Hearthstone’s latest expansion, The Grand Tournament, has only been live for about a week now, but there are already some clear winners and losers emerging from all the chaos. This is by no means determinative of where things will be for the rest of the TGT meta, but it’s fun to take a look at things as they are now nonetheless.
The Grand Tournament appears to have lived up to my hopes in one key area: dragons! Dragon decks are a thing right now and they’re incredibly viable on the ladder. I’ve played everything from Dragon Paladin, to Warrior, Mage, and Priest, but there are even more dragon variations out there. Priest, as expected, has the most straightforward and consistent tools to take advantage of the slower dragon cards, including the awesome new card Wymrest Agent, but I’ve really enjoyed playing Dragon Warrior as well. Aside from Wymrest Agent, Twilight Guardian and Chillmaw have been real MVPs in slowing down the game, and Chillmaw in particular is excellent against the dreaded Patron Warrior list.
Paladin ranks at the top of the meta right now in an unexpected turn of events. Many players expected Paladin to be a great home for the inspire mechanic, especially since cards like Justicar Trueheart help you flood the board with dudes, but who would have thought that the Paladin’s notoriously crappy secrets would be key to pushing the class to the top of the ladder. Dubbed “Riddler” Pally, the list takes advantage of the new card Mysterious Challenger, a six mana 6/6 with a battlecry that plays one of each secret in your deck. Building up a board before dropping this guy can completely swing the game in your favor and overwhelm your opponent. Paladin secrets may suck on their own, but creating a Voltron of secrets on turn 6 is nasty enough to warrant quite a few auto-concedes from opponents.
Ironically, the best answer to the Riddler of Hearthstone is its Batman in Rexxar (Hunter) with Flare.
One of the worst classes in Hearthstone appears to have finally been redeemed with The Grand Tournament. “Totem Shaman” is officially a thing and it gives Shaman a great mid-range space to play in. Totem Golem and to a lesser extent, Tuskar Totemic, are great early game plays. Later in the game, Thunderbluff Valiant’s inspire buff can squeeze great value out of your totems.
I honestly don’t know what Blizzard’s deal is when it comes to Rogue. The class has been lost since beta. There have been viable archetypes such as Miracle and Oil, but the fundamentals of the class identity in terms of emphasizing tempo plays has fallen by the wayside for a very, very long time. These weaknesses are often exposed when the staple lists fall out of the meta. Most classes can figure out some way to innovate, but Rogue is always left floundering. To make matters worse, Blizzard never seems to address this. Instead, the class receives cards that don’t fit the archetype or don’t do enough to push whatever new type of decks Blizzard is trying to create.
In TGT, the push for Rogue to be a home for pirates continues, but as usual, it seems to have fallen flat outside of variations on Oil Rogue. Additionally, the class continues to receive slower cards, such as the legendary Anub’arak and Beneath the Grounds. Both of these cards are interesting, but they’re made for a Rogue archetype that really can’t support itself. Rogue players do way too much damage to their face removing cards to make control Rogue work right now. Finally, new combo based cards such as Cutpurse and Shado-Pan Cavalry are either too weak or too hard to get value out of.
The Grand Tournament introduced two new mechanics: Inspire and Joust. Decks designed around Inspire haven’t really cropped up yet, but the mechanic itself has seen some play in impactful cards such as Justicar Trueheart, Murloc Knight, Thunderbluff Valiant, and so on. Joust, on the other hand, just doesn’t seem to be working out. The effects simply aren’t worth the inconsistency of the mechanic right now.
With each expansion there are always legendary cards which look promising, but turn out to be disappointing. There are also often overlooked legendary cards that surprise us in their effectiveness. The TGT set of legendaries does a lot of the former and not enough of the latter. There’s certainly nothing like Goblins vs. Gnomes’ Dr. Boom anywhere in the set. None of the class legendaries aside from Varian Wrynn appear to be making much of an impact on the meta, while the only real standout neutrals are Chillmaw, Gormok the Impaler, and perhaps Justicar Trueheart. Epics are turning out to be a whole lot more impactful and satisfying in TGT so far, which is certainly friendly to my dust pile, but not nearly as exciting.
What are your winners and losers of The Grand Tournament? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!