Hearthstone Patch 22.0, which went live yesterday and has set the stage for Fractured in Alterac Valley, brought some rather significant changes to Duels:

  • You can now include Goblins vs. Gnomes in your starting deck.
  • Fractured in Alterac Valley cards are available in buckets now.
    • An early way to play with the new expansion's cards!
  • New buckets will be added to cover the cards from the newly added card sets.
  • New Passives, from both pool 1 and 2, will be added into the game.
    • These Passive Treasures are already draftable!
  • When Alterac Valley launches, the new cards can then be included in your starter deck.

In this article, we're going to take a look at each of the 15 brand new Passive Treasures, giving our opinion about their power level and how they'll be used.

As a premise, there are a few common themes behind these Passives:

  • Spell Schools are getting yet another push! More alternatives for both pool 1and pool 2.
  • Ysera's Dream and The Lich King's Death Knight cards make their appearance in Duels with dedicated Passives.

All in all, and this is just a conjecture of ours, we have the impression that these newly introduced Passives are going to set up an upcoming event. In fact, a large portion of these Passives clearly have a Knights of the Frozen Throne vibe: Unholy Gift and Runic Helm generate cards exclusive to that expansion, while Ring of Black Ice is literally Moorabi.

What if we're going to receive a set of Death Knight characters to start the run with in the future? Nah, it's impossible. Unless...

Tier 1 Passives Added

Three Spell School-related Passive Treasures have been introduced in pool 1, and synergize respectively with Frost, Nature and Fire spells, providing spells belonging to those categories +2 Spell Damage. We'll be discussing them separately, as they have different implications and uses, and their power levels differ by quite a bit.

Bitter Cold Card Image

Starting with Bitter Cold, this Passive looks to be more of a defensive than offensive tool. Right now, the only direct damage Frost spells we have are Mage's Frostbolt, Shaman's Frost Shock and Frostbite, and the Active Treasure Pure Cold - not many to be honest. On the other hand, there are more Frost AoE/single target removals, but still not enough to justify building your deck around the chance of getting this Passive offered.

We think that, despite the remarkable Spell Damage bonus, Bitter Cold is not going to be picked over Arctic Armor and Freeze Solid.

Natural Force Card Image

Pretty much the same reasoning goes for Natural Force, except the non-direct damage spell pool is way wider than Frost's, and there's one class in particular that may benefit from this new Passive: Shaman. In fact, Instructor Fireheart has lots of Nature board-control tools, most of them with Overload, which means that Stormcatcher is going to be a relevant option for this hypothetical archetype.

However, we'll have to see if this is really enough as defending without offense has never been a winning strategy in Duels. Lightning Bolt as a 1 mana deal 5 damage is nutty though.

Kindling Flame Card Image

Things are... hot here. We think this Passive is by a large margin the best out of the three spell school passives and mainly because there are many impactful and relatively cheap spells that share the Fire School:

However, by surprise of literally no one, Mage is the class that is going to abuse Kindling Flame the most: First Flame, Fire Sale, Flame Geyser, Fireball - already playable spells instantly become huge tools to control the board and kill your opponent with, and can be cheated out with more ease with the help of Hot Streak.

Ignite, in particular, is the Mage spell that is going to benefit the most from Kindling Flame and pre-nerf Arcanist Dawngrasp should've taught us a thing or two about this. This Passive is going to decide lots of games, especially since you can draft it as soon as your first match ends. Fire Mage with this and Flame Waves looks so powerful and oppressive; on paper at least.

Just make sure it doesn't Backfire. Literally.

Unholy Gift Card Image

As a reminder, Death Knight cards are the ones generated by Knights of the Frozen Throne's The Lich King and Arfus: namely Death Coil, Death Grip, Obliterate, Death and Decay, Anti-Magic ShellDoom Pact, Army of the Dead and Frostmourne.

Not only does shuffling 5 non-Cast When Drawn cards in your deck put you ahead in fatigue against your early opponents, but the average quality of the Death Knight cards is still powerful enough to be competitive. With the only exception of Army of the Dead and possibly Doom Pact, all the cards we're talking about are generally good and we don't see any reason for a deck to not want to draw them at some point in the game.

Obviously, when your Health total is going to get larger, things like Obliterate will become a lot more manageable and impactful and you'll be able to make good use of your Death Knight cards with more room for judgment, without having to suffer any harsh punishment.

All in all, a solid and generally good addition to Passive pool 1 that outclasses Book of Wonders in all categories, except the meme potential.

