Greetings, friends. Heroic Tavern Brawl is finally out – we’ve waited about a month since the initial announcement, but it’s here. Instead of the standard, casual Tavern Brawl, we get something competitive. An Arena-like format where you runs end once you get to either 12 wins or 3 defeats. The higher you get, the better rewards are – starting with the single pack for 0 wins and ending with 50 Packs, tons of Gold & Dust + 3 Golden Legendaries for 12 wins. Tempting, right?
And so I also did want to test my strength and play there. I know that besides – obviously – skill level, it also heavily depends on the RNG. Matchups alone can determine your score – getting countered 3 times in a row might mean 0-3 even for a good player. But hey, I haven’t played in any tournament or competitive formats in quite a while (besides the high Legend ladder itself), so it wasn’t a bad experience at all.
If you wonder whether you should participate or not – I recommend you reading my other article about the HTB. But to make the long story short – since you have to pay $10 or 1000 gold initially, you break even around 4-5 wins. And statistically, an average participant will get 3-3, which is below the “break even” category. To really start seeing the good rewards, you need to get 6 or more wins, which is unlikely if you’re not a consistent Legend player. If you’re a casual or low ranked player, you will most likely end up with 0-3 wins and lose more than you put into it. So you should play the Brawl only if you’re really confident in your skill OR you want to feel the thrill of tournament-like play. Especially with the new expansion just around the corner.
So, I had to decide between the few decks. First I’ve took a peek at what other streamers play and what is the general meta in this Brawl. I’ve obviously expected tons of Midrange Shaman, but I didn’t know what to expect besides them. When watching different streams, the most common decks were Midrange Shaman, Control Warrior and Tempo Mage. So I actually had a few choices.
My first thought was to play RenoLock. It’s solid against Midrange Shaman and it’s amazing against Control Warrior. The problem was that it sucks against Tempo Mage. I really didn’t want to play Midrange Shaman myself, because I simply don’t like the deck. Control Warrior also didn’t seem a best choice – sure, it’s solid against Shamans, but it’s pretty weak against other stuff. So I’ve decided to go with the deck that I had quite a lot of success on the ladder lately. I hit Legend with Tempo Mage a few days ago. I’ve also seen that wtyBill has hit 12 wins in this Brawl with his Tempo Mage list, so I’ve figured – why not, I’ll give it a try.
In a hindsight, given how many Midrange Shamans I’ve faced, I might have switched out the Arcane Explosion to a second Flamestrike. Arcane Explosion is best with Spell Damage, without Spell Damage it rarely does enough in Shaman matchup. And since this deck doesn’t run Cult Sorcerers, you rarely can get out a Spell Damage AE before turn 7 anyway (combo with Drake). I think that second Flamestrike instead of Explosion would have won me an extra game.
Game 1 vs Freeze Mage – Win
Freeze Mage is a really good matchup for Tempo Mage. I had heavy cycle start, managed to draw quite a lot of my burn. I’ve played a few minions around turn 4-5, Mage luckily didn’t have Frost Nova + Doomsayer or Blizzard. Burned him down easily.
Game 2 vs Tempo Mage – Win
At first I thought that I’m facing some kind of Control/Reno Mage, because he played a bunch of weird cards like Forbidden Flame, Counterspell and Polymorph. But after he played 2x Babbling Book and 2x Flamewaker + some more standard Tempo Mage spells, I’ve figured that it wasn’t a Reno deck. So I could go all-in with my burn and don’t worry about potential heal to full. With such a weird build, I’ve kinda worried about something like an Ice Block, but it didn’t happen. I’ve won the game around turn 7-8. Really strange build.
Game 3 vs Midrange Shaman – Win
I could have easily lost that game if the Shaman didn’t misplay. He had perfect start – Tunnel Trogg into 2x Totem Golem into Feral Spirit and all of that going first. But I’ve coined out a Barnes on turn 3 which pulled out a 1/1 Azure Drake, which he didn’t respect. I had 2x Arcane Blast in my hand and cleared both Totem Golems. I drew pretty poorly after that, getting only low drops/cheap spells and no cycle. But luckily I’ve managed to get Flamestrike and then Arcane Intellects into Azure Drake. So now even though I was down on health, I’ve refilled the hand and got both the tempo and card advantage. The last thing that could win him the game was Ragnaros, he dropped it, but luckily I won the 1/3 roll and it hit my face instead of the minions, so I could easily clear it. After that, the game was pretty easy. I’ve finished it with Firelands Portal into the face.
