Shawn Lucas is the self identified "Noob of All Trades". He is married and the father of three boys, two of whom help with their own podcast every couple of months. Raised on Atari, Nintendo, and Sega, he enjoys all games and will play all of them to the best of his ability, which is often average at best. Currently, he is most interested in Magic, Heroclix, and other games that he can play with Chris and his sons.
Yesterday’s Strixhaven Esper review marked a triumphant return to the page for me. Today, we look at the Strixhaven Gruul cards. Traditionally, as you all know, these colors have been my strong suit. Nevertheless, I soldier on and do my duty to pick the cards for this article.
If you read yesterday’s article, you know that many of the cards I picked fit right in with nonexistent, as of today, commander decks. I suppose that it’s time to brush off the old, “I’m a Commander player that has never played a single game of Commander.” Sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop saying that. But, not today, true believers!
Today, I pick the best cards from my worst colors. Red and Green are Chris’s thing. Maybe I should get his input for this article. Too bad he swore off this set completely in one of our last text chains. Oh well, I guess you’re stuck with my Strixhaven Gruul cards.
Red (Play a better color like black or blue)
Honorable Mention (Draoconic Intervention/Retriever Phoenix): The requisite phoenix in the set dies to all removal. However, it gives us another use for our Learn mechanic as long as it isn’t exiled. Being a blue player, I don’t know why you wouldn’t use Learn to cycle, but that is between you and your god. The other is just mass removal because, if I’m forced to play red, I’m playing it like black.
Conspiracy Theorist: This card is simply amazing. I honestly have no idea why this card is not blue. It does blue things. Everything it does is blue. I get that WotC switched up the color wheel and moved some things into new colors. It adds much needed diversity to the strategy of the game. Even so, I operate under the assumption that this card is blue.
Green (Some Johnny, Some Timmy, Some Spike?)
Honorable Mention (Accomplished Alchemist/Bayou Groff): That plant dog looks like he’s not a good boi. However, he hits the board pretty quickly in a token deck. If you get it out there and give it trample, it does some serious damage. Meanwhile, the elf shows up because the Johnny Combo that lives deep in the recesses of my brain wants it to be there.
Leyline Invocation: Admittedly, few universes exist where this card excites Spike. I wanted to complete the trilogy, but Spike avoids me. And so, I present a Timmy/Johnny bastard child that ultimately does nothing. What can I say? I like the Fractal token.
The Verdict (I warned you)
I told you from the beginning. I despise red and green. Okay, that’s not entirely true. However, I treated red like blue or black and basically memed all over green. If you want red or green picks this time, I guess we wait to see if Chris responds with his picks. Since he already said he wants nothing to do with this set, don’t hold your breaths.
Note: Spoilers courtesy of Mythic Spoiler. Check them out for all your spoiler needs!
Welcome to our Strixhaven Esper review. I tried something different with my most recent Hearthstone reviews. Unfortunately, that format isn’t conducive to Magic the Gathering reviews simply because of the number of cards in the average MTG set. Therefore, MTG reviews remain a single card (with two honorable mention) for each color, mult-colored, and colorless (plus land, if applicable). Chris chose to pass on Strixhaven. I ordered my usual box/bundle combo. However, I have yet to even open my Zendikar Rising product. Granted, I am on vacation this week. Even so, I have no motivation.
I promised to put up at least one YouTube video this week to try to build some momentum there. I noticed that my Shadowlands reaction video got 190 views. It gave me the idea to post some gameplay from the new Atari 2600 game, Circus Convoy. I ordered two copies because the cartridges don’t work with my emulator. I was going to give the non-collector copy away in an attempt to drive traffic/subscribers.
Chris agrees that the idea has both merit and potential. I still have time during the vacation. I just have to hope that the motivation loads before vacation ends. But, that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s take a look at these Strixhaven Esper cards.
White (Fun Police and Invisible Decks)
Honorable Mention (Study Break/Expel): The two honorable mention cards work well together in a fun police deck. We all know those are my favorite decks to play. Even alone they have some utility. Plus, Study Break gives me the opportunity to talk about a new mechanic, Learn. I like the flexibility of Learn.
Secret Rendezvous: This card combos quite nicely with Narset, Parter of Veils in my nonexistent Dragonlord Ojutai EDH deck. One of these day, surprise! Deck built and used to terrorize opponents on MTGO. More likely, look for the deck on xMage since I’m already invested in physical cards and MTGA. Who knows? Maybe if FNM in person ever returns, the deck makes an appearance there.
Blue (Draw Cards, then Draw More Cards)
Honorable Mention (Ingenious Mastery/Teachings of the Archaics): I like drawing cards. I know. We all like drawing cards. Drawing cards gives us more cards to draw more cards. But, me, I really like drawing cards. I like drawing cards so much that if they gave an award for drawing cards, I wouldn’t win the award because I’d be too busy drawing more cards.
Multiple Choice: This card is hilarious. From the ridiculous design to the apt name, this card is going into every single deck I run that’s blue. Those of you who visit the page often know that’s every single one of my decks. Especially that Dragonlord Ojutai deck. Maybe if I say it enough, I can manifest the deck from thin air.
Black (Show Some Love for Liliana)
Honorable Mention (Go Blank/Plumb the Forbidden): Go Blank is Mind Rot with upside! Plumb the Forbidden might actually overtake Ms. Liliana as my choice card. I just came up with an idea for another nonexistent EDH deck. This one builds around an as of now unknown Esper commander, but uses Bastion of Remembrance and possibly Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Is there an Esper commander that creates tokens? Did I mention that I like drawing cards?
