TGT is here, and I am back on the regular “Weekly Legends” grind to bring you the new, most exciting legend decks this wonderful game has to offer. Before we begin, I gotta say, this is exactly what Hearthstone needed. I know it’s only been a week since TGT dropped, but man oh man has it been fun. The new cards are here, the meta is rapidly shifting, and I raced to legend on as soon as I could. With what you ask? Well, that’s the topic of today’s discussion. There were many decks from my “Theorycrafting” articles that I desperately wanted to tweak and try, and while I only got to a few so far, it quickly became apparent that the “All Beast” Hunter list was the best of the bunch. As such, I worked at the numbers, playing around with different builds and different cards, until I found what I consider to be the optimal build. While we will talk about the comparisons to Midrange Hunter in a minute (don’t play Eaglehorn Bow!), it is important to know that this is an extremely powerful deck that really puts beast synergy ahead of everything else. At its core, this is a Hunter list, which is familiar in tone. However, in practice it plays out quite differently and operates in a way that I have not seen before.
There are a lot of people who are going to want to cut cards and shift this more towards the classic Midrange Hunter (don’t play Eaglehorn Bow!). However, this is not Midrange Hunter, and that’s something you need to remember when piloting this list. Instead of using slower damage, based cards to control the board, you are using minions. Both Houndmaster and Ram Wrangler are insanely powerful midgame cards that can just steal a board if your opponent isn’t careful. I knew that going in, and as such I wanted to create a deck where I would always have a beast of some sort on the board. Beasts matter in this deck, and you want them early and often. Both of your secrets are beasts, as are your most of your minions, which means triggering these two aren’t a problem. Shifting the classic midrange build to this version was pretty simple, and while there is something to say about missing Knife Juggler and Piloted Shredder, getting caught without a beast is not worth the value of those cards. One of the most important things that I also stress in the video is, as always, you are a Hunter. This deck runs double Quick Shot and Kill Command. That, combined with the hero power, means a lot of fast damage should you need it. If you ever start to slip behind, or feel like you are going to lose the board, there is nothing wrong with bashing your opponent in the face.
When I made my “top ten” article I had this card at number ten, right on the edge of good. After playing with it, this card should of been much, much higher. It is hard to fully understand just how amazing Bear Trap is without playing with it first, but I will do my best to explain. This is a two mana Ironfur Grizzly with charge. I want you to read that again. Yes, a 3/3 for two (which already dominates a lot of the popular early drops these days) that also gets to attack the first turn it’s out (as it comes into play on your opponent’s turn). That, added with the fact that it can also interrupt lethal and usually comes into play for free thanks to Mad Scientist, makes this card everything you could want and more. A lot of the time I would be missing a beast for one of the support cards, and my opponent would attack on turn three or four, and suddenly I had a threat for next turn.
The time has come where it is very difficult to play around Hunter’s secrets. Freezing Trap is still widely popular, and Explosive Trap sees some play as well. Playing around a secret wrong can be absolutely devastating, which is exactly what you want your opponent to do. A lot of the time they will not want to trigger Snake Trap, so they will hedge their bets on freezing and go face. This often happens during the first turns, and being able to get your 3/3 into play so it can kill some small, early game minion is perfect for your game plan. While this deck plays a little more aggressively that Midrange Hunter, it does want board control in order to set up the mini combos that run throughout. There are few cards that can come into play for free that also give board presence like this one. In fact, it is so strong I would almost say that it didn’t even have to be a beast. However, the fact that it is, is what really pushed it over the edge and made it an easy two of in this deck.
Yes, this deck has a medium curve at best. No, you should not cut this card. King’s Elekk is a quintessential “why are you playing that card?” that has been absolutely amazing for me. While I will admit that my draw rate has been abnormally high (I once won eight straight jousts), this card does exactly what you want it to do; nothing more, nothing less. Beasts matter. I know that has already been said, but it is still important to note when understanding why this card is better than Knife Juggler. The tag on this card is almost as important as its ability, and the fact that it is aggressively costed also makes it quite strong. The tag is not so important that it could be played as a Bloodfen Raptor, but having situational draw on an aggressively costed minion is a different story. A 3/2 for two is pretty powerful. The attack allows it to trade with a lot of other two drops (Darnassus Aspirant), while the health makes sure it can’t get hero powered down. Not only that, but the three attack also let you go face quite hard if your opponent does nothing for their second turn. In terms of the draw, you are a midrange deck. This enables you to have pretty good joust rates against aggro, coinflips against other midrange lists, and weak ones for control. However, if you do manage to win the joust, it is invaluable for both smoothing out your curve or pulling a large threat. In this way, this card has no real downside, since the body is solid, and the card draw is an added bonus.
