Brawlers – Lead from the Front

It's heroes time. Protect your best minions. Forget about board. Face, face, face!

Previously on Brawlers

Hi Brawlers!

Did you play Tavern Brawl last week or did you find it too RNG-dependant? If you missed the last chapter of this series, you will find it here.

I played it a lot. I avoided this time to play Hunter, it was too easy last time and as I said, I wanted to try other classes. Paladin was a beast, Mage good as always and Warrior was a nightmare… for me. I only won once with Warrior. I know because I had a Warrior daily task and wasn’t able to finish it. Let’s see if I find how to properly play the Warrior if they repeat this Tavern Brawl because this time I didn’t. But now let’s see the new rule of Tavern Brawl…

Rule of the week

“Enough hiding behind your minions! Protect them! In this brawl, your hero has Taunt.”

Nice rule. If your hero has Taunt then your minions won’t be attacked anymore, isn’t it? They will only have to dodge opponent’s spells to survive the whole game.

Besides that, your hero starts the game with 10 Armor so you have to do ten extra damage to beat your opponent.

There is a strange situation that you could face. Maybe you run Warlock and play malganis. At that moment your hero becomes untargetable. You win! Not so fast. It’s like a minion with Taunt and Stealth in a normal game. If Mal’Ganis is in play then, as your hero is immune, your opponent will be able to attack your minions so if he kills Mal’Ganis your hero becomes targetable again. A similar thing would happen to icehowl, it will still attack your minions as it cannot attack a hero.

There’s no reason to play Taunt minions just because they have Taunt. They won’t protect you this week and they will suffer your opponent’s attacks when he wants to.

If you replace your hero with another one (lord-jaraxxus Battlecry effect or majordomo-executus Deathrattle effect) it will have Taunt as well. You have to protect your minions, there’s no way to hide this week!

General tips

Easy, isn’t it? Face, face, face. Hmmm, are you sure?

First thought lots of players have had is that Face decks will have a big advantage this week, but let’s go deep into the rule and let’s find out why they are wrong.

First of all, you start the game with 30 Life AND 10 Armor. So now face decks will have to deal ten extra damage. That’s 33% more than on a normal game. And we haven’t considered life gain yet…

Second, face decks play fast tiny minions that quickly die and are substituted for more fast tiny minions. The early game of a fast deck will be good but in the long term, would it be enough? We could maybe race them with slower but bigger minions.

They even have minions that are better dead than alive and now it’ll be harder. I’ve seen versions of Face Hunter running mad-scientist to look for a secret when it dies (even haunted-creeper, please!) . But what if it doesn’t die? You have a vanilla 2/2, that’s all. I think there are better 2-cost cards to pick but up to you. Only AoE spells or random effects will kill Mad Scientist so it is not as easy as usual to activate the Deathrattle effect. Why would you run it over a 3/2 just in case you play the secret for free? Are you going to do more damage with Mad Scientist and the secret (probably explosive-trap than with bloodfen-raptor? I don’t think so…

Face decks need trades as well. People think that they only go face but sometimes the opponent plays a must-die minion and now they will have to rely on spells to do that. Spells like kill-command Hunters usually use on the opponent’s Hero and now they will have to reserve for minions.

If you plan to do a face deck, please, think on your choices differently as usual. And above all, take into account that you will need direct removal and/or AoE effects. Your minions won’t help you this time.

Now knowing that the approach most players will have this week is a fast deck, let’s present a counter deck.

Cards of the week

animated-armor: Wonderful hidden gem. All your opponent minions “will become” 1/X and your damage will be dramatically reduced. If you can protect him, then the game will be yours.

micro-machine, shade-of-naxxramas, questing-adventurer: These minions are examples of must-kill (or at least Silence). If left unattended they can win you the game on their own. Sorry gruul, you’re too slow.

doomsayer: It will not only clean your opponent’s board but also kill your early weaker minions you’ve played.

sparring-partner: If you choose Warrior as your character then don’t forget to include this minion. You will be able to give Taunt to an opponent’s minion and it won’t hide behind your opponent anymore.

The deck

When I read the rule I didn’t find the word “Face” on it. I instead read “No one will attack my minions!” so I started thinking a way to play cheap big creatures and add some protection to the hero. I ended with the following deck. When you enter to read this article you’ve probably faced a similar version of this deck, a better version that runs secrets illuminator. This is the first approach I did to this Tavern Brawl and that’s the one I present here now. Then I found the other through Internet. Currently I haven’t lost a single game with it (yet).

