Introduction to the Deck
Hello everyone! My name is Newton Hang and I am writing my first article for hearthstoneplayers.com. I’d like to introduce you to the budget deck I am using to reach legendary (got within 2 wins). This exercise has been accomplished before by several others in the Hearthstone community.
Budget builds typically skew towards being very fast and aggressive. However, this play-style can get repetitive over time. My deck offers players a chance to play a more mid-range game instead. Moreover, this deck has positive win-rates against many of the aggressive decks you’re likely to run into on your ladder climb. Therefore, if you’re tired of playing against/with aggro hunter and its ilk but lack the monetary funding to purchase boosters, this deck may be for you.
1. Inner Rage – In the early game, this card provides a huge tempo swing against fast aggro decks. It kills Leper Gnome, Young Priestess, Abusive Sergeant, and many Murlocs without costing you mana. Because Inner Rage costs no mana, you’ll be able to play one of your 2-drops while killing your opponent’s minion. You can also combine it with Cruel Taskmaster to kill 2-drops without losing card advantage.
2. Whirlwind – This is the card that maximizes the damage potential of Frothing Berserker. It also helps deal with aggressive decks while triggering your Amani Berserker and Acolyte of Pain.
3. Heroic Strike – Heroic strike should usually be used as a finisher or combined with Fiery War Axe to take down large taunt minions. When combined with Wild Pyromancer, Heroic strike equates to a devastating Swipe to clear your opponent’s board.
4. Fiery War Axe – The amazing axe is one of your ideal opening cards. It helps clear the way for your other 2-drops, boosts your Bloodsail Raider, and gives you a great tempo play in the early game. Almost every warrior deck plays it for good reason.
5. Amani Berserker – Unconditionally, the “smaller berserker” is often the best possible turn 2 play. It’ll often prompt your opponent to use their removal on it. Because of its enrage ability, it serves as a prime target for Cruel Taskmaster in the early game against decks that can’t deal with it. Though Inner Rage can turn it into a 7/2 as well, this play is riskier because it can lead to card disadvantage. Either way, make sure to wait a full turn after playing him before enraging in order to ensure you get immediate value.
6. Bloodsail Raider – The raider becomes an aggressively-costed minion when used in conjunction with a weapon. While your opponent should be able to deal with the big raider, this means they’ll have one less option to deal with your large frothing berserkers later on. Moreover, don’t be afraid to play him early against aggressive decks without the boost. Establishing board control and not getting too far behind in the early game is crucial for this deck.
7. Cruel Taskmaster – The taskmaster is an inner rage with legs. If your opponent leads with a 2/1, signaling they are playing an aggressive deck, the taskmaster surpasses Amani Berserker as the ideal 2-drop due to the huge tempo swing. In the late game, it can also change the “math” with regards to killing big taunt minions as well as provide a surprise +2 burst damage to your opponent if you’re close to lethal.
8. Wild Pyromancer – Wild pyromancer is your whirlwind on legs with the caveat that you have to play a spell to activate it. There will be occasions in which you won’t be able to trigger the Pyromancer’s ability but that usually won’t be an issue with 8 total spells in the deck. Getting two triggers out of wild pyromancer should stop most aggro decks cold and seal the win for you.
Using whirlwind with an active Pyromancer will result in losing the Pyromancer so make sure to take caution when doing so. It also serves as bait for removal because a smart opponent should know you’re using acolyte of pains for card advantage. Mad bomber was in this slot up until rank 3 but ultimately removed due to its random number generation (RNG) inconsistencies.
1. Acolyte of Pain – Speaking of Acolyte, he is the glue that holds the entire deck together. He helps cycle dead Whirlwinds and Inner Rages while improving your board position. Because Inner Rage costs 0 mana, an acolyte followed by Inner Rage is pretty ideal for your turn 3. If played correctly, he should net you at least 2 cards while often wasting your opponent’s resources. Because of his potential, you may want to save your whirlwinds and inner rages to use in conjunction with him when facing a slower deck.
2. Frothing Berserker – While standard aggro warrior decks use him, they don’t abuse him the way this deck does. Between Whirlwind and Wild Pyromancer, he can grow ridiculously large and demand an immediate answer. Inner rage and Cruel Taskmaster also contribute to his power too. If he somehow survives past your opponent’s turn, the chances of winning have increased dramatically.
