The Brewmaster: Season 3, Episode 4

Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first three installments of this month’s Brewmaster series to get caught up to speed. One, Two, Three Edit: I am sorry but there is no video this week. I had some personal matters to attend to that took me […]

Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first three installments of this month’s Brewmaster series to get caught up to speed.

One, Two, Three

Edit: I am sorry but there is no video this week. I had some personal matters to attend to that took me away. Should be back on schedule for next week though, and thanks for understanding. For those curious, I am currently floating around mid rank four and one star rank three.

Introduction

The last push with this deck has been a wild ride. I made a deck, broke it down, re-made it, then broke it down and started all over again. It goes to show that grinding up the ranks with a brew, while not easy, can be well earned. It is not going to be the smoothest ride you have ever been on, and it is certainly going take some extra time, but you need to able to put some work in to get something just right. While I only have a season on each deck, the finished product is almost always where (or pretty close to where) I want to be. This does not mean that you should stop innervating or coming up with your own ideas, but this is the build that works best for me. That also raises a very important point. This deck has been through four different versions, and you should take the one that best fits your own play style.

This month was an interesting experience because it shows that, to a certain extent, you have to play the game a little to successfully climb the ladder. That doesn’t mean you need for conform, but rather you can’t go too off the wall. Innovation comes in many different forms, and while sometimes you want to play with thirty new cards, some classes do not have that luxury. Warrior is a class that can go in a couple of different directions as of right now. There are aggressive builds, combo builds and, of course, classic Control. I wanted to break that mold and set out to do something different with Garrosh. While I largely succeed with that, taking the more midrange road, there are still more familiar cards that I would have liked. However, this game is about winning and adapting more than anything else. When brewing you need to know what your overall goal is, and then follow that goal in the best way possible. My goal was to make a successful taunt warrior, and I followed that by borrowing some old Warrior ideas and blending them with the new.

Where We Are Now

Once a hybrid build, this deck has fully entered the realm of midrange. While I liked trying to go with a more control style build, it just wasn’t quite working for me. The taunt mechanic tied right into the idea of control, but the way the deck was piloting felt a lot more midrange. You have to know your deck, and you also have to know what it wants to do. The more I played this list, the more I realized how much stock it put in creatures. That works well for midrange or aggro decks but it just isn’t the same for control. While putting down taunt after taunt was a great idea in theory, it just wouldn’t control the game as much as I wanted. Secret Paladin is still a deck and still the most popular one on ladder. That means you just can’t expect your regular on curve minions to do anything of value. Rather you need to be just at proactive as they are. That was the crutch I was missing in the end, proactivity. I was always trying to create a reactive, more control deck without the classic control tools. My final success came from changing that tune and making a midrange deck that was a lot more adept at going forward instead of waiting around.

There are so many different aspects that go into the legend climb that it is hard to list them all in one month’s time. I will continue to discuss different aspects of success in future articles, but here I wanted to take a moment to go over the need for tuning your deck to what you’re seeing. Every deck in the game, from Secret Paladin to Tempo Mage to Aggro Shaman is going to have flex spots. That is, places where you can change up your cards to fit the most popular decks. There are a lot of cards in this final list that, while not strong on paper, were absolutely necessary to help me climb ranks. Each card in this list has a reason (or matchup) for being there. For instance, Arcane Nullifier X-21 is for Aggro Shamans and Druids. Knowing each purpose each card serves is a very important but underrated part of this game, and if you don’t have a plan for each card when building you will get swallowed by the rising tide.

The Cards

This section will help to explain some of the cards I found to be the important to this list’s final build.

Sparring Partner

To close out this season I wanted to take some time to go over the card that began it all. Sparring Partner is a very interesting card that has a ton of utility and different potential. Anytime you build a deck from scratch you will make changes as the season progresses. Initially I went all in on the taunt idea, but as time went forward I stuck with some taunt cards and eschewed some others. One of the biggest reasons for this was Sparring Partner. This card is the definition of “taunt warrior” because it is two taunts in one. In that way it is a lot like Defender of Argus, a card that enables you to run a lot of large minions which you can then give taunt to control the board. While not as strong as defender, the versatility of two mana has been very important.

