Check out previous parts if you haven’t already:
- What Do Streamers Play? – Karazhan Edition
- What Do Streamers Play? – Evolve Shaman, Secret Hunter and more!
Second wing is out in every region. EU release was actually faster than I’ve expected. A few pros/streamers have already started creating brews with cards from second wing. Barnes is probably the most popular one, but we see fair share of other cards too.
Streamers I’ve covered this time are: StrifeCro, Kolento, Hotform and Zalae.
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.
Some of those brews might not be the original creations of those streamers. When only a few cards come out, many people start building very similar decks, so don’t be surprised if you see almost the same list on another stream. I’m just checking what they PLAY, especially in Legend/close to Legend, not what decks they’ve made personally.
StrifeCro – Cho’gall Meets Tableware
I’ve kinda expected someone to try this. And since StrifeCro seems to like Control decks and RenoLock in particular, he was the first one to try it. The combo I’m talking about is Cho’gall + Kara Kazham!. I think it’s the only way to make the card really useful. It’s an amazing tempo move – for 7 mana you summon 7/7, 3/3, 2/2 and 1/1. Basically a board flood that is hard to deal with. Single target removal still leaves the small bodies and you don’t mind enemy investing in board wipe AoE like Brawl or Twisting Nether to deal with that turn.
Cho’gall has some other synergies. It work’s nicely with Siphon Soul – it’s 0 mana removal that costs you 3 health then. Another very good tempo move. Cho’gall + Shadowflame is a big, 7 damage AoE, enough to deal with most board states. You can also play Cho’gall and Shadowflame something smaller that’s already on the board. It’s also okay with 3 mana cards like Shadowbolt (kinda a bigger version of Fire Elemental) and Demonwrath (he’s similar to Baron Geddon then). He was already decent in the deck and I’ve seen some people try him. But he needed one or two more good spells to combo with. Is it good enough now? Not sure, honestly – the combo is pretty strong, but Kara Kazham! by itself is pretty underwhelming. It’s only okay, because RenoLock is always low on 5-drops – even if he runs some, they’re often situational (e.g. Stampeding Kodo, Cult Apothecary).
Another new addition is Barnes. I think about putting it into my N’Zoth RenoLock list too. StrifeCro plays it instead of the Doomsayer, because well, there is an obvious anti-synergy between those two. While getting a turn 4 Doomsayer from Barnes against high tempo decks might not be that terrible, because it will either be killed if they have something on the board (and basically act as a vanilla 1/1) or it will prevent them from playing anything. Neither option is really bad. It, however, becomes more problematic later in the game, when you’re the one with board control. In this scenario – if you play both – you can’t really drop Barnes, because you might wipe your own board.
This deck is pretty heavy on Deathrattles. N’Zoth RenoLocks are usually lighter on those, but I think that StrifeCro is trying to cash in that Barnes synergy. Half of the minions in the deck have some positive effect, some of them have really INSANE effect. E.g. getting a Cairne Bloodhoof or Twilight Summoner is completely broken. Getting Emperor Thaurissan is also great in RenoLock, the deck is almost unbeatable if you win the tempo game.
And he just hit Legend with the deck after going 9-1. It pretty much proves that RenoLock is still significant deck and that this tactic isn’t bad. But honestly, I don’t know whether Kara Kazham accomplished too much. I was pretty impressed by Barnes’ performance, though.
Kolento – Big Bad Wolf
This one was also to be expected. I think that Midrange Hunter is most commonly tested deck on the ladder right now. Barnes has great synergy with Deathrattle cards and Hunter runs plenty of them. That’s also the reason why N’Zoth Hunter was even remotely a thing. Now, with introduction of Kindly Grandmother, it became even more true.
The deck runs 15 minions total (not counting Barnes). Out of those 15, 11 have some positive effect. Getting Fiery Bat or Stranglethorn Tiger is better than vanilla, but it’s still not amazing. However, getting Infested Wolf, Kindly Grandmother or Savannah Highmane is amazing. And you have, in vacuum (so not counting any cards you already drew), about 40% chance to get one of those. I think that’s good enough. And then, even the standard 3/4 + 1/1 isn’t that bad in Hunter.