Professor Onyx: Have I declared my love for Liliana on the page yet? If not, let this serve as that declaration. She and Jace repeatedly top my list of favorite Planeswalkers. Sure, there was that brief fling with Teferi (3,4, and 5 mana cost all) and Narset plays in my MTGA decks. But, I have an Instagram post from a couple of years ago with both Jace and Liliana on the field. Hell, I used this card as an example of why I was excited for the set in a text to Chris. Toss it into my imaginary Esper EDH deck as well.
The Strixhaven Esper cards I picked for the article look very fun. All of them give me ideas for decks. I’m currently texting Chris about some NFL news and I’ve considered telling him that I want to deck doctor, especially these imaginary EDH decks I keep talking about. Join us next time for the Gruul colors!
Hearthstone Barrens Part 5 brings us, at last, to the end of our journey into Horde territory. It represents an arduous week and a half long trip through dangerous terrain. During our last entry, we fought against sneaky rogues and shaman wielding the very power of nature itself. I’m proud of our successes. We will learn from our failures. Overall, the journey made us stronger.
The final leg of our trip looks at Warlock and Warrior cards from the set. While I hate Rogue and Shaman, I always loved playing Handlock. Plus, any version of Wallet Warrior gives me a big happy. Neither of those archetypes appears in this set. However, wild exists. Maybe some cards from the set make it into those decks.
Speaking of Wild, I play that format almost exclusively. You think I’d (a) be better at it and (b) build decks around my favorite cards in the set. Let me answer in order. (a) I don’t care enough about the game to git gud. (b) That’s actually a good idea. Maybe after I review the new MTG set this week, I will revisit that idea. Thanks, random reader! For now, lets finish this set with Hearthstone Barrens Part 5.
Decent: Broken record time. Look! Another ranked spell. This one is especially awful. Even if you get the fully ranked version, maybe you’ve exhausted all of your opponent’s removal. Highly unlikely, but that’s the only hope you have if you’re running this card. Honestly, the outfitter isn’t all that terrible, but this feels much more like they included it in the game to put it into Battlegrounds.
Good: A sub theme of Shadow spells for Warlock here. Similar to the sub theme of elementals for Shaman in the last article, I slacked on research. Therefore, this may be a strong archetype with other cards in the format. I will say that I haven’t seen much evidence of that. Who knows? Maybe they’re setting it up for a future set.
Great: As I mentioned, I loved Handlock. I tried playing Discolock a couple of times and performed terribly. Zoo is always there when I want to finish a Warlock quest quickly. But, my all time favorite deck was probably Mecha’thun Warlock. This strategy plays right into that deck. Another reason to revisit these cards in Wild.
Having played a mill strategy in both Hearthstone and MTG and also realizing that I said in my last article that I despised mill strategies, especially in Hearthstone, I find it funny that Blizzard forced Warlock into a mill strategy in this set. Yikes, how’s that for a run on sentence? I’d hate to diagram that almost as much as I hate mill strategies. On that note, I probably won’t ever play this deck. Oh yeah! How’s that for a transition? Ready for another, less smooth one?
Decent: Okay, I won’t even say it this time. Instead, join me for story time. Once upon a time, Paladin utilized a strategy known as Hand Buff Paladin. I’m confident in your ability to figure out the base line of that strategy. These cards read like a worse version of that deck.
Good: Unlike some of the more recent classes, the good cards for warrior share little synergy. Perhaps I need to rethink my assessment of these cards. Honestly, it makes little difference. However, if I want to be taken seriously, I have to take myself seriously. When I redo my ranks in a few weeks, remind me to reevaluate Warrior more seriously.
Great: Blizzard pushing me to build a possibly terrible Frenzy Warrior deck. I’m more than willing to take that bait. It seems that others have, too. I faced more than one Frenzy Warrior during my recent play tests.
This deck combines Rush with Frenzy and the one taunt minion from above for some late game protection. It also is a deck that I shamelessly stole from Hearthstone top decks. The originator of the deck is Dekkster. Sorry for that, but I wanted to get this article done. 9/10 ain’t bad and you get at least one good deck from this all.
Hearthstone Barrens Part 5 wraps up the review of the set. Overall, I’m happy with how the new format worked and I may try it with my MTG Strixhaven review, hopefully starting tomorrow. MTG sets have many more cards, so I doubt I’ll include every card in the review, but I’ll try. Okay, off to swear at Hearthstone. I have some new decks to play!
Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 brings us 2 of my least favorite classes. I both hate playing and playing against Rogue and Shaman. It hasn’t always been like that. When the game first released, I enjoyed playing Shaman. I’ve never been able to figure out Rogue. I remember watching a stream and asking the streamer how to survive hitting everything with my face. Warrior and Druid both have armor to mitigate their attacks on minions. Shaman has healing. Rogue…has aggression? I guess. Kill the other player before you kill yourself.
Rogue started to annoy me with Kingsbane and the fact that everyone who plays Rogue in wild chooses mill. Hearthstone mill annoys me even more than MTG. At least in MTG, you have the option to recur your cards from the graveyard. When they’re milled in Hearthstone, they’re gone. So, yeah, screw Hearthstone mill.
Aggro Shaman became a deck a few years ago. Then, evolve Shaman burst onto the scene and continue to annoyingly bubble up into the meta. Finally, battlecry Shaman with Shudderwock made me want to claw the skin off of my face. While I don’t react as viscerally to Shaman, it still ranks at the bottom of my list of classes. Let’s get this Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 review out of the way.
Decent: I suppose that Yoink! can have some utility, depending on the hero power choices you get and the situation. Oil Rig Ambusher is overall terrible unless maybe you combo it with Shadowstep? Even that feels underwhelming.
Good: Wicked Stab deals 6 damage at top rank. Field Contact might work in the right deck as a pseudo miracle effect, but it dies far too easily to removal to be consistent. And, the Octo-bot has a good Frenzy effect that might actually trigger. Frenzy pops when the minion first survives damage. It just doesn’t fit my “Poison Rogue” build I made.
