Weekly Top Legend Decks #1

Hello everyone! At HSP we always want to write about things that are interesting to you. After doing some research and analyzing most popular topics, we’ve found out that you really like to see compilations of good decks, decks that hit Legend (or can easily do so), but are interesting at the same time. You […]

Introduction

Hello everyone! At HSP we always want to write about things that are interesting to you. After doing some research and analyzing most popular topics, we’ve found out that you really like to see compilations of good decks, decks that hit Legend (or can easily do so), but are interesting at the same time. You like innovation – not the same, stale Secret Paladin & Face Hunter meta all the time.

We’re in the middle of League of Explorers right now and it’s a perfect time to release the first part of our new series. The meta is shifting all the time, some old, dusty stuff doesn’t work any more and I bet a lot of you are looking for a new, fun deck to play.

I’ll provide you the top decklists that are Legend-worthy from both community and pro players. All the decks were also tested by me in Legend! I’ll talk about each of them a bit, do a short analysis and explain how it works. I hope that you’ll like it.

Reynad’s Face Shaman

Overview

The thing I want to start with is that yes, I know, a lot of people have tried very similar decks after Tunnel Trogg has came out. It’s not really Reynad’s original concept/idea, but this exact list is the one Reynad has used + he has popularized the deck on his stream. That’s why I’ve called it “Reynad’s” deck.

Aggro Shaman, Face Shaman, SMOrc Shaman, call it what you want. Every name tells you one story, and it’s the story of smashed faces.

The deck is… terrifying. When I was testing Reno Paladin, I was really happy to see an Aggro deck. And I drew Reno on turn 2. “What could go wrong?” Well, you could die on turn 5, before you can even play Reno. That’s how this deck operates. I’ve got to test this deck a bit. In the games with perfect draws, you could win on turn 4. If you drop double Tunnel Trogg and enemy can’t answer it, the game is bound to end quickly. Two points of overload means that you have two 3/3 1-drops. In Aggro deck. You can see where this is going. A simple Lava Burst is dealing not 5, but 9 damage to the face with two Troggs in the play. And the fact that the attack buff stays (as opposed to let’s say Mana Addict‘s one), it makes overloading feel like an advantage instead of disadvantage.

I think this is the first deck that truly takes advantage of the overload. I mean, the mechanic is obviously a downside. Shaman cards without overload would actually be crazy. But over the time, Shamans were given some ways to fight with the overload (Lava Shock) or even turn it into an advantage (Unbound Elemental, Tunnel Trogg). Right now, there are only 3 cards like that, and after seeing this deck I think that Blizzard might want to go in a different direction with their anti-overload mechanics design. Two of those cards are used in this deck for a simple reason – when you overload, they gain stats.

Gaining stats “for free” is very strong. The thing is, you want to drop that Totem Golem on turn 2 or you want to Lightning Bolt opponent’s Knife Juggler anyway. You would do that no matter if you had Trogg/Unbound in play or not. So if you can gain free stats while doing the things you wanted to do anyway – that’s awesome!

Another thing is that Aggro decks are much better at dealing with overload than Midrange/Control decks. For Control deck, being at 3 mana on turn 5 often means a dead turn (Totem + pass). They just don’t run enough small drops to fit them into the overloaded turns. This deck does. Even if you’re overloaded, a lot of times you can still do stuff. You’re at 2 mana on turn 4? Sure, you can drop a 2-drop. Or two 1-drops. Or just Crackle something (even face if enemy has no minions, why not).

The deck uses Mechs as a base. Mech Shaman was known to be a very powerful Aggro deck, but maybe a little bit inconsistent. Mech part of the deck is extremely efficient.

  • Cogmaster is so good when you have a Mech on the board (it’s a Flame Imp without health losing downside).
  • Mechwarper allows you to gain more tempo and 2/3 is an okay statline anyway.
  • Annoy-o-Tron is not threatening by itself, but it puts a wall between opponent and your more valuable minions. Especially great against weapon classes – where is your Fiery War Axe now, Warrior?
  • Whirling Zap-o-Matic is an absolute MVP in 2-drop slot. I bet every Aggro deck would run it if it could. The Windfury effect on a 3/2 body means that it is guaranteed to push 6 damage per turn (and possibly even more if you buff it).
  • Spider Tank is just a solid 3-drop, 3/4 is pretty hard to remove so early and you can often get it out for cheaper thanks to Mechwarper.
  • Powermace combines a removal, burn and buff in one. While 3/2 weapon is already okay by itself in an Aggro deck (like Hunter’s Eaglehorn Bow is alright even if it doesn’t get more durability), the +2/+2 buff on a Mech is phenomenal. It’s great no matter which Mech you will hit, but it shines on Annoy-o-Tron (because of Divine Shield) and Zap-o-Matic (because of Windfury).

