Welcome back for the second episode of Weekly Top Legend Decks! This is the series where I’ll provide you the top decklists that are Legend-worthy from both community and pro players.
Third wing of the League of Explorers was just released. [card]sir finley mrrgglton[/card] and Murloc Shaman/Paladin brews are all over the ladder, but I’m not going to include them this week. Since those decks aren’t polished yet and I don’t really know how strong they are, I’m going to stick to those that are more… sure. I’ll definitely include those next week if they work out!
Since the December season has just started and I’m only at rank 5 now, I didn’t test those in Legend yet. I’ve given every of them a few tries on the ladder between rank 10 and 5. Since most of the players here are Legends from previous season anyway, I think it was solid enough to judge them properly.
[toc]J4CKIECHAN’S Egg Druid[/toc]
I’m opening this episode with another deck that caught a lot of people off-guard (just like the Aggro Shaman last week). Jackie took it on a smooth ride to Legend on the first day of this season. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. Does it mean that the deck is great? Or maybe it was just a surprise factor? Personally, I think it’s quite a mix of the both.
So, first thing that you need to know is that the surprise won’t be that big anymore. This deck is on the top of HearthPwn, it was on the front page of both /r/hearthstone and /r/competitiveHS, right now most of the players are already aware of it. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad – while people might know your decklist, they still expect Midrange or standard Aggro Druid when they see the class. Once you drop an Egg they will know what’s going on, but it still might affect the Mulligan phase.
Egg Druid is extremely fast deck. It’s even faster than the Aggro Druid, believe it or not. With 18 cards at 2 or less mana and the highest cards costing 4 mana, it’s pretty much impossible to not get the perfect curve with it. And that’s the main point – the deck is incredibly board-centric, so it’s necessary to get the board control since turn 1. You don’t have the board – you lose, that’s simple.
[cad]Dragon Egg[/cad] and [card]Nerubian Egg[/card] are what the deck’s name comes from. They are very interesting in Druid and seen some previous play, but never really stayed for long. They’re very cool in Druid because class has a lot of cheap activators for them. Besides the standard [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card] and [card]Defender of Argus[/card] that pretty much every deck running Eggs use (for a good reason, they are awesome Egg activators and can make other trades better too), Druid also has the [card]Mark of the Wild[/card] and [card]Power of the Wild[/card] spells. Both are very easy to squeeze into your turn and both have nice synergy with the Eggs. It’s pretty straightforward on the Nerubian – you want to buff, trade into something and get the 4/4. But in case of Dragon Egg, you don’t really want to sacrifice it. Making it a 2/4 means that it’s very easy to get at least 2 activations. 2/1 [card]Black Whelp[/card]s aren’t as big as 4/4 [card]nerubian[/card]s, but might be even stronger. They combo really nicely with other cards in the deck like [card]Savage Roar[/card] or [card]Soul of the Forest[/card].
Talking about those two – the deck REALLY wants to have a lot of stuff on the board. And it’s extremely easy to have it. On the one hand you have a lot of token generators – [card]Living Roots[/card], [card]Dragon Egg[/card], [card]Haunted Creeper[/card], [card]Echoing Ooze[/card], [card]Nerubian Egg[/card] and [card]Mounted Raptor[/card] give you either more than one body or a minion that’s most likely going to stick to the board. This means that the second part of the deck gets extreme value. [card]Soul of the Forest[/card] on 4-5 minions means that your board becomes very resistant to AoE clears. [card]Savage Roar[/card] can provide some serious damage (I had some turn 4-5 wins thanks to the Roar) and also serve as another activator for the Eggs or a way to make your trades much better.