Great: Once upon a time, Rogue ran a weapon that received +1 durability when you played a card from another class. Usually, you only put one in your deck because the other cards synergized so well that you went infinite with the weapon. Well, other than the fact that everyone else played rogue, too, and nullified the effect. Okay, what does this “Poison Rogue” that can’t quite go infinite look like?
This deck might actually make me change my mind about playing Rogue. It looks like a lot of fun. The cheap spells and topping off at 5 mana with Secret Passage ensures that there might be some crazy lethal turns out of nowhere. I might have overdone it with the removal and probably should have Eviscerate instead of Brain Freeze since it can go face. Especially since I have Ironbeak Owl and Coerce already in the deck. Now that I read it, I think that might be a change that I have to make. Join us in a month or so when I revisit these decks to see if I actually do that.
Decent: Once again, the effects of the “Decent” cards look and feel too situational for me to consider them for my deck. At least for Shaman, they synergize pretty well. I with that Chain Lightning worked like The Lurker Below, but that would be busted as hell.
Good: Elementals! Elementals everywhere! Not really. There’s only 3 in this set and I’m not sure how many others in Standard right now. And so my laziness, and frankly stubbornness perhaps, you are stuck with murlocs instead. Let’s see the murlocs!
Seeing that murlocs in Standard are currently grossly underpowered, this deck is sure to lose more than it’ll win. I can’t even promise you that you’ll have fun as you’re losing. Why build this deck then? Why? Mglrlgglrlrlrlrlg!
That last statement translates roughly to “Eff Shaman, that’s why.” I jammed all possible murlocs in the deck. Put in some buffs, a bit of removal, and viola! We have a deck. Mgrglglglrlglglrgl!
I said that Hearthstone Barrens Part 4 brings two of my least favorite classes. They might even be my least favorite. The rogue deck actually makes me want to play the class more this expansion. The Shaman deck makes me laugh because it’s so terribly bad and I’ll never play Shaman other than if my random number generator makes me for Tavern Brawl. As I am trying to get back on track with my articles, hope to see you tomorrow for the finale, Part 5!
Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 covers Paladin and Priest cards. Slowly, but surely, we are making our way through the new set. So far, I’m happy with the new format. Sure, I often build terrible decks with either no synergy (or too much), but that’s part of the fun of the page. Once again, you can find meta decks at a variety of pages. Where else can you find ridiculous decks and occasional self deprecation?
Once upon a time, in the recent past, I loved Priest. Blizzard unleashed the scourge of Demon Hunter on Hearthstone. I found a Galakrond Priest deck that absolutely destroyed them, so I played that exclusively for the last half a year or so. I never loved Paladin. It stems back to the PTSD caused by Secret Paladin. I never forgave the game for that meta. Even today, unless absolutely necessary, I refuse to play Paladin even to complete a quest.
More recently, Libram Paladin haunted me to the point that I automatically conceded every game against Paladin. I mean, Demon Hunter has become the new hotness in classes nobody wants to play. But, Paladin (and sometimes Priest) are the OGs when it comes to annoying archetypes. Hell, even now I play Galakrond Priest more than anything else and I still concede quite often because I’m in Priest ELO Hell. Let’s see what Hell Blizzard unleashed with our Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 review.
Decent: Oh look, another terrible ranked spell and a worse Survivial of the Fittest. I considered Sermon for the “Good” section, but too many other good cards in the set reduced it to “Decent” status. Rank is a new mechanic and often times, they take a set or two to come up with some good cards for a new mechanic. Perhaps the next time they design ranked cards, they’ll come up with some better ones.
Good: To be fair, these cards might not all be better than Sermon. I just put them in this section because the synergy made me consider building a “Holy” deck instead of a secret deck. I nearly lost my mind when I thought that secrets might be “Holy” spells. Thankfully, they have no spell type, so that saved me from having to make too many decisions about my deck. Maybe I will revisit the “Holy” Paladin deck in a future article.
Great: I already talked in the introduction about the old Secret Paladin. Because this deck hasn’t annoyed me nearly as much as that deck, I’m willing to give it a chance and build it myself. I especially like the effect of Cannonmaster Smythe. I played it a few times and it was so much fun. What does this deck look like?
This deck has it all. There are secrets that are versatile, but hopefully won’t trigger immediately so that we can take advantage of Smythe. Both Fordrings can sync together if you draw Alex before Taelan dies. We need to search for Mankrik’s wife, which is a fun little Easter egg for those of us who played way too much World of Warcraft 5 years ago. Finally, Kazakus makes a return.
Decent: Both of these cards are very situational. I could see Soothsayer’s Caravan being good in a meta with high spell focused decks. Power Word: Fortitude only works with a high concentration of spells. Even then, consider what other spells it beats in any of the mana slots.
Good: Void Flayer fits in with that spell heavy deck I just discussed. However, the stat line is just good enough that it might be slotted in to some Priest decks as additional removal. Serena Bloodfeather is funny because it makes players do math, something that I’ve found CCG players to be surprisingly bad at. Hey, look! A ranked spell that is in the “Good” section. How did that happen? I was going to joke that this could have gone in the “Decent” section and what rule meant I couldn’t have 3 cards there? Instead, I’ll grudgingly admit that the card is pretty good late game.
Great: It appears that the theme for Priest this time is healing. Admittedly, not that inspiring of a theme. However, a timeless theme and less annoying that the theme they often unleash on unsuspecting Hearthstone players, resurrection. Accuse me of plagiarism if you must, but this deck will look a lot like the Blizzard deck in the Tavern Brawl preview for Forged in the Barrens.
