I don’t know about you, but I’m incredibly excited for Baku, the Mooneater and Genn Greymane. These legendary Neutrals, among the first revealed from the upcoming Witchwood expansion, provide a unique twist on the classic build-around formula. Unlike Reno, the Princes and Recruit cards, these new build-around’s powerful effects apply immediately. What’s more, their interaction with hero powers makes their impact unique for each class. So how can Graymane and Mooneater give you a reliable edge?
The Dude Deluge
One of the first potential opportunities to be identified by the community was the potential for Genn Greymane to provide an alternative build of Midrange “Dude” Paladin. Currently, Paladins focus ongrabbing early game board control with cheap minions and weapons, before snowballing with Call to Arms. Then, they finish off their opponent with either Murloc or Silver Hand Recruits. But Greymane allows Paladin to guarantee a solid early curve without 1-drops. And while a 1/1 for 1 doesn’t seem too scary, the competitive viability of a Silver Hand Recruit that doesn’t cost a card has already been proven by Drygulch Jailor.
With Paladin’s power cards in Call to Arms, Sunkeeper Tarim, Truesilver, Tirion, Equality, Spikeridged Steed and Consecrate all falling on even numbers, there’s a valid argument to gutting the 1-drops from Midrange Paladin for more 2 drops and a beefier late-game. Not only does this allow you to go the distance while always having decent early plays, it also makes your Call to Arms even more powerful. If Paladin gets more even-costed tools, this archetype could definitely be a contender.
Baku the Tank
Unlike Greymane, Baku doesn’t allow you to smooth out your curve quite so efficiently. In return however, the sheer strength of your hero power becomes tremendous. Ever since Justicar rotated out, Warriors have been mourning the loss of Tank Up. Quest Warrior’s Ragnaros hero power and Scourgelord Garrosh’s endless Whirlwind effects were somewhat of a consolation, but the comforting clang of gaining 4 armour per turn has been gone far too long.
Luckily for fans of fatigue calculations, Baku could return this strategy to the fore. While it would mean giving up Control Warrior staples like Execute, Blood Razor, Drywhisker Armourer and Grommash Hellscream, the power of reliable activators for armour-synergy cards and the sheer lifegain potential could be more than enough to make up for these losses. Warrior is expected to gain more powerful cards to make up for its current doldrums. If many of them are odd, then Druid may very well be unseated as new king of Armor.
Baku doesn’t just provide defensive capabilities. As theorised on Omnistone, It could also be a potent aggressive tool. Hunter has often been a class defined by an extremely aggressive hero power, but Baku allows this to be taken to the next level. With a Quick Shot to the face every turn, Face Hunter could return. There are plenty of potent 1 and 3 mana cards (with maybe a 5 drop like Leeroy) that could add up to an extremely aggressive and potent deck.
As heals and taunts have got stronger, classic Face Hunter faded into obscurity. But upping the core damage engine by 50% could be enough of a push to make it relevant in the meta again. With powerful Hunter 2 drops like Kindly Grandmother and Cat Trick rotating out, then the opportunity cost is yet lower.
Greymane reopens other old strategies too. One plan, could be a revitalisation of an old-school archetype in Handlock. Defile, Amethyst Spellstone, Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant could combine with a 1 mana Lifetap to create some spectacular strategies. Most notably, a 1 mana lifetap could see Mountain Giant come down on 3, and reliable 4/10 Twilight Drakes.
But other even-mana tools would likely need to be introduced in order to compete with the power of Cubelock, which looks to stay mostly intact. Without the staying power of Voidlords, the deck could crumble to aggression.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.