But I think that the second new card might be even more interesting. 1/1 for 2 isn’t very appealing. But when you think about it, Haunted Creeper also was seemingly weak. What made it really strong was being ANNOYING. You kill the first body? You still have something to deal with. It was often better to just leave it alone, but it meant that you were tanking 1 damage every turn until you finally had a way to kill it. Kindly Grandmother is similar. People don’t really want to proc it, so it gives Hunter some sticky board presence. It’s a Beast (in both forms), so it’s much easier to play turn 4 Houndmaster. It also gives Hunter even more AoE protection. Midrange Hunter was already rather strong against AoE because of the Deathrattles and the ability to refill the board quickly with Call of the Wild.
It’s not an aggressive deck, surprisingly. I mean, surprisingly for people who aren’t very familiar with how Midrange Hunter plays. Unless you get a perfect opening, you want to play more of a board control game. Remove opponent’s stuff etc. – no reason to rush him yet. Right now Midrange Hunter has broken turn 6 (Savannah Highmane) and turn 8 (Call of the Wild), so as long as you don’t fall behind on the board/tempo – you should punish enemy with those cards really hard. So you play the board control game, you kill opponent’s stuff, then in the mid/late game you shift the gears and just kill enemy in 2-3 turns.
I think that after some play testing and refining the deck might be go-to Midrange Hunter list. And that it might be pretty high on the tier list (solid Tier 2, I’d say).
Kolento – 0 mana 8/8 is a Miracle
Arcane Giants in Rogue – sure, I’ve seen that coming. But Swashburglars and cutting Leeroy? Not really. Kolento surprises us against with his pretty innovative deck. Once known as one of the best Rogue players in the world, brews this. Does it even work? While he didn’t play it too long, he went 4-0 with it in Legend. So it definitely has some potential.
The deck has similar play style to the classic Miracle Rogue. Besides the win condition. It doesn’t have the burst combo, it even doesn’t play Cold Bloods – basically, burst damage in this deck is very low. Extra damage from hand is pretty much 2x Eviscerate (often used as removal) and 1x Deadly Poison (also used as removal). It means that the deck relies on consistent damage much more. And that’s why it runs 2x Arcane Giant. Win condition is not the burst combo, but two 8/8’s you can drop for nearly free.
Anyone who played against the good, old Handlock knows how deadly two free 8/8’s might be. If enemy has no way to clear BOTH, Rogue puts him on a very fast clock. And the deck isn’t that low on minions either – between Azure Drakes, Tomb Pillagers and Gadgetzan Auctioneers it has some bodies to bait removals etc. Also, what works for the deck right now is a surprise factor. People don’t really expect Miracle Rogue dropping Arcane Giants.
But, let’s do a quick math. How many spells the deck runs? 15 spells. +2 more from Xaril. +2 Coins from Pillagers. And possibly 2 more from Swashburglars, but we can’t really count that. While it seems like it might be hard to play 12 spells (almost every single spell in your deck), it’s actually not. That’s where Gadgetzan Auctioneer comes handy. Good Auctioneer turn means that you cycle through half of your deck. Then you drop the second one and cycle the other half. The deck runs no expensive spells and with Preparation even the 3 mana ones are very easy to squeeze into any turn. Basically, playing a lot of spells and cycling is the deck’s game plan. If you draw Auctioneer – you’re going to do that. And if you don’t – you’d probably lose with or without Arcane Giants (Leeroy combo isn’t exactly great at keeping you alive).
What I find more extraordinary is that Kolento decided to play Swashburglars. I mean, it makes some sense. You get a 1-drop this way. You often dagger up on turn 2 anyway, so you get 1 extra potential damage – you can now straight up kill 2 health minions. The card cycles itself, so it’s not terrible even if it dies for free. And then it acts as a pretty good combo activator – for example a good way to play SI:7 on turn 4.
And honestly, I try to not question one of the best deck builders in the game. So I assume that the deck should work quite well. But like any other Miracle build, it’s really dependent on the meta. While Swashburglars might give some leverage against Aggro decks, the deck is still very prone to getting rushed down. Especially after cutting the Earthen Ring Farseer.
Hotform – More Spells Than You Can Handle
Okay, I didn’t know how to call this deck. It’s not the Tempo Mage, because it’s too slow. Sure, it has some tempo in the early game, but it focuses on the late game and long game much more. It’s more of a mix between Tempo Mage and Control Mage. But, it mainly relies on one thing – spell synergies. That’s why I’ve decided to call it Spell Mage. Basically, every win condition is about spells. I think that if you would throw a Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End in there, you would have basically every spell synergy Mage ever plays.
