"You ever get hit by lightning where the sun don't shine?"
Orc Shaman, Warcraft 3
Welcome back to my bi-weekly thought process here on Daily Metagame. Last week something excruciatingly exciting happened: a new set was released. This means that Core is now over 200 cards larger, and the meta is shifting!
At the Realm Championships a couple of weeks ago, a few things happened. Gyro decided to come back and prove that hand disruption ala [Poach] plus more card draw than [Tuskarr Kite] does indeed equate to VIP cards for Charles McArthur and Stuart Wright. [Spark] is still the best aggro-combo deck, and if you like burn then [Vorix Zorbuzz] might just provide the fate you need to succeed in what has turned out to be a very wide meta.
This week I've decided that the best thing to do is explore some potentially sizzling synergy that War of the Elements has brought to the table, and what decks could erupt from them.
I'm not sure what many people thought upon seeing the four Elemental Lords. When you're paying seven for a card you want it to close the game out by itself, and none of them really do that. This is actually a good thing, as all the Elementals from token to prince are built around synergy. If you are wandering around Azeroth looking for somewhere to plant your graphite fishing pole and get ambushed by a lone Air Elemental, you're not that fussed. Find one in the [Skywall] and you're faced with an entirely different prospect.
It is precisely these Air Elementals that most keenly grabbed my attention. There are three key cards that establish the initial synergistic pieces: [Bound Vortex] and [Skywall]. Whenever the Vortex exhausts you get a miniature hurricane with which to toss rabbits skyward. Whenever the Vortex or spawned ally enter play, you can exhaust an opposing ally to hinder your opponent's advance before [Al'akir the Windlord] wraps things up.
The first two cards to jump to mind were [Aspect of the Wild] and [Earth and Moon]. Both of these offer additional benefits to banking with that particular class. Aspect is probably nastier, because a 5/3 Untargetable Vortex making a 4/3 token every time it attacks or kites is a very good dividend. Throw in [Boomer], [Leggings of the Tireless Sentry], [Mikael the Blunt] and [Intimidation] and no ally is so much as scratching you. If you resolve Al'akir not even [Hesriana] can help them out.
Of course when you start throwing tokens everywhere [Marundal the Kindred] quickly becomes enemy #1, and any such deck will also have to watch out for the popular sweepers doing the rounds. But I just love Untargetable as a keyword, and I love decks that make you think about their synergy from top to bottom. Besides, having lots of tokens has always been fun!
The Priest and the Dragon
The Azure Flight, tasked with guarding the magic of Azeroth. A bunch of neutral allies that like abilities is a recipe for mischief. For the next six months, their best friend is [A Taste of Divinity].
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the best card going for all you nuts that are desperate to resolve [Kalecgos]. Paying seven for a Master Hero that then copies all your later abilities such as [Divine Fury] or [Mind Melt] seems pretty nutty. Bear in mind your Taste has also either wiped their board down to the bear minimum or been fueled by an [Azure Drake] that kept healing itself. I'm really not looking forward to staring down [Netherbreath Spellblade], [Divine Fury] and [Kalecgos]. If you want to be really creative there's also [Dark Embrace].
But the real sleeper hit? [Azure Skyrazor]. The power of this winged beauty is obscene, especially if you can flood the board or have cheap Ferocity allies like [Onnekra Bloodfang] (or dare I say it [Shadowfiend]). Your hero, their dragon and any other allies are suddenly hitting for a lot. Generally Limited powerhouses don't always transfer into the Constructed market, but I see plenty of potential in this dragon.
Three card combo?
I love a good combo deck. It should come as no surprise therefore that I'm a big fan of this little number (as I suggested to Sean on the A Question of Gluttony podcast a month ago).
[Alexstrasz the Life-Binder]
On turn nine, if they all resolve, this is a guaranteed 20/1 ferocious and indestructible raptor with an assault five hero for backup. Even if Hesriana comes to spoil the party, you have Alexstrasza in play and are on the verge of victory. It might end up just being casual, buy with all the control backup currently available to Shaman I think this is a turn nine situation you have to be prepared for.
My talent? Reach!
Aggro decks like to vomit their hands. The problem is that once the initial eruption has occurred they're left reaching for that last five or ten damage. [Saurfang the Younger, Kor'kron Warlord] and [Muradin Bronzebeard] are the current faction specific options, but a few of the talent cards in this set nicely augment this.
A couple of [Loraala the Frigid] Everlasting Burn decks popped up at a few Realm Championship events. Apparently [Blizzard] + [Muradin Bronzebeard] is rather good, who knew? Whilst not for the Draenei delicacy in Core, [Arcane Barrage] is insanity in card form. I just love it, eight damage you cannot interrupt that has plenty of applications. Even if you [Poach] it from me I can play it! This might be the missing piece [Spellweaver Jihan] takes with her to the top tables, and something I'm trying out at Noblegarden tonight.
[Gargoyle] is seen by many as the chase rare. Paired up with [Corpse Explosion] it's clear to see why. A 5/5 ferocious body for four gets you places. It's great against the control decks, where it jumps back to the safety of your hand if unscathed, and against the aggro decks it's an easy 5/5 two for one ready to chew up the world. With an empty hand it's a card I'd love to draw against so many decks in the format.
[Shadowstep] and [Rend and Tear] also have me excited. [Shadowstep] just seems rude. Giving all your abilities additional text is just super strong, and if you have this in play you don't mind top decking [Poach] or [Carnage]. [Rend and Tear] strikes me as the sort of card that could be really ugly for an opponent. Every damaged character I have gives you two attack on your turn? There's no size of plaster to cover that up. Throw in the lovely [Vanira Raventhorne]'s flip and you can forget [Gift of the Earthmother] in the [Ring of Trials] Worgen decks.
Oh, and Bogmara just got [Fel Flame] for something slightly more interesting than [Searing Pain].
But what about Paladin?
It has now reached the stage where I dare not look at Paladin cards every set release. Things got a tiny bit better with the addition of [Blessing of Faith] as ability destruction that doubles up as a power boost, and it is definitely class card design I can appreciate. But they still seem to be missing something. I'm going to try and break out my [Scimitar of the Sirocco] and [Urn of Forgotten Memories] again though, as [Timriv the Enforcer] could be really exciting if brought back every turn. [Hammer of Justice] isn't bad either for some old school anti-Death Wish nostalgia. I wish there was more to say, but even Hunter is leaving the plated purifiers plunged in TCG purgatory right now.
I hope this has sparked some ideas for decks old and new. Next time I'll take the fallout from Darkmoon Faire Koln's Classic event and see whether anything can transfer over to make their mark ahead of the Continental season.
Song of the Week: Between the Rays - Ørjan Nilsen