Greetings, Hearthstone friends! This past Thursday, January 18th, 2024, the Delve into Deepholm mini-set was released, which complemented the third set in the year, Showdown in the Badlands. As it is tradition for the third mini-sets, it mixed up themes for all the sets released that year, so, besides Excavate and Highlander, Finale and Forge also returned. Another feature that returned were the dual-class cards, in the same combinations that were established in Festival of Legends, which allow us to increase the additions for each class from 3 to 5.
Regarding the mechanics in its base set, Deepholm expanded the Treasure pool, adding an option for each mana cost and adding two more classes, Paladin and Shaman, to the excavator's side. On the other side, Warrior now also plays for the Highlander team.
Due to the way cards are divided between the many classes, I'll discuss them in the sequence that they appear among the heroes.
This exclusive Death Knight card is an extremely potent weapon, and an even stronger version of Craftsman's Hammer, a card that has a fixed role in Warrior decks.
However, its rune combination is extremely limiting and, if we take as a base the previous examples for this combination, it could only play in Rainbow DK, a deck that still needs to prove itself competitively. If this deck takes off, prepare to be Frozen, multiple times.
The first dual-class card we analyze is an excellent addition for both classes: for DK, it offers 4 Frail Ghouls for just 2 mana, which is one of the best options available for this class; for Paladin, it offers board presence for 2 mana, which is one of the mana costs this class most needs.
These Frail Ghouls may represent an obscene amount of damage with Charge throughout the game if combined with The Garden's Grace and Shroomscavate. This card has everything to see a lot of play in the future.
In practice, this minion is an Embalming Ritual for 3 mana, which doesn't seem very promising, even though it is interesting to attach it. On the other side, Magnetizing this hand into Reska, the Pit Boss is a play that can turn lost games into winnable ones. I think it is a very limited option to be viable, but, certainly, someone will try it out.
As I said above, Paladin now has access to the Excavate mechanic, and its exclusive mini-set card is an activator that is a proactive play and can represent a big problem on its own if it gets abilities like Windfury, Divine Shield or Stealth. Maintaining board pressure while you're progressing towards the next card on this list is a recipe for victory.
The Azerite Dragon
Though it isn't a collectible card, it is important to discuss Paladin's new available Treasure. This Dragon is a true bomb, and can not only create incredibly oppressive board states for your opponent (remember it buffs minions in play as well!) but also make all your future plays extremely dangerous.
It is a reason to adapt your lists to use the Excavate ability, and it is an excellent reason.
This card is a rarity: it is an Excavate card whose first line of text is more important than its ability to find Treasures! Windfury is an extremely potent ability for Paladin, specially if tied to the countless buffs this class can access. Leaving any minion alive means risking imminent death. Shaman will use it due to their need to maximize Excavates, but this card becomes way less lethal in that case.
Sir Finley, the Intrepid
The new incarnation of the most beloved Murloc in all of Hearthstone is an excellent reward for using the Excavate mechanic. It is useful both to deal with large, buffed boards, such as the ones Treant Druid can create, and as an answer to Deathrattles or giant minions. And most important of all, it only affects your opponent's board!
Digging Straight Down
Unlike Paladin's Excavate, the Shaman version is reactive, which doesn't fit the more aggressive decks this mechanic promotes. These decks will likely use this spell to have a critical mass of Treasures, but this card could cost less mana so it isn't that heavy for these deck's tempo.
The Azerite Murloc
As for Shaman's final Treasure, it isn't as efficient as Paladin's. It can create absurd creatures for its cost, but it slays most of your minions with Excavate to create future Treasures, and the final result is unpredictable. It can be compared to Deck of Lunacy, which had a similar effect but with spells, but, in this case, the options created as a result were more predictable.
Poor Mana Tide Totem... This Totem goes into play early, creates extra protection and needs to be answered immediately, otherwise it will create a truckload of cards and armor. It also has a minion type that is relevant to Menagerie decks.
Though it officially costs 4 mana, in practice, it will be common to play this spell for just 2 mana, and the fact that the 3 global damage are dealt in 3 waves instead of only once increases the potency of spell damage effects. This card can even be quite efficient to deal with Deathrattles. It is an excellent addition to both of these classes' arsenals.
We've reached the most hyped card in this mini-set! For 6 mana and the restriction of building your deck with only 1 copy of each card, it is like you skipped all the steps in Shaman's quest, Corrupt the Waters, and went straight to its rewards! Brann creates an effect that is incredibly strong and can carry the game for you, at the cost of an absurd tempo loss.
This is truly the weak spot in this card: Brann has to go into play as early as possible so you can recover the investment of not only basically spending 6 mana to not affect the board at all, but also building a deck entirely around it that works quite inefficiently for as long as its Battlecry isn't active.
Don't get me wrong: if there is a window to play it early without the risk of it dying when it is your turn again (something that a Paladin minion with Windfury can probably do), it will quickly recover your investment and end up transforming Astalor Bloodsworn into a true win condition, and School Teacher into a value-making machine. But, if it doesn't show its face early on, you'll struggle.
