Hello everyone! The Menagerie has been released. And I have to say that I love the new wing. There are so many cards that are very powerful and reward you for exploring new decks and tinkering with old decks. Today’s article will be about the three decks that got the best cards from the new wing: Beast Druid, Tempo Mage and Control Warrior. All three decklists were tested at high Legend Ranks, so be assured that they are viable and good decks, if you want to climb the ladder. Kudos to my friend Sedris, who played the Tempo Mage list a lot and also helped me making the Beast Druid list.
So far as it looks like I think Control Warrior can crush Aggro decks even better than before (even Midrange Hunter is now a positive matchup), but in return it remains very weak against other Control decks. Tempo Mage and Beast Druid seem to look like more balanced decks when compared to Control Warrior. You don’t crush specific decks, but you also don’t get eaten alive by other decks (=no horrible matchups). Control Warrior versus Murloc Paladin is even worse than Freeze Mage versus Control Warrior. If both players play perfectly, the Control Warrior player has no chance to win the game.
The average Hearthstone players prefer playing specific archetypes: Aggro, Midrange, Combo or Control. Some people don’t like aggressive decks, whereas others find it utterly boring to play long games with a Control deck. Personally I’m not biased when it comes to choosing a deck. I like playing every archetype, but it has to be a good deck and have a high winrate (here you can find an older article about that topic), because I like winning games the most.
Although I play all kinds of different decks, Control Warrior is by far my most played deck, because I have the highest winrate with it and I finished the last two season in the Legend Top 100 with it. Whenever a new expansion comes out, usually the first thing I do is building a dozen Control Warrior lists.
When Karazhan was spoiled I tried building different versions of Control Warrior with Fool’s Bane and Ironforge Portal, but I was not sold on it. But after I played 30 games with the new weapon, I’m amazed of how good the weapon actually is. Fool’s Bane immediately impacts the board on Turn 5 and can heavily swing games in your favor by killing multiple smaller minions, at the cost of a heavy lifeloss. Imagine the following situation: Midrange Hunter has Kindly Grandmother, Huge Toad and Fiery Bat on the board. You then play Fool’s Bane and you remove every minion at the cost of 11 life points. Removing three minions (one has even Deathrattle) with a single card in one turn is extremely powerful and improves Control Warrior. Fool’s Bane drawback of losing a lot of life points is already mitigated in Control Warrior, because of the hero power and the armor generation cards. But in addition to them, I added two Tournament Medics to the deck. Tournament Medic is not an exciting card, but before the Standard format, I played it a lot in Control Warrior and I think it is a very good minion in the deck.
A powerful weapon that is only good in slower Warrior decks, because they can mitigate the drawback of losing many life points. Fool’s Bane transforms life points in card advantage. You trade 10-20 life points against multiple smaller/midgame- minions. Gorehowl is better against Control decks whereas Fool’s Bane shines against Aggro and Midrange decks.The difference between a 7 mana weapon (Gorehowl)) and 5 mana one (Fool’s Bane) is vast in Hearthstone. Gorehowl is the majority of time too slow against Aggro decks.
The eight health points make Tournament Medic very difficult to kill for aggressive decks. They have to invest eight damage if they want to kill him, but if they ignore him every hero power will replenish four health, instead of two. And over several turns that will add up and you will become virtually immortal against aggressive decks, especially because you can protect the Medic with your weapons, if your opponent does not kill him as soon as possible. Before Fool’s Bane Warrior only had Fiery War Axe as their only viable sub seven mana weapon, which made Tournament Medic unplayable, because outside of Gorehowl and Fiery War Axe you had fewer possibilities to use your life points to generate card advantage.
How to play:
Control Warrior’s game plan is rather simple against the majority of decks. You stifle their pressure by removing their minions, stay alive and once they are exhausted and have very few cards left you finish the game with by amassing absurd amounts of armor, some sort of burst with Grommash Hellscream or Deathwing as your ultimate trump card. Throughout the early and midgame you don’t have any proactive plays or cards available that can put pressure on your opponent. Any damage you deal to your opponent in the early and midgame is negligible and almost useless, because you cannot pressure them in any good way before the late game. So you should the majority of time use your minions to clear your opponent’s minions and not go for any aggressive plays, that might punish you.
I. Keep Fiery War Axe against every deck.
II. Keep Slam against decks that have a lot of two health minions (f.ex. Tempo Mage, Zoo Warlock). Otherwise you only keep Slam when you already have a Fiery War Axe and face a matchup where you need to take out 4+ health minions (f.ex. Totem Golem).
III. Keep Brawl against decks that flood the board (Shaman, Zoo) and against every non- Warrior Control deck.
IV. Keep Bash against decks that have many good targets (Dragon Warrior).
Enchanted Raven is the newest addition to Beast Druid, and it is a fine card. A 2/2 for 1 mana is not especially good on its own. The all-star of Beast Druid still is Mark of Y’Shaarj, which is extremely powerful. Consider that Novice Engineer was nerfed, because it was overpowered as a 1/2 minion. Mark of Y’Shaarj is even better than the old Novice Engineer, because it gives +2/+2 and has virtual Charge. To balance this card, you have to build a deck around it to consistently get the card draw. Before Enchanted Raven it was harder to fully benefit from the Mark, because you had fewer early game targets. Menagerie Warden is the other good addition to the deck, and while Enchanted Raven improves Beast Druid’s early game, Menagerie Warden improves the late game punch of the deck.