There are a lot of different interactions that Sparring Partner has in this list, and all of them I believe to be very important. It it almost like a swiss army blade that can protect your minions, force your opponent to trade into big creatures, and prevent you from dying. The interaction with The Black Knight is also invaluable. As will be explained below, hard removal is an essential part of today’s meta, and the more ways to kill things the better. That is even greater when you get to add two minions to the board while removing a large threat. TBK has enough power on its own, but the ability to just get rid of anything in the game is a very nice function, especially when you are already ahead on board.

Loatheb

More tech cards. Loatheb was of the final changes I made, and it was the last tweak from a control-centric build to a full midrange deck. While played in some control matchups, Loatheb. So, why is he in here? Like so many other small additions I made over the past week, it was because he was absolutely necessary. When making a midrange list you need to have midrange threats, and the fungus-loving legendary is one of the most powerful. Not only can he stop many decks from putting together finishing combos, but he also has the addition of cementing a board, which is very key. As stated above, most decks use key spells to back up their strong minions. That is a large part of controlling the board. If you can put down a 5/5 that also makes it so your opponent cannot use their spells then you can dictate the game through your minions, which is the overall goal of this list. In addition, there are a ton of decks that use spells as finishers, ranging from Aggro Shaman to Midrange Druid to Freeze Mage. Being able to shut down those spells for a turn can turn the tide of the game or allow you get the extra life or taunts that you need to stay alive. It can also allow you stave off AOE when pushing for lethal.

Crush

While just a one-of in a sea of one-ofs, Crush is an extremely important part of this build. One of the biggest problems I kept noticing when playing this deck was that I would routinely lose to one card. That is not one card in particular, but there would eventually come a time in the deck where I was suddenly locked out because of a Ysera, Dr. Boom or some other big minion I just didn’t have an answer to. I needed an extra removal spell. Normally that would be Shield Slam, which did have some extra utility in the early game that Crush did not. However, I rarely found myself with enough armor to justify the one mana epic. In addition, I have a lot of early game options due to switching to a midrange style. As such, I just wanted something that killed whatever I need.

It does not matter if this card costs three or if it costs seven, hard removal is hard removal. This card represents an extremely important part of today’s meta, and that is having ways to answer minions. While combo decks like Midrange Druid and Aggro Shaman don’t need to worry about that as much, having minions is simply not enough. The cards are too good and too strong to only rely on your own creatures. Even something like a Sludge Belcher can be taken care of by buffs like Power Overwhelming and Avenge. You need to back up your minions with a little firepower. While Execute is phenomenal for that, having one more no-nonsense kill spell in your back pocket can really help you against some of the slower decks.

Grommash Hellscream

Yes…I finally did it. I added in Grommash Hellscream. I did not want to give into the eight mana legendary, but I simply could not play without it. While less common the higher I go, Renolock and Control Priest are still popular decks. That does not bode well for any midrange or midrange style deck, since they simply cannot match their end game or massive AOE. I would find myself getting run down a lot, and even though I would end up winning some of those games, it was very tedious. However, the number one thing I kept losing too was healing. Though it may sound strange for a slower deck like this one, my opponent using things like Antique Healbot or Reno Jackson was routinely leading to losses. This was because, even if I could control the board and apply pressure, my opponent would almost always be able to heal out of range and allow themselves extra time to draw a big threat, removal or AOE. From that point I would almost never be able to come back.

To fix that problem, I knew I needed some extra burst. As you know, there is no better burst in Warrior that Grommash Hellscream. I had played with the idea of putting Gromm down for a while, but he felt so “same old”. However, he does exemplify my earlier comment about having to play the game. While sometimes you can play interesting or new cards, sometimes you should back them up with something that feels a little more familiar. This is my nod to classic Warrior decks and something I probably could not have progressed with out. In addition to being a finisher, Grommash is also an extra removal spell. There are a lot of four health minions that you can kill with this, especially against decks like Secret Paladin or Zoo. Removal spells are always great, but when that removal comes with a giant 10-damage threat they get that much better.

