Verdict and Analysis of TGT Impact on Warrior

Analysis of Druid, Hunter and Mage Analysis of Paladin Analysis of Priest Analysis of Rogue Analysis of Shaman Analysis of Warlock Analysis of Warrior (you’re here) In this series I want to talk about how TGT cards have impacted each of the classes. Analyze the new cards, see whether they are seeing play or not […]

Introduction

In this series I want to talk about how TGT cards have impacted each of the classes. Analyze the new cards, see whether they are seeing play or not and judge whether the class was improved with the TGT or not, as well as the latest sample deck lists of these classes. I’ll give one of the three final verdicts:

  • Positive – The class has significantly improved with TGT – either the new, very strong archetypes were created or the old ones has became better.
  • Neutral – The class received positive changes, but they are rather small – no new archetypes created or they aren’t very strong and the old ones were only slightly boosted or got cards that are similar in strength to the current ones and can be used as a tech/alternate choices.
  • Negative – The class got close to no good cards, no new viable archetypes were created and the old ones also didn’t get a lot of alternative card choices.

And here we are. Warrior is the final analysis I’ll be doing. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the previous ones as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Overview

Even though Warrior doesn’t have a lot of viable meta decks, it’s keeping strong on the top of tier lists for a loooong time already. Before BRM, Control Warrior was pretty much the only archetype you could competitively play. Even though there were some attempts at Aggro Warrior or Pirate Warrior, they didn’t work. Some players also played a so-called Math Warrior, which we can actually name the progenitor of the Patron Warrior. It used the synergy between Warsong Commander, Frothing Berserker and Whirlwind effects to make a big OTK turns. The deck didn’t work because of the Warsong Commander bug, though, which was fixed with the BRM. BRM introduced the Grim Patron and the era of Patron Warriors has started. So, before TGT we had two viable working Warrior archetypes. After TGT? Still two. Honestly, Warrior didn’t get many good tools. Blizzard has once again tried to push a new theme, which didn’t really work out. This time it was Taunt. But the new “Taunt” cards weren’t really impressive. Like I’ve said many times before, “maybe in future”. Besides that, a mish-mash of things. A powerhouse Legendary, a strange minion with cleave effect, a not-so-upgraded version of Boulderfist Ogre, some Dragon synergy etc. Honestly, some of the cards are really good, but no of the Warrior cards is any sort of breakthrough for the Warrior. Luckily for Control Warrior, one certain Neutral card has became a pretty much new staple, making the archetype better. Let’s start with spells/weapons.

