Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first two installments of the Brewmaster series to get caught up to speed.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, if it is broke, you better go to the garage and get some tools and fix the heck out of it. It is week three of this season of The Brewmaster and, man, what a week it has been. A lot of things are different from the last time we met, but I fully believe it is for the better. I will never stop preaching just how important adaptation is in Hearthstone and how key it is to both winning games and climbing the ladder. Winning at any card game requires a certain amount of evolution to react to the most popular decks. In Hearthstone, that gets extrapolated because of how quickly the ladder shifts. One day you could be playing against three distinct decks, the next five new ones. While I usually make tweaks, it is rare that I make such a big overhaul. However, I had a very good reason for this change.
I really enjoyed the decklist I had last week, but you have to know when to give up and try something new. Now, that does not mean I wanted to dissolve the entire list (I do lock into these for a whole month after all) but I needed some major changes. Being able to recognize those changes is a big part of deck building. Ideas are the key of deck building, but being able to recognize what cards are working, which ones aren’t, and why that is, is the real foundation of any good deck on ladder. I knew that my decklist idea was solid (slow, grind taunt Warrior just works for the current meta) but the list I had wasn’t reaching the heights I wanted. As such, I went back to the drawing board.
Where We Are Now
Wow, wow did we make a change. A big, big change. As I said in the first article, this month was going to be about hitting legend as much as it is about deck-building, and I want to continue on that trend. There are many different parts of hitting legend, but your deck is going to be a huge part of it. When taking a deck to legend you are rarely going to end with the same thing you started with. You may if you are playing a stock list, but the rules are quite different for brewing. That is something many people don’t come to full terms with, but it is a truth you need to accept right away. Each rank is going to have different classes and popular decks that can shift just based on the time or the day or the day of the week. Those shifts are the meta, and understanding them is very important to climbing up.
The first week with this deck went quite smooth. I cruised through the double digits (which is the first step) and found I was handily winning games. However, as happens, I hit a huge wall at ranks ten, nine and eight. So much so that I found myself getting more and more frustrated. That was bad because I was going on tilt on top of playing a sub-optimal list. As a result, I did the first thing you need to do when that happens, which is sit back and take a look at my deck to see what works and what doesn’t. The taunt was working well. However, I really needed to understand why that was. Sure, it was good against aggro, but what really made it strong was how it demanded resources to clear which helped me play the attrition game. Once I realized that I knew I had to go deeper with the theme. I began to experiment with a ton of different cards, trying to figure out what worked and what cards just didn’t seem to fit into the plan.
This list is what I’ve found to be the best cards for the current decks that I am facing. Not for all the decks in the game, just the ones I kept encountering at my ranks. The recent resurgence of Midrange Druid combined with the ever-presence of Aggro Shaman and Secret Paladin, meant that the most important thing to me was staying alive. There are several ways to go about doing that when messing around with taunt, but I think at the end of the day I found a direction that worked for me. There are still some cards I need to try for the final ranks, but this did what I wanted. It kept building into that curve while pressing into the whole “midrange-control” style of build I touted last week. This list has gone in a different direction than I originally planned. However, the changes make it stronger and the gameplan is largely the same as it has always been. The execution is what’s new.
This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.
Something I quickly realized when piloting this deck was that I needed some way to generate armor. Badly. Justicar Trueheart was still on my mind, but the six drop just seemed very weak for this style of deck. I didn’t have enough armor to go the “infinite health” strategy. Even so, I kept finding that there were many games where not having some extra life would open me up to burn or a sudden silence that could bypass my taunts. If that happens once it isn’t a big deal, but it was losing me a lot of games. That made it a problem that needed to be solved. As such, I wanted a way to gain armor that still allowed me some board presence and didn’t require me to play more spells. Armorsmith was the obvious choice for the role, allowing me a solid minion that didn’t affect my curve.
Annoy-o-Tron was my two drop last week. It did a very good job at the two drop spot, stalling cards and buying time, but I found it be very, very weak later on in the game when my life total was low. While that weakness was mitigated by the presence of Elise Starseeker, the legend wasn’t always enough for me. Armorsmith is not a great topdeck either, but it is worth the inclusion because of how well it synergizes with taunts. If you don’t manage to nab this card on turn two, you can still use it later in the game by hiding it behind a wall of taunts, forcing your opponent to net you more and more armor as they bash through. It also plays the usual role that it has in Control Warrior, such as stalling early and being able to combo with Death’s Bite. However, the ability to combine it with taunts is what matters the most. You just need some small way to get a couple extra points of life, and this is the best way to get it.
Bash was my choice of removal for a while, but eventually I realized I had to consolidate. That is to say, there were many cards I wanted to run and I was rapidly running out of room to put them all into the deck. When you are looking to tighten up a list it is best to figure out what role each card is playing in your deck, and then see how that helps the deck overall. More often than not you will be able to trim some fat. Here I knew that I wanted some removal that was not Bash because turn three kept coming a turn two slow for the games I didn’t have access to Fiery War Axe. However, with little armor Shield Slam was not really a viable option. In addition to that, I also knew I wanted some extra card draw. That need instantly took me to Slam. Not only did it come down on turn two and get me that all important card, but it also had a natural combo with Execute, which was proving to be a little too tricky to trigger for my liking.
