Deck building is an important skill. Sure, you can find any deck online and just copy it, but it won’t necessarily work perfectly – especially during the first season of the expansion. Not only meta varies heavily between ranks (a deck made for Legend meta might not be optimized for lower ranks), but it also changes every few days. Changes aren’t as drastic as on the first days, but it’s fair to say that a deck that some week old decks might be considered outdated right now.
During my long, long history with the game I’ve found out that teching is one of the best ways to improve your win rate. Play the game for a bit, analyze your stats, see which decks you face most, tech against them. Simple. But also very time consuming. I understand that not everyone has big enough sample size to determine which tech cards are best. And that’s why I want to help you a bit.
I’ve analyzed the stats provided by Vicious Syndicate (they’re lifesavers, really) and tried to determine which tech cards are best right now. I’ll explain every choice a bit, including the decks that you might play this tech in AND the decks that this tech is good against. I hope that it will make your deck building and teching at least slightly easier!
Doomsayer is one of the most common tech cards lately and that’s why I want to talk about it. The faster the meta is, the better Doomsayer becomes. And since right now Aggro + fast Midrange decks are about 50% of the meta, it’s one of the best times to play it.
The idea behind this card is slowing down the game. Clearing the board – sure, that’s also important, but destroying a 1-drop for 2 mana wouldn’t necessarily win you the game. Strongest thing about Doomsayer is forcing your opponent to pass instead of developing. Doomsayer on turn 2 not only (usually) answers the turn 1 from your opponent, but it also makes him skip his next turn. You get the initiative, which is the best thing you can have against Aggro deck. What’s sad about the Pirate meta is that even Coin + Doomsayer doesn’t guarantee that it will survive. I’m not even talking about Silence or something, I’m talking about Shaman dropping turn 1 Southsea Deckhand + Patches the Pirate and then turn 2 Flametongue Totem. I mean, the card is still good, because in the end it prevented 7 face damage for just 2 mana, but it’s crazy how much damage those decks can pump out lately.
One more note, Doomsayer is even better than just an anti-Aggro tech. I found it incredibly useful in other matchups too. Throw it on turn 3 against RenoLock to prevent his turn 4 Twilight Drake/Mountain Giant. Now you open with a 4-drop yourself and you have a better chance at countering his. Play Doomsayer after a board clear – you force opponent to basically skip his whole turn for just 2 mana or force him to use extra resources to kill it (and killing 7 health minion without board isn’t that easy).
Decks that Doomsayer is good against: Aggro/Fast Midrange decks (e.g. Aggro/Midrange Shaman, Pirate/Dragon Warrior, Tempo Mage)
Decks that you can put Doomsayer into: Slow Midrange/Control/Combo decks (e.g. Reno decks, Jade/Combo Druid, Control Warrior)
Acidic Swamp Ooze
Before Gadgetzan, it was usually Harrison Jones. Because weapon destruction was most relevant in the mid game, no on turn 2. Right now, against the Pirate-heavy meta, Ooze is the right choice.
I have always seen Ooze as one of the strongest basic cards in the game. For example, Warrior has a 3/1 Fiery War Axe. Playing any normal 2-drop would most likely result in him hitting it and it dying. Right. So that’s spending 2 mana for nothing. However, when you play Ooze, even though it’s just a vanilla 3/2, you actually get a minion on the board.
Then, preventing damage. If your opponent is all about rushing your face, destroying a let’s say 2/3 weapon = 6 damage prevented. Maybe even more if you play against Warrior with Upgrade!/Bloodsail Cultist in his hand. So it’s a 2 mana 3/2 that heals for 6. It would be one of the best cards in the game.
Of course, it has its limitations. It only works against weapon classes and only when your opponent actually has a weapon equipped. But in this meta, weapon classes are incredibly popular. Hitting a turn 2 Ooze might ruin their whole game plan, because it makes Pirate synergies worse. Even against Rogue, which can just Hero Power to get the weapon again, you’re forcing him to pay 2 extra mana = you get tempo.
Harrison Jones might take Ooze’s place against if the meta slows down. But that’s not likely gonna happen with half of the decks playing the early Pirate core. Maybe next expansion, Harrison.
