It’s time for the sixth Journey to Un’Goro deck recommendations. A series where I share interesting and powerful decklists that had some success on the ladder. I won’t generally post a standard meta decks (you can find those easily anyway), but rather more off-meta decks. Lists that haven’t seen any play lately, decks with unexpected tech choices etc.
Un’Goro was released exactly 2 months ago. It’s hard to believe that we’re actually ~one month away from the next reveal season and ~2 months away from the expansion’s release. The Un’Goro meta still holds some surprises, as new decks are popping out every now and then. The strongest deck seem to be decided already, but that might not be entirely true – something might still shake up the meta a bit, like Token Shaman did lately.
All the decklists have been playtested by me – most likely either in Legend (mid-late season) or close to the Legend (early in the season). They were all working at the time I was writing this and in the meta I was playing, but I can’t assure that you’ll get similar results. Let’s start!
Feno’s Aggro/Token Druid
Token Druid (or Aggro Druid if you prefer to call it that way) is the most popular deck in the current meta. It’s still far, far from the Shamanstone times, because right now the most popular deck has ~10% representation on the ladder – the meta is incredibly close, but still, it’s hard to deny that the deck is powerful. While we’re at it, I’d like to note that with a few exceptions, the deck’s popularity is directly tied to how powerful it is. But as the popularity grows, the deck’s power goes down and vice versa. We’ve seen it already with a few decks in Un’Goro meta and it’s very interesting to watch. Deck gets powerful and people realize it -> more people start playing it -> the deck gets popular -> it actually gets weaker than it was. Why does that happen? Well, for two reasons mostly. First of all, stats are a bit skewed, because a lot of players who pick up the deck don’t play it as well as the more dedicated players who did before the deck was more popular. But second – if some deck gets popular, people find a way to counter it. Tech against it, play a deck that has good matchup against it. That dynamic is especially strong at the high ranks and in Legend – it also happens in lower ranks, but much slower.
But why am I talking about this right now? Because this build of Token Druid is pretty interesting. It’s nothing innovative, no, but one of the best ways to counter the counters is either to change the deck you play… or alter it. For example, Hungry Crab was an incredible tech in the meta. Not only it countered the Murloc Paladins, but also the Token Druid lists running Murloc package (so basically most of them). But this deck drops the Murloc package in favor of a few other cards. Now Hungry Crab tech is useless and the deck’s win rate has gone up. Even if this build is a bit weaker than the Murloc one in the vacuum (it’s hard to say honestly), it will be more successful in the meta where people tech against the Murlocs.
The non-Murloc builds are really interesting. First of all – Tar Creeper. People were afraid that this card will get into the Aggro decks and actually protect their small, but powerful minions instead of protecting people against them. And it’s kinda like that in case of this build. Token Druid is incredibly reliant on its board to snowball the game. If board doesn’t get answered, multiple AoE buffs will win the game very quickly. And Tar Creeper is there exactly to do that – prevent opponent from trading off the small minions. That 1/2 is normally an easy kill for a 2/3 minion, but not when it’s hidden behind a 3/5 Taunt. Yes, the card is not very good on the offense, but it gets significantly better when buffed. Just a single AoE buff makes it a 2/6 on the offense (so it starts to pack the punch) and 4/6 on the defense.
As for the other new additions, Genzo, the Shark. I’ll be honest that I’m still not convinced that this card is solid. But few things. First of all – this deck has no 4-drop and filling a turn 4 with something is sometimes very helpful (with strong turns 1-3 and 5, that lack of powerful turn 4 was sometimes showing – I often had to float some mana on t4). And since Token Druid gets out of cards very quickly, Genzo – as long as it connects – might save the day. Of course, “as long as it connects” is a pretty big requirement, that’s why the old Jeeves would be simply better. But you can’t always get what you want.
The list is much heavier with six 4+ mana cards instead of the standard three. But it actually makes it more powerful against some decks. Running out of steam was the main way to lose against decks like Burn Mage – if they’ve answered your early board you had no ways to refill. Topdecking something like a Bittertide Hydra instead of the 1-drop Crab is a huge difference. At the same time, with only 1 copy of each crab it relies more on the luck of the draw to counter the Murloc/Pirate matchups. That’s the price of consistency – tech cards are generally underpowered if you don’t hit anything, so removing them in favor of more all-around cards might be a good choice.