3. Mortal Strike – Mortal strike is a conditional warrior-version of mage’s Fireball. Like Fireball, you’ll often want to save it to finish the game. Though sometimes weak, this card is super important for getting past taunt minions in the late game. It can also be used to clear the way for large Bloodsail Raiders or Frothing Berserkers or get rid of problematic minions.
4. Arathi Weaponsmith – The Weaponsmith provides tremendous value for its cost. The 3/3 body is strong and durable enough to warrant a response from your opponent. Meanwhile, the weapon is crucial for boosting Bloodsail Raider’s attack and killing 1-2 lower health minions. Also, Heroic Strike should often be used in conjunction with the weapon to kill enemy taunt minions such as Druid of the Claw.
1. Korkron Elite – Kor’kron Elite is a mortal strike with legs. Functionally speaking, this card is Argent Commander on steroids. You’ll usually be able to kill a minion and deal an additional 4 damage with it. While this shares the same mana cost as Arathi Weaponsmith, you’ll usually want to save it to use at a more opportune time when holding both cards in hand. Using the Weaponsmith early will also mitigate against being flooded with too many weapons.
2. Arcanite Reaper – The big weapon is the best finisher in this deck aside from mortal strike. Once your opponent is within range, you can combine Heroic Strike with the reaper to deal a massive amount of burst damage. The 2 weapon charges are significant because you’ll often have to use the first to clear an enemy taunt minion.
3. Argent Commander – Argent commander is essentially a slower version of Kor’kron Elite in this deck. That said, the Divine Shield is beneficial for trading with enemy Azure Drake. Moreover, the Argent Commander can be combined with Arcanite Reaper to take down large taunt creatures without it dying. Kor’kron elite cannot do this.
Being able to get a solid 2-drop in your opening hand goes a long way towards winning. It establishes board control to fight against god-hands from ultra aggressive decks while positioning yourself to trade favorably versus heavy control archetypes. Fiery war axe, Amani Berserker, and Wild Pyromancer are usually auto-keeps. Meanwhile, Whirlwind, Bloodsail Raider, and Cruel Taskmaster are more situational depending on your hand and opponent’s class.
Acolyte of Pain should definitely be kept if you already have a solid 2-drop such as Amani Berserker or Wild Pyromancer. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to mulligan it away to find the Berserker or Pyromancer. Heroic strike and Frothing Berserker should usually not be kept due to them gaining more value in the mid to late game.
The only time to keep Arathi Weaponsmith or Kor’kron elite is when you have a perfect 2-3-4 or 2-2-3-4 curve where the 3-drop is acolyte of pain. Sometimes it is ok to keep Frothing Berserker (i.e. against aggressive decks) too. Mortal Strike, Arcanite Reaper, and Argent Commander should never be kept for obvious reasons.
Try to establish early board control with Amani Berserker and Fiery War Axe. This will allow you to dictate how you want to trade minions with your opponent. Don’t be afraid to spend weapon charges to get rid of problematic minions (i.e. Knife Juggler, Druid of the Claw, Twilight Drake, etc.). Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster are critical for pinging 1-health minions and gaining tempo. Furthermore, the ping of Inner Rage and/or Cruel Taskmaster on Acolyte of Pain will generally grab your opponent’s attention and cause them to waste removal on the Acolyte.
Make sure to apply pressure but avoid putting more than 2 minions in play unless facing non-hunter aggro decks. If possible, try to set up a favorable Whirlwind or activate Wild Pyromancer. Using Weaponsmith and Arcanite Reaper to get a boosted Bloodsail Raider online should force your opponent to play defensively. Doing so should increase the odds of victory since the deck possesses characteristics of a tempo deck. With that said, make sure to avoid wasting Kor’kron elite just to do 4 damage to your opponent. Keeping in mind when to “trade” is vital to success.
Save your Mortal Strikes until you’re below 12 health to get past possible enemy taunt minions. Sometimes, you will need to attack into an enemy minion to do this. Because this deck does not have the typical big finishers that most generic control decks possess, do not wait too long before making your move. If dealing lethal damage isn’t possible during your turn, make sure to armor up to prevent an ambush of burst damage from your opponent. Your hero ability of gaining 2 armor goes a long way towards surviving amazing starts from faster decks. They will usually run out of cards to put you down to 0 if you manage to survive to approximately turn 7.
Traditional mid-range – You’re generally favored as long as you can bait out their removal early. This means forcing them to use their Claw to kill your minions instead of their hero ability. Thus, avoid having your minions at 1 health. This also nullifies the blowout potential of their Swipe. Doing so allows your Frothing Berserker, Kor’kron Elites, and Raiders to take over during the middle of the game. If possible, avoid getting to the late game because they often have Force of Nature combos to ambush you out of nowhere.