TGT Warrior Spells/Weapons

  • Bolster – The main attempt to push some sort of Taunt Warrior. And honestly, if the Taunt Warrior worked out, this card would be pretty fine. First things first. How many minion it needs to hit to be good? 1 – definitely not, +2/+2 for 2 mana that is restricted to Taunts is very bad. 2? It starts getting value – +4/+4 is much better, but still not broken. 3+ is getting very powerful. The problem is that it gets hard to get many Taunt minions on the board. First of all – they have Taunt. Enemy is FORCED to kill them, so unless you’re really winning the game, you rarely have more than one or two on the board. The important thing is that there is a limited number of good Taunts in the game. You can’t put things like Target Dummy or Goldshire Footman into your deck just because you run Bolster. The really good Taunts are the mid game ones and you can’t really play many of them on the same turn and get Bolster value. You have cards like Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus, but once again – they require the board presence to work. The card it combos best with is probably the Annoy-o-Tron – it’s cheap and thanks to the Divine Shield the buff gets “double value” in some scenarios. Overall, the card is not that terrible – in the right deck it could work out. But the deck like that is not good. First of all – you don’t need as many Taunts. Yes, it would probably completely stop a hyper-Aggro deck like Face Hunter or Aggro Paladin. But those decks aren’t popular in the meta anyway. Taunt costs some stats – minions with Taunt generally have worse stats. Meaning that if you play match vs Control, which doesn’t care about hitting you in the face anyway, deck like that (full of Taunts) would be pretty pointless. In a hyper-Aggro meta a Taunt Warrior could be decent, but right now, not so much.
  • Bash – This one, on the other hand, is being commonly used in Control Warrior right now. The spell is really, really average. But it fills the niche Control Warrior had – turn 3. Before Bash, Warrior had no really good turn 3 play. Most of the time Warrior was floating one mana. Dropping Acolyte of Pain was another option, but you generally don’t want to drop him without getting any immediate value (e.g. second Death’s Bite hit). Shield Block was another option, but it does nothing. I mean, yes, you get 5 Armor and cycle, but you develop nothing. Meaning you don’t really want to do that. Now, instead of Armor Up + Pass, Warrior gets another option. This is a kinda mix of defense and removal. 3 damage is worth 2 mana – Darkbomb. But you gain additional 3 Armor. On the paper, like I’ve said, it’s very average. But in practice it works. It can remove a lot of the early game threats. It certainly helps against Aggro decks, not only getting rid of some minion, but also gaining Armor. Later, you can combo it with Shield Slam. For example, you can Bash one minion and Shield Slam another one for a really efficient removal. You can also use it to help with the trades or just to gain some Armor to put your out of burn range. Since Control Warrior can’t really lose to a fast deck in the late game, more early tools that help him survive are not bad.
  • King’s Defender – Another card that tries to push the Taunt archetype. This one, on the other hand, is really bad. At the base, it’s a 3 mana version of Fiery War Axe. Paying 3 mana for 3/2 weapon is a very bad deal. In the best case scenario, it’s a 3/3 weapon for 3 mana. But you need a Taunt on the board for that. What does it mean? Unless you play a Taunt on turn 2 and it survives, you won’t get it out on the curve. And the only 2-drop Taunt that is viable (and could possibly survive a turn) is Annoy-o-Tron. I mean, the new Sparring Partner is another nice option, but it won’t likely survive until turn 3, especially in faster matchups. It means that King’s Defender is rarely a turn 3 play. Later in the game you can actually combo it with a Taunt on the same turn. But the question is – what do you need a 3/3 weapon for later in the game? Enemy rarely plays so many small threats – Warrior is often forced to use the Fiery War Axe charges on enemy face, because he has nothing to hit on the board. One additional charge means 3 more face damage, which well, is probably useless. Taunt Warrior is a very defensive and slow deck – it doesn’t need more face damage with the weapon. All in all, I don’t get the reasoning behind this weapon. If the weapon gained +1/+1, not only 1 charge, it would be so much better. A vanilla 3/3 weapon for 3 mana would be already arguably balanced, if the additional charge is behind a restriction that you can’t realistically consistently meet on turn 3, the card is bad.

