The Definitive Guide to Dragons – MSG Edition – Paladin/Priest/Warrior

Dragons! You know, big, scaly, breathe fire, give you  when you desperately need , set up combos and have the tendency to make priest viable every now and then. Today is going to be all about dragons and dragon decks. Why am I doing this now? Truth be told, I’m one of those people who are […]

Introduction

Dragons! You know, big, scaly, breathe fire, give you laughing-sister when you desperately need ysera-awakens, set up combos and have the tendency to make priest viable every now and then. Today is going to be all about dragons and dragon decks. Why am I doing this now? Truth be told, I’m one of those people who are convinced that unless a drastic change happens to the format structure that we have until April to play with our dragon decks before they migrate to wild and the tribe becomes unplayable. With that in mind I don’t think that you would appreciate an article about dragon decks landing in March, would you? Besides, nowadays there are a couple of dragon decks appearing here and there on the ladder so I can’t think of a reason not to do this. Whether you’re a new player or a veteran player, I hope that you will find this guide enjoyable, so sit back and lets dive right into it.

Draconology 101

Dragon is one of the tribes that has been around since forever but it never really had an adequate support to have a deck built around it. Back in the day the only dragon minions that saw play were twilight-drakeazure-drakealexstrasza and ysera. This however had changed once Blackrock Mountain came out and brought us a lot of dragon tribal support cards, but even then dragon decks were a bit struggling until twilight-guardian came in The Grand Tournament. Ever since then dragon priest has been the go to dragon deck for many players, dragon paladin had never really become a thing and dragon warrior had suddenly appeared this year and it had performed quite well.

Which dragon minions should I play?

Some of those who are new to Hearthstone or new to dragon decks, or maybe even some experienced players who don’t have much experience with dragon decks, might wonder which dragons should go into their dragon deck. While there are a few different variations of the answer to this question, mainly depending on which class is the deck for, the neutral answer should always be the same: azure-drake and twilight-guardianazure-drake is hands down the single best dragon minion in the entire game and it is so flexible that it sees play even outside of dragon decks, while twilight-guardian is a huge taunt minion which can also serve as an activator for your dragon synergy cards.

Another dragon minion that has seen an increase in play lately is faerie-dragon. To me, who has been playing this game since the open beta, this came as a pleasant surprise because faerie-dragon had barely seen any play until the wild/standard separation. It is a very cheap dragon minion for the early game and, being a dragon, a cheap activator for your dragon synergy cards. However, which decks should you play this minion in? Well, in the past, the only deck that had really used faerie-dragon was the dragon warrior deck. Don’t put this card into your dragon priest deck because you already have twilight-whelp and faerie-dragon can’t capitalize on your hero power and buff spells.

Last but not least are the big dragon minions. Well, you might be surprised by this but from what I’ve seen during my research not many dragon decks nowadays run legendary dragons. I’ve used the site called hearthstonetopdecks.com to gather the information that I need and from what I’ve gathered the most played legendary dragon minions, in a dragon deck, are in fact ysera and chillmaw with an occasional deathwing  in a couple of dragon warrior decks. The main reason for this is that these legendary dragons usually serve a different purpose in decks other than dragon decks. Cards like alexstrasza and malygos see play in burst combo oriented decks as means to either set up lethal or to deal lethal damage and they just don’t fit in a dragon deck archetype. ysera and chillmaw fit better as a minion that provides huge advantage in the late game and is pretty hard to remove and a minion that serves as a board clear most of the time.

How many dragons should I play in my deck?

I’ve seen this question pop out a lot on many different forums. The answer to this question is 10. Here is your usual roundup of dragon minions that you will have in your dragon deck: 2x early game dragon (twilight-whelp or faerie-dragon), 2x azure-drake, 2x twilight-guardian and 2x late game dragons like ysera and chillmaw. That is a total of 8 dragons in your dragon deck. This is the baseline.

How do you expand on that baseline depends on which dragon deck are you playing. Dragon priest will want to add 2x drakonid-operative, dragon warrior will want to add 2x drakonid-crusher and dragon paladin will want to add 2x dragon-consort. With those additions you will have a grand total of 10 dragon minions in your deck and you honestly don’t need any more than that.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who wants to try out other dragon decks besides the only three classes that have dragon support, you should probably add 2x netherspite-historian to your deck to instead of the last two dragons. netherspite-historian will help you dig for more dragons and probably some dragons that you don’t have access to due to your class choice. If you’re adamant on adding the last two dragon minions to your deck than 2x bookl-wyrm or 2x drakonid-crusher are your best options. Depending on your play style you can always add deathwing to your deck or maybe even nefarian if you’re looking for a strong lategame dragon.

