The New Standard: Quest Warrior (Take Two)
Last week we decided to go back to the old, looking at a deck from a few months ago. While that was a good trip back to the past, I don't think we went back quite far enough. This week we are setting the time machine dial back half a year and looking at a deck that has not seen the spot light in quite some time: Quest Warrior. Fire Plume's Hearthas always been a powerful card, and I think it's close-out potential (as shown in the video) has a ton of potential in the current meta. While there are still plenty of aggro decks running around, nothing takes someone down like eight damage a turn. There are several ways you could take this deck, but this week we're looking at Trump's list, which just has too much power too ignore. While I normally don't cover streamer builds, for this one I'll make an exception.
This section will explain certain key cards to the list as a whole.
We start this discussion with, not the quest, but the card the quest creates. I bring up over Fire Plume's Heartbecause, while you are a control deck, you need to be aggressive with your late-game damage. Eight damage a turn is a great way to control the board, but most of the time you'd rather have that damage go face. For that reason, I would say that I hit my opponent with Sulfuras ninety percent of the time I have it equipped. Yes, it can be used to clean a small minions and make way for your hero power, but the eight extra damage is able to do wonders as well. Do not simply assume you only need to control the board. Being too meek is one of the only ways to lose once you trigger Fire Plume. You want to put your opponent on a clock, and the weapon greatly helps with that.
I also want to note that you should try to save some removal or AOE for your quest if possible. Fire Plume's Heartis very strong, but it can also be played around if your opponent goes wide. To stop that, you want to make sure you have a Brawlor Sleep with the Fisheswaiting in the wings. Even something like a Blood Razorcan be strong in a pinch. Mass removal is always going to be powerful (especially now with so many swarm decks running around) but it gets even better once you're striking for eight. You just want anything that gives you more chances to hit your opponent in the face. There is nothing in the game that can out heal Ragnaros' power, and you want to constantly keep that in mind.
Sleep with the Fishes
While we have covered Brawlmany times on this series, I wanted to discuss Sleep with the Fishesbecause it is much more nuanced. Not only do you want to use it in a different way than most AOE, but you also need other cards to properly set it up. What makes the spell so strong is that it is cheap. The versatility of the two mana is fantastic, and makes it so you can squeak fishes in during different parts of your curve. Sometimes that means dropping it with an activator on turn four or five, and sometimes that means running it out turn ten alongside a Primordial Drake. This is important to note because you want to typically hold back sleep and play Brawl first. This saves you mana in the long run. The only exception to that is when your opponent's minions are going to get too big for sleep. In that case, get it out early.
Another interesting aspect of Sleep with the Fishesis that it is going to be completely dead in some situations. In fact, it is one of the only cards in your entire deck that can be completely blanked. You need to be aware of this and understand how you can get value from it. For example, if you can use Ravaging Ghoulto clear out three tokens against a Shaman or Aggro Druid it may be better to hold the ghoul back to keep a trigger for later turns. That extra waiting period may force you to take some damage, but being able to get a full AOE is going be worth it. That type of planning is essential with this card.
Acolyte of Pain
If Quest Warrior has one weakness, it is card draw. You need taunts to get your engine moving, but if you don't draw your minions or get the proper removal you can get overrun before you even take off. Acolyte of Paingreatly helps with this, and you need to make sure you can use it to dig through your deck. Unless you are absolutely sure the three drop is going to live (or you want it to die) you should only play the 1/3 out into situations where it can immediately net you a card. This is especially important against slower decks like Kazakus Preist and Jade Druid. Blood Razorand Ravaging Ghoulare how you get that trigger and, unless you need board presence, it is almost always going to be worth it to hold off an extra turn or two. That extra draw may not seem like a lot, but it can be the difference between winning and losing.
Do not underestimate how strong Acolyte of Painis against aggro. Many people do not see the 1/3 as a defensive card, but it is a fantastic way to buy some extra time. Now that Control Warrior no longer runs Fiery War Axe, the deck has less ways to shut down powerful early threats. As such, to prevent being overrun you need to be able to stall your opponent as much as possible. Acolyte is a great way to do that because your opponent is going to want to kill it as efficiently as possible. That then means the three drop will often eat three or more damage, which is quite a bit against Token Shaman, Hunter, or Aggro Druid. It is easy to focus on trying to gain value from the minion, but against faster decks you just want to play it out on curve.
