The Runespear: 1/5
This is a fairly difficult card to analyse, so I’m going to attempt to break it down a bit further: This card will only be played in really, really slow Shaman decks, due to its incredibly slow nature: you need to get to turn 10 for this to be worth playing in your deck, and you need to be able to survive that long. That means you will probably be a controlling Shaman deck, with a great deal of AOE and single-target removal, and a few big juicy minions. That means you would want this card to be consistently giving you the option of specifically cards which deal with your opponent’s board whilst also assuming you do not have any minions due to the tempo loss acquired through playing an 8 mana weapon, and we can look at the Shaman spell pool in order to see how likely that is. I have broken down the spells into several distinct categories, with some of the notable fringe cases for each category mentioned:
Number of Shaman Spells: 35
AOE Spells: 3 + Devolve, Forked Lightning
Single-Target Removal (Specifying minions): 4 + Earth Shock, Avalanche
Burn (Can hit face/your own face): 3 + Frost Shock
Summons Tokens: 2
Useless Spells (No impact with no minions of your own): 8
Minion Buffs: 2 + Cryostasis, Primal Fusion:
Other: Far Sight, Finders Keepers, Unite the Murlocs (may not be in card pool), Rockbiter Weapon, Ice Fishing.
Playing this card, you would want to be offered exclusively AOE, Single-Target Removal, or card draw (Far Sight, potentially Finders Keepers at a push. This gives us a desireable card pool of 12/13 cards out of a possible 34/35, which amounts to a 35% chance to get a desirable card in one of the Discover slots, or a 65% chance to whiff. Calculating further, this card has an approximate 25% chance to offer you no good spells in any of the 3 Discover slots, which is incredibly high odds to fail for a weapon which requires such a huge tempo loss to play initially. Because of this, I think the card is unplayable, and gets the lowest possible 1 / 5 rating.
Grumble, World Shaker: 3/5
This card is interesting, and allows for a great deal of combo potential, as the effect is so potent that we could see some incredibly interesting things further down the line, created by someone with a little more imagination than myself at this point in time. I think the effect is so interesting that it could easily give rise to one or more combo Shaman archetypes, and as a potentially deck-defining meme card, I think warrants a 3 / 5 rating rather than a 2. Could easily be revised downwards, should nobody think of anything special to do with it, however.
Kobold Hermit: 2/5
A preface for several Shaman card ratings: I firmly believe the ‘Basic Totem’ synergy being pushed by several of the Shaman cards this expansion is simply the latest in a long line of Shaman gimmicks which will see exactly 0 play (Freeze Shaman anyone?). The main reason I think this is the cards, while they offer a lot of synergy, do not really offer a great deal of reward for the heavy cost of running so many synergistic cards. While it is true the tokenistic nature of these cards could lend itself well to a Bloodlust-centric deck, the Totem-themed deck just simply appears to be at a much lower power level than Token Shaman in its current incarnation, so a lot of cards will simply just not be played in Constructed.
And thus, onto the first card present within this little package: the Kobold Hermit. The main idea behind this card is you can guarantee yourself a certain Totem in a specific situation, the most obvious one that springs to mind being the Wrath of Air Totem (Spell Damage), although there are situations where you could also really need a Stoneclaw Totem (Taunt) or Healing Totem. So, the question is, where could this card really fit? This is just too weak a body to fit in a slower Shaman build which can really utilize the guaranteed Spell Damage (and would most likely just run Bloodmage Thalnos instead in any case). Instead, this is I believe the likeliest card of this set to slot into Token Shaman in some form, due to the way the card synergises very nicely with the decks early game tools such as Flametongue Totem and Maelstrom Portal; possibly taking the still-vacant 30th slot of what is currently a 29-card deck or even replacing a later-game card such as Thrall as a 2-of to speed up the deck as a whole. However, as the most promising use for the card is a fringe use in what is a Tier 2 / 3 deck, I can’t give this card higher than a 2.
Crushing Hand: 2/5
First things first, the card art is hilarious. Onto the actual cards effect, this is essentially ‘Stormcrack x 2’, dealing twice as much damage for the same Mana cost upfront, and 2 more Mana the following turn. It is some fairly powerful single-target spot removal, and kills some prevalent minions in the meta (and I think we can all get behind the idea of the Lich King being defeated by a giant metal fist), but it most certainly is too slow and clunky to fit into Token Shaman. There might be a kind of EZ Big EZ Overload Shaman in the works, making use of Snowfury Giant, Ancestral Spirit, the Shaman Spellstone and the like,which could conceivably make use of this card as a one-of, but a one-of in a hypothetical fringe deck which still loses to Raza Priest? 2 / 5.