Dragon tech cards

Dragon tech cards are minions that aren’t dragons themselves but have a strong dragon synergy and are also staples in various dragon decks. These cards can either provide taunts, draw you more cards, destroy minions, deal damage or other. In this section we will quickly explore the various dragon tech cards and see which ones you should use and why.

Dragon synergy minions

Dragon synergy minions are minions that have effects that activate either when you have a dragon in play or, more often, when you’re holding a dragon in your hand. For the purpose of this section I will not be including dragon synergy minions which are dragons themselves. These types of minions have first appeared in Blackrock Mountain expansion and the most commonly used ones are blackwing-technician and blackwing-corruptor.

blackwing-technician is a very good minion that sees play in dragon priest and dragon paladin deck, while blackwing-corruptor is a staple in every dragon deck ever, regardless of the class or the deck idea. It is one of those cards which are so valuable and have such a powerful effect that you’re crippling yourself if you’re not playing them. It is a smaller neutral fire-elemental with a special condition on it and it works wonders in all dragon decks. Another very good dragon synergy card, which is seeing more and more play lately, is the formerly mentioned netherspite-historian. The ability to gain more dragons and even some class dragons is extremely valuable and it is a popular choice in multiple dragon decks that don’t run too many dragon minions but resort themselves on using other cards instead.

How many dragon synergy minions should I play?

Lets say that you’re following my instructions and you’re making a deck based on this article. Now you’ve reached the point where you have 10 dragon minions in your deck with the last two cards being drakonid-crusher. If you’re running one out of two classes which have their own dragon synergy cards than you’ll be playing somewhere between 4 to 6 dragon synergy cards at bare minimum and those are two copies of blackwing-corruptor and two copies of one or more your class dragon synergy cards which is drakonid-operative and wrymrest-agent for priest and dragon-consort for paladin. If you’re not playing dragon warrior but any other dragon deck that doesn’t have its own dragon class cards then you’re running 6 dragon synergy minions at the very least and those are two copies of blackwing-corruptor, two copies of netherspite-historian and two copies of blackwing-technician. I know that I’ve said that I’m not going to include dragon minions on this list but I can’t exclude the class dragon synergy cards like drakonid-operative and dragon-consort.

Drawing cards: The Curator vs Wrathion

Drawing cards is always an advantage and there are two legendary minions tailored specifically to fit into decks that have dragons in them. The two minions in question are the-curator and wrathion, but which one should you use?

the-curator is a 7 mana 4/6 minion with taunt that has a battlecry that can draw you up to three cards if you have those three cards somewhere in your deck. Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that you have a those three cards in your deck. This turn the-curator into a 7 mana 4/6 taunt minion with battlecry: draw three cards, which is really good and even better if you know what some of those cards will be. For example, if you have sir-finley-mrrgglton and stampeding-kodo in your deck and those are the only murloc and the only beast minions in your deck than you know, with a 100% certainty, that the-curator will draw those two cards when you play him.

wrathion is a 6 mana 4/5 minion with taunt that has battlecry that will draw you cards until you draw a minion that isn’t a dragon. Worst case scenario wrathion is a 6 mana 4/5 taunt with battlecry: draw a card. Best case scenario is wrathion is a 6 mana 4/5 taunt with battlecry: draw 2-3 cards (I think that drawing 2-3 cards is a very realistic possibility). It costs less than the-curator but in return it has less health and a less consistent battlecry. Sometimes he draws you a single card and he is bad, but sometimes he draws you more cards than the-curator and you’re amazed at how good this card is. It all boils down do the draw RNG.

Now that I’ve talked briefly about each card it is time for me to make my judgment and that is the following: the-curator is a better card for probably all dragon decks except dragon priest where wrathion is a better card. The reason is actually quite simple. Unlike other dragon deck, dragon priest relies heavily on its awesome dragon synergy and it doesn’t run and beasts or murlocs.  the-curator becomes a  7 mana 4/6 minion with taunt that has a battlecry: draw a dragon which is significantly worse than battlecry: draw three cards. wrathion, on the other hand, can draw you much more cards because the deck itself runs a minimum of 10 dragons in it and that is excluding dragon synergy minions that are dragons like book-wyrm. Granted, all other decks should run at least 10 dragon minions, we’ve covered that already, but those decks can fit cards like sir-finley-mrrgglton and stampeding-kodo in it while dragon priest doesn’t do that.

Final verdict: wrathion for dragon priest, the-curator for every other dragon deck.

