Season 14 Recap: Decks From Rank 16 to Legend

Recap of my personal run to legend in season 14 as well as thoughts on decks and the meta in general.

Introduction & Disclaimer

Hi guys, Dorgan here.

Originating from a viewer’s request last year to talk about the decks that I use during a season, rather than just playing them, evolved a tradition of season recaps where I talk about the meta, the decks that I used and some general thoughts about both. Whereas I usually post these on reddit, HSP was interested in this season’s recap. Based on the reception here, it might become a more regular feature for the site, so feel free to provide your feedback in the comments and tell me how you like it. 🙂

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m not claiming my used decks to be “unique” or “special”, so don’t expect too much “innovative” stuff. I’m also not suggesting to use exactly these decks – it’s just a recap, not a guide. 🙂 Most of the time, my deck choices come down to preference, mood and curiosity since I’ve done the climb often enough.

The mentioned games have been mostly played between May 4th and 15th on the EU servers. If you’re interested in the actual gameplay of the decks I played, feel free to check the videos linked in the conclusion.

General Thoughts on Season 14

This season’s meta was of course still highly influenced by the release of the Blackrock Mountain adventure. With the final wing released one day before the new season started, people could finally try to build decks around dragon synergy. However, none of the experiments lead to a prevalent list on the ladder yet. In my opinion, this is for two reasons: Most of the released dragon synergy requires a controllish kind of deck/gameplan. This is simply due to the fact that having high-cost dragons benefit the new hold mechanic a lot better than smaller cards. On the other hand, if you want to play more tempo-based cards like blackwing technician on curve, you have to have a good amount of dragons in your deck to consistently hold them by turn 3 without having to keep an azure drake during the mulligan going first. Also, you don’t want to hold on to cards like Azure Drake, faerie dragon or twilight drake in a midrange deck – you want to play them on curve.

Given that Azure Drake was one of the only dragons that made it into viable decks before the adventure, you can assume that the other dragons were mediocre compared to cards people chose for their decks. This means that the new dragons would have to be better or at least comparable to the old cards to buff the synergy cards so, replacing cards in old decks would be worthwhile.

However, if we look at the greatest dragon synergy cards that have been delivered — dragon consort and blackwing corruptor –, we see that both of these are in the 5-mana spot that was pretty contested before. If you want to include both cards in a Paladin deck, you would have to cut cards like sludge belcher, which will result in being even more vulnerable to aggressive decks than before. On the other hand, there is no real reason to play a dragon deck without including these two powerhouses. Also classes like Druid had problems with their 5-slot already, so including Corrupters and a few dragons in their decks is pretty difficult without having to cut powerful cards.

Nonetheless, people found their way to create decks like Dragon Control Priest, Dragon Control Mage and Dragon Control Warrior that are at least somewhat viable. Given that they are still exotics on the ladder indicates that the most powerful lists aren’t found yet or that the lists are simply weaker in the given meta than ordinary decks.

Aside from dragons, people were still figuring out how to play grim patron Warrior and how to play against them. Also, with the addition of emperor thaurissan, other combo decks came back into the meta as well, leading to some impressive numbers for some Freeze Mage runs, especially early in the season, too. However, it seems like especially the Patron Warrior lists adapted to the upcoming rise of Freeze Mage and also the prevalence of Face Hunters with including two armorsmiths into their lists, forcing both decks to decline in overall power, so midrange decks and Handlock could evolve again, simply because they could somewhat counter the Patrons.

I’m curious to see where the meta will settle during the next months, but everything seems to be in flow and quite diverse at the moment. 🙂 Therefore, this season had an interesting meta with a lot of shifts, which also influenced some of my deck choices this season.

Recap: My Run in Season 14

Rank 16 to 14: Various

When the season started, I returned from a week of sickness, so I had a lot of my desk that I had to do. I therefore just played a few shorter sessions with different decks and didn’t really pay attention to the games while I was still recovering. Before I felt comfortable streaming again, I just played a few games with classic Zoo, Face Hunter and Tempo Mage. I didn’t keep track of my games and my decks here though.