But that’s not even half of the deck. After all, it’s not a Mech Shaman, but something new. Besides the Mech base, we have an Overload part:

  • Foremost cards in this part are obviously the two minions that just can’t get enough of overloading. Tunnel Trogg looks like an innocent 1-drop. At first I’ve actually thought that he’s going to be used in a way Zombie Chow is – in slower decks, Midrange/Control Shaman, to fight against the aggression. Oh how naive I was. He’s one of the most important cards in the Aggro deck. Being 1/3 for 1 is not good enough, but it’s a solid start. Just one point of overload (which is pretty easy to get in this deck) makes him a 2/3 for 1. That’s already a Zombie Chow that doesn’t heal your opponent. For an Aggro deck, that’s a big deal. But it gets even better – with more overload it almost turns into a pre-nerf Undertaker, snowballing really hard. Having a, for example, 4/3 1-drop is great no matter how you look at it.
  • The second card is Unbound Elemental. I remember the times where it was used in every Shaman deck and commonly seen on the ladder (yeah, Shamans were commonly seen on the ladder once). The card is pretty good if you run a lot of Overload. The 2/4 for 3 doesn’t cut it, but even after just one overload spell (which you probably will play on the same or next turn), that’s already a 3/5 for 3 – kinda like Blackwing Technician. But it can grow even further. This time gaining not only attack, but also health, so it gets more threatening and harder to remove with each passing turn.
  • And now to the overload cards themselves. Totem Golem from TGT is just a solid 2-drop with a stats of a 3-drop and 1 point of overload. It’s kinda a Spider Tank that you can get one turn earlier, but you pay the additional mana next turn. It’s a good card in most of the Shaman decks (because of how efficient 3/4 is at dealing with opponent’s 1-drops and 2-drops), but the overload part might actually come handy here. The standard opening is Tunnel Trogg into Totem Golem – and now suddenly you have 2/3 and 3/4 on the board on turn 2.
  • Then we have the burn/removal cards – Lightning Bolt, Crackle and Lava Burst. In the early game, you use those to kill enemy minions, so you don’t have to trade yours. Your minions on the board are more important than spells in your hand, because minions can attack more than once, so if you protect them, it leads to more damage over time. Later in the game, once you get enemy low enough, you use those to finish opponent off. Also, if you have Trogg or Unbound on the board you might use them on opponent’s Hero before even getting him into lethal range. Buffing your minions is important too and if you don’t have anything else to do, don’t waste your mana.
  • And last, but not least, is the Doomhammer. One of the strongest weapons in the game, especially useful in the long, drawn-out games. It threatens 4 damage per turn over 4 turns, making it 16 damage in total. That’s absolutely phenomenal for a 5 (7) mana card. Even if enemy stabilizes, if he kills all your minions, you’re going to finish a lot of games by just smacking him into the with this. It also has insane synergy with Rockbiter Weapon, which adds 6 damage for just 1 mana (anyone ordered 1 mana Fireball to the face?)

We also have two cards that don’t fit into any of those categories. Those are Rockbiter Weapon and Leper Gnome. The first one is mainly to have another early game removal and for the combo with Doomhammer. The second one is… well.. it’s a Leper Gnome. Awesome in every Aggro deck. It gives you another 1-drop, helps to fill out your curve and provides at least 2 points of damage.

