Back in Rastakhan’s Rumble, Dragon Warrior looked like the future. With strong, synergistic effects tied to efficient minions, Dragons looked to push Warrior away from its overly-reactive and polarising playstyle. But just one expansion later, Dragons are all but forgotten. Mechs now run the show. Out of the dozen or so Warriors are the Hearthstone Grandmaster tournaments, none are Dragon-based. So what happened? Why couldn’t Dragon Warrior sustain itself? And what does it need to come back?
Dragons seem similar to Mechs in many ways. Many Mech Control Warrior staples have Dragon Warrior equivalent. If you want more value, there’s Dragon Roar or Omega Assembly. If you want to deal with wide boards, there’s Dragonmaw Scorcher or Dyn-o-matic. And if you want to gain life there’s Ziliax or Emberscale Drake. And if you need hard removal there’s Smoulderthorn Lancer, Crowd Roaster or Omega Devastator.
Unfortunately for Dragons, there’s a problem. Most Dragons with powerful conditional effects require you to hold a dragon in your hand. But for Warrior, there’s simply not enough Dragons that fit a Control game plan to have enough Dragon density. Mechs, on the other hand, do not need to sacrifice any deckbuilding options to have their powerful options available. Dragon Warrior needs a critical mass of good Control dragons to be effective, and currently there just aren’t sufficient options.
Boom and Bust
Another massive hindrance to Dragon Warrior is the crowding out effect form Doctor Boom, Mad Genius. Since he synergises so completely with Mechs, he makes a Mech-based strategy far more rewarding than a Dragon one. Dragons are supposed to be slower but more powerful than Mechs. But when Mechs have rush in the late-game, Dragons simply lose their edge.
There would be multiple ways to address this. One would be to give Dragons more late-game tempo. Warrior Dragons specifically focused around this aim would be perfect for this. Another would potentially be a Doctor Boom nerf; which, depending on how wary Blizzard is of Warrior dominating ladder, may be likely.
Where’s the Value?
Hearthstone’s big Dragons haven’t aged well. The likes of Ysera, Deathwing and Onyxia were good value options early on, but powercreep left them behind. Most frustratingly, there are great high-cost Dragons; just not for Warrior. Nozari, Emeriss, and Kalecgos are all incredibly strong Dragons that Warrior can’t access. Sure there’s Dragon Roar, but that can often just give you a Marsh Drake and a Faerie Dragon.
Warrior could get a new Legendary high-cost dragon to compete with the likes of Emeriss and Kalecgos. With more late-game tempo and value to take down other control decks, Dragon Warrior could be well situated to be a more flexible alternative to the Mech package’s anti-aggro focus.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via hearthstone.gamepedia.com
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