Even though we're yet to receive any official announcements, the Forged in the Barrens mini set should be getting closer, just as Iksar confirmed in his most recent Q&A (check here for the complete recap). Since the release of the last expansion we received two balance patches, one of which including a total of 10 buffs alongside various nerfs, but many players have the feeling that the current Standard meta would benefit from a card addition to its pool.
Since cards in the mini set tend to have an average power level higher than the ones contained in an expansion (you add a few cards just to shake up the meta: what would be the point of adding weak cards that wouldn't see play?), we are fairly positive that this upcoming event will bring a breath of fresh air in the format, whose hierarchies appear to have been decided with very little room for change.
Therefore, our goal in this article is trying to predict what will be supported in the next mini set. In order to do this, our judgment will be based on what archetypes got pushed in Forged in the Barrens (or even in the last year's expansions) but that still need a push in order to get to the point of being playable. Have a good read!
Predictions - Deathrattle, Sigils, handbuff
Demon Hunter was by far the easiest class to predict. In fact, a few days after Forged in the Barrens released, Celestalon stated that more Sigils will be added in the future. Given that there's an achievement based on triggering 200 Sigils, it is fair to assume that at least one of the new DH cards will be a Sigil.
Secondly, Barrens DH was almost entirely based around Deathrattle: after the recent balance patch, the archetype started finding success on ladder, but since it's totally brand new, it still feels like its missing some pieces. Death Speaker Blackthorn will be in Standard for two years, so there's no urge to support it as fast as possible, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a Deathrattle card, at least in the Neutral section.
Finally, handbuff. Sure, it may sound very strange to most of you, but hear me out: even though the closest Illidan has even gone to handbuff effects is Felosophy, the class has lots of minions that would considerably improve with the introduction of this mechanic. Take Illidari Inquisitor, but also proactive units like Bladed Lady or the Kurtrus Ashfallen as nice examples.
Predictions - Card Draw and Beast support
If you currently look at Druid's card pool, you'll notice that the rotation brought away tools like Rising Winds, Wrath, Overflow and left the class with just Guess the Weight and Fungal Fortunes (imagine it if still cost 2 mana. These are two very good spells, but they can't possibly carry Druid's card draw by themselves, especially if you want to run minions in your deck. Therefore, we think that printing some form of reasonable non-mass card draw (nothing like Ultimate Infestation or Overflow) would be beneficial for the class and would help niche archetypes like Taunt Druid to succeed.
If you take a look at Barrens Druid, you'll notice that a big portion of released cards rotate around Beasts: even though it's been quite a while since Team 5 decided to bring back said archetype for Malfurion, seeing such an all-in seems quite peculiar to us. To be precise, there are cards like Living Seed (Rank 1) (which reminds a lot of the old Call Pet) that can't just be included in a deck that runs a few Beasts, since Guardian Animals wants them to stay in the deck, and therefore you need some sort of plan. Maybe we are wrong and the mini set won't bring the support we're talking about, possibly because they want to leave it for a brand new expansion, but we're pretty sure it's a matter of when rather than if.
Predictions - Rush and Value support
Tavish Stormpike seems such a good card on paper; however, for it to work you need lots of support as well as many proactive Beasts to bump into your opponent's characters. While brainstorming, we actually came up with an idea that could potentially make Tavish work: a high-costed Beast with Rush and low stats, which reduces its cost whenever certain conditions are met - pretty much a unit like Corridor Creeper, Knight of the Wild, Mogu Fleshshaper or Nerubian Prophet. With the correct balance, we think this would be a really elegant way to start the Tavish Stormpike chain and cheat out one or two Beasts from your deck.
Secondly, but not completely separate, we'd like to see more love for value Hunter. Even though most people though that Warsong Wrangler was going to achieve that goal, she's used mostly in Face Hunter with a very limited pools to choose from, in order to increase the consistency of getting a beefy Trampling Rhino on curve. Having said so, we expect to see a 6+ cost Beast with an effect you'd want to replicate via Dire Frenzy.
