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Mean Streets of Gadgetzan: Preview of Revealed Kabal Cards

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The next expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, has been announced, and many of the cards have been spoiled already. This first preview discusses the announced cards from the Kabal classes of Mage, Priest, and Warlock.

The Kabal are one of the three gangs in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Their relevance in-game is the use of tri-cast cards. Kabal cards can be played by Mage, Priest, and Warlock. Grimy Goons cards can be played by Warrior, Hunter, and Paladin. Jade Lotus cards can be played by Rogue, Druid, and Shaman.

Kabal cards:

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It is too early to tell how good Kabal Courier will be, but Discover tends to be far more powerful than instincts suggest. The fact it is from such a wide pool of cards might make this less strong than some other discovers however, and a 2/2 for 3 mana is very weak in general.

The custom spell from Kazakus is best explained in the video below. It involves three rounds of discover. 

Kazakus is an interesting card, and is bound to be popular with casual players. It does however look like it might be a strong playable card too. We have seen with many recent legendaries that many headline cards end up being tournament strength, and I don't see any reason for Blizzard to change this philosophy. Playing Kazakus with Reno Jackson in Reno Warlock seems like a certainty at this stage, but they will only co-exist in Standard for about four months and then Kazakus will be on his own.

Priest cards:

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Unsurprisingly, given the hate Priest has received recently, Blizzard were eager to reveal a lot of Priest cards early. At first glance, the Kabal Talonpriest seems like an improvement on Dark Cultist, and is at least comparable. The potions seem to show that Priest is headed down a tempo based route, having the board with a Pint-Size Potion in hand could be terrific if the support is there. The Talonpriest suggests that it will be. It will be interesting to see if Priest is given a powerful 2-drop, if it is, then I feel we could see some powerful decks capable of snowballing to victory. I am going to pass on commenting on the Dragon based cards, as we do not know enough about which Dragons will be available after Standard rotates.

No Warlock cards have been spoiled at time of writing, and only one Mage card, which is pictured below.

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Manic Soulcaster is probably not good enough for inclusion in a deck. If it does find play, it might be in a deck that survives a long time, and the Soulcaster can be used to get a combo piece twice. It is one of those cards that could pop up when we have all forgotten it exists.

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Pit fighter that lets you discover a card from your opponents deck and acts as dragon synergy activator? That looks... pretty good.

Kabal Courier looks like a good addition to renolock, no?  

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2 hours ago, Oddlane said:

I see Manic Soulcaster and Barnes setting up some interesting situations

Yes and no. I feel like those decks where Barnes is vital (Barnes/Ysh), it does nothing. In others, it's just a small boost to your chance of getting another mob. Even then, it's just the same old Barnes RNG.

I'm excited to see how it plays out, but I don't think it's going to be a defining card.

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I'll try to give my opinions on the spoiled cards and rate them, using this scale :

Spoiler

 

A : Obviously powerful, a multi-archetype staple, perhaps, a format-defining card.  (Tunnel TroggFiery War AxePiloted Shredder);

B: A decent card, your typical "bread and butter"; archetype staple; reliable niche card (Blackwing CorruptorCult SorcererBlood To IchorAcidic Swamp Ooze);

C: A mediocre or weak card that is a filler, outclassed by its peers or has a niche that's not reliable (Eater of SecretsStampeding Kodo;Stranglethorn Tiger; Infested Tauren);

D: It has seen play. Once. Something that's just really not great, but can occasionally make it in a meme deck, or via "get a random card" things. (Cone of ColdBloodsail CorsairStarfall);

F: Striclty unplayable. It exists to brick your random effect cards. (ShatterWispPurifyCaptain's Parrot).

Ratings are purely subjective, and, of course, opened up to debate. But I'll try to back them up with reasonable explainations.

One big thing to note is that I'll be giving two ratings - one for the current Standard, and one for going forward, in 2017-2018.

 

To kickstart things off - on all the triclass cards, or "Gang" cards:

Spoiler

The idea is definetly cool, but current iterations do not look great. It reminds me of multicolored cards in Magic: The Gathering, except for one huge thing. Being multicolored is a design thing that imposes strict disadvantage - a card is harder to cast because you need different types of mana. This drawback opens up space for card text to be good - and it will be balanced out in the end, because color screw is a very real thing. With those Gang cards coming in Hearthstone, design goes in a directly opposite way - being available to three classes is a strict advantage. You just can't make it good and don't stick an opportunity cost to make it fair. Also it would greatly reduce the diversity of the format. So it ends up undertuned, like it was with Inspire in TGT. 

Let's have a look on a Cabal Courier.

My main question is whether Discover on this cycle will look like "always one Mage, one Warlock and one Priest" or will it be pure RNG. Second option will render the card completely useless. A 2/2 body is just enough to make at least some relevance and get your mana investment back, and then the Discover still would be hard to make good, given the fact we're going in (sic!)the biggest Standard format we've ever had(!). I should give props to Courier though because it can be better post-rotation, when tempo will matter less and Discover will be more reliable.

Verdict : D for now, C in '17-'18.