Strategy

This section will be pretty short, because this deck is incredibly easy to pilot. The general strategy is to hit opponent’s face until he dies. There are honestly only couple of points I want to make:

  • Use your burn as the early game removal. There is no point in keeping that Lightning Bolt to deal 3 face damage if you have some minions on the board. Minions are going to push for more damage over the time.
  • Try to keep your overload cards until you have Tunnel Trogg or Unbound Elemental on the board. That’s not always the case, sometimes you need to use them even without those. But for example, if you already have Unbound in your hand and you need to remove opponent’s 2-drop, you’d prefer to use Rockbiter Weapon or Powermace to hit it instead.
  • Plan using your overload cards looking at what you can do next turn. For example, if it’s turn 3 and you plan to use Unbound Elemental next turn, you don’t really want to Lava Burst. It makes things awkward by, for example, leaving you with only Hero Power next turn.
  • Maximum tempo. Try to use every mana point each turn. This deck has incredible tempo and a lot of decks have very hard time catching up – that’s what you need to abuse in order to win. Don’t try to play the value game, because it won’t work.
  • Almost half of your deck is a way to instantly deal damage. It means that setting up opponent at very low health is viable play even if you don’t have a way to finish him now. There is a huge chance that you’re going to draw something that can kill him.

Alternate/Tech Cards

  • Silence – Aggro decks and Silence work very well together. After all, taunt is cheat and face is the place. When opponent plays a Sludge Belcher, you have to waste whole 7 damage to go through it, possibly even sacrificing some of your minions. Silence can just bypass it. Not to mention that it’s also solid against other cards like Mad Scientists or Doomsayers. There are really only two options you might consider – Earth Shock or Ironbeak Owl. Earth shock is a little more flexible, because it costs 1 less mana and can be also used to deal 1 damage to kill opponent’s 1 health minions. On the other hand, Ironbeak Owl provides a 2/1 body, which enemy has to deal with one way or another. Both are viable, so the choice is up to you.
  • Fel Reaver – It was one of the reasons why Mech Shaman was so strong. And it fits this deck too. A massive 8/8 body for 5 mana gives nightmares to your opponents. This deck has no card that is really necessary, no combo, so it doesn’t really matter which card in your deck you’re drawing – it’s basically the same. It’s been recently used in an Aggro Druid, with a great results. The problem with Fel Reaver is that he’s hard countered by Big Game Hunter and Aldor Peacekeeper, both of which are pretty popular on the ladder.
  • Jeeves – The problem with the deck is that it runs out of cards a little bit too fast. And while Face Hunter always has 2 damage per turn no matter what he draws, Aggro Shaman struggles with playing with empty hand. Drawing a Mechwarper on turn 6-7 where your board is empty and enemy started gaining the control really sucks. It’s often snowball or bust. Jeeves gives a nice way to refill your hand. It comes handy when you’re out of cards and you’re digging for lethal. When instead of 1 card you start with 4 next turn, the chances that you have a way to finish off the enemy is quite high. The downside of Jeeves is that it’s a dead card until you play your whole hand and that since the effect is mirrored, if you play against another fast deck you might actually give THEM a way to kill you (luckily, you get to play the new cards first, so it’s still better for you).

wabeka’s Enhance-o Mechano Zoo

Author’s original Reddit post about the deck.

Overview

While Enhance-o Mechano had seen some play here and there, in Zoo, in Shaman, in Druid, it was never a popular choice. wabeka has made a deck around it and it’s been really successful. He’s currently playing around rank 100-200 on NA, while peaking as high as rank 6. This result definitely puts this deck into a “viable” category.

Enhance-o Mechano can be incredibly strong card given the right deck. His effect scales really well with your board size. While all 3 outcomes are pretty good, you’re generally looking for the Windfury and Divine Shield. The first one lets you put a lot of pressure on your opponent, while the second one allows free trades, gaining you a lot of value. Taunt is not that good, because you want to be the one initiating the trades anyway. But it’s very cool if you hit it on the Nerubian Egg, giving you a free activator! Great thing about the card is also a surprise factor – since it’s yet not a popular choice, people rarely play around it or even expect it. The only downside of Enhance-o Mechano is that it absolutely requires you to have some board presence to be useful. A 3/2 minion for 4 mana is garbage if you don’t have anything to buff with it.

There are a lot of differences between this and the standard Midrange Demon Zoo. Both of the decks focus on the board control and rely on the mid game tempo swings. In the standard Zoo’s case, the swings come from Voidcaller, while here Enhance-o Mechano does the job. Both are incredibly strong, but the thing is that the first one works even on the empty board. The second one doesn’t. That’s why this list runs even more 1-drops – 8 in total + possibly 2 more from the Dark Peddler. Going into Enhance turn you want to have as many minions on the board as you can, so the more small drops you run, the better synergy it has with the deck. Warlock is probably the only class that can use so many small drops without running out of steam too fast. Thanks to the Hero Power, even though 20 out of 30 cards in the deck cost 1 or 2 mana, the deck can play the longer games without fizzling out.

