Counter The Net Deck: Deck Building 101 Part 4 – The Mid-Range Highway

Greetings loved ones! Welcome back to our 4th installment of how to build a viable, competitive deck and by doing so hopefully provide you with an antidote against the Hearthstone plague that is the net deck. If you’re new to this series please feel free to check out the previous installments which you can read up on here Part I here Part II and […]

Introduction

Greetings loved ones! Welcome back to our 4th installment of how to build a viable, competitive deck and by doing so hopefully provide you with an antidote against the Hearthstone plague that is the net deck. If you’re new to this series please feel free to check out the previous installments which you can read up on here Part I here Part II and here Part III. If you’re one of the faithful who have been following this series since conception a few weeks ago, I welcome you back with open arms.

To recap, we’ve discussed (at great length) the first and most fundamental step in deck building is choosing a deck archetype as a basis from which you can build upon. Building a competitive deck is in many ways a science–there is a method to the madness. Unfortunately, pulling together a solid deck requires a whole lot more ingenuity than throwing in 30 of Hearthstone’s most powerful cards into a deck. Through this series, you’ll gain some insight on what components are needed for building the framework of any Hearthstone deck.

At this point we’re half way through discussing the most basic of Hearthstone’s deck archetypes: Aggressive, Control, Mid-Range, and last but not least Combo. In the last 2 articles we talked about aggressive builds followed by insight on what goes into designing a control build. Today, we’ll be focused on the mid-range archetype, to give you fresh prospective on the elements needed to architect a solid mid-range deck. Many players gravitate toward and prefer to play with one or two of these archetypes and rarely dabble with the others. A well-rounded player has a base knowledge strong enough to make a significant dent in tournament style play or on the ladder every season, regardless of a deck’s archetype.

The goal here is to provide you with a strong basis of understanding of EACH archetype, not only as a guide to help you architect that masterpiece but also to make you a more dangerous threat against ANY opponent you face. The better your understanding of every deck archetype (regardless of personal preference), the stronger Hearthstone player you will become.

Mid-range Cornerstones

I purposefully, began the first segments of this series discussing the core fundamentals of Aggressive and Control deck builds by design, because mid-range and combo decks are more difficult archetypes to explain and harder to illustrate. Mid-range decks incorporate components of both the aggro and control elements without ending up on either extreme. They typically run slower than an aggressive build, yet faster than control type decks. If aggro and control had an illegitimate love child, it would be a mid-range archetype.

Typically mid-range decks are pretty solid decks throughout which differs significantly from an aggressive build that is early game centric and also from a control style deck that survives just long enough to be a huge threat in the late game. Mid-range style decks don’t incorporate an actual atom bomb-type win condition, victory comes from sustained incremental damage throughout the game which eventually wears the opponent into submission or total defeat.

For your convenience I’ve taken the liberty of listing a few of the cornerstones every mid-range should incorporate:

The Goldie Locks Minion: Just like the child’s beloved fable, mid-range guru’s fill their ranks with the “just right” minion. Similar to aggressive decks that utilize copious amounts of low-cost, high-value minions as their win condition, the mid-range decks also rely on a slight over abundance of minions with which to slowly chip away at their opponents health throughout the entire course of the game. The difference is, mid-range decks favor a minion’s stats and value over speed and aggression. The meat and potatoes of a mid-range style deck needs to incorporate war fighters that aren’t too overly early game aggressive, while at the same time they shouldn’t be that powerhouse finisher either. They need to be “just right”, meaning you’re primarily looking to bulk up your mana slots with that middle-of-the-road minion.

Think about those high-value, and in some instances those “sticky” minions that require a bit more elbow grease from your opponent to be rid of. The mid-range decks fill those precious mana slots with that pesky piloted-shredder or chillwind-yeti.

A mid-range mana curve is not unlike a bell curve consequently as the name suggests, mid-range architects will readily call upon minions who fall within that mid 3-5 mana slot. For further balance several builds will also incorporate a couple of those low-cost, high value minions like zombie-chow to sustain life against those early game face bashers. Also to ensure that the deck isn’t totally naked in the late game, you’ll also need to look at throwing in a few minion fatties into the fold with guys like dr-boom and savannah-highmane to round the entire deck out.

Overall, the type of minion warriors you’ll be looking to fill out your ranks with are those who are not entirely late game specialists but not exactly overly aggressive either. If your intent on taking the Mid-Range Highway, the goal is to wear your opponent down a little at time every turn, while also making good trades, and implementing smart offensive attacks.