Decks that Acidic Swamp Ooze is good against: Decks that play weapons, mostly Aggro, but also the slower ones (Warriors, Shamans, Rogues, because Hunters and Paladins don’t exist right now).
Decks that you can put Acidic Swamp Ooze into: Every deck. I mean it, no matter if you play Aggro, Midrange, Control, Combo or even another card game, put Ooze into your deck!
Mind Control Tech/Second-Rate Bruiser
I’ll put those two together, because they pretty much counter the same thing – board floods. Each one in a different way. I’d say that out of the two, Mind Control Tech has bigger potential, but it obviously requires 1 more minion to work AND it’s RNG. Second-Rate Bruiser is much more solid in terms of consistency. But both are good cards you can put into your deck if you face board floods.
Board flood decks are the decks that just spit minions on the board every turn, often having 3-4 minions as soon as turn 2-3. One of the classic examples of such a deck is Zoo Warlock, although Zoo is not popular right now. New Pirate decks are similar – thanks to the low curve and Patches the Pirate, it’s quite common to play those cards on turn 3 with their effects already active. And both help tremendously against such strategies – MCT is a nice swing. Even grabbing that Patches makes it a 3/3 + 1/1 Charge + deal 1 damage card for 3 mana, which is great. But if you grab something bigger, let’s say a Totem Golem against Shaman, it might be game over.
Second-Rate Bruiser won’t likely turn the game around, but it’s still good at stalling. It’s hard to deal 5 damage to a minion so early without using own minions, so it will not only tank 5 damage, but also – most likely – kill at least a part of the opponent’s board.
I’ll be honest that I’m surprised that those cards aren’t more popular. They’re mostly played in RenoLock right now, sometimes in other Reno decks. I’ve actually seen a Jade Druid list running 2x Second-Rate Bruiser (I think it was Zalae’s) and a Control Warrior running MCT, both in Legend, and those are definitely some solid techs right now. MCT works even better if your enemy doesn’t expect it, so take advantage of that!
One more note is that both of them combo quite nicely with Dirty Rat, forcing another minion on your opponent’s side might make their effects active. It’s probably best with MCT – it’s really great to make your enemy drop something big and then steal it!
Decks that Mind Control Tech/Second-Rate Bruiser is good against: Flood decks, so mostly Aggro & faster Midrange (Zoo Warlock, Pirate decks). MCT is also good in Control matchups in combination with Dirty Rat.
Decks that you can put Mind Control Tech/Second-Rate Bruiser into: Slow Midrange/Control decks
Talking about Dirty Rat + Mind Control Tech combo reminded me that Dirty Rat is actually a great tech by itself. This time around, it’s not a tech that’s strong against Aggro. I mean, sure, 2/6 Taunt for 2 mana is great if you don’t get punished by it’s downside, but that’s the problem. Dirty Rat on t2 is a very common play I’ve seen and it’s one of the worst ones you can make. It’s not like people mulligan for big drops, but it happens that they’re stuck in their hands early. What will you do if you pull out a 7/7 against Shaman or let’s say Archmage Antonidas against Mage? So no, don’t do that.
For that reason, Dirty Rat is not a 2-drop. It’s more of a combo card that you can utilize later in the game. You want to make a read on what cards your opponent might be holding in his hand. If there are cards you want to pull, you play it, but only if you have a way to remove them right away. For example – you might want to target Reno Jackson against Reno decks, Leeroy Jenkins against RenoLock or Gadgetzan Auctioneer against Miracle Rogue. If your opponent has 3 minions on the board, you can combo Dirty Rat with MCT, but you should still have some way to kill a big minion if things go badly. The combo gets even better with Brann Bronzebeard – you first pull out 2 minions and then you steal 2. That can swing the game really hard.
Dirty Rat is especially deadly against combo decks. It’s like a combo killer. The more minions are in a certain combo, the easier is to ruin it. Let’s say the semi-popular Combo Druid (with Aviana + Kun the Forgotten King + Malygos or C’Thun). Now, you pull out Aviana – combo denied. Kun – combo denied. Malygos/C’Thun – combo denied. Pretty much any time you play Dirty Rat in the late game, you pull out something that’s important to the combo.
