The first cards from Hearthstone’s Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion have just been revealed, and amongst them is the Hunter legendary Hero card, Deathstalker Rexxar.
In this post, I will take an in-depth look at everything there is to know about Deathstalker Rexxar so far, and evaluate what it can accomplish for the Hunter class.
New card type: Hero card
Hearthstone has had three card types so far: minions, spells, and weapons. Hero card is a new, fourth card type that replaces your Hero with the Hero specified in the Hero card.
Hero cards have a Battlecry effect, give you some armor (your health remains unchanged), and replace your Hero Power with that of the new Hero.
Deathstalker Rexxar is a six-mana Hunter legendary Hero card that has a Battlecry to deal two damage to all enemy minions. It also gives you five armor and replaces your Hero Power with Build-a-Beast, a two-mana Hero Power that allows you to craft custom Zombeast minions.
How does Build-a-Beast work?
We already know a number of details about Build-a-Beast:
- You will be shown Discover-like interfaces of two sets of three Beast minions (like when building a Kazakus potion)
- The Beast minions are either Hunter minions or Neutral minions – with equal probability (no weighting by class unlike in regular Discover mechanic)
- The Beast minions cost a maximum of five mana
- The first minion always has card text; the second minion is always either vanilla or has keywords only, no other card text
- The mana cost, attack, health, and card text of the Beast minions are added together to form a new card that is then added to your hand
- These new cards always have the Beast tribal tag
For example, here is a Zombeast built out of Rat Pack and Bloodfen Raptor:
Build-a-Beast with pre-expansion Standard card pool
If we were to build a Beast with the current card pool, this is how it would look like:
First choice, cards with text:
One mana (10):
- Weasel Tunneler
- Timber Wolf
- Raptor Hatchling
- Jeweled Macaw
- Hungry Crab
- Fiery Bat
- Emerald Reaver
- Emeral Hive Queen
- Angry Chicken
Two mana (6):
- Scavenging Hyena
- Ravasaur Runt
- Kindly Grandmother
- Golakka Crawler
- Dire Wolf Alpha
- Crackling Razormaw
Three mana (7):
- Vicious Fledgling
- Thunder Lizard
- Silithid Swarmer
- Rat Pack
- Pantry Spider
- King Mukla
- Ironbeak Owl
Four mana (3):
- Infested Wolf
- Gentle Megasaur
- Dispatch Kodo
Five mana (7):
- Tundra Rhino
- Starving Buzzard
- Stampeding Kodo
- Princess Huhuran
- Nesting Roc
- Bittertide Hydra
That’s 33 options for the first choice. The chance to discover a specific one is 9%. Three of the minions have a Deathrattle to summon more minions – 26% chance to Discover one.
Second choice, vanilla or keywords only:
One mana (2):
- Young Dragonhawk
- Stonetusk Boar
Two mana (4):
- Stubborn Gastropod
- River Crocolisk
- Bloodfen Raptor
Three mana (7):
- Silverback Patriarch
- Pterrordax Hatchling
- Jungle Panther
- Ironfur Grizzly
- Giant Wasp
- Emperor Cobra
- Carrion Grub
Four mana (2):
- Oasis Snapjaw
Five mana (1):
- Stranglethorn Tiger
That’s 16 options for the second choice. Four of the minions have Taunt (61% to find at least one), three have Stealth (49%), two have Poisonous (35%), and one has Charge and one has Windfury (19%).
Looking at the combination, you can almost always find a minion that costs four mana or less, in case you want to squeeze in something else on the same turn. If you want to play a Zombeast on the turn you become Deathstalker, it needs to be turn 10 and the minion needs to cost only two mana: you can find at least one 24% of the time.
Obviously, everything will still change once the Knights of the Frozen Throne cards are revealed, but with the current card pool, there are some impressive rates available to find specific keywords for your Zombeasts.
Can you build a Control Hunter with Deathstalker Rexxar?
With the information we have so far, sadly, no.
- Hunter still has no significant card draw.
- Hunter still has no significant access to Taunt minions.
- Hunter still has no significant access to healing.
- Hunter still has no significant access to board clears.
In other words, Hunter lacks everything you want in a Control deck.
In many ways, Deathstalker Rexxar is a partial answer:
- You can make your own cards, no need to draw them.
- You can get Taunt minions more than half of the time.
- You get five armor when playing Deathstalker Rexxar.
- You deal two area-of-effect damage when playing Deathstalker Rexxar.
So, it kind of provides you these things. Kind of. But not really.
The main issue is finding Deathstalker Rexxar in the first place. It is a legendary card, so you have one in your deck, and you have no real way to find it fast, and without it you have no control tools. Actually, even with it you only have some control tools.
Is Deathstalker Rexxar playable?
Of course, a question like this cannot be answered reliably before seeing the whole set, but it looks like Deathstalker Rexxar can be playable!
Think of it like Sherazin. It can be good, but you cannot build your deck around it.
You can also compare it to Dinomancy, a card that is borderline playable but not really in the meta. Deathstalker Rexxar is way better than Dinomancy!
You do not need to have Beasts ready to take advantage of your Hero Power, you build your Beast army as you go! In some matchups and situations you do not want to give up your native Hunter Hero Power, just like when playing a Dinomancy deck, but the situations when you can afford to play Deathstalker Rexxar are much more common than situations where you play Dinomancy.
Deathstalker Rexxar can both help you defend against aggressive decks (area-of-effect damage, armor, and a good chance to find Taunt minions) and create unending pressure against control decks. Using it gives up your inevitable damage, which is something that can help close out games, against Mages in particular, but adding it into your deck comes at a low cost.
Some Midrange Hunter decks, the slower ones, are going to be interested in Deathstalker Rexxar, but it is not a card that brings Control Hunter into the meta.