Playing Gadgetzan Auctioneer in Every Class Part 1: Shaman and Paladin

Nihilus returns with a little theorycrafting with the Gadgetzan Auctioneer. A great piece on brewing in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Featuring Shaman and Paladin!

In Which I Introduce This Article

Hey everyone, it’s Nihilus Nix Naught here, and today I want to revisit something I briefly touched on in a previous article: the under-utilization of Gadgetzan Auctioneer. My Last Article was strictly about my Macaroni Hunter deck, which I felt (and still feel) is very strong and fun, but it opened the floodgates of possibility in my mind. What if we just sort of… played Auctioneer in every class.

There is no guaranteeing that we’ll get anything remotely competitive out of it, but I think it will be really good as a thought exercise, and who knows: Maybe we will end up with something really strong. I’m going to do it in three parts, since I don’t want articles to get too long and become a chore to read. Today I’m going to talk about running him in a Shaman and Paladin deck, the benefits that each class brings to an Auctioneer deck, and what some possible shells might be for him in Thrall and Uther’s company.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that these decklists are all going to be pretty rough. I’ll test the ones I can, but I do not own every Hearthstone Card, and so I simply won’t be able to test a deck with something like ragnaros-the-firelord in it (though that particular card is unlikely to make an appearance in any of these decks).

Again, it’s still really helpful to theorycraft on these lists, but I’m sure that there will be a few oversights where a card I claim is essential to the shell is pretty terrible when we don’t get to live in Magical Christmas Land. Another important thing is that I will not be talking about the Hunter, Rogue, or Warlock classes in this miniseries.

I already dedicated an entire article to my Macaroni Hunter deck, Rogue is the quintessential Auctioneer deck, and Warlock doesn’t have nearly enough cheap spells to make Auctioneer worth it. They also don’t really need him, since their hero power convert mana into free cards anyway. It would be really redundant to run him in a Warlock deck, and we would fatigue ourselves an alarming portion of the time. Without further ado, let’s get to brewing!

In Which We Discuss How to Build a Proper Deck

First, I want to talk about what sort of deck Gadgetzan Auctioneer fits in a very general sense. Everyone knows you need lots of cheap spells, but you can’t just run him as a draw condition in a deck with eighteen spells. Drawing lots of cards is really awesome, don’t get me wrong, but Hearthstone is a minion focused game, and since you don’t have very many minions in your eighteen spell deck, you’ll eventually run out of ways to win, even though you drew ten more cards than your opponent this game. What can we then conclude from this? We have to be doing something bigger with all these extra cards we draw. We have to have cards that just win us the game immediately, but there isn’t any one card that does this, so we have to rely on combinations of cards; which, conveniently, becomes a lot easier when we are drawing our entire deck.

Now, we don’t have to use burst combos; modern Miracle decks often just use double Conceal and double Cold Blood to push through massive damage over the course of a few turns; but we need to have some sort of combination of cards that wins the game for us: we can’t try to just out-value opponents who have more threats than us. We need about sixteen spells to make Gadgetzan Auctioneer work, and most of them need to cost two or less mana. Ten is probably the minimum amount of cheap spells we can have to get good value out of him.

We already discussed that we also need a way to win the game, and we can dedicate about six cards to that. If we are playing a class that doesn’t have a particularly good way to end the quickly/efficiently, We can make good use of alexstrasza, Leeroy Jenkins,Shade of Naxxramas, Arcane Golem, and a few other “win condition” Neutral Minions. If we get super desperate, we can even just play Ysera. I’ve heard she is a pretty great way to close out games. Nightmare, the “worst” dream card, if even pretty good for us since, if we are playing Ysera, it’s because we have trouble closing out a game. That’s about twenty-two slots of our decks, the last eight of which can generally be whatever the “best” cards our class has to offer, and are the cards that decide the exact way we win. If our spells for Gadgetzan didn’t contain much removal, we need to have some board clear and/or hard removal in these (I don’t count any spell that costs more than three in our Auctioneer count), and if we didn’t have ways to search for him, we need to add some card draw minions like Gnomish Inventor or Mana Tide Totem.