As many of my Priest decks do, this one leans fairly heavily into the control aspect of the class. There’s ample removal, card generation, and finally healing to trigger the Xyrella for a big board removal. I might want to put in some of those annoying resurrection effects like Raise Dead, but Veilweaver and Palm Reading do give me a chance to add them to my hand. Hmm, come to think of it, Veilweaver might not be a good choice for this deck since the only trigger in the deck is Apotheosis. I will have to consider that for my revisit.
Paladin made out quite well in our Hearthstone Barrens Part 3 review. Priest is less fun as far as I can see, but I might be missing something. I have seen rumors of a Miracle Priest out there, but I didn’t see a ton of support for the cards I picked in my Great section. Then again, we’re not here to win games. We’re here to have fun and laugh at our ineptitude! Join us soon for Part 4.
Welcome to Hearthstone Barrens Part 2. I decided in my last article to change the format of these articles. First, I changed from previews to reviews. That’s simply a function of me not being able to write the articles before the sets are released. Second, and more importantly, I decided to make a deck for the cards that I include in the “Great” section for each class. That leads into the final change. Lastly, I reviewed all of the cards from the set instead of just the cards that I found interesting.
Time to give the 2 Guys Gaming treatment to Hunter and Mage cards from the latest Hearthstone expansion, Forged in the Barrens. This expansion feels like the one that came after Naxxramas. Recently they introduced Old Gods into the same meta that contained Galakrond. The power level of Standard felt a little out of control similar to how Naxx released some severely overpowered cards into the Wild. (Was Wild even a format then?)
Forged in the Barrens now comes along and tries to bring balance to the cards. For the most part, they succeeded in that goal. I have yet to see a card from this set that causes me to automatically reach for the “Concede” button. Hell, not even Demon Hunters make me immediately rage quit anymore. Let’s explore together how Hearthstone Barrens Part 2 reduces the power level of Hunters and Mages
Decent: What’s the best case scenario on that Legendary? Tracking, a secret, and Skill Command? That’s honestly not a bad outcome, but 5 mana is super expensive for such an outcome. But, hey if you have both of these on the field at the same time, you get quite the combo and the immediate gratification of a 2 hyena payoff!
Now that I said that, some Spike out there sensed it and brewed the ultimate deck to take advantage of that. The next time that deck will haunt me as a living nightmare until I have no recourse but to text Chris that I’m done with Hearthstone (again) and then immediately log back into the game to unleash my fury on solo adventures or Battlegrounds
Good: What do we have here? I 1 mana 1/3 with upside. Wait, but it costs two mana? What are you up to, Blizzard? Granted, that effect is still potentially hella powerful for 2 mana, but still. You can’t set a precedent and then break that precedent. It will cause pandalerium among the player base. Already, I feel my own grip on Hearthstone reality fading.
Piercing Shot might be overcosted, but I like any spell that has trample, so it gets upgraded to “good” status. Finally, Wound Prey is cheap and early removal. When I play, that usually means that I draw them at the most inopportune times. Pardon my French, but “C’est la vie.”
Great: Like druid, Blizzard often suggests Beast Hunter as the leading viable archetype. You can see from my card choices that I 100% took the bait once again. There’s that 1 mana 1/3 with upside. Two discover cards. Check. Surprise! An actual ranked spell. Honestly, it’s not that great, but it does have beast synergy, so I included it in the list.
Aggro Beast Deathrattle Hunter
I may have to rework this deck big time. As I assembled the pieces, I ended up doing what I often do. I got distracted by the fact that there are some pretty good deathrattle beasts in Standard right now. So, I jammed them into the deck with the other beast synergy. As a result, the deck contains no removal. It is strictly an aggro minion deck. If any class works with such a strategy, it’s Hunter. With that being said, I’m 99% sure that this won’t work with any consistency. But, it’s a first attempt.
Decent: Rimetongue is very situational. It has a similar effect as a treasure in Duels. Having played that treasure, I can say that the freeze effect is nice, but it doesn’t have a huge impact and it is easily removed. The luminary updates an old mage card used in a few decks. It may be again, especially since there are some elemental archetypes out there. I just doesn’t speak to me right now.
Good: All of these are decent cards in the right deck. I actually considered Runed Orb in my deck instead of Flurry, but Flurry just fits with the 4 drop. More on that in a minute. Refreshing spring water is just strictly better than Arcane Intellect in an all spell deck. And, in the right situation, the Oasis Ally has been a fantastic card.
Great: The first three cards in the list affect or respond to the effects of your hero power. The other two combine to give you a potential 4 mana Flamestrike, but with Frost instead of Fire. My first attempt at a deck uses only Mage cards. As with the other decks, I’m sure that it requires some tuning before it can be considered competitive. Nevertheless, we’re all learning here.
Check out this mish mash (or hodge podge) if you prefer of Mage cards thrown together as a deck. It might not even classify as jank. I defy you to find a consistent win condition. But, that’s not why we’re here. You want meta level decks to climb ladder with? There are plenty of places to find that. You’re here for inconsistent decks that might reward you with fun and unexpected wins, but will most likely frustrate you into deleting your client? Now, you’re talking. Get out there and and then come back to swear at me for leading you down the wrong path.
Hearthstone Barrens Part 2 took far longer to write than I’d like to admit. I still have some hope of getting back on track with my plan of providing content 5 days a week, but this article put me far behind the eight ball. Now, I suffer some side effects from my 2nd vaccine dose.
None of that has anything to do with these cards. I think Hearthstone tried to reduce the power level of Standard with Forged in the Barrens. For the two classes discussed in this article, they succeeded. Mage, however, still has some powerful cards and effects and the class is a ton of fun to play right now.
For this Hearthstone Barrens part 1 review, I present Demon Hunter and Druid cards from the latest Hearthstone expansion. I tried to come up with ideas to make these articles more interactive. I can’t promise that I have been successful. However, I tried and I will continue to work to mold this page into my image.
