Once upon a time Reno Jackson and highlander decks dominated the meta. It was more prevalent than Zilliax and SN1P-SN4P are today even with the harsh condition of only running a single copy of each card. Highlander decks make a valiant return with Saviors of Uldum but it seems only four classes will have these tools.
These guys bring a slightly less powerful effect to hopefully create a healthier meta game than highlander decks of the past. Of the four classes getting a Highlander card, only Mage previously had a viable highlander deck. It will be nice to see these other classes have potential highlander archetypes.
Paladin Gets Hero Powers from Sir Finley
Sir Finley of the Sands is a 2 mana 2/3, that if you are playing a highlander deck, you get to discover an upgraded Hero Power. This functions just like the Sir Finley of old but it is the upgraded forms of Hero Powers with a highlander condition and exclusively for Paladin.
This card feels like it could carry the highlander style. Highlander tends to struggle with a lot of different aspects of a good deck thanks to lack of duplicates. If you can discover a way to deal with board, draw cards or live longer, it gives you a better chance to win the game.
There is very little idea about what kind of highlander deck can even be possible with Paladin. The current meta decks absolutely require duplicates of nearly every card in the deck.
Often times Reno Jackson decks of old were control oriented just because Reno healed you to full health. Sir Finley is interesting because you can discover both defensive and offensive options with his Battlecry.
Druids Get Value from Elise
Elise the Enlightened is the card that most suggests a neutral card for highlander decks will be printed in Saviors of Uldum. Coming in as a five mana 5/5, her Battlecry is to duplicate your hand. Given that a highlander deck can’t get access to two copies of their cards, Elise brings that to them.
What is strange though is that if you wanted duplicates of your cards you could just play a non-highlander deck. The only reason to play a card like this is if you intend to run a ton of Legendary cards. That kind of strategy isn’t exactly viable and doesn’t appear it will be. This is why it seems there will be a neutral highlander card with a powerful effect.
This kind of slow value oriented card comes at the worst time for the Druid class as well. The class’s ability to control the game and remove minions was significantly gutted with several nerfs over the past year. The class has only been viable as an aggressive deck and hopefully Saviors of Uldum can save the main identity of Druid in being able to ramp mana.
Hunter Gets King Krush from Brann
Dinotamer Brann seems to be just a flat out solid card. A seven mana 2/4, Brann’s Battlecry summons King Krush, an 8/8 with Charge. That’s very good stats for the mana cost and getting King Krush for two mana cheaper is always good.
King Krush has some flexible viability. It can be used for finishing face damage, or to contest board. Then you could also run actual King Krush alongside this card if you so desire. The problem with Hunter is that the class is not very good at playing for the late game.
Highlander Hunter was never an archetype before due to a lot of factors. First of all, Hunter has a very aggressive Hero Power. Secondly, it lacks AOE removal and really only benefits from playing Beasts. Given that Brann summons King Krush, maybe an aggro highlander deck will be formed. It’s very unlikely though as duplicates are usually necessary to hit key early drops in aggro decks.
Mages Get Unique Removal from Reno
Reno the Relicologist has the same stat line as the old Reno, a six mana 4/6. His Battlecry has been toned down a bit, as he deals 10 damage split randomly among enemy minions. The card can be thought of as an upgraded version of Meteorologist.
The main reason why Meteorologist didn’t see too much play was because of the minion stats. Even in Mages that keep large hand size, the effect wasn’t enough to counteract the fact that the minion was a 3/3. Reno has an amazing stat line for his effect.
Reno also suffers from the same thing that Elise does, and that is a lack of reason to play the card. The effect on its own is not powerful enough to warrant a highlander deck, and would again suggest that we are getting a neutral highlander card.
Possible Neutral Highlander Card
You can never forget one of the most overpowered Reno decks of all-time, Reno Priest. It specifically utilized a class highlander card. The deck had to see a nerf to Raza the Chained and was still powerful after the fact. Even the other Reno decks, Mage and Warlock, were good enough to not use their classes highlander cards which had lackluster effects.
Taking all of this into account, there has to be some sort of powerful Reno Jackson like card on the way. We don’t know who it will be or what their effect is, but hopefully it will be a little less effective than Reno. The possible benefit would have to be something similar to how Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane functioned. They gave a powerful effect throughout the game that wasn’t a huge one turn cash in.
Without even knowing what the card is, we can already expect highlander decks to take up a good portion of the meta. The Hearthstone team has recently had a penchant for making single powerful cards that are included in nearly half of all decks, so there is no reason to expect different.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via their official website.