Elise the Trailblazer will be a control deck staple

Hearthstone’s Journey to Un’Goro expansion card reveal season started yesterday with a bang as 11 new cards were revealed. Amongst them was one of the highly-anticipated legendary cards, Elise the Trailblazer, a spiritual successor to the immensely popular Elise Starseeker.

The old Elise is rotating out of Standard format

With the new Standard rotation, Elise Starseeker is one of the cards that is rotating out. For a long time, Elise Starseeker defined a type of control decks: with its ability to change all cards in your deck into legendary minions, you could build a control deck focused on removal and card draw and ultimately grab your end-game threats from Elise, turning any cards that were not useful in a particular matchup into potentially useful cards.

Elise the Trailblazer, the new Elise

In the initial announcement of the Journey to Un’Goro expansion, it was revealed that Elise would return in some form. Now we know exactly what that means, and it’s great!

Elise the Trailblazer is a 5-mana 5/5 minion that shuffles an Un’Goro Pack into your deck. The Un’Goro Pack is a 2-mana spell that adds 5 Journey to Un’Goro cards to your hand.

It’s notable that the pack can contain any cards from the expansion, including cards from classes other than your own. Furthermore, the pack is better than your average pack: you are guaranteed at least an epic, and on average you will receive one legendary card.

This provides you with amazing refill later in the game – 5 cards all at once at the cost of 2 mana – while also leaving the opponent guessing what you can do afterwards. As you can gain cards from any class, the new Elise can potentially unlock completely broken combos by combining different class cards. Not only will it provide an endless supply of highlight videos, such a big refill will also be competitively viable. (Whether adding competitively viable random effects that cannot be played around is good for the game is another question though.)

Comparison to Prince Malchezaar and Cabalist’s Tome

The two cards Elise the Trailblazer has most commonly been compared to are Prince Malchezaar and Cabalist’s Tome.

Prince Malchezaar has an effect that is superficially similar: it shuffles 5 random legendary minions into your deck. However, with 5 more cards in the deck, the consistency of your deck is significantly weakened, which means that you are less likely to find the answers you need in time. Prince Malchezaar also follows regular deck-building rules: no cards from other classes and no duplicate legendary cards. Therefore, if you already have all the key legendary cards you want in your deck, you cannot get more copies of them from Malchezaar. As a result, the Prince has not been competitively viable.

Cabalist’s Tome, on the other hand, has seen some competitive play. It’s a 5-mana spell that adds 3 random Mage spells to your hand. Excellent refill and card generation, but at a heavy tempo cost. It’s a card most Mage decks consider running, but also one that is often too slow to use and has come and went depending on whether survival while running it is possible or not. While it gives you cards from a fairly large pool of options, all those cards are still Mage spells, so class rules remain in place.

Elise the Trailblazer is far superior to either Prince Malchezaar or Cabalist’s Tome. It is a minion with competitive stats, so you do not feel bad about playing it on turn 5 as a 5/5. The refill comes later in the game, but at that point spending 2 mana to generate 5 cards is game-changing.

The ability to gain cards from other classes is not to be underestimated. So far this ability has been fairly limited, mostly to Rogue and Priest and to a few three-class discovery cards from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, of which Kabal Courier has seen the most play. Let me tell you, facing a Reno Priest with a free hero power who turns into Jaraxxus, now holding a free hero power that creates 6/6 minions, is a tall order.

Class cards are class cards for a reason: if they could be mixed freely, the potential combos dwarf the current power level seen in the game. With Elise giving you 5 cards, odds are good that you can find some powerful combinations.

A control deck staple

There is simply no reason not to run Elise the Trailblazer in just about any control deck. A 5-mana 5/5 is a good minion, and the cheap refill with no tempo loss later in the game that can potentially unlock extremely powerful cross-class combinations boosts the power level of any deck.

Unlike the old Elise, it does not turn your useless cards into potentially good cards, but it also lets you keep all the cards you already have. It is a different type of control card, but potentially equally powerful.