Kazakus.

I have to shoot first here and call out for flavor loss. He says "custom spell" but it's a potion. And that's a serious issue. He doesn't even look like an alchemist! And frankly speaking, I have absolutely zero idea who is this guy - he does not look generic like some new characters do, so it leaves me wondering even more.

Now, on the card itself - we haven't seen all the variants yet, but I'm already making some safe assumptions. First of all, we can say this guy is Reno Jackson best buddy, and that is entirely true - you get the condition met, you get some flexibility and then the 5-drop slot in Reno decks is usually not clustered. Pretty much no questions he makes the 30. 

My biggest issue with Kazakus - he is not Reno Jackson (thx, Captain Obvious!). But it's a big thing - Reno is not just a payoff card with a chunk of value that you get for Highlander-style deck. Reno covers the deck's biggest issue - inconsistency - by being a safety valve in case you're getting ran over. Kazakus doesn't do that, and that may render him totally unplayable when '17-'18 rotation kicks in.

Verdict : B for now, D in '17-'18.

The good ones : Priest is alive!

Cabal Talonpriest

A variant of fan favorite Dark Cultist that could not come at a better time. Priest actually has viable targets in Twilight WhelpWyrmrest Agent, and then some new generic minions, so I'm expecting Talonpriest to be all over the place. Makeshift Deathlords incoming!

Verdict : B+ for now, B in '17-'18.

Dragonfire Potion

Lightbomb is alive and kicking. Would it be anything other than Priest, I would try to say that "pushing archetypes that hard is bad" but a desperate time requires desperate measures. It's playable even with 0 Dragons in your deck. But I should mention Dragons on the other side of the table are not exactly extinct right now.

Verdict : B+ for now, A in '17-'18.

Drakonid Operative

Pit Fighter-sized Shifting Shade Dragon? It competes with Blackwing Corruptor and Azure Drake, but going forward in Standard I could not ask for a better filler. This is the definition of "bread-and-butter" for your Dragon Priests(much like the other 5-drops mentioned are). And Discover is just the cherry on top.

VerdictB for now, B+ in '17-'18.

Pint-sized Potion

It's a fairly good combat trick that is going to be handy if you are trying to play for the board. A couple of synergies come to mind as well, so it's not going to be shelved for a long time.

Verdict : B for now, B in '17-'18.

Potion of Madness

This one is probably the most striking of the pack in terms of being undercosted and reliable. Shadow Madness saw play but it's ultimately too expensive. This little one is just as good and comes in at a bargain cost. Sign me up.

Verdict : A for now, A in '17-'18.

Manic Soulcaster

It looks like a very bad version of Shadowcaster (hence the name), except all the good things about Rogue card have been taken out. You'll forget it exists and then will be getting golden copies out of your rank 5 rewards and be frustrated. I'm not giving it F because it's still a Spider Tank.

Verdict : D for now, D in '17-'18.

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Drakonid Operative seems absolutely nuts. What's possibly its strongest feature though is that discover mechanic, you basically get to look inside your opponent's deck and see 3 cards! That info can be so incredibly important. You can find out specific tech cards, spot niche decklist changes, see what removal isn't in hand but still in deck etc. This card will be MVP of the entire list imo.

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On 11/7/2016 at 5:10 AM, YourGod said:

Let's go Priest! Time for a rebound. 

So glad to see that 3 slot filled.

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On 11/7/2016 at 6:19 AM, PaasHaaS said:

Drakonid Operative seems absolutely nuts. What's possibly its strongest feature though is that discover mechanic, you basically get to look inside your opponent's deck and see 3 cards! That info can be so incredibly important. You can find out specific tech cards, spot niche decklist changes, see what removal isn't in hand but still in deck etc. This card will be MVP of the entire list imo.

Definitely gives a nice indicator of what you're facing, but I can't think of many decks where you haven't figured out the majority of the time by turn 5. Maybe if there are 2+ variants of a control deck? Even then, I feel like most of them have something to hint.

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10 hours ago, Blainie said:

Definitely gives a nice indicator of what you're facing, but I can't think of many decks where you haven't figured out the majority of the time by turn 5. Maybe if there are 2+ variants of a control deck? Even then, I feel like most of them have something to hint.

Spotting which deck your opponent is playing will indeed just be confirmation a lot of the time. It will still be useful to spot some subtle differences between some decks or varieties of them though, or the spot tech cards like a harrison jones, mc tech, yogg, alex etc.  Getting a bit of a read on your opponent's hand is another big part of it though. You know that the cards you see can't be in your opponents hand. Playing this later in the game actually tells you quite a lot, as by this time they will have played at least 1 copy of a lot of their cards, so if you see certain spot removal or board clear still in there deck you know they have nothing right now.

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6 hours ago, PaasHaaS said:

Getting a bit of a read on your opponent's hand is another big part of it though. You know that the cards you see can't be in your opponents hand.

I think this is definitely a better appraisal of how it could be used. I wonder if things can appear twice or if seeing two Brawls, for example, means the opponent has two brawls left in their deck.

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