With the top tier decks hitting a saturation point and the dominance of Mid Range Shaman being left unchallenged there is not much we can do right now until we get a fresh set of cards and a new meta pops up, hopefully soon after Blizzcon. There are many people who have been trying unorthodox decks due to the current season not being a part of the competitive season and one that caught my eye was Rage’s Blood Warriors deck.
He not only hit legend with the deck and hit rank 3 legend in the early days of October, but he also maintained two digit ranks for more than half the month. He did change a card or two as the season progressed but the displayed deck list is pretty much what has worked for him the best. Dog tried out the deck recently as well and ranked up quite easily without having too many poor matchups outside of Control Warrior, which is one of the hardest matchups for the deck. What I like about the deck is that it is very reminiscent of Echo Mage and it has about 4 win conditions that you can plan out depending on your matchups.
So the first thing that you need to know is how the deck works. Let’s go through the primary win conditions of the deck that may or may not be very obvious but I’ll help your ascertain which route you should take based on your matchups.
- Arcane Blood: The primary win condition of the deck that works in most cases is the Blood Warriors and Arcane Giant combo. There are too many ways to deal damage to your minions in the deck thanks to plenty of high synergy cards and you will be able to pull create up to 8 giants if you are running 2 copies of Blood Warriors and drain your opponent out of removal. Since you have so many AoE effects and removals you will easily be able to make the giants go down to 0 mana almost every game and it’s one of the most consistent ways to win.
- Everyone, Get in Here: Grim Patron is your secondary win condition. This is best used versus Zoolock and Druid and if you manage to assert dominance on board they are most likely going to be helpless. I even keep the card versus Druid in my starting hand and try to generate as many Patrons as possible because they do not have efficient clears. While against Zoo the patrons will be able to protect your health and keep trading for you while you use your spells and weapons to maintain your board control.
- Treasure Hunt: Elise Starseeker is included in the deck as well to change your dead cards into a legit win condition. But, unlike other deck you have access to Blood Warriors, which can allow you to copy your board and fill up your hand for future use as legendaries. It doesn’t happen very often but there are times when I copy over 4 patrons from the board and they end up becoming legendaries later on. It’s always good to have a good hand size when playing the deck if you are looking to play the Golden Monkey when you are comfortably ahead in a matchup because you will have more options than usual to choose from once the monkey is played.
- More Armor: It’s relevant only against freeze or burn based decks like the faster tempo mage variants. You can setup some massive double Armorsmith turns with Pyromancer and generate enough armor to get out of burst range. It does take some planning and difficult to execute against Freeze Mage. You should never drop your Armorsmiths without means of getting value in such matchups. I have been able to use this tactic versus Tempo Mage (Torch version) as well when they go into topdeck mode and it causes them to run out of resources quite quickly. The same even works sometimes versus Malygos Druid once you are able to deal with their big threats and Malygos itself.
Inner Rage: One of the multiple ping options in the deck that allows you to synergize with a range of cards from Grim Patron to Execute, allowing you to maneuver the use of the card depending on your needs.
Blood To Ichor: It’s similar in usage to Inner Rage but you lose the attack buff and get a 2/2 minion instead. It can be used to finish off a higher health minion or simply set up a chain of combos with your other cards.
Shield Slam: One of the most interesting things about the original deck that Rage used to hit legend is the exclusion of Fiery War Axe. He did change to one Fiery War Axe and one Shield Slam subsequently to deal with the meta better. Shield Slam works very well with your armor gain tools and it’s a very efficient source of removal.
Whirlwind: One of the many area of effect tools that you have in the deck which can be used with a lot of your cards for draw, armor gain, setting up combos or simply for clearing off tokens on the board.
Fiery War Axe: While it was not included in the initial lists, rage_hs included one copy of Fiery War Axe in the deck while Dog chose to skip the Shield Slam altogether and use weapons instead. It is a strong early game removal that allows you to deal with early game board presence against aggressive and mid range decks.
Armorsmith: The inclusion of the card might seem sketchy at first but after playing the deck for over 100 games I have become a big fan of the card. In some matchups it can be a win condition by itself if you chain really large combos with Wild Pyromancer and both your Armorsmiths to gain a substantial amount of armor and go out of lethal range.
Battle Rage: One of your most powerful cycle tools and it works extremely well since you have tools to damage your own minions for very little mana and Battle Rage allows you to cycle through your deck extremely fast. Do not be surprised if you see yourself draw your whole deck by turn 9 or 10 thanks to how powerful this card is.
Commanding Shout: While the primary purpose of the card is to work with Wild Pyromancer for AoE effects and chaining cards to clear boards, you can also use it to get free trades or simply use it to cycle itself and draw into an usable card. The combos with Pyromancer can be tricky to pull off and you need to sequence the card correctly to get the most value out of it.
