Hey there, let’s talk about the direction of Magmar.
I’m compelled to talk about the current state of the game and what CP intends to do with it. It’s gotten fast. CP has made very clear that reaching 8-9 mana should be a rarity and should pertain crazy things, if Variax is to be taken as an example. Lightning fast isn’t just an adage anymore it’s actually the speed at which you can die on turn 4. They’ve given most factions that didn’t have massive burst that very thing and where before games could be stalled out due to lack of cards, every faction now has reliable ways to draw more cards (I believe Vanar is the only faction that doesn’t have massive card-draw now). The only inhibitor to all this burst is mana, never resources. They’ve tried to tone down the frustration of encountering a situation and having no answer, which is good. Still, Duelyst was never very good as reactive game, so if you’re doing that (i.e. answering) and not building your killing blow, you’re not doing well. Control is not really an option in this game. At 15 health you can see the sharks circling.
To summarize: How’s the state of the game? Very, very fast and bursty.
Now onto why we’re all here: Magmar (theory) discussion!
Right, first of all I’m not a great guy with balance and the most optimal decks. I don’t play enough to get to S-rank. I don’t even know I CAN get to S-rank (highest I’ve gotten through playing 4-8 games in a similar amount of days is Diamond 2, I think). So do not look to me for an explanation of the current Magmar position in S-rank or if Vaath is in the top three of best generals (my answer: He probably is?). What I’m here for, mostly, is the theory and evolution of the Magmar faction (or rather how I see it going and how I’d like to see it going.)
Vaath and Starhorn are still our only two options, of which one is left behind again. I’m of course talking about Va… Starhorn. Of course I’m talking about Starhorn. Vaath will always be a good general because there’s no need to build a deck around him. Vaath will always smash and with the addition of Drogon, Vaath will smash even more. Vaath was never a problem and I see almost no possible future where you wouldn’t want to play Vaath. His BBS is basic but ever useful.
Vaath is like a crocodile or a snake, a primordial creature that will always thrive and never really needs to change the way it works to thrive in whatever situation. Thriving, to CP, apparently means being able to burst you for 8-10 damage though.
Then there’s our problem-child: Starhorn, on whom I’ve recently jotted down some post-expansion thoughts. The main issue with him is that his BBS is one of the only ones with a downside. You do not want to pay to give your opponent cards generally. If you give them a lot of them that can be good to mill them, but just one every odd turn isn’t going to do much good.
Pre-expansion draw was very valuable and rare, so playing against Starhorn was just getting free cards. His BBS was made for swarm decks… which Magmar has almost no synergy with. There are not enough in-faction small minions to make it work. Yes there are a ton of battlepets and neutrals to make it viable, but that doesn’t make Starhorn fit in Magmar.
(copy-pasting from my previous post)
CP has chosen to solve the problem of Starhorn’s BBS’ downside by focusing this expansion on him. Or rather on card-draw. If every faction has reliable card-draw cards then drawing cards for the opponent isn’t that much of an issue. This still does not solve Starhorn’s issue, since they gave Magmar reliable card-draw as well. So why would you run Starhorn if Vaath can draw just as well? You don’t as is being proven.
Magmar still lacks the spammability needed to make this extra card-draw work properly, with only Rancour and a sub-par 3-drop being added for the early game to the faction that loves the 4-slot. There is no reason to run Starhorn for his extra card when Vaath’s is valuable all through the game and he can get cards as well.
That being said, Card-draw does seem to have found a niche in the Magmar faction: It is part of the self-harm archetype. Tectonic Spikes shows this, you hurt yourself to draw cards and those effects activate other mininos and effects (Twin Fang and rancour). Mark my words, we’ll see more cards for Magmar that function with harming your general that will function with a similar effect.
Unfortunately most of these cards only have card-draw as a peripheral effect in function of self-harm. If you play Tectonic Spikes to get Rancour or Twing Fang bigger, you don’t really care about the card-draw. The cards that do care about the card-draw directly: Visionar and Vindicator also only care about the card-draw in a peripheral way. They’re just a way to boost their stats. These mininos don’t utilize the extra cards you draw. Their growth could just as easily be activated by any other effect (such as for example, gaining stats whenever your general is hurt. Speculation on my end).
Magmar still has no real reason to have a general that focusses on card-draw. Their faction still has no reason to use card-draw as an effect besides it being just a medium to get certain effects that have nothing to do with card-draw. That they have been given Card-draw, which was one of their primary weaknesses is also very frustrating for the opponent. And where Sajj was given minions that support HER bbs with Starhorn it’s the other way around: Minions are given artificial card-draw scaling that can function decently without Starhorn’s BBS. This is both good and bad, good because this means that Starhorn and Vaath can use the same minions… Bad because why would you use Starhorn over Vaath if you can use Vaath whose BBS has no downside.
In conclusion: Starhorn is still one step behind Vaath because there’s still no reason for Magmar to have card-draw in any way. The card-draw scaling with minions is artificial and could be done any other/different way. Vaath can do it better with the new cards while having a useful BBS anyway. The one extra increase Starhorn gives is not going to help compared to the three given by tectonic spikes. Neither will it mill better compared to Vaath. The extra card for the opponent BBS will never be a benefit as long as it happens every 2-3 turns only.
There is also still no reason for Magmar, as a faction, to draw more cards for themselves. There is no incentive to swarm in-faction. There is no benefit to drawing more cards for minions, buffs, artefacts or spells aside from those on which it is artificial (Visionar and Vindicator). Unless something drastically changes in the faction, there never will. (for my previous post on this see here.)
I’d love to go into the various archtypes too a little later and how they’'re going to be catered to. Where the new crop of minions can be placed and what (I think) they herald for future development. That’ll be later though.
I conclude with the formal prayer of the Magmar: In the name of The Immortal, The Warbeast and The Holy Golden Chrysalis.