First part was quite popular, so I’ve decided to go with the second one. The first brews were more or less successful, but now it’s been 5 days since first wing was released, so pro players had more time to test what’s really strong. Or what’s really cool to play, because let’s not forget that the new expansion’s release is a great time to test fun/non-meta decks.
Streamers I’ve covered this time are: StrifeCro, Kibler, Kranich and Thijs.
I’m (usually) posting the latest versions of the deck I’ve seen on the stream at the time I’m writing this. Some streamers were changing the decks throughout the stream and some are still streaming when I’m finishing this article. If there will be a new, dramatically changed version of some of those decks, I’ll post the updated ones next time.
P.S. I know that some of those brews might not be the original creations of those streamers. Some of them are not even very unique and are popular over the ladder. I’m just checking what they PLAY, especially in Legend/close to Legend, not what decks they’ve made personally.
StrifeCro – Darwin Shaman
Quick note: I’ve posted the version he played most. He changed it for one game heavily before switching it to Paladin, but that version had no real sample size, so I’ve decided to stick with this one.
Variations of Evolve Shaman were going around since WotG was released. The general premise of this deck is to play minions that are understatted for their mana cost (but might have strong effects) and/or summon more than 1 body and then use Evolve to upgrade those weak bodies for just 1 mana.
The deck is very RNG-heavy (as if Shaman wasn’t RNG heavy already). Getting a random “X-drop” usually means that there is a huge variance in possible outcomes. For example, evolving Tuskarr Totemic into a 4-drop might end up with you getting a Defender of Argus and basically wasting the card OR you might also get a Flamewreathed Faceless and have +4/+5 buff for 1 mana. But, the idea is to play the cards where AVERAGE outcome would be significant upgrade over the previous minion. Evolve also gets an extra value when the minion you change is already damaged. Changing a 6/1 Fire Elemental will surely get you something better.
That’s why StrifeCro decided to play a terrible card – Pantry Spider. 2x 1/3 with no effects for 3 mana really sucks. But when you think about it, it has a great synergy with Evolve – after all that’s 2x 3 mana minions in one card. So if you evolve those, you get 2x random 4-drop. And it’s not hard to get an upgrade on 1/3’s. Even average 4’4/s or something are pretty good then.
Another interesting point are the cards that have high cost at the start, but it gets much lower. Thing from Below and Nerubian Prophet are both great cards in Evolve deck. They’re both 6-drops that you can usually drop for almost free (or even free) as the game goes. Evolving those means you’re getting a random 7-drop and there are quite a lot of strong 7-drops.
Then, there is also Onyxia as the ultimate finisher. The normal 8/8 + 6x 1/1 is already scary. But if you add Evolve to the mix, you end up with a random 10-drop and 6x 2-drops. So if enemy has no AoE, you probably win the game next turn.
There are a few issues with Evolve decks, though. First one is consistency. Like I’ve said above, the variety of minions in each mana cost is really high and you can get a lot of bad ones.
Second one, it’s night impossible to play them perfectly. To do that, you would need to memorize the average stats and effects of each mana cost, then depending on what minions and how many of them you have on the board decide whether Evolve is good in this spot or not. Sure, there are a lot of obvious scenarios. But if you have a Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem, Fire Elemental and 2 Totems – it’s hard to decide on the first Glance whether you want to Evolve that board or not. And that’s why it’s so hard – there are a lot of situations where you can’t be sure if Evolve is the right choice (on average, obviously). Also, quickly calculating the odds of getting a Charge for lethal, a Taunt to survive etc. would also be required to play this deck perfectly.
Third issue is that you have to put minions that you wouldn’t normally play just for the sake of Evolve. Sure, Pantry Spider is great card when you can Evolve it, but it sucks rest of the time.
And fourth issue is Doomsayer. Totems from your Hero Power are 1-drops. Whelps you summon from Onyxia are 1-drops. Tunnel Trogg and Maelstrom Portal are 1-drops. It means that nearly every time when you Evolve, you get some 2-drops. And when you Evolve and get 2-drops, you have a chance to roll a Doomsayer. I don’t remember the exact odds, but empty board Onyxia + Evolve had close to 10% chance of getting you a Doomsayer. That’s quite high. I’ve seen people losing the games only because they got a Doomsayer, along with a few very strong minions. There are some other awkward 2-drops, like Lorewalker Cho or Ancient Watcher, but those don’t screw your board right away.
So sure, if you like Shaman, give this deck a spin. It’s pretty fun to play, especially if you enjoy RNG-heavy decks. But remember that this deck is far from perfect and classic Midrange Shaman is probably a better option.
StrifeCro – Do Paladins Dream of Ivory Knights?