Saronite Chain Gang
As shown in the videos, Saronite Chain Gangis an extremely powerful card in this list. While it does not count as two taunt triggers, the ability to have a pair of walls in invaluable. We currently live in a meta where many of the most popular decks can take down one threat pretty easily. Minions like Spellbreaker, Vilespine Slayer, and even Crazed Alchemistcan easily handle a gigantic taunt. However, putting down two walls, even if they are small, can do wonders against decks looking to break through for damage. There have been countless games where the second body on the chain gang has saved my life and allowed me to live to a key Brawlor removal spell. Even against aggro decks, two bodies for the price of one is a great deal. You don't need to get a lot of value out of chain gang, but you do want to make sure you use them correctly for different matchups. Against classes like Hunter and Shaman you should run them out when you can and hope they soak up some pressure. However, against decks that have specific taunt counters like Tempo Rogue and Pirate Warrior, you want to play them to bait removal before dropping one of your bigger bodies.
Alley Armorsmithhas always been a strong choice for Quest Warrior, and I wanted to cover it because it is far and away your most important minion. There are two ways to use this card. You can either try to set it up as a "must kill" threat to bait out burn or important removal, or you can use it as a pure finisher. What makes this card so special is that, barring a clutch silence, it is always going to get value in some way. Even if eats a Kill Commandor Fireballit is still stopping damage. Furthermore, if your opponent has no set answer to the five drop it is going to gain a disgusting amount of armor. Play to this card as much as you can and always try to run it out when your opponent has a weak board. This makes it so they have to answer it out of hand or they are going to give you a lot of health.
Alley Armorsmithis your finisher in aggressive games or matches where your opponent is attempting to wear you down. One of the biggest things about triggering Fire Plume's Heartis that you no longer have the ability to armor up. Yes, you get to eight damage a turn, but losing that extra health can leave you vulnerable against classes like Mage or Hunter. Armorsmith helps with that by giving you a way to still get that hero power each turn despite playing . That is vitally important in certain matches and will help you survive in games you would normally lose. If you're up against an opponent who can repeatedly do damage (Hunter, Priest, Warlock DK) then you need to try to save the 2/7 for the later turns if you can.
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Some of the most common matchups I see while playing ladder.
Hunter has exploded over the past two weeks, and you need to be ready for it. Luckily for you, this deck is. Big Time. As we covered in the videos, the way you pace this one is by throwing away your quest and looking for any early cards or Blood Razor. You then want to clear as many things as possible until you can draw into Fire Plume's Heart. That may not seem like a sustainable strategy, but it should work in your favor. You cannot beat Deathstalker Rexxarwithout the hero power, but you may not survive the early turns if you go down a card by keeping the quest. Trust in your removal, protect your health, and try to get as many taunts down as possible. In addition, do not be afraid to press for damage once you have the board. Hunter will most likely be answering you for most of the game. Get in hits while you can.
The biggest rule for surviving against Hunter is watching out for buffs and deathrattle. I would say you are insanely favored in this matchup as long as you do not get overrun. However, keeping Rexxar at bay is not easy to do. Hunter has many ways to pour on damage, and even something like a Kindly Grandmotheror a Houndmastered beast you can't quite kill can bring you down in a hurry. You need to be aware of both your opponent's damage potential and their hero power at all times. Getting your quest off is great, but it also means you can no longer gain armor. In addition, try your best to set up a hard-to-kill Alley Armorsmith. Hunter cannot fight through the 2/7 that easily, and if they have no board they are going to be forced to use Kill Commands on the five drop. That then limits their damage potential and makes your taunts that much stronger.
Number two in the meta, Tempo Rogue plays the pacing game better than anyone around. This is likely going to be one of the hardest matchups because Valeera is one of the heroes that can do a lot with a little. Control Warrior is a deck that seeks to use AOE and armor to grind down their opponent's resources and run them out of cards. However, Tempo Rogue is a deck that only needs one or two minions to put on pressure. Cards like Cobalt Scalebaneand Bonemarecan instantly turn anything into a threat, which puts you into a difficult position. The way you win this one is by getting up as many walls as you can and holding your removal until the last possible second. While you may be nervous, do not blink. Wait your opponent out and force them to crash into your board over and over again. Then, once they are low on cards, you can use a mass clear to set them back for good.
