The time has come! EU had to wait 8 hours longer than NA, but the expansion was finally released around 2:30. So at this point, I’m after 5 hours of ladder grinding and I’m having a lot of fun. Expansion releases are surely the best time to play Hearthstone, without the settled meta, with all the experimental decks and deck building.
So, after playing the game for few hours, I want to share some of my first thoughts. I’ll start with my pack openings, then proceed to the decks I’ve played so far and talk a bit about the meta I’ve been facing so far. Take it with the grain of salt, however, because meta will probably change every day right now, as people try to adapt to the decks they face.
This section should be more fun for those of you who like statistics. If you don’t, you can just move to the next one. I’ve opened about 150 packs (it was something like 146 or 147), because that’s how much gold I had hoarded. Luckily for me, I also had about 14k dust to work with in case I really didn’t get anything I wanted. I’ll start with the stats and then talk about them a bit more.
- Golden Common count: 13
- Golden Rare count: 10
- Epic Count: 33
- Golden Epic Count: 1
- Legendary Count: 7
- Golden Legendary Count: 2
- Most Commons opened: Grimscale Chum and Backstreet Leper – 15 copies of each.
- Most Rares opened: Spiked Hogrider – 10 copies.
- Most Epics opened: Dirty Rat and Burgly Bully – 4 copies of each.
Judging by the stats themselves, pack openings went quite nicely. On average, you expect 1 Legendary every 20 packs and 1 Epic every 5 packs. So after opening 150 packs, I should have 7.5 Legends and 30 Epics. Golden Legends are really rare, they’re in 1 out of 200 packs on average. And I’ve got two. Considering that before that I’ve only ever opened only a SINGLE Golden Legendary, I think the justice is on my side.
The problem, however, was not the amount of Legendaries opened, but their quality. Golden Legendaries were really cool – I’ve opened Golden Wrathion and Don Han’Cho. Regular Legendaries were way worse, sadly. Auctionmaster Beardo, 2x Genzo, the Shark, 2x Madam Goya, regular Don Han’Cho and Mayor Noggenfogger. So I’ve basically got probably the two weakest Legends from the expansion – Madam Goya and Mayor Noggenfogger, and at the same time I’ve opened 3 duplicates.
Still, after disenchanting duplicates etc. I had about 20k dust to work with. I’ve decided to craft a few Legendaries – Patches the Pirate, Aya Blackpaw, Kazakus and Raza the Chained. I will probably craft more soon as I test the other decks.
First thing I wanted to do is finishing the expansion quests. You need to win 3 games with each of the 3 factions. Each of those quests reward 2 Gadgetzan packs, so it’s really worth it. The quests start with Grimy Goons, and so did I.
I was playing a very similar deck to the one I’ve made before expansion. The only change I’ve made was replacing one Huge Toad with Argent Horserider. I’ve figured out that five 2-drops are enough considering that 2x 1-drop is also a quite common turn 2.
And surprise surprise, I lost the first three games with this deck. Those were unbelievable and I thought about dropping the deck and focusing on something else instead. But it wasn’t the deck’s fault – it’s my luck like always. First game I’ve played against a complete counter to the deck – Taunt Warrior. He played Taunt after Taunt nearly every turn. Buffed Alley Armorsmith nearly sealed the deal (it was 5/10 and he got like 15 Armor from it), but I was fighting. In the end, I was 1 damage off lethal when he topdecked Sparring Partner to play on his Ragnaros the Firelord. Over the course of the game, I got through over 40 health of the Taunts. It was really crazy.
Second game was against RenoLock. I was close to lethal as soon as turn 4. He dropped turn 4 Kazakus and picked 5 mana potion. Luckily for him, it was THE PERFECT potion – AoE damage + Armor gain. It cleared my board and saved his life (I had weapon equipped + Kor’kron in my hand). At 2 health, he topdecked Reno Jackson next turn. The game was over.
Third game was even funnier. At least for my opponent. I’ve played against Pirate Warrior and I didn’t draw any 1 or 2 mana cards. I’ve passed turn 1 and played Hero Power on turn 2. He probably thought that he’s facing a Control Warrior or something. At this point the game was impossible to comeback from, because I was down 3 minions.
Then, I won 4 games in a row. Stomping pretty much every one of them. Given how the I’ve got countered in the first game, Reno’d in the second and terrible opening hand in the 3rd, I can’t blame the deck for quite poor performance. I think that it’s strong, one of the strongest decks right now. Especially if you happen to play against Jade Druid a lot – it’s like a natural counter. While you don’t win every game, the matchup should be heavily in your favor. The deck also works really nicely against RenoLock, unless it gets turn 6 Reno of course.
Then it is time for the Jade Lotus. Jade Druid was the most obvious choice, so I went with it. I had really high expectations for this deck and it was surprisingly underwhelming. Not even the deck itself, but the fact that two Face Warriors rushed me by turn 5-6 and I couldn’t do anything about it. I went 5-3 with the deck and I honestly think that the it could use some changes. If was absolutely rocking the slower matchups, my opponents couldn’t do anything in the late game. But the matchup against face decks is pretty bad. I think that adding a Doomsayer might be the thing to do. Also dropping some Jade Golem cards like Jade Spirit – in the faster matchups they’re useless and in the slower you bank on the late game combos anyway.
