Editor’s Note: With the new Standard Format in 2016 for Hearthstone, we highly recommend going for cards in the Classic set and Whispers of the Old Gods (Standard Format). Here are budget guides, also from Sheng, to get you started!
- Budget Standard Standard C’Thun Druid
- Budget Standard Midrange Hunter
- Budget Standard C’Thun Mage
- Budget Standard Aggro Paladin
- Budget Standard C’Thun Priest
- Budget Standard C’Thun Rogue
- Budget Standard Midrange Shaman
- Budget Standard Zoo Warlock
- Budget Standard Combo Warrior
Greetings, I’m Sheng, a Legend rank constructed and 7.5 win-average arena player. I run HearthstoneCoaching.com where our coaches have helped many students achieve the same.
If you’re new to Hearthstone, or just have a limited collection of cards—I feel your pain. It is often difficult to find cheap but viable decks that are competitive on the Hearthstone ladder.
When I first started playing Hearthstone, I would often go online to lookup the most popular decks played at Legend rank, and find that my limited card collection would not build them. While it was sometimes possible to substitute less important cards, there would often not be cheap substitutions for a crucial Epic or Legendary that completed a deck.
Given this dilemma, I’ve set out to help those of you with a limited collection by providing ladder-viable decks for each class that cost 1000 dust or less.
- Reach Level 10 to unlock all of the Basic cards for this class.
- Complete the Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain expansions.
- Have 1000 dust available for crafting.
Before I started this series, I spent a considerable amount of time last season testing the most popular and viable decks played at Legend rank. From my climb to Legend, I devised an algorithm for constructing a budget deck.
- From my data, compile a list of the most essential Commons and Rares for a particular class.
- Calculate the total crafting cost of those cards. If the total exceeds 1000 dust, reduce the number of cards until we reach our budget.
- Fill in the rest of the deck with cards from the Basic and single-player expansion sets.
While this algorithm seems simple, it’s very easy to get Step 2 and 3 completely wrong, as it can be difficult to determine which cards to build around when you’ve exceeded your budget.
In general, my methodology for determining which cards to cut comes from my experience playing these classes in Legend rank, and my own opinion on which cards are best to build around.
In the end, the result is a deck that is considerably stronger than one built soley from Basic and single-player expansion cards, yet cheap enough such that a new player who has played Hearthstone for a month can craft for themselves.
- Budget Zoo Warlock is an aggressive deck that relies on the synergies between its many small minions. In addition, cards like imp-losion simultaneously help build board for you while eliminating opponent’s threats.
- In the early game you want to get onto the board early with cards like flame-imp and voidwalker.
- In the mid game, after establishing an early board, try to setup a turn where you can trigger knife-juggler with imp-losion to eliminate your opponent’s minions while building up your own board.
- By late game, you can bring out doomguard or a large frostwolf-warlord to kill your opponent.
Minions – 27
- Abusive Sergeant’s primary purpose to allow your smaller minions to trade up against more expensive minions on your opponent’s board. You almost never want to play him onto a board without a target to use his Battlecry on.
- Great for tempo early game. Mana-efficient. We look to kill our opponent off quickly, so taking 3 damage early is not a big deal. Can also be spawned from a Voidcaller’s Deathrattle.
- Generally Voidwalker’s value is from preventing face damage from large minions when we race our opponent for lethal.
- Synergizes really well with 1/1 tokens and Deathrattle minions.
- Haunted Creeper helps us establish a board early and synergizes very well with imp-losion/card], [card]knife-juggler, and frostwolf-warlord.
- Primarly used as a way of bypassing taunts so we can deal direct damage to our opponent in the mid to late game.
- Knife Juggler is mana efficient and synergizes extremely well with any of our minions or spells that spawn tokens.
- Oftentimes insurance against board-clear, but can also be used offensively with the many buff cards in our deck.