Game 4 vs Midrange Shaman – Win
I was in control for pretty much the whole game. He had really slow start and I had a few minions, so I’ve managed to sneak quite a lot of the early minion damage. He had full board clear with turn 5 Spell Damage Totem + Lightning Storm, but he was already pretty low. I kept playing more minions, he had build with 2x Flamewreathed Faceless, which was pretty good for me, because they’re slow. After he played his second storm, it was easy to stop the Faceless with Mirror Image. It was pretty much the matter of time until I draw my burn to kill him, and so I did.
Game 5 vs Midrange Shaman – Win
Both of us had really slow start with almost no early game. Sadly, in that case, slow starts usually favor Shaman. In the end his deck holds more value than mine and I can’t burn him down from 30 without any prior minion damage. It’s hard to wrestle back the tempo from the Shaman when he can reflood the board each turn. The real game started around turn 5-6. I’ve cleared his board twice with Flamewakers and started developing more. Sadly, he had 2x Tunnel Trogg into Lightning Storm and thanks to the high rolls (+Spirit Claws), he cleared my whole board.
We were going quite even on the cards, but Shaman always had the initiative, so he could dictate the trades. I really needed the Flamestrike, but I couldn’t draw it. Luckily for me, the game lasted long enough – Flamestrike was in bottom 5 cards of my deck. Now the problem was that I was running out of cards. But I still had some burn left in my deck (Rag + Fireball) and Shaman was at 9 health. Luckily Shaman didn’t find a way to deal with my board AND I drew a Fireball, so in the end I’ve finished the game.
Game 6 vs Midrange Shaman – Win
Incredibly slow game from both sides. I haven’t drew ANY minions until Loot Hoarder… on turn 5. And then Mana Wyrm on turn 6. That’s way too late for those. I had hand full of spells and the game didn’t look that good for me. What was going in my favor is that he has gone through both of his Thunder Bluff Valiant without getting too much value (I’ve removed them right away). So now the only hard to kill target left was Ragnaros. My main problem this game was that it was already pretty late into the game and I didn’t deal almost any minion damage. Shaman was almost at full health and I had limited amount of burn in my deck.
Shaman burned the first Hex on Azure Drake, and he really misplayed by playing a second one on Flamewaker. I’ve dropped Ragnaros and had pretty much free reign over the board. I’ve caught up with the damage this way and his only way to deal with my Rag was playing his own. He did that and went for a 1/3 roll to hit it. He didn’t. But well, even if he did – I drew Fireball for lethal anyway.
Game 7 vs Midrange Shaman – Loss
Not much to say about this game. I drew my late game, while Shaman had literally the best opener he could have – Tunnel Trogg, 2x Totem Golem, Feral Spirit, Flametongue Totem. I guess that should tell you the whole story about this game. I’ve somehow managed to stall the game until turn 7, and Flamestrike might have been my only out, but I didn’t draw. I’m surprised that it took so many Shaman games to get into this kind of scenario.
Game 8 vs Midrange Shaman – Win
The game was pretty much going my way from the beginning. I had a nice way to deal with his Totem Golem – Thalnos + Arcane Blast. Then I’ve got Ragnaros from Barnes. Even though it didn’t get any value, it pushed for 8 face damage before getting removed next turn. And that’s a lot. On turn 5, Shaman was already at 14 health. On turn 6, 5 health (Mana Wyrm on the board can REALLY push for a lot of damage if your enemy has no way to deal with it). At this point, he went for a desperate Lightning Storm on my lone Mana Wyrm and won the roll. Then he managed to kill any minions I’ve dropped for the next few turns. But he was at 5 health all the time – I had 4 draws that killed him right away and 1 draw that put him at 1 health, so it would be insanely unlucky to lose that game. After a few turns of him removing every minion I play, I drew Fireball for lethal.
Game 9 vs Tempo Mage – Loss
Finally not a Shaman. After 6 Shamans in a row I was getting bored. In this game, I had quite a heavy minion start, but he managed to clear everything. Then every possible RNG in the game was going in his favor. He got Rag from Barnes – 8 damage and I had to lose the tempo and ping it. 8 free face damage in Tempo Mage mirror already put me at a big disadvantage. And it did matter a lot, in the end. Then another great RNG – he has got Stranglethorn Tiger from the Firelands Portal, which meant another 5 free damage I shouldn’t take (because I could kill pretty much anything else he would have got). Then another 4 damage from Babbling Book into Polymorph: Boar. That’s 17 “extra” damage – it piled up really quickly. I ended up being on 4 health around turn 10, which is basically a death sentence against tempo mage. But the funny thing is that I got him down to a little over 10 health too, with board lead and some burn in my hand. If not for all the extra damage I took, I would most likely have won that game. But Forgotten Torch topdeck sealed the deal.