I came up with the idea to review all of the cards in the set instead of just cards that I find interesting. Additionally, I stole an idea from another page to build decks around the cards that I include in the “Great” section for each class.
Regular readers know that my decks are on the Johnny Combo (or maybe Timmy) side. They certainly aren’t Spike. When I shared with Chris that Star City Games is looking for writers, he responded, “You know you’ll have to become a Spike.” Luckily, though, they are looking for pop culture writers, too, and that’s much more in my wheelhouse.
But, I digress. Join me while I review Demon Hunter and Druid cards from Hearthstone’s latest set, Forged in the Barrens. If you like possibly fun, but most likely just terrible, decks, then you’re in for a treat. If not, perhaps my witty banter will be enough for you to return for the remainder of the review. And, so, join me for Hearthstone Barrens part 1 review of Demon Hunter and Druid cards.
Decent: Sigils got their start in this set with Sigil of Silence and Sigil of Flame (see next section). I suppose that Sigil of Silence has some utility against certain minions. However, there are so many ways to play around the card that the utility isn’t much.
Vile Call reworks several druid cards with a Demon Hunter theme. Like the Sigil of Silence, though, the demons are easily removed, you’d never get the benefit of the lifesteal. Maybe at 4 mana and give the demons rush. I’m not entirely sure how mana efficiency works in Hearthstone, so that might even make the card 5 mana. Then, it is again, unplayable. Oh well, I guess you need bulk commons in ever set, right?
Speaking of bulk commons. If I could set Fury on fire, I would. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the fel flame necessary and we are forced to live with this terrible, terrible card.
Good: This card mimics the Ilidan hero power from Battlegrounds. I struggled where to put this card. The outcast effect is nice and could provide decent early game removal. Even late game if the opponent tries to hide minions behind taunt and doesn’t play around the card. Otherwise, in most cases, this is just a 4 mana 3/4, which is pretty awful, especially for a legendary. Maybe I should have swapped this with Sigil of Silence.
A 2 mana delayed mass removal spell is pretty dang good. It also works like a Doomsayer by delaying smaller minion plays by a turn. Overall, a fun card with some potential.
Great: It appears that someone at Blizzard really wants to make Deathrattle Demon Hunter a thing. I tried my hardest to make those wishes come true. Alas, I came to the unfortunate conclusion that Deathrattle Demon Hunter does not currently have the support cards necessary to make it fun. Nevertheless, let’s analyze this terrible deck together.
Terrible Aggro Deathrattle Demon Hunter
Upon looking at the available deathrattle cards in Standard, I knew this deck would be severely limited. The best I found in this first iteration was a sort of aggro build that tries to take advantage of Teron Gorefiend. I included several tech cards against taunt and the deck absolutely folds to any kind of removal. Funny enough, because of that singular focus on taunt, I threw in two Sigil of Silence. In addition, I did try to include some Warblades as a secondary win condition, but that is equally as, if not more so, flimsy as the minion aggro plan. I guess it is fitting that Demon Hunter is finally given a strategy that won’t require 5 rounds of nerfs simply to make it overpowered instead of game breaking.
Decent: Both of these cards have decent stat lines and effects for their cost. They might be good in a wild control deck, but I just don’t see that happening for Druids in standard right now. I put together a decent beast aggro druid deck that is fun to play and that just feels like the direction that they’re pushing druid right now.
Good: Again, the 2 drop and the 7 drop are decent cards in a slower control deck. Maybe as a bonus, I will build that deck for a future article. I am trying to provide more content as part of the plan to boost views on the page here. Why not my trademark terrible decks?
Great: As soon as I saw these cards, I knew the direction of this deck. Beast druid represents one of the oldest and most consistent archetypes in the game of Hearthstone. And, so, behold my Beast Druid Deck!
Non-optimal Beast Druid Deck
This deck is similar to some of the other beast druid decks I’ve seen out there. I actually net decked one by fr0zen to finish a beast quest in the game. For this deck, I took the bones of that deck and tweaked it slightly. I call it non-optimal because I had to include Pride’s Fury, which took out the new Kazakus. That’s too bad because that’s a fun card to play. Also, I’m not sure that Solar Eclipse has a place in the deck, but it might lead to some fun combos.
The Verdict (Hearthstone Barrens Part 1 – DH :Bad, Druid – Good)
Demon hunter definitely got the short end of the stick during this expansion. As I said earlier, it’s about time that class come back down to earth a little bit. In the early iterations, I autoconceded against every single Demon Hunter I saw. Even recently, I break out in cold sweats and reach for the concede button when faced against a Demon Hunter. Maybe with this expansion, I will be able to heal from that hurt.
On the other hand, druid gets a fun and viable archetype with all of the beast support cards. Granted, I’m biased because I enjoy playing beast Druid. Still, give the deck a try. Hopefully you’ll either find it entertaining or figure out ways to make it better. Thanks for reading my Hearthstone Barrens part 1 review. Join us tomorrow for part 2.
Chris clued me into DC Future State. I knew nothing of their plans for…whatever it is. Immediately, we though reboot. DC assured us this wasn’t the case. Okay, must be an event, then. Upon reading the books, I confirmed that with a text to Chris. I don’t remember the exact wording, but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of, “This isn’t a reboot. It’s not an event, either. The Batman and Aquaman books are just like regular books. I’m so confused.”
Yes, I just dated myself with yet another reference. This movie is so old and there have been so many movie jokers since that I had to use an oddly specific search term. Plus, as you see, I wrote the text under the meme like some sort of plebian. Living in the future isn’t always the utopia they make it out to be in the movies.
