The biggest card rotation in Hearthstone history is coming up fast. All 405 cards from Journey to Un’goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds and Catacombs will disappear into Wild. What’s more, we can expect at least one or two Classic cards to go with them. These changes will affect each class differently. Some will be crippled, others left relatively unscathed. So what about Warrior? What will rotation bring for Garrosh?
Un’goro: Laying the Quest to rest
Warrior didn’t get much out of Un’goro. Besides a niche pick in Cornered Sentry to counter Witching Hour and combo with Drywhisker Armorer, and the useful fatigue-offset from Direhorn Hatchling, the only really impactful card was the Quest. Thankfully, this proved to be one of the most powerful and long-lived Quests, second only to Rogue’s. By giving Warrior a late-game burn win condition, it gave us a potent alternative for non-fatigue gameplans.
With the Quest gone, Warrior may struggle to be especially pro-active. Luckily, there are alternatives. Most notably, Mecha’thun Warrior still has its core combo intact. Odd Warriors may regret its absence in particular, however; it is one of the few ways to make that deck have a game plan beyond ‘outlast’.
Knights of the Frozen Throne: Evening out
Knights of the Frozen Throne had a surprisingly impactful set of Warrior class cards. Dead Man’s Hand, Bring it On!, Scourgelord Garrosh and Blood Razor all ended up in a variety of Control or Combo Warriors; like Dead Man’s Hand, Taunt, or later, Mecha’thun or Big Warrior. Unfortunately, these cards were overshadowed by the crippling nerf to Fiery War Axe, which saw a precipitous decline in the viability of Warrior. Nonetheless, the Frozen Throne tools given to Warrior enabled a slew of non-Odd strategies right up until today. Honorable mention goes to Rotface, by far the cutest and most fun of the Warrior Legendaries.
Without these cards, there will be fewer and fewer reasons to run non-Odd Warrior. Losing Blood Razor in particular, arguably comparable to Death’s Bite in terms of weapon power and utility, will sting. Hopefully the new expansion will give us more reasons to play Warrior decks that aren’t built around Baku.
Kobolds and Catacombs: Recruiting no more
The Kobolds and Catacombs Warrior set had two main themes; Recruit and Armor. Both succeeded to an extent; but didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights they promised.
First, Recruit. Warrior was the only class to get unconditional recruit, with an emphasis on big premium minions. To assist this, they got a no-questions-asked 6 mana recruit, Woecleaver for up to 3 more and a new premium minion in Geosculptor Yip. Recruit Warrior was never stellar due to its inflexibility, but it soldiered on regardless, achieving mediocre winrates and playrates across several expansions.
Meanwhile, the armor synergies were hit-and-miss. Bladed Gauntlet never really found a home, and Unidentified Shield was solid enough but expensive and uninspiring. Gemstudded Golem was occasionally tried but largely dropped, and Geosculptor Yip was powerful but hard to justify. The two most impactful cards were Drywhisker Armorer and Reckless Flurry; the former decent in non-Odd Control Warriors and the latter a hugely impactful Odd board clear.
Losing these will be a minor, but not insignificant blow for both Odd and non-Odd Warriors alike. The loss of Recruit will be small in scope, but its few adherents will surely miss the playstyle.
Conclusion: An Odd time ahead
Warrior looks to be one of the least affected classes by the rotation. Its strongest archetype (Odd) loses only one key card (Reckless Flurry). But while this is good news for fans of that deck, it doesn’t bode well for Warrior as a whole. The weird, wacky and less viable alternatives lose a huge amount of the tools they needed to compete with Tank Up!
With fewer and fewer reasons to play anything but Odd, Warrior may become overly one-dimensional and boring. Winrates will likely be high, but playrates may slip as people tire of the archetype. Hopefully, the next expansion brings us more reasons to build a Warrior without Baku.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com.
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