Game 10 vs Midrange Secret Hunter – Win
Another game where I don’t face Shaman, wow. Generally this matchup isn’t that good for the Tempo Mage. Cloaked Huntress + a bunch of Secrets, especially with Eaglehorn Bow on top of that can outtempo the Mage heavily. And the the Midrange minions are really painful to deal with – e.g. Savanna Highmane is a nightmare. The draws were favoring me, though – Hunter had Huntress and a bunch of Secrets, but no Bow and no Highmane, so I could play around them and deal with them one by one without getting 5 damage into the face every turn. He dropped Rag on turn 8, but it hit my Acolyte of Pain (well, my another minion was 3/2, so it’s not that BIG of a deal, but it’s something). I’ve cleared Rag, but I didn’t have anything to do next turn – I had to go for Firelands Portal into the face to put Hunter at 15. Sadly it spawned a 4/4, which didn’t work too well against next turn’s Call of the Wild. I’ve topdecked Barnes and got a lucky Ragnaros from the Barnes. Other cards in my hand were Fireball and Arcane Missiles. So I had two choices. First one was to go for the board control play – Fireball Misha, hope Rag hits the Leokk and Hunter has no way to kill the baby Rag. Second choice was to Fireball + ping face to set Hunter to 8 and go for 1/3 lethal. I still had a lot of health, so I wasn’t afraid that I was going to die. I went for the second play – I figured out that 1/3 chance to win the game on the spot is not bad, and hitting either of the minions also isn’t that bad. Putting Hunter at 8 health means that Rag topdeck can be lethal and getting a second Fireball or Roaring Torch is also pretty much lethal. RNG was in my favor and I didn’t have to wait for the topdecks – I won the 1/3 roll and killed the Hunter.
Game 11 vs Midrange Shaman – Loss
Shamans again. He had double Trogg start, but luckily only one Lightning Bolt to follow when it comes to Overload cards and I had a pretty easy way to clear them. But I had NO minions at all in my hand, it was full of expensive burn like Fireballs and Firelands Portal. On turn 6 I had to Fireball the Mana Tide Totem, I couldn’t let it rolling and Shaman was high enough that I couldn’t go for the burn strategy just yet. Thanks to the double Firelands Portal, I’ve managed to get the tempo lead, but Shaman had a huge card advantage over me (2x Mana Tide Totem). I really needed to push for some minion damage, so I went all in with my minions hoping that he won’t have the Lightning Storm. Sadly he did and cleared the whole board. I’ve started losing both tempo and value, but then I drew both Arcane Intellects and managed to clear the board with Flamewaker. Sadly, that meant that I have no more burn in my deck – I just had one Forgotten Torch and that’s it. Ragnaros was my last hope and I’ve cleared the board with it. Shaman had no Hex, but he went for his own Rag. It was 50/50 that decided the whole game. He hit my Rag and that was almost over. He was quite low, I think at 12 or 13 health, but I had no more burn left to kill him. Then his Rag killed my minion after minion, so my last source of damage was also gone. That Rag 50/50 sealed the game, I’ve tried to play it for a few more turns, but it was already over.
So that was my Heroic Tavern Brawl run. Sorry for not making screenshot for every game, but I forgot for the first two and in the last ones I was talking with my friend, so I kinda lost my focus.
I’m pretty happy with the result. I’ve hoped to get 10 wins and if I was just a little bit more lucky, I would have gotten there. But that’s how it goes – to get high scores you not only need to be good, but also get lucky, especially with the deck like Tempo Mage. I was getting reasonably lucky and 8-3 is not a bad score at all. I’ve played this Brawl for fun rather than for the rewards and it turned out to be a fun one-time experience, but I don’t think that I will repeat it. I dislike playing against Midrange Shamans and it seems that over 50% of people have brought that deck into the Brawl – even more than you see on the ladder.
I’ve got some solid rewards – WoG packs turned out to be worth about 1k dust (I’ve got one Legendary, one Epic and few Golden Commons), so the whole reward was 305 gold and ~1300 dust. I will probably save the rest of my gold to buy the Gadgetzan packs, though.
My final conclusion is that this Brawl would be way more fun if it was released just after the Gadgetzan release. Without a figured out meta, good deck builders could be rewarded, there would be much more variance, the games would be more fun and the rewards would be better – getting WotG packs at this point is pretty pointless for most of the good players.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!