The impact of Rastakhan on the meta is hard to assess. So far, the new cards seem to have a hard time making a bit impact on the established meta. One of the exceptions is the new Rogue spell, Raiding Party. This 3 mana tutoring effect has single-handedly revitalised Kingsbane Rogue. But is Kingsbane just the new incarnation of the oppressive and nerf-drawing Quest Rogue?
Kingsbane is unquestionably most powerful as an anti-control deck. Its ability to quickly build and maintain a massive lifesteal weapon is a nigh-insurmountable win condition. The amount of lifegain and removal a massively-upgraded lifesteal Kingsbane presents is truly terrifying.
With an infinite deathrattle, your only option is to rush the Kingsbane Rogue down or to survive their weapon long enough to unleash an OTK. If these options aren’t available to you, then your destruction is almost assured. Could this lead to the kind of uninteractive polarization that Quest Rogue did?
Interaction and decisions
For a combo deck, Kingsbane is actually pretty interactive. Sure, you can’t directly interact with their progressive weapon buffs, but there are a number of ways to deal with them beside kill them. Taunts can slow their burn, weapon removal can force them to spend cards and mana re-tutoring their kingsbane, and freeze effects can prevent them from attacking to heal or kill.
From Kingsbane’s side, there are also a lot of decisions to be made. It’s not just solitaire. Weapons buffs can be used to build your ultimate Kingsbane combo, but they are also great to buff your hero power when Kingsbane’s unavailable. This balance of tempo and long-term value is a constant balancing act. Especially when you need to consider the lure of being greedy by doubling up buffs with Valeera the Hollow. This arguably gives it a less polarising and frustrating nature than Quest Rogue.
This interactivity and decisionmaking only extends to certain matchups, however. Slower decks without an OTK will still find it virtually impossible to defeat a competent Kingsbane player. With that said, there is one way the polarization and uninteractivity could be mitigated. Drakkari Trickster, if working correctly, would allow for a huge counterplay opportunity.
Drakkari Trickster incorrectly gives an unenchanted Kingsbane if that is the last card. If this were fixed, Control decks could survive to play Drakkari Trickster when the Rogue is down to only a single card, giving them the Kingsbane. This would level the playing field, though the Rogue would maintain the advantage in fatigue. It would allow a smart control player to beat Kingsbane with their own weapon, while still providing interesting tactical decisions in the leadup.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com
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