And so, faced with my own mortality and bitter that I spent over 100 dollars on what feels ultimately like a failed reboot that they tried to repackage as an event, I read only the writers I like. Okay, that’s not entire true. I eventually finished the other books for the first round, but I haven’t made it there on the second round of books. And, now, before they move on and act like nothing happened, let’s look at the great from DC Future State.
Catwoman (Ram V and Otto Schmidt)
Joelle Jones and Tom King got me to start collecting Catwoman. I almost bailed after Joelle left and they cycled through writers. Then, Ram V came onto the title and I started collecting and reading voraciously again to support one of my favorite comic writers.
He took up the mantel of Future State Catwoman writer, as well. Ram loves him a heist story. Sure, it fits the character, but the same storyline over and over gets old. Well, guess what? Cats and friends board a train with heist intentions. I admit to liking this story very much. I mention that only because very few of the main title Catwoman titles kept my interest like this one. Hopefully Ram V can keep the inspiration and momentum going and bring back Cats in the main.
Dark Detective (Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora)
I’ve made no secret of my fan boy love for Mariko Tamaki’s writing. I don’t remember where I discovered her, but her work on X-23 was top notch. Come to think of it, that might have been the first book of hers I read. I watched Logan, loved the portrayal of our favorite Wolverine clone in that and picked up the book based only on that. Hey, cross promotion works! She brought her talents to DC as writer on Wonder Woman and now Dark Detective in Future State. Surprise! Bruce Wayne is dead. Now, from here, I can go one of two ways with an inside joke. I can either use an overused line that one of the Simpsons Facebook groups I frequent and say, “That’s right! Dead serious about going to Itchy and Scratchy Land!” But, I think I’ll go with family favorite, Voldemort.
Spoiler Alert: Bruce Wayne isn’t really dead. Nevertheless, a sinister and possibly evil (aren’t they always!) police force took over Gotham and rule with an iron fist. Tired storyline to be sure, but Ms. Tamaki gives us a compelling storyline in spite of the limited environment. If DC went ahead with Future State instead of making it a tepid collection of one shots, I’d definitely like to see where this book went.
Justice League (Joshua Williamson and Robson Rocha)
Justice League Dark (Ram V and Marcio Takara)
If I’m being honest, I only got this title because of Justice League Dark. You already knew that, though. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw Joshua Williamson wrote it. I enjoyed his Flash very much and have kept an eye out for his name ever since. This book follows the pattern of the others. We introduce the new Justice League. Some familiar faces in the group, but ultimately it goes nowhere because both DC and Marvel are afraid to take a leap and try something new.
As I wrote to Chris, I get that the market is different, but this whole Future State thing now just feels like the latest 2099 trip, which were simply half assed as a series of one shots. As with that “experiment”, some failed spectacularly. This is supposed to be about the ones that succeeded. This one mostly succeeded. And, Justice League Dark made it worth the price of admission.
Legion of Super Heroes (BMB and Riley Rossmo)
At this point, I only include this one because of BMB’s legacy. After his, let’s say “inconsistent”, runs on Superman and Action comics, I need a break from Bendis. I knew almost nothing about the Legion before this book. I still know very little. I definitely need a break from Bendis.
Swamp Thing (Ram V and Mike Perkins)
I saved this read for last. Chris and I both love the character of Swamp Thing. Honestly, his guest spot in Batman at the beginning of Rebirth cemented my decision to keep collecting DC Comics. You all know that I’m not much of a DC fan, but I always try to give them a chance and the benefit of the doubt.
This title represents all the potential of Future State. It features a lesser utilized character in a bigger role. It gives us a glimpse into a possible future that is both a hopeless post-apocalypse and a hopeful pre-rebirth (pun sort of intended). This is the best title of the lot and it isn’t even close. I can’t wait for the main title.
Wonder Woman (Joelle Jones)
I already said above that the Catwoman ongoing after Rebirth introduced me to Joelle Jones. She wrote the character in such a unique way that it kept me coming back in spite of the fact that I’ve never been a fan of Cats other than maybe Michelle Pfieffer’s portrayal in Batman Returns.
She brings that unique voice and storytelling to a new Wonder Woman. Having little history with the character other than the movie and collecting since Rebirth, I don’t know if this particular Wonder Woman has any history in the series. However, I like the character and wish we got more of her. Oh well, Future State, we barely knew ye.
Overall, DC Future State: The Great delivered. Each writer gave us a compelling story that I wish would be followed up in some form or fashion. You might ask why I only reviewed these books. If you remember, I ordered all of the books. However, other than these and one or two surprises, the books were underwhelming.
I think once I realized that Future State fell into this weird limbo it took some of the luster off of the books. As we all know, don’t count anything as ever completely over in the world of comic books. If DC ever grows a set and decides to follow this thread at some point in the future, it can be great.
Well, another week passed with limited content. I wrote a review of WandaVision last Sunday in the hopes that it might inspire me to get back on track because all I planned for last week was comic reviews. I suppose that school is more detrimental to the development of the page than I thought. So, Marvel Comics March 2021 arrives nearly a week late.
It took me a paragraph to get to the Chris and I texted portion of the article. I texted him to say that I might need to follow his lead and start looking at some indy comics because my DCBS order has been right around 50 dollars. For some context, before Covid, I regularly paid 75-100 a month for comics.
Books cancelled or delayed. Shipment problems. That one Chris mentioned during our text exchange. He mentioned having to supplement his books through Midtown. I said, yet again, that I wanted to stop at the comics store in Jaffrey to see if I can’t pick up some of the books I missed over the last year. Stay tuned. Perhaps in future installments, but for now, Marvel Comics March 2021 has only 5 books to review. As a result, I will revert back to the earlier format for reviews and give each book its own section.
