Hearthstone’s next expansion is Scholomance Academy, and it comes with some exciting new features that focus the spellcasting skills you would learn at this school of magic. The expansion features a new take on multiclass play with dual-class cards, a Spellburst keyword that adds spell-specific combos, and a new style of Discover mechanic in Studies cards.

With the Three Houses-like setting of Scholomance Academy, it shouldn’t surprise you that these gameplay additions focus on spells. But how will these new mechanics change the way we play Hearthstone? Let’s take a look at the Spellburst cards we’ve seen so far and talk about how they’ll change the game.

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Spellburst is a one-shot spellpower boost

Spellburst is an effect that goes off the first time you cast a spell after the Spellburst card is played. Mages have had many minions over the years that react to spells, like Flamewalker, Mana Dart Frog, and Mana Wyrm. What makes Spellburst different from those is the effect can only go off once, making it more similar to Rogue’s Combo keyword.

The biggest issue with Spellburst is the one time use. After you get the effect, the minion becomes nothing more than a pile of stats on board. Each of the preview cards look to have been designed with the expectation that you won’t play them “on curve” — on a turn where playing the card will take all your mana. The idea is you’ll immediately follow up with a spell to guarantee the Spellburst effect.

All of Scholomance Academy’s Spellburst cards

Spellburst will appear on minions as you might expect, but it will also show up on Weapons. Thus far, we’ve only seen a few Spellburst cards:

  • Wretched Tutor: 4 mana 2/5 Neutral with Spellburst: Do 2 damage to all other minions. It has some similarities to Arcane Flaskmage, but like all Spellburst cards, the damage only pulses one time.
  • Goody Two-Shields: 3 mana 4/2 for Paladin, Spellburst: Gain Divine Shield.
  • Diligent Notetaker: 2 mana 2/3 for Shaman, Spellburst: Return the spell to your hand. This is the most interesting of the three and will allow for some great combos.

Headmaster Kel’Thuzad: 5 mana, 4/6 Neutral Legendary with Spellburst: If the spell destroys any minions, summon them.

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  • Being a Neutral gives this lots of different ways to slot into a deck. It creates a swing turn, something slower decks thrive on. On turn 10, you can follow this up with a Shadow Word: Ruin and flip a big board against you to a big board for you. Kel’Thuzad would have to win the Brawl for it to work with that spell. Plague of Wrath would be a better choice. Rolling Fireball should give you at least on minion. Mage’s new 3 mana Epic spell Combustion (Deal 4 damage to a minion. Any excess damages both neighbors.) would be another application.

Onyx Magscribe: 6 mana, Neutral for 4/9 Dragon. Spellburst: Add two spells from your class to your hand.

  • This is another Neutral minion which should plenty of classes an opportunity to experiment with it. Druid would love to pull this off a Strength in Numbers. In a dedicated Dragon deck, you’ll have Frizz Kindleroost to reduce the cost. This seems like something you’d want off a Discover effect rather than something you’d slot into your deck.

Enchanted Cauldron: 3 mana, Neutral 1/6, Spellburst: Cast a random Spell of the same cost.

Some mana costs don’t have many options which should provide a degree of control over the spell generated. You’re going to need something impact because the minion alone isn’t all that exciting.

Pen Flinger: 1 mana, 1/1 Neutral, Battlecry: Deal 1 damage. Spellburst: Return this to your hand.

Rogue loves return to your hand type effects. The low mana cost, high tempo makes this a strong early game minion for an aggressive deck.

Ceremonial Maul: 3 mana Dual Class 2/2 Weapon for Warrior and Paladin. Spellburst: Summon a Student with Taunt equal to the spells cost.

  • Brawl would be a nice followup as long as the summon happened after the Brawl. Like Kel’Thuzad, this would work well with Plague of Wrath. You’d have to wait a turn, and not cast a spell to combine this with a 9 mana Libram of Hope.

Reapers Scythe: 4 mana, 4/2 weapon for Warrior, Spellburst: Also damages adjacent minions this turn.

  • 4/2 weapons have seen play with cards like Death’s Bite, and Truesilver Champion.
  • Upgrade is the obvious spell to activate the Spellburst giving you a 5/3. The 5 attack would make your Cutting Class card free.
  • You can buff the weapon with Doctor Krastinov, but you’re only going to get the Spellburst Cleave affect one time.

Cabal Acolyte: 4 mana, 2/6 Taunt for Priest with Taunt. Spellburst:Gain control of a random enemy minion with 2 or less Attack.