In theory, this card is a 1-mana removal that can defeat a 5-health minion. In practice, this spell tries to do many things, but ends up not doing anything right: it isn't a good Enrage activator, doesn't give you the attack bonus if it is removing a small minion, and even requires you to offer your face up to damage to kill a big creature.
Congratulations to this mini-set for giving us the worst location ever released in the game! The comparison with Forge of Wills, the location with the ability that is most similar to this new card, is just cruel. It is more expensive, the target has to be damaged, and the copy doesn't affect the board on the turn it is summoned. Simply no.
For a while now, board removals that deal 2 global damage were reduced to 3 mana. Even though this card deals a second wave of damage, this removal is significantly inefficient and also hits your own minions.
This is that card with a new, fun mechanic: it can transform your Glaivetar into an extra removal, but, in practice, it ends up being too conditional to be worth it.
This is the right card in the wrong classes. Rogue and Demon Hunter don't struggle with buying cards, and so this new weapon doesn't really have a home. It might be a consideration after rotation, because the value is there.
2 cards for 1 mana? It looks good, right? Well, it is nothing more than fool's gold. The cards offered are random and there is no way to tell if they'll progress your game plan. It might have been cool in Wildpaw Gnoll times, but not in this format.
This card is excellent for Priest and for an archetype that doesn't exist yet, but should be forced in future sets - Overheal Priest. It is good to keep an eye on it for the future. For Rogue, it is not worth it to include this card, even though it offers something rare for this class.
Shadow Word: Steal
Before I discuss this card itself, it is good to stress that this is probably the most hated card in this mini-set: Hearthstone players, most of them, hate it when Priest steals their cards. But, usually, they only steal from your deck or copy the original. This card does steal them, and that is even represented in its name.
Apart from that, it is a somewhat slow and inefficient removal, but should find its place in Highlander lists, particularly to deal with things like Titans or Colossals. In Rogue, it should appear at most because of some Discover effect.
For some time now, Priest decks have wanted to access another decent Forge card to activate Ignis, the Eternal Flame more consistently. They got something more than decent. This Elemental, both through Forge and Quickdraw, offers you an excellent way to turn the table around, recovering a generous amount of your life while it removes something that is reasonably sized, and also leaves a body behind. It is an excellent addition to this class' repertoire.
Pendant of Earth
This is the first clear candidate for nerfs that might hit this mini-set. Basically, if combined with Naga Giant, it results in 20 armor points for just 3 mana, which is an absurd advantage against aggressive decks, which traditionally are the greatest Druid predators.
When you remove Sathrovarr's 4 mana cost and 5/5 body, what do you have left? Everything that matters: the Combo potential. The initial application is with Eonar, the Life-Binder, but being able to abuse Naga Giant's free copies pulled by the former card may carry your game on its own. Other cards to consider are Fye, the Setting Sun for Druid and Astral Automaton for Priest.
This will always be the supreme ramp card for Druid. When it resolves early on, it already puts in you a place in which you can properly play Eonar, the Life-Binder or Yogg-Saron, Unleashed. If it resolves later on, it creates a wall of minions with Taunt. If Nourish doesn't survive through rotation, this will probably be the main piece to accelerate this class, but, even now, it already looks good enough to infest the metagame.
This is a small Astalor Bloodsworn that doesn't need to go through its entire process. It is useful in every step of the game, even though it might not always be easy to activate its Finale.
Besides adding another Forge option to these two classes, this Elemental can put a real rock in your opponent's shoe when it comes to their game plan. For Warlock, in particular, it adds redundancy to create giant boards with Forge of Wills.
This is a doubled version of Kobold Librarian, one of the best, and most popular, Warlock cards. Geode should appear in practically every and any list with this class.
Even though it is a dual-class card, in practice, this card is exclusively meant for Sludge Warlock, and offers a huge damage potential not only on its own, but also because it burns several Barrels of Sludge. It is slow, but might be a viable finisher for this deck.
A Freeze effect of this caliber used to cost 3 mana. Even with the drawback of dealing damage to you, this card significantly delays your opponent for very little mana. It should see a lot of play, as effects of this kind usually do.
A bad Secret is a bad Secret.
This is an excellent card, and it can easily get discounted by both classes. It reminds me of Corridor Creeper. Even when it is played for 2 or 3 mana, it is still a bargain.
This card is an Animal Companion without the possibility of playing Huffer with Charge. It can't compare with the original.
This card was made to bring one last joy to Arcane Hunter before rotation. It is excellent in this strategy, but it is very mediocre in other decks with this class.
Its cost and ability are great, but the condition to activate it is quite complicated, and the decks that can activate it are quite mediocre.
This is an Arena card. Next.
I'm saddened by our Elemental mama, because this character is iconic in WoW and her card was long-waited for. We got a worse Lor'themar Theron.
This is a Highlander card that can even not see play in Highlander decks. Maruut can create significant value and even roll a Ragnaros the Firelord, but on average doesn't defend or attack well, and doesn't seem to do enough to make it worth your while.
We've reached the conclusion of this Delve into Deepholm depths. I considered it a good mini-set, on average. Some classes (Paladin, Druid, Warlock) were the greatest winners, while others (Demon Hunter, Hunter, Mage) were lacking a bit.
I hope you enjoyed this analysis.
Hugs from the deep, and see you next time!