It’s still a few days before Karazhan is released, but it might be just the right time to start theorycrafting and analyzing the cards we know about. One of the most interesting, from deckbuilding perspective, cards from the set is The Curator. It’s one of those cards that are very straightforward and easy to PLAY, but very hard to FIT into the deck (another example of such a card might be our good friend, Reno Jackson). So, does the card have any chance to be played and if yes, in what kind of decks?
To make things simple, first I want to draw a pretty obvious comparison. Pre-nerf Ancient of Lore (note for new players: it used to draw 2 cards) was mostly used as a card draw mechanic. Both share very similar statline (4/6 vs 5/5), Curator has an additional Taunt and both draw cards. As we all know, post-nerf AoW is no longer played, because 1 card draw for such high mana cost isn’t really great. But at 2 cards, it was one of the strongest and most consistent cards in the whole game. Logic tells me that Curator drawing 2 cards would be playable. It loses the potential to heal, but it gains Taunt instead, so that might be useful. It also draws specific cards as opposed to cards in general, which can be good or bad, depending on the situation and the deck you play it in.
The dream would be to draw 3 cards, but that’s very hard to achieve. The reason is that you would need to play 3 different tribals in a single deck. And one of those tribals is most problematic – Murloc. It’s possible to find Beasts that fit into a lot of decks. It’s possible to find Dragons that fit into a lot of decks. But Murlocs? Murlocs are rather specific. There are almost no Murlocs that you can just play in multiple non-Murloc decks. Most of Murlocs are aggressive, and The Curator is not a card that fits into the aggressive deck – after all it’s a 7 mana Taunt with a hand refill mechanic. A 7 mana 4/6 Taunt that draws 3 would become staple in many different decks, but realistically – how many decks can afford to play it?
Even though generally it’s not worth to play The Curator for 1 draw, it might be played in certain decks that are looking for a very specific card that’s Murloc/Beast/Dragon. Right now we don’t have a lot of decks that revolve around a single, very important card like that, besides one – Malygos. Curator might be played in Malygos decks, even if they don’t run any Murlocs or Beasts. Since he’s the core of the deck and the main win condition, you want to have him as soon as possible. When playing Malygos Shaman, I often struggled with drawing him – I would have won tons of games, because I had the combo set up already, but I didn’t have the most important piece – Malygos. Drawing him would mean winning the game. Having Curator in the deck increases a chance to get to Malygos in time. I’m not sure whether the Malygos Shaman works in Standard, but that’s not the point – any deck where Malygos is the win condition might play The Curator.
Then, if there will be a deck revolving around a single Beast or single Murloc for some combo win condition, Curator might be useful in such a deck. Right now, I can’t really think of any.
I’ll start with the decks that might benefit from The Curator, as in get 2 draws from it. I’ll only focus on the decks that Curator might actually fit into – so no Aggro decks that fit the requirements, but wouldn’t want to play the card.
The first deck that comes to my mind is Midrange Druid, or more specifically Beast Druid. It doesn’t have to be a deck with Beast synergies specifically, but it has to play some Beasts for this card to work. Dragon part is very easy here – a lot of Midrange Druid lists run 2x Azure Drake. I think it’s enough to fulfill the Dragon part. Yes, drawing both of them before The Curator might screw it a bit, but it was very similar to Secrets and Mad Scientists. Most of the decks ran 2 Secrets, drawing both before playing Mad Scientist was pretty bad, but not that common. Some Druids also run Onyxia, so that’s another choice if you feel like 2 Dragons are not enough. The Beast part is surprisingly harder, though. While Druids use a lot of Beasts, every one that has Choose one “shapeshifts” into Beasts once it’s already on the field – it’s not Beast on the card itself. So for example, Curator can’t draw you a Druid of the Claw. It can, however, draw you a Mounted Raptor or Savage Combatant, which are both strong cards. Then, depending on the meta, Stampeding Kodo might also fit into such a Druid list. It’s easy to play 2 tribals as Druid without being forced to play suboptimal cards. Curator might also fill the niche that nerf of the Ancient of Lore has created.
