After unpacking mysterious-challenger as my first epic of The Grand Tournament (TGT), I decided to build a deck around it and found myself focusing heavily on Divine Shields. This led me to use some cards which were considered bad at first sight such as silent-knight or argent-horserider! Mostly Mid-range, the goal is to fight for board control and buff up your minions!
General Strategy and Why You Need to Play This Deck!
The reason number one for playing this deck is that it’s competitive, but also hilarious. The mindgame behind secrets, the confusion in your opponent mouse when dropping Myserious Challenger on turn 6 or even unleashing a Silent knight on turn 3 (when everybody considered this card sub-tier).
The second reason is that it’s “cheap” and by “cheap”, I mean only one legendary and 2 epics are in the deck. The rest are common basics, or from adventures which makes it a good deck for free to play player.
Finally, it’s not an easy deck and teaches you a lot about hearthstone mechanics. It’s all about knowing when to make efficient trade, when to go face, and how to set up tempo swing. Every match up is different (You have no heal, do you out-race a face hunter or do you fight for board?) and mulliganing right is key to this deck.
The meta slowed down a lot with the introduction of TGT. Midrange decks like Shaman and paladin are in a perfect position, as it can out—tempo aggressive decks and finish the game fast enough against control decks. This deck has only one reallllly bad match-up which is control warrior. Unless you get a perfect hand and they forgot how to fiery win axe, you usually don’t have the burst to go through all their armor. Other than that, I achieved an overall 75% winrate, going from rank 6 to rank 2 losing only one match to a dragon priest. The struggle began at rank 1 when facing too many warriors and handlock. Finally, after around 15 to 20 games hovering at rank 1, i finally reached legend with it.
redemption x 1
I put only one copy of this secret because it’s a secret you usually want to control. Getting it for free thanks to Mysterious Challenger is nice since it’s free, but using it turn 1 before dropping a shielded-minibot or knife-juggler gives you insane value.
avenge x 2
Very nice buff, synergizes amazingly with all the Divine Shield minions and usually makes the opponent resilient to trading himself. Since it doesn’t activate on your turn, people tend to leave your stuff on the board, giving you the possibility to buff those bodies even more for some tempo swing.
noble-sacrifice x 2
This secret synergizes well with Knife Juggler (Killing a 2/1 while procing it is hilarious and a big early tempo swing) and unable Avenge to proc when using Mysterious Challenger. Sometimes used to protect your minion or just give one more turn to push for damage (A minion runing into this secret is a minion that doesn’t run into your own ones.)
zombie-chow x 1
I put it as a one of and definitely try to mulligan for it. The reason i run only one is because it’s usually a dead draw later in the game and this deck has no draw mechanics at all. Its main utility is to get board early on, and if it survives past turn 2 or 3, he becomes the perfect target for seal-of-champions or Blessing-of-kings because now people have to silence its downside of giving back life.
abusive-sergeant x 2
This little guy does a pretty heavy work in this deck. In this early TgT meta, a lot of people are trying out control decks but still benefiting from amazing early game minions (Looking at you filthy dragon priest and your god damn 2/4 taunt wyrmrest-agent.) Abusive sergeants are here to help your early Divine Shield minions to trade favorably with those early dragons and taunts. Minibots for instance leaves a 2/2 body after being abused and killing a 2/4 priest taunt. This 2/2 body if left alone can become a 6/6 once blessing-of-kings is used, and the tempo spiral begins.
I include it as a 1 of to increase my chance of having a 2 drop in my starting hand and since it’s a sticky durable body, buffs mechanics work greatly for it. Sadly the one attack can be a pretty heavy drawback because it doesn’t kill 4 health minion when abusive sergeants are used on it. Synergizes well will redemption(despite having better targets) and knife juggler
knife-juggler x 2
Auto include for me in pretty much any midrange deck. Can snowball heavily despite no muster-for-battle in the deck. Baits out hard removal like no one else since people assume you are playing an agrro version of paladin when you drop it on turn 2 or coin it. Overall solid minion.
shielded-minibot x 2
One of the star of the deck with his two big brothers. Perfect early drop which benefits so much from buffs. Perfect target for a turn 1 redemption turn 2 minibot. You get at least 8 damage out of it or bait out hard removal on a turn 2 drop (no one wants to hex it despite it being valuable since you’d redempte a 0/1 frog…)
seal-of-champions x 1
I include it as a one of to surprise burst people or help a zombie chow trade in late game. Surprisingly efficient, helped me a lot late game when I’m forced to top deck by buffing a token from my Hero Power which becomes 4/1 Divine Shield and is a pain to remove (Because my previous creature generally baited out silences.)
