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Tavern Brawl - promo.png The subject of this article is part of the
Tavern Brawl game mode.

An Evil Exchange.jpg

"Kel'Thuzad and Rafaam are competing to see who the superior endboss is! Take a side and battle for evil supremacy!"

An Evil Exchange is a Tavern Brawl. It debuted on March 23, 2016. For exact times, see the schedule.


Tavern Brawl Start End Changes
41 March 23, 2016 March 28, 2016
101 May 17, 2017 May 22, 2017 Kel'Thuzad's Hero Power modified to give a random Naxxramas card; Rafaam's Hero Power buffed.
117 September 6, 2017 September 11, 2017 Kel'Thuzad's Hero Power buffed.


1st Reprise: Kel'Thuzad was greatly nerfed while Rafaam was buffed:

  • Kel'Thuzad and Rafaam's Hero Powers were altered:
    • Kel'Thuzad's Hero Power, Necromancy, changed to give a random minion from the Curse of Naxxramas set (or boss encounter) rather than resurrecting a minion.
    • The first stage of Rafaam's Hero Power, Staff, First Piece, changed to give a random Rare card that costs 2 less Mana, instead of a random minion with a 5 Mana Cost or less.
    • The second stage of Rafaam's Hero Power, Staff, Two Pieces, changed to give a random Epic card that costs 3 less Mana, instead of a random minion that costs 2 less Mana.
  • Noth the Plaguebringer's Mana Cost was increased from 7 to 9.
  • Kel'Thuzad's deck had 2x Haunted Creeper and 1x Counterspell removed, replaced by 2x Cone of Cold and 1x Effigy.
  • Minor card text changes to Grobbulus and Sapphiron.

2nd Reprise: Kel'Thuzad's Hero Power was buffed to also reduce the card's cost by 3.


This Brawl sees players taking on the roles of Kel'Thuzad and Arch-Thief Rafaam, battling for supremacy. Each player's role is randomly selected at the start of the match, determining their Hero Power and pre-made deck, featuring some unique and overpowered cards.

Kel'Thuzad starts at 30 Health and 30 Armor, while Rafaam starts at 60 Health.



Hero Powers[]




Staff, First Piece(31155).png
Staff, Two Pieces(31156).png
Staff of Origination(31157).png

Rafaam starts with Staff, First Piece. This can be progressively upgraded through the spell Uncover Staff Piece.

Decks and special cards[]

Below are listed the cards observed in each hero's deck, as well as related special cards. Note that the classes are listed in decklists purely for reference, and have no effect on the boss' use of the cards in the encounter.


Kel'Thuzad's deck includes a large number of cards with a Curse of Naxxramas theme, most notably a range of unique minion versions of bosses from the adventure, as well as regular versions of some collectible minions from the Naxxramas set. It also includes Necrotic Poison (a boss card from the adventure) and the unique Darkness Calls.

The deck also features several mage spells with the Freeze or Secret abilities, as well as the priest's Dark Cultist.

Darkness Calls(31139).png
Necrotic Poison(368891).png
Gothik the Harvester(31147).png
Grand Widow Faerlina(31149).png
Heigan the Unclean(31152).png
Instructor Razuvious(31153).png
Lady Blaumeux(31144).png
Noth the Plaguebringer(31138).png

These cards are generated by others in Kel'Thuzad's deck. Despite its ambiguous wording, Lady Blaumeux's Battlecry appears to always summon Sir Zeliek, not any other Horsemen.

Fallout Slime(31151).png
Massive Runeblade(31136).png
Sir Zeliek(31145).png
Spectral Gothik(31148).png

The following minions have been witnessed to be summoned by Gluth's end of turn effect.

Bloodmage Thalnos(525).png
Crazed Alchemist(612).png
Flesheating Ghoul(610).png
Mad Scientist(7748).png
Mana Wraith(197).png
Undercity Valiant(22371).png
Unearthed Raptor(27220).png
Unstable Ghoul(7757).png
Zombie Chow(683).png

(This list may be incomplete.)


In addition to collectible Naxxramas minions, Necromancy has also been observed to generate the following minions from boss encounters:

Mr. Bigglesworth(7818).png
Skeletal Smith(7890).png
Guardian of Icecrown(7814).png

(This list may be incomplete.)


Rafaam's deck contains various regular cards from a range of classes, with a theme of spells and removal. It notably features a range of boss cards from the Normal mode Rafaam Unleashed encounter in The League of Explorers.

Uncover Staff Piece will upgrade Rafaam's Staff, First Piece into Staff, Two Pieces, or upgrade Staff, Two Pieces into Staff of Origination. If used with any other Hero Power, Uncover Staff Piece will instead draw a card.

Uncover Staff Piece(31140).png
Boss cards

The following cards are not unique to this Brawl, but are taken from the The League of Explorers adventure. All these cards but one feature in the Normal mode Rafaam Unleashed encounter. Several of them are minion card versions of bosses from the adventure, while others are the powerful artifact spells granted to the player during the encounter. The exception is Slithering Archer, which comes from the Heroic Lord Slitherspear encounter.

Chieftain Scarvash(27454).png
Lady Naz'jar(27462).png
The Steel Sentinel(27466).png
Hakkari Blood Goblet(27436).png
Lothar's Left Greave(27478).png
Putress' Vial(27476).png
Shard of Sulfuras(27474).png
Slithering Archer(27403).png

These cards are created by Zinaar.