I have a more Midrange version of Dragon Warrior in mind, not the aggressive build you see quite often. Dragons are not a problem at all – after all that’s the deck’s main archetype. Then, Fierce Monkey can cover the Beast part. It’s not a big stretch at all – Fierce Monkey is a strong 3-drop and it has been played in Midrange/Tempo Warrior archetypes quite often. I was playing a version with one copy myself, so fitting another one wouldn’t be hard at all. But why would you want to play Curator in such a deck? Well, it would serve a “refill the hand” purpose. It’s quite common that you start running low on cards around the late game as a Midrange deck. Another thing is that you might play your Dragons out already and then the cards that require you to hold a Dragon become much worse. So for example, if Drakonid Crusher was the only Dragon in your hand and you had Blackwing Corruptor and Alexstrasza's Champion, you might want to hold onto it, because you don’t know when you’ll draw next one. With Curator in your hand, you can easily play it on turn 6, because you follow up with turn 7 Curator and then you’re guaranteed to have a Dragon in your hand again. It might also activate Alexstrasza’s Champion in some rare cases – on turn 9, if you have no Dragon, but you have Alexstrasza’s Champion, you might play Curator and follow it with 3/3 Charge if needed.
Midrange Hunter is surprisingly board-control and long-game focused deck. That’s why I’ve realized that The Curator might actually fit into it. Although it’s not a perfect match, Midrange Hunter could benefit greatly from an efficient card draw and way to thin the deck. Right now the only sources of card draw are King's Elekk and Quick Shot, but neither of them is reliable. I’ve found out that Midrange Hunter usually loses the game when he runs out of steam, as he’s forced to play 1 card per turn, often quite small. But, the first question is – does Midrange Hunter really need card draw? Yes and no. Yes, in slower matchup the card draw is amazing in Midrange Hunter. But no, in faster matchups he doesn’t struggle with the lack of cards and if he loses, that’s usually because of the tempo, not the lack of card advantage. So whether this is a good idea really depends on the meta that we’ll face. But back to the topic – Beasts are not a problem in Hunter, because he plays quite a lot of them. Now, the Dragon part requires you to stretch a bit. Azure Drake is a Dragon that fits into pretty much any Midrange deck. It’s not a terrible tempo play while it also allows you to cycle and retain the card advantage. Another option is Drakonid Crusher – it fits the pretty aggressive playstyle of Hunter. Getting enemy down to 15 is pretty much bound to happen, and then a 6 mana 9/9 can seal the deal. Yet another potential candidate is Faerie Dragon – 2-drop that can give a headache to certain decks that rely on the spell removal. Midrange Hunter is a pretty far stretch, unlike the previous two, but I still think it might make sense there.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of Control Paladin we’re talking about. It can be the N’Zoth Paladin, it can be the nearly unplayable Dragon Paladin, it can be a Reno Paladin popular among team G2 members, it can even be some kind of Combo Paladin. Curator might fit into any of those for a few reasons. First of all – Stampeding Kodo was MADE for Paladin. With cards like Humility and Aldor Peacekeeper, Kodo can be used to neutralize pretty much any threat. Two of them can be included into pretty much any slow Paladin list. So Beast is already checked. Then, the Dragon – Azure Drake also fits into this kind of archetype. In Combo decks it cycles, in Control ones it can get them closer to the necessary healing etc. + the Spell Damage Consecration is really strong. Since Paladin’s hand is often nearly full, I could also see Twilight Drake being a nice option. It would consistently be 4/7 or better. Definitely possible to play The Curator in Control Paladin lists.
3 draws are much harder to achieve. You would need to really stretch in order to do that. But there are certain decks where it’s possible and those are most likely candidates to play The Curator.
Yes, I’ve already talked about Control Paladin, but there is one specific deck where The Curator might be nearly auto-include – Murloc Combo Paladin, also known as Anyfin Can Happen Paladin. Like I’ve already mentioned above, both Kodo and Azure Drake can be great picks in such a deck. They both fit Murloc Paladin really well. And then, Murloc part is also checked, as it runs 4 Murlocs for the combo and wants to draw them as soon as possible. Murloc Paladin wants to stall the game as long as possible and cycle through the deck. This card fits both purposes – because it’s a Taunt, it’s useful at stalling the game. It blocks some damage and it can clear some minions from the opponent’s side. And then, drawing up to 3 cards is amazing for getting through your deck faster. I’ve said up to 3, because realistically it won’t always be 3, if you get Curator later it will often be 2. So far I think that Murloc Paladin might be the deck that’s going to utilize The Curator in a best way.