Matchups

A quick breakdown of the four decks I am currently seeing the most at ranks 4/3. Note that almost all of the upper ranks right now are either aggro or heavy control. Plan your deck and tech cards accordingly.

Secret Paladin

Still the king of the meta, this is a matchup I cannot for the life of me figure out. Sometimes I run them over and everything goes my way, other times I cannot keep up. Even some games where I clear the board multiple times I still find myself way behind due to secrets, a surprise Knife Juggler/Muster for Battle or some late-game finisher I just don’t have an answer for. I am not sure what tweaks I could even make to combat this deck effectively. I toyed around the idea of Revenge for some time, but found Brawl to just be better in the long run. Once you get the board you will most often win, but getting the board is very, very hard to do.

When facing Secret Paladin you really need to get the most out of your removal. They have a ton of cards that can be considered threats, and you have to know how to handle all of them. For instance, while you may want to Execute a Sludge Belcher, it is much more important to save the spell for challenger or Dr. Boom when they come to town. This is a tough matchup, and one of the biggest reasons my climb has been as slow as it is (rank 5-3 for 10 days).

Note: If you want, you could tech in an Ironbeak Owl to deal with Tirion Fordring, which has been a bit of a problem card from time to time. You could also switch out the Kodorider for Sylvanas Windrunner if you are seeing a lot of Paladin as well.

Midrange Druid

Like Secret Paladin, this is a deck you have to plan for. Midrange Druid is one of the most powerful decks around, which means you are going to run into it from time to time. Like the Face Hunter decks of old, if you don’t have a plan here, you will die. That’s the bad news. However, the good news is that midrange decks have always been strong against Druid and this is no exception. Your high amount of taunts, large minions and removal spells often create a lot of trouble for Malfurion. While you do want to find damage where you can, just like any list playing against Druid these days you want to play as a control deck. Druid has become a pure combo class, and all of their decks are only going to are about getting you to fourteen life. You need to keep that at bay as much as you can. Always utilize your resources in order to keep pressure off of your life total and always try to find ways to armor up.

The goal of this matchup is two fold. One, keep your opponent’s board clear. Two, get down as many taunts as you can. The best taunt you have is Arcane Nullifier x-21, which their only answer to is Keeper of the Grove. However, anything wall you can put up past turn nine is going to be important. The other important part of this match is trying to get Druid to make awkward plays. That is to say, try and force them to not properly utilize their mana or set them back on their curve. For instance, forcing them to Swipe/hero power on turn six or to play a Keeper of the Grove on turn eight. The way you do that is by filling the board with large minions or just taking over the board. This will force Druid to become reactive, which is not where they want to be. Just remember, even if you have board, clear their minions at all costs.

Zoo

While I saw a good amount of Renolock at ranks 8-5, once I hit gold Zoo became the preferred style of Warlock. I am not sure if that is because of the time of the season or because Zoo just climbs better than its control counterpart, but be ready for the swarms. Zoo is not a deck that has a lot of surprises. They are going to try to control the early game with sticky, deathrattle minions and then use that presence to push damage through into bigger and bigger threats. However, you can stall this quite well with your weapons, plethora of early game options and hard removal. All of that is disruption that puts a very long wrench into Zoo’s well-laid plans. In fact, the aggressive Warlock deck is one of the best matchups you have, and the key to winning is understanding just how to make the most out of your removal.

Planning ahead is key in this match. While there are times you want to burn your second Death’s Bite charge, you most often want to save it for something like an Imp-losion. In the same vein, every Zoo deck runs some sort of giant minion these days. Those are your targets for both Execute and Crush. You never want to lose a game because you Executed a nerubian and now have no answer to Dr. Boom. Of course, you should always clear if you need to, but just understand which targets and situations are the most important.