Even though the deck is much faster than the standard Zoo, it’s NOT an Aggro deck. Board control and making efficient trades is still number one priority. Mindlessly going face might sometimes win you the games, but that’s not the point behind the deck.

Zombie Chow might seem like a strange addition to such a fast deck, but the author already addressed that concern. Zombie Chow is the best-statted neutral 1-drop in the game. The deck runs 2 Chows for the same reason it runs 2 Flame Imps – to have absolutely best early board presence and to make efficient trades. The deck’s main win condition is having the board control – in this case healing opponent for 5 is not a big deal. If you plan on using Enhance-o Mechano later in the game, it gives a nice thing to drop on the same turn to gain more Enhance value. And frankly, I feel the same – Zombie Chow feels like it belong in this deck. Healing the opponent rarely matters and if it does, only in certain matchups. Against the fast decks you often don’t even have time to hit enemy in the face for the first couple of turns, making Zombie Chow a perfect choice.

What is probably the most fun part of this deck are the big swing/burst turns. Enemy dropped 2 minions that trade really well against your board? Drop the bas… MECHANO and see how useful Divine Shields are. Enemy is at 20 health and you have only 7 damage on the board? No problem. Windfury on a 3 attack minion + Power Overwhelming + Abusive Sergeant is 18 damage. That’s right. Enhance-o Mechano can turn innocent Zombie Chow into a murderous killer on the rampage.

The deck tops the curve with Loatheb, Dr. Boom and Sea Giant. Believe it or not, every of those has awesome synergy with the deck. Dropping Loatheb protects your board against AoE and assures that at least some of it survives if you play on dropping the Mechano next turn. Dr. Boom, besides being an overall solid drop and arguably the strongest Legendary in the game, has 3 bodies. While they don’t always survive until next turn, if they do – you have 3 targets for buffs. And Sea Giant has obvious synergy with the number of minions you have on the board, just like Mechano. You want to have a lot of stuff on the board, meaning you often can drop it for 2-3 mana. Not to mention that every buff works very well on your Giant – Windfury is obviously MVP, allowing you to push for 16 damage with the Giant alone, but Divine Shield allows you to kill anything you want without the Giant taking damage and Taunt, well, 8/8 with Taunt is never a bad thing to have (at least until The Black Knight comes back into the meta).

Strategy

  • First turns play out very similar to the standard Zoo deck. Curving out should be even easier – it’s almost impossible to miss a 1-drop if you’re mulliganing for them. Do the usual thing – play around removals the best you can, make the most valuable trades and try to have some stuff on the board all the time.
  • Against the Aggro decks you don’t need the crazy Mechano combos to win. Your main goal is just to do the Zoo stuff – kill all their minions and hit them with yours. Those matchups are pretty straightforward and Mechano isn’t necessarily great in them. Actually, getting the Taunt might be the best – but Defender of Argus is just better. Still, with the amount of small drops you have, it’s very easy to just counter everything enemy has with your own minions.
  • In slower matchups, Mechano is often your main win condition. If you can, keep the Power Overwhelming and Abusive Sergeant to combo with Windfury. That’s the way you’re going to win a lot of games – dealing 20+ burst damage when enemy doesn’t suspect it. It’s awesome against stuff like Handlock or Freeze Mage. They usually think that they can afford to take some early/mid game damage, but they pretty much never play around such a burst.
  • Sea Giant should be a tempo play most of the time. While getting him out for 6-7 is fine in some cases, the card’s main strength is getting a very big body for almost free. Then, even if he gets sniped by Big Game Hunter, you’re only losing on the value, not on the tempo.
  • Dark Peddler is awesome because of how flexible it is. When it comes to Warlock cards, in the faster matchups you generally want either Voidwalker or Mortal Coil – both shine against 1 health minions. In the slower matchups, you’re really looking for Power Overwhelming. While it might not be useful right away, it allows the Windfury + double (or even triple!) Power Overwhelming dream to crush the opponent’s plans and dreams. Reliquary Seeker is also surprisingly good thing to pick, because with this list you pretty often have nearly full board.

