Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first two episodes of this month to get caught up to speed.
So this week is going to go a little differently than normal. The reason is that, instead of my usual formatting, I am going to have a more open discussion on deck building around this deck in general. People seem to be really enjoying this list (as am I) and while I haven’t been playing as much in the last week, we’re still moving forward. As always, this series is a look at deckbuilding and what tools you need to make a deck work in the way that you want. This week we are going to look at the deck from a more objective point of view and then use that point of view to analyze two very important tools: tech cards and the best way to counter a meta.
While it can be very easy to look at a deck and say “it’s good” or “it’s bad”, it is very important to understand why that is. For instance, Handlock is a very good deck, it just isn’t very good for the current meta. In that same vein, I would argue that Yogg Hunter is a very bad deck that just happens to be in a favorable position because of the slower meta. You can never look at cards in a vacuum, you need to explore them in terms of every other deck around. That is why I think this week’s version of the deck is the most interesting to date. While there have not been that many changes overall, as will be covered in more detail below, the subtle changes are specifically tuned to the decks I am seeing the most. It doesn’t matter how good your deck against the whole field, it just matters how good it is against the decks you see.
Where We Are Now
As mentioned, this deck has very little changes from where it once was. However, that does not mean there is nothing to explore. A lot of the tweaks I have made are to the removal, all of which is the meat and potatoes of this deck. As with any slow Warlock, you need to kill things. The problem is that there are so many options at your disposal it is very hard to figure out what you need. I have made some minor changes, all of which I think give the deck a little more consistency and really help out with the most popular decks. It is very hard to tweak in a diverse meta, but a lot of the Warlock removal cards are very strong against a lot of minions, giving you a bit of consistency. In addition, you also can always turn your removal or AOE into value cards against control with Renounce Darkness, making it ok to frontload your cards in this way.
The other big change I made was cutting back on deathrattle. It may seem odd, but the reason for this is twofold. One, the Loot Hoarders had to go. I liked the early draw but there was simply no way around that. You typically only want N’zoth for your slower matchups, and getting back cards that draw you cards when you and your opponent are both so close to fatigue can be a disaster. There were more than a few games where I was audibly upset because I got back the hoarders, which usually just die as soon as they are spawned anyway. The more I played the Corruptor the more I realized that all I wanted to get back was as many Dreadsteeds as possible, which is a win condition on its own (covered below). Sylvanas Windrunner is still just as good as she has always been, but her ability is much more relevant than her coming back.
This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.
You will now notice that Demonwrath has been upped to two. There is a very big reason for this, which is aggro. Zoo and Tempo Mage have been everywhere of late, and this gives you an answer to both. While not completely clean, it is still a very good option that can be combined with your other cards to lead to some very strong removal plays. This is a deck built off of the idea of, instead of healing and taunts, you have removal. In a similar vein to Freeze Mage, it is hard to die if you never actually take that much damage. However, in order to live by that philosophy you have to have enough removal to justify it. While certain spot removal is very strong, in today’s game, where swarm decks are by far the norm, you need to have as much AOE as possible.
Demonwrath is not your best AOE, but it is just more of the same. This deck doubles down on a lot of cards since both of your win conditions largely don’t care what you do as long as you stay alive. As a result, never be afraid to clear. There may be many times where you want to save AOE for some type of “better” board in order to get more value, but you really should just use this when you can get a pretty good hit. Most decks these days run a high density of burst, and you always need to do your best to keep your health above that range. There have too many games where I have fended off a number of different aggro pushes only to die because I was at ten life. Having more AOE is very useful to either counter that last push or to just make sure you always draw it early on.
Bane of Doom
Another card that I switched from one to two, I have never been unhappy playing Bane of Doom. This card is exactly what this deck wants because it fights for board on two different fronts. The ability to chip down a big minion comes in handy, as does the added versatility of taking down a low-health card that’s overstayed its welcome. All of that, combined with the fact that you get a demon on board, is very nice indeed. As mentioned above, your whole goal with this deck is to stay alive until your powerful late game effects can take over. Removal does that very well, but so does putting minions onto the board. People always discuss Doomsayer as a way to eat seven damage in a pinch, and a wide range of demons from this card can do the same thing. If you manage to kill your opponent’s minion and then eat another with the spawned demon, you are usually going to come out ahead. As with the AOE, I wanted two of these to increase how much I see them since this is often going to be one of your best mid-game plays, especially if you have some strong minions on the board.
A product of the current meta, Corrupted Seer is a high-value card that is currently taking the place of Cairne Bloodhoof. While I think Cairne is the right choice if you are seeing a lot control, in an aggro-oriented world you really need to keep pace by clearing all of their boards. Most of the popular aggro decks right now run a lot of small, swarming minions and you can never have too much AOE. In that vein, this card is just another Demonwrath. However, it is a Demonwrath that you can play after Renounce Darkness. That is extremely important and the biggest reason the murloc made it into this list. I find that many times I will hold off Renounce, even on turns where I should probably play it, because I don’t want to lose access to my AOE. This card manages to change that and gives me that fail-safe that can still come down and fight Hunter, Shaman or Warlock far after my cards have changed. However, I cannot stress how strong Cairne is if you are seeing a lot of control decks. He really should be slotted back in if you’re facing a lot of slower decks.
