It’s time! After waiting (and waiting and waiting) Blizzard is finally hitting us with a brand new set. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is here, which means new cards, new interactions and, of course, new brews. If you have been following me in the past, you guys always know that I do a large breakdown of different potential decks when the set drops. This article is going to be my crack at Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, one of the most interesting expansions we have ever seen. There are a ton of new and exciting cards here, and I cannot wait to try them all. I personally think the new mechanics and interactions are going to lead to a ton of interesting lists and deck types, ranging from the hyper aggressive to the slower control. There is something for everyone here, and I am going to cover the ones I think have some real potential below.
One Drop Paladin
We’re kicking this off with Aggro Paladin (of course). Anytime I get the chance to make an Aggro Paladin deck, I’m going to make a goddamn Aggro Paladin deck. This is my favorite archetype of all time, and it seems to be in quite a good spot. There are several reasons for this, but the two biggest are the surplus of new tools as well as the implementation of card draw. As you can see from the deck (and the name) this list is all about the first turn. While there are several directions to take Aggro Paladin in, I believe the addition of Meanstreet Marshal, Small-Time Recruits and Grimestreet Outfitter mean that you want to go all-in on the one-drop plan. You now have enough buffs and support to truly make a deck that focuses on just swarming as fast as possible.
This deck, as with so many past versions, is all about playing as many cards as you can and then refilling your hand as quickly as possible. When Small-Time Recruits first got spoiled I was not impressed. It just seemed like a worse Divine Favor (which admittedly it is). However, as time went on and I began to think, what about just playing both? We now have two ways to draw a bunch of cards, giving us four outs to refill when we dump our hand early on. Yes, your minions are inherently weak, but if you never stop playing them and conserve properly that shouldn’t matter. Not to mention, you still have solid ways to go big with things like Blessing of Kings, Truesilver Champion and Keeper of Uldaman. The one drop package also allows you to play the Arcane Anomaly/Divine Strength combo, which I think really adds some explosive power (especially with the coin).
Note: I believe that Smuggler’s Run is much too slow for this deck because, unlike Grimestreet Outfitter, it gives you no board presence.
When it’s all said and done, I think that Buff Hunter is going to be both the strongest brew on this list and one of the most powerful decks in the game. This deck takes a break from the secret builds that have been so popular and gets back to Rexxar’s bestial roots. Hunter is always at its best when it has a strong, beast-filled curve, and oh my God does this deck have a strong, beast-filled curve. Not only did this get two absolutely incredible beasts in Rat Pack and Dispatch Kodo, but they also have access to Alleycat (which is much better than Fiery Bat) and both Trogg Beastrager and Shaky Zipgunner to really get the buffs going. This list is the midrange that you know and love, but with just better minions than we’ve ever seen. Though there are many finishers running around right now, I think Don Han’cho is one of the best for this style. Rag is always an option, but I like the curve with Savannah Highmane from the don.
Though you may be tempted to go in with things like Hidden Cache and Smuggler’s Crate, I am here to say that is a huge mistake. Hunter is a class that needs to have board presence each turn if they want to win, and making a big minion for later is not something you can really afford to do. Rather, you should focus everything into your beasts. I’m also not sure if this deck wants Knuckles, but I’ve included him for the time being. The reason for this is I think you need a solid five drop, and the 3/7 does a good job of balancing both board control and face damage. In this way, he and Princess Huhuran could make a really strong tandem to hold down the middle game and bridge the gap between turn four and six. Stampeding Rhino and Stranglethorn Tiger are both options as well, but I believe the other two are much better with buff and deathrattle plan this deck seems to have.
