The 12 best new cards from Hearthstone's League of Explorers
The League of Explorers is almost upon us! Just when the meta was beginning to cool after the Warsong Commander nerf and adjust to the decks arising from The Grand Tournament, Blizzard announced this new adventure at Blizzcon. The first wing will be available tomorrow!
Drawing heavily on the adventures and serials of yesteryear for its aesthetics and theme, League of Explorers appropriately introduces a new keyword: Discover.
But I was just getting used to Inspire!
Well, me too! But it was pretty straightforward. Discover, however, is a little more complicated and a lot more interesting for it. It's similar to the Hunter's Tracking spell, in that a card with Discover allow you to choose from one of three card choices.
The key difference is that Discover isn't limited to your deck -- it will present you with a mix of neutral cards and those from your class. So, eat your heart out, Unstable Portal.
To prepare you for the adventure, we’ve got the skinny on some of the set’s best cards, as well as some potential up-and-comers. They're posted below, in no particular order.
Let's try and put aside for a second that this li'l guy is ADORABLE. Murloc Tinyfin borders on disgustingly cute, like a Binding of Isaac character or one of those baby neopets. Look at his widdle sword!!
More seriously, at 0 mana, Murloc Tinyfin makes traditionally fast murloc decks that tiny (don't pardon the pun) bit faster, and is great for playing as part of a combo with cards like Old Murk Eye. It’s also an excellent target for murloc buffs -- but is double-edged in scenarios where you face a Murloc Knight. Speaking of Murloc Knight, this card and another on its list dilute that card’s power a little by providing more and smaller drawing options.
This card is also a great candidate for a friendly Polymorph: Boar from a mage, though that combo is specific enough that it is unlikely to see use in constructed play.
Comparable to Webspinner and Animal Companion, Tomb Spider is an interesting card. Its lackluster stats make it a poor choice early in the game, but like the Gnomish Inventor, I think it finds its niche in the late game when you’re looking to draw and play a card.
Druid, with its synergy with beasts and ability to ramp mana, will be able to find a home for the Tomb Spider, and I expect to see it made use of in quite a few Hunter decks.
Besides Mechmage, there’s very few mech decks present in the meta. Gorillabot A-3 seems set to change that… at the expense of Spider Tank in many decks, in all likelihood. Its ability to Discover a mech -- so long as you have one other on the board -- gives mech decks some much-needed drawing power.
The ability to draw a mech specifically increases the chances of successfully being able to play a Mimiron’s Head and form V-O7-TR-ON, though relying on this as a win condition is likely to lead to tears.
The older sibling to the Ancient Watcher, this card seems destined for handlock decks. Its activation condition is interesting, and encourages your opponent to make sub-optimal plays for fear of triggering it. Playing an Ironbeak Owl and Silencing this minion gives you a total of 9/8 on the board for 6 mana, which is excellent value.
Naga Sea Witch
Play this with The Coin and you can have Ysera on the board as early as turn 5. The Naga Sea Witch is a high risk, high reward card that can give any class ramping potential -- but at a price. Its 5/5 body in conjunction with an ability whose continued presence is likely to lose you the game forces your opponent to make some tough decisions.
If already on the board, it could be used with Elise’s Golden Monkey card to give you a deck of Legendary minions with a uniform mana cost; a combination that’s more interesting than strictly competitive.
Djinni of Zephyrs
This card vies with Brann Bronzebeard for the most explosive card of the set. Priests and paladins will make the best use of it through their ready access to buffing spells. Power Word: Shield in particular has fantastic synergy with this card, as does Velen's Chosen. Blessing of Kings springs to mind as a great choice for paladin; Blessing of Wisdom, Blessing of Might, and Hand of Protection are all low-cost alternatives.
Lower cost cards that can be played on the same turn as the Djinni of Zephyrs are going to most likely be your best bet for utilising this card, as the Djinni's ability makes it a priority target for removal.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
Murloc decks seem to be something that Blizzard wants to see more of. And this gentleman (gentlemrrgg?) adventurer makes a strong case for them, though he stands on his own due to his fantastic Discover ability. Shaman decks, for example, with no need for totems can quickly swap them out for an alternative, and have a slightly better than one-in-three chance of getting exactly what the player is after.
But what sort of shaman deck wouldn’t also want a totem?
Everyfin is Awesome
Murloc Shaman -- that's who, and that's what this card makes competitive. If you’ve got an empty board but a decent hand, two Murloc Tidehunters will reduce this card to 3 mana and place 14 damage on your board for 7 mana. Of course, if you’ve got nothing on the board at that point, a swing like this is unlikely to make a difference.
Everyfin is Awesome has a place in aggressive decks. It would be devastating if put together with the paladin’s Murloc Knight, but is still a respectable card on its own. Cheap murloc cards that focus on buffs will allow this to be played earlier and earlier, giving you enough burst damage to swing the game in your favor.
His ability is making battlecries trigger twice. Twice! Play an Abusive Sergeant to give a minion +4 attack for 1 mana. Recover 16 Health through your Antique Healbot! Restore 4 Health to all friendly characters with Darkscale Healer. As a Warrior, deal 2 damage to a Gurubashi Berserker using Cruel Taskmaster, which will add +4 attack in addition to +6 from Berserker's passive - say hello to a 12/5. Brann and a Murloc Tidehunter will quickly fill a board, and a Coldlight Seer will give all of those murlocs +4 defense.
Given the prevalence of battlecry cards, Brann Bronzebeard alone is a justification for buying League of Explorers, even as a new player. The combinations mentioned above mostly use basic cards, and mostly low mana ones to boot.
The only thing holding this card in check is its poor stats. Like Questing Adventurer or Kvaldir Raider, he can be considered a form of soft taunt, since your opponent will need to shut him down as soon as possible.
Great for control decks, this late-game card can be played much earlier through clever use of the Naga Sea Witch. You can choose from one of three set Artifact cards, each of which cost 10 mana, and each of which suit different situations. Did Rafaam or another minion survive the turn? Give one minion +10/+10 and go on the offensive. Looking for lethal damage? Split 10 damage randomly among enemies. Is your board empty? Fill it with 3/3 Mummy Zombies.
All in all, a strong card with strong options -- even if the minion himself is immediately dealt with by Big Game Hunter and the like.
Keeper of Uldaman
A souped-up Aldor Peacekeeper whose extra mana comes with tonnes of extra utility. Play it on a Silver Hand Recruit early game to essentially add +2/+2, or use it to slow down bulky threats like Ysera late-game. Paladin can be lacking when it comes to single-target removal, and this card is part of the answer. Following on the heels of The Grand Tournament, too, it's a great time in the meta to play paladin.
This isn’t a card that I see being used in competitive play too often, but one that would be great fun to build a control deck around. The unpredictability of the minions it (eventually) replaces your deck with, as well as the ridiculous amount of draw needed to cycle through your deck in a timely manner, means that it’s definitely a niche card.
As above, if there is already a Naga Sea Witch on the board, all of your newfound Legendary minions will cost 5 mana. Whether that's good or game-ending is up to chance, which is part of the fun!
League of Explorers has blown things wide open. Its staggered release means that the next five weeks are going to be a period of massive flux for Hearthstone. Many of the cards presented here are extremely powerful, and, due to their exclusivity, make a strong case for spending money (or grinding gold, for the budget-conscious) to purchase the adventure -- for better or worse!
Like the list? Have more combo ideas for Brann Bronzebeard? Disagree vehemently with some of these entries? Let us know in the comments!