Hi Friends! This is part 3 of my constructed set review. Please check out part 1 (Fire and Praxis) and 2 (Time and Xenan) as well as my “Hot Take” decklist article, and be sure to let me know what you think on Reddit!
★★★★★Total rock star – either a headline card in a one of the most popular decks, or a common inclusion in multiple high-level archetypes. Tier 1 decks are built around these cards. Examples: Sandstorm Titan, Harsh Rule, Oni Ronin
★★★★Popular but not as powerful – either a common support card in popular deck or an important inclusion in a tier 2-3 deck. Very good in the right situations, but sometimes they just don’t fit in the metagame, or are simply one of the less exciting inclusions in major decks. Examples: Cirso, Deathstrike, Sword of Icaria
★★★Tech and/or Niche: maybe this is a powerful card without a home, or maybe it is a niche role player that sneaks up in the right situations. The best deck builders will know when to use these, but do not expect them on ladder every day. These are often in competition with other cards for limited space. Examples: Sabotage, Crownwatch Cavalry, Thunderstrike Dragon
★★ Long Shot: Some cards are powerful, but cost a lot. Some are do-nothings that could fit into weird combo decks. Some cards are largely there for the memes and end up getting showing up in some fringe decks. All those cards get 2 stars! A lot of these cards are actually 1s or 4+, and but are too difficult to predict at the moment. Examples: Crown of Possibilities, The Last Word, Sporefolk
★ Unplayable: I do not expect these cards to see play. Either there are better options, or the stats:power ratio is just how high enough. Many commons made for draft land here. Examples: Xenan Guardian, Forge Wolf, Mithril Mace
★ I just don’t think the deck is there for this little guy, and I also don’t think the ceiling is worth it. Maybe we get more Mentor stuff in later sets to push him over the edge, but he is too much a 1/1 for 1 for me to be interested. I understand that Squire + Sparring Partner is a combo, but you are not really “going off”, and that is really the only combo I can think of that is actually interesting.
★ A 1/1 for 1 with a very minor ability! Those are always great right? Right? Hard to imagine a world where you would play this over Oathbook, or that you want this in addition to an Oathbook.
★ 1/3 Endurance for 2 is not interesting, and the ability is too expensive for Ranked. If there is an actual Shard of the Spire deck that emerges this might be part of it, but that seems very far-fetched.
★ Sparring Partner got a makeover! For those who weren’t around in closed beta, the TLDR is Sparring partner used to be kinda bad but playable, and now he is pretty bad and unplayable! I suppose there is a universe where you get the critical mass of “mentor matters” cards where this is fine, but we are not even close to that point yet.
★ I had a chance to try this guy out in Forge already and it was miserable. If it is not good enough to play against a stupid AI in limited, it is way behind rate for Ranked.
Strength of Many
★ There are several reasons this doesn’t interest me. First, I find combat tricks like Finest Hour to be at their best against Armory, and overextending to make Strength of Many actually work sounds like a recipe for disaster. In a brawl of two unit heavy decks (like Combrei aggro mirror or something) this rarely does more than win a combat. Just an awkward card, that costs a little too much.
Talon of Nostrix
★★★ Although this card is relatively low impact, it looks good enough to be a roleplayer in Armory style decks. On the draw against aggressive decks you really just want anything to interact with the board on turn 2, and this fits the bill. These decks also struggle to play 2 spells per turn until well into the mid game, and this might allow you to get a leg-up in tempo before turn 5 or 6. On balance I think this is slightly worse than Sword of Icaria, but that was a 4-of in several different decks during set 1, so that is fine. Don’t overload on this, as drawing a 2/2 or 3/3 Talon in the late game is not great, but I do expect this to show up in some numbers.
★★ Although I am not sure, I feel like this is a slightly less powerful than the Magic card of the same name. Still, this card will likely see some play. The balance between this and Inspire is very interesting, and is one of the deckbuilding problems that takes a very long time to solve. The fact that this replaces itself only half the time, and costs twice as much is very problematic, but +2/+2 on the right weapon is a lot. On the balance I think Inspire was probably better, but lets give Tinker a chance. I have seen some people playing this in Rakano – please stop. It is hard to explain why I think that is so bad right now, but I truly think that is a horrible mistake.