- This card is just nuts. The 4 health is incredibly annoying to deal with early, and each 1/1 token that spawns can trigger knife-juggler, get buffed by another minion, or serve as fuel for making a larger frostwolf-warlord.
- Shattered Sun Cleric substitutes for some more expensive late-game minions in other Zoo Warlock decks. She’ll almost always have something to buff in this deck.
- Allows our smaller tokens to trade up and serves as an enabler for nerubian-egg.
- Synergizes great with all of the Demons in our deck. While not mana-efficient for its stats, we like him for his potential to bring out Voidcaller, imp-gang-boss, or doomguard when he dies.
- A primary win-condition for us. Extremely effective when spawned from a voidcaller Deathrattle (which we can engineer sometimes). Try to play out your hand before playing doomguard from your hand to minimize the number of cards discarded.
- One of our primary win-conditions. frostwolf-warlord substitutes for malganis or sea-giant in more expensive Zoo Warlock decks. Synergizes extremely well with haunted-creeper, imp-gang-boss, imp-losion.
- Loatheb is mana-efficient for its stats. He’s important for protecting our lower health minions from being cleared by spells like consecration, swipe, and flamestrike.
- Loatheb is best played on the turn before your opponent can clear your board, or on the turn before you can deal lethal damage with your minions.
Spells – 3
- Provides reach to help us win games, or allows us to force a nerubian-egg to die after trading with another of our opponent’s minions.
- An awesome card that synergizes extremely well with knife-juggler, dire-wolf-alpha, and frostwolf-warlord.
In general, you want to mulligan to setup your first three or four turns. Please note that there is a distinction between going first and going second in Hearthstone, and this should factor into your mulligan choices.
When going first, your advantage is the ability to play first. In addition, you gain mana crystals before your opponent. To take advantage of this, you want to be aggressive in your mulligan to put minions on the board.
When going second, your advantage is mainly the-coin, which gives you tempo over your opponent for a single turn, and also an extra card. Depending on the nature of your deck, whether it’s Aggro, Midrange, or Control, you’ll be looking for different things.
- When playing an aggro deck, you’ll be looking for the same cards going second as you would going first. The objective is to quickly populate the board and bring down your opponent’s life total.
- When playing a midrange deck, you’ll also be looking to get onto the board early, with the caveat that you can keep a single copy of a situational minion or spell that you think may be useful to counter an opponent. This spell might be something like a kezan-mystic to counter classes with Secrets or removal like frostbolt.
- When playing a control deck, you’re looking to save the coin until much later in the game, generally when you can bring out a large late-game threat earlier than usual.
While I won’t make an exhaustive list, these are some of the cards you should consider keeping in your opening hand when playing this deck.
- 1 Mana: flame-imp, voidwalker
- 2 Mana: haunted-creeper, knife-juggler, nerubian-egg
- power-overwhelming + imp, nerubian-egg, or spectral-spider.
- dire-wolf-alpha + any minion.
- knife-juggler + imp-gang-boss, imp-losion, or haunted-creeper.
- nerubian-egg + abusive-sergeant, shattered-sun-cleric, or dark-iron-dwarf.
- imp-gang-boss, imp-losion, or haunted-creeper + frostwolf-warlord.
- voidwalker + any Demon minion, but especially doomguard.
Here are a few simple substitutions that will make this budget deck even stronger.
- 1x power-overwhelming for shattered-sun-cleric.
- 1x dr-boom for shattered-sun-cleric.
- 2x defender-of-argus for dark-iron-dwarf.
- 1x malganis or 1x sea-giant if you don’t own malganis for frostwolf-warlord.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to Budget Zoo Warlock. For more advanced Warlock decks that aren’t constrained by a limited dust budget, check out the Warlock meta decks on our sidebar. As always, I’d be happy to answer questions from you in the comments section.
If you’re interested in reaching Legend rank, or earning unlimited gold from arena, my team at HearthstoneCoaching.com would love to help! We’ve provided over a thousand hours of excellent coaching to students around the world.
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