This is by far the brew I am most interested in from a deck builder standpoint. The reason being that it has all of the tools to be a great deck, I’m just not sure if it going to get there. While Taunt Warrior shells have been around for some time, they have never had the tools they have now. Not only do they have access to some incredible mid-game threats, but they also have a surprising amount of early game choices. I look at this build in the same way I look at the old versions of Tempo Warrior, where you just want to outclass your opponent by getting bigger and bigger and building into stronger and stronger threats. That is always a solid plan, but it is especially strong in this list because your opponent has to interact with your taunt minions instead of ignoring them. And yes, I do think I Know a Guy is good enough because it gives you a one drop that also helps smooth out your curve.
The two biggest cards for me here are Stolen Goods and Grimy Gadgeteer. While I inherently do not like cards like Smuggler’s Crate and Smuggler’s Run, Stolen Goods is different for two reasons. One, this deck really doesn’t have a great two drop option outside of Fiery War Axe, and two, a 3/3 buff on a taunt minion is much better than a smaller buff on a card your opponent can ignore. In fact, let’s understand just how good that buff is. If you hit Public Defender you get a two mana 3/10, and if you hit Fierce Monkey (right on curve) you get a three mana 6/7. Oh yeah, and they also have taunt. There are a lot of strong cards running around this list, and if you can ever just get one buff you should be able to take over the board. This is the same reason that I believe Grimy Gadgeteer and Don Han’cho will see a lot of play in this deck. While +2/+2 seems weak compared to +5/+5, turning your Alley Armorsmith from a 2/7 into a 4/9 is a huge deal.
Note: While you could run Protect the King, I think it is really weak right now because the deck it is best against (Shaman) can easily clear it with little effort. Big minions seem to be the better path.
New Age Pirate
Though this list that is all about the brews, I definitely wanted to give Pirate Warrior a nod. The reason being that this is going to be an extremely strong deck that is going to be a great choice for early laddering. While most of the time Blizzard gives existing archetypes a card of two in a new set, they shot Pirate Warrior chock full of steroids. In addition to all of the extremely efficient aggressive cards they already have, the build now has access to Patches the Pirate, Small-time Buccaneer, Grimestreet Pawnbroker and Hobart Grapplehammer. Each one of those cards is very strong on its own, and they all build into this deck perfectly. Consistency is key with any aggro deck, and you can now shave off those awkward non-pirate cards (*cough* Faerie Dragon *cough*) in replacement for much stronger ones.
In the past, the biggest set back for Pirate Warrior has been Shaman. While I do not think Thrall is going anywhere, I do think this deck has gotten a lot better at facing down the lightning-lover. The various weapon buffs you now run all help break down any large taunts, and can really break through your opponent’s curve. Weapons are extremely strong against many classes, and this list is just packed to the brim with ways to buff yours up. Though not everything here is new, I think it is difficult to find one weak link on this list. You just want to curve out as best as you can and then tear your opponent’s head off with burst damage during the middle of the game. You now have access to seven solid one drops and a whole slew of two and three drops that can threaten to take over at anytime. Though you may be tempted to try and go slower or add in larger threats, I believe that the more aggressive this list is, the better. The only exception to that is Malkorok. I like the seven drop because I want to maximize the number of weapons this deck can play, but he could be replaced with Captain Greenskin if you want to lower the curve.
Sometimes it does not take much to push an archetype from bad to good. Control Shaman is an archetypes that has always had plenty of solid tools at its disposal, but now it got some truly insane ones. The first of these is Jinyu Waterspeaker, an amazing tool that provides you with both a midrange threat and some extremely efficient healing. Six health is nothing to sneeze at, and the fact that is also contests the board is phenomenal. This plus Healing Wave really gives you much-needed consistency, and more ways to stall (which is all you want to do anyway). In addition, this list now has access to White Eyes. As you will notice, this deck runs very few finishers. You only really have the double Arcane Giant and the White Eyes/N’zoth, the Corruptor combo. But that’s all you need. The 5/5 is great because it acts as a finisher on its own, and being able to bring it back a second time just gives you more and more threats. While you can run other large threats, I don’t think any are going to be better than the mid-game taunter into a 10/10. Similar to Elise Starseeker, the card allows you to conserve your threats and simply play more spells.