★★ There is part of me that thinks there is some crazy combo with this that I cannot put together right now. Maybe Master’s Lessons? Hero of the People? Roaches? There is another part of me that says this is a 2/2 with a summon ability that will often do nothing. 2 stars is a hedge against there being something degenerate you can do with this, but I don’t think you want to be playing this as a normal 2-drop in Justice-heavy aggressive decks.
★★ This card is not great, but it is easy to underestimate the power of weapons. Not ever deck has access to nice things like Shogun’s Scepter, and there are very few other 3-drop weapons that are even worth considering. Sure, it is a 3-cost Longsword is not exciting, but this is sort of a method of card advantage, which Justice clearly has a shortage of. All this is to talk up a card that is likely a 1-star into a 2-star card, so don’t get it twisted and think this is the missing piece for mono-Justice to take over the meta.
★ I guess this might be an important component in a Shard of the Spire deck, but as you will see soon, I am not a big proponent of such strategies. Dune Phantom had not seen any serious play, and that card seems much better in most respects. I suppose this could also fit into a Chalice deck, but I am not going to be able to talk myself up to 2 stars on just a low impact card.
★ Let’s do some math. You spend 6 power to get a Spiked Helm, 9 to get Ornamental Daggers, and 12 to get a Hammer of Might. This is just way too slow to even consider.
★ So this is a 2/2 that can become a 5/5 in combination with another card? I can’t image the world in which this was worth while. I guess the curve of Fencing Master into Peacekeeper’s Prod gives you an 8/7 to attack with on turn 4, but I will need to be beaten by such things before I take it seriously.
★ I am not seeing a “mentor deck” coming together and 3/3 for 3 is just not good enough. Maybe there are a whole whack of them in set 3 that will make this interesting, but I just doubt we get the density that we would actually want.
★★★★ I believe in this little guy. A 3/3 Lifesteal for 3 is really close as is, and if you get the Lifesteal on a unit with Endurance or Revenge. I imagine his popularity will wax and wane depending on the speed of the format, but he will certainly be showing up a good deal.
★ As I have said elsewhere, I think there is a chance the Strangers deck is a thing now, but I don’t think Endurance is a particularly interesting ability. Maybe you want this as a 1-of to counter your opponent’s Permafrosts and/or Crystallize? I think that deck has very little space, and this is not offering much that it really needs.
★★★ When looking at this card, I immediately notice that it looks heavily developed. You don’t arrive at 4JJJ for a +3/+2 weapon on your first try. This is probably very close to Hammer of Might in power level, assuming you can cast it. I will need to feel out the play patterns, and exactly how Justice-heavy you need to be to consistently cast this, but this is very much worth testing.
★ I don’t buy that this is better than Crownwatch Cavalry, and that is only a fringe roleplayer. Maybe one day we get a dedicated Revenge deck, but I don’t see anything of the sort in the current card pool.
Shard of the Spire
★★ I don’t understand the interest in this card. Seems like a bad Obelisk/Chalice in a world where we have better attachment hate. Any Shard of the Spire deck would basically not function without it, and doesn’t have the same ceiling as Chalice. I will put this into the “long shot” category since I feel some are planning to work on the deck, but lets just say the shot is very long.
★ Even with the history of weapons being nerfed in every other patch, it will be a very long time before this is good enough for Ranked. There are like 2 weapons we have already seen in this review that are better, not to mention Set 1 cards.
★ There is a 5/5 flyer for 4 already in the game. If you need to play Militant to activate things like Valkyrie Spireguard, I feel like your deck needs a lot of help. The armor clause feels like it is largely flavor text.
★★★ This little flyer has some big plans once it gets a buddy! I think the density of good Valkyries is just high enough that you can play this, especially considering it can count other copies of itself. This is clearly friends with Makto and Valkyrie Enforcer as well. I still feel this is a little behind Impending Doom as a 4-drop flyer, and it will occasionally die to torch, so I am limiting it to 3 stars, but this will show up from time to time.