Alternate/Tech Cards

  • Doomguard – With the lack of Voidcallers, Doomguard’s value goes down. But on the other hand, the amount of small drops makes it much easier to drop the whole hand before turn 5 – and then turn 5 Doomguard is an incredibly strong play. It might also be used as an alternate finisher, 5 damage from your hand is often handy to kill the unsuspecting enemy.
  • Argent Squire – On the on hand, it fits the theme on the sticky board & board presence. While 1 attack is very low, the Divine Shield makes it good in both Aggro and Control matchups. Against Aggro it’s a great way to deal with the 1 health minions and against Control it’s very annoying to kill – either it chops the 1 health off every turn or gets some good trades after getting bugged. The problem is that it doesn’t have a huge synergy with Enhance-o Mechano. Divine Shield is useless and Windfury on 1 attack minion also isn’t particularly good, so the only buff you really want on your Squire is Taunt.

LBYS’ Aggro Freeze Mage

Author’s original Reddit post about the deck.

Overview

A very interesting approach. It might be new to a lot of you, but it looks very similar to the Aggro Mage deck that Chinese player Tiddler brought to some tournaments. He popularized it on the Chinese ladder, but it never really got through to Europe or America.

The deck is a mix between an Aggro deck and a Freeze Mage. It might seem silly on the first sight, but it actually works. And it’s much, much harder to play than the average Aggro deck.

I’ll be honest with you – I went 0-6 with this deck before I’ve even started winning (probably it had something to do with the fact that 4 out of those were Reno Jackson decks, though). First 30 games – about 35% win rate (I was grinding those Legend points like mad). But next 30 games – 58% win rate. I’d probably do even better after playing this deck even more. The thing is, piloting this deck is pretty counter-intuitive. From the beginning we learn that using burn on opponent’s face just like that is not a good play. But when playing this deck it actually is a lot of time. For example, I’ve often played Forgotten Torch on 3 or Fireball on 4 to hit opponent’s Hero. Why? Because those are going there anyway, sooner or later. You DON’T use your burn to kill minions anyway, so if your other play was to just Hero Power + pass, why not?

The deck’s idea is to use the early game minions to deal some damage and/or control the board and then… stall. And draw. And stall even more. And kill opponent with the burn. You have enough burn in your deck to kill the enemy easily and you should be able to stall the game for at least 4 turns (outside of the early game where you’re the one pushing and the mid game where you don’t need to really stall yet against most of the decks). After the early game, it plays a little similarly to the Freeze Mage. But instead of the Alexstrasza and all the AoE, you have more early game and even more card draw. Even though it’s Aggro deck, I rarely have more than 10 cards left in my deck when I finish the game. With 2x Loot Hoarder, Bloodmage Thalnos, 2x Mad Scientist, 2x Arcane Intellect and 2x Coldlight Oracle, you cycle through your deck really fast.

The problem with deck is that it’s a little inconsistent. If you draw into your burn in the opening hand and you don’t have the early game minions to put the initial pressure, you won’t win that game. Since this deck really sucks at keeping the board control, the first 3 or 4 turns are your only opportunity to get some minion damage in. Even one Sludge Belcher completely stops your minion damage. On the other hand, if you don’t draw into your stall in the mid game, you can just die around turn 5-6 since you don’t contest the board. The deck is also very weak against opponent’s that can gain a lot of health in the short time (or accumulate A LOT of health like Warrior) – meaning Reno Jackson just completely stops it. It’s also countered by Loatheb, maybe even harder than the classic Freeze Mage.

In the righ circumstances, it might be really strong deck. But if I had to pick the most draw dependant deck in the game (both your and your opponent’s draws) this one would be a strong contender. Just like it can just crush enemy without giving him a chance to react, it can also be countered without giving you a slight chance to win. Play at your own risk!