argent-horserider x 2
Minibot big brother and another MVP of the deck. When coined out on turn 2 against a 3/2 it generally gets a 2 for 1 trade or at least gets you tempo by forcing your opponent to Hero Power it the next turn. Later in the game, amazing target for blessing-of-kings thanks to its small cost
silent-knight x 2
This guy is the second big brother! In the category of 2 attacks minions with Divine Shield, this one usually never disappoints. By being Stealth AND Divine Shield, he is another perfect target for buffs like avenge, abusive sergeant or benediction of king. In a dream scenario where we get a turn 2 minibot followed by turn 3 silent knight and a benediction of king in hand, you are pretty much guaranteed board control, then try to keep it using efficient 4 drops or weapons, and finish people with the big drops.
truesilver-champion x 2
2 weapons in the deck coming on turn 4 for tempo swing. With the help of a remaining minibot or silent knight, you get a total of 6 damage on turn 4 and 5 which is enough to kill pretty much any creature. Once board is established, game is usually over.
blessing-of-kings x 2
One of the most valuable buff in the deck. Gets insane value with Divine Shield minions.
consecration x 1
The reasoning for only one is the following and can be applied to Mech shaman not including a lightning-storm): You never want to lose board control). If it happens AND you have Consecration, then it’s the only scenario acceptable. Any other scenario where I lost board is eventually a lost game. Also gives a 2 damage reach against taunt which is a plus compared to shaman equivalent.
piloted-shredder x 2
Sticky minion, decent target for buffs (But not for Blessing of Kinds since people will have your shredder in their sight…), but most important, usually leaves a target up on turn 5 or 6 for some sweet Mysterious challenger synergy.
loatheb x 1
Loatheb is here to be a tool to set up for big turn. Once you get board control during turn 3 or 4 using buffs on Divine Shield minions, It’s important to keep it. In a meta where nearly everybody runs aoe, it’s crucial to prevent them using loatheb. Dropping one of your big threat afterward usually seals the game.
sludge-belcher x 1
I needed another 5 drops for consistency and found myself sometimes in a position where I get rushed down by face hunter or agro demonlock. Belcher gives me an additional turn and precious time to drop confusion on turn 6. Ideal target for redemption, giving you 2 slimes against agrro
mysterious-challenger x 2
The M.V.P of the deck a.k.a Mister Confusion!!! I mean look at it, this guy is just a mad-scientist on steroids. 6/6 for 6 is nothing to be disappointed about, but the effect in itself is just amazing. If I had to summarize it in its most common scenario on an empty board: 6 points of mana worth 9, drawing you 3 cards AND playing them (hello varian-wrynn). Generally results in a 9/8 and a 2/1 (noble-sacrifice gets redempted, procing avenge on the 6/6) which is some serious insane value for a 6 drop. Bonus point: it completely confuses your opponent who will generally hover over the card for a good minute before trading poorly into the secrets.
dr-boom x 1
Another big guy was needed. The decision was between him and tirion-fordring (Since Silences are usually baited before) and the answer was in the curve. The 1 mana difference is just too heavy in a deck that end up top decking by turn 7 or 8. Plus, the boombots offer ideal buff target in end game which is pretty valuable.
Cards that didn’t make the cut
muster-for-battle: Despite the synergy with knife Juggler, it’s counter productive when using Redemption turn 1 since you will get a dude back 90% of the time. Since I don’t run Quartermaster; the dudes generally end up being clear with spells. My only regret is the loss of lights-justice which helps for instance a Piloted Shredder trade into a Sludge Belcher.
scarlet-crusader: Another good Divine shield minion but gets one shot by earth-shock and shaman represents at the moment a good amount of decks I face.
argent-squire: Another good Divine shield minion which could replace Zombie chow but in the end didn’t for one major reason: When being buffed by abusive, it doesn’t kill a 2/4 minion, and with priest and shaman everywhere, it’s a very bad situation to be in.
mad-scientist: Why have a Mad Scientist when you have one on steroid? Jokes aside, either you want to control the effect of your secret, either you want to get them all for free for insane tempo swing. Either way, having one out for a 2 mana 2/2 is nothing but exciting and I’d rather have a minibot instead that can be buffed.
Match-up and Mulligans
This is one of the hardest part of the deck and here is a summary of the global strategy:
Always have a turn 2 in your opening hand. This is pretty crucial since making a dude from your Hero Power on turn 2 is a really weak play. There are five 2 drops in the deck which gives you a pretty good chance of having one in your opening hand. If you have the coin, keeping an argent-horserider is fine too when you know you are playing against another midrange or aggressive deck. Overall, never keep a secret unless it’s redemption, and keep redemption ONLY if you have a Turn 2 play (Shielded Minibot or Kniffe juggler get the most value). Exception can be done when you are certain to play against an aggressive match-up to keep Noble sacrifice, especially if you have a Knife Juggler in hand. Next section will run mulligan and strategy class by class.