A lot of the time this card works like Fiery War Axe three and four, which is completely fine. When looking at certain builds many people get caught up on what a card can do instead of what it does. Yes, this card has the potential to draw a card, but that is not what it does. What it does is cause two damage. Understand this, and don’t be afraid to pull the trigger early on. Having some extra ways to kill all of the problematic early drops in the meta (Knife Juggler, Mad Scientist, Secretkeeper) is very important. In fact, I would say it is almost essential to playing any list. That is one of the hardest parts of playing any type of control or midrange deck right now. You need to get some solid early game while not playing so many small minions to compromise your overall curve. The key to that puzzle is versatility. Slam has that versatility by enabling you an early removal spell that can also be used to kill larger minions or draw you extra cards later on in the game.
Arcane Nullifier X-21
Taking the place of the late Sen’jin Shieldmasta, Arcane Nullifier X-21 is a very solid taunt because it cannot be hit by spells. I am not sure if that ability is completely worth losing the one attack that Tazdingo gives you (this card cannot kill a Piloted Shredder), but I found it to be very important. Turn four is where a lot of decks like to use some sort of spells to clear, most namely Swipe and Imp-losion. Taking away those cards forces decks that rely on those spells like Druid and Zoo to punch through you, which is the best way to challenge their board without directly having to clear yourself. Yes, it is weaker than the troll, but it does something invaluable against a lot of decks I was seeing as I hit ranks seven, six and five where you just needed a no-nonsense card that would stick around no matter what.
While the different doesn’t really matter against Secret Paladin, there are a lot of reasons why I chose this cards. Three of the leading ones were Midrange Druid, Aggro Shaman and Tempo Mage. As I climbed I was seeing those three decks more and more. While Druid does have Keeper of the Grove to take out Arcane Nullifier x-21‘s ability, almost all three of those decks depend on spells rather than minions to clear around turn four. By having something in the way they could not touch was a considerable advantage. This was especially true against Mage, who could no longer rely on Frostbolt or Fireball, and Aggro Shaman, who this card absolutely blanks outside of Rockbiter Weapon. This was a small tweak, but it was perfect for the situation I was in.
Note: I have also played with the idea of Mogu’shan Warden in this spot, and it could be worth testing since it is one of the best walls you can have access to. However, the one attack is really holding it back for now.
Defender of Argus
Continuing on my thoughts from the above sections, tech cards are something else that I find to be really important when climbing the ladder. Legend is going to be a grind, but it is the fringe cards, the singeltons or last minute tweaks that really bring a deck home. Defender of Argus has not been in this list all that long, and I will freely admit that I am simply testing it right now, but it is a tech card that really helps out the theme of the deck (staying alive) as well as makes Bolster just that much stronger. Running two of these seems like a really bad idea because the four drop spot is very crowded. Not to mention that this card is hardly a four drop. However, having one to tie up some games is very useful. This card was also a nod against a lot of the aggro decks I am currently seeing. Ironbeak Owl still exists, and there will still be some games where you with you had one (or two) more taunts on the field. This card fills that gap and can give you that extra board presence or huge taunt minion you need to bring the game home. If you have a chance to play this on two minions, you should almost always do it.
Yes, Kodorider. No, that is not a typo. Still with me? Good. This card has (temporarily) taken the place of Sylvanas Windrunner. That may seem like a crazy switch (and admittedly it kind of is), but it makes a lot of sense when you see what the deck is trying to do. While sometimes you want to play cards just because they are powerful, sometimes you also want to look at them in vaccum of just your list. Many games I found, after my opponent had beaten through my taunts and the dust had settled, that I would be left with one minion on an empty board. Sometimes that card was a big finisher, sometimes it was a midrange card. However, almost always when that card was an Obsidian Destroyer I would quickly end up winning the game. The value generated from the seven drop was too much for most decks to handle since it is an army in a can. Clearing one thing is simple, but clearing out multiple minions (especially when those have taunt) is very hard. Seeing that, I wanted another card that could come down and keep pumping out threats. An alternate win condition if you will.
As a six drop that generates value, the obvious choice here would be Hogger. Not only does he give you access to that ability, but he also pops out taunt after taunt after taunt. However, as I said last time, I don’t think the gnoll is particularly strong because the 4/4 body just doesn’t do enough. It is too easy to kill, the 2/2’s die to most small AOE, and provides no real threat like Obsidian Destroyer does. On the flip side, Kodorider gives you a huge body that simply creates more and more huge bodies. It can just end the game on its own if you hold it until your opponent is out of resources. Unlike Hogger, Kodorider is strong, durable and survives almost all of the popular AOE. Holy Nova does nothing to it, neither does Lightbomb or Flamestrike or Consecration. Furthermore, even if it does die, your opponent used resources on that and you still have an extra 3/5 still on board.
I am not sure where to go from here, but I am fairly optimistic. The final push is coming up (even though it is not even halfway through the month yet) and that will no doubt require more tweaks in the future. Never stop changing your lists and never stop tweaking to what you are playing against. Adaptation is key, grow stale and you will get swept away with the tide. I hope you think this deck is as fun as I do, and I hope things are going well no matter where you are in the world. Until next time, may you always win the long ones.