Ashes of Outland is launching tomorrow, April 7 and with it comes new Arena rotation. To start off Year of the Phoenix, Arena will include the sets from the new Standard rotation only.
- Rise of Shadows
- Saviors of Uldum
- Descent of Dragons
- Galakrond's Awakening
- Ashes of Outland
- Demon Hunter Initiate
You can see how Out of Cards Arena Team rated each card and our thoughts on individual cards in Ashes of Outlands: Arena Impact thread.
Demon Hunter Has Arrived
This rotation is special for another reason, a brand new class has been introduced to the game - Demon Hunter! Very interesting news across the board, Arena included. Everyone will be on equal ground when it comes to Demon Hunter, no one knows how to play the class properly. This experimentation period will be the best one in a while for sure!
Demon Hunter got a whopping 45 class cards to get started, which is a pretty decent amount. Though still less than other classes will have in their pool, likely making it easier to draft a deck focused in a more specific direction.
From the cards we've seen, Demon Hunter will probably want to have a similar playstyle to Rogues in a sense that they will want to get on the board early and tempo out. Their Hero Power certainly helps with this, 1-cost Hero Power will completely change how you play out your turns. You can be much more Mana efficient.
One of the core mechanics of the class is attacking with your Hero. Outside of the Hero Power there are plenty of other cards that can help you do that and also those that benefit from you doing so. Some examples below.
While Demon Hunter will most likely have the same weakness as Rogue given the simlar playstyle and the use of their Hero Power, unlike Rogue, Demon Hunter has some healing built in to its core kit with Aldrachi Warblades and Soul Cleave. Eye Beam and Ashtongue Battlelord will certainly pull their weight as well. Just imagine having Aldrachi Warblades equipped and cast Inner Demon. Your opponent thought they had you? Wrong!
Last but not least, there is the new, Demon Hunter specific keyword - Outcast! This will create some potentially challenging turns where you will need to decide if you want to get the benefit of Outcast from a card you just drew or if you want to comit to a play you had already prepared. Some cards you might be able to squeeze in easy while others might take up most of your turn.
I am certainly looking forward jumping into the unknown and discovering all the nooks and crannies of the class. How about you?
Is Beauty Sleep Overrated?
Ashes of Outland also introduces an old-new mechanic - Dormant minions. We've seen this in the past with The Darkness. Now, almost every class gets their own class minion that goes dormant when played and awakens after two turns. Sorry Rogue and Shaman, none for you! Well, I suppose if you ask Maiev nicely, she will let you have some fun as well.
Most of these look like very solid minions with good to almost game-winning effects, looking at you Imprisoned Scrap Imp. The low cost means you don't lose much tempo but waiting 2 turns is no joke. The board state might be completely different, hell, game can be over already. Only time will tell how will they perform.
In our Ashes of Outlands: Arena Impact thread, we rated each card on a scale of 1 to 5, similar to how we rate cards across the entire site.
- 1 is the lowest score and 5 is the highest.
- The max. score a class could get is 50 (10x5).
It seems like overall quality of cards that classes got this expansion is very similar, but there are clear winners and losers, Shaman and Druid respectively. Druid might not come as much of a surprise, but Shaman getting the most cards with a very high power level ... oh, who am I kidding ... that is no surprise either.
While Druid got the short end of a stick, they did get one heavy hitter and that is Marsh Hydra. This card is a big minion, big removal and card generation all-in-one. Very scary. They also got an early buff card, Ironbark, and we all know how fast a buff like this on a 1 or 2 drop can snowball.
Hunter didn't get many standalone amazing cards, one exception might be Nagrand Slam, but they got a lot of decent cards that skyrocket in value if you can play into their Beast synergy, which Hunter excels at. Cards like Augmented Porcupine, Scrap Shot or Helboar are playable on their own, but if you have enough Beasts, they actually become insane.
There was a lot more focus on spells for Mage this expansion than minions, that's for sure, but because of that the power level of those spells is so high that they are actually very playable cards in Arena even if you get only the bare bones effects from them. For example Apexis Blast, you are never going to summon the 5-drop with this, but a direct 5 damage for 5 mana is still pretty good. Or Font of Power, while you are not going to get 3 minions, having an option to Discover a Mage minion is a huge advantage, you can land some pretty sick legendaries that can easilly become your win condition. Deep Freeze is almost always a strong play and Starscryer helps you dig for these.
Librams are a new concept for Paladin and they will shine in Arena as well, maybe even more so, if you can draft multiple copies and discount all of them! But even without any discount, all Librams - Libram of Hope, Libram of Wisdom and Libram of Justice - are pretty good cards on their own. Paladin got one more interesting card, Hand of A'dal, a small early buff that cycles itself. Very similar to the old Power Word: Shield. I say draft as many as possible, you will not regret it.