Ok, I’ll admit it, I opened this card in one of my first packs and put it in the deck because “hey, why not?”. However, not only did that turn out to the right move, but this card blew way beyond my expectations. Dreadscale is a card that can do some incredible things, and single-handedly won me multiple games (including my final two to legend). It is phenomenal against any kind of swarm or aggro deck, and can be set up to clear the board in a lot of different situations. The fact that its ability is continuous is also very strong, since it straight up discourages your opponent from playing their x/1’s. With only two health, there is very little chance that this worm is going to live very long, but it can also lead to very strange situations for your opponent after it clears the board. This is because, while it is not a huge threat, it does require premium removal in a lot of matchups. I have seen this card Swiped, Truesilver Championed, Fireballed and even Hexed. That then allows you to play much scarier threats on the following turns. Yes, there is some anti-synergy with the back half of Haunted Creeper or Snake Trap, but the way this card can just straight up beat aggro on its own makes that more than worth it.
It is important to understand that this deck plays in two modes. One of those modes is trying to get as much value out of each of your cards as you can, while the more important mode is the tempo game. Midrange Hunter (which I will keep referencing) is a deck that plays the value game, while this is much more of a tempo oriented deck. Dreadscale is a tempo oriented card, giving you a threat while also removing your opponent’s board. It is also a beast, which gives it some of the key synergy seen above. Not only that, but in terms of attacking, this acts the same as a Big Game Hunter, an annoying minion to remove that can quickly push for lethal or trade up should the situation arise. There will inevitably be people asking me what they can play as a replacement for this card. The obvious choice is a second Unleash the Hounds (which this replaced). However, this card is so much better than unleash, which just doesn’t have the same value without Knife Juggler, that Jungle Panther is also worth a look at as well.
In a deck that wants beasts, you are going to need some that can stick around for a turn or two. While, in a strange way, your secrets do this, Oasis Snapjaw does it much better. It is very difficult to remove a seven health minion, especially in a deck that almost always has a turn one or two play. As such, this will almost always be around when Houndmaster or Ram Wrangler come knocking. On its own, snapjaw is very underwhelming. A 2/7 does trade with a lot of early game minions, but it really doesn’t supply a solid threat, and it doesn’t all that well into the middle game. Because of this, this card is not scary because of what it is, it is scary for what is represents. With a simple Houndmaster, the snapjaw suddenly becomes a 4/9 tank that can crush most minions on the board. Four damage is also nothing to sneeze at, and can allow you to go face if you have a Kill Command or Quick Shot in hand. A 4/9 with taunt is very hard for a lot of decks to deal with, so you can simply hit them in the face and let them react to you.
Beyond the above benefits, Oasis Snapjaw also has the added bonus of curving right into Ram Wrangler. While it is not the only beast to do so, it is the only beast that does so with such efficiency. There are many ways to set up the early turns with this deck, either trying to go the secrets route or just getting things onto the board, but most people are aware of Houndmaster. I have had many opponent’s go out of their way to pop Haunted Creepers and kill Webspinners or King’s Elekks come turn four. Oasis Snapjaw solves this problem with its high health count, and the fact that many people will ignore it due to the fact that is so passive. That enables you to punish them. There are some who may not like this four drop, but in a beast-oriented deck, there really is no better card to have access to.
Ram Wrangler is a five drop that can steal games out of nowhere. Yes, summoning a random beast does have a couple of ways that it can go wrong, netting you an Angry Chicken or a Captain’s Parrot. However, there are oh-so many ways it can go right. A 3/3 itself is not bad, and even pairing the wrangler with a Stampeding Kodo or Lost Tallstrider can give you an immediate board that threatens a lot of damage. Beyond that, there are a ton of options that basically win you the game. In fact, I have yet to lose a game where I have summoned King Krush, Malorne, Gahz’rilla, Core Hound, Savannah Highmane, Captured Jormungar or The Beast. These cards are all very strong on their own, but often aren’t worth the mana cost. When they come into play for five mana with a 3/3 on the side, they can be absolutely devastating.
For RNG to be good, it needs to have a very high upside, a la Unstable Portal. The upside on this card is about as high as it gets, which makes the games where you don’t get the rolls worth it. As stated, this list walks a fine line of value and tempo. Adding two minions to the board for the price of one is a classic value play, and bolstering the board with a 3/3 as well as a solid beast is great for tempo. This is a multi-faceted card that is very straight forward to play. Know how strong this card is, and always protect your beasts when turn five rolls around. Just like Houndmaster, you want to plan ahead when using this card. Don’t get careless, and don’t forget that it does indeed need a requirement before it can go off. It may not always be ideal to trade away multiple minions to make sure your King’s Elekk can live, but triggering this card is so important that plays like that are often the right call.