Usually aggressive Midrange decks tend to run very little card draw, because they have no good options. And that is a big problem, because once they run out of steam, they have no good way to refill their hand and have to make suboptimal plays in the mid and late game. Midrange Hunter is a good example. If you draw too many early game minions or removal and not your late game (Call of the Wild, Savannah Highmane), you are in a bad spot against slower decks, because you lose initiative at one point.
The Curator can draw up to three cards (1 Finley, 2 Azure Drake and Beasts) and very rarely less than two cards (drawing both Azure Drakes and Finley is very unlikely). The Curator together with Azure Drake and Fandral Staghelm makes sure that you very rarely run out of steam and keep up putting pressure on the opponent.
I have seen a bunch of other Beast Druid lists and usually they don’t run Power of the Wild, which I think is a mistake. Not only is the 3/2 token a Beast, the other mode is also highly flexible, because you can buff your minions to get good trades or simply use it to burst down your opponent.
A lot of Beast Druid lists I have seen also don’t play Fandral Staghelm, which is weird. The card is just too good to not play. This list has 12 cards that benefit from Fandral. And out of all the four mana minions in the game Fandral is the most dangerous one if left unchecked, because he can give you so much value.
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My first iteration of Beast Druid had Stranglethorn Tiger, because copying one with Menagerie Warden is amazing. But after some consideration, I decided to cut him. It is very hard to find room for him, the other options are usually better and you already have enough good targets for Menagerie Warden.
How to play:
This deck is very similar to Midrange Hunter. Early board control is key against every deck. If you lose board control very early, you have a hard time to win. So making sure to not lose board control, by making favorable trades and finding a good curve when you mulligan is of utter importance against almost every deck.
You mainly look for a good curve and therefore you keep against almost every deck:
.) Enchanted Raven, Living Roots, Innervate, druid of the saber and sir finley mrrgglton
If you already have a Turn 1 and 2 play, you can also keep Druid of the Flame. Together with Innervate you can also keep four mana minions.
After the metagame settles I think Tempo Mage will be one of the best decks in the game. You have very few bad matchups and a lot of good matchups. It is proactive, it is easy to pick up and start playing it without any experience. And unlike Midrange Hunter and Secret Paladin it is rather challenging if you want to master it. One of the main weaknesses of the deck was that, besides Mana Wyrm it had no Turn 1 play. But now with Babbling Book you have another strong Turn 1 play. Yes Babbling Book is a mere 1/1, but it replaces itself. And the difference between playing nothing on Turn 1 and playing a 1/1 that replaces itself is huge for Tempo Mage, because you are so reliant on having initiative and playing for Tempo.
Firelands Portal is a very good card and a nice addition to the deck, but it is not as good and crucial as Babbling Book is.
Unlike Swashburglar the randomness of Babbling Book is more predictable. You don’t get Shield Slam, Totemic Might and other useless or semi useful cards. You get Mage spells, and every one of them is useful. Even Ice Barrier can buy you that one turn you need against Aggro Shaman. And even if you get Ice Barrier against Control decks, you can still use it for Flamewaker and Yogg- Saron.
Do you have 7 mana and Firelands Portal in your hand? Then you will probably cast this card 99 % of the time. You can use it to remove minions or simply your opponent. This is my least favorite card of the expansion, because it is such a simple card to play.
How to play:
A lot of people mistake Aggro decks for Tempo decks and vice-versa. But they are not the same. An aggressive deck wants to end the game as quickly as possible by playing the maximum amount of cheap minions, coupled with some sort of burst damage from their hand. A Tempo deck does not want to finish the game as quickly as possible and also does not run as many cheap minions as an aggressive deck. The goal of a Tempo deck is to gain initiative at some point in the game, usually in the midgame, and keep it until the end of the game against every other deck (be it Control, Aggro or Midrange).
It does that by ideally removing the whole board of the opponent in one particular turn and playing at the same time a minion. In order to make such moves it needs to play tempo efficient removal like Arcane Blast or Backstab, coupled with a strong cheap minion like Flamewaker or Violet Teacher.
So when a Tempo deck plays against an aggressive deck like Zoo Warlock or Aggro Shaman, your main objective is not to vomit your hand as quickly as possible, it is usually to make sure that you find a particular Turn where you can regain initiative of the game, by removing their board and playing a minion on your own. So whenever you play this deck against an aggressive deck, always evaluate if you really want to play Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Flamewaker on curve (Turn 2/3) and not save them for a later turn, where you then can combine them more efficiently with your spells.
I. Keep Babbling Book, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Mana Wyrm against every deck.
II. Keep Flamewaker with the Coin.
III. If you already have some minions, you can also keep cheap spells like Frostbolt, Mirror Image and Arcane Blast etc.
IV. Keep Cult Sorcerer and Bloodmage Thalnos together with Arcane Blast against Shaman, so that you can kill Totem Golem.
Personally I have been having lots of fun with these three decks, and I hope you will enjoy them too! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.