When I think about StrifeCro, I think about two decks – Control Mage and Midrange Paladin. He’s known to play those very often and try to make them work even in the meta when they shouldn’t work. And he tries that once again. In a meta when Paladin is very unpopular and Midrange Paladin is virtually nowhere to be seen (I remember playing only against a SINGLE Midrange Paladin in Standard so far), he plays Midrange Paladin with a lot of uncommon card choices.
After Naxx and GvG rotating out of Standard, Paladin has lost most of it’s early game cards. Loss Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle hurt the class most. Right now Paladin has strong mid game and strong late game, but basically nonexistent early game. StrifeCro decided to fill the Paladin’s early game with Neutral cards and still play the Midrange style of the deck. It works surprisingly well.
He included cards that are not played in ANY other deck – Silent Knight and Psych-o-Tron, to fill the weak 3-drop and 5-drop slots in Paladin and have something sticky on the board as he transfers into the mid game (+ that sweet potential Rallying Blade synergy). Basically, this deck is about keeping the tempo with the enemy in the early game and then outtempoing them in the mid game. Aldor Peacekeer, Weapons, Keepr of Uldaman are great ways to catch up with the tempo. And if you have big enough health pool, you should be doing fine.
Then, the deck transitions into the value-oriented late game. Ivory Knight is an amazing card when it comes to value game, because you get a body, healing AND a card. Paladin having a lot of cheap spells is still kinda problematic, but even some Secrets or Humility might work fine in this deck. I wasn’t fan of this card in Midrange Paladin at first, but I think it might work. Playing two of them is kinda a way to get away with not playing Lay on Hands. They heal, they give you some value and they also – unlike Lay on Hands – give you some tempo with a 4/4 body on the board.
Then it has the standard N’Zoth package of Cairne Bloodhoof, Sylvanas Windrunner and Tirion Fordring. Those are pretty much enough to have the late game covered, because if the game goes long enough enemy will most likely have to kill them twice. N’Zoth also resurrects some of the low drops for even more tempo/value.
I don’t think that Ivory Knight will cause Midrange Paladin to get back into the meta. But if it works, it might be a good starting point. People were obsessed about Control Paladin with N’Zoth so much that they forgot that he also fits into the Midrange play style quite well. Maybe even better. And then the deck would probably make a good use of a soon-to-be-released Barnes, with about half of the minions having an extra effect in form of Deathrattle or Divine Shield (+Taunt/Stealth even).
Kibler – Praise Yogg (with a good Feast)
Yes, Kibler is a Priest guy, so it wasn’t weird that one of the only Priest brews will come from him. And this one is pretty cool and surprisingly – it works. Not “works” as in “is broken as hell”, but “works” as in you can climb with it.
I haven’t though about the synergy before, but now that I think about it – Priest of the Feast might have been a follower of the Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End all along. Both have awesome synergy with spells. Priest of the Feast also keeps you healthy and helps with surviving until turn 10, when you can unleash the power of Yogg.
The deck is very spell-heavy, with almost 20 spells in it (could be more thanks to the Thoughtsteal). It means that the new Karazhan card can shine. With 3/6 base stats and the effect that gets better the more spells you play, you expect it to be great in such a deck. And it is – it makes it much more playable in this heavy-tempo meta. You can extend the game much further and you can easily stabilize after the enemy runs out of the stuff to do. It also synergizes with all the cheap spells the deck runs – Holy Smite or Power Word: Shield healing you for 3 on the top of what they already do is very good.
And of course, all the possible Yogg madness. This deck is playing from “behind” for most of the game. It’s very proactive. It means that Yogg will almost always be good, as the enemy will most likely have the board advantage. And in case the Yogg plan fails, the deck also runs Elise Starseeker. It’s very helpful in those slow matchups where you won’t likely have enough value in your whole deck to win unless you get a really perfect Yogg. If Warrior start stacking Armor and the “outlast him” tactic is no longer viable, play Golden Monkey and get some sweet Legendaries. There are a lot of great targets to turn them into Legends in this deck. All the cheap spells + Loot Hoarders should give you enough Legends to stand a chance.
If you look for a Priest archetype that’s at least slightly viable, you definitely need to check this one out.
Kranich – Let me tell you a Secret
Last time we had Yogg Hunter featuring Cloaked Huntress. I’ve also seen some Face Hunters that used this card. And now Kranich made it work in Midrange Hunter too.
Cloaked Huntress is all about the tempo. Playing her on turn 3, following by a Secret or two means that you buy the early game tempo the Hunter really needs. It’s one of those classes that can snowball it really hard, because every point of damage he deals is important. Midrange Hunter had a strong mid game and broken turn 8 (Call of the Wild) but if it didn’t get the good start, it struggled. That’s the reason why people have tried playing Doomsayers. Cloaked Huntress is similar in a way that it helps Hunter build the necessary tempo.