Despite what “Taunt” suggests, this card is pretty bad vs Aggro, but if you face more slow decks or even better – combo decks, Dirty Rat is amazing tech.
Decks that Dirty Rat is good against: Control Decks, decks with minion-based combos
Decks that you can put Dirty Rat into: Your own Control deck
Big Game Hunter
Okay, so here is the thing. BGH at 5 mana isn’t a great card. At 3 mana, it was auto include into a lot of the decks. Right now it’s what it’s supposed to be – a tech card. And surprisingly, the current meta is probably the best one we had for BGH in a while. If anything, you want to put BGH into slow decks, possibly the ones that lack removal against big minion and/or can afford to have a dead card in their hand. And there are some decks like that.
But, what makes BGH strong is the amount of 7+ Attack minions in the meta. And I have to say that we have plenty of those right now. Let’s start with the biggest offender of this meta – Jade Aggro Shaman. Every list plays at least one copy of Flamewreathed Faceless, which is a great BGH target and a huge tempo swing in your favor. Then, the Jade decks. Unless you finish the game really quickly, Jade Golems will grow into the BGH range eventually. And while sure, BGH won’t give you a lot of tempo against late game Jade cards (I mean, if your opponent can spend 1 mana to summon a 10/10, destroying it for 5 mana is not a tempo swing). But it’s still better than nothing and a good way to not fall back. It’s bad against huge Jade trains on a single turn, but if your opponent plays just a single, big Jade Golem, BGH is a great counter. And then, the card works really well against Miracle Rogue too. Edwin VanCleef often goes past 6/6, back in the day people worried about BGH, but not right now. BGH might be your only way to kill a huge VanCleef. Besides VanCleef, most of the lists run Cold Blood, which puts anything with 3 or more attack into BGH range. So you should hit something nearly every game.
Besides those, it’s pretty useful against Dragon Warrior – Drakonid Crusher (if you’re 15 or lower), Ragnaros the Firelord and Grommash Hellscream (when enraged) are all in the range of BGH. Some Mages play Alexstrasza, some other decks play Ragnaros too, RenoLock plays Mountain Giant…
Of course, you want to play BGH only if your deck needs to. For example – it’s a solid tech in RenoLock right now, because RenoLocks always struggled with single target big removal. I actually think that BGH might also be a decent tech in Jade Druid too, definitely some kind of alternative to Mulch.
Decks that Big Game Hunter is good against: Every deck that can reliably play a 7+ attack minion
Decks that you can put Big Game Hunter into: Slower decks with low amount of single target big removal
Defender of Argus
Defender of Argus used to be a staple in Zoo-like decks. Decks that flooded the board and took advantage of the buffed stats in a best way. It was also historically used in Handlock as a way to Taunt the big minions and come back into the game after the first slow turns. But right now, I’d say that Argus is a strong tech card in even more decks.
I’ve been recently seeing Argus in more and more decks and I’m liking it. It’s a semi-common tech in Dragon Priest. I’ve also seen it a few times in Jade decks, however in those decks I’d like to see Sunfury Protector more (because of its flexibility). I actually think that Argus fits into a lot of decks. Sure, it’s not great in face rush decks (because you don’t rely on your minions past the first few turns) or those low on minions/control-oriented decks. But it should be still great in Zoo-like decks – Zoo, Aggro Paladin, maybe even some sort of Hunter. Then it’s a solid tech in Midrange decks. I’d say that faster Midrange decks might be the best ones to put Argus into. In slower matchups, it might buff the minions out of range of the removals. And in mirrors, Taunts are REALLY important – if you manage to stick two minions on the board, play Argus and trade efficiently, that’s often the game.
It’s still experimental, but I’m trying out the Tempo Rogue with 2x Argus and it works quite nicely so far. I might write about it if it turns out to be strong after the testing!
Decks that Defender of Argus is good against: Aggro/Fast Midrange decks
Decks that you can put Defender of Argus into: Zoo-like (board oriented) decks/Midrange decks
I think that those are the strongest neutral tech cards in the current meta. Of course, there are more, because each class has their own tech cards that, but that would be too much to cover in a single article.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!