Amazing Spider-Man 59 (Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferreira)
The Great (Skeletons in the Closet): Both Harry and Norman returned for the latest “Spider-Man in Peril” story. I commend Spencer for mostly leaving the Goblins in the past and giving both Osborns a new purpose in this arc. Harry torments Spidey as the new character (spoiler alert) Kindred as Norman wrestles with the past and tries to repair the family legacy through his son and grandson. So far, his effort failed, but some headway is made in this issue, at least, with Normie. It remains to be seen how Harry’s story plays out this time.
The Good (Why Would They Ever Kill Aunt May?): Aunt May “died” once during issue 400. She also got mortally wounded during Civil War and that kicked off the One More Day storyline that some consider to be one of the worst stories in the history of Spider-Man. I hope they learned their lesson from that. Don’t ever kill off Aunt May. Her heroism during this story serves as a reminder of her selflessness and heroism. Aunt May is, and always will be, the real MVP of the Spiderverse.
The Decent (Mr. Negative needs to go away): I understand that Spencer brought back some 2nd and 3rd tier villains for this story. For the most part, I appreciate that choice. However, I have no use for the Mr. Negative story and would rather they release Kindred and give him another chance. I know it will happen eventually, but I have no patience right now. Only 5 books in my pull list, Marvel? They better be good.
Avengers 42 (Jason Aaron and Luca Maresca)
The Great (Wolvie’s reaction to the Phoenix Force): It came at the end of the issue and nearly saved the entire issue by itself. I say nearly because the rest of the issue is just so bland that not even Logan’s apprehension at being given control over nature’s most destructive force can drag it out of the doldrums.
The Good (The final reveal): Ever since the Legacy reboot, Avengers focused on the history of the group going all the way back to prehistoric times. The embodiment of the Phoenix Force featured prominently in that history. Now, this issue confirms (?) something long assumed. Again, the final interaction between the Force and Thor almost saved the issue. Almost.
The Decent (The rest of it): I have no use for this story. Given what I said about the end, perhaps that will change. In lieu of an actual review, allow me to give Aiden’s thoughts.
Aiden: “There’s this guy with a shield, but he’s not red, white, and blue. He’s orange?”
Me: “Yeah, that’s Captain America with the Phoenix Force.”
Aiden: “What’s up with Hulk?”
“That’s She Hulk.”
“Now, Logan has the Force?”
“Yeah, that’s my favorite part.”
“I just don’t get it.”
“This hasn’t been my favorite story lately. Not a good time to jump in.”
Fantastic Four 29 (Dan Slott and Ze’ Carlos)
The Great (The Previous Storyline Continues): As you see, this issue has tie ins with the Venom story, King in Black. Naturally, that warps the story some. However, our intrepid heroes still work to deal with the fallout of that previous story and Slott manages to work that in mostly seamlessly in spite of having to symbiotize the book.
The Good (About Those Symbiotes): I always like to see how they “Venomitize” heroes. A few years ago, they put out some of those Pop figures where they looked like they wore the symbiote costume. I planned on purchasing all of them. I actually purchased none of them. Through this non sequitur, I attempted to illustrate how excited it made me to see the heroes succumb to Knull.
The Decent (King in Black): With that being said, I have no use for King in Black. I admit that some of the lead in issues got me interested. However, like Death Metal and even Dark Knights before it, I didn’t collect the main series and I certainly didn’t buy in like with Civil War and even Secret Empire. Perhaps that’s my Marvel bias showing. Then again, I mostly ignored Empyre and can’t wait until King is Black is over so I can have my comics back.
The Immortal Hulk 43 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett)
The Great (Joe Fixit): The Leader destroyed Devil Hulk. He also trapped Banner in Hell. Dumb Hulk looks like a puddle of melted Jell-O. That leaves Joe Fixit, stuck in Banner’s body and unable to change into Grey Hulk, to pick up the pieces. He does an admirable job for much of the issue until Jell-O Hulk needs to take over.
The Good (The Set Up): The reveal at the end of the previous issue got me excited for the show down between Hulk and Gamma Flight. A training montage only increased that excitement. Finally, they took a trip to the desert base of Hulk’s birth. Oh, man, this fight is going to be epid.
The Decent (The Lack of Pay Off): So, about that epic fight. It, uh, didn’t happen. All this gearing up and no fight. Unlike Avengers, which got me slightly more excited for the next issue, this one just annoyed me. Yes, we are closer to the fight. But, we still have to wait at least one more month. And, according to the math, we only have 7 issues left. Need to pick up the pace here.
Venom 33 (Donny Cates and Iban Coello)
The Great (Spider-Man’s talk with Dylan at the beginning): Clearly, the recent history with the Osborns has matured Mr. Peter Parker. He gives Eddie’s son Dylan one heck of a pep talk to jump into the fray and help in the fight against Knull.
The Good (Eddie and Flash reminisce and arrive at an agreement of sorts): The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Good to see all of the Spidey old heads coming back for a reunion to defeat the common menace. I just wish that I cared more about that menace that feels like it was cooked up in a fever dream and never quite reached maturity.
The Decent (I won’t say King in Black again, but I guess I just did): There is no connection for me in this story. I don’t care one bit about Knull or the fact that it represents the eventual end of the Marvel universe if it wins. I enjoyed the Venom arc before all of this happens and I hope that Cates can recapture that once this is all over and done.
The Verdict (Marvel Comics March 2021 represents several disappointments)
As I just said, I’m quite disappointed in the overall quantity and quality of the books I received in my Marvel Comics March 2021 shipment. Immortal Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man both continue their consistent great storylines. Fantastic Four and Venom are both tied into an event that I have no interest in, but they’ll hopefully be back. And, the Avengers are in the same boat with the Phoenix Force story. Add to the fact that I think there’s still something wrong with the supply chain. No Captain America? What about Thor? Where’s the X-Men?
