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Think Ahead: These staples are leaving with the Year of the Mammoth. What Can You Use to Replace Them?

by - 1 year ago


Standard includes Basic, Classic, and the two most recent years worth of expansions. With every new set comes the excitement of new cards and the promise of a new meta, but with the first set each standard-year comes a set rotation (and, thus far, changes to the evergreen sets). When Journey to Un’Goro releases next month, we are losing Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers. There were a lot of impactful cards in those sets, which @OtakuMZ1978 and @hsdecktech break down for you below.

We will give you a list of staple cards that will rotate to Wild play mode in early April. We also include suggestions on how to replace these cards in order to retain established deck types. But beware, there will be some that are not replaceable due to their unique effect (e.g. Brann Bronzebeard). If you think that we missed something important, please leave a comment below.

Staples Leaving

Dragon Cards

These cards will not be listed here as there was an excellent post already published by Old_Guardian on that topic: Will Dragon Decks Exist in the Year of the Mammoth?


Raven Idol (Malgos [Yogg] Druid, Arcane Giants Druid)
Substitute(s): none.

Living Roots (all archetypes)
Substitute(s): Maybe Claw; maybe Enchanted Raven; maybe even Mistress of Mixtures (hero power synergy); but definitely not Savagery, that card is garbage.

Mulch (all archetypes)
Substitute(s): Naturalize(?), not really.

Druid of the Saber & Savage Combatant (Beast Druid)
Substitute(s): at the moment, none, but a lot of Beasts are expected to come out in Un’Goro.

Aviana (Malygos/C’Thun Aviana-Kun Druid, Astral Communion Druid)
Substitute(s): none, the dream is dead.



Quick Shot (all archetypes)
Substitute(s): Arcane Shot, On the Hunt, or maybe the return of Explosive Trap, depending on what we’re trying to shoot.

Bear Trap (Secret and Midrange Hunter)
Substitute(s): a lot of good other Secrets, and Cloaked Huntress, are still available.

Kings Elekk (Midrange Hunter)
Substitute(s): Hunter lacks card draw in general, but it does have decent 2-drops in Kindly Grandmother and Trogg Beastrager (is it finally his time to shine?) and has historically done a pretty good job of taking advantage of neutral 2-drops like Doomsayer and Flame Juggler. Aside from that, Hunter has not been good for some time, so many people are predicting it will get a boost come Un’Goro.



Arcane Blast (Tempo Mage, Reno Mage)
Substitute(s): Reno Mage is a 50-card deck that has much bigger problems than losing Arcane Blast. Tempo Mage, however, may have an identity crisis without Flamewaker, Arcane Blast, or Azure Drake. Perhaps Mage’s quest will help both decks and become an indirect substitute, but until we see what the card is, we can only hope.

Ice Lance (Freeze Mage)
Substitute(s): Freeze Mage, like Tempo Mage and Reno Mage, looks poised to get hit hard come rotation. IT loses Ice Lance, Forgotten Torch, and Emperor Thaurissan, which combine for most of the deck’s burst potential. Freezing Potion, either on its own or in tandem with Shatter, might take over as a stall card, but no cards in the current pool allow for the same kind of explosive finishes Ice Lance does. Freezing Potion + Antonidas allows for similar damage output, but over one or two additional turns–it is unclear if the meta will slow down enough to allow that. It is also possible that Freeze Mage makes a move back towards the “Grinder Mage” archetype by substituting in Medivh’s Valet and/or the new Un’Goro legendary, Pyros.

Flamewaker (Tempo Mage)
Substitute(s): nothing works the same way but, as discussed above, Tempo Mage appears likely to need an overhaul anyway.

Spellslinger (Casino Mage)
Substitute(s): Maniac Soulcaster, Kabal Courier, Kabal Chemist, or more copies of whatever singleton RNG-based cards you want to take to the Casino. Courier lands in the sames spot on the curve and has the RNG element, so that seems like the best direct plug.

Forgotten Torch (Basically every mage deck)
Substitutes(s): none. Forgotten Torch allows for efficient trades early in the game and explosive finishes. It’s unclear if Blizzard is okay with allowing that kind of utility in one common spell.


Solemn Vigil (Anyfin Paladin, Control Paladin)
Substitute(s): Hammer of Wrath, Fight Promoter, Lay on Hands, Acolyte of Pain, and (for Murloc fans) Finja, the Flying Star. It seems like Buffadin may be the wave of the future, so we’re leaning towards the minions as the draw engine. For Murloc fans, Finja is proving itself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Anyfin Can Happen (Anyfin Paladin)
Substitute(s):  no direct replacements, but Finja, the Flying Star and/or N’Zoth the Corrupter can each scratch at least part of the itch left by Anyfin.

Keeper of Uldaman (all archetypes, from aggro to control)
Substitute(s): Aldor Peacekeeper (but less versatile and not viable in aggro), and perhaps Sen’jin Shieldmasta if buffadin gets more attention.