Different types of dragon decks

After going over all the basics and counting the amount of different minions that you should have in your deck, we’ve finally reached the point where we get to talk about the decks themselves. I’m going to present you the idea of there being three significantly different types of dragon decks: aggressive dragon deck, defensive dragon deck and value dragon deck. Aggressive dragon deck is obviously dragon warrior which looks to hit face often and win ASAP. Defensive dragon decks are dragon priest decks, both Reno and non Reno variations, and those decks tend to play more reactively and aim for the long game instead of rushing for face. The last one, and I know that some of you out there probably won’t believe me that this exists, is the dragon paladin which is somewhere in the middle and looks to gain tempo through high value. While you’re recovering from shock at the mention of dragon paladin in this article, I will go through each of these decks with you and we’ll check out the highs and lows of each of them. All these decks have been taken from hearthstonetopdecks.com and I’ll provide a link to each an every one of them.

Reno dragon priest

Savjz, one of mine personal favorite pro players, had made and played this Reno Kazakus dragon priest deck to rank 1 legend on stream and he continued playing with it on rank 1 without a very long win streak. If you’re looking for probably the best Reno dragon priest deck than you don’t need to look any further than this.

The deck functions like every other Reno where you try to get into late game, exhaust your opponent’s resources, slap reno-jackson, heal up and then start beating down your opponent with your powerful minions that he can no longer deal with. The deck also runs kazakus and raza-the-chained which aren’t both a must have cards for a Reno dragon priest but I do recommend that you get yourself raza-the-chained because the amount of survivability that this card gets you for 0 mana is insane. kazakus is one of those cards that can work wonders in Reno decks but it is not like the decks will fall apart without it.

Like I’ve mentioned before, the who legendary dragons that are mostly used are present in this deck and those are ysera and chillmaw. In this deck once you’ve exhausted your opponent out of removal ysera just flat-out wins you the game and there is nothing that your opponent can do about it. chillmaw is excavated-evil on a stick that also serves as an activator for your other dragon synergy cards.

There are two oddballs that stand out in the crowd and those are dirty-rat and kabal-songstealer. It seems to me like players are still experimenting with dirty-rat and I don’t think that it is as good as deathlord, however it does serve the same purpose as deathlord which is that of a huge taunt minion in the early game. The reason why deathlord is significantly better than dirty-rat is because its effect is a deathrattle which is a big deal. You won’t have to worry about what it might bring out until it dies and if you play it on your opponent’s empty board then that board remains empty. If you’re up for some experimenting I would suggest that you give dirty-rat a chance. Maybe it will surprise you. kabal-songstealer, on the other hand, is a weird choice. Sure, it has good stats and it can silence stuff but I don’t think that we’re in the state of metagame where silence is desperately needed. I would advise against using this card and using justicar-trueheart instead because it works wonders when paired with raza-the-chained.

All in all this is obviously a very good and very powerful Reno deck. If you’re interested in checking more opinions on it then click here and it will lead you to the deck profile on hearthstonetopdecks.com from where I’ve taken this deck. You can also click here to see this deck in action on Savjz’s channel where he takes on Thijs for legend 1 spot

Dragon priest deck

The deck that is presented here is a dragon priest deck that Kolento had played on stream at rank 3 this season. It is a bit different from the dragon priest decks that I’m used to as it doesn’t run a single big legendary dragon nor does it run a single entomb nor shadow-word-pain. What it runs instead are two copies of book-wrym as late game dragons and removals in one package. The idea behind the lack of big legendary dragons was that the could always be discovered by netherspite-historian if the need for it occurs.

Like in the previous deck, there are some oddballs here and the elephant in the room is none other than a single copy of twilight-drake. I didn’t talk much about this dragon and that is not because it is a very bad card but because it sees very limited play for a neutral dragon and by very limited I really mean only in Reno lock and nowhere else…ever. I get the idea behind putting it into this deck because you can technically make it huge via brann-bronzebeard and netherspite-historian and then give it taunt with defender-of-argus but I personally wouldn’t run that dragon anywhere else but in Reno lock.

kabal-songstealer once again make its presence known and even potion-of-madness had found a home here. potion-of-madness is in this deck to mainly deal with the early game aggression that decks like pirate warrior can put out. kabal-songstealer has a very clear purpose of silencing enemy minions but that is mostly it. What I would personally put into this deck instead of kabal-songstealer is one copy of holy-nova because having to rely on only one board clear, despite it being one of the best in the entire game, is too risky for me.

The modification that I would make to this deck is cutting out kabal-songstealer and twilight-drake for two copies of holy-nova and maybe cutting out one book-wrym for a ysera so that I don’t have to rely on RNG from netherspite-historian.

You can find the link to the deck here and also click here to see this deck in action.

Dragon warrior deck

Well, it appears that pirates are in everything warrior these days. The author of this deck is Evident and the deck is based off of Chiper’s deck list. With this deck we see the drastic shift from defensive dragon deck to offensive dragon deck. This deck has one purpose and one purpose alone and it is to smash face fast and hard.