[card]Piloted Shredder[/card] is just a solid 4-drop that actually fits the theme of the deck very well. It’s aggressive and it leaves a body behind even if it dies. That’s way more than enough to put it into the deck. [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] usually provides a way to Silence stuff. Big Taunts can really stop the board-centric Aggro decks, so having a Silence when pushing for damage is useful. The 2 damage part is also cool, you might get some free kills on 3/2’s or finish opponents when they’re low enough. What’s more interesting is the last 4 mana card I haven’t talked about yet – [card]Jeeves[/card]. Deck with such an extremely low curve will run out of cards very fast. While running out of cards doesn’t necessarily mean losing the game, if by any chance you find yourself without the cards on turn 4-5 and enemy somehow deals with your board, you just lose the game. Jeeves prevents that by letting you cycle through. What’s awesome about the card is that pretty much no deck can play whole hand as fast as you can. It means that Jeeves’ effect often won’t even be mirrored – you’ll be the only one drawing cards. And what’s even more awesome is that if enemy has no way to kill it, you’re very likely to get even more value. Enemy might even be so concerned with killing the Jeeves that you’re just going to kill him with the rest of your board. Isn’t that great?
Overall, the deck is solid for laddering. It’s pretty good, it still has a certain element of surprise and the games are very fast. Most of the time you know whether you won or lost by turn 5-6, so you should grind the ladder very fast (just like Jackie has done – getting Legend on day 1 requires a high winrate AND tons of games played). Not to mention that it’s easy to learn, so after a few games you should already understand what’s going on and what you should do each turn.
- The game is really fast, so you don’t want to waste tempo. Mulligan for 1-drops (dropping [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card] on turn 1 without any Battlecry target is fine). Innervate is your best friend – it allows you to do some crazy combos early in the game. On the other hand, you don’t want to use your Hero Power unless you absolutely have to.
- Prioritize the high tempo minions, the ones that don’t need an activation. Drop Eggs over them only if you already have a good way to activate them next turn. You don’t want the Eggs to just sit on the board doing nothing.
- [card]Echoing Ooze[/card] has incredible combo with buffs, especially [card]Mark of the Wild[/card]. It creates two 3/4’s with Taunt for 4 mana – incredible against Aggro, but also puts a lot of pressure against Control.
- [card]Power of the Wild[/card]’s buff part becomes better than a 3/2 when you have 3 or more minions on the board. That’s theory, but in reality you need to judge it yourself – something buffing 2 minions is good enough (if you get good trades or activate Eggs thanks to the buff), but other times you might want to play the 3/2 even with 3 minions on the board (to put more bodies on the board for the sake of Roar/Soul).
- Aim to play [card]Soul of the Forest[/card] on at least 4 minions, but even 3 is fine if that’s your only turn 4 play.
- Using [card]Savage Roar[/card] as board clear is correct if it gets enough value. This deck wins the game by keeping the board control all the time. If you kill 2-3 minions pretty much for free thanks to the Roar, go for it.
- [card]Jeeves[/card] is your only way to refill the hand, but it’s an awesome way. Once you have Jeeves in your hand, play as recklessly as you can. Drop everything you can on the board without worrying about board clears. You’re going to start with 4 new cards instead of 1 anyway. Also, protect Jeeves at all cost. If it sticks to the board for 2-3 turns you just win the game, because enemy won’t be able to stand all the pressure you’re putting on him.
- Unless you want to dump your hand on the board (because of the Jeeves), you might want to keep the [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] in certain slower matchups. Mainly to get through the Taunts, but also to silence stuff like [card]Twilight Drake[/card] and [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card]. But if it’s the strongest minion in your hand, play him no matter what – board is most important.
- [card]Knife Juggler[/card] – It might be a cute thing to put into a deck like that. Since you’re spawning a lot of tokens and different stuff, Knife Juggler can realistically get 2-3 activations even if it survives for just a turn. Even more if it survives longer. He doesn’t have a huge synergy with buffs, but he can fire off like a machine gun.