TGT Warrior Minions

  • Alexstrasza’s Champion – If this minion was Neutral, it would probably be broken. In Warrior, not so much. The 2/3 for 2 stats pass the vanilla test. The effect? Turning a 2/3 into a 3/3 with Charge – CRAZY. A 2-drop that is 3/3 is already strong, but a 3/3 that has Charge is hard to believe. Just compare it to the Wolfrider that is already commonly ran in Aggro decks. Luckily, Dragon Warrior hasn’t became a next op Aggro deck for a couple of reasons. First – the restriction. You need to play this one in a Dragon deck for it to work. And Dragon decks aren’t Aggro. Even the faster ones like Dragon Priest are more Midrange oriented. Still, this guy would be much betterin Dragon Priest, because it’s a deck that puts bigger emphasis on tempo. And 3/3 with Charge for 2 is an incredible tempo. It’s impossible to make a Dragon Aggro deck, because we don’t have almost any small Dragon drops. The only one is really a Faerie Dragon and it’s not enough to make a Dragon deck. Second – Warrior is not a good Aggro class – mainly due to the Hero Power. Once Warrior runs out of steam, it loses every win condition. Hunter can at least deal 2 damage per turn, Paladin can at least spawn a 1/1 every turn etc. That’s why even though the class has a lot of cards that promote the Aggro play style, the Aggro decks aren’t overpowered. Alexstrasza is just another card like that – it would be crazy broken in Aggro deck, but right now it’s just… average. But let’s get back to the real world. Right now some Dragon Warrior decks use it. It’s still nice as a way to Control the board early. Thanks to the 3 health it can survive most of the trades and in case you get to Charge it, it often gets 2 for 1. The problem is that a lot of popular 2-drops don’t die that easily – Shielded Minibot or Haunted Creeper can’t be taken out by it and ultimately get 1 for 1 trade. On the other hand, it’s great against 2/3 minions like Mechwarper or Darnassus Aspirant. It serves similar purpose to the Fiery War Axe, but is a little more flexible, because it’s a minion after all. Not bad, but not as crazy as it could’ve been. Maybe if they print some early game Dragons that can fit an Aggro deck, Aggro Dragon Warrior will become a thing. I hope not.
  • Sparring Partner – Unlike other new Taunt-related cards, this one can actually fit into a non-Taunt deck. Frostwolf Grunt is not a good enough 2-drop Taunt, but this one is much better. Not only it passes the vanilla test (3/2 stats), it also has an effect. Giving a Taunt to another minion is sometimes useless, but often can work wonders. In the early game, you can Taunt up the Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain to have another small wall enemy has to go through before damaging your Hero. Later in the game, you can Taunt up bigger stuff (like turn an Alexstrasza into Ironbark Protector) or the minions you want enemy to kill (Sylvanas Windrunner). What’s very cool about the effect is that you can actually use it on enemy minions. Since you’re forced to play Battlecry, sometimes it’s negative. If you give enemy minion a Taunt and don’t kill it, enemy can use it to his advantage. However, if enemy already has a Taunt on the board and is trying to hide an important minion behind it (so you can’t kill it with your minions or weapons), you can Taunt it. This way you make it attackable. Another cool combo is this guy + The Black Knight on turn 8. For 2 cards and 8 mana, you put 3/2 and 4/5 on the board while instantly removing one enemy minion – if you manage to hit enemy big drop, the combo is incredibly strong. I’ve seen some of those in Control Warriors. You can make some neat plays thanks to those, but I’m still not sure whether they’re worth running. P.S. Every time I look at this card I see Kripparrian. Honestly.
  • Orgrimmar Aspirant – Very weak minion. The 3/3 stats for 3 are below average and require really strong effect to be good. The effect, however, is not strong. Your weapon gains +1 attack on Inspire. This effect fits a weapon-heavy, Aggro-oriented deck mostly. But on the other hand, deck like that doesn’t want to use Hero Power. Armor Up! sucks when you play a fast Warrior deck, meaning that Inspire minions don’t fit it in any way. Also, the Inspire itself isn’t even that good. It’s situational, because it requires you to have a weapon equipped. Even then, Warrior’s weapons generally have 2 Durability. Meaning even if you play a fresh weapon and get this inspire off, that’s only 2 additional damage you’re getting. Not really worth it. Captain Greenskin is way superior and it’s still not used in any meta Warrior deck.