Token Druid is one of the best decks to climb the ladder with right now. Not only it’s strong, but the games with the deck are incredibly fast. It was my fastest deck last season with only ~3.7 minutes per game. Even if you count queue times and everything, that’s still less than 5 minutes per match.
Ostkaka’s N’Zoth Control Paladin
I had a pleasure to play Control Paladin quite a lot last season. Not the N’Zoth version, the normal one, but I still loved it. It might be my favorite deck in the current meta. While I’ve always gravitated towards a more Midrange version of Paladin, I just dislike the Murloc package. It’s the best way to play the deck and they’re really strong, but I just don’t like playing the Murloc decks. That’s why Control Paladin is a much better choice for me.
It’s hard to say which version is better. I’ve heard voices saying that N’Zoth, the Corruptor is not good on the ladder – it’s simply redundant, there are almost no matchups where you need to resurrect your Deathrattles in the late game and that 10 mana card is dead most of the time. At the same time, N’Zoth in this list isn’t exactly a way to gain some crazy late game value, play it as a finisher when you’re nearly out of cards in the Control mirror. It’s more like a… second Tirion. That’s your only (well, besides Infested Tauren) resurrection target. After it dies, you pay 10 mana for a 5/7 + another Tirion. Great deal if you ask me. But it might be even better – thanks to the Stonehill Defender and Hydrologist (Getaway Kodo, Redemption), N’Zoth often ends up getting two or even three Tirions back.
On the one hand, after playing with the non-N’Zoth list, it’s true that a lot of the matchups simply are too fast and you’d rather play something else. But there are a few of them, like the mirror matchups or games vs Taunt Warrior, where more Tirions is a blessing. Those matchups are often won by simply smacking your opponent with the weapons repeatedly and having not one, but two 5/3 weapons is incredible.
When it comes to the rest of the deck, well, this list is very heavy on techs and one-ofs. If Reno Jackson was still in Standard I might even think about turning it into a Reno deck. The deck tries to get good matchups against as many meta decks as possible. It’s naturally good against Aggro because of all the board clears, Doomsayers, healing etc. Dirty Rat makes it better against Quest Rogue (which is usually a terrible matchup). Harrison Jones comes handy in a lot of matchups, but especially against other Paladins and Warriors. I also find Rallying Blade to be an interesting choice. I was always undervaluing the card in the lists that don’t run multiple Divine Shield minions. But that might be wrong. It’s like, every Hunter build runs Eaglehorn Bow even with no Secrets to back it up. A 3/2 weapon for 3 mana is balanced. They’re weak compared to Fiery War Axe, but FWA might be the most broken card in the game, so comparing anything to it will make it look bad.
Overall, if you like to play around with Control decks and your collection is quite big (because let’s be honest, those decks are EXPENSIVE), I recommend this deck or any other Control Paladin variant.
Viper94’s Jade Shaman
Jade mechanic is still strong. Even though it’s not as popular as in Gadgetzan, Jade decks definitely can be played and can be successful. This is one of the examples. Even though Shaman didn’t get that much support this expansion, some of the cards were pretty useful.
Maybe let’s start with the only neutral card used by this deck (besides the tri-class Jade stuff) – Stonehill Defender. Shaman is probably the second strongest class to play this card in, right after Paladin. While the pool of neutral Taunts isn’t especially thrilling, Shaman is a class with a surprising amount of Taunts. A surprising amount of good Taunts. Hot Spring Guardian, White Eyes, Earth Elemental, Thing from Below and Al’Akir the Windlord. They’re not on the level of Tirion Fordring or Sunkeeper Tarim, but each one of them is quite powerful. We have healing, cheap (or free) 5/5, 5/5 that’s an investment into the future, because it Deathrattles into 10/10 in your deck, a huge 7/8 Taunt and a cherry on the top – a card with most keywords in the game (Taunt, Charge, Windfury, Divine Shield) that’s great if you manage to survive until turn 8.
When it comes to the Shaman card, Volcano is probably the best addition to any slow lists. The card is just incredibly versatile as a removal. It’s a bit like Meteor in the way that it can be used as both single target removal and AoE removal. It might be stronger in some situations (e.g. it can clear three 5 health minions, where Meteor can’t), but it also might be weaker (you can always pick the target with Meteor and on a big boards Volcano might miss and leave a big minion at 1 health or something). Either way, the card is so good that it’s often played over Elemental Destruction. While Ele Destruction comes earlier and is better at dealing with multiple mid-sized threats, Volcano is better against one or two big minions and it doesn’t have as much overload.