The Black Knight
We live in a current meta where tech cards are of the essence. There is a vast variety of different decks out there, all of which have such a wide range of threats that it is very hard to say “i’m going to play this card that beats x deck”. Rather, you want to run things that have a wide range of uses. The Black Knight is one of the best multi-use cards in the game right now. As noted in the video (and as you can see in the deck) this deck has shifted to be much more proactive. A lot of the tweaks have simply ramped up the removal and given us more ways to kill the different cards scattered throughout the popular decks. Taunt is perhaps the most popular keyword in the game right now, and having a midgame threat that can counter it is very strong and can lead to some massive swings. This card is also fantastic against Druid, which is this deck’s hardest matchup.
I am not convinced that this card is better than Justicar Trueheart, but I do know it fits this version a little big better. You can keep in the knight if you think she’s irreplaceable, but there were so many times where I kept saying to myself “man, I wish I could kill x minion with taunt right now”. There just isn’t a deck where this card isn’t good. Almost all of Druid’s threats have taunt, Zoo has Defender of Argus, Shaman runs Thing from Below (the biggest reason for this card) and even decks that don’t normally have taunts like Hunter (Houndmaster) or Mage (Mirror Image) have their own set of targets. This card is a lot like the single Stampeding Kodo, a solid midrange threat that helps advance your board and keeps the pressure off.
What once started a tech card has become a full-on win condition. While I do love Dreadsteed, it is a card I do not have that much of a past with. In addition, the Hearthstone rulebook makes zero sense and most of the interactions are completely inane or made-up. As a result, I did not know that N’zoth was going to bring back a ton of Dreadsteeds if the card died frequently throughout the game. That is an incredibly powerful effect that absolutely will win you the game. In fact, that is so strong that most of the time I will just play to the Dreadsteeds if I don’t have another option. Getting back a 5/7 along with a 5/5 and four or more 1/1’s that never go away is just going to dominate the board and take over any game. I have never lost a game where I re-summoned the horse army, and I believe that would hold up against any deck in the game. Having one Dreadsteed is a very good tool against a lot of decks, but having multiple is very, very strong.
The only thing you really need to watch out for with Dreadsteed is Sylvanas Windrunner. Silence and Priest (this card’s biggest enemy) have both gone from the meta as we know it, opening the door for you to just run this out. However, getting it stolen can be a big problem, especially early on. Not only is the demon good against you and your clears, but losing it too early can also limit how much you can do at the end game. For instance, facing Warrior this is going to be your primary win condition outside of an early Renounce Darkness. Yet, you need to have a lot of steeds to carry the end game. As a result, if you have this down against a deck that could run Sylvanas, you typically just need to make sure it dies once each turn. This will enable you to still have your win condition even if things eventually go wrong.
There are so many things you can do with a deck like this, and in the last week I have probably explored them all. I tried a Reno variant, a more aggro variant, a type of slower control and a C’thun style one. None of them worked as well as this. As a result, this is the deck I am most likely going to use for the final grind. While there will be some more tweaks (I still have so many cards I want to try) this is near the final product. The only variant I really want to spend some time with is Reno, since I think it could solve one of my biggest problems, healing.
Countering the meta is never an easy thing, and the one thing I want more than anything is healing. Dear God do I want healing. The problem is that I just don’t think any of it is good enough to justify a spot. While shifting this to Reno would undoubtedly open up some more space and give me a lot more options in terms of saving my life, the deck loses a lot of its consistency in terms of removal and AOE. I have not ruled this idea out, but it is also not something I am terribly excited about. However, maybe healing (no matter how poor) is needed just to keep some of the more annoying burst decks (Hunter!) off of your back.
In the same vein, I have struggled with AOE. Big time. While the early AOE is solid, there are some games where you can get overwhelmed during the middle to late turns by a big swarm of minions that come out of nowhere. When building a deck you suddenly realize how easily a pair of 4/4’s or some such can kill you (or at least drop you down into burst range). I really wanted some heavier AOE, so I think one Twisting Nether should do the job for now. It may prove to be too heavy, but I like having one fail safe. Deathwing could also fit into this spot because it, like Corrupted Seer, would give you a neutral out if things with Renounce Darkness went wrong.
The final point I want to make here is that you should not be afraid to make your own tweaks. This deck has a very strong core and two different win conditions that allow for a lot of iteration. I’m sure I will be sharing my own next week, but you can always shift one card here and there. There are a ton of tech cards, and you always want to play the ones that best counter your own specific meta.
Well, time to start grinding. I have been swamped the last week, but I really want to make a legend push with this deck. As I write this there is roughly half the season left, giving me plenty of time. I am loving the feel of this deck, but I do need to work out the shell and the removal needs to get more tight. Those changes will come in time. Until then, may you always Renounce into Priest.