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This is the second installment of ‘A View from Blackrock Mountain’, where I share my thoughts on the various cards that were announced so far (from the upcoming Hearthstone adventure, Blackrock Mountain).
Today we will take a look at Dragon-related cards that are on opposite ends of the ‘hype spectrum’: the underhyped Rend Blackhand, and the overhyped Hungry Dragon.
Let us first talk about Rend Blackhand. At first, second, and third glance, he is just plainly not very good. 7 mana just feels too expensive for an 8/4 (even with upside). If you compare him to his fellow ‘hate-card’ compatriots like The Black Knight, Harrison Jones, and Big Game Hunter, he costs way too much for his size.
So what exactly are you paying so much mana for? In a word, flexibility. When we think about our current ranked meta game, we start to realise that there are many Legendaries that are extremely difficult to deal with. Sylvanas Windrunner, Dr. Boom, The Black Knight, Harrison Jones, and company are prevalent in many of the top performing tournament decks.
Rend Blackhand handles many of those cards with ease by itself. The flexibility in answering many of these Legendary threats efficiently means that it is almost never a dead card. The act of removing a threat and adding one of your own to the board is such a tempo swing that based on that merit alone, this card should at least be considered in decks that play Dragons, just as a form of flex removal.
The next question this card poses is this: how reliable is the condition of holding a Dragon in your hand? This is a tough question to answer but my view is that once Blackrock Mountain is out, there will be space in the meta game for a Dragon-themed mid-range value deck which plays all the strong dragons like Azure Drake, Twilight Drake, Hungry Dragon, and the cards that gain additional effects from having them in your hand. If this deck is a viable concept, Rend Blackhand could be the flexible value minion that it needs to bring it over the top. In decks that cannot reliably draw Dragons, however; Rend Blackhand would be pretty useless.
One of the big concerns is that it dies to Big Game Hunter without leaving any value behind. Firstly, if you have already killed a Legendary minion with Rend Blackhand and it gets removed by Big Game Hunter, the value trade-off is even. Secondly, the appearance of Big Game Hunter will pave the way for your other big threats, like Ragnaros the Firelord or Dr. Boom to hit the board without an answer (probably).
In the ‘Arena’, this will probably be one of the worst Legendary cards to pick, since firstly, encountering Legendary minions is rare in the ‘Arena’, and secondly, getting Dragons consistently is tough. The 8/4 body is just not worth it for 7 mana, and I do hope none of our readers gets put into a position where they are forced to pick Rend Blackhand; that would truly be a very sad draft.
Overall, Rend Blackhand’s condition for activation means that it can only exist in niche decks. I feel that its flexibility in those decks will make it a role player as a value minion that also acts as a removal, much in the way of The Black Knight and Harrison Jones in many of our decks today.
Hungry Dragon is a card that was very hyped with its announcement at PAX East, and for good reason. 5/6 for 4 mana is a very large body that could take over the game if left unanswered, being big enough to answer even 5-mana cards like Sludge Belcher. The question then is how relevant will the random 1-cost minion be.
Assuming you were unable to take out the random one-drop on the same turn that you play Hungry Dragon, and your opponent traded it back, you basically paid 4 mana for a 5/3, 5/4, or 5/5, depending on how lucky you are with the one-drop. These are not numbers that are particularly inspiring, especially since Lost Tallstrider is an average of those numbers and has not been seen much in constructed play. On the other end, assuming the one-cost minion has 1-health as most of them do, and you are playing a class with a targettable Hero Power (like Rogue or Druid), using the Hero Power to remove the one-drop minion would translate into you spending 6 mana (and some life) on a 5/6. Those stats are very uninspiring when compared to the Boulderfist Ogre, a vanilla 6-mana 6/7 that also sees little-to-no constructed play.
The situations where Hungry Dragon shines, then, are the ones where you have the ability to remove the 1-cost minion from your opponent on the very same turn you play the Hungry Dragon without using any mana. Essentially, Hungry Dragon will only work in early game board control decks where you put minions on the board to set up for it. These decks, presumably, should be in the market for large minions that deal a lot of damage – maybe Zoo or Paladin? But seeing as how these decks are not even playing an under-costed body like Chillwind Yeti, this leads me to think that those are not the decks that would probably want a Hungry Dragon.
A deck where Hungry Dragon would shine would be the Dragon mid-range deck that I have discussed earlier. In these decks, the text on the card actually matters (it is a Dragon), and thus would allow for the Dragon synergies to take place. Furthermore, if the curve of the deck starts low, it can answer the one-cost minion that comes out, securing your 5/6 in place on the board and ready to tear into some face.
In the ‘Arena’, this is one of those cards that is decent by itself, but given certain board states, can completely take over the game – cards like Frothing Berserker, Micro Machine, and the like. At worst, it is close to a Lost Tallstrider; a perfectly fine pick in the ‘Arena’. At its best, Hungry Dragon runs away with games because the 5/6 body is just so difficult to deal with. Definitely a top pick in the ‘Arena’ in my opinion.
Overall, Hungry Dragon is a card with plenty of potential to impact the meta game. Its power level has been definitely pushed by Blizzard, and time will tell if the meta game has space for it to dominate (and for that Dragon mid-range deck that I am so excited to build once Blackrock Mountain is out!)
Tl;dr: Rend Blackhand may not be as bad as you think and sucks in the ‘Arena’, and Hungry Dragon, in the right deck, could be absolutely insane. Otherwise, it is average.
Hope you enjoyed this installment of ‘A View from Blackrock Mountain’! Do come back to Hearthstone Alley to check out for the next one. Cheers!
Hey, I’m Avery. Been playing Hearthstone for a year, aiming to hit Legend rank consistently every month. Am looking to step into the world of Hearthstone media content, so if you have any feedback, please send it to Avery.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edited by Silfer