Tier 2 Passives Added

Expedited Burial Card Image

Most of the time, you play a Deathrattle minion for its effect and not because of its stats. Getting rid of all its Attack and Health points is not necessarily a bad thing when you cut down its mana cost too. Remember Saviors of Uldum's Anka, the Buried? Even though it was playable for just a short amount of time in the past, its effect was really powerful with the right tools at your disposal. Well, this is a jacked up version of that card, and you can benefit of its effect as soon as turn 1.

Imagine Darkmoon Tonk on turn 1 followed by Death Games on turn 2. Moreover, Deathstrider's combos are going to become a lot more practical too and stuff like Humongous Owl, normally unplayable, may become extremely powerful forces to be reckoned with.

Hunter is definitely going to be the class that will welcome Expedited Burial the most, but we think that Awaken the Makers Priest and Druid will gladly take a shot at it. Nutty, nutty Passive.

 Mantle of Ignition Card Image

Mantle of Ignition is a strange Passive as it doesn't blatantly show you what it's supposed to work with, but it doesn't take a lot to discover neat synergies and archetypes that may want to try out this Passive.

One preliminary thing to be noted is that Mantle of Ignition doesn't necessarily apply to just enemy minions: friendly minions count too, so you can either triple up removals like Drain Soul or buffs like Noble Mount.

While getting three Blessing of Kings or three Power Word: Feasts for the cost of just one looks very appealing, we think that Mantle of Ignition particularly shines with removals. Here are some examples:

On a final note, remember Rastakhan's Rumble's Zentimo? If you cast Shadow Word: Death with it, it will destroy adjacent minions even if they don't have 5 or more Attack. Therefore, unless this interaction has been changed, we dare to say that Mantle of Ignition's enchantment will affect adjacent minions even if they're not originally targetable by the spell.

Imp-credible Trousers Card Image

As we already mentioned in the past, Corrupted Felstone isn't much of a reward in Fel-heavy decks as spells from this School do not encourage you (yet) to run many minions, so the hand buff bonus you get doesn't really benefit your general game plan. However, shuffling Fel Rifts in your deck is way better, and for multiple reasons:

  • Dread Imps grants you board presence so that you can concentrate all your resources on killing your opponent.
  • Being Cast When Drawn spells, Fel Rifts are effectively free card draw, which means more resources for you and less chances to end up with an empty hand.

We are not sure Fel Warlock is going to be a thing as the deck appears to be missing way too many pieces to resemble a viable archetype, but Fel Outlander Demon Hunter is going to love this.

Iron Roots Card Image

Then second tier 2 Passive payoff for Nature-heavy decks after Spreading Saplings. While the latter builds you a board from scratch, Iron Roots helps you make it more resilient to your opponent's attempts at going at your throat, casting what effectively is a pre-buff Mark of the Wild.

Only two classes have access to a large pool of Nature spells: Druid and Shaman. Our opinion is that Forest Warden Omu will be the one who's going to love Iron Roots the most as it has better tools to chain multiple Nature spells, while also building a board with the likes of Thorngrowth Sentries and the Signature Treasure Warden's Insight.

Note that Iron Roots grants the buff after you cast a Nature spell, and not whenever you do it: this means that if you have an empty board and you summon the first minion with a Nature spell, the +2/+2 won't get lost.

Bronze Signet Card Image

Remember Blackrock Mountain's Chromaggus? This is as close as a Duels passive can get to that Legendary minion. In other words, we are talking about a value generation tool that can be triggered multiple times each turn and that provides support to minion-heavy decks - make sure to not mill yourself!

We see Bronze Signet as a better version of Elixir of Vigor, meaning that you usually prefer having the extra value in your hand rather than it to be shuffled (and then drawn) in your deck: additional minions are more impactful when they're easily accessible.

Moreover, Bronze Signet has great synergy with hand-related effects like Spice Bread Baker or Anetheron, as well as with cheap units that help you taking control of the board: imagine duplicating Spirit Jailer with Soulcial Studies or cheap Pirates while playing Raid the Docks Bruising Warrior.

In the end, we expect Bronze Signet to see lots of experimentation in the upcoming Duels meta, especially in decks that do not necessarily have the fastest cycle ever, but that run relatively cheap units so that they can keep dumping their hand and pretty much achieve the same result that Rally the Troops gives you under the condition of playing a Battlecry each turn.

On a final (and probably flavorful) note, shuffling a Tradeable minion back into your deck potentially gives you infinite copies of it, as you'll get an additional piece of it every time you draw the shuffled copy.