While Priest gets yet another powerful dragon, Skeletal Dragon, there is a lot of minion buffing and spell casting going around. Psyche Split, Dragonmaw Overseer and Apotheosis are all great options to get ahead, especially potent in a class that can heal its minions. Early buffs were always an almost insta-loss threat coming from Priest ever since Velen's Chosen. Don't overlook the little guys tho, while not as flashy, cards like Renew can be immensely powerful.
New Secrets for Rogue, and they are actually good? Who would have thought? Ambush is just a 2-cost Emperor Cobra, let's leave it at that. Bamboozle and Dirty Tricks are both great in their own right but they actually compliment each other as well. Your opponent would ideally like to play around Bamboozle by destroying the enemy minion with a spell, which can in turn trigger Dirty Tricks, so you will keep your opponent second guessing themselves and make their turn pretty uncomfortable. Add Blackjack Stunner, a targeted Freezing Trap, into the mix and things get interesting. Rogue also got a new Stealth package where individual cards are pretty good on their own and even better if you can take advantage of their synergy, namely Cursed Vagrant, Spymistress, Ashtongue Slayer and Greyheart Sage.
Shaman received the most cards of high quality of all classes. Pretty much every single card of the set is outstanding. New powerful evolve options with Boggspine Knuckles and Bogstrok Clacker, new single target hard removal Torrent and a new-ish type of mechanic - "If you cast a spell last turn". It probably won't surprise anyone seeing this mechanic on Elementals. While the preparation might not be as easy at times, the minions have good stats-to-cost ratio so they are great even without their effects, talking about Shattered Rumbler and Marshspawn. And last but not least, we have early removal without a tempo loss (ish) Serpentshrine Portal and an early buff that can help you recover from Hero Powering on T2 being your only play, Totemic Reflection.
Warlock got some insane cards this time around. A lot of hand-buffing, even though some of it rather random - Shadow Council. The 1-cost makes this an extremely good card, since it allows you to play this as early as T1 or later and play at least one Demon right away. But it is not an auto-pick nor auto-play, you might want to hold on to your AOEs and removals sometimes. Ashes of Outland bring a lot of new and powerful Demons into the mix, and the +2/+2 ensures that even the worst outcomes give you at least playable minions, stats wise. Imprisoned Scrap Imp is a huge early game play that can set you up for midgame and possibly even act as your win condition. Then there is Darkglare, probably the most interesting card Warlock got. Not only is it a great 3-drop in its own right, it basically makes your Hero Power cost 0 Mana. And any self-damage gives you back 2 Mana. Imagine getting multiple of these guys on the board, Life Tap and gain Mana :D Hilarious!
No new weapons will make life harder for Warrior. I'm not going to count Bulwark of Azzinoth, since it is a legendary and even if you get it offered, there is a little chance you pick it, nor does it serve the same purpose as other weapons. There is Imprisoned Gan'arg which is technically a weapon (Fiery War Axe), and while the card is good, 2 turn delay is very long. Funnily enough, in a "no weapon set", there is a "draw a weapon" card, Corsair Cache. It can be pretty powerful if you can get weapons from other sets. That isn't to say Warrior didn't get anything good, Rush minions can pick up the slack - Bloodboil Brute and Bonechewer Raider.
Neutrality For Everyone
Neutral cards seem to fall mostly into two categories: Augmerchants and ... the rest. There are few unique ones that deserve a special mention too, I think.
A small Lackey-like group of minions. 1 Mana 2/1s that can deal 1 damage and give the targeted minion a bonus effect, if it survives. These guys can have a huge impact, they can act as a ping or can give out some strong keywords. Rush, Divine Shield and Spell Damage, all strong abilities in different situations. Augmerchants seem to posses the same strength as Lackeys - versatility. Expect to see them everywhere. Don't forget to pick some up yourself.
There are strong minions pretty much across the whole mana curve. Big beefy Taunts, pings, Rush, Freeze, token summoning. Expect to see these minions and some others on regular basis.
Waste Warden: An interesting card that can provide a huge advantage, but careful not to destroy your own board! Though don't be afraid to deal just 3 damage with it, already worth it.
Mo'arg Artificer: A new type of mechanic, similar to Spell Damage, but does not promote face damage. Cool card that can help you clear the board with weak spell(s), but again, it can turn on you, so be careful!
Infectious Sporeling: I left this for the end. Card I probably like the most from the entire set, it is basically a hard removal, a constant threat on the board, if the opponent does not have an answer via a spell or a weapon. Think of it basically as a Poisonous minion. However, Sporeling makes you think about how you go about using it, since you will put the ball in your opponent's court by attacking an enemy. But you can choose to take it right back if you have another minion and keep the threat alive. I expect this card to make for some interesting games.
And that is all for now. Good luck in your Arenas and have fun! Explore the new meta and especially Demon Hunter! Feel free to tell us all about it in the Arena forum.
Oh, almost forgot ... leave a run unfinished to get an Arena Ticket when rotation happens!