Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first three installments of this month’s Brewmaster series to get caught up to speed.
Another month comes to a close. I say this with a heavy heart, as December is one of my favorite times of the year. It has been a very good month, and the final days are finally upon us. While I have no idea what the future holds, I do know that Mech Priest is finally at its end. It was really awesome ride, and one of the most fun decks I’ve played in some time. This is a series that I only hope expands as the months move on, especially because of the diversity that is currently in the Hearthstone meta. We are heading right into a new year, and I still have much to learn about myself, the meta and this game. You never know what is going to happen, but I do know that the future is bright and careful planning is worth a lot more than trying to do things on a whim.
Ever since the early days of beta, good board control decks have always been really strong. This one is no exception. Especially because it comes at a time where controlling the game is more important than ever. Priest is one of the best decks at taking over the board because of its innate ability to heal minions and buff health. Those buffs help you steadily take over the board and give you a way to constantly control the game by making sure your minions never die. While the curve of this deck may still be a tad too high for my liking, I think this version is in the right spot. I will never claim that there is an “optimal” build to a deck, but this is very close to where this deck wants to be. Just remember that there are a lot of mechs in the game, and you can always tweak the numbers to fit just exactly what you want. If you want to go big, you can. However, if you want to be more aggressive, that is an option as well.
Where We Are Now
When I come to the end of a season, I always like to look back and see what I did right, what I did wrong and things that could of been done differently. In terms of this deck, I think the most important part is removal. Even now, after four weeks, I am not sure what to do in terms of both spot removal and AOE. I think the Shadow Word: Pains and Vol’jin are both absolutely necessary, especially as more and more decks decide to run big cards. Almost every type of aggressive and midrange deck likes to get big, and you do not want to fall behind because you have to trade your board into a Dr. Boom or other finisher. A lot of games come down to tempo, and your removal spells act a lot like Power Overwhelming in those situations, letting you trade while also keeping minions on the board. No matter what tweaks you make I would not cut them as they are essential to winning a lot of games.
When it comes to AOE, I am also quite lost. I know that this deck wants some type of split between Holy Nova and Lightbomb but I still am not sure what the right combination is. Holy Nova is one of the best ways to deal with aggro and one of the few heals you have. However, there are many, many boards where two damage just doesn’t cut it. I have lost many games where I needed to get rid of a buffed Knife Juggler or similar minion that I just couldn’t kill. That makes me want to play Lightbomb. Not only does it have that extra reach, but it is a great catch up option that can bring you back into games where things just get out of control. For now, I am still doing a one/one split which lets you live in the middle ground and have access to both.
The last thing I want to discuss are the minions. You really want to find a balance between starting strong and that all-important late game punch. It is a hard place to get to you, but once you have that balance the deck operates very, very smoothly. There is one card that could easily be in this list:Clockwork Gnome. As discussed last week, I think this deck could of really used an extra one drop. In terms of Mechs that is really only going to be Clockwork Gnome. Cogmaster is another consideration, but it is much too situational for my liking. While the gnome is extremely underwhelming in terms of stats and power level, having more ways to start on turn one could be really important for the overall curve. I am just not sure it is worth sacrificing some of your top end plays.
This section will help to explain some of the cards I found to be the most interesting throughout the season.
I do not like this card. At all. A 1/3 for one is just not very strong these days unless you have a good buff to go along with it. As is, it dies to too many popular early drops like Knife Juggler and a buffed Mana Wyrm or Tunnel Trogg. It does have the advantage of eating removal, but it really isn’t meant to be played out on turn one. That being said, it is a necessary evil to playing this type of deck. I found that that you need card draw to make this style of deck work. While you have a lot of powerful minions, if you start to run low on threats you will almost always get ground down by your opponents. Cleric helps mitigate those situations by allowing you to search for extra threats or find removal options when the going gets tough.
Northshire Cleric has two different modes. Sometimes it is a one drop and sometimes it works as more of a Gnomish Inventor. As stated, a lot of powerful early game cards can kill or threaten the cleric without much trouble. You only want to play her down on turn one when going up against a decks that normally run early minions with two or less attack such as Hunter, Warlock (Zoo) or Paladin. There is always a chance that it could die to a Knife Juggler, but that is a risk you should take, especially if you have a strong curve coming after it. If you are going against a slower or more powerful deck, you can save cleric to play during the midgame. You commonly want to do this if you have some of your more resilient mid-game cards or a good opening curve. This will let you fill up your hand and put down a “must kill” minion to the board.
Man, Tinkertown Technician had a good run. However, all things must come to an end. The three drop was fine (and incredible when you had a mech) but too often it was a 3/3 for three with no ability. That is just nowhere near impactful enough to make it into a minion-heavy list like this one. On the other hand, Dark Cultist is always a 3/4 (good stats) and can help build up your board. The three drop is also very interesting because it is a card that your opponent almost always has to kill last. That means it most often gives your other cards psuedo-taunt, allowing you to force your opponent into a certain line of play. Always try to get this down with other minions if you can, whether that is on curve or not.