I didn’t specify any, because I can see Curator being useful in a few different Reno decks. Reno is a very flexible archetype – since the decks usually consist of 30 unique cards, the decks are rarely tight and you often have a lot of free slots you can fill with cards that might not be 100% optimal. I think it might be useful when it comes to The Curator. For example, Reno Rogue might play Corrupted Seer, Stampeding Kodo and Azure Drake. Reno Hunter might play Sir Finley Mrrgglton, a lot of Beasts (like Savannah Highmane) and Azure Drake too. Maybe some big Dragons as a finisher even. You can also make a Reno Warlock that plays all the 3, but I don’t think that card draw is really necessary in Warlock. Decks like Reno Rogue or Hunter aren’t really competitive, but they are sometimes played on the ladder, so I’ve decided to include them in the list. Savjz is a big fan of Reno Rogue so he might play The Curator on his stream quite often!
I think that The Curator is an amazing card. It’s not one of those that you can just throw into X or Y deck and it will work. You need to think about where you want to play it, the deck building part of the card is incredibly important. So the card will be really bad in most of the decks, but once you find (or build) the right one, it can be very strong.
It’s still in the theorycrafting phase, but the common question is – is it worth to play a card that you would normally never put into your deck just to boost your Curator? And my answer is – I think it’s not worth it. You can stretch it to the cards that you MIGHT play in the deck, cards that are second choices, cards that barely didn’t make it to the deck. But putting a card that you would never play in the deck is probably not worth it. The thing is – Beast and Dragon part are relatively easy to put into a lot of decks, but Murloc one is more tricky. Most Murlocs synergize with each other and are pretty aggressive – playing just 1 or 2 Murlocs is very hard for that reason. You go all in on the Murlocs or you don’t play them, that’s usually how it works – but if you go all in, you don’t play The Curator, because it won’t fit an Aggro deck.
I think that the only neutral Murlocs worth considering outside of the strictly Murloc decks are Sir Finley Mrrgglton and Corrupted Seer. The first one, however, is once again mostly played in aggressive decks + since it’s a 1-drop, you mulligan for it. So not only The Curator might not be a great pick in most of the deck that run Sir Finley, you’re also pretty likely to get it before The Curator and if it’s your only Murloc, you can’t draw additional card. It leaves us with Corrupted Seer as the only semi-viable option – but it also fits only a certain niche of decks. I’ve only seen Reno decks and Control Warrior (briefly) play the card.
Maybe we’ll still get another Murloc this expansion, so nothing’s set in stone. But right now, 2 draws will mostly be it and you don’t really want to forcefully play a Murloc in the deck that it doesn’t fit into.
I suspect The Curator seeing serious play in Murloc Paladin. Then I think it will be tested in a few decks like Midrange Druid, Control Paladin or Dragon Warrior, but here I’m not 100% sure whether it will pass the testing phase. Curator is very hard to rate and will probably require extensive testing before we will be sure about it’s true power level.
- For what it’s worth, The Curator is a mech. I don’t think it’s going to matter at all in Standard, even in the Wild you won’t likely put it in a deck with Mech synergies, but the card mixes 4 tribals in total.
- There is an interesting thing that I haven’t seen anyone else notice. Cards that draw are generally useless when you’re close to fatigue. You don’t want to draw more, because well, you will get into fatigue faster and take more damage. The Curator is interesting in a way that it draws less or doesn’t draw at all later in the game. For example, if you’re left with 3 cards in your deck and there are no Murlocs/Dragons/Beasts there, you get an overpriced 4/6 Taunt. Which is pretty bad, but it’s still better than overpriced 4/6 Taunt that draws you cards. You can safely play him when you’re in the fatigue, unlike some other draws like Azure Drake or Acolyte of Pain.
- I’m going to make some brews including The Curator closer to the expansion’s release (when we get to know all the cards), so be sure to check it out!
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!