Watch out for Vilespine Slayer. The 3/4 is, as always, going to be one Rogue's best minions. However, it is especially strong against you because of how much it hurts big taunts. In a lot of games you are going to be on the back foot early, and then you are slowly going to climb back by forcing your opponent to attack into your walls over and over again. However, that strategy doesn't work too well against the plant. Rogue has quite a bit of damage potential, and you need to play around their burst as best you can. They have numerous charge and buff minions at their disposal. Never get caught off guard, and always clear moving into the later stages of the game to stop minions like Bonemare.
While it has fallen a bit out of favor, Priest still has a solid hold as one of the most popular classes around. This is going to be one of your best matchups because Anduin has no answer Fire Plume's Heart. In fact, once you get to your quest your opponent should probably concede. The point of this game is running out your quest on turn one and then slamming down as many taunt minions as you can. Priest has almost no early minions, which means they put on very little pressure. That gives you plenty of time to tick up . The only thing you need to worry about in this game is the Raza the Chained/Shadowreaper Anduincombo gunning you down. Because of that, you have to pressure your opponent before they reach their finishing push. Everything in this matchup should be focused around playing as many taunts as you can. Take cheap cards off of Stonehill Defenderand always play two small bodies over one large one. Your hero power is your win condition, which means controlling the board rarely matters. In that vein, save Acolyte of Painfor when you can trigger it right away and always try to get greedy with Battle Rage.
Another big change I have noticed after the nerfs is a considerable uptick in Token Shaman. Thrall has always been powerful, and he continues to get stronger and stronger with each passing day. This is a game that is going to play out like Midrange Hunter. However, the big advantage for you here is that you do not need to eventually draw Fire Plume's Heartto win. Shaman is a deck that runs off of a strong engine, and without that engine the deck often sputters. For that reason, this entire match is going to come down to the first few turns. If you can fight back against their totems and use AOE around turn five you should be fine. Just try to save Brawlfor Evolveif you can. The AOE hits any minions no matter the size, while things like Blood Razor, Ravaging Ghouland Sleep with the Fishesdo not.
Another big thing you want to watch out for is how you stack Blood Razor. The weapon is incredibly powerful against Shaman, but they can often break it when they want with Bloodsail Corsair. Be aware of this and do not be afraid to wait a turn or two to use the weapon. Getting greedy here is ok. It is also important to play around Bloodlust. Clear the board whenever your opponent sticks four or more minions. The last note is to remember that Devolveexists. The two mana spell easily takes out any taunts and can leave you vulnerable out of nowhere. Be aggressive with your removal and do not depend on your taunts to protect you.
While the deck has changed, the mulligans have not. The overall rule in this game is to find cheap minions and look for all the removal you can get. Armorsmithand Slamare your two must keeps, but you should always keep Ravaging Ghoul, Acolyte of Pain, Stonehill Defender, and Tar Creeperwith the coin or a curve. Dirty Ratis good against Priest but nothing else, Blood Razorshould always be kept against swarm decks, Sleep with the Fishesis good with an activator and Saronite Chain Gangis solid on curve.
In regards to Fire Plume's Heart, you should almost always keep the quest. However, it should not be kept against Paladin (which is ninety percent aggro these days) and Hunter. It can also be a weak keep against Warlock (if you're seeing a lot of Zoo). The last class you want to worry about is Druid. Though this is a tough call, I think you should keep Fire Plum against Malfurion because it is so necessary against slow Druid. Yes, it does make your aggro game a bit weaker, but you should be able to overcome that with the proper removal and AOE.
I love me some old decks. I know this is something I harp on quite a bit, but do not be afraid to go back and see what used to work. It is so easy to get caught up on the shiny and the new. Card games shift incredibly quickly, and there are always going to be flavors of the week. Then, as time moves forward people think old builds aren't good enough. Don't fall into this trap. Quest Warrior used to be incredibly powerful and, while it fell out favor, the time has come for it shine again. If you like slower decks, this is one of the best around. Until next week, may you always crush insects.