Wish for Power(27310).png
Wish for Valor(27311).png
Wish for Glory(27312).png

(This list may be incomplete.)




Kel'Thuzad has the advantage over Rafaam in the early game, as Rafaam's Hero Power is rather underwhelming until he can fully assemble it. Therefore, Mulligan for low cost minion like Mad Scientist, Heigan the Unclean, and Gothik the Harvester. Strategically use spells, Secrets, and end-of-turn effects to remove minions you don't want to deal with, aim for disrupting tempo with cards like Loatheb, and hit face. Try to save hard removal for late game.

His Hero Power, Necromancy, varies in the quality of cards it gives, ranging from awful like Undertaker and Stoneskin Gargoyle to excellent like Feugen/Stalagg and Guardian of Icecrown. However, in most cases these cards will be usable in some way, so saving your powerful cards for tempo swings in favor of Necromancy can be a good idea. Having more minions on board than Rafaam is very important for maintaining tempo.

Duplicate is perhaps Kel'Thuzad's most essential card; one overpowered minion is good, but three or five is even better. Once it is put into play, take good care in getting the right minion killed. Duplicating a Zombie Chow or Sir Zeliek is a waste, but extra copies of Noth the Plaguebringer or Feugen/Stalagg is a huge plus.

While Rafaam is generally more powerful late game when he's fully assembled his staff, Kel'Thuzad still has some tricks under his sleeves. Noth the Plaguebringer gives a huge tempo swing if you are given a chance to trade, and Darkness Calls can put two of his big minions and effects into play. Instructor Razuvious offers a huge amount of face damage, and Cone of Cold can be used to slow down Rafaam's minions enough to finish him off.

Original version[]

In the first incarnation of this Brawl, Necromancy summoned a random destroyed minion. This gave Kel'Thuzad a huge advantage over Rafaam and gave a huge lead before Rafaam could fully develop his Staff of Origination. To make most out of Necromancy, holding off playing cheap minions like Haunted Creeper in favor of high-value cards like Heigan the Unclean to guarantee reviving an overpowered minion every turn and securing the early to mid game was the key to winning the game with Kel'Thuzad.


Rafaam has a very nice ultimate Hero Power, but it is not immediately available like Kel'Thuzad's. The first stage of the staff is underwhelming but serviceable, the second is somewhat better, but the third is where the real power is. By late game you will have the ability to summon legendaries every turn, but the problem is surviving that long.

Rafaam doesn't have as many big minions as Kel'Thuzad, but packs enough removal to match it. Save your removal for Kel'Thuzad's big minions and wait for the right moment to use your AoE removal like Slithering Archer and Lothar's Left Greave. Transform-effect cards like Hakkari Blood Goblet and Lady Naz'jar are great counters as well, particularly for removing pesky Deathrattle minions and Spectral Gothik. Most importantly, always make sure to play around Secrets. Giving Kel'Thuzad extra copies of his best cards via Duplicate will make it difficult to turn the game around.

If you can survive to late game you should have the advantage, thanks to Rafaam's empowered Hero Power. Use it as often as possible and put as many big legendaries into play as you can, saving other options for when they can get the most value.


Kel'Thuzad appears and is defeated (twice) in the main Warcraft storyline, while Arch-Thief Rafaam is original to Hearthstone. The two characters have therefore never fought in official lore, making this brawl a hypothetical "what if?" scenario.


Both heroes use some emotes from their boss encounters, but have others unique to this Tavern Brawl. Neither has a "Wow" emote - the old "Sorry" emote takes its place instead.


The Kel'Thuzad hero uses the following audio and written emotes in response to specific events. Some are taken from his appearance in Curse of Naxxramas, but most appear to be original to the Brawl.

Type Emote
Thanks You're... welcome?
Well played Of course I played well. I'm Kel'Thu-freaking-zad!
Greetings We finally meet!
Oops *sigh*. Back to the drawing board
Threaten I will freeze the blood in your veins!
Attack [No emote]
Concede I... Shall... Return....
Opening remark Come! Face me, interloper!
Thinking [1] Perhaps?
Thinking [2] Yes... Yes!
Thinking [3] What do you think, Bigglesworth?
Running out of time
Almost out of cards I'm running out of cards!
Out of cards No!!! A curse upon you, interloper!
Error: Too many minions
Error: Generic
Error: Hand already full
Error: Hero already attacked
Error: Minion not ready
Error: Minion exhausted
Error: Not enough mana
Error: Need a weapon
Error: Can't play that card
Error: Can't target stealthed minions
Error: Not a valid target
Error: Must attack taunt minion


The Rafaam hero uses the following audio and written emotes in response to specific events. They appear to mostly be original to the Brawl.

Type Emote
Thanks Ah, thank you.
Well played Well done...
Greetings Hello, explorer.
Sorry I pity you.
Oops Failure!
[This is the Innkeeper's introduction line for the Rafaam boss, and is spoken in the Innkeeper's voice]
Thinking [1] Hmmm...
Thinking [2] What to take...
Thinking [3] Tempting...
Running out of time
Almost out of cards I'm running out of cards!
Out of cards My beautiful treasures!
Error: Too many minions
Error: Generic
Error: Hand already full
Error: Hero already attacked
Error: Minion not ready
Error: Minion exhausted
Error: Not enough mana
Error: Need a weapon
Error: Can't play that card
Error: Can't target stealthed minions
Error: Not a valid target
Error: Must attack taunt minion