- [card]Cult Master[/card] – Alternate draw mechanic. Both Cult Master and Jeeves have their merits. Cult Master is better if you don’t have an empty hand yet, but you have a big board and stuff to trade into (which should be easy with this deck). Using it allows you to keep some more situational cards in your hand (Savage Roar, Keeper of the Grove) and doesn’t force you to play them to empty your hand. On the other hand, Jeeves works better if you don’t have a big board or you play in the matchup where enemy isn’t playing a lot of minions you can trade into (e.g. Freeze Mage). Cult Master also has offensive stats (4/2), while Jeeves has defensive ones (1/4). Which one is better really depends on the situation – you can actually run both if you want to.
- [card]Loatheb[/card] – Since the deck is incredibly board-centric, if you flood the whole board by turn 4 and then deny opponent the AoE turn with Loatheb, you can just win a lot of games like that. Awesome against Warrior, where it allows you to get an extra turn against [card]Brawl[/card]. You can use this turn to let’s say play [card]Soul of the Forest[/card] or [card]Nerubian Egg[/card], making the Brawl much more awkward.
- [card]Sea Giant[/card] – Flooding the board? Check. A way to make a HUUUGE Taunt in the mid game? Check. Even more surprises for the enemy? Check. Sea Giant is awesome if you’re in the lead, but can also be used as a comeback mechanic sometimes. Let’s say Paladin, Zoo or Hunter have board flooded with mostly 1/1’s (it happens), then playing the something like Dragon Egg + Sea Giant + Argus might just swing the game around.
[toc]mr_redsun’s Reno “Ramp” Druid[/toc]
Druid again. However, you can’t really compare those lists. They’re COMPLETELY different. This is a take on the slow Druid with Reno Jackson. While the deck’s named “Ramp Druid” by the original creator, the deck isn’t really a standard Ramp. I mean, author cut the ramp cards and left only one of each. You still can ramp with it, but not as consistently as with the standard list.
It doesn’t matter that much, though. Instead of the Ramp cards, this deck actually has some early game drops, unlike the standard ones. When it comes to Reno Decks, it’s really hard to review them, because there is so much to talk about.
Maybe I’ll discuss the choice of 2x copy here. A lot of Reno decks include one or two “duplicates”. The idea is that you consistently draw into them before you need Reno anyway. In this case it’s the [card]Swipe[/card] and I like this choice. The reason is that Paladin is probably the most popular class on the ladder right now. No matter whether you face the Aggro, Secret, Midrange or Reno Paladin – Swipe is a good card against any of those. It’s also awesome in other popular matchups like Aggro Druid and Zoo Warlock. That’s why you want to draw it more consistently. With 2 copies you double the chance of drawing the first copy, so yeah, it’s a solid choice.
I won’t really talk about the standard Druid’s shell, because there isn’t much to talk about. Ramp cards, mid game drops like [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] or [card]Druid of the Claw[/card], same old, same old. What’s more interesting are tech card choices. The only new LoE Druid card is the [card]Mounted Raptor[/card] – it’s just a solid 3-drop.
The first tech card is [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] – this one is very standard in all slower Druid deck, Druid struggles at dealing with big minions and Big Game Hunter helps.
[card]Mind Control Tech[/card] is another meta-dictated tech card. Since Paladin is popular and Paladin’s Hero Power spawns minions and he runs cards like [card]Haunted Creeper[/card] and [card]Muster For Battle[/card], it’s easy to get MCT value. Some people don’t realize that, but even stealing a 1/1 from the enemy is already good enough. For 3 mana you get 3/3 + 1/1 (which is okay for the mana cost) AND you clear opponent’s 1/1. Obviously, you aim at more spectacular steals, but when MCT hits, it’s always good card already. Stealing that [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] completely turns the game around. Even if it’s just a 1/4 chance, having a 1/4 chance to just win the game like that is pretty good, right?
Then we have [card]Harrison jones[/card] as the weapons counter. I personally think that it got weaker in the current meta, because Warriors and Hunters aren’t very popular, but it’s still nice against Paladin. Since the deck runs only one Silence, it can come handy against [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]’s [card]Ashbringer[/card].