Strategy

  • Prioritize minions over spells. Minions will be useless in the mid/late game outside of their Deathrattles – spells will be good the whole game. So play as many minions as you can before playing them becomes pointless.
  • Go to the face. That’s right – your minions go one direction. You don’t trade, unless the trade is really good and opponent’s minion is high value target. Like, throwing Leper Gnome into Knife Juggler is fine, but you don’t want to trade him into let’s say Mad Scientist. It really depends on the matchup, but your goal is to push for at least 10 damage with your early game stuff.
  • Mad Bomber is used mainly against other Aggro decks and Paladins. But if you don’t have anything to drop – drop it on turn 2, even in those matchups against the empty board. The only situation where I’d consider keeping it and just pinging is when you already have Leper Gnome or Loot Hoarder on the board. In the matchups where you don’t need the Bomber’s effect AND you have 1 health minions in your hand already, you might want to play Bomber before them, so you don’t accidentally hit your own stuff.
  • Coldlight Oracle is a source of draw, but also a body on the board – you need to remember that. In the matchups where you really need the early minion pressure (like against Control Warrior or Priest), dropping it on turn 3 over Arcane Intellect is not a bad idea. If you don’t want to give opponent cards in the early game, because they let’s say don’t curve out well, playing AI is better.
  • Arcane Golem can also be played on turn 3 to go to the face. You generally don’t keep it – later in the game where you have NO way to get through the Taunts, it’s going to be a dead card. So you need to play it before enemy Taunts up. You don’t really care about giving him the 1 mana that much. Enemy has to spend his next turn removing it anyway OR you’re going to hit with it twice, which is the win-win situation.
  • Frost Nova serves two purposes. First is protecting the board. If you have some board presence and enemy plays his minions, you can use Frost Nova to just freeze them and push for one more round of face damage. It’s especially good if you have Mana Wyrm or even two on the board, because it also buffs them. Later in the game, when your minions are already dead, you use it to stall the game. It’s awesome against decks that rely on board to deal damage = a lot of them. Once they get ~10 power on the board, you just Frost Nova to give yourself a turn and use the rest of mana to draw/play burn spell into their face.
  • Playing Ice Block is a tempo loss, so don’t do that unless enemy threatens lethal. You generally should have a lot of other stuff to do anyway. If you drew only one, there is still a chance you’re going to draw into Mad Scientist – you prefer to get Ice Block from Scientist, because not only you don’t have to pay the 3 mana cost (which is quite a lot in this deck), but you also thin your deck, increasing the chances you’ll draw into burn.
  • The burn cards are going one way – face. The only situations where the burn can be used on minions are when it’s going to buy you a lot of time (e.g. killing that Knife Juggler on turn 2 with Frostbolt probably buys you like two turns in a long run) or when it’s going to get you more damage in total (e.g. if you have 2-3 minions on the board and enemy plays Sludge Belcher, you might Fireball it just so your minions can go through and also threaten damage next turn).
  • Sometimes you want to keep Bloodmage Thalnos for an unexpected burst. For example, if you have 2x Frostbolt and 2x Ice Lance in your hand, if you combine them with Bloodmage Thalnos – that’s 18 damage from your hand for 8 mana. Opponent’s rarely play around that.
  • Don’t use both of your Frostbolts before using Ice Lances. After both Frostbolts are gone, Ice Lances are suddenly much worse. One is doing nothing and two are only 4 damage, as opposed to 8. While your first Frostbolt can be used however you want, even as a removal, the second one should be kept to combo with Ice Lances OR for other lethal opportunity (if it comes before you draw Lances).

Alternate/Tech Cards

  • Doomsayer – That’s probably the best minion in the game to combo with Frost Nova. Even though it’s a little vulnerable to Silence, if it triggers – it buys you even more time. Frost Nova stops the damage, but doesn’t deal with the minions. Against the full board enemy is still probably threatening 15+ damage. On the other hand, Doomsayer gets rid of those, so you have at least one free turn to draw, play minions and don’t worry about dying in general.
  • Acolyte of Pain – Another source of card draw, but also a minion to play. It’s so good in the matchups where it can actually get some trades too – like against Paladin or Face Hunter. As a Mage, you can obviously ping it to draw more cards, but it’s not really necessary – even just cycling it is usually good enough. It also tanks at least 3 damage most of the time, because opponents are likely to one-shot it if they can.
  • Cone of Cold/Blizzard – Another ways to stall the game. The 1/2 damage part isn’t really important here – it’s the freeze effect that’s good. Sometimes you’re just one mana short to kill the enemy, or you just need to stall the game for a turn longer to draw into something good. And those might allow you to do so. I’d probably add a Doomsayer if I played one more freeze too.
  • Emperor Thaurissan – That’s a kinda weird idea in the deck that’s after all an Aggro one, but it might help in some slower matchups. Sometimes you have pretty much full hand of draw, burn and other stuff, but you just don’t have enough mana to play it all. Thaurissan might make your spells easier to combo with each other, while also allowing some crazy 20+ damage turns that enemy won’t suspect.