Predictions - Hero Power, Elemental and Freeze support
As you might have noticed, Mage's Forged in the Barrens set hasn't been of the greatest: Refreshing Spring Water and Runed Orb are the only exceptions in a sea of (at least for now) mediocrity - both Hero Power and Freeze Mage were not powerful or supported enough to see competitive play outside of the first few weeks of the expansion. This is a waste, since all the three listed archetypes have their own potential (as well as problems: for example, too many Freeze effects are not healthy for the game) which, in our opinion, shouldn't be left untapped.
We think that one of the problems of 2021 Mage is that Jaina is pretty much a one trick pony. No Minion Mage is not a strong as it used to be since it got nerfed twice, but the class cannot any other viable archetype - this is also a problem from the balance point of view: many people were asking for an Incanter's Flow change, but with that, the class would've probably completely disappeared from the meta radars which is something against the current Team 5 philosophy when it comes to touch the meta.
So how about this? In this mini set, the devs will try to push at least one Mage archetype that isn't No Minion, so that Jaina will have something else to play with and the meta will become more vary. If this were the actual truth, we'd definitely put up with Incanter's Flow shenanigans for another bit.
Predictions - Murlocs, Handbuff and Silver Hand Recruit synergy
What can you possibly give to a class that is already (and by far, with more than just one archetype) at the top of the meta without making it even more powerful? Our humble answer is that you don't have to necessarily give Paladin bad cards: even though every class has some periods of time where it doesn't stand at the top of the meta, the Libram package and most of the broken stuff will rotate next April, so we don't really want the class to become the next Barrens Shaman, unplayable and just sad, don't we? Or maybe we do...
Then, the possible solution would be giving Uther cards for archetypes that were left behind in power level/support. Despite our Linkblade91's hatred for Murlocs in general and specifically for Murlocs in Paladin, the mini set may be the perfect chance for them to come back. Ashes of Outland gave us Underlight Angling Rod and Murgur Murgurgle, and the Forged in the Barrens printed a handful of Neutral support in Lushwater Murcenary and Lushwater Scout, so let's continue the journey!
Invigorating Sermon is a very odd spell: it is the only Barrens card with this kind of effect and has no buildaround tools whatsoever - we really don't understand why it got printed. Therefore, we think this might be the change for Paladin to get back some handbuff tools just like Warrior: we expect a minion that synergyzes with hand/deck buffs in the ways of Meanstreet Marshal, Saronite Chain Gang or Echoing Ooze.
Finally, I have a soft spot for Lothraxion the Redeemed. I love 'rest of the game' effects and Silver Hand Recruit cards in general, so I really hope we'll see something in support of this mechanic, especially since the Core set features not one, not two but three tools for Dude Paladin (Pursuit of Justice, Warhorse Trainer and Stand Against Darkness).
Predictions - None
We genuinely have no clue. Every Priest archetype looks supported and the 'generated by' nature the class currently thrives in makes it difficult for us to identify archetypes that we think should or will be pushed.
Sure, there's always the Tempo Priest chimera, which has received remarkable amounts of support throughout the years only for it to never really work outside of Divine Spirit Inner Fire shenanigans.
On the other hand, there's Shadow Priest: the Core set features Shadowform and Shadowed Spirit, and we know for sure that the archetype will come back later this year, but since it currently has little to nothing to play with, we suspect it will need the card pool provided by an entire expansion rather than being pushed by a mini set.
Predictions - Burgle and Shuffle support
I was a big fan of when Team 5 printed Vendetta and Underbelly Fence back in Rise of Shadows. I love being rewarded for playing cards like Dragon's Hoard and I included a small Burgle package in every possible Rogue deck I played. Even though Rogue's Barrens set does not feature any Burgle support, there's Swashburglar in the Core set: maybe it was added just to provide rogue a valuable 1-drop, but one can dream.