Healing Rain: 2/5
Onto Healing Rain, a card which I believe to actually be rather powerful in the right archetype, but which is getting a 2 / 5 rating simply because of the meta it is being released into. In a slower Control Shaman list, which consists largely of AOE, with a few big beefy minions (I’m thinking Crusher Shaman, with Earth Elemental and the like), this card is actually great, due to your general lack of minions this might as well read ‘Heal your face for 12’, and Healing Wave was a fantastic card in any Shaman build before it rotated. The same applies to any kind of EZ Big EZ Shaman, of course. However, this is going to be the meta of Raza the Chained, Shadowreaper Anduin and Psychic Scream, so those particular decks will unfortunately be consigned to the wayside by all but the most dedicated memers and this rather nice card will not be seeing play anytime soon.
Lesser Sapphire Spellstone: 3/5
Onto the Shaman Spellstone, the Sapphire Spellstone. I have previously mentioned some kind of ‘Big Shaman’ archetype which I think could see some play, making use of Shaman’s excellent AOE and Minion survivability tools such as Ancestral Spirit, combined with the minions the class has whose cost can be discounted, such as Snowfury Giant and Thing from Below. In order to discount the Giant, you must Overload to some amount, which will also upgrade your Spellstone in passing, and if you are a slower Shaman build, almost all of your control tools, such as Lightning Storm and Volcano, will be overloading your mana anyway. I believe this is an interesting archetype, mostly made possible by the existence of the Spellstone, the absolute dream scenario being Snowfury Giant + Ancestral Spirit + Greater Sapphire Spellstone to create 3 8/8 minions who resummon upon death; against aggro you could also replicate the effect with Thing from Below. However, while this deck will certainly be interesting, it will be largely ineffectual in the meta it finds itself in, mostly due to the existence of Psychic Scream, a card which completely obliterates that entire strategy. Thus, for defining a fringe/bad deck, the card at least gets a 3 / 5 rating and I look forward to at least trying it out.
Primal Talismans: 1/5
My first thoughts upon seeing this card were something along the lines of ‘lol, Spirit Echo but worse’. Thinking about it, however, that is not a fair comparison to make: that is a value card for control decks, while this card exists solely to guarantee a board in the following turns in order to set up Bloodlust. Saying this, does this card ever find its way into Token Shaman? Probably not. 1 / 5.
Murmuring Elemental: 2/5
I didn’t think Volatile Elemental needed a bro, but hey, Blizzard know best. Like that card, a 2 mana 1/1 with some kind of effect, though this card’s effect is at least slightly more useful. The best case I can think of is within a Jade Elemental deck, where you could use it to cheese out 1 or 2 extra Jades and keep an Elemental chain going, though such a deck is by nature already quite congested, so I’m not sure if this gets anywhere better than occasional fringe play and experimentation. That said, it is the kind of effect which is interesting enough to possibly lend itself to a crazy combo I haven’t thought of further down the line, time will tell!
Windshear Stormcaller: 1/5
How often are you going to have all 4 basic totems, without building a deck around it? Probably never. If you build a Totem deck, is the reward worth it? Probably not. Just run Al’Akir if you want him rather than playing a bad deck to get him. Terrible card. Nice flavour though, very Shamanistic. 1 / 5.
Unstable Evolution: 4/5
By far the best Shaman card released this set, this card actually should make it into existing Token/Evolve Shaman builds, due just to its versatility in allowing you to fill up your Mana curve on otherwise awkward turns. Additionally, this card is actually useful in a topdeck situation, unlike Evolve, you can simply play a Totem and evolve it into an 8-drop if you are otherwise devoid of cards. Should see about as much play as Shaman sees, which remains to be seen. Of course, there is also the dream situation of a turn 1 Bloodsail Corsair + Patches + Coin + Evolve into either Sorceror’s Apprentice or Radiant Elemental, allowing you to play this unlimited times to get a turn 1 Deathwing/Tyrantus. The stuff of Trolden videos to come, I’m sure. Great card, easy 4 / 5.
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