The deck runs 4 different Secrets, 6 copies of Secrets in total. It’s way more than enough to have a very strong turn 3 if you get to draw Cloaked Huntress. That’s why you heavily mulligan for her. Normally, playing a turn 2 Secret is a tempo loss. But if you had played a turn 1 Secretkeeper, t2 Secret is not that terrible.
I’d say that Snipe works surprisingly well. If played on turn 2-3, it often one-shots whatever enemy drops. So you get a free round of punching enemy face without being interrupted. Then the Snake Trap is really strong even though the deck runs no Taunts. Both Secretkeeper and Cloaked Huntress are very high priority targets in such a deck, so enemy will want to trade them off. Even if he kills them – he still has to deal with 3x 1/1, which might be annoying.
What I like about the deck is that it doesn’t go all-in on the early game/Secret stuff. Sure, it plays some of them, it has some synergies, but then it follows up with a pretty solid mid game curve. A lot of people made a mistake and played too many Secrets and too much early game. This often resulted in running out of steam incredibly fast and once enemy has dealt with all the Secrets, the Hunter was defenseless. With 4-5-6 curve of Infested Wolf, Azure Drake and Savannah Highmane, the early game tempo is even more scary as it can be backed up easily.
And then the infamous Call of the Wild as a finisher. I’m still not sure why they’ve created such a broken card, but I guess it’s their way of balancing classes. Instead of introducing a few, better than average cards they just give 1-2 broken ones and call it a day. Not the best way if you ask me, but it definitely made Hunter much more scary.
And you know what more scary than Call of the Wild? Call of the Wild with 2-3 Secrets on the board. Sometimes this version of Hunter won’t even give enemy a chance to proc Secrets. If it curves out nicely and removes opponent’s stuff with Eaglehorn Bow, Deadly Show and efficient minions trades, it’s possible to play Call of the Wild while still having stuff like Freezing Trap or Snake Trap in play.
Another cool point of this deck is that it’s really hard for the enemy to play around traps. Each of them does something else and it’s easy to screw. You can expect Snipe and make your turn much worse by dropping something to “die” to Snipe even if it’s not there. You might expect Freezing Trap and be surprised by Snake Trap. Then, you can always mix up the traps and add something like a Bear Trap which will cause even more confusion.
I feel like Cloaked Huntress might find a spot in Hunter. Maybe not necessarily this list, but when people play it in every possible archetype, sometimes pretty successfully, that’s really cool.
Thijs – Esportal v2.0
With Unstable Portal gone, it was only a matter of time until we had another Esportal. This time it’s – luckily – way more balanced, but the RNG game is still very strong.
The deck itself is a pretty standard Tempo Yogg Mage that was quite popular ever since last expansion. Not much to say about it – it tries to tempo out early game, play on the curve, remove everything opponent plays and then finish enemy with burn spells. And if that plan fails, the Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End is an alternative. With all the spells played until turn 10, it will most likely summon some stuff, play Secrets, draw cards… Cool.
The deck plays two new cards from Kara. First one is Arcane Anomaly and honestly, it’s not that important. It just slightly increases the early game consistency. It’s kinda a reverse Mana Wyrm – each spell gives it +1 Health instead of +1 Attack. I don’t think it’s as strong and snowbally as Mana Wyrm, because it will always stay at 1 health, but with some early game spells you can pretty consistently make it into a 2/3 for 1 mana. Since the early game curve is quite important, adding one copy was a good move in my opinion.
Then, the more important card is Firelands Portal. It’s pretty slow for this kind of deck, but it delivers when it needs. What I really like about Portal is that it’s very flexible. You can use it as a board clear, as a spell burn and it always gives you some tempo on the board too. I’ve tested the card and found it really useful in the late game. It’s very easy to find a good target to kill + if enemy plays deck that is low on minions, turn 7 Firelands Portal to the face might also be good.
The card itself has very high variance. It might give you a very weak minions, like a 3/3 or 4/2. It’s really weak considering that it costs 7 mana – you expect something better. But then, there are some sick outcomes like Doomguard or Earth Elemental. Those are really broken.
What’s really important is that Firelands Portal can hit opponent’s face. Sure, it’s cool as a removal, but it increases the potential burn in your deck even further. Right now taking even a few points of early game minion damage is scary against Tempo Mage. Between Frostbolt, Forgotten Torch, Fireball and Firelands Portal it’s very easy to get burned down. Even from ~20 health (over 2-3 turns, but still). The amount of Spell Damage the deck runs makes it even scarier.
I’m still not 100% sure about 2 copies of the Firelands Portal, because drawing those in the early game is so bad and the deck REALLY needs the early game tempo. But from what I’ve seen, the card delivers in the mid/late game, so it might be good enough reason to keep it in the deck.
That’s it for the second part. Now I’ll most likely wait until Friday, when streamers start playing brews from the new wing. I suspect some of the Kara brews being refined and other ones being created altogether. My last predictions of what people are going to test were quite correct, so I might write another one tomorrow.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!