minion with big health stats for 2 Mana, but it comes with a significant drawback. However, Dirty Rat's drawback is much worse than Deathlord's, since it's a Battlecry instead of Deathrattle. In the best case scenario, you summon a small minion that combines with what was already on the board to kill your Dirty Rat. In the worst case, you summon something like Tirion Fordring or Savanah Highmane, and you're sad.
(4) Dispatch Kodo (2/4)
Battlecry: Deal damage equal to this minion's attack.
Now this is a cool effect. At default, this deals 2 damage as a Battlecry. That's pretty awful for its stats, but it gets a lot better when you consider how it combines with other Grimy Goons cards. If you buff it just once, it's a 4-Mana 3/5 that deals 3 damage. That's already pretty decent just by one ping. If you buff it up two points with a card like Shaky Zipgunner (below), it becomes a 4-Mana 4/6 with a Battlecry that deals a whopping 4 damage. The possibilities go on and on from there, but the fact that even a single ping makes it a reasonably powerful card speaks volumes.
(7) Don Han'Cho (5/6)
Battlecry: Give a random minion in your hand +5/+5.
The Legendary minion for the Grimy Goons doesn't have an effect quite as unique as the Kabal one we saw with the expansion's debut. In fact, it does the exact same thing as several of the Grimy Goons and class cards. It just does it much, much bigger. While it sacrifices a few stats by itself, buffing a minion by that degree before it even enters the battlefield could be a huge effect. This will be best for long control matches, where sacrificing some short-term stats for long-term benefit can pay off. In those cases, it more than makes up for its deficiency, especially if paired with cards that take advantage of buffed stats like Dispatch Kodo, Dopplegangster, or Rat Pack.
(5) Dopplegangster (2/2)
Battlecry: Summon 2 copies of this minion.
You can think of this somewhat like a new Grim Patron, but with much greater combo potential thanks to the new Grimy Goons cards. 6/6 in stats spread across three bodies is decent but not wonderful for the cost. A single buff would make it 9/9 in stats, the equivalent of three Grim Patrons, without any extra Mana investment. This could quickly get out of hand with additional buffs, or even a Bran Bronzebeard to double the Battlecry effect for five gangsters.
(5) Grimestreet Enforcer (4/4)
At the end of your turn, give all minions in your hand +1/+1.
Another in the series of Paladin cards that buff the minions in your hand, Grimestreet Enforcer is in a strange place. It's on the expensive side, with stats that make it vulnerable even to some three-drops. It's guaranteed to get one hit, but just like Emperor Thaurissan which has a similar end-turn effect, it's going to have a target on its back as soon as it enters the field. Even a single use will be great as long as your hand is full enough, but if not, you'll need to protect it to get two or more uses. Mainly it's just strange because it accents aggressive ramping in the middle of a match.
(3) Grimestreet Pawnbroker (3/3)
Battlecry: Give a random weapon in your hand +1/+1.
Unlike the Enforcer above, Grimestreet's Pawnbroker is already decently stated for its cost, making the effect a bonus. And it is quite a bonus, making your weapon more powerful from the start. While Warrior does have some weapon-enhancing effects like Upgrade and some Pirate synergy, having it powered up from the beginning just adds one more aggressive option. Expect to see a lot of 8/2 Gorehowls.
(7) Grimestreet Protector (6/6)
Taunt. Battlecry: Give adjacent minions Divine Shield.
In an expansion that seems primed to give Paladin a lot more small options centered around buffs, Grimestreet Protector is something of an anomaly. It's a big minion with a big effect: both throwing up a defensive posture and giving a defensive boost to surrounding minions to boot. As such, this is a minion built for control decks, which excel at extending the game until later turns. Grimestreet Protector could easily re-shield a Tirion Fordring or protect an Ysera or Ragnaros Lightlord, making it much tougher for your opponent to break through. The slightly inflated Mana cost is less concerning for long games likely to go to fatigue, but this definitely doesn't fit as neatly into aggressive or mid-range decks.
(4) Grimy Gadgeteer (4/3)
At the end of your turn, give a random minion in your hand +2/+2.