Another interesting choice is [card]Jeweled Scarab[/card]. Honestly, I wouldn’t include him in the Druid deck. Druid doesn’t have particularly strong 3 mana cards, but I guess at least it guarantees that you curve out. Since the deck runs only 2 real 3-drops and missing one could hurt a lot, Scarab provides another one + a little flexibility in the late game.
Inclusion of the [card]Cenarius[/card] and [card]Kel’Thuzad[/card] as the late game threats is very interesting. I like both of them – they’re very strong in the right situations AND they aren’t in the [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] range. If you drop Kel’Thuzad and enemy has no way to kill it, you just win the game. Cenarius on the other hand might buff your board to make your trades better (or allow you to push for lethal) OR put two Taunts on the board. They’re small, but in the late game they can actually block two big minions. [card]Dr. Boom[/card] and [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] are other late game threats, but those are very standard. Then we have the deck’s MVP against fast decks – [card]Reno Jackson[/card]. Yeah, this card is awesome – after all it’s the reason you made your deck inconsistent. Healing for 20+ is as strong as you can imagine.
- The deck’s pretty straightforward, actually. It runs almost no synergies, no combos, no card interactions. You aim to curve out as best as you can, make good trades on the board and then overwhelm enemy with your late game threats.
- You generally mulligan for your early game plays ([card]Living Roots[/card], [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Jeweled Scarab[/card], [card]Wrath[/card], [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card], [card]Mounted Raptor[/card]) and ramp cards ([card]Innervate[/card], [card]Wild Growth[/card], [card]Darnassus Aspirant[/card]). You’re pretty much guaranteed to draw at least one of those, meaning you should curve out nicely. And that’s the idea – curve out, play a minion every turn, try to keep the board control.
- Against the decks you need the heal from Reno (so mainly Aggro decks) you want to keep [card]Swipe[/card] in your opening hand. Now when you draw Reno, the heal is guaranteed and the Swipe should be good in those matchups anyway.
- Like I’ve already emphasized, board is most important – this deck has no come back mechanics. No big AoE clear (like Brawl), no crazy combo to win the game out of nowhere. If enemy gets complete board control, you lose the game. It means that you don’t want slow turns (Hero Power + pass). Drop that [card]Mind Control Tech[/card] on turn 3 if you don’t have anything else to do. [card]Savage Combatant[/card], if it’s your only 4-drop, is okay even if you don’t get the Inspire value etc.
- In slower matchups, [card]Kel’thuzad[/card] is probably your main win condition. Wait before dropping it – bait removals with other big stuff first, bait big AoE clears like [card]Brawl[/card] against Control Warrior or [card]Equality[/card] + [card]Consecration[/card] against Midrange Paladin. If enemy is out of removals and you drop Kel’thuzad with even just 1-2 minions on the board, you just win.
- [card]Force of Nature[/card] + [card]Savage Roar[/card] combo. I know. It’s a slower deck, it’s not aggressive at all. But that combo is just so hard to pass. If you want to make the deck a little more aggressive, which might work in certain matchups (like against Control Warrior or Handlock), include the combo. While it’s a little inconsistent with only one copy of each card, the combo cards aren’t that bad individually. You can really surprise enemy after he sees that you’re a slow/Reno Druid. He won’t likely play around it, so you can sneak a lot of wins thanks to that.
- [card]Aviana[/card] – I love this card, it’s really fun. It might not be the best card ever, but it’s an auto-win in slower matchups after enemy uses his board wipes. I mean, you play Aviana + Kel’thuzad on turn 10 and enemy needs to remove BOTH of them. If he leaves Aviana, you just flood whole board with big stuff next turn. If he leaves Kel’thuzad, too bad, everything comes back to life. A cool card in slower Druid lists, you might try it out.