The other huge card for this deck is Finders Keepers. Though it is easy to dismiss the one mana spell at first glance, I believe it is will be one of the key pieces here. As I always preach, versatility is extremely important, and getting the ability to discover an overload card is exactly that. Not only are there many strong overload cards, but they all work extremely well for a control build. Elemental Destruction, Lightning Storm, Jiyu Waterspeaker, Lightning Bolt, Stormcrack, Feral Spirit, Forked Lightning, Ancestral Knowledge and Earth Elemental are all strong ways to stay alive. There are so many options here that you will almost always be able to find one for the situation at hand. This spell (which also buffs Arcane Giant) is one of the keys to the deck and, with the above tools, should make Control Shaman a real contender down the line.
Another deck I cannot wait to try, Jade Rogue has some serious potential. While a lot of people have been talking about the Jade Golem mechanic in relation to Druid, I honestly Rogue is much better. Druid’s jade cards seem really weak at first glance, and they don’t seem to really be able to do anything better than what Malygos can do. In contrast, Valeera comes with two very strong early game tools in both Jade Swarmer and Jade Shuriken. Each of these help contest the early board (one of jade golem’s biggest problems) and they both also get your golem count started early. Not to mention, this class comes with ample removal. While this list is more midrange than control, you are going to want to go long to maximize your jade golem potential. Rogue has the best tools out of the three classes to make that happen.
While you can go the full deathrattle route with this deck, I am not sure that’s entirely necessary. You have a built-in win condition, so you don’t need much to make this list work. Unearthed Raptor seems like a great three drop (seeing as Jade Swarmer has stealth) and N’zoth, the Corruptor is a built in finisher. However, you don’t need much more than that. Having a split build is very good and helps you play a deck with two extremely powerful win conditions. Your golems are the way you should take down most matches, but the deathrattle plan also works well. This build has everything you need to make jade golems work, and it starts that plan very early on. I also love the inclusion of Defender of Argus, which is almost always going to get some serious value here.
Finally, we have Priest. There are many ways you are going to be able to shape the class in the coming weeks, but I think all-in control will be one of the best. Of course, this is going to largely depend just how strong Jade Golem decks are, but if the meta is diverse this list should shine. The reason for that is because Priest has reached a critical mass of spells. The class has always had a lot of strong combos and powerful interactions, but it has suffered from the fact that if you do not draw those combos you can easily die. That is now going to change because you have enough strong cards that you are almost always going to have useful cards in hand, which then builds the whole deck overall. The addition of Pint-Size Potion allows you to run both Cabal Shadow Priest and Shadow Word: Horror with elite efficiency, while Potion of Madness gives you a very strong tool to back up the usual removal package. That means you now have ways to fight just about every single deck type on the meta.
Of course, the most important part of this deck is getting back some real AOE. Dragonfire Potion seems to be the all-inclusive clear that Priests have been searching for. Having access to that card helps smooth out the middle game and deals with many of the strong-statted middle game threats that have typically given Priest so much trouble in the past. There are many minions you can run for a list like this, but I think everything should really be focused on spells. That means you want both Priest of the Feast and Kabal Chemist instead of things like Mana Geode and Kabal Talonpriest. PotF is a very good at keeping you alive, which is all you want to do in this deck, and the chemist gives you both a body and more useful spells. Though the potions can be weak, many of them really help you during the later game when you are trying to stay alive.
Man, those are some fun decks. And honestly, I have just cracked the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t even mention Midrange Paladin, Shadow Priest, Reno Mage, Secret Mage, New Zoo, Renolock, Control Warlock, Ramp Druid…The list goes on. There are a lot of decks I cannot wait to build with this new set, and I hope you are as excited as I am. This is a good start, and there will be more to come in my articles over the new few months. As always, thanks for reading, let me know what you think of the brews, and if there’s a deck you want to see tested in my usual series, let me know!