This has a big ongoing effect that you're guaranteed to get one ping out of, which makes it essentially a 6/5 in stats for 4 Mana. That's a good deal on its face, and the high attack means it may be able to trade up if you're lucky. More likely, with three health, it will get taken down by a much smaller minion, perhaps even a 2-Mana 3/2. Usually a 4-Mana minion trading with a 2-Mana one is terrible value, but if you can buff your Frothing Berserker to a 4/6 before it dies, it may just be well worth it.
(3) Hired Gun (4/3)
Every Hearthstone expansion has a few vanilla cards that aren't terribly exciting but fit some combination of stats and abilities that's not currently printed in the game. Hired Gun is a perfect example. A 4/3 Taunt for 3 is fine, and that's all it is.
(5) Knuckles (3/7)
After this attacks a minion, it also hits the enemy hero.
The Hunter Legendary for this expansion boasts decent stats for its cost that usually assure it will stick around for at least one turn, acting a bit like a spin on Windfury. Combined with the Grimy Goons theme of powering up a minion, though, and this monkey can quickly get some absurd levels of value. With a few pings, it could be a 5/9 that damages a minion and hero simultaneously. That will put a big target on its back, but it's such good value that it really should help press mid-range Hunter.
(3) Rat Pack (2/2)
Deathrattle: Summon a number of 1/1 Rats equal to this minion's Attack.
Another Hunter card similar to Dispatch Kodo, Rat Pack gives you a stronger effect based on how much you buffed it while it was in your hand. As a 3-Mana 2/2, its effect essentially gives you 4/4 in stats spread across 3 bodies. That's pretty good value on its own, especially since the left behind rats would (presumably) also be Beasts for the purposes of synergy and activating effects like Kill Command. But, if you buff it once, it becomes a vanilla-stat 3-Mana 3/3 that leaves behind a whopping 3 rats, which is like getting a Snake Trap for free. If you manage to buff it to 4/4, it becomes a pretty incredible value, and on and on.
(3) Shaky Zipgunner (3/3)
Deathrattle: Give a random minion in your hand +2/+2.
Shaky Zipgunner is another buffing type, but with an interesting twist. Rather than a guaranteed turn-ending effect, it triggers as a Deathrattle. This makes it significantly more risky, because you can't always control when the Deathrattle will trigger, and you may not necessarily have a minion in your hand when it does. That was apparently enough uncertainty to double the effect of other hand-buffing cards, and maybe a subtle nudge from Blizzard to play more minions in Hunter decks.
(1) Smuggler's Run
Spell: Give all minions in your hand +1/+1.
This card is odd, at least in the same set that another card with an identical effect is being printed. The Grimestreet Outfitter (reviewed last week) also gives all your minions 1/1, as attached to a minion with a Battlecry. This spell does the same thing, but at half the cost and no minion. This is probably intended to give the player flexibility, similar to the Mage's somewhat redundant Arcane Explosion and Twilight Flamecaller. The minion is arguably the better of the two, despite the increased cost, because it comes with a body and can be combined with Bran to double the effect. More likely, though, if you want to go all-in on a buff-heavy Grimy Goons deck, you'll want to pack both.
(4) Thorium Knuckles (2/3)
Weapon: After your hero attacks, give a randomminion in your hand +1/+1.
This weapon comes with one of the stronger Grimy Goons buff effects, because it lets you control the trigger with much more finesse than most of the ones attached to a minion. The Battlecry effects let you choose when to trigger it, but you have to use a minion to buff your other minions. The Deathrattles sacrifice a lot of control for the trigger, and the end-of-turn effects put a target on the minion's back. Thorium Knuckles lets you get four triggers, and to choose whenever you want to. You can wait until you only have one or two minions to make sure it triggers on the right ones. It's very weak stats for the cost, which makes it limited for aggressive decks, but if you put together a more control-heavy buff deck, this will go far.
(4) Worgen Greaser (6/3)
Sometimes you get the sense that Blizzard is actually running out of stat combinations. This isn't a good one, being overpowered in one way and way too weak in the other. It could potentially trade up in a big way, but it's not very likely since only 3 health is so easily removable.
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!