★ For combat tricks to be playable efficiency is key, and this is not efficient. Just too clunky for ranked, and the revenge element is particularly bad on a card like this on ladder.
★★ Justice doesn’t exactly have much in the way of card advantage, and this offers a good deal of card advantage, even if it is in a slightly awkward package. I have started to think about some bizarre Stoneshaker/Revenge/Press-Gang monstrosity. This is probably not good enough, but it sounds interesting. Given that this is one of the best ways for Justice to draw cards I am not counting this out, but this really is a long shot.
★ Although I am sure this is extremely annoying in draft, I need a much more powerful Summon ability to be interested in a 3/2 for 5, even if it does have revenge.
Scepter of Nobility
★ So, this is a bad Mithril Mace that aspires to be a Sword of Icaria? I don’t really get what you are trying to accomplish here. There are better options.
★ I have gotta think that Valkyrie Wings is very close to strictly better, and that has done almost nothing in Ranked. Would certainly be an inclusion in a “cool card names” theme deck, but I have doubts that DWD is planning to push that archetype in Ranked.
★ I missed this card on my first time through the review….can’t imagine why. Maybe because it is totally forgettable and unplayable?
★ Too small, too slow, with an ability that is too narrow. I am not sure what deck would actually want this, but I doubt it actually exists for the time being.
★★ This is now the biggest weapon in the game, and threatens to punch people in the face really hard. Although like the idea of glove-slapping my opponents into next Tuesday, doesn’t this just seem too clunky? 6 is so much, and once you get to a certain size of weapon, you are really more interested in different abilities, rather than just getting a bigger beat stick. It can see a world in which this is played as a 1-of in a very big Rakano deck with access to Rise to the Challenge, or maybe some card is released that allows you to cheat out weapons. I have heard that this silences Valkyries in your opponent’s deck and hand, but I haven’t tested it. If others have tried it out, I would love to hear the results!
Edit: Confirmed! All the Valkyrie are silenced! Still not excited about this though.
Edit: Patch has changed this. Doesn’t effect playability really.
★ We can do a lot better than this for 6. Seems fine in limited, but our 6 drops in ranked need to be much more powerful than this.
Leave a Witness
★★★★ Although this gets and easy five stars for flavor, it falls just short of that for playability. 7 power is a lot, but this effect is very powerful, and can go in a wide range of decks. This is the worst card I can imagine if the meta is all mono-Fire and unitless control, but it is also the best if it is all Time-based midrange.
Elias, the Broken Wing
★★ 8 is just so much power. What deck actually wants this? Mono-Justice Control? Although known memer LightsOutAce was able skillfully navigate that deck to top 100 of master, I have the suspicion that this was more a function of his genius play skill than the actual power of the deck. Why not just play more Sword of the Sky King? Revenge is particularly bad on high cost units, since it is unlikely that the game goes long enough that you get to replay the card. Like in some other places, I give the second star simply based on the fact that this is powerful, even though it is durdly and slow.
★ The mentor ability is not even close to powerful enough to be worth trying. I do find some humor in a flyer with Darude stats, even if it is unplayable in ranked.
★★★ I could easily imagine a world in which a Hooru aggro deck plays this a supplement to Vanquish. There are very few units they actually care about other than other flyers, and this is a very powerful removal spell if that is what you are looking to target. Obviously not something you want int large numbers, but I expect this to show up as a 1 of in a number of decks. This is also pretty good against certain flyers.
Kothon, the Far-Watcher
★★★★★I see this as the Hooru Siraf – almost every deck that can cast this card will play 4 copies. 2/3 endurance for 2 is already inches away from playable, and that ability is great. Ultra-devoted Hooru flyers or (near) unitless control might skip on him, but he fits everywhere else.
★★★ Seems like a fine inclusion in some Hooru skies deck. That deck did decently well in the first preview event, and there are clearly a few more tools for the archetype now. He is still a little slow for my liking, but he seems like an acceptable role player.
★★★ I am lower on this card then most. I am not going to write out my argument as to why this isn’t as good as some think, but this has several problems that I feel people are under-appreciating. Still, it is hard to go wrong as a 1-of. It is playable, but the conditions are a little too restrictive for my liking.