It’s a new world ladies and gentlemen, and while some of the old decks will surely pop up in the coming weeks, there are a lot of new kings of the ladder. Here, I will go over the five decks, old or new, that I have seen the most in the past week.
This $#%&ing deck. Honestly, it’s not that I think it’s a bad matchup (it’s not), I am just so sick of playing against it, and it’s only been a week! Paladin is not a class that a lot of people (including myself) were talking about when the set first got spoiled, but it sure is a class they are talking about now. Murloc Knight and Silver Hand Regent give the class two “armies in a can” that perfectly fit into the classic midrange shell. Midrange Paladin, with Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle, has always been a solid deck, and the new threats just give it more powerful options. Here, Dreadscale and Unleash the Hounds are both incredible, but your early game is where this matchup is won or lost. Mad Scientist and your secrets can cause Paladin absolute fits, and Haunted Creeper trades with the best of them. In this way, you want to do everything you can to grab the board, and then never let it go.
Paladin is now built in a way where if they ever get board the game simply spirals out of control. So many of their minions are threats, that you need to be able to meet them pound for pound. You need to mulligan aggressively for early minions here, and save your removal for Sludge Belcher, Murloc Knight and the like. Once the games starts shifting into the later stages, you absolutely must save your Ironbeak Owl for Tirion Fordring. Your traps will almost always carry the day here, and your two drops can just shred their curve if played correctly. You will almost always end the game with a Kill Command play. The rule is to never let them have minions, and play around Equality/Consecration. Sticking to your gameplan and not overextending will win you this matchup almost all of the time.
Ah yes, Garrosh my old friend. It is good to finally get a break from Patron, but that does not mean Warrior got any easier. This deck has a lot of current iterations, ranging from straight Varian Wrynn control to the classic build to dragons. You should play each of them in exactly the same way, stretching their removal thin and slowly wearing them out of cards. You have a lot of tools that allow you to meet their threats pound for pound, which means they have to play more reactive than they normally feel comfortable with. Out of every card, Death’s Bite is the most important to play around in this matchup. Warrior is a deck that does want to use its Executes or Shield Slams until it absolutely has to. As such, they depend on the four mana ax to get rid of multiple minions, and do a lot of work in getting them to the later stages of the game. If you can force them to pop their bite at a bad time, or if your force them to use removal on a sub-par minion, you will eventually get control of the board, and thus the game.
The best way to play this match is to see yourself as the aggresor, and always pressure their life total. I only lost to one Control Warrior during my climb, and the rest of them I won on the back of Quick Shot and Kill Command. In most matchups your want to be solely focused on the board, thinking about what your opponent will play or how they will react to your plays. However, here you also want to pay a lot of attention to their health, and you should sneak in as many steady shots as you can over the course of the match. Ram Wrangler and [card]Houndmaster are both very good, turning small threats into dangerous boards very quickly. Houndmaster also has the added ability to taking off their armor, which can be very strong to shut down a key Shield Slam. Loatheb is also a great tool for solidifying a scary board. As always, watch out for Brawl when you can, and save your Ironbeak Owl for Sylvanas Windrunner when you can.
A lot of people (myself included) were speculating that Wyrmrest Agent and Twilight Guardian could take Dragon Priest and turn into a real deck. Boy were they right. This is by far the hardest matchup for this deck, due to their sheer amount of high-stats minions and taunt. Most of the games you play with this deck you will start out as a slow, tempo Hunter that transitions into face. The two above cards, in combination with Chillmaw and the Priest hero power, really shut this plan down. While you do want to be aware of the burn you have in case they fall into range, this is perhaps the only matchup where you are going to win through minion damage. Most of your game plan is dependent on getting or contesting the early board. This is even more important here, and you shouldn’t be afraid to burn a Kill Command or Quick Shot in order to get rid of an annoying Northshire Cleric or Wyrmrest Agent. In this same vein, be prepared for Twilight Guardian on turn four, because if you don’t have an answer it can be a nightmare to deal with.
When playing Priest you always have to play around their cards. Sometimes this can be tricky, but Shadow Madness, Cabal Shadow Priest, Holy Nova and Lightbomb can often lead to a bad time if you’re not careful. The best way to offset this is to be careful, removing their threats when you need to and never overextending. Dragons don’t typically run the Auchenai/Circle combo however, so this is one less thing to worry about. Beyond the taunts and cards listed above, one last card you should keep in mind is Velen’s Chosen. You only have access to one silence in this list in the form of Ironbeak Owl. As such, you most often will not be able to answer the chosen in the way that you want. Keep their early game down as much as possible, be ready for a grindfest, and always play to your Savannah Highmanes.
