It’s always exciting to get new cards, and several of them from The Tale of Horus Traver look like they are going to make an impact. Not every one is a slam dunk, but there are a lot of unique effects here, and doing something no other card does means a card might have a place. Here are my highlights of the new campaign cards.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is the most sure hit in Horus. A good rate for a large Flyer with a cool and splashy ability on hit will obviously fit many places, including Burn Queen and Praxis midrange – the question is what new decks does it enable?
Skycrag is very all-in right now; the best versions are stocked on 1-drops and play very few cards that cost more than 3. Is Crimson Firemaw good enough to change that? Could there be a midrange Skycrag deck out there, perhaps with Firemaw alongside Groundbreaker or Pearlescent Drake? Sandstorm Titan will always be a problem for Fire/Primal, but if you have enough big units to tussle with it and can afford to play Obliterates, Darude isn’t game over.
Big Rakano has always been just short as a deck – Icaria and Starsteel Daisho are super powerful, but Jekk isn’t the best midrange card if you aren’t aggressive and there hasn’t been much incentive to play units that cost more than 3. Does Firemaw change that? It’s an aggressive 4-drop that benefits immensely from Jekk clearing the way for it.
Theurge (what is a theurge, anyways?) isn’t inspiring awe with its stats, but substantial health gain on a decent body has to fit somewhere. Maybe it only goes in sideboards as an anti-burn card, but there could be an ultra-defensive deck with Theurge and Lumen Defender that just wants to gain health and block forever until it can play some expensive bomb like Aid of the Hooru or The Last Word.
Who knows, maybe those two Time defenders are the shell that finally makes Mask of Torment playable.
Tavrod, Auric Broker
Crimson Firemaw may be the most obvious card in Horus, but Tavrod looks like the most powerful. He dodges Annihilate, Permafrost, and Obliterate, so non-Justice decks will have a hard time killing him outside of combat, and once you’ve gotten into combat with Tavrod you’ve already drawn up to two cards.
Tavrod is HUGE boost for non-aggro Argenport decks, and possibly pushes several fringe cards into constructed playability. Auric Runehammer and Copperhall Bailiff are shoe-ins, but what about Auric Sentry? I’ve been surprisingly impressed by him in Mono Justice Control, and I could see him making the cut to up the Minotaur count. Bartholo and Bloodletter or Lethrai Falchion give a couple more strong weapon choices. Could there be a traditional armory variant with Tavrod? Imagine 9/4 Starsteel Daisho!
There are a lot of decks willing to splash a powerful card like this, and he will spawn some more of his own. Personally, I’m excited to work Tavrod into a control shell with Sleepless Night.
This is actually my pick for strongest card of the expansion. Skipping turn 3 to go straight to 4 is extremely powerful. Combrei has solid 3 drops, and Elysian has False Prince and Dawnwalker, but the real meat of Time’s curve starts at 4 and ramps up from there. Being able to play a turn 3 Titan to stabilize against agro and then a turn 5 Ascendant + Power eliminates so much stress on Time’s early game. Power Stone can also enable more hyper-ramp styles of play like Vodakombo – Secret Pages has always been so clunky, and turn 3 is where you need to play a good blocker to survive against aggro.
I think Power Stone slides right into Praxis, Elysian, and even Big Combrei (although the cuts aren’t as obvious there) and helps their matchups against aggro a lot.
I don’t think this cad is good enough, but “Killer Scryno” is a sweet nickname.
This card isn’t going to set the world on fire (or whatever the opposite of fire is, since, you know, snowballs), but it does do a very unique thing: it is a 1-damage sweeper for decks that don’t want to play a small-unit sweeper because they play small units themselves. For example, Skycrag with 12 1-drops could replace Alpine Tracker with Yetipault so as not to destroy its own units.
Despite being very fragile, Yetipault is also a powerful late-game power sink that DOES demand an answer. Drawing 3 cards is no joke, and it is repeatable every other turn. Slower decks might even want this as more copies of a Feln Bloodcaster-like effect – good against aggro early, and an immediate boost of card advantage at 11 power. I’m not sure if Yetipault is going to get there, but it is novel enough that it might have a place.
Costing twice as much as Annihilate and not being fast pretty much disqualifies this from ever seeing play, but it’s worth mentioning as a reasonable tech card if something like midrange Skycrag with Groundbreaker ever becomes popular, as killing a unit and gaining 4-6 health against an aggressive midrange deck is pretty brutal.
This is the most obvious sideboard card of the expansion (even more than Vision of Austerity against Chalice). Being reliant on a certain spell (like Owl Ramp is on Aid of the Hooru) is now extremely dangerous, and even hitting something like Channel the Tempest against Chalice gives you a very real chance to deck them if you are a slow, defensive deck. Mostly I see this coming in from the sideboard to strip Harsh Rule from the opponent’s deck in that hypothetical midrange Skycrag deck.
Also, I think this is the most flavorful card of the expansion (yes, even more than Yetipault). Try to be a bit more careful next time.
Warp is an incredibly powerful skill, and Cinder Yeti is priced as a strong draft card even without Warp. Given that it will only cost a card half the time, Cinder Yeti is easily constructed playable. Stonescar and Skycrag each only have one good 3-drop, and Cinder Yeti is perfect for decks that want to push blockers out of the way and get in there. Cinder Yeti is going to show up and party.
Now THIS is a proper tribal payoff. Triumphant Stranger is powerful all by itself, and having more strangers in play to benefit from the buffs the strangers he spawns will give makes him even nuttier. Assuming you are base 2 faction with lots of fixing strangers to get the last 3, this guy can be a consistent turn 5 play that snowballs and demands a sweeper even more than Katra does.
in addition to the aggressive pump-oriented Stranger decks people have tried before, Triumphant Stranger might be able to prop up a slower, value-oriented Stranger deck with Fortunate Stranger and a Reunite toolbox. There is a lot to explore in the Shadowlands.
I think we are going to see lots of Argenport Minotaurs and 5-faction strangers on the ladder this week, and I don’t think those decks are going to be awful. I for, one, welcome our new Strange Minotaur overlords.
Until next time, may your Horus brews prove successful.