Execute: Even with the recent nerf, Execute is just as strong and being able to clear off any minion for just 2 mana is extremely helpful in the deck. With so many tools to deal damage to minions, you will never be short on options when it comes to setting up Execute on minions.
Slam: A card that cycles itself while dealing 2 damage to any minion. It works with a lot of your other cards and works particularly well with Pyromancer and Execute. Sometimes you can dispose off the card when you have a dead hand and get to your board clear options or simply find your win condition cards.
Wild Pyromancer: One of the most important cards in the deck that allows you to make a lot of seemingly weak cards work cohesively and and makes them work together. You can chain off some really complex turns with the card and clear the largest of boards using Commanding Shout and other spells.
Acolyte of Pain: One of the 10 cards in the deck that draw cards and I don’t think there have been too many games where I’ve draw less than 2 cards with Acolyte of Pain thanks to the wide pool of cards that allow you to ping your own Acolyte without being wasteful.
Blood Warriors: The card that the deck is named after but by no means the only win condition! You can have some crazy turns with this card, for filling up your hand to get more value out of Golden Monkey or to just generate a bunch of giants and killing your opponent in 1 turn. The card might seem mediocre on paper and a worse version of Echo of Medivh but it sure does its job in the deck and it is yet to feel underwhelming.
Shield Block: A staple draw card in most Warrior decks that allows you to draw a card and gain 5 armor. It’s particularly good with Shield Slam and for clearing off minions while gaining armor at the same time.
Elise Starseeker: With so many cards that can be stuck dead in your hand late in the game, Elise allows you to make the final push and generate the lategame that you need with the Golden Monkey. With so much draw power in the deck you can easily cycle into the Monkey in time without too much difficulty and close out games.
Brawl: Brawl has been very helpful in helping me find answers to large boards when I did not have too many cards to combo with Wild Pyromancer and Commanding Shout for board clears. Despite the RNG element of the card, Brawl is a great board clear and you might even throw down a cheap minion or two to have a chance of ‘winning’ the Brawl and clear all enemy minions.
Grim Patron: One of your win conditions in the deck and it can be used with your cheap pings and area of effect cards to generate a board full of Patrons. Against aggressive decks you can have permanent board control with the card since they can spawn themselves each time they trade with weaker minions or get damaged.
Emperor Thaurissan: One of the most important cards in the deck for setting up your Blood Warriors turns or have more explosive Wild Pyromancer turns in the lategame allowing you to pull off some atrocious combos that your opponent cannot expect.
Arcane Giant: Lategame powerhouse minions that can dish out some punishment to opponents and since they almost always cost 0 mana with 20 spells in the deck including Map to the Golden Monkey and a lot of card draw power, you are sure to pull off some crazy combos.
Matchup Analysis and Approach
I’d like to go through all of the popular and relevant matchups in detail so that you can approach with the right win condition and gain the upper hand.
Malygos Druid: It is one of the weirdest matchups for the deck, weird not because you can handily beat them but weird because even though you are quite favored you need to play the matchup properly. From preparing yourself for their Arcane Giants to keeping an eye on things like their Raven Idol and burst potential, there are many intricacies in the matchup you need to keep in mind. Be wary of using your Grim Patron late in the game because you might be exposed to a Jungle Moonkin and Swipe for a full board clear! The earlier your drop your Grim Patron and spam the board, the better off you are.
Since their Malygos burst is very straightforward you can keep your health in check but the real issue rises with the other threats. They run 2 Arcane Giants and sometimes a ragnaros-the-firelord as well. While they have a hard time dealing with your minions, you will face a lot of pressure from their giants and other big threats.
Beast Druid: This is one of the more comfortable matchups but you need to be wary of potential explosive turns like Menagerie Warden combos and keeping your Wild Pyromancer combos ready to clear off the board to avoid dying to burst damage is essential. In theory they do not have much burst outside of their Charge minions and Savage Roar and as long as you are able to keep their board clear you will be winning most Beast Druid games. You can exploit Druid’s weakness of not having proper board clears and punish them with Grim Patrons and Arcane Giants.
Mid Range Hunter: It is an even matchup and as long as you manage to keep their board state in check without losing too much HP you are good to go. Their Deathrattle minions are very troublesome to deal with and you need to find efficient ways to deal with them with your combos. Patrons are efficient means of winning the game because Hunter does not have any proper AoE removal.
Secret Hunter: It is an abysmal matchup in my experience and I failed to stabilize more often than not. Snipe can be extremely devastating and one of the few ways to find an out in the matchup is by getting a good turn with Patrons and Armorsmith on board to ensure you are able to recuperate and gain back a chunk of your HP total. Be careful about popping Cat Trick and also ensure you try to stall as much value as possible from their secrets and deny them value out of their weapon. It is extremely difficult to win this matchup and it sometimes feels borderline unwinnable if they get a good start. The Hunter deck does have some really dead draws in my experience of playing with Secret Hunter and you have to hope as a Warrior player that they do not get a string of secrets up on turn 3 to be able to win the matchup.