The Violet Teacher tokens – Due to the swarming nature of their deck, killing Imp Master and Violet Teachers without losing too much tempo is key. Once they establish board control, it is imperative to go straight for the win immediately. Allowing them to get too many tokens will generally result in a loss because of Savage Roar.
All-in Unleash the Hounds – The presence of this deck in the meta-game is one of the primary reasons for playing mid-range warrior. Avoid having more than 2 creatures on the field at a time to prevent their explosive Unleash the Hounds in conjunction with starving buzzard. Furthermore, playing minions with 3 health goes a long way because Explosive Trap won’t be enough to kill them.
Weapons will need to do extra work since you want to damage your opponent as much as possible without creatures. If the mana math permits, make sure to armor up each turn past turn 5 and play around Leeroy Jenkins. The only exception to this is if you have Argent Commander and need to get within striking range. Following these guidelines will exhaust their resources and you should win easily with mortal strike giving you up some added reach.
Various – Most mage decks will be problematic because they often include cards that synergize with their hero ability. Just like this deck, they will often include Amani Berserkers and Acolyte of Pain. As a result, a lot of the utility provided by Inner Rage, Cruel Taskmaster, Whirlwind, and Wild Pyromancer is lost because their minions want to be damaged. If applicable, play around those cards and get value with your own Berserkers and Acolytes. Furthermore, killing Water Elemental is priority #1. Otherwise, all of your weapons will become useless for the rest of the game.
Aggro – Amani Berserker is hard for them to deal with in the early game so make sure to get that out as soon as possible. Argent Squire actually help you because they can enrage your Berserkers. Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster are also key cards because they will often be able to kill a minion while providing a tempo boost. This should be one of the easier match-ups.
Heal – It is fairly safe to enrage your Amani Berserker with Cruel Taskmaster in the early game if on the draw. This will put them under a lot of pressure and will generally win you the game on its own. Truesilver Champion comes down on turn 4, which may be too late. If you don’t have such an explosive start, save your Heroic Strike to kill Guardian of King in the late game if necessary. Their healing is only problematic if the game goes very long. Either way, both versions of paladin are a favorable match-up.
The Circle of Healing Control – Similar to mage, the priest control match-up is tough. Their Shadow Word removal suite is very efficient. Moreover, the healing can prove to be quite annoying. Though they normally struggle against faster decks, the mid-range warrior doesn’t have the speed of its aggro counterpart. Kor’kron Elite and Argent Commander will have to carry the deck due to being in the 4-power range. As a result, avoid having smaller creatures stolen to kill off your Elites and Commanders. Fortunately, this deck is virtually non-existent on the ladder.
Miracle – Kill their Gadgetzan Auctioneer! Other than that, you have to go fast to apply pressure on them. This is one of the match-ups where Frothing Berserker is better than Acolyte of Pain in the opening hand.
Tempo – Establishing board control should usually put you in good shape. Like in the miracle match-up, it is important to apply pressure so they don’t get full value out of their combo cards.
Midrange Windfury combo – DO NOT allow them to build up their army of totems. Flametongue Totem and Mana Tide Totem are obvious targets to kill. As a result, dictating trades during combat will go a long way towards victory. Also, it is usually incorrect to Inner Rage or Cruel Taskmaster buff your Amani Berserker in this match-up due to Lightning Storm. Slowly draining their resources with Acolyte of Pain should be the goal.
Zoo – In addition to aggro Hunter, Zoo is the other main popular aggro deck on the ladder due to Reynad. Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster help kill Young Priestess’s while Amani Berserkers should be used to trade with their early Flame Imp. Whirlwind and Wild Pyromancer can often blow them out so try to get them online as early as possible. If you play Whirlwind with a Frothing Berserker in play, that should usually seal the game since they will have to waste a lot of resources to kill it.
Murloc – Murloc is probably the only aggro deck that gives this deck cause for concern. This is due to the sheer speed of the murloc deck. Personally, I feel this match-up is still positive but that can change if they have an explosive start. Whirlwind is an absolute house against them and playing it should equate to winning the game in most instances. In addition, using Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster as removal early will buy a lot of time and allow you to stabilize. Trying to “race” against them is often a mistake because they get exponentially stronger in numbers. As a result, always aim your charging Kor’kron Elites and Argent Commanders at the minions.
