We got a glimpse of the new Hearthstone cards coming in the Journey to Un'goro expansion recently, and one in particular caught my eye.
Now this is a fun card. It starts out as a 2/2, then a 6/6, then a 10/10. All of the stat lines are low for the cost, but you get all 3 cards for the price of 1, and that is big value. Most responses to the card have been negative, as people seem to think that it isn't worth running. After all, why play 3 cards if they are all bad?
You could look at the card as a 2/2 that draws you a card. This is a strong card that would see all kinds of play. The 6/6 that draws you a card is also excellent and would see just as much play. The 10/10 that draws nothing is trash and sees zero play. However, I don't think that looking at the card like this is the best approach. It isn't drawing you towards combo pieces or answers, so it isn't the same as drawing a card. So how *should* we think about this?
The answer is that you have to think carefully about what cards do in your overall strategy. Obviously no aggressive deck is going to run this because they don't want late game value. However, control decks all run really expensive late game cards to win the game, so we ought to compare this against other late game cards to see how it stacks up. The most critical element here is that if you run a gigantic dragon that costs 9, as many of them do, then it does NOTHING until turn 9. It is useless against all deck types. Pyros, however, is not like this.
Pyros has the huge advantage that if you don't happen to have much to do on turn 2 you can just slam it down. It isn't massive but it is something, and something is far better than the nothing your other late game cards offer. It gives you options. That is actually quite a useful thing to do against other control decks because they often stare at each other not wanting to commit to the board and having something you can just slam down that they have to deal with is relevant. It is also useful if you have nothing else good when playing against an aggro deck. Not ideal, but again, far superior to the nothing that another late game card offers.
In the late game a regular late game card will be better than a 10/10 for 10. However, if your opponent has poured removal into the 2/2 and the 6/6 then the 10/10 could be just the value you need to push the game in your direction. It is just one more damn thing they have to kill, and eventually they will run out of ways to kill your stuff. However, if you draw this in the late game when your hand is empty it isn't nearly as good as a regular big dragon. It is slower out of the gate and gives the opponent more time to find answers and figure out how they will cope with it. Still, the first stage of Pyros can often be brought out in the same turn as another high value card so unless your hand is totally empty it isn't going to be a dead turn.
My sense is that against a control deck this is a high value card. It generates a ton of stats without digging into your deck, and that is great if you are grinding it out. Against an aggro deck it isn't great by any means but it is still hugely better than your other late game value options because it does something instead of nothing.
The trick with Pyros is that it is consistent. Normal big dragons are either rubbish or super powerful depending on who you are playing and when you draw them. Pyros is always okay no matter when you draw it and is relevant against every opponent. That consistency is important.
I don't think Pyros is broken, nor do I think it will suddenly be in every mage deck. I do think that if you are looking for a high value endgame card for a control mage archetype this will be a real contender. It has some big advantages against all other endgame value cards and might be even better than that because it has both the elemental type and deathrattle which are likely to have significant synergies in the new set.
My feeling is that you will see this card in most control mage archetypes once it launches. Whether or not control mage is good enough to be a contender is a question we can't possibly answer right now, but if it is, Pyros should be a part of it.