★ If this were a 2 drop I think this would be a very interesting card as a possible inclusion in Hooru aggro, but 3 feels like a lot for this ability. Maybe you need to play some number in Shelterwing Rider decks, but that seems unlikely.
★ Smells like meme tier. This is like a win-more/do-nothing split card, and neither half appeals to me. Maybe someday we get some totally wacky card that combos with this perfectly, but it does not appeal to me for the time being.
★★★ To me, this was one of the more interesting cards that was released in the final dump of cards. 5/4 Aegis Flyer for 4 is serious business. The fact that you need to keep the Aegis to maintain the attack is a very serious drawback. In some ways you can think of this as a 5/4 that leaves behind a 0/4 body after it dies to something like Vanquish. On the other side, it is like a False Prince that turns into an 0/4 rather than a 1/1. Ultimately, I think this is playable but not remarkable. Certainly worth testing!
★ Though I can almost convince myself that this is playable in Icaria Blue type control, this is just a little too slow. At 3 cost, or fast speed I think I would actually test this, but 4 is just not good enough.
Champion of Order
★★ I know that a lot of people are excited about this card, but I just don’t think this has what it takes. To begin with, in order for it to even be interesting, you need to have at least PPPPP, which is not trivial. Second, this is vulnerable to almost everything the turn you play it (Torch, Silence, Purify, Suffocate…). You will likely need to keep up 2 protection effects for this to actually survive to your turn. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), these abilities trigger at the start of your turn, rather than the end, meaning your opponent has a full turn cycle to stop you from “going off”. I look forward to seeing people post insane screenshots with 12 Champions of order, each at 16/16 or better and a galaxy of abilities, but this looks more like meme-tier than Ranked staple.
★★ There is part of me that is really interested in this card. 4/4 are not embarrassing base stats for a 5 drop weapon, and you get a nice little aegis as bonus. This also fits a natural curve with Rise to the Challenge to allow you to kill a Standstorm Titan. On the other hand 5 is incredibly bloated in Justice decks. Harsh Rule, Throne Warden, and Marshall Ironthorne are already fighting for limited space. I also can’t come up with many situations where this is substantially better than Auric Runehammer. I supposed that it could be a 1-of in something like Icaria Blue, but 2-stars is generous.
★ I cannot express how much it pains me to give this card 1 star. That ability is dope, the art is gorgeous, and those stats are perfect for durdling like a champ. Unfortunately, you can’t spend 6 on a 1/5 flyer. I would love to be wrong about this, but this is just too slow.
★★ Ok, if Strangers is a deck, I think that this card is serious. The issue with Strangers decks that I have seen is that most are too vulnerable to Sweepers, since you need to overextend for you deck to even function. I am curious how this card works mechanically. If you play it, do all your Strangers get an aegis? I expect so. What if an aegis is popped, and you play a second Meditative Stranger? I guess not? Haven’t had a chance to test it yet, but this card is likely a part of a midrange Strangers deck, if such a thing is playable.
Nostrix, Lord of Visions
★★★ Nostrix is huge! 8/10 worth of stats across 2 bodies is obscene. The curve of “Watcher of the Big Ones” into Nostrix is terrifying. I can’t quite put together what the Hooru midrange decks are actually supposed to look like, but this could easily be a part of something like that. I will also note that Nostrix eats an unbuffed Icaria, and trades with an Icaria with a “Rise to the Challenge” bonus.
Aid of the Hooru
★★ The plan of cheating Aid of the Hooru with West Wind Herald was acceptable in the preview event, but in the real world that is too fragile for my liking. If the meta is extremely slow I could see it creeping in as a 1 or 2 of in Hooru control decks, but I feel like there are better options. Not counting it out completely, but its applications are very narrow at best.
That’s all the Justice and Hooru cards! If you haven’t had a chance, please go check out my Fire/Praxis and Time/Xenan reviews. Also check my “Hot Takes for Filthy Netdeckers” if you are interested in finding something to play, and don’t know where to start. Anything I over or under valued? Let me know on Reddit! See you all tomorrow for my Primal/Skycrag review!