A Change of Scenery: A Look at Hearthstone Rotation in 2017

Written by: Josh Cosentino

Each year, the Hearthstone Standard format goes through a rotation in which only the last two years of sets and adventures stay legal. The rest rotate out, remaining eternally in the Wild format. This time around, two adventures and a card set will leave. The League of Explorers, Blackrock Mountain, and The Grand Tournament will all say their goodbyes. We’re going to look into what current and past decks and archetypes are most hurt by this, and what deck shells will likely remain intact.

What’s Leaving

The League of Explorers

Elise Starseeker
A finisher for control decks, Elise added inevitability and was a big factor in control mirrors. She allowed you to play less big creatures and a lot more removal to deal with small threats, since you would have a lot of legendaries to play once the Golden Monkey hit the board.

Decks Affected: Control Warrior

Brann Bronzebeard
Brann has seen a resurgence lately. Any deck abusing Kazakus really likes to pair it with Brann on turn seven. Singleton decks everywhere will miss him. I’m sure he’ll still see a fair bit of play in Wild, as his effect can be useful in a lot of scenarios.

Decks Affected: Reno Mage, Reno Lock, Control Shaman

Reno Jackson
Reno has been a pillar of Hearthstone since his release, and has had an entire archetype revolve around him. Aggressive decks usually can’t keep up with having to deal 60 points of damage in a game. Kazakus decks may still thrive after Reno leaves, but it really depends on how the metagame breaks.

Decks Affected: Reno Anything

Sir Finley Mrggllton
Some say that Finley is bad for the game, due to the fact that he blurs the lines between classes and chips at the identities of the classes themselves. It can also be argued that he makes certain archetypes viable by giving their hero a power to better fit the style of deck they’re playing. It was a very strong card as a one drop.

Decks Affected: Pirate Warrior, Aggro Shaman

Anyfin Can Happen
While it used to only see play in low tier Murloc decks, Anyfin has been showing up in force after a huge showing at the Trinity team tournament. This new Combo Control deck will unfortunately live a fairly short life.

Decks Affected: Anyfin Combo

Entomb/Excavated Evil
Two of Control Priests stronger removal cards are going away. They received a good sweeper in Dragonfire Potion recently, so hopefully the trade off will keep the archetype relevant.

Decks Affected: Control Priest, Dragon Priest, Reno Priest

Tunnel Trogg
As one of Aggro Shaman’s premier one drops, the departure of Tunnel Trogg is going to make Overload hurt a little more as a mechanic.

Decks Affected: Most, if not all, Shaman decks

The Grand Tournament

Aviana
Aviana has been in a few Ramp Druid decks throughout the past few years, but she’s recently seen play in a Druid Combo deck of sorts. She definitely had a unique effect.

Decks Affected: Ramp Druid, Maly/Aviana/Kun

Justicar Trueheart
Justicar served a purpose similar to Elise and Reno in the decks that it found its home. It provided a way to win the game if left unchecked for Priest and Warrior Control decks.

Decks Affected: Control Warrior

Mulch
Druid is losing a good destruction spell in Mulch. It is a catch all spell with no restrictions, even though it had a slight downside. It will be interesting to see what takes its slot in Midrange Druid lists.

Decks Affected: Jade Druid, Ramp Druid, Mill Druid

Bash
Bash is one of Warrior’s best tools for dealing with Aggressive starts, because it attacks the decks from two different angles. Warrior is not hurting for replacements, but I think that anything you would put in its place will be suboptimal.

Decks Affected: Control Warrior, Midrange Warrior

Totem Golem

Quite possibly the best 2 cost creature in the game. It would be a fine card at 3 cost, but it gives you a 3 / 4 body on a payment plan. Shaman will miss this guy when dealing with aggressive matchups.

Decks Affected: All Shaman Variants

Refreshment Vendor
Reno Jackson’s baby brother, the Refreshment Vendor helped shore up the bleeding until Reno showed up. He didn’t ask anything of you except to cast him. He’s showing up in more and more decks because Aggro is so prevalent. He’s a heal on a decent body. Mistress of Mixtures would be a fine replacement, but they’re very often paired together.

Decks Affected: Reno Decks

Twilight Guardian/Wyrmrest Agent: We’ll get to these two shortly.

Blackrock Mountain

One of the most beloved archetypes in Hearthstone dies with the rotation of Blackrock Mountain. Dragon decks have seen play since its release, and while some of the Dragon cards remain legal, some of the big enablers are on their way out. Here’s what we’re losing-

Twilight Guardian
Wyrmrest Agent
Dragon consort
Twilight Whelp
Drakonid Crusher
Volcanic Drake
Blackwing Corruptor
Blackwing Technician

All of these cards are seeing or have seen play in prominent meta decks, whether they be full-on dragon decks or only sporting a smaller dragon package. Looking into the future, it’s likely that Dragons will be more of a side note as opposed to a complete archetype.

Imp Gang Boss
When Warlock Zoo was one of the best aggro decks, Imp Gang Boss was a fantastic card. He helped with trading against more aggressive decks, and made control lists spend more than one card on him. If some version of Zoo becomes good post-rotation, it will definitely be hurting for Imp Gang Boss.

Affected Decks: Zoo, Reno Lock, Demon Lock

Emperor Thaurissan
Thaurissan enabled combos, helped control decks keep up tempo against faster decks, and was a respectable creature for the cost. In my opinion, he’s one of the most powerful creatures Hearthstone has ever “printed.”

Affected Decks: Reno Lock, Control Warrior

Grim Patron
It’s been awhile since the glory days of Patron Warrior. Some remember those days fondly, and others with a bitter taste in their mouths. Patron decks are few and far between these days, as they’ve lost a ton of reach due to the nerfs that attacked the deck. Maybe one day the deck will get another enabler and rise up in the Wild scene.

Affected Decks: Patron Warrior

What’s Staying

With a large percentage of the card pool leaving and no knowledge of what’s to come, one can only speculate on what might be good come rotation day. Miracle Rogue keeps most of its tools since alot comes from the classic set. Jade Druid remains very strong against control decks, and may be set to be in a good position if the potential nerf to the Pirate package is big enough. Aggro Shaman still has a lot of elements to remain strong even while losing as much as it is. It only needs a few cards to stay prominent. Pirates may still be good, but may only be good in dedicated Pirate strategies. Buff Paladin and Hunter were really pushed in the most recent set, and it’s possible they’ll be incredibly strong when a lot of the current meta fades away. Kazakus is the last deck that I’m keeping my eye on, because it’s insanely powerful on its own but requires you to play a more inconsistent shell. His effect is great, but it may not give you as much staying power as Reno. Reno was even able to run both himself and Kazakus!

This change is going to shake the format, and the landscape is going to look entirely different. We have no idea what’s to come, and it’s going to be very exciting when it happens. Look for spoilers, theorycraft decks, try them out, and look to the pros to see what they think is good. New adventures await.

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