Fire, Support, and Manuever: I can’t say it enough, the road to victory with a mid-range design is paved on the basis of your minions dishing out consistent, sustained and incremental damage a little at time every turn. Consequently, these warriors need to survive a bit beyond the average lifespan of the average minion. In effort to gain more value from every minion  you field on the board, the Mid-range deck will need a steady volume of spells to amplify that little guy’s steady dose of right-crosses and left hooks.

Ideally, you’ll want to your minion on the board long enough to make at least one successful trade AND deal at least one round of damage to your opponents face before he gets blasted into minion heaven. To simply this concept, consider yourself successful if you can have any minion last beyond two turns. To that end you’ll need spells that are tactic-stalling, which will bide your warriors enough time to milk that extra value from them. Incorporating versatile spells like frostbolt and quick-shot which can be used to remove enemy minions before they kill off your own, or used to get in those few extra points of face damage which often times is the difference between victory and defeat.

The Proactive/Reactive Switch: During our discussion about control decks, we mentioned that rarely if ever will you be the one to initiate–primarily you’ll almost always take a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. One of the more lucrative elements of a mid-range deck is its versatility with regards to strategy.

Mid-range players can use their superior acolytes to bully their opponents out of the board OR play a more aggressive style game. You are afforded the luxury of totally ignoring what the opponent is doing and face bash, thereby causing the opponent to adjust to you rather than you to the opponent. A mid-range deck is able to conform and take on different roles that is contingent upon the opponent’s strategy. You’ll have the advantage of being able to tailor your game based upon what type of deck and strategy your opponent implements–meaning you can go aggro if you need to, but you can just as easily play a more control centric strategy.

Ramping and Buffing: As mentioned like 3 times before, a mid-range deck’s strategy hinges on its ability to cause steady and consistent damage to the opponent over the course of the entire game. Since it lacks that atom-bomb win condition, its imperative that you milk the most from every play particularly from your minions. To accomplish this you’ll need to incorporate a plethora of both spell removal and buffing effects to use on your war fighters to get more value from them. Taking advantage of card value from plays like wild-growth and innervate is a great way of producing tempo swinging plays in a cost-effective manner, during a game’s infancy stages early on. houndmaster and dark-iron-dwarf are excellent cards that can be used to give you’re smaller minions a steroid injection and thereby increasing their lifespan, while simultaneously providing extra value with a beefy 4/3 or 4/4 additional body (respectively) on your side of the board.

Example Decks: I’ve complied a list of a few mid-range decks that garnered quite a bit of success over the years and continue to be relevant to the current meta: FREEZE MAGE, MID-RANGE PALADINMID-RANGE DRUID, and MID-RANGE SHAMAN.

The Mid-Range Highway

The thin line between an aggressive deck archetype and mid-range archetype is rarely hard and fast. Many aggressive builds readily utilize many of the games higher-end spell support and buffing effects while actively controlling the board, which begs the question aren’t they, in reality mid-range decks? In most cases they’re really isn’t a clear answer.

However, the good news is there are hero classes which fit the mid-range mold and definition perfectly, one of the best examples is the Druid hero class. The conventional Druid deck will have a well-rounded amount mid-range minions (druid-of-the-claw, shade-of-naxxramas), a few wicked fatties (ancient-of-loreancient-of-war), plus they’ll incorporate a good amount of removals (wrath, swipe), as well as use ramping effects (wild growth, innervate) and they’ll implement a one-minion-per-turn play style. As we discussed earlier because most typical Druid builds readily run cards like druid-of-the-claw and force-of-nature, they can alter their play style to be either aggressive or defensive depending on the opponent.

Similar builds that be can run with as much efficiency as a typical Druid build while maintaining a mid-range archetype, are Shaman and more recently with the release of TGT and cards like murloc-knight the Paladin hero class. All three of these typical mid-range builds are pretty solid all throughout the curve and are able to make value plays every turn–either through answering a threat or playing one themselves.

If you’re taking a trip on the Mid-Range Highway typically you’ll want to fill out your deck 2/3 of the way with minions, most of which are built for punching you’re opponent in face. The remaining 1/3 of your deck you’ll want to set aside for various spells and buffing tactics, a number which I’m sure you’ll notice is significantly lower than control type decks.

Conclusion

Hopefully I’ve added some additional armament to your arsenal in your war to counter the net deck, and further assist you in you putting together a viable and competitive deck of your own. Today, we discussed some pointers and provided some additional insight into what makes a mid-range type deck competitive. In the next article of this series, we’ll dive into the final deck archetype: Combo.

Just in case you missed it feel free to back track and read up the previous articles of this series Part I, Part II, AND Part III. Please feel free to leave a comment on the bottom of the page or ask that nagging question you’ve been unable to find an answer to. Until then, I eagerly look forward to our next encounter!