Flood’s Tempo/Raptor Rogue

Author’s original HearthPwn post about the deck.

Overview

It’s been a week since the release of the League of Explorer’s second wing. After some initial bugs and problems (with people disconnecting when Unearthed Raptor is played, I’ve heard that the bug is still not 100% fixed) and a lot of optimization, people are starting to make the Raptor decks good enough.

The deck’s base is – obviously – Unearthed Raptor with some Deathrattle minions. The quality and quantity of those minions vary from deck to deck. Some like to include only the early and mid game Deathrattle minions and go for the more aggressive style, while others like the late game bombs like Sylvanas Windrunner or even Sneed’s Old Shredder to abuse the Raptor’s Battlecry to maximum. Flood took the middle-ground approach and it worked great for him, because he peaked at rank 1 Legend in NA.

The deck’s early game is actually very slow – with Loot Hoarder, Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg in the 2-drop slot, it’s nowhere close to the strongest 2-drops like Knife Juggler or the Shielded Minibot. They all share one similarity – having some sort of Deathrattle. And while Loot Hoarder is easy to remove, Creeper and Egg are very likely to stick. And then, turn 3 comes… Unearthed Raptor is what makes this deck successful. The dream is to play Egg on turn 2 and then follow it with Raptor on turn 3. Suddenly, you have a 3/4 that Deathrattles into a 4/4. Imagine if Piloted Shredder always dropped the Millhouse Manastorm and costed 1 less mana. Here you have it. And then, you can follow it with a Defender of Argus on turn 4 – just for a good measure. Now you have 1/3, 2/3 and 4/5 on the board and two of them spawn 4/4’s on death.

If you get the dream start, a lot of games just end there. But honestly, that’s not the only reason the deck is strong. The truth is that Raptor is a very flexible card and it’s strong at any stage of the game. While copying an Egg’s Deathrattle is probably best, even if you copy the other stuff it’s also fine. 3/4 for 3 are already good stats AND you’re gaining something more – drawing a card, spawning two 1/1’s – so the Raptor rarely doesn’t get value.

The deck doesn’t go all-in on the Raptor strategy, though. It has solid mid game with stuff like Piloted Shredder, Sludge Belcher, Azure Drake and Loatehb. Late game is also covered with Sylvanas Windrunner and Dr. Boom. I’ve won quite a lot of the games without EVER drawing the Raptor, thanks to the cards quality. So while the strategy is based around it, it’s not the only win condition.

Sylvanas + Raptor combo is probably my favorite one. One Sylvanas already makes things awkward for the enemy – two are often impossible to win against. That’s probably the best thing you can copy in the slower matchups. That’s a good thing about this deck – it fares well both in faster and slower matchups, so it should be a solid deck to ladder with. It’s still not completely refined and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of other iterations over the next weeks, but it’s already good enough to be played competitively.

Strategy

  • First you need to identify the matchup and then you need to play accordingly. When you play against Aggro decks, you take more tempo plays, while against Control you want the value. For example – dropping an Abusive Sergeant as a 2/1 in Aggro matchups is a good play, but in Control one you should generally keep it as an Egg activator or to make your trades more efficient. Even Unearthed Raptor can be just dropped as a 3/4 in Aggro matchup if you have nothing to copy. It’s definitely better than just skipping the turn.
  • Use your Raptor’s Battlecry depending on the situation and the matchup. For example, if you’re running out of cards you want to copy the Hoarder’s or Thalnos’ Deathrattle. Or for example Piloted Shredder‘s Deathrattle vs Haunted Creeper‘s one – against decks that run a lot of 1 health minions you might prefer to take the 2x 1/1 instead of a random 2-drop.
  • Without weapon buffs and Blade Flurry, Fan of Knives is your only way to deal AoE damage in this deck. It means that there is no way to make a huge 5+ damage Blade Flurry swing to come back into the game – you need to control the board all the time. Luckily, FoK is not always 1 damage – you can easily combo it with Spell Damage from Bloodmage Thalnos and/or Azure Drake. 2 damage is easy, but on turn 10 you might even drop both of those to deal 3 damage with it. Backstab and Eviscerate also get a nice bonus from Spell Damage, making it easier to remove enemy board or allowing you to push for lethal.
  • Since a lot of your minions require some kind of board to get full value (Abusive Sergeant, Unearthed Raptor, Defender of Argus) AND it’s hard to come back once you lose the board control, value the good trades over pushing for damage. It’s not an Aggro deck that wants to rush enemy down, even though you’re sometimes going to do so. You want to get the overwhelming board control and then slowly push while removing the opponent’s minions at the same time.
  • If you really need to, you can use Backstab to activate your own Nerubian Egg. While it’s not the best value ever, you sometimes might really need that 4/4 in play, while Backstab can be a dead card on a given turn.
  • Even without activators Nerubian Eggs might be useful in certain matchup. They protect your board from AoE – if enemy throws one, he activates them for you, while also giving the 4/4’s “charge” (because you can instantly attack with them on your turn). Having inactivated Eggs is cool against let’s say Freeze Mage (Blizzard, Flamestrike) or Control Warrior (Brawl).