Token Druid is an extremely fun deck that I will be covering in the coming weeks, but right now they are the enemy. This is a match that is actually tilted very heavily in our favor, as we can just play the game we want. Druid is a deck that has never operated very well against high-value minions, and this deck is full of them. While Keeper of the Grove does a lot in terms of silencing Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper, a Houndmastered beast or Savannah Highmane, they have very few other ways to deal with our board states. Even something like a turn two King’s Elekk can give them a lot of trouble if they don’t have a Wrath ready. For this, you just want to play to curve, and trust that they will eventually run out of ways to deal with all of your threats. Anytime you can double up against Druid, you are most likely going to win the game. That is to say, adding a 4/3 or 3/3 to the board while buffing a beast or adding a random beast usually creates a minion state that is just too much for Druid to handle.
Dreadscale and Unleash the Hounds are both very good against tokens, and a well-timed Loatheb can absolutely decimate them by setting their combo back a turn. Token Druid plays very similar to midrange, but they are truly a combo deck at heart. You need to always be aware of your life total, and know when you need to push forward or play defensively. If you are racing to your Kill Command, then you can ignore the board. However, if you can’t quite get there, but they can Force of Nature/Savage Roar you down, clear their minions or Houndmaster something. It is important to note that, with the new addition of Druid of the Saber, Token has more ways to kill you that ever before. Be wary of this small charge minion, and also watch out for Druid of the Claw. In conjunction, they also run double Savage Roar, which is something that should always be in the back of your mind. Druid is a deck that will almost always be forced to react to you, but you do want to clear things when they can to make sure they don’t get full value out of Power of the Wild.
While I don’t see nearly as much Shaman as I thought I would, it is still a deck I have encountered quite a bit. Totem Golem is very strong, but Tuskarr Totemic and Thunder Bluff Valiant might be even better. Shaman is a deck that plays the tempo game better than any, and you need to just power through this matchup. Mad Scientist is the number one card in this match, since your traps are very good and they tend not to run Earth Shock anymore. Though most of this game is spent trying to keep their minions off the board and watching out for burst, there are a good number of cards you need to be aware of. Lightning Storm is the big one, but Hex is very important as well. The rule of Shaman is to never fall behind. If you do, both of those cards will crush you. Shaman typically survives on very efficient removal, and flooding the board. You will eventually wear them down with damage, so you want to spend most of the game clearing to avoid falling behind due to things like Flametongue Totem. This means trying to get as much value as possible from the cards that you have. Bait out their storms early, and then make plays based on what you have seen. For instance, if you have already seen a Lightning Storm but no Hex, it is much better to play a Ram Wrangler on turn six than Savannah Highmane. However, if the reverse is true, it is best to run out the lion.
Though this deck is not Midrange Hunter (what did I say about Eaglehorn Bow?!?) it mulligans in the exact same way. It is all about the curve here, and you do not change what you keep based on your opponent (mostly). The must keeps are as follows: King’s Elekk, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper and Webspinner. Each of these cards are what enable you to move to the next stage of the game, and really power your support cards. My relationship with this deck is still rather new, so I am not sure about the mulligans regarding traps, but I never once kept one in my games, as the scientist is so much better. While you might want to keep Bear Trap against aggro, or try to get Snake Trap triggered right away, I don’t think those cards are actually better than just trying to find your early threats. As always, things do change a bit with the coin. If you have the coin, you want to keep Animal Companion for one of the best two drops in the game. If you have the coin and also have a good early curve, I also really like keeping Oasis Snapjaw and Houndmaster for a really solid turn three play.
The only situational mulligans in this deck are Quick Shot, Unleash the Hounds, Dreadscale and Ironbeak Owl. Owl is almost never necessary, but should be taken against Hunter, Mage and Warlock. Quick Shot follows the exact same rules, but you want it against Priest and Warrior to deal with Northshire Cleric and Acolyte of Pain as well. Dreadscale and unleash both serve the same purpose, tools to fight the swarm. Both of these cards are very strong clears that take down aggro decks when played at the right time. You want them against Paladin, Mage (if you see Tempo), Token Druid and Hunter. They can also be good against Shaman just in case they spam the board. Beyond that, Hunter’s Mark is only kept for the Druid matchup to play around Innervate.
Well, there you have it, my first look into the new meta. I am back and TGT is underway. It is a pretty exciting time for anyone who plays this game, and we should all be excited to try out some new decks. Once the new season hits I will be trying out some Malygos Shaman, and seeing if I can bring it back to the greatness it once had…If it ever had greatness. Anyway, glad to be back, hope you guys are enjoying the new set, and I hope you all gave a great week. Until next time, may your Elekk’s always return from their jousts victorious.