I think that the best way to play Jade Druid might not be like another Midrange decks, but rather like a combo deck of sorts. You know, something like Malygos Druid, but instead of the Maly burst combo finisher, you would have the Jade Golem chain finisher. Control decks can’t really handle that and the games I won I didn’t really need all the extra Jade Golem cards. Once I got to the late game and cycled through my whole deck, Jade Spirit or Jade Behemoth were sitting dead in my hand, because I simply had no reason to play 4/6 mana Jade Golems if I could play 1 mana ones over and over again.
The deck has a lot of potential. I think it might be too strong after people figure the most optimal deck list. The thing is, it’s nearly auto-win in very slow matchups. It’s also okay in the Midrange ones. So as long as the Aggro matchups win rate will be fixed, even a bit, the deck can become Tier 1. And I’m pretty scared about that, because I know what it can do. If it would be all over the ladder like Midrange Shaman was last expansion, it would be the death of Control decks. Which is certainly something I don’t want to see.
(I’ve swapped Ysera for Nefarian – I think they have similar value, but I like the Nefarian stats more in the current meta).
And this is the deck that I had most fun with. I also had the best run. After doing the initial quest, I’ve decided to stick with it. My final score was 15-2. I was winning the game after game, mostly against Aggro decks, which had no chance a lot of times. I really like the deck and I think that it’s very strong right now. While the normal Dragon Priest is stronger against decks like Jade Druid or RenoLock, this one is way better against Aggro.
I knew that even before the expansion, but Raza the Chained is GREAT. If not for that card (well, and Kazakus) there would be no reason to run Reno version of this Priest. Reno isn’t that amazing in the deck – it’s the other Highlander cards that carry it. Of course, Reno saved my life once or twice, but a lot of the times I didn’t even need it. But well, back to the Raza. I love the card so much that I usually keep it in my opening hand. The earlier you play it, the better. I never knew that I wanted 0 mana Hero Power in Priest so much. Mid game is hardest for the Priest when it comes to the choices. You rarely can do something good AND use your Hero Power. Raza solves that – you just Hero Power every turn. Once you drop Justicar Trueheart, it’s even better. Not to mention that on the turn you drop it, you get 2 Hero Powers for free. If I get turn 4/5 Raza, I win the mid game every time. It’s just so much value and tempo.
The only thing I think about adding to the deck is Excavated Evil. It’s not necessary in every matchup, but after facing a few Midrange Shamans, I really started to miss it. Chillmaw does a similar job, but Shamans can Hex it to prevent the AoE. Excavated Evil can’t really be prevented like that. I don’t know what to remove, though, and since it’s been working well the way it is, I’ve decided to stick with it.
I haven’t had so much fun with Priest in a long time. Priest used to be my third favorite class (after Warlock and Druid) back in the day, but ever since Standard, I wasn’t masochistic enough to play it. It’s really cool when you can enjoy and having a blast with the class that was terrible just yesterday.
So far, the meta is really varied, which you can expect from the fresh expansion. But there are some decks that pop out more often than the others. I’m basing this not only on my games, but also on the games I’ve watched on streams.
I’d say that the 3 most popular decks right now are Jade Druid, Pirate Warrior and Midrange Shaman. Jade Druid is popular because it’s insanely strong in the right matchups. Pirate Warrior seems to be popular as a counter to the slow, greedy lists, including most of the Jade Druids. And Midrange Shaman.. it didn’t really change. It’s exactly the same deck as it was before expansion. Yet it’s still strong, because the deck was so ahead of everything else in the previous meta.
Besides those 3, I’ve noticed that there are quite a lot of Priests – both Dragon and Reno version and Warlocks – mostly RenoLocks. When it comes to the Priest, it’s quite surprising, but I haven’t seen any classic Control Priests yet. And when it comes to the RenoLock, right now it will probably be the most popular version. That’s why if you face Warlock, you shouldn’t mulligan for Zoo. Zoo didn’t get anything strong this expansion and since everything else got stronger, it will lose some popularity. Not to mention that people are excited about the Kazakus and stuff right now, so they will focus on RenoLock.
Then we have some Hunters – mix of Face and Buff version from what I’ve seen. And Paladins – Aggro Paladins. I didn’t play against many of those, but they seem quite alright. I’ve nearly lost one game against Paladin getting his Argent Squire to 4/4 and Argent Horserider to 5/4. That’s some really strong minions. I only won because of the lucky Dragonfire Potion topdeck.
The least popular one seems to be Rogue. We could expect that, since Rogues didn’t get that much this expansion. Instead of focusing on one or two themes, Blizzard was trying to give them a bit of everything. And that bit was too small in each of the cases, resulting on no deck getting a really solid improvement. I didn’t face a single Rogue yet and I haven’t seen a lot of them on the streams.
My recommendation for the current meta is Dragon Priest. It seems really strong right now. It’s good against Pirate Warrior, works fine against Jade Druid (you can outtempo them in the early/mid game and win this way), it’s also okay against Midrange Shaman. It has pretty much no bad matchups among the decks that are commonly played (maybe besides the RenoLock). The version I was playing is better in fast matchups, but even worse against Jade Druid and Reno, so play pick accordingly depending on the decks you face more.
That’s it for my first impressions. It’s close to 10 am when I was writing this and I’m after an all-nighter, so it’s getting harder and harder to write with each passing minute. I will get few hours of sleep and go back to playing. I already have a few more deck ideas that I want to test and I can’t wait to do that.
I will keep you posted if I found anything strong. So stay tuned! If you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!