Hand lock – Large taunting Twilight Drake are going to be very problematic. Heroic strike in conjunction with Fiery War Axe/Arcanite Reaper is one of the few solutions to handling them. Do not be afraid to take a lot of damage from their Giants. Doing so actually gets you closer to 6-damage Mortal Strikes while preventing them from playing ultra cheap Molten Giant. If they manage to get Jaraxxus online, you’ve essentially lost.
Reynad – Cruel Taskmaster and Inner rage are very good for killing their Leper Gnomes and Argent Squires once again. Because their only removal is in the form of weapons, those cards can often be used offensively on Amani Berserker as well. This causes them to take heavy damage with each attempt to hit your minions with weapons. Due to the similarities at the top of the curve, it is important to win the early game.
Control – Acolyte of Pains will go a long way in annoying them. As a result, make sure to bait out their Fiery War Axe charges if possible. This will allow you to get maximum value out of Acolyte of Pain. Also, try to play around their own acolyte of pains by playing Wild Pyromancer early to bait removal. Bloodsail Raider and Frothing Berserkers will need to apply pressure with all of the armor they can gain. It is also crucial to save mortal strike until the latest possible moment to get 6-damage in.
This deck is generally weaker to heavy control decks with big taunt minions. This is illustrated in the match-up sections (see mage, priest, hand-lock, etc.). A large reason for this is that the deck cannot match the speed of other aggro decks such as murloc. Because the hero ability is defensive in nature, it is often difficult to come back after your control opponent gains board control.
Comparison with Aggro Warrior
Due to the popularity of the aggro warrior deck, it serves as a good barometer of where this deck fits in the current meta-game. This deck eschews traditional aggressive cards such as Leper Gnome, Argent Squire, and Nightblade for cards more typical in Control Warrior decks such as Cruel Taskmaster and Acolyte of Pain.
In essence, the deck primarily focuses on synergy to achieve its goal rather than speed. As a result, the deck doesn’t have to win the race against other aggressive decks but can just deplete their resources until Acolyte of Pain, Amani Berserker, or Frothing Berserker takes over the game. Though Frothing Berserker is common to both builds, the potential of it in this deck is greater due to the massive pinging. With card advantage in the form of Acolyte of Pain, I feel the deck has a greater ability to win its bad match-ups, namely against heavy control decks.
Having played aggro warrior formerly as well, I believe it was much more difficult to get past big taunt minions in the late game with that deck. Amani Berserker having the capability to turn into a 7/2 with the aid of a cruel taskmaster goes a long way in killing enemy Twilight Drakes. The trade-off is that the deck can lend itself to some awkward hands where Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster are virtual dead cards. Against aggressive decks, they can serve as removal. However against control decks, they generally need the aid of Amani Berserker and Acolyte of Pain to gain value.
Being on the play, it is important to have a solid 2-drop. Fortunately, Wild Pyromancer is in our opening hand. Arcanite Reaper is an easy mulligan due to its mana cost. Inner Rage is debatable but I chose to keep it due to its ability to kill most 1-drops and even some 2-health creatures if used in conjunction with Wild Pyromancer.
Having 2 3-drops is rarely ever good for an opening hand. Because of the inclusion of Cruel Taskmaster in the opening hand, Acolyte of Pain should garner tremendous value. This also leaves the possibility of using cruel taskmaster as a tempo play should your opponent open with a 2/1. As usual, the Fiery War Axe is an auto-keep.
This is an atrocious hand. Cruel Taskmaster is kept only due to the fact that it is a 2-drop. Even so, it is a risky one because your opponent may not have a creature with 1 health. Therefore, I wouldn’t blame anyone for throwing that back as well.
This hand looks similar to the one in example #3. However, it is known that the opponent is a Hunter player. Thus, Cruel Taskmaster gains tremendous value because of its ability to kill Leper Gnomes, Bluegill Warrior, and Wolfrider, etc. Moreover, Kor’kron Elite is kept due to its potential to generate a lot of damage.
This is essential in forcing your hunter opponent to attack your minions rather than you. Whirlwind and Inner Rage if available would generally be a reasonable keep if Cruel Taskmaster wasn’t in your hand due to the plethora of 1-health minions in the hunter deck. Heroic Strike will generally be used to finish the opponent in this match-up. Early on, it is more important to establish board. Thus, we would like to see an Amani Berserker, Wild Pyromancer, or Fiery War Axe take its place.
This sums up my article and I hope it has been a pleasurable experience for you. I look forward to receiving your feedback and answering any questions you may have. Also, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] for any other inquiries.
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