Rank 14 to 11: Dragon Control Warrior

  • Decklist
  • 13 games: 10W-3L (77% winrate)

I needed a few more days until the new season “really” started for me. I often start new seasons with new decks and this was true for season 14 as well. When I finally felt comfortable streaming again, the final wing of Blackrock Mountain was released just a few days before and from all the dragon-synergy cards that came with this wing, I was eager to try out the new wannabe Fire Elementals, the Dragonwing Corrupters. To be honest, even with just three dragons in the deck, they worked surprisingly well, because you are likely to hold these dragons anyways once you draw them. Even though it worked out quite okay, I felt like further adjustments could be made. I didn’t try it but maybe dropping one shieldmaiden for an Emperor might make the dragons less clunky and turns more flexible. In this case, adding a second Armorsmith might be useful, too.

But as with most dragon decks, I’m not quite sure if the dragon version is superior to the regular version. Time will tell, I guess. 🙂 Overall, I think the dragon package of ysera, chromaggus, Nefarian and alexstrasza is pretty flexible in terms of cutting one of them. Some people asked me why I didn’t include cards like Twilight Drake or Azure Drake to get more value from the Corruptors, but there is a reason these cards aren’t played in the regular Control Warrior decks. Cutting more cards, just to make the Corruptors better, would (in my opinion) weaken the deck in general.

Kinda similar to last season, I lost the joy in playing heavy control on the climb after two grindy 20-minute games against other control decks.

Rank 11 to 9: Patron Combo Warrior

Therefore, I went on with something faster. After some impressive numbers from Mirrari, StanCifka and Xixo, I wanted to try out the more aggressive version of Combo Warrior they played. However, I don’t really enjoy playing combo decks and this one was no difference. Whereas you can win games with regular midrange decks even without drawing into explicit synergy, ending up with dead cards and without basic combos can be somewhat frustrating … especially when key cards like both warsong commanders hide within the last 4 cards of your deck. 🙂

I’m not really sure about the different versions of Patron Combo Warriors yet. There are a lot of adjustments people make, especially regarding cards like inner rage, unstable ghoul, Sludge Belcher, gnomish inventor and so on. I also didn’t like bloodmage thalnos too much as I would’ve preferred having a loot hoarder instead most of the time. I will try to monitor the adjustments people settle with over time, but I don’t think that I understood the dynamic of the different versions entirely yet.

Rank 9 to 5: Demon Zoo Warlock

  • Decklist
  • 22 games: 15W-5L (75% winrate)

After these two Warrior intermezzos, I settled back to a midrange deck again. I saw people trying around with some Demon Zoo lists since imp gang boss was released and wanted to try it myself. It’s quite interesting to see how every new addition of cards made Zoo slower over time, a theory that I have since Naxx and which became true with both GvG and BRM. Now, the decks even include 9-drops! It went pretty well, but I felt I was pretty (read: too) lucky with my Voidcallers in some of the games. Getting out a mal-ganis by turn 5 can be really powerful, however, with all the situational cards like power overwhelming, void terror, Voidcaller and (to some extent) doomguard, I felt that the deck was overall less consistent than previous Zoo versions.

For this list, I went with two flame imps because I wasn’t seeing too many (Face) Hunters before and wanted some pressure in the Zoo mirror and other matchups. However, I feel like two might be too much since they can be a liability both healthwise and when you tap into them with a Voidcaller on the board. Overall, there are some adjustments that could be considered, including cutting one Flame Imp, one Void Terror or sylvanas windrunner for cards like second Doomguard, loatheb or dire wolf alpha.

Rank 5 to 2: Midrange Hunter

  • Decklist
  • 21 games: 18W-3L (86% winrate)

The Hunters that I faced with my Zoo list were almost exclusively Midrange Hunters and so I got curious about the rise of Midrange Hunters again. I guess Patron Warriors were responsible for the decline of Face Hunters, so there was room and need for slower Hunters again.