Alternate/Tech Cards

  • Cold Blood – A lot of people have been running it as an alternative way to activate the Eggs. Besides that, it might be also used just to buff one of your minions and push for quite a lot of damage. +4 damage for 1 mana is very good, but it works much better in more aggressive decks. If you want to turn your deck into more Aggro-oriented, this will probably be a good start.
  • Sap – One of the best tempo cards in the game, Sap is useful in most of Rogue decks. In situations where you’re an aggressor, it might help you with bypassing the Taunt or protect your board for one turn. If you’re playing defensively, it might save you health or get rid of a buffed minion (the buff doesn’t come back into opponent’s hand, luckily). It’s a solid card that might find its way to pretty much every Rogue deck.
  • Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil – A way to burst enemy down. Even if you get only one attack with the minions, Tinker’s is 9 damage for 4 mana (+3 more for every other attack on buffed minion besides the first one). It also gives you another way to activate the Nerubian Egg – though a little random with more minions on the board.  Running one copy of this card can’t really be bad if you find yourself lacking the damage to finish the game.
  • Dark Iron Skulker – It can be used as an alternative way to clear the board, besides the Fan of Knives while providing a pretty nice body at the same time. It’s pretty weak in slow matchups, but shines against Aggro, often clearing the whole board on turn 5.
  • Antique Healbot – A pretty straightforward one. Yet another one that’s weak in slower matchups (because you’re the one putting pressure on the enemy, he has no time to hit you in the face), but shines in Aggro/Combo matchups (because your life is really precious and 8 points of healing can often buy you a turn or two). One copy is being played in the Oil Rogue decks and it might fit well into this one too.
  • Piloted Sky Golem – An alternative to Sylvanas Windrunner – most of the time a budget one. It’s in the same mana slot, with the same amount of stats, but with a slightly different effect. It’s better when dropped against the empty board, because even if you have nothing to steal – you still get a random 4-drop. But on the other hand, you always get a random 4-drop and you don’t remove one of the opponent’s minions like Sylvanas does. It really depends on the situation, but I think that Sylvanas is generally a better choice here.
  • Kel’thuzad – It was used by Flood in the previous iteration of the deck. Since this Rogue list is very, very board-centric and you pretty much fight for the board control for the whole game + you have a lot of Deathrattle minions, Kel’thuzad seems like a nice late game card. It is, that’s true, but it might also be a little too slow. If you find yourself playing in a lot of slow, value-oriented matchups (as opposed to fast, tempo-oriented ones), adding Kel’thuzad might be a good way to top your curve off.

Closing

Thank you for your attention. I hope that you’ve liked my analysis of the top Legend decks from the last week. I’d really like to highlight more of them, but there are just so many and I had to pick only a few. Sorry if your favorite deck didn’t get to the list – if you still want to share it, you can do it in the comments!

If you want to submit your own decklist – send it to me at [email protected] with a proof of Legend, matchups statistics (it’s best to use some sort of tracker for that), your own thoughts and stuff like that. Or if you’ve already described the deck somewhere, you can just send me the link to your Reddit/Hearthpwn/etc. post! I’ll definitely try to put at least one deck submitted by you guys every week.

If you have any other suggestions or comments, leave them in the section below!