Malygos Rogue: One of the easier matchups of the lot and you should be having the advantage in this one because Rogue does not have proper AoE removal and Grim Patrons can give them a hard time while you also counter cards like Sap and Shadow Strike since they do not get much value in this matchup. Armor gain can be extremely beneficial and you need to keep yourself out of their burst range. Do not let any of their minions go face repeatedly and denying them board control often leads to a comfortable victory.
Miracle Rogue: Conceal is extremely powerful in the matchup and they can simply burst you down without you being able to react to the board. Watch out for their snowballing minions and try to identify how you plan on dealing with concealed minions. Brawl helps a lot in the matchup and if you are able to assert board dominance you often end up winning the game.
Tempo Mage: It is one of the more favored matchups due to how aggressive your early game removal is. You need to mulligan aggressively for weapons and supporting removals to ensure cards like Mana Wyrm and Flamewaker do not get too much value. Brawl is exceptional in the matchup if things go out of hand and you should be able to stabilize fast enough to seal the game. Gaining armor is very helpful and you should try to escape their burst damage potential because most of the current generation tempo mages play the more aggressive variant. Whenever they lose the board they generally try to burn you down and cycle as hard as possible.
Freeze Mage: A matchup that’s very reliant on your draws and you should try to pull off large armor gain combos to stay out of their max burst potential. You need to aggressively draw and armor up as much as possible. They have 44 damage burst in total with spells and without spell damage minions. Alexstrasza can chip off 15 HP quite easily so the goal should be to stay somewhere in the range of 60 HP including your armor as you approach the late game. Shield Block and your hero power are very useful in your matchup.
Dragon/Control Priest: Priest is an even matchup and your sole strategy here is to develop multiple threats at the same time. The Arcane Giant route is almost never incorrect and being able to drop 4 Arcane Giants before cycling into your Golden Monkey is a good way to ensure your legendaries survive. Grim Patron is quite bad against the class and you are better off not playing the card at all and focus on cycling into your Golden Monkey instead.
Anyfin/N’zoth Paladin: All control style Paladin decks are quite bad for the deck and there is not much you can do against them either since they have both spot removal for your big minions and board clears. You might want to develop one threat at a time or pressure them constantly to make them use removals instead of developing their board to stand a chance but more often than not this will be your worst matchup and Elise might be your only way out of the matchup.
Aggro Paladin: The deck severely punished any aggro deck and you have a large number of AoE effects to make sure that they do not get enough board presence. Make sure you focus on clearing the board repeatedly to avoid them from getting buffs on their minions. You cannot do much against Divine Favor however, since the Blood Warriors deck is very heavy on draw and you should try to expend some cards if they are about to run out of cards you should try to use off some of your cards if possible.
Pirate Warrior: You are not favored in the matchup because they have a lot of weapon burst damage and spells to kill you and their board presence is not that threatening. With lack of weapon removal and not enough means to deal with burst you have to rely on getting good Armorsmith turns to keep your health pool high enough.
Control Warrior: The matchup is almost as bad as the Anyfin/Control Paladin matchup and there is not much you can do. The deck by its very design is meant to punish aggro and mid range and just like the other control matchups the key to winning is Elise Starseeker. You need to conserve cards and try to push out multiple minions at a time to pressure them while cycling through your deck and hope to draw into your Golden Monkey.
Renolock: I found this matchup to be quite even and generally the Arcane Giant and Blood Warriors combo helps you pull through in this one. Grim Patron is weak in the matchup because of their AoEs and you are more reliant on single threats in this matchup.
Zoolock: One of your most favored matchups in the game and you will have no trouble winning against it thanks to the massive AoE potential and health gain allowing you to shut down their board presence completely from start to end.
Mid Range Shaman: The reason behind the very creation of the deck is the fact that it targets Mid Range Shaman heavily. Setting up a large Blood Warriors turn with giants is almost always enough to win the game and you have more than ample resources to keep their board state in check and removals for their threats.
- Fiery War Axe
- Blood to Ichor
- Acolyte of Pain
- Wild Pyromancer + Commanding Shout (against aggro/board heavy decks)
- Brawl (against aggro/board heavy decks)
- Grim Patron (against Druid)
The deck goes off the beaten path and it’s a fresh take on Grim Patron Warrior but with more focus on Arcane Giant and Blood Warriors and it has a multitude of win conditions to help you close out games. The deck is extremely difficult to play correctly and you should check out some gameplay by the deck in past vods by rage_hs or dog on Twitch if you want to see it in action. You can also see old OTK Warrior gameplay that ran the Pyromancer package to see how sequencing works and the various ways you can use it to bring yourself back in the match. Every turn in the mid game presents a range of options and it can get really interesting at times and weighing down on your options and choosing the best play is really fun. If you need any help with gameplay feel free to ask in the comments below and I can help you out!