Hello all, long time no see.
We’re a whole month into The Grand Tournament and the meta has certainly changed. With Priest dominating the ladder with its newfound dragonflight and Paladin secretly challenging the meta, this is certainly a huge tossup compared to previous seasons.
Although we have a very diverse and interesting meta, I’d like to focus on one of the most anticipated Legendary of the set, Justicar Trueheart!
With a new and improved Hero Power for each and every class, Justicar seemed to have a spot in every class... But did she?
Justicar’s pace and mana-cost leaves it unusable for Aggro decks, letting us move to focus on her impact in Midrange/Control decks. But is Justicar too slow for Midrange decks? One could argue both sides, but in reality, when you can only get immediate impact of Justicar by Turn 8, is this really a card you want in aggressive/faster decks? Weaving Justicar into a control deck is much easier, not having to sacrifice a key mid-game tempo/finisher card. Control decks are generally more flexible in card inclusions, with many control metadecks changing builds frequently to adapt to the meta.
For example, if you wanted to include Justicar in Warrior, you could simply switch a Shieldmaiden or a Sludge Belcher, replacing a mid-game defense card with another that can grant you more value in a slower meta like the one we have currently. The longer you can drag out the game, the more value your hero power retains. Therefore, Justicar doesn’t have much of a spot in classes/decks that don’t frequently use their hero power, or intend to play the long game.
This leads us to single out to classes who frequently use their hero powers, namely Paladin, Priest and Warrior. Mage is a viable contender, but doesn’t have a spot in current slow Mage decks, such as Freeze or Echo Giants.
Ah, my favorite class. Paladin, easily the most versatile class next to Warlock. Although Secretdin is the prominent deck of choice for Paladin players, Midrange is still quite strong in the current meta, with Strifecro taking the deck to Rank 1 Legend in NA (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S58OavMAR2o)
Justicar has been seen as a viable replacement for Sylvanas, but I knocked out a Murloc Knight to fit her in. In Paladin, Justicar’s potential is limitless, doubling the amount of pressure you can accumulate every turn, nearly filling your board in 3 turns. Paladin is naturally a slower class unless built otherwise, effectively using the Justicar’s boost in Midrange and Control. Running double Quartermaster is very effective in a Justicar list, abusing your improved hero power to double the potential amount of 3/3s on your board at any given time. There’s nothing more satisfying then a Turn 6 Justicar into a Turn 7 Improved Hero Power + Quartermaster. With Justicar in your list, your improved Hero Power lets you retain board control even into the fatigue stage, being able to overwhelm any opponent, even overwhelming a Priest or a Warrior’s Improved Hero Power.
A 4HP targeted heal is absolutely insane, with Priest’s naturally high-health minions and emphasis on early board control via Hero Power, Anduinn can use Justicar quite well. With plenty of beefy minions at your disposal, your creatures are nearly impossible to take down over multiple turns, being able to gain +4 every turn, which forces your opponent to rid of these minions with hard removal or hard clear.
Using this theory, I feel Priest could employ Justicar most effectively in a Dragon Priest build, utilizing the high base health of Wyrmrest Agent, Twilight Guardian and other dragon cards. I could see Justicar potential in a regular control build as well, as a 4HP heal in any situation is very handy.
The raw strength Justicar brings to Warrior is unbelievable. Control Warrior is one of the slowest and most defensive deck Hearthstone has seen. Having the tools to play Justicar safely against Aggro/Midrange is very likely, and Justicar is a premium Turn 6 power play against Control. What does Justicar offer Warrior exactly?
Warrior and Druid (and Mage, counting Ice Barrier) are the only classes in Hearthstone that can go above 30HP. As you may have noticed, Warrior is especially good at it, with a +2 Armor Gain over Druid’s 1, also being able to utilize globally efficient cards such as Shield Block, Shieldmaiden and Armorsmith, naturally increasing the range of your prime removal Shield Slam. Your armor is also very useful as an effective health shield, letting you use your weapons without worry, and a buffer for an on-self Alexstrasza play.
Adding Justicar into the mix just lets you reap the benefits even more, taking your armor to new heights. Weaving in an Improved Hero Power every turn in a match will almost ensure you to have a large pool of armor to tank through fatigue, or any possible threat. Shield Slam is easier than ever to build up, only needing three turns to take out Ysera with a mere Shield Slam. With Justicar, Control Warriors have a much easier time going into fatigue, dealing with Midrange/Control threats, and outlasting the pings and pews of a Mage or a Hunter.
Overall, Justicar rewards decks/playstyles that emphasize your Hero Power, doubling the value you can get every turn. The +4 to both Warrior and Priest make the classes even more durable than before, and giving Paladin an extra guy let’s Uther keep presence on the board at all times.
With Hunter’s new spread of cards in TGT, it is possible to build a list that effectively uses Hunter’s removal and efficient minions to consistently hold board, and win the game via attrition/burst. More specifically, using an Improved Hero Power as a clock along with burst such as King Krush. Using your efficient Midrange minions to hold out your early-midgame, and to apply enough pressure to finish your opponent with your ample burst/attrition.
Season after season, Grinder Mage has been a quiet deck, making the occasional appearance, a slow deck aiming to “grind” out an opponent, getting as much value as possible out of Duplicate and Echo of Medivh in conjunction with high-value defensive cards such as Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot. With Grinder Mage usually having a lack of apparent win condition, I find Justicar a suitable addition to the deck, giving you a stronger Hero Power to aid with your emphasis on board control and to contest your opponent in a fatigue battle.
While seen almost exclusively in Warrior, Justicar has amazing potential in many other decks and classes, showing only positive results when added to the right decklists. This card is definitely a power player in this format, and Justicar’s potential should not be doubted.