Of course, the best part of Dark Cultist is its ability. As Upgraded Repair Bot taught us, health is everything. Attack has its place in the game, but extra health allows you to run your minions into others and live. That is invaluable as today’s Hearthstone keeps moving towards a board-centric meta. You want to do everything you can to get this buff. Think of the cultist like Sylvanas Windrunner. You can play it on its own or as part of the curve, but you never want to just throw it out ahead of something else if it will just die. As mentioned above, the best way to play this card is with a board full of minions. Giving anything, from Harvest Golem to Dr. Boom, an extra three health can really help you maintain a strong board presence, which is key to winning the game.
I wanted to discuss this card in the final wrap up to further discuss the idea of card advantage when building a midrange deck. All good midrange decks depend on hardy minions and some types of card advantage. For Druid that card is Ancient of Lore, for Hunter it is Webspinner, and here it is Gorillabot A-3. When evaluating this card you need to look at two pieces, the stats and the ability. A 3/4 for four is way below the curve. However, it is a mech (which matters) and the ability is incredible. This card is in itself a midrange drop, but you can freely sculpt the card you get to fit whatever situation you’re in. Whether you need a finisher, another midrange card or small cost mech, this card will help you get it. Versatility is super important in Hearthstone, and discover is one of the ultimate forms of versatility.
What makes Gorillabot A-3 so interesting is that it doesn’t just draw a card (a la Azure Drake) it draws a mech. This is important for two reasons. One, while there are many mechs in the game, you know there is only a certain amount of cards that this can pull. For instance, I have won a couple games by playing Gorillabot over another card to get an Antique Healbot. Yes, the odds of that are very low, but sometimes you need to play to your outs. The other important part of this card is that it will always draw a minion. You are a deck that lives off of minions, which is why getting to discover a mech is much stronger than just drawing a card. In fact, there are many long games where I will drop this onto an empty board, get another small mech, and suddenly have two bodies to play off of.
Sneed’s Old Shredder
I started out this month’s series by discussing this deck’s finishers. When I first started I was unsure if it was necessary to have late game in this type of deck. At the end, I know it was the right choice. Sneed’s Old Shredder (despite being weak to Sylvanas Windrunner) has won me countless games and continues to be one of the most powerful cards around. Piloted Sky Golem and Dr. Boom both do a great job as dangerous threats, but they have nothing on the shredder. This card crushes so many decks in the game and has a strange balance where the card it drops (most of the time) is stronger than its first form. As such, always get this down onto the board when you get a chance, either because you are not under immediate pressure or have board control. While you may want to shift to some other finisher that has more of an impact when it comes down, know that having late game mechs is actually very important. There are still a good number of cards that need mechs to trigger, and a hard-to-remove mech like sneeds gives you a better chance of getting value from your topdecks.
What I learned
This month taught me a lot about midrange decks. While I have been to legend many times, I really don’t operate within the midrange sphere. Aggro is my specialty, and I love a good control list when I’m in the mood. There are two types of midrange decks in Hearthstone, and I flirted with both of them during this month. The first type (which I started with) is a much more board-centric build. In this type you want to just do what you can to clear and trade effectively. This will run your opponent out of threats or force them to use multiple cards to clear the board. The other version (which my deck is now) is built around playing large threat after large threat until you completely wear your opponent down into nothing. While Priest is good at keeping things alive, Mech Priest works a lot better as the second version because of the way mechs build off each other to keep everything alive.
Something else I learned is to always trust your gut instincts. When building a deck you are going to have certain ideas in mind at the start which will flesh out the more you play. I had a lot of ideas and card choices in the first week of this season. I waited on a lot of them, but they all (such as Piloted Sky Golem and Annoy-o-Tron) ended up being in the final version of the deck. While I ended up fine, I think I would of had a much easier climb and started out a lot quicker if I hadn’t waited. When making a deck from scratch don’t be afraid of your inclinations, and never shy away from your ideas. There is plenty of time to fail and plenty of time to succeed.
Board control is extremely important in this game, and it is the only thing that matters when you have a deck without a set finisher. Almost all decks in the current meta rely on burst or a big turn to win, but this one is much slower. This deck runs a lot like Zoo, expect lacks the finishing burst that the Warlock has. That means most of your games are going to come down to slow attrition, taking steady chunks out of your opponents health one turn at a time until they go to zero. If you want to make a deck that doesn’t have burst, you need to try and make sure you have enough strong minions to outlast games. In that same vein, never forget about how important your curve is. Without many spells you need your minions to carry most of the load.
Next month is almost upon us, and I would love to hear what suggestions you have for next season. Taunt Warrior is probably number one in my own book right now, but there are plenty of things to choose from in this crazy game (Call Pet Hunter is my number two). I had a blast with Mech Priest, but it is time for me to move on from the Midrange sphere. I hope you all have a great week and, until next time, may the mechs be with you…always. See you next year!