  • Magnataur Alpha – A second minion with such an effect, after the Foe Reaper 4000 from GvG. But the approach is really different. Foe Reaper is a big, slow minion that has a lot of health. The idea is to get a good trades in a slow game. This one, however, has 5/3 stats for 4 mana. It’s very aggressively statted and won’t likely survive the trade. 3 health is really crippling. Even if you play him on the curve, he’s likely going to die to some small removal or even a 2-drop/3-drop. It’s rarely going to get an attack, and without attack it’s not going to get any value. There is, however, one interesting combo. If you play this guy + Charge you get an instant attack. Meaning you deal 7 AoE damage to 3 enemy minions. It can work really great against certain decks. For example, Midrange Druid. It runs a lot of mid game minions and often has 2-3 pretty big threats on the board. It can also hit the Shade of Naxxramas, which is still in Stealth. Still, I don’t think the combo is good enough to justify running this guy in your decks. It’s a fun card, but not particularly strong. If enemy has no board presence and you play it on empty board – it’s just a 5/3, it usually won’t be more than that. Enemy just plays one minion into it and then you trade or he trades, whatever. On the other hand, if enemy has couple of minions on the board and his effect could get value, he’s just going to get traded before you can do anything. This effect doesn’t really fit a high attack, low health minion.
  • Sea Reaver – A Boulderfist Ogre with effect similar to Flame Leviathan. Similar, because you can’t control it – it happens when you draw the card. When it comes to the stats, that’s the best you’re going to get for this amount of mana. It seems that the standard statline for 6-drops with good effects is 5/5, so 6/7 is great. But besides the stats, this guy doesn’t really have much to offer. Let’s first identify a deck you’d want to play it in. Probably something that wants to damage your own minions. Definitely not Control Warrior. Patron Warrior? Maybe. But as a Patron Warrior, a lot of time you don’t actually want another Whirlwind effect. You want to control those and play only when you want. For example you might have two 3/1 Grim Patrons on the board and drawing this guy would suck. You might have a 2/1 Gnomish Inventor that you’ve just killed 3/2 minion with. Yes, in best case scenario it could win you the game, but same goes for Flame Leviathan… It really depends on your luck – the moment you draw it. Maybe some sort of Enrage Warrior? With a lot of Enrage effects you’d want to damage your board. Yes, but also no. This kind of deck is pretty aggressive, meaning it runs a lot of low health minions. Meaning you’d actually often kill your own board with his effect. The stats are good, but the effect would be either useless or negative most of time. The situations where you’d actually want the Whirlwind on your side of the board AND you draw this guy in perfect moment are very few. Most of the time it’d be just better to run the Boulderfist Ogre instead, and we all know that it’s not a Constructed-worthy card.
  • Varian Wrynn – This guy’s crazy! The second 10 mana Legendary in the game with a proper effect. It’s something like a bigger version of Ancient of Lore that also puts any minions drawn onto the board. Sounds amazing. In practice, however, it doesn’t work as well as in theory. First of all – running him in a standard Control Warrior is not the best thing ever. Even though it might seem that Control Warrior is very slow, the deck has some small minions. Armorsmith, Cruel Taskmaster or Acolyte of Pain aren’t exactly gaining you value. Control Warrior also runs a lot of minions with Battlecry – Big Game Hunter, Justicar Trueheart (really important Battlecry), Shieldmaiden, even Alexstrasza. I mean, having a 8/8 on the board might seem great, but it’s not always so. Not only you lose the Battlecry value, but you are also vulnerable against board wipes. Lightbomb, Brawl or Equality might ruin your day. Drawing 3 cards is good value, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really hard to find a good turn for Varian. Against Aggro/Midrange decks, spending 10 mana for no instant board impact (you might pull out a Sludge Belcher or Baron Geddon, but that’s it) might mean that enemy just rushes you down. Against slower decks, on the other hand, you don’t always want to draw those 3 cards. Between Acolytes (or Slams), Shield Blocks and Varian, you might get closer to fatigue than your enemy. And slower matchups are often decided by fatigue. In certain scenarios, Varian Wrynn might get crazy value and win you the game. If you pull some big stuff and enemy has no answer – you just won the game. But he’s really hard to set-up and can be risky to play. I see him being used in some slower Control Warrior decks, but after the initial hype around him, people aren’t using Varian that much anymore.

