A few things I love about this expansion:
- Barely any RNG!
- A heaping helping of position-based cards!
- A big emphasis on combos!
- Support for existing archetypes!
- Revivals of existing keywords!
- A push for higher impact cards!
Overall expected Faction Ranking in terms of how high their card quality is (higher to lower)
Magmar - Vetruvian - Vanar - Songhai - Lyonar - Abyssian
Overall expected Faction Ranking in terms of their new expected Ranked power level
Magmar - Vetruvian - Vanar - Songhai - Lyonar - Abyssian
Best revealed card per Faction & top three Neutrals
Abyssian: Abhorrent Unbirth
Magmar: Ragnora the Relentless (or Saurian Finality)
Songhai: Shidai Stormblossom (or Penumbraxx)
Vetruvian: Grapnel Paradigm
Neutral: Capricious Marauder
For posterity, my quick take on the rest of the revealed IV cards!
Deathmark: Abyssian has enough removal that doesn’t require a board. Redundant Trash.
Horrific Visage: Like an inverse Soulshatter Pact that doesn’t help you go face. It might be a good stall card for Doom decks against swarm though? Very Niche, maybe Viable there.
Abhorrent Unbirth: Now that’s how we meme! Fun Answer or Die that is either Trash, or it’s Top Tier because you can use it in a Mech deck where it gets Rush from Metaltooth. Didn’t think of that, did you?
Gate to the Undervault: New keyword! If the Demons are good it might work for a nice chunky value deck. Amazing design. Fun Niche Viable.
Vellumscry: Very expensive but still more affordable than Rite so I expect it to see play in Wraithling or Mech decks. Niche Viable.
Furur Chakram: If any kind of swarm deck gets up and running this’ll be a Niche Staple for it. Very scary.
Betrayal: I cri evrytiem. Guess I shouldn’t be parking my Bonded Minion next to my General anymore :’(. Expensive, but probably good as a Meta tech card.
Stygian Observer: A lot of potential that’ll rock worlds if it has a sufficiently slow deck to shine in. Why not play Variax for that deck though? Seems like a Viable card with nowhere to go. Maybe I’m underselling it because Abyssian does have access to Darkfire Sacrifice. We’ll see.
Steadfast Formation: Too finnicky, trash.
Dauntless Advance: Great for Swarm, Zeal and Artifact decks on swing turns. Big Viable Niche card. Great in Gauntlet!
Sunbond Pavise: People are glossing over this one but I’m pretty pumped because of how much power this pushes for so little mana. Requires an established board though so I’ll go Viable for Ranked.
Vigilator: I don’t see it happening and it’s not artillery so I’m upset regardless.
Decorated Enlistee: Food for a new direction for Heal decks, a 4/5 on 3 mana might just do enough to be worth it. Niche Viable.
Fealty: I like it a lot, but I don’t know if the single Mana cost reduction is going to push it anywhere. Swarm decks might be able to completely refill their hand though so what do I know. Niche Viable/Top Tier.
Invincible: I not only need an established minion, but an unharmed one too? Seems like a fat chance, and if I want to buff something why don’t I run Afterblaze or Bond? Seems like a Viable card that won’t get into gear until the next rotation.
Call to Arms: Powerful, but it requires you to do NOTHING on 7 mana. I don’t see it: Answer or Die Trash.
Rage Reactor: As if Ragnora wasn’t scary enough yet. Niche Top Tier Staple unless 3 Health minions disappear.
Erratic Raptyr: Terrifyingly strong with on-hand hatch effects. Yikes. Niche Top Tier Staple.
Upper Hand: Millhorn control support? Does Magmar need more cards to control the board? I don’t see this happening: Niche Trash.
Homeostatic Rebuke: Very clever card, very strong card. Too bad Magmar already had amazing control cards. Looks like a flat-out Top Tier Staple to me, regardless of Niche. Not as good in Gauntlet, but probably still very useful.
Effulgent Infusion: Drogon and Twin Fang support, a great combo card that’ll be killing people from seemingly out of nowhere in no-time. Not sure if that’s a good thing. Niche Staple.
Progenitor: Answer or Die card on a good body and Egg support to boot. Yeah that’s probably another Egg Staple. It is kind of a win-more card, but at 4-Mana I think you’re happy with only 1 or 2 eggs, especially if it’s another Raptyr Egg.
Gigaloth: It’s a bit slow but the buff is so significant that I think it could see play. Ragnora might like it for an elaborate Ripper combo for 21 damage. An all around Answer or Die Viable card.
Saurian Finality: Wow. Seriously. Magmar: the new late-game king? I’m fine with expensive spells having a lot of impact, but this really is a lot of impact. Top Tier Staple, the fourth one I’m predicting for Magmar.
Mass Flight: Cool effect for some kind of payoff deck? I don’t know where this’d fit, but I like the idea. Viable.
A true assassin that I can’t ping down… Terrifying. Backstab Top Tier Staple Niche. Never mind: it has Build (2). Trash instead.
Thunderbomb: Songhai gets more crowd control, boooo! It looks like a fair card at that cost, terrifying with Eight Gates though… It’s like Phoenix Fire, but with all the trimmings added. Viable Staple.
Bamboozle: The meme that isn’t a meme! OBS with big payoff combo potential! Looks like a Fun Niche Staple with Eternity Painter
Substitution: Did Songhai really need another one of these? And at such a cost? I can’t think of a place for this right now. Trash.
Wildfire Tenketsu: Is there going to be an Eight Gates deck that wants to actually run minions? If so, I’ll bet this’ll be in it. Staple Niche.