Pirates are currently the best aggro tribe and warrior is the class with most weapons. With that being said, this deck looks to put out early aggression with card]nzoths-first-matepatches-the-pirate and the weapon provides a buff for small-time-buccaneer. If you manage to pull all this out on turn 1, and you only need two cards in hand and a coin to do so, then you’re off to a very good start. The punishment continues with alexstraszas-champion on turn 2 or faerie-dragon as a minion that can’t be directly removed. You get the general idea of this deck.

sir-finely-mrrgglton is here to get you hunter’s hero power for more damage and even the-curator makes an appearance. This is a great example of why the-curator is ran in this deck and not the previous one and that is because here it will draw you multiple cards most of the time. You have one murloc, two beasts and tons of dragons in your deck which is a dream for the-curator.

This deck doesn’t run huge legendary dragons because it doesn’t need them as it doesn’t aim for the long game. Instead the idea is to make your drakonid-crusher a 9/9 minion on turn 6 and close the game with it, something that is more realistic than not.

You can find the link to the deck here.

Dragon paladin

Now, dear readers, I’ll be honest with you. No one takes dragon paladin seriously. It had become a joke deck which no one takes seriously, but, nevertheless, it is a dragon deck in a class that has dragon synergy and so help me Yogg I shall cover it!

This deck was used by no other than Brian Kibler in the Heroic Brawl and he had reached the score of 9-3 which is pretty impressive for such a deck but then again Kibler can make any deck work. There are some good combos like aldor-peacekeeper and book-wyrm which is effectively a 9 mana destroy any minion in the game combo. That is probably one of the only good things about dragon paladin.

Once again we see the lack of end game dragons due to the inclusion of double netherspite-historian with brann-bronzebeard. I’m not very fond of that combo, as I’ve made it clear before, and I think that including a big legendary dragon will do you far more good than hoping to get one out of pure RNG. ysera would have been much better than rend-blackhand which is a mostly useless card, especially when you already have a lot of removal in your deck.

Basically what this deck is doing is trying to get some value out of paladin’s naturally high value cards like tirion-fordring and ragnaros-lightlord while combining those cards with powerful dragon synergy which is made even better thanks to dragon-consort but for some reason dragon paladin simply under-preforms. I’ve been trying to make it work for a very long time but it just doesn’t work well which is a shame. I’ve had some success with this deck and hopefully, though doubtfully, it will inspire some of you to give dragon paladin a go.

You can find the link to the deck here and also click here to see this deck in action.

The future of dragon decks post rotation

Last but not the least I will very briefly talk about the future of dragon decks post rotation which is as grim as the future of Reno decks post rotation. The main problem is that the most powerful dragon cards and dragon synergy cards, those cards that actually make these decks work and perform well, are all going to rotate out very soon. The only two dragons which are not from the classic set that will remain in the format are book-wyrm and drakonid-operative which in itself isn’t a bad card but it is useless outside of a dragon deck. Hopefully Blizzard will react in time and gives us quite a lot of new dragons to play with otherwise I don’t think that this archetype will be alive anymore when the set rotation hits in April.

It is a common theme that I’ve noticed with the last set. Reno decks have been given a buff but Reno rotates out next April and that buff becomes meaningless. Dragon priest gets a buff but then all the good dragon cards are rotating out in April and the deck will most likely be bad once that happens. This is a bigger problem than, lets say, with Reno decks where all you have to do is reprint Reno or make a card that is wildly similar to it but slightly weaker and Reno decks suddenly aren’t that bad anymore but with dragon decks there is a ton of cards that would either require a reprint or a ton of new dragon cards will have to be introduced to the game.

Conclusion

Wow, this has been the longest article that I have ever written for this website and if you’ve made it all the way than I salute you! In conclusion I would like to say that I am a huge fan of dragon decks. Dragons are my favorite tribe in Hearthstone (the second one is demons) and dragon priest is my go to dragon deck when I play either standard or wild format (though deathrattle priest is something that I play more nowadays in the wild format).

My hopes for the dragon decks is that they will get all the support that they need to stay alive next April and that, if not all of them, at least paladin gets a ton of shiny new dragon toys so that it can finally have a functional dragon deck….which probably won’t mean much once it is the only dragon deck around. It ain’t much of a competition then.

What do you think about dragon decks? Have you tried making dragon paladin work? Which dragon deck is your favorite? What is your stance on the Wrathion vs The Curator debate? Leave your feedback and your opinions in the comment section below. As always  if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can. That is all and I’ll see you next time when I’ll write about the state of the meta in the first two weeks of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.