Hotform is known as the master of Tempo Mage. He brought it into every big tournament, got it to top Legend ranks and popularized the go-to Tempo Mage list we knew a season or two ago. He likes Tempo Mage, because – for him – it’s a really fun deck. I’m not sure about Tempo Mage, but this one… oh damn, that’s a really fun deck.
Oh yeah, the spell synergies. The deck starts similarly to Tempo Mage, but is lighter on the early game stuff. For example, it doesn’t play Arcane Missiles or Cult Sorcerer. The first new addition is Barnes. And I can definitely see that – the deck runs a lot of stuff that work with it very well. And it gets extra value when dropped later in the game. Getting Archmage Antonidas or Malygos on turn 4 isn’t really that great, because you have no follow-up. But getting them with 6 mana left might be game-winning. The second Karazhan card is Firelands Portal – it’s pretty strong, as it combines the removal with a board presence. Nice tempo card, unless you get something really bad. But we’ve seen it already in Mage last week. The last new card is – surprise surprise – Arcane Giant. It wouldn’t fit into the standard Tempo Mage, because it’s too slow. But into this one? That’s another story.
So, the deck’s general game plan is to get some early game tempo to not fall behind. Then start cycling and playing the spells. Then start cashing on those sweet late game combos like – Archmage Antonidas and Malygos. Then start dropping free 8/8’s. The deck runs 16 spells. +2 Torches. +6 from Cabalist’s Tomes. That’s 24 in total, and that’s A LOT.
Then, EVERY minion in the deck has some synergies with the spells. Even Barnes, because it can give you one of the big guys. And the Emperor Thaurissan, because it allows the spell combos to work better.
Honestly, the deck is probably not very good. It’s most likely weaker than the standard Tempo Mage. It’s too greedy and gimmicky. BUT, I put it here, because I just love how innovative and synergistic it is and I’m going to play it on the ladder no matter if it will work or not.
Zalae – Best Synergy Award
What happens when you take an already strong deck and add 2 strong cards that have good synergy with the deck? You hit very high Legend rank. Zalae had great run with this deck few hours ago and he peaked at rank 3 Legend. Considering that it’s pretty late in the season already, it was quite a feat. Yogg Druid was the first deck that came to my mind when I was thinking about where Arcane Giant would fit. The deck’s strategy isn’t based on the early game tempo. It’s slow enough so it can afford to wait until Arcane Giant becomes cheaper. The class likes to play big minions. And even if not for free, because of the Ramp the deck can also afford to drop the Giant for 5-6 mana if necessary.
I don’t think the Yogg/Token Druid deck needs to be introduced. It’s a pretty popular deck recently, at least in the Legend ladder. It uses the spell combos to control the board, then tries to flood it with cards like Violet Teacher and if things go wrong (or the Druid player just runs out of stuff to do), he drops Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End to hopefully stir things up. The deck is full of cheap spells and cycle. 19 spells in total, most of which are 3 mana or less. Then Raven Idol might add even more spells to the mix.
The biggest problem with the deck was tempo. Innervate is a great tempo tool, the problem is that you only run two of those. Since the deck runs quite a lot of cheap spells, it needs to refill the hand with Nourish. The problem is that Nourish costs 5 mana, so you are rarely left with enough to do much stuff. It makes you fall behind. And you never want to fall behind. Arcane Giant is amazing in this case, because if it’s later in to the game, whenever you draw him, you will probably be able to immediately drop him. You prefer drawing 2 cards and playing 8/8 than drawing 3 cards pretty much any time.
The deck often baits AoE removals in the mid game thanks to the Violet Teacher shenanigans. That’s yet another reason why Arcane Giant fits the deck – dropping one or two of them in the late game, alongside something else, won’t be as susceptible to Brawl and such, because opponents very likely played those cards already.
I absolutely love this deck and I think that it’s very strong. It was great without Arcane Giants already and they seem like a perfect fit into this deck. I suspect some pro players hitting high Legend ranks with similar lists soon. And I will surely try the deck myself tomorrow (or well, today).
Alright, guys. It’s almost 6 am already when I’m finishing this. I wanted to cover some of the best/most fun decks I’ve seen as quickly as possible, so you could try them as soon as you wake up. Most of those are fresh brews, built/played only a few hours ago, so I hope you’ll those lists just like I’ve enjoyed watching dozens of streams and picking them (no, really, I’ve enjoyed doing that). I haven’t tested them personally yet, but I will definitely do that when I get up. Also, I really can’t wait until the whole expansion is out so I can start writing real guides.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!