Battle Stance Card Image

Pounce every turn and for every class: Conduit of the Storms sobs in a corner. Battle Stance might be one of the least shiny Passives in this list, but we dare to say that you should not underestimate having two Attack for free each turn. We're talking about chip damage that can help you stay in the game by removing early enemy threats like Party Replacement's Adventurers or by just lowering your opponent's life total. 2 damage may appear insignificant at first glance, but it will make a difference in the long run, especially if you can combine them with a Windfury enchantment (Ferocious Flurry, Doomhammer, Inara Stormcrash or Phaoris' Blade).

Shaman appears to be the class that is looking forward to playing with Battle Stance the most, but Druids might see some mileage too from this Passive with their hero attack-friendly decks that focus on Lost in the Park.

Battle Stance probably pales in comparison when you look at Passives like Legendary Loot, but this is just a problem of the latter being totally overpowered with the right Discover choices, am I right?

Ring of Black Ice Card Image

Moorabi on a stick, literally. Ring of Black Ice is basically a Mage-Shaman Passive Treasure, and we are not very convinced on the latter as Thrall has just started receiving Frost support, so the class may need a bit more time to get to the point where it will be able to put Ring of Black Ice to good use.

Jumping over to possible combos, Ice Shard and Flurry (Rank 1) seem to be two of the most useful ways to trigger Ring of Black Ice: little to no mana spent and you get a copy of the Frozen minion(s) that you can play right away too! On the other hand, Varden Dawngrasp and Frost Nova are obviously the hand-filling combos you may look at with awe, and we understand why!

Consider that Ring of Black Ice doesn't state that the Frozen minion has to be on the opponent's side of the board: potentially speaking, you may Snap Freeze a friendly minion with an impactful effect like Embercaster or Loatheb to get a copy of it, as if you played Zola the Gorgon (the copy won't be golden, but we won't despair).

Who would've thought that not paying 6 mana for Moorabi's effect would've been worth it?

Idols of Elune Card Image

Double Time, but random and at the end of your turn. You can control the outcome by playing only one spell per turn, but even if you play more than one, Idols of Elune isn't bad by any means.

Ultimately, spell decks just received a new toy to play with: we just have to hope it won't end up like the original iteration of [Hearthstone Card (Ooops, all spells!) Not Found]. We don't think we will get there this time, but who knows. The Passive is a very useful option to have at disposal though.

Runic Helm Card Image Cloak of Emerald Dreams Card Image

As a reminder, Dream cards are the ones generated by Ysera, Ysera the Dreamer and Archdruid Naralex: namely Nightmare, Dream, Laughing Sister, Ysera Awakens and Emerald Drake.

Although they generate cards from different pools, their effects are very similar so we're going to discuss the cards together in order to avoid repeating the same review twice. Just like Ring of Black Ice was Moorabi on a stick, these two Passives are pretty much The Lich King and Ysera's aura effects, and you get them as soon as turn 1.

Both Runic Helm and Cloak of Emerald Dreams give you an additional card draw each turn, and that value is going to matter down the road. Sure, chances are that you're going to have some dead and not generally useful cards in your hand like Army of the Dead or Emerald Drake, but that's the inherent random nature of these two Passives and for every low roll you're going to get a couple of high rolls.

We can see Runic Helm as an Unholy Gift rank 2, and while Dream cards are fewer in number, they're generally cheaper and have roughly the same, if not slightly lower, power level.

Obviously, the good outcomes are always cheap cards like Nightmare, Dream and Ysera Awakens for Cloak of Emerald Dreams, and Death Coil, Death Grip, Obliterate and Death and Decay for Runic Helm. It sucks that these cards won't be added to your hand at the beginning of your turn, but we have to admit that an effect like this would break the Passives' flavor and would probably be too impactful in the first few turns.

Glacial Downpour Card Image

This is the first Frost-related tier 2 Passive Treasure we've ever received, and can be combined with the three currently existing Passives in pool 1: Arctic Armor, Freeze Solid and the new Bitter Cold.

To be honest, my first impression of the Passive wasn't good at all: in fact, I thought it was quite underwhelming considering that you couldn't even interact with the summoned Water Elemental. However, after some time, I started to realize that I was probably wrong: in the end, we're talking about a 3/6 with an upside given out for free, and if you have enough Frost spells you can guarantee this Passive to trigger almost every turn - oh boy, those are a lot of stats!

Getting a Water Elemental on each of your early turns of the game can be fundamental to fight against aggressive strategies like Pirate Warrior and Token Druid, and can push face strategies like Outlander Demon Hunter out of the game with the incredibly annoying contact Freeze effect.

On a final note, we agree with the choice of capping the number of units summoned each turn to just 1 as we're not talking about Firekeeper's Idol's Flame Elementals or Spreading Saplings's Treants.

What do you think of these new Passive Treasures? Which ones are you eager to try out? Let us know in the comments below!