TGT Neutral Minions

  • Chillmaw / Twilight Guardian – Another class that can make a good use of the Dragons. Dragon Warrior is a much more proactive deck than the Control build. Both of those Dragons are very strong, meaning they made their way into the deck. When it comes to Twilight Guardian – Warrior never had a good 4-drop. Even though Death’s Bite is usually a great turn 4 play, if you don’t have any target to hit, you prefer to play a minion instead. Twilight Guardian is great – not only it gets great trades with enemy early drops, 6 health makes it hard to kill. When it comes to the Chillmaw – Warrior doesn’t have a good AoE. Yes, he has a lot of Whirlwind effects and a Brawl. But nothing in the style of Consecration or Flamestrike. Revenge is cool when it does 3 AoE, but it works only when the Warrior is at low health. Chillmaw can give the class another AoE effect that, unless Silenced, doesn’t require you to be at low health to proc. Works great against most of the Aggro/Midrange decks and even Patron Warrior.
  • Justicar Trueheart – Warrior is arguably the best class you can put Justicar Trueheart into (with Paladin being the second contender for the 1st place). The difference between 2 Armor per turn and 4 Armor per turn is huge in the long run. Warrior’s Hero Power is already good in Aggro matchups – for example it negates the Hunter’s one. Thanks to Justicar, it’s even better. With Justicar you might completely escape out of the burn range of enemy in just a few turns. Getting 4 health per turn means that they have no chance in the long game. Against slower decks it’s also very good – being at 30+ Armor not only means that you can always 1-hit anything with a Shield Slam, but you also almost always win the fatigue war. It’s great against something like Control Priest, since a lot of the games go to fatigue. He might be at 30 health, but thanks to Justicar you’re often at 60+. Against Combo decks it lets you get out of range. Druid has no chance comboing you from that much health unless he has like full board of minions and even Patron Warrior has hard time getting through all of it if you don’t feed his Frothing Berserkers with minions on your side of the board (you can basically fatigue the Patron by not playing any minions at all in most of the games if you draw Justicar early enough). Generally a very cool minion – not swingy, but gets value in a long game. Oh, and the body. 6/3 for 6 is bad, but it usually still goes 1 for 1 in terms of cards due to high attack. I’ve found out that more often than not it trades into some big guy or at least Sludge Belcher, which is fine in my book considering how strong the effect is.
  • Nexus-Champion Saraad – Control Warrior is a deck that can fit this guy in. Slow, value-oriented, Hero Powers often. Random spell migh not seem like a great value, but it’s not only that. Saraad is a high priority removal target. If you drop him, enemy HAS to deal with it or you’re going to get a lot of value every turn. Random spell ranges from some useless Paladin Secret to things like Pyroblast or Mind Control that can really swing the game around. Even though it’s random, the average spell quality is pretty high. Even one activation should get you enough value to justify running this guy. 4/5 aren’t the best stats for the mana cost, but 5 health means its out of range of the early game removals. Enemy has to use something bigger to get rid of it. And if enemy has no removal, Control Warrior has really easy time protecting this guy between weapons, Shield Slams and Executes. You might also try another Inspire minion – Kodorider – but I think that Saraad has the potential to be much better.
  • Garrison Commander – Armoring up is fun… ResidentSleeper How about armoring up twice per turn? This is obviously not an early game drop. I mean, in the fast matchup you can just drop him as a 2/3 for 2. But in the slow matchups you generally want to wait until the late game for the big armor swings. Especially if you combine him with the Justicar Trueheart or Saraad. The first one means 8 Armor per turn, allowing you to get really easy Shield Slams, even from 0 Armor. The second one means 2 random spells per turn. Even though it’s just a 2-drop, it’s going to eat a lot of premium removals, because people are really afraid of what you can do with it. And after all, you don’t mind your 2-drop eating I don’t know, an Execute or something like that.

Verdict & Closing

Final verdict: Neutral

Even though Warrior didn’t get too many tools, the few that he got were a really nice improvement. Not good enough to make a positive verdict, but I can’t say that it’s negative. Patron Warrior… is still as strong as it was. The deck didn’t really change – no TGT card was good enough to put into it. But the Control Warrior got considerably more flexible. Not only the standard build is better, but Warrior now has the option to go two ways. He can make a more proactive, faster deck with Dragon Build – even though it was already decent, the new Dragons helped it even more. Or he might go the other way – either a heavy big minions build with Varian Wrynn or the fatigue-oriented build with a lot of removals, Armor gain and reactive cards (Zalae was playing one recently). Justicar Trueheart was a great addition and now pretty much any slower Warrior deck runs it – 4 Armor per turn is just too good to pass up. Bash also made into a lot of lists, serving as a nice mix between removal and life gain (upgraded Drain Life anyone?) It also allows Warrior to be more flexible – gives some early game survivability, but also gets good scaling into the late game, because it gets a nice combo with Slam (to deal 5 damage) or Shield Slam (in case you lack Armor). The verdict is not positive, because the class isn’t necessarily much stronger. I still like the small changes in the Warrior.

Example TGT decklists: Control Warrior, Patron Warrior, Dragon Warrior, Fatigue Warrior

That’s it for the Warrior’s analysis. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the section below!