But a card that’s really cool in this deck in particular is Spirit Echo. Normally Jade Shaman is limited in the number of Jade cards it can play. The class has no Jade Idol so no way to go “infinite”. But Spirit Echo makes some of the Jade cards reusable. When playing in a slow matchup, where each extra Jade matters, getting another copy of Aya Blackpaw can be an instant win. But the card is much more versatile than that. If you get your Thing from Below to 0 mana (or at least close), you can add it to your Spirit Echo turn to create another 0 mana 5/5 Taunt when it dies on top of anything else you’re copying. Copying a Stonehill Defender is also a lot of value. I won some matchups against Aggro by simply Taunting up, playing Spirit Echo, then Taunting up again with the same things, then playing Spirit Echo again and stalling the game long enough until I draw healing or some AoE to clear the board. This tactic can be surprisingly effective.
Of course, the deck is not perfect. It’s still very slow and it takes a long while to snowball. In a lot of the games, especially against faster decks, ESPECIALLY against Quest Rogue, you will feel simply hopeless. But that’s the nature of Jade decks. Anyway, Viper94 has hit top 100 Legend with the deck, meaning that it should be at least viable enough to get you to Legend if you prefer to play the slow decks over Aggro.
Wild: Control’s Combo Priest
The Divine Spirit + Inner Fire combo became really popular in Journey to Un’Goro. It was always there, somewhere, played as an unexpected win condition from time to time, but right now it’s the main Priest win condition in Standard. It seems that the Wild meta has adapted that too. Combo Priest is getting pretty popular in Wild and for a good reason. The deck is really powerful.
While on the first glance it might not seem to have a big edge over the Standard version, especially since Wild decks are more powerful in general. But there are two cards that make it strong, maybe even broken. Deathlord and Velen’s Chosen. Let’s start with the first one. Deathlord – a 3-drop with 8 health. Yes, Humongous Razorleaf also has 8 health, but it can only be played in Silence Priest. And if you want to play Silence Priest, you need to run a lot of cards like Purify, Silence and Ancient Watcher. You can’t just add Razorleaf to your deck like that. But you can do that with the Deathlord. Making a huge body was never that easy. And you know what’s even better? That huge body has a Taunt. Which means that you don’t need Faceless Shambler in order to stop the Aggro decks. It might not seem like much, but it all frees so many slots. You can now play Zombie Chow to contest the early game better, you can play the Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing combo as your AoE of choice (it’s less consistent, but more powerful if you get both pieces – and getting both pieces is easier if you draw a lot like in this deck). Not to mention that Circle of Healing is good to heal up a minion before buffing it.
And then the Velen’s Chosen. The card was always good, but it’s even better right since a) you run the combo and b) you play Radiant Elemental. So not only you can play it for 2 mana, but if you keep your Radiant Elemental alive the deck becomes nearly unstoppable. Turn 4 Radiant Elemental + Power Word: Shield + Velen’s Chosen is often a game over. You make a 4/9 minion and if your opponent doesn’t kill it, he’s probably dead next turn, or at least close to being dead. You can easily Divine Spirit + Inner Fire it, maybe play something like Kabal Talonpriest and then punch the face for ~20 damage.
I’ve played the deck a bit in the lower ranks (I’m focusing in the Standard first) and haven’t dropped a single game yet. Even in the games that seemed impossible to win I’ve managed to pull off a miracle comeback each time. Now I wait for some Prophet Velen + Mind Blast Combo Priest list to be viable, as it was one of my favorite decks of all time.
P.S. I’ve decided to make a 3 Standard + 1 Wild split for now. Wild is getting more popular, especially with multiple streamers preparing for the upcoming tournament, but Standard is still the “main” game mode. Let me know what you think about it.
Do you know any fun/interesting decks that can also get you to high ranks? Some decks with non-meta choices, techs that you haven’t seen before etc.? If yes, let me know and I can include them next time! I hope that you’ve liked this batch of decks, I have played a few of those myself and I found them really cool. I’ll try my best to provide you with more fresh lists every now and then.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!