Control Priest

Probably my favorite matchup due to the high amount of interaction in it, Control Priest is a very tricky deck to play against. While not as bad as Renolock (which is explained below) heavy control trumps this deck a lot of the time. Priest not only has a lot of healing, but if you can’t supply pressure (as this deck usually can’t) they will drawn into their better control cards like Entomb or Shrinkmeister/Cabal Shadow Priest. The way you combat that is through trying to bait your opponent’s removal on subpar targets. For instance, getting them to Lightbomb only a few minions or Entombing something like a Sludge Belcher. Once they make those plays, then you can drop your real threats. Just note that this is a game where, unless you are really trying to force through lethal, you never want to play Varian Wrynn. Drawing cards is often a really lackluster play in fatigue games and so is overextending into your opponent’s AOE.

This matchup is going to be vastly different from anything else you play. Instead of trying to grind out as a midrange deck, you are attempting to stall as much as you can until you can end the game with either Elise Starseeker or Grommash Hellscream. Understand the way the game is going and know how you are going to make the final push. If you are building a board or they are getting low on life, you want to do your best to burst them down for lethal. However, if the game is much slower and you haven’t made much progress in the way of damage then you want to take your time until you can make a thousand legendaries. Yes, sometimes you will just get controlled and not be able to make any progress, but understanding the game at hand is a big part to winning.

Final Matchup Thoughts

This deck does a good job of holding its own against Druid, Shaman, Hunter, Zoo and will split even with Paladin. Those are the matchups I see the most of the ladder and they are the ones I tuned this the most for. The easiest of those four are Druid and Shaman, both of which do a very bad time of fighting through multiple taunts and large minions. Paladin is the hardest of the four, but I am really not sure how much more energy or cards I could put into fighting Uther. Tempo Mage is often a very tricky match, but can be won. A lot of that has to do with how the game opens and how proactive you are. Due to the lack or armor you can be weak to burst, but you can also start out faster and control the board the entire game. Beyond that, this deck is quite weak to heavy control. The extra bust from Gromm makes it more doable, but you can still get run over. Take this into consideration when piloting this list. If you are seeing a lot of heavy control you should try to make some tweaks to the cards and add in some control killers like Sylvanas Windrunner or Ysera.

Mulligan Guide

Being a midrange deck you want to keep midrange cards. You are going to aggressively mulligan for your two and three drops against everything and then hope they can carry you throughout the game. Your “must keeps” here are Fiery War Axe, Armorsmith, Slam, Fierce Monkey and Acolyte of Pain. Always look to start fast to help you build later on. The only real exception to that is Death’s Bite, which is another card you want to keep if you have other early cards. Your weapons will carry you through the opening in a lot games, and you never want to throw them back in hopes of getting something else.

One of the hardest parts of mulliganing with this deck is understanding what each card is for. So many cards are here for so many different matchups that you only want to keep some of them in some games. Execute should only be kept against Druid (though it can be kept against Warlock is you suspect your opponent is playing Renolock or Dreadsteed), while you want to look for Arcane Nullifier x-21 against Druid and Aggro Shaman. Cruel Taskmaster is an auto-keep against Hunter and Paladin. If I have a strong opening I will also keep The Black Knight against Druid since they run so many taunts. Sparring Partner is a card that I don’t like to keep early, but I will usually hold one against an aggro deck if I have no other early turn play at my disposal.

 

Conclusion

I am not sure what I’m playing next month just yet, but I have a week to figure it out. I’m going to be making the final push with this deck, and then try to work on next month’s build. If I do end up hitting legend with this, I will most likely do an update on it (and probably do a segment on Weekly Legends as well). Now that I have been on the control side of things for the past couple of months I really want to move over to the aggro side. However, I am not sure what that is going to look like and Control Hunter is calling my name. Though, I think it would be really cool to try aggro spell damage mage or do a more midrange, all secret build. Let me know what you guys think or if you have any suggestions. Until then, may the taunts be with you, always.