  • A smaller version of the venerable Cabal Shadow Priest with a Spellburst conditional. Lazul’s Scheme would be a good Spellburst activator. Not only does it not cost any mana, but it increases the pool of minions the Cabal Acolyte could steal. This doesn’t fit the Resurrection Priest game plan, but Galakrond Priest would welcome it.

Forest Warden Omu: 6 mana, 5/4 Legendary for Druid, Spellburst; Refresh your mana crystals

  • Hello, Groot.
  • The card screams combo deck enabler. I don’t find those particular decks fun to play with or against.
  • Omu reminds me of Twig of the World Tree, but he’s far easier to set up and provides little to no window for your opponent to respond or disrupt the play.
  • Omu can be discounted to 1 mana with Imprisoned Satyr. Once your 1 mana Omu is down, cast The Forest’s Aid and have full mana again to cast Soul of the Forest and whatever buffs you have for the leftover mana. If your opponent can’t clear the board twice, you’re looking at a double Savage Roar combo for lethal.
  • Malygos combos are always tried in the early days of a new expansion. Again, using Imprisoned Satyr, Omu is 1 mana or Malygos is 4 mana. You can play both for 10 mana. Moonfire refreshes your mana. Moonefire again, plus two Swipes and you dished out 30 damage in one turn, from your hand with no previous board presence. Druids have the card draw and survivability to pull it off.

Gibberling: 1 mana, 1/1 minion for Druid, Spellburst: Summon a Gibberling.

  • Token Druid needs ways to constantly fill the board with minions. This card does that well.
  • You play the first card and cast a spell. That summons a second Gibberling with Spellburst. You cast another spell. The first Gibberling does nothing, its Spellburst is used up, but the new one activates, summoning yet another Gibberling.
  • Turn 1, play a Gibberling, Coin, Innervate and Power of the Wild. Your opponent is facing a board of three 3/3s on turn 1. It won’t happen often, but that’s the kind of power this little guy could possess.

Shifty Sophomore: 4 mana, 4/4 for Rogue, Stealth, Spellburst: Add a Combo card to your hand.

  • Shifty Sophomore gets around Spellburst’s chief drawback with Stealth. You can drop Shifty Sophomore on curve (on turn 4), and still have a reasonable chance that you’ll get the Spellburst effect.
  • Coppertail Impostor was a similar card, another 4/4 with Stealth, but it never saw play. Rogue now has more Stealth support cards than it did then. The Combo card generation is what will determine its fate. Combo cards range from good to just okay.
  • The main problem is Stealth Rogue tends to be an aggressive deck. I’m not sure how a 4 mana play that doesn’t immediately impact the board or damage the enemy Hero fits their game plan. It may be too slow to help counteract other strong aggro decks. However, it’s not like Stealth Rogue has a ton of options for cards.

Wyrm Weaver: 5 mana, 3/6 for Mage, Spellburst: Summon two 1/3 Mana Wyrms

  • The order of operations will be important. Spellburst should summon the two Mana Wryms after the spell cast. They shouldn’t get an immediate buff. Still, for as little as six mana, you’re putting a 3/6, and two 1/3s on the board.

Firebrand: 3 mana, 3/4 Mage, Spellburst: Deal 4 damage split among all enemy minions

  • Good stat line, but the damage may not go where you need it.

Speaker Gidra: 3 mana 1/4 Legendary for Shaman, Rush, Windfury, Spellburst: Gain health and attack equal to the spell’s cost

  • This minion will swing a board in a hurry. Combine with Lightning Storm and you’ve done 2-3 damage to all enemy minions, plus given yourself a 4/7 with Rush and Windfury to finish off anything that’s left.

High Abess Alura: 4 mana 3/6 Legendary for Paladin / Priest, Spellburst: Cast a spell from your deck (targets this if possible)

  • I think this will do better in Paladin than Priest. Both Libram Paladin and Pure Paladin run some good buff spells. For Priest, even if you get a Grave Rune, the minion itself isn’t all that impactful.

Krolusk Barkstripper: 4 mana, 3/5 Hunter, Spellburst: Destroy a random enemy minion

  • With this and Professor Slate, it feels like Hunter is getting the kind of cards I would have expected to see in Warrior. Hunter is not usually a Control deck, but this is just the sort of spell a Control Hunter would want.

Scholomance Academy is launching on August 6, and you can pre-order the expansion now.

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