Remember Ticket Master, Malevolent Strike, and Grand Empress Shek'zara? They are not very old cards: it's just that they are yet to see consistent play, since they received little support (even more if you consider that Stowaway just rotated...) and there are far better tools to play with, within the same class. We'd genuinely like seeing this archetype being revisited by Team 5.
Predictions - Elemental and Murloc support
Let's be honest, a couple cards ain't gonna solve all the problems Shaman is currently facing, but they can at least push an archetype or two so that the class will be able to wait for the next expansion with something to actually do in the meantime.
It is very unlikely that the mini set will drop a 6/5 stars card that works as a buildaround win condition like Shudderwock used to be, but as we already said, this doesn't mean that the class won't receive any major goodies. For example, Darkmoon Races printed Arbor Up (which straight up revived Token Druid) and Envoy Rustwix, as well as other powerful tools like Hysteria, Crabrider and Illidari Studies, all of which have seen plenty of play in multiple archetypes.
In the end, what he predict (and hope for) are tools that will complete what Forged in the Barrens seems to have left unfinished:
- Give the class a source, doesn't matter if it's not broken, of card draw;
- Give Murloc Shaman some fangs to scare their opponents with: the rotation of Bloodlust left an incredible void;
- Give Elemental Shaman a reason to be played that isn't Lilypad Lurker or Arid Stormer, be it Midrange or Control.
Now, we're aware that we can't expect all these things, but we think that there has to be a starting point for Thrall's redemption arc, so why not have it start with Forged in the Barrens' mini set?
Predictions - Zoolock, Demonlock, and Mill Warlock support
What Warlock desperately needs is something that will make the class less one-dimensional, in other words, less dependent on the not-so-good Tickatus Control Warlock the Bronze 10 players are so scared of. Sure, a 3-card set is not going to completely rebuild the class, but something can still be done.
First of all, both Core and Barrens feature the basis for a Discard/Zoo archetype that relies on Deathrattles, small minions and discard effects. However, the deck misses that 'something' that could push it over the meme range: we're not asking for a turn 1 Flame Imp into The Coin into Voodoo Doctor into double Happy Ghoul, but there is a middle ground we can definitely land on and be okay to live with.
Secondly, Mill Warlock needs more support: you want to put yourself in fatigue range, but then you seem to have very few tools to exploit, and therefore you eventually run out of resources or succumb to fatigue. Apart from mechanics that straight up delete the "fatigue" element, we have little to no idea about how this archetype could improve, but we definitely hope to see more support for it coming soon.
Finally, Demonlock - heavily pushed in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire and throughout all of the Year of the Phoenix just to be completely ignored by Forged in the Barrens. If you actually look at the cards, you'll notice that such archetype is not that bad: it is my personal opinion that just one good Demon or a good spell could turn it into a valid alternative to Control Warlock.
Predictions - One Frenzy minion, One Armor gain effect, and One aggressive tool
Given the scarce success and the fact that it didn't get buffed in the last patch, we can safely say that we'll receive more support for Frenzy Warrior. The keyword's lack of success is particularly concerning for Garrosh since four out of 10 Warrior Barrens cards involve the Frenzy mechanic. Just as in Darkmoon Races we saw Corrupt, we shouldn't be surprised to see another couple of Frenzy minions here and there - could this be the chance for Overlord Saurfang to rise and start seeing play?
Shieldmaiden got recently buffed and became meta, but Control Warrior is not as good as hoarding Armor as it used to be: even though the Risky Skipper-Armorsmith combo was too much, Garrosh is currently missing a mass armor gain effect like Bring It On!, but it's slowly getting there. We think we have reasonable chances to see something happening in this direction.
Finally, Warrior has no aggressive options: one single card is not going to do the trick, but we'd like seeing some sort of hint to what will happen in the next expansions. After all, Bloodsail Deckhand seems like a very good unit in a low-curve and aggressive oriented type of deck, which is something Garrosh is very familiar with.
What do you think of these predictions? What do you think the Forged in the Barrens mini set will bring us? Let us know in the comments below.