next expansion launches on August 6 in NA (August 7 in ANZ), and it’s taking us back to an iconic World of Warcraft setting – Scholomance. This classic dungeon was a decrepit, evil place; a school for necromancers and home to one of WoW’s most infamous villains, Kel’Thuzad, but what was it like before it fell, when Kel’Thuzad was still a human Mage, and its halls were thrumming with students and teachers? That’s the premise for Hearthstone’s Scholomance Academy.It’s a fantastic twist on a famous location, and is also likely to be pretty appealing for anyone who’s a fan of schools of witchcraft and wizardry. More importantly, though, now that we’ve seen a decent chunk of the 135 cards coming in the set, Scholomance Academy is looking really powerful and distinct from a gameplay perspective too.The set’s new keyword is Spellburst, which is an effect that triggers the next time you play a spell, provided the minion or weapon with Spellburst is still around. The fact that it’s not a guaranteed effect – unless you can play a spell on the same turn as the Spellburst card – should make for some interesting decisions on both sides of the board.
Scholomance Academy also introduces dual-class cards, and these lean into areas of overlap between different classes in really fun ways. Druids and Hunters both utilise beasts for instance, while Warlock and Priest both have hero powers that can impact the hero’s health. Dual-class cards even introduce new mechanics, such as Soul Fragments, which are utilised by both Warlocks and Demon Hunters. You can get a feel for these in the slideshow below.
Scholomance Academy – Spellburst and Dual Class Cards
That’s not why you clicked through to this article, of course. Nope, you’re here to see a brand new cad from the set. Introducing Professor Slate, a new Hunter legendary:
Yes, if you play Professor Slate then damage a minion with a spell, that minion dies. It’s a strong effect and because it’s attached to a low cost card, you can potentially activate Slate from pretty early on. On turn four you could pair him with Rapid Fire to kill an enemy minion, and on turn five you could use the Twinspell too, killing off two. Some of the other existing spells that you could pair this with in the Standard format include Arcane Shot, Corrosive Breath, Kill Command, Marked Shot, Multi-Shot and Scrap Shot. Slate will even work with Snipe and Explosive Trap… provided he’s on the board when they trigger.
All that said, because Slate is a one-of (and his effect isn’t a win condition), I don’t think you’d build your deck around him or include cards that aren’t also good without him. It feels like Professor Slate needs to slot into a deck that already has synergy for his effect, and right now none of the Hunter decks really do. Highlander Hunter only has Corrosive Breath in terms of damage-dealing spells, and its minions are very focused around synergy – beasts, dragons, rush – and Slate has none of those affixes. Dragon Hunter also only runs Corrosive Breath and Explosive Trap while Face Hunter has more ways to deal damage with spells, but sure as hell doesn’t want to direct those spells at minions. Face Hunter goes face.
As of this reveal, however, we’ve hardly seen any of the set’s Hunter cards, so Professor Slate could be one piece of a whole new archetype, or part of a package that can slot into an existing archetype. The combination of Professor Slate and Headmaster Kel’Thuzad, for instance, could be pretty spicy. Wandmaker, also, could be an inclusion, as his battlecry can hit both Arcane Shot and Rapid Fire.
It’s also worth mentioning that Slate has many more spells he can be paired with in the Wild format, such as On the Hunt, Bomb Toss, Grievous Bite, Quick Shot, Powershot, Flanking Strike, Wing Blast and so on, but Hunter as a whole isn’t doing too well in Wild overall, so it’s going to need something pretty big to bring its win rates more in line with the titans of the format, and whatever that may be, we haven’t seen it yet.
Even so, Professor Slate is undoubtedly a good card and will likely see play in some capacity while it’s in the format. You can see all the cards that have been revealed so far here, and be sure to check out the pre-order bundles and other key details on Blizzard’s Scholomance Academy site.
Cam Shea is Studio Lead in IGN’s Sydney office and is occasionally on Twitter.