I know, “Secret” version is better but I’ve found mana-wraith too fun to stop minion based decks that I think I’ll keep playing this one for a while even being worse. There are lots of sub-optimal choices but this is Tavern Brawl! If I don’t play ice-rager this week I won’t probably play it ever. Sometimes I just decide to play a fun deck, even not being the best version, to enjoy playing cards I wouldn’t play ever. Tavern Brawls are the perfect battlefield for that. I’ve noticed that as weeks pass Brawls are harder. There is more netdecking than when the format started more than half a year ago. Anyway, it’s still too fast to set up a whole metagame so it’s the perfect field to experiment and play with the other cards. They also deserve it.

Let’s see now the cards one by one.

mana-wyrm: A must kill creature. With all the spells we run it’ll grow consistently. It has 3 Health so it will need a direct removal (no explosive-trap this time) or too many pings from Mage’s Hero power or flamewaker effect.

frostbolt: Direct damage that will kill lots of minions this week. And if it’s a 4-Health minion we still have the help of Hero power.

flamecannon: Another removal spell. Now it’s random but we can diminish the randomness by cleaning the board as much as possible previously. Or just cross fingers…

sorcerers-apprentice: We run enough spells to get advantage of the mana reduction the Apprentice offers us. A turn 5 Blizzard can swing the game if we both are in race mode.

unstable-portal: I love the randomness of this card. It’s a spell, so a couple of creatures will benefit from it. Besides that, you’ll get a different creature every game. Oh, and I have them gold. It’s perfect for playing big golden legendaries I don’t have.

flamewaker: He will help us with its random shots every time we play a spell. Alone, or with the help of our Hero power, we will be able to kill some creatures every game. So it’s worth it.

arcane-intellect: A single copy just in case we run out of gas. There’s no much draw engine in this deck, I know.

animated-armor: One of the core cards in the deck. It will help us to survive a lot. The opponent has to save a removal for it or he will regret. And we even have a way to protect it so it’ll be hard for him.

wee-spellstopper: This is the way to protect even more Animated Armor (it could still be silenced, for example). It’s also useful to protect Flamewakers or even Micro-Machines. Now the opponent has to kill Wee and then get rid of the creature he wanted to avoid.

cone-of-cold: Perfect to stall opponent’s turn at least one turn. It will also clean some tiny minions aggro decks run.

polymorph: A single copy. There are some big creatures that we will need to remove and damage wouldn’t be enough. Change them into a sheep and now just ping it.

blizzard: Another AoE freeze effect. This time it’ll kill more creatures and will also freeze the whole opponent board.

micro-machine: Play it on turn two and then “let it grow, let it grow” (you’ll guess right, I’ve just seen Frozen again with my children).

mana-wraith: Strange choice, isn’t it? All we need is time. Time to set up the Animated Armor – Wee Spellstopper couple and enjoy smashing for more than our opponent. Mana Wraith will destroy so much the opponent’s curve that you won’t regret playing it this week. Suddenly your freeze spells are “cheaper” as we see that the opposing board fills slowly. I played a game a couple of hours ago, turn 2 Mana Wraith, turn 3 Mana Wraith. The opponent run a Paladin Murloc deck but I slowed him so much that when he managed to fill the board I Blizzard it and then he conceded.

doomsayer: Sometimes opponent’s board floods so much that we need a cheap hard reset. Doomsayer can only be silenced or killed with direct spells so you won’t need the frost-nova – Doomsayer combo this week.

ice-rager: The biggest 3-drop. Just in case we go the fast way, we have this “powerhouse” available.

shattered-sun-cleric: I was so worried of explosive-trap that I include this buffer to increase the Health of Micro-machine and Ice Rager and keep running against Hunters.

kezan-mystic: This one has been a concession to the secret version of this deck even I haven’t played against it yet. Anyway, it’s also been useful against explosive-trap Hunter’s have.

Other cards you could consider:

If you want to play the better version I’m sure you will easily find the weaker cards here and put there some secrets (ice-block, ice-barrier, duplicate), illuminator and ethereal-arcanist.

As creatures are harder to kill you’ll find games where your opponent has lots of minions. mind-control-tech will serve as “removal” and minion.

I’ve also seen versions with arcane-blast, a cheap spell that gets rid off lots of minions we will see this week. Usually these versions run a Spell Damage creature (azure-drake would be the best one)  just in case you draw an Arcane Blast late so you will be able to kill a 4-Health creature such as animated-armor.

Creatures immune to spells and Hero powers are nearly impossible to kill this week. spectral-knight would be a good example. But in this deck we already run wee-spellstopper to give this ability to any creature.

Conclusion

Don’t keep your first impression when you read a new rule in Tavern Brawls. It’s true that the first approach to a new format is usually the aggro deck but when you go deep into the rule you will find better ways to beat the field. This is just an example of a non-aggro deck that will flood the boards this week. Did you find other non-aggro decks to play? Please, leave a comment and share them with us!

See you next week! I now have some minions to protect.