Most of them on the ladder are aggro hunt and midrange. Looking for zombie-chow, Shielded Minibot and Haunted Creeper, if you keep Haunted Creeper, make sur to have an abusive-sergeant to get rid of an eventual mad scientist. Argent Horserider out-value Huffer, and anyway, it’s always huffer. Once you manage a small board advantage, start racing them using buffs. A turn 6 Myserious Challenger is as strong as an savannah-highmane and will generally seal the game.
We assume here that priest are 99% Dragon priest seeing how strong it is. Strategy is simple: FISH FOR AN ABUSIVE SERGEANT! Assume they will have that sneaky 2/4 taunt wyrmrest-agent that potentially makes you lose a lot. With 4 health, it trades favorably with minibot and can be healed afterward. This is why you need the +2 dammage from Abusive Sergeant in order to keep the tempo going. Using BoK on a 3 drop lets you get a 3/6 taunt twilight-guardian for free using the bubble. Once board is established, look out for the holy-nova to avoid board clears.
Most of them being tempo mage, always keep an Abusive Sergeant in hand to be able to clear their 4 life flamewaker. Unless they get amazing unstable-portal, their early game is not enough to keep up with Divine Shield minions without losing tempo and pinging it with their Hero Power. Abuse your buff mechanics since most of them don’t run polymorphe nor silences. Always keep loatheb for turn 6 to prevent flamestrike or just buff minions enough to give them bad clears.
If you get the only Consecration in your opening hand, it’s a matchup to keep it. Turn 3 Muster for Battle is annoying since it takes out your Divine shield. Consecrating their board early on to get tempo is crucial. Redemption and Shielded Minibot are also a very good play here, taking out their own Minibot and leaving the body to be buffed afterward.
Assume it is a zoolock, since anyway we don’t have any hard removal for handlock. Against zoo, Abusive Sergeants are again really good for the match-up, making Shielded Minibot trade with imp-gang-boss and other annoying minions. Simply out value them using Divine Shield, and do not hesitate to trade into a 0/2 nerubian-egg and truesilver-champion it on the same turn: You avoid the egg to be buffed and taking out a minion for free. A 0/2 egg doesn’t break divin shield so they basicly lose tempo if you manage to buff the minions afterward.
Always keep Abusive Sergeants in case they drop the darnassus-aspirant. Taking it out as fast as possible mitigates the ramp use. Baiting their silence and direct damage from keep-of-the-grove using Knife Juggler on turn 2 is pretty good since it leaves no response against your big buffs.
I don’t think I saw a single rogue during the climb (Reason why it’s the next class I plan on taking on.) I’d assume you’d just look for 2 drops and fight for board as usual. They don’t have high health minions so abusive is not required, and Divine Shield should take care of backstabs and such.
If it’s a control war, the match-up is terrible. Look for early buffs such as Blessing of kings and Seal of Champion which prevent your minions from dying to weapons. Bait out execute by making him think you’re closer to agro than midrange, and try to finish them dropping your big guys once they run out of removal. Fishing for early Redemption with Shielded Minibot is a good way to deal some damage early on or at least taking out armor to avoid big shield-slam.
I started running a variation of this deck until rank 6, rank at which at decided my list was overall solide enough to reach legend. After teching both Divine Shield 3 drops, i went from rank 6 to rank 2 losing only to a dragon priest with a spectacular opening. From rank 2 to 1, i faced too many control warrior in a row and broke down my winrate, without leting it fall under the 75% threshold. Keep in mind this is just after the release of TGT, and might be a bit biased by the fact that everybody tries to build new decks.
If the meta keeps becoming slower and slower, i would advise switching some cards. The first one would be of course Zombie Chow since it’s main utility is to get early board against agressive decks. Could be replaced by another Slude Belcher which aims to protect your smaller minions.
The second replacement would be an Argent Horserider. As weird as it sounds, it could be replaced by a cult-master since what loses me games against control decks is the lack of card draw when i run out of steam. Having this additional possibility of regaining some cards could play in my favor.
On the other hand, if the meta becomes faster and more agressive, adding another Zombie Chow instead of a silent-knight to maximise the chance of having him in opening hand could be a solution.
If you enjoy cheap decks, big tempo swing and dumbfounded opponents, this deck is for you! Don’t hesitate to leave any comment or feedback, the list could still evolve!
My next take will be on the Rogue and Druid classes next season, so if you enjoy those classes, keep an eye on my future articles!