Today we’re going to work with the Shaman and Paladin classes. Next to rogue, I think these two classes are the most intuitive classes to build around Gadgetan Auctioneer. Paladins don’t really have a lot of great cheap spells, but the ones they do have work really well with what we want to do. Shamans, however, have a plethora of juicy options to choose from. More importantly, the Shaman spells are incredibly efficient the turn they are cast: we can set up for a huge turn by casting all of our overload spells in one turn. We literally just get so much more than we payed for them that it doesn’t matter whatsoever that we have no mana next turn since Auctioneer will already have done his work and drawn us six cards. It feels outright dirty to pull off, and I can’t wait to hear what you guys think when you get to do it!

In Which we Make Minimal Adjustments to an Existing Deck

First off, let’s talk about the Shaman, and what Thrall offers to an Auctioneer deck. First off all, We get the most efficient small removal spells, the very best removal spell in Hex, and great ways to protect our Auctioneer in Feral Spirit, Ancestral Spirit, and Lightning Storm. We even have pretty good burst with Al’Akir the Windlord or Doomhammer plus some Rockbiter Weapons. While we have really good ways to take the tempo advantage with our overload spells, we lack good ways to keep control (the lack of mana on the next turn hurts) and so we have a hard time getting some residual damage onto the opponent. To solve this, we need an Alexstrasza to put our opponents low enough for us to burst them down.

Since we lack healing, we can even use her to heal us in a pinch. We also kind of lack card draw, so we need to add some of that, and we end up with a relatively controlling deck (as opposed to a tempo deck, as is the standard with Gadgetzan Auctioneer) that ends the game by drawing a bunch of legends a la Control Warrior. The difference is that they run more legends, and their legends (aside from Grommash Hellscream) are more inevitability-focused instead of bursty. They play for the super long game, only deploying their win conditions when they have exhausted the resources of the opponent. We don’t have that luxury, since we draw our entire deck and don’t really have that much large removal, so we only stall until we can win with Alexstrasza and Al’Akir. This is the list I currently run on the ladder when I play this deck.

I opted for an Ysera and a Sylvanas Windrunner over a Leeroy Jenkins for a number of reasons. First, I am currently running Ancestral Spirit as a method of keeping Auctioneer alive. Sylvanas does wonders with it as well, and we kind of want something like her anyway: one of our weaknesses is keeping consistent control of the board after we establish it, and she really helps in that regard, almost always being a two-for-one. If I were to move away from Ancestral Spirit (most likely because I decide that I don’t have enough taunts, or minions in general, to make it worth it) she would almost certainly become a Leeroy. Puff the Magic Dragon makes the cut over him as well, mostly for the off chance to Nightmare an Al’Akir the Windlord, but also because she helps us win control matchups.

The thing is, like I was saying earlier, we have the burst to finish the game so we need tools to help us get close. Ysera isn’t perfect for that and is more of an endgame card, but she does the job better than Leeroy, since he is pretty useless on turns that don’t end with you winning. There’s a chance that Ysera should be something different, but my results with her have been great. If anything I would probably replace her with The Black Knight, Cairne Bloodhoof or another draw minion like Azure Drake, or maybe a singleton Loatheb. This is probably the most flexible slot. All in all, I’ve had pretty promising results, and the deck is a ton of fun to play. It seems fairly viable for more competitive laddering, but the lack of solid midgame guys is kind of a weakness.

If you like Shamans and are looking for a more controlling build than the normal, I would certainly recommend taking it for a spin. If you are looking for something a little more spicy, we can definitely go deeper on the Auctioneer plan.

In Which we get a Little Weird

If we decide that we want to go “all-in” on the Auctioneer plan, we get access to Far Sight, which is already a pretty sweet card that nobody has ever run because it doesn’t do anything by itself. To be fair, that is a pretty accurate assessment-it’s essentially the ultimate cantrip. However, when we are trying to get as much value out of our Auctioneers, a card that essentially gives us more mana to use is really helpful.

