Hearthstone is a game of bad ideas. That’s okay, that’s how card games are supposed to work. You throw together a great, next-level deck on paper, and then get slaughtered on ladder. It’s the essence of experimentation! The nature of progression! How are you supposed to figure out how to kill Aggro Hunter without trying new things? There have been so many terrible ideas in Hearthstone, but every once in a while those ideas turn into Handlock.
With the release of Goblins vs. Gnomes those bad ideas are everywhere. You don’t release 120 new cards without spurring some ill-fated conceptions. That being said, some of those bizarre ventures are bringing back some results. This piece focuses on those new Goblins vs. Gnomes-bred decks that don’t simply modify existing archetypes. Here are the most promising new dreams in Hearthstone.
The Mill Druid
Milling an opponent essentially means you force them to draw cards unsustainably, fatiguing them into an empty-deck despair. It’s hilarious, but mostly unsustainable, because once you’re matched up against, say, a Hunter or a Zoolock, all of a sudden your tactics are entirely useless.
However! The current image of the Mill Druid looks like a solid counterpick against a Control Meta. Spells like Nautralize, which costs one mana and destroys a minion on the board, comes with the fairly significant downside of letting your opponent draw two cards for free. But if you use those draws offensively, like perhaps tapping your opponent’s hand at 10 and playing the just-released Clockwork Giant for free, that’s pretty strong!
The important thing to remember with milling is that you’re not trying to overwhelm your opponent, you’re trying to outlast them. The win condition is to exhaust a deck of all its threats til it dies of natural causes. It’s more viable now with the new Druid legendary Malorne, which seems specifically designed to win these sorts of endless, trudging slapfests.
Is it fully formed enough to be a dependable deck? Maybe not. But if I was going to a tournament where I knew there were a lot of Control Warriors? I’d certainly give it some thought, which is something I never thought I’d say.
The Panda-Driven Iron Juggernaut
The Pandaren, Youthful Brewmaster, and Ancient Brewmaster specifically, are the sort of cards that are going to float in and out of the meta depending on the temperature. They come with adequate stats and their ability—sending a friendly minion back to your hand—is the sort of thing that gets trotted out when it makes sense. Currently, Iron Juggernaut makes sense.
The Juggernaut is a six mana 6/5 that shuffles a mine into your opponent’s deck. When your opponent draws this mine, well, they take 10 damage to the face. So there’s where the Pandas come in. You play the Juggernaut, brew it back, and play it next turn. All of a sudden you’ve embedded 20 damage somewhere in their remaining cards. Brew it back again and the process repeats itself.
It seems a little convoluted, and it’s certainly a very slow play. You’re giving up board presence for damage at an indeterminate later date. However burying lethal in something you literally don’t have any defense for, like drawing cards, shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ve seen my face melt off after pulling two mines in three draws. That counts for something! Give it a few more months and you might see a very different sort of Control Warrior dominate ladder.
Echo of Medivh Mage
Sometimes you see a deck on ladder and you immediately realize exactly how poorly you misjudged a card’s worth. Echo of Medivh, which puts a copy of every friendly minion into your hand, seemed fine. Good filler, like an instant-cast Duplicate, something that hooks you up with an extra Sludge Belcher in arena, that’s all.
Then I started watching Day9’s stream, and I saw him use Echo of Medivh to fill his hand with free-to-play Molten Giants. Then he did it again. Pretty soon the board was flooded with Moltens and a pesky Ice Block keeping him away from lethal.
Man. That’s pretty strong. It was nice knowing you vanilla Freeze Mage, but last time I checked your Fireballs and Ice Lances couldn’t dominate with an endless supply of 8/8s.
Seriously, if you’re coming here to find a deck that’s just straight-up fun, look no further than Echo Mage. Playing an army of giants on the brink of death is one of the more satisfying feelings in Hearthstone.
I’ve seen this exactly once. The guy I was playing against put down Hobgoblin, and then played a combination of Haunted Creepers, Echoing Oozes, and Argent Squires to thoroughly rip out my spirit. It was like losing to Quartermaster combo, except much more brutal.
Again, I’ve only seen this once, and it seems way too inconsistent to ever be good. But I did lose pretty bad. Maybe that’s the 1 percent, or maybe Hobgoblin Aggro is something we’re all sleeping on. Either way, learning to fear the Goldshire Footman was a revelatory experience.
Image via Blizzard