Seeker Squad: That’s a lot of mana to spend for 4 Heartseekers. If the opponent can’t answer it you’ll probably just flat-out win but with all the pings in this game I suspect this’ll be Answer or Die Trash. Great for Gauntlet though.
Ornate Hiogi: Great effect but so expensive and no tempo on it. I think it’s going to be too slow: Niche Trash.
Essence Sculpt: An amazing card for Ilena that helps her survive the mid-to-late game with her tempo playstyle. I don’t expect to see it outside of her deck, and that’s a good thing. Niche Staple, and a great design.
Protosensor: Can I buff this with Kara? No? Why am I playing it then? Trash, unless there’s some kind of combo my stupid brain is missing.
Aspect of the Bear: An actually fair Aspect card? What year is this? I really like Vanar’s theme of transforming your own stuff, I hope this sees play after the deserved nerfs to AotR and CC. Niche Viable, for token decks.
Shatter: A good card that Ilena needs. I worry that it’ll just see play in Vanarcanysts though. Niche Staple.
Crystalline Reinforcement: Answer or Die in a combo deck that I don’t know about yet. A lot of potential with Kara maybe? I don’t know how good it could be yet, but I see potential.
Hydrogarm: Stun support and Egg hate on a fair body for its price. Good card, I’m not sure Ilena can even trigger Crystallize without a nearby target though? Niche Staple.
Wintertide: Triple Vespyrs with Kara, yes! Love Vespyrs, love the card, love Seismic Elemental. Niche Staple, although I don’t think the Vespyr deck will become meta (it’s too honest for its own good).
Auroraboros: If I’m wrong about Vespyrs this is probably going to be the reason why. It’s probably just going to make Vanarcanysts more unfair though. Niche Answer or Die Top Tier. Why does CPG want the game to revolve around EMP so much?
Burden of Knowledge: A free cantrip with Falcius or Iris Barrier or a pain deck enabler? Does CPG want Sajj to run Sworn minions? Weird, but interesting. Viable, in Ranked.
Kinematic Projection: Boom b**ch get out the way! Very cool idea and good to see Blast getting some support. I don’t know this’ll have enough impact but at the very least it can function as ranged removal for a turn if you have an established board. Viable.
Equality Constraint: An inverse Divine Bond? Cool! Instantly kills Structures, and that’s all you need to know. Staple if Structures see play and Viable with Ciphyron otherwise.
Neurolink: Seems like it’d be finnicky and win-more but I can see a Fun combo deck happening with this. Pandora combo 2018? I’m betting it’s Trash though, sorry.
Iris Barrier: Solo Sajj support, yay! Alongside Falcius it is going to be very difficult to get her down. I think this might be exactly what Sajj needed, especially now that she has Lost Artificer. Niche Staple.
Skyppy: Yes, it says Legendary Artifact. We’ll see if it fits (3 slot is pretty crowded) but I’d expect it will: a Staple. Also great for letting new players play around with cards they don’t have yet, nice!
Barren Shrike: It seems slow at 4 mana. Great in Gauntlet if you get it going. Why doesn’t it have Flying? Viable in Gauntlet, Trash in Ranked.
Lost in the Desert: Waaaaaaay too conditional, especially for a Faction that doesn’t move the enemy around. It’s like Decimate, but even less reliable. Trash.
Metaltooth: Instant Mech deck Staple, especially for Lyonar because they can easily buff it but really for any variant that runs S.I.L.V.E.R.
Recombobulus: Does Kaleos want this? What is this for? I really don’t know how to judge this card, but it’s Trash in Gauntlet.
Redsteel Minos: Great art, elegant and strong effect. I’ll be trying to make a Blood Surge deck with this but I mostly expect it to rock worlds in Gauntlet. Viable.
Timekeeper: And there it is! If it weren’t a 2/2 for 4 Mana it would see actual play. Trash.
Impervious Giago: It’s Baymax in Golurk’s armor! and Divine Bond food. It might be good, but the Airdrop is really important on Guardian. Looks Viable though.
Capricious Marauder: I really think CPG is underestimating how powerful this card is going to be in Ranked. You can build your deck around abusing this to súch an insane degree. It might be a soft Meta counter to EMP though. Poor Lyonar players like me don’t even have a viable way to deal with this! Martyrdom sets our own clock back and Aperion’s Claim is 0 tempo and 2 turns away when this drops! Maybe I’m overselling this but I expect several decks to come out of abusing this thing, including Solo Faie, Ilena, Sajj, Vaath and maybe even a weird Artifact Argeon Bond deck. Answer or Die Top Tier card.
Q’orrhlma’a aka ‘Bless You’: This is an amazing piece of design that might spawn a breed of ultraconsistent Ranked decks by itself. Removing your own chaff for the late game only helps you a lot of the time and disrupting the enemy deck can be really powerful. Duelyst matches might be too quick for this effect to really matter and a 6/6 stat stick isn’t mindblowing in terms of tempo but this card is a deckbuilder’s wet dream, and I suspect it’ll be Niche Viable, at least.
Reliquarian: Looks like either a Fun Meme or something truly special. The design pegs it as a Lyonar card but I can see many decks run this, depending on how good those ‘Faction artifacts’ actually turn out to be. Really cool card in principle that I hope to be playing without punishing myself for it.
Guess I’ll find out how impressively incorrect I am tomorrow!
Briefly on the new announced nerfs:
Bloodrage Mask: Good change
Spectral Revenant: I’d have made it damage BOTH Generals instead, but good change
Aspect of the Ravager: Good change, I hope it’s enough
Chromatic Cold: Good change, but a bit conservative
Frostburn: Very good change
Saberspine Tiger: Good change, although it’s probably just useless now outside of some combo deck.