We can also play Reincarnate for maximum Sylvanas shenanigans, but I don’t think we want to go that route since we really don’t want to be playing very many minions (and since we can no longer combo Leeroy with it). If we want to get really experimental, we can even play Ancestral Healing. It protects our Main Goblin, costs zero mana, and is a spell, so it checks out. The problem is it’s actually a pretty terrible card when we don’t get to live Magical Christmas Land, so if we want to run it, we definitely only want one copy. If we are going to play bad cards, we might as well play Windfury, which sets us up on some nice burst plays with Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy + Windfury + double Rockbiter Weapon is twenty four damage for nine mana, which is more than reasonable.

The problems the deck has come from its inability to really deal with early aggression well.

That being said, Sludge Belcher + Ancestral Spirit does a lot of work in those matchups. You still just lose to Hunter I think, so I don’t know if I would recommend laddering with it, but perhaps room can be made for a pair of Earthen Ring Farseers?

Anyway, here is what such a list might look like. I neglected to run any Ancestral Healings at all, since we are so creature light, but I still contend that a possible shell might exist for the worst card in Hearthstone. The mana is a little rough (even though you don’t want many fours as a shaman in the first place) and we could probably use more ways to deal with taunt minions, but it certainly looks fun and might even be competitive with some tweaks. The mana curve might be a bit too high though, if we want to make it more competitive, so Al’Akir might have to go. It’s hard to tell without having tested it a lot.

In Which we Play Bad Cards on Purpose

The next deck is odd in that it doesn’t really have any glaring weaknesses, but it isn’t really the strongest in any area. It can protect your auctioneer pretty well (from other minions anyway), it has decent reach with a basic Arcane Golem + Faceless Manipulator combo and Tirion Fordring, has a really nice curve, and has enough flew slots to fit a bunch of incidental draw in.

To be honest, I think it is the most consistent (if not particularly powerful) of the decks I’ll present in this series. You can find the list here. Something interesting is that Loot Hoarder gets the nod over Mad Scientist here, even though we have secrets, because our secrets are kind of actively bad when we don’t have Auctioneer out. Thankfully, they are so good at protecting him that they make up for it. We don’t lose much value by having to cast them anyway. Not only do we want to cast them while we have Auctioneer out (to protect him), but we also obviously get to draw cards by doing it.

Since a card is worth about two-and-a-half mana, we are gaining more than the one mana we lost by having to cast them. Not only that, but since we don’t have much search or draw in this list, we value the actual draw over the deck thinning. We would rather have a random card from our deck for the chance that it is Auctioneer than one of our crappy secrets any day of the week. As for how we play and win, we just play like Control Paladin with better draw and a “burst” combo for the kill.

We just keep their guys from killing us or our Auctioneers while we draw into boardwipes and our win combo. Eventually, we want to play Arcane Golem, double Blessing of Might, and Faceless Manipulator in one turn and attack them for twenty to win the game.

All in all, it’s a pretty simple gameplan, and it’s pretty reminiscent of classic Miracle. The only real weakness I can immediately see is that it might just be a weaker version of that. There is no guaranteeing that it isn’t as good, but we have more situational cards, less good removal, and nothing that we can cast for free. Also, Blessing of Might is just worse than Cold Blood ninety percent of the time. We probably have a better Handlock and Aggro matchup, which is a saving grace in all fairness. They have an easier time dealing with taunts, though. There are a few tradeoffs, but there is a legitimate chance that this is just a better deck to ladder with, but a less powerful deck overall.

In Which I Ask you Guys to Contribute

All in all, I think it’s important that we try new builds around cards like this. Most of the time, we will find that our brews are terrible, but when we hit the nail on the hammer and win a big tournament out of nowhere, it will be completely worth it. I think Paladin and Shaman are definitely solid classes to be trying out new Auctioneer builds with, since they both have an abundance of cheap spells that are usually relevant and have a number of ways we can configure them.

Anyway, be sure to read again next week when I discuss the Mage and Druid Classes .Before you go, make sure to let your opinion be heard! Call me mean names, let me know that Miracle is the one true Auctioneer deck, and get offended that I called your favorite cards bad and didn’t put them into the deck. More importantly, let me know what cards/kill conditions/build I left out that might be worth trying. Don’t forget to try one or two of the decks and give me your results. Discuss! Playtest! Argue! For the sake of Theorycrafting!