The list I used was pretty straightforward and although the houndmasters are usually pretty good value, I’m not entirely sold on running two of them. Possible replacements would be a kezan mystic in case of many Hunters/Mages on ladder or something as simple as a hunters-mark. However, including a snake trap definitely helps with getting targets for them … when your opponent is willing (or forced) to attack your minions. 🙂

Rank 2: Handlock

At one day, I had just a little timeframe of around 35 minutes to play, and after seeing more Warriors (both Patrons and Control) around, I tried a deck that I had decent success with at the end of the last season, especially against Warriors. Since I faced a lot of fast decks (Mech/Tempo Mages, Hunters, Zoo, …), too, I decided to add an ancient watcher and a shadowflame again and cut a mortal coil and an earthen ring farseer for them. In the few games I did with this deck, the changes paid off quite well, although I missed the second Coil a little bit. Of course, I didn’t face a single Warrior during the 4 games. 😀

Regarding the list, some people I saw around lately played without any siphon souls at all. With cards like Emperor and Ysera around, I’m usually really glad to have two Siphons in the deck. Not just because you might need them for two threats, but also because you can more consistenly draw into them. It might be easier to deal with these threats by simply having more power in your own deck though. Maybe I’m just more the controllish type of Handlock player, rather than the aggressive one. It’s difficult. 😀 I will try to have a close look at this in the future.

Rank 2 to legend: Tempo/Hybrid Hunter

  • Decklist
  • 16 games: 12W-4L (75% winrate)

After I lost a game with my Handlock against a weird Hunter deck with no less than two Hunter’s Marks where I did some misplays due to decklist confusion, I did a little research on current Hunter decks. I didn’t find the list that had beaten me the day before, but another interesting list that was originally introduced by Protohype while this specific list (-1 Wolfrider, +1 Unleash) came from Partyplatypus. I always found it frustrating to play Face Hunter and running out of damage/cards in the end and just ending up topdecking Creepers. After seeing this list, I thought about my playstyle against Hunters and realized that whenever I saw a Leper Gnome, I simply assumed they played almost exclusively Explosive Trap (sometimes Snakes) and that I wasted some more removal on early threats. Therefore, I chuckled about the idea to mislead my opponents by playing a deck that would still have some threats later on and that would freeze their bigger threats. Since Midrange Hunter had made a comeback, too, I figured that this deck might be fast enough to outpace them and so I gave it a try.

Although I think that I played it too aggressively in the first games — probably because I wanted to make my opponents believe that I really was a Face Hunter — it worked nicely overall and so I piloted the deck smoothly to legend in two shorter sessions. It seems that I was on the right track, because the deck became quite popular one day after I streamed my climb to legend with it and got picked up by Trump, Savjz and quickly found its way into the HTC invitational as well. This also shows that a small group of people or even a single person can make a difference when it comes to deckbuilding and prevalent decks. We haven’t found all viable decks yet and sometimes a fresh idea can crack the current meta quite well. 🙂

The decklist is already very refined, although I thought about cutting one Arcane Golem for another Wolfrider to make the 3-mana slot less situational. Also, I like playing two different traps just because it increases the value of Mad Scientists quite a bit, especially when you draw two of them. However, I didn’t playtest a third trap and I am also not quite sure what I would cut for it.

Conclusive Thoughts

This is the fourth season in a row where I managed to hit legend with a winrate of more than 70% from rank 5 to legend, which makes me quite happy, especially because I’m quite busy finishing my science degree at the moment. As usual, I streamed and recorded the biggest part of my climb, so feel free to have a look at my season 14 VODs on YouTube. And, of course, feel free to ask all your questions. I’ll be happy to respond to them!

As for the meta, Patron Warriors will probably remain in the meta for quite some time, so it will be interesting to see how the meta will adjust. I’ve seen Justsaiyan running a Warrior list that included tech cards against Handlock just because they became popular again due to the rise of Patron Warriors. Also I saw the first Patron Warrior lists to claim a very high winrate against Druids, while I now see Druids claiming high winrates against the new Warriors. Little adjustments and learning effects seem to pay off, so it will be interesting where the new balance of power will be found and what decks might emerge from it.

Links

If you’re interested in my constructed or arena videos, feel free to check them out. I still try to establish the channels, so I appreciate every following/subscription. 🙂

Due to popular demand (“where can I find the deck that you played last season?”), I also made a collection of the decks that I played (starting in season 12) on Hearthpwn. So if you like some of the decks, feel free to go over there and upvote them.

You can find all the rest here: