If it was based on the current (remaining after rotation) card pool alone, we could make fairly educated guesses on the new meta decks. However, since that wont be the case, it may be a rather futile effort.
Anything and everything could be popular or viable post rotation.
It's the best time to try out homebrew decks before a meta settles in and net decking begins. It's usually customary to see old decks too in the hopes of farming those trying new things, but it'll be different this time with Genn and Baku rotating early.
Yes yes, we don't know what cards will exist in the new expansion, and as such, many could argue that it's a fruitless exercise to try and examine that said meta, as we're trying to analyze something we're missing a large piece of the puzzle on.
But let's be real here. We all know we need something to do until the rotation hits. So, why the hell not? Let's have a look at things as they exist right now, with all the cards being Hall of Famed and the expansions rotated out.
Some of the answers may surprise you, and some of them may just fall apart completely because of certain cards that were printed. 'Show it goes.
For starters, you can throw Druid and Priest off to the wayside for now as all of their win conditions are rotating out. That doesn't mean they won't be good in the next expansion's meta, but I can't tell you about what we can't see, I can only tell you about what we CAN see. And right now, I can't see any way for Druid and Priest to win their games because they literally lost everything. Everything and then some in the case of poor Druid. So let's just leave them be until reveal season starts. Well, Druid has Treants, and they might resort back to Force of Nature and Mulchmuncher as it's all the class really has left right now, but that's KIND of a reach, and I wouldn't put that much stock in it, but I will mention it.
Spirit of the Dragonhawk.
Yes. I'm serious. Unless better stuff gets printed for Mage, I expect Spirit of the Dragonhawk will be a 2 of in every single Mage deck going forward. With Baku rotating and Explosive Runes rotating, the Odd Mage deck obviously crumbles and you need to replace a lot of cards. And there's just not anything better than Spirit of the Dragonhawk right now, and you can wipe the board pretty well with Daring Fire Eater and Clockwork still.
Expect this card's stock to go up a lot. A 1 mana 2/3 is always good and worth looking into, but perhaps it's even more worth looking into in a metagame where all this super scumbag stuff rotates out, thus making a 1 mana 2/3 look even BETTER. It's going to depend on what archetypes end up being popular and you still wouldn't run this in aggro decks, but I expect this to become a big favorite of control decks who really don't care about giving you a 0/3 Taunt.
Here's the big one. This deck always looked like a solid archetype. Problem is, why would you ever play this over Odd Warrior with Dragons? And the answer is, you wouldn't. But now you have to, and you get to run some cool even cards you've been shut out of like Dragon's Roar, Execute, even Heavy Metal may not be that bad if you feel like gambling with the good doctor. Honestly, you could tell me Dragon's Roar is the whole reason they wanted to get rid of Genn and Baku and I would completely believe you. You don't think Year of the DRAGON is a coincidence, do you?
...And on the flip side of the coin, allow me to introduce you to the #darkesttimeline and ruin the hopes and dreams of everyone being excited that Hearthstone is about minions again, and that is the world where scumbag combo decks dominate the meta once more. While all this scumbag mana cheat stuff that puts huge numbers on the board going is great, and while the scumbag aggro flappy bird and Rexxar's beasts and the odd paladin and all that going away is great, it does leave us with an elephant in the room: Now we can't kill these scumbag combo decks as effectively. And while new aggro and ways to get big boards of minions could certainly come up, the fact of the matter is right now we're running the risk of Mecha'thun rising from being a cute little Tier 3, Tier 4 niche to evolving into the dreaded beast known as the Shudderwocky.
"But Mojomaster Zihi!"
Indeed, Mojomaster Zihi. However, Mojomaster Zihi is but one card, and this also brings us with a whole new problem: In the #darkesttimeline, games against combo decks turn into "Draw Zihi, time her right, and you probably win, or don't draw her, and you absolutely lose." In some ways, this is where the rotation actually introduces a new problem, because it's going to be a lot harder to kill combo decks now without all of these powerful tools we have in standard right now, and I hope Blizzard is prepared to address this, because one card just isn't enough to create a healthy metagame in a world where control decks can take over the meta. Yes, there's Demonic Project, but I really don't like the idea of Warlock being the only class able to shut down combo decks, and I doubt you do, either. I'll even go to the level of saying that rotating out Coldlight Oracle was probably a huge mistake when you look at what the landscape could be in the world where combo takes over, so yeah. Blizz, it's fine if you wanna push combo decks to the forefront, but if you do that? We're gonna need more combo disruption stuff.
Now that I think of it, it was extremely unfortunate planning on their part to HOF Oracle and then print the Shudderwocky. Granted, the Shudderwocky wasn't even a problem until nerfs happened in Witchwood.
It was a cute idea, but ultimately Shirvallah gets run over by the fast decks, Odd Warrior soaks the damage and laughs when you use your win condition and don't win, so ultimately Shirvallah is just a deck that has no place in this meta. But that could all change after a rotation, for exactly the same reason as Mecha'thun Warrior, because this deck loses almost nothing. And what it does lose is easily replaced. And also, no more Gnomeferatu.
And also, the #darkesttimeline.
Pogo Rogue: I know, I know, surely I must be trolling. Here's the thing, I'm really not. With all the deathrattle stuff being rotated out or getting scaled back, Pogo Rogue now seems like the deck of choice if you want to slam a bunch of big numbers on the board. And in a more relaxed metagame without as much odd stuff or Cubes or Bloodreaver Gul'Dan's or Hadronoxes to just vomit up big boards out of nowhere like Randal Orton, I would not be so quick to dismiss the world where Pogo Rogue can swing out of control and there isn't much you can do about it anymore. Watch out for this one, I'm serious. I mean, we live in a world where Dire Frenzy is seeing play, for god's sake.
Thunderhead Aggro Shaman: Possibly the new aggro deck of choice? It sure seems like the best option right now. Oh, and for everyone crowing about "infinite value death knights are rotating out, YAY!" You all seem to have forgotten that Dr. Boom, Mad Genius, and Hagatha the Witch are still around, and for all the grief Shaman is getting right now, that could be all the difference in new meta, where Hagatha pulls the Shaman to infinite value and you don't have your own death knight anymore to counter it. In other words... who's laughing now? Who's the best cop now, Tommy?! WHO'S THE BEST COP NOW?! Then again, in the #darkesttimeline where the combo decks take over... what good IS your infinite value?
Vex Crow: This is another card I'd keep an eye on, really. Witchwood introduced us to Odd Paladin, and of course, why in the world would you play Vex Crow mage when you can play Odd Paladin. But now you can't play Odd Paladin, and you can't play Odd Mage either, for that matter. So I think people will start trying to make Vex Crow work again, now that we live in a world where a lot of that stuff is gone but most of the package is still there. And remember that the Mana Wyrm nerf doesn't necessarily make it a bad card- it's just that everything else in world of scumbag aggro was simply too good, so don't count out this deck just yet, I'd say.
Rush Warrior: This is a hot new deck that's been coming up. However, Fungalmancer is a huge loss, Keleseth is a huge loss. Will the deck still work? Maybe. You have options to replace Keleseth, like Woodcutter's Axe, and that might even make the deck more consistent in a way... keep an eye on this one. Even with Fungalmancer rotating.
MAGNETIC!!!: This is a keyword that could be seeing a comeback. And I don't mean because new cards will be printed for it. I mean that, since you can't abuse Deathrattle Devilsaur eggs anymore, Magnetic might be the new way to build huge minions on huge boards, and Kangor's Endless Army might be the new way to just instantly slam a whole bunch of numbers back on the board. I know it sounds like I'm just repeating myself at this point, but you have to remember: A lot of the stuff that didn't work back then didn't work out because we had better options. And those options are now leaving standard. So the door on a lot of things opens back up, even if nothing is printed to support them.
This is everything that caught my eye, anyway. Do I expect all of this to work out? Of course not. Do I expect some of this will be crushed during card reveal season? Absolutely. But all I can really do at the moment is say I think this is the stuff to watch for in the new meta, and we'll see how much of it pans out.
And hopefully, we don't fall into the #darkesttimeline of scumbag combo decks with Mojomaster Zihi as our sole line of defense.
Obviously losing Rexxar is huge, and you could argue it carried Midrange hunter way harder than the Hyenas were. And yes, obviously Springpaw+Hyena is still a thing. But now you can whether the storm early, take out their Hyenas, and now they have no way left to win. Granted, they could just Dire Frenzy even more Hyenas into their deck, but that means you aren't slamming Hyenas on 2 (I guess you could always wait on the second one, but be very careful you don't tracking it away, or you are SCREWED, my friend) and letting them snowball out of control on 2, which is really the big thing that makes Midrange Hunter this frustrating Tier 1 deck to play against, huge snowballing potential. They lost Flappy Bird (thank god) and Razormaw which is also going to slow them down big time.
And yet? Dire Frenzying more Hyenas into your deck might still work on a slower, more control-oriented deck running Deadly Shot and Zul'Jin to replay Deadly Shot and your secrets to help you stabilize and stuff like that, even though Rexxar was obviously the exclamation point on the control part of the deck. Then you throw in Halazzi, the Lynx so you can make a big giant Hyena when you draw it, although at this point in the game single target removal will be much easier to accomplish, so your Hyena really isn't this unstoppable force it used to be- but they will need to use a lot of that said removal on your 6, potentially 8 if you want to get greedy with Elekks, 2 mana 5/5 Hyenas. So if Midrange Hunter has any real future, the way I see it, from what I can currently observe right here, it's going to need to take a much slower approach, since the fast one isn't going to work any more without support.
You could also throw in stuff like Untamed Beastmaster and Houndmaster and Spirit of the Lynx, but the problem with that is Master's Call is not rotating out. Nor will it as long as Beastmaster and Spirit of the Lynx are in standard. And Master's Call is probably still too good of a card to mess with, and the benefit you get from running those other cards just isn't really worth it. So, unless Hunter continues to rule the meta and Blizzard decides to target Master's Call as a result, I don't really see there ever being a time where you can try out this cool Midranger Hunter deck that doesn't have any Beasts in it, because it's always going to be the worse option.
Zoo's in an even awkwarder position. They lost so many cards. So much burst damage with Doomguard gone. With Happy Ghoul rotating out, the future of Zoo as we know it is very much in question- do you still run Lightwarden and all those healing cards to buff the Lightwarden in the deck? The Lightwarden is still a big snowball card on 1, and we all know how threatening THOSE can be, but the free board presence of the Happy Ghouls is part of what made that deck so consistent. And that won't be a thing going forward. And we didn't even get to Fungalmancer. And Saronite. And Keleseth. And Librarian, and Dreadlord, I've even see lists running Tar Creeper... Zoo as we know it is pretty much dead, and it's going to need to adapt.
So, how will Zoo adapt? For now, I'm running with the idea that the Lightwarden thing just won't cut it anymore and we'll need to rebuild from the ground up here. Obviously we'll go back to the Soul Infusion and Doubling Imps. And since we can actually run 2 cost cards in Zoo Again, maybe we can look at Void Analyst, which was honestly never a terrible card, but again, Keleseth was better. So the Analyst saw no play. Now, maybe the Analyst does see play, and it can hit your Flame Imps and Doubling Imps. And because we have so many deck spots to fill back in (and also again, because Keleseth is rotating and now we can run 2 cost cards) maybe we try out the Grim Rally+Scarab Egg combo. 3 mana "6/6" plus buffs to whatever you already had on the board. And speaking of how cool it is Zoo can run 2 cost cards again, let's not forget about Knife Jugglar, and maybe Spirit of the Bat is actually worth running now- you can potentially earn a lot of big stats and get rewarded big time for trading into big-must kill threats on the board. Or you can punish your opponent for getting rid of your stuff that's smashing their face in. Despite the lack of discard, with all this hand-buffing going on, maybe you put in Jek'lik if you need the sustain or the classic Zilliax, which benefits just as well from the lifesteal. And hey, your Soulfires can still hit Jek'lik. Which is obviously insane, and even more insane if you have buffs on her. And honestly, with all this handbuffing on the table, maybe, just maybe we can talk about Hi'reek, the Bat as a serious card- do keep in mind just one buff hitting this card is a huge impact, it goes from putting 7 damage on the board to putting 14 on the board, and the whole board gets just a little less susceptible to removal. A little. If you can get Hi'reek up to 3/3 somewhat consistently, then it's honestly good enough to be seriously considered as a card in Zoo.
Omega Agent was initially deemed too slow for Zoo, and maybe it still is, but we have a lot of deck slots opening up for Zoo, the deck is more or less forced to slow down a ton anyway, and if all this handbuff stuff is the new way to go, then maybe it's got a chance of redemption. Come to think of it, I probably should have talked about this card more in my first analysis- it's been so overshadowed by other things I completely forgot it existed. Even if no buffs hit this thing, it's still 5 mana "12/15", and obviously gets even crazier the more buffs that hit it. So until Zoo gets this big pool of aggro minions to kick out this whole handbuffing plan, that's probably the future we should be looking at here. Oh, and it's not a handbuff card, but Duskbat also looks like a good card to fill all these voids that have been left behind.
tl;dr, the whole Zoo deck as we know it more or less completely crumbles, but we already have a ton of possibilities here just from the expansions that are still in Standard. So don't cry for Zoo just yet.
Thats was a good read and i can see where you are comming from with the zihi
When i was playing around with discard lock i came across many mecha'thuns so I swapped in a zihi ans started tapping like crazy for it once i was sure i was up against a mecha'thun
Great moments when they don't expect you to have a zigi and they go "well played" the turn before they want to throw their combo and the next turn you just go poof... enjoy your 5 turns of fatigue.. GG
I also think alot of whats works and not will revolve around what kind of new removal and tech card will make it into the new set, like decently statted silence, sap or mana increasing effects.
And ofcourse the broken meta defining cars we don't know about yet
Control shaman is going to dominate if Blizzard prints some removal to replace Volcano. Hagatha + Krag’wa - insane value
More like, insane handsize issues. Lists running Hagatha the Witch already tend to overdraw unless she is being used in a Tempo deck such as Murloc Shaman. And you want to refill your hand with a bunch of spells on top of that? Don't forget that, while Hagatha might deliver useful stuff there are many bad or situational spells. Some of the good ones (e.g. Healing Rain) which keep slow Shamans alive btw will rotate too. And without a win condition other than trying to outvalue your opponent I fail to see how it would become relevant.