Mysterious Challenger (Secret Paladin)
Substitute(s): none, but this archetype has been all but dead in standard since Avenge rotated. Finja, the Flying Star may fill the same tempo/value archetype should such a deck return next meta.



Flash Heal (Circle Priest, Old Control Priest)
Substitue(s): Greater Healing Potion, Potion of Madness.

Entomb (all slower archetypes)
Substitue(s): Mind Control.



Conceal (Miracle Rogue)
Substitue(s): Master of Disguise(?), not really. The rotation was intended to dismantle Miracle Rogue, and it appears poised to do so.

Unearthed Raptor (Deathrattle Rogue, N’Zoth Rogue, Jade Rogue)
Substitue(s): Shaku, the Collector, Shadowcaster, or Faceless Manipulator, but Shadowcaster and Faceless appear too slow and Shaku fills a different type of role.

Tomb Pillager (almost all archetypes)
Substitue(s): Xaril, Poisoned Mind, Shadow Sensei, Shaku, the Collector, or maybe Lotus Agent.



Ancestral Knowledge (Old Gods Aggro Shaman, Control Shaman)
Substitue(s): Mana Tide Totem.

Lava Shock (Control Shaman)
Substitue(s): Eternal Sentinel, Stormcrack, Rockbiter Weapon, Lightning Bolt, or Lava Burst.

Elemental Destruction (Control Shaman)
Substitue(s): Volcano (Journey to Un’Goro).

Tunnel Trogg & Totem Golem (all aggro and midrange decks)
Substitue(s): no Shaman early game minions; it will soon be: make Shaman great again LUL

Healing Wave (control shaman and tech in midrange decks)
Substitue(s): Hallazeal the Ascended, Jinyu Waterspeaker.

Thunder Bluff Valiant
Substitue(s): Flamewreathed Faceless, Master of Evolution, Wicked Witchdoctor, Hammer of Twilight, Bloodlust, or an extension of the Jade Package.


Demonwrath (Demonlock, Renolock)
Substitue(s): Hellfire or Shadowflame, though you already run those, so if you need something else, perhaps Spreading Madness will take the slot.

Dark Peddler (every warlock deck)
Substitue(s): Darkshire Librarian, Bloodmage Thalnos, Dirty Rat (in those decks not already running it), Kabal Courier, Loot Hoarder, Gnomish Engineer, or maybe Coldlight Oracle.

Imp Gang Boss (also pretty much warlock deck)
Substitue(s): Forbidden Ritual, Darkshire Councilman, Pantry Spider, Void Terror, Disciple of C’Thun, Earthen Ring Farseer, Imp Master, Fel Orc Soulfiend, or maybe even Razorfen Hunter, depending on what you need it to do.



Revenge (Control Warriror)
Substitue(s): Sleep with the Fishes.

Bash (lots of archetypes)
Substitue(s): Sleep with the Fishes, Slam, Blood to Ichor, Shield Block, Ironforge Portal, or maybe Taunts.

Fierce Monkey (Tempo Warrior, Dragon Warrior, Water Warrior)
Substitue(s): there is no Warrior Beast for Curator synergy, so maybe Jungle Panther, Stranglethorn Tiger, or Stampeding Kodo. If you don’t already run full sets, maybe Bloodsail Raider or Frothing Berserker.

Grim Patron (Patron Warrior)
Substitue(s): none, but Patron Warrior has been gone for a long time.





Argent Horserider (aggro decks)
Substitue(s): Jungle Panther; chargers, e.g. Wolfrider, Bluegill Warrior

Azure Drake (each and every deck :twisted:)
Substitue(s): none as good by far; Polluted Hoarder, Gnomish Inventor, Fight Promoter; class specific draw cards, e.g. Ivory Knight

Flame Juggler (Zoo, any tempo-based aggro decks with no better option)
Substitute(s): Bilefin Tidehunter, Dirty Rat, Acidic Swamp Ooze.

Silent Knight (Stealth/Menagerie/Finja Rogue)
Substitute(s): Shadow Rager, Jungle Panther, Shaku (if you didn’t already have it).

Sir Finley Mrrggllton
Substitute(s): none

Brann Bronzebeard
Substitute(s): none

Elise Starseeker
Substitute(s): none

Reno Jackson (all Reno decks, logic, right?)
Substitute(s): Awaken the Makers (Journey to Un’Goro) in Priest.

Emperor Thaurissan (Combo decks, Control decks and Ramp Druid)
Substitute(s): Burgly Bully?

Justicar Trueheart (Control Warrior, Control Priest, Control/Token Paladin)
Substitute(s): none.

Sylvanas Windrunner
Substitute(s): Priest can still steal stuff.

Ragnaros Firelord
Substitute(s): none, but that was the point, right?


Honorable Mentions

(Acidmaw is in there because it leaving buffs evolve effects)




Nicholas Weiss

Is a lawyer by day and a cardslinger by night. He's decent at both. He's been playing Hearthstone since open beta and writing about it for the past year or so.