I already reviewed the first 4 or 5 episodes of WandaVision on the page. Searching for the post to add the link confirms that it was 5 episodes of the show. The title is not a lie. This show took our family by storm and became must watch viewing from episode 1. We love WandaVision Part 1 implies that there might be more than one article in this series. While I can’t promise that’s the truth, I have a lot to say about this show.
While it may seem awkward, some of the sections in this post will come in the form of reactions to the responses I received on that post. Since the page doesn’t quite have the reach I always hope it will, I can’t respond to anyone here. Hopefully some of you reading out there will have some of the same reactions and it will feel like we are having a conversation about this really great show.
In this post, I plan to address the first couple of episodes, the overall theme of the show, the fan theories that almost all went kaput, and where do they go from here? Before we get too far into it, though, a word of warning. I neither care nor respect the culture of “No spoilers”. I won’t actively spoil anything, but I won’t be careful about what might be considered a spoiler. You’ve been warned. Let’s see why we love WandaVision Part 1.
Those First Episodes
I probably addressed this is the previous article. But, we are nothing if not thorough around here. I constantly repeat myself in case an article picks us up a new reader or two. Several people in my orbit (and by orbit, I mean one of them is a famous individual who I follow on social media) came away from the first two episodes disappointed.
Having possibly watched two of the most epic movies ever made (Infinity War and especially Endgame are in my top 10 movies of all time, MCU or not), they wondered why two of the most powerful heroes from those movies now played house in black and white complete with the messed up dinner and messed up magic act in the talent show trope. I implored the friends over who I believed I might actually have influence to stick with the show. It will pay off, I promised.
I’m not going to be disingenuous and say that I’m not here to gloat. I’m totally here to gloat. After all, it’s the sole reason for this post. Whereas other comic book “fans” went off about Mephisto this and X-Men that, knew. I knew about pain, suffering, loss, and grief. Let’s just leave it at that. I knew.
The Overall Theme of the Show
The show finally accomplished what Marvel has been trying to do since they rebooted their most popular heroes in the early and middle 2000s. It brought a new audience into the Marvel universe. My wife, Christine, who often sneered at us when we talked about how excited we were about the latest Marvel cinematic offering and went out of her way to avoid the movies like the plague, bought into this show from the first scene. The mother of one of Aiden’s friends also found herself watching the show with her son.
Here’s the thing. They both became curious about the backstory behind these characters. We ended up watching Infinity War and Endgame to give the most recent history. Then, Christine actually asked to go back to watch the chronological order of the movies. We are currently at an impasse because she wants to skip Iron Man 3 and the 2 GotG movies and our boys aren’t letting her. Hopefully, soon, we can resume because the GotG are my favorites, but I’m staying out of it.
The mother mentioned earlier said she had some of the same questions as Christine, so I summed it up for her thusly. Wanda is a witch. Vision is an extremely powerful AI given humanoid form. They are in love. Vision is killed by Thanos who looks to balance the scales on a cosmic level. Infinity War and Endgame, if you want the backstory, but not crucial. Her brother was killed by another villain named Ultron. That’s Age of Ultron, again not crucial. Driven a bit crazy by the death of her brother and lover, she created this alternate reality to have the life denied to her. And, guess what. Yep, gloating time again. I mean, honestly, people, it’s in the bloody title.
Fan Theories that Ultimately Fizzled
I admit that I paid little to no attention to these. Along with Star Wars, there is a sect of Marvel fans that became insufferable about the MCU and tolerates no deviation from the comic stories that they know and love. It started with organic web shooters during the Toby Maguire era. Like most of these underground internet communities, it grew into an unnatural den of anger and suffering.
Regarding WandaVision, the two most prominent theories I saw were a retelling of House of M, but instead of wishing mutants out of existence, Wanda wishes them into the MCU. With the acquisition of FOX, this made some sense. Then, FOX Quicksilver showed up and it looked like the old boys might have stumbled onto some inside intel. Alas, that rabbit hole proved too deep and Quicksilver is just our husband Ralph.
Apparently Mephisto fan boys (and girls?) exist because that’s the other one I heard bandied about from the beginning of the show. This one made the least sense to me. I suppose they derived inspiration from the Spider-Man story “One More Day” (I think that’s the one where Mephisto deals with Peter to give him back Aunt May, but takes everything else), so I give them credit for doing their homework. However, nothing else added up. My jaw dropped at the Agatha reveal like anyone else, but it made more sense that a rival witch showed up to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings than Mephisto and his meddling ass.
Where Do They Go From Here?
The protagonists “won”, Agatha rests in a flesh prison of her own design (Admittedly, not the fate I wanted for her, but an appropriate end all things being equal), the Vision is whole again, and Scarlet Witch (yes, they finally gave her name!) went the Thanos route and retired to a mountain retreat. I mean, yeah, she’s astral projecting and reading from and old gods cursed magic book. But, baby steps!
I’ve been trying to figure out Scarlet Witch’s character arc since the beginning of the show. It feels like they have been setting her up as a big bad to be redeemed. That only left when the redemption might actually happen. At the end of episode 9, it appeared that Wanda was at peace with her decision and willing to move on to bigger and better things. As a colleague noted, in the end credit scene, she looked to still be a little bit bad. Back to square 1.
What I can say for sure is that she will most likely be in a post credit scene in Spider-Man to set up for her next big starring role in Doctor Strange. Also, no matter her role in that film, it always seems like even when she tries to do right or good, it ends up blowing up into unintended consequences. Thanks for reading my recap of WandaVision Part 1. Stay tuned for a possible part 2 and maybe even a part 3 and 4 after watching the series two more times between now and next year when Doctor Strange releases.
Not sure what’s going on in our WandaVision Part 1 review? Go watch the show on Disney Plus! Know exactly what we’re talking about? Come watch it again with us!
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