- [card]Ysera[/card] – Another late game threat and I actually think it might be used instead of [card]Dr. Boom[/card]. This way you end up with NO [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] targets in your deck, which is a big deal. You render the most common tech card useless – and enemy won’t likely just drop it on the board, he’ll probably keep it and wait until you drop the Boom, which isn’t there in reality. So enemy might play with one dead card in his hand for the most of the match.
- [card]Mulch[/card] – Another “experimental” card – it is a way to deal with the biggest stuff. Your only way to kill the big minions is board trading most of the time. If you don’t have the board and enemy drops [card]Ysera[/card], you’re in a really bad spot. Giving opponent the random minion isn’t the thing you really want to do, but the truth is that the average random minion isn’t really that strong. Enemy has much, much bigger chance to get something weak. And even if he gets something as strong as their big drop, it’s basically something like a 3 mana [card]Sap[/card]. Sadly, it’s terrible in fast matchups – you don’t want to Mulch small minions. You might also use it on your own [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] to force a minion’s steal without enemy having a way to answer your Sylvanas.
[toc]Ersee’s Combo Warlock[/toc]
This and next deck will be like a mini Dreamhack special. I’ll talk about two decks, both Warlock, both that share some similarities and both from the Dreamhack finalists – Purple who got 1st place and Ersee who ended up 2nd.
First one I’m going to cover is the Combo Warlock deck by Ersee. Similar combos were played in Warlock for a really long time already. Back in vanilla and Naxx, before [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card] was nerfed to 5 mana (from 4), slower Warlock lists used to run the Leeroy + [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] + [card]Faceless Manipulator[/card] combo for 20 damage. It was one of the main win conditions in certain matchups and a lot of unexpected burst with just 3 cards. Since then, a lot of people have tried to make other similar combos work. The most popular combo we see right now is the one with [card]Arcane Golem[/card]. With 2x PO and Faceless it can deal 24 damage from an empty board. That’s pretty close to just one-shotting the enemy. But why Warlock? Paladin can Rogue could do similar combos with [card]Blessing of Might[/card] (20 damage combo) or [card]Cold Blood[/card] (24 damage). The Warlock’s advantage is the Hero Power – [card]Life Tap[/card]. Thanks to the Hero Power you no longer have to run slow cards that cycle through your deck, you can just include the 4 combo cards and play a normal deck otherwise.
Even though combo is the main win condition, it’s not the only one. The deck’s shell is a pretty standard Control Warlock deck. It means that the deck can just consistently win the game without every drawing into the combo. If you’ve never played the Control Warlock, the playstyle is similar to other slow Warlock lists (like Handlock). You want to tap as much as you can, having a huge hand with a lot of answers for different situations. But instead of the big bombs, this deck runs more Midrange-style minions to keep the board control in the mid game.
Unlike the Handlock, this deck has very consistent early and mid game. Since it doesn’t run [card]Molten Giants[/card] as a come back mechanic, it NEEDS the board to make trades and well, not die. [card]Zombie Chow[/card], [card]Mortal Coil[/card], [card]Dark Peddler[/card], [card]Darkbomb[/card] and [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card] are great in the early game, especially against Aggro. The reason for so much early game in the slow Warlock list is that Combo Warlock really relies on Life Tapping a lot. It means that preserving your health total is important – each 2 points of health translates to one additional card. If you’re at 10 health by turn 5 you can’t really tap, so it’s much easier to run out of options and just lose the game.
The deck hasn’t got almost any late game bombs. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad in the slow matchups, though. Getting the early game curve makes your opponent busy removing all your stuff. When they’re busy removing your stuff, you just Life Tap for more and more minions. It has pretty solid mid game threats with [card]Twilight Drake[/card], [card]Voidcaller[/card] and [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]. Once you get to the late game, you should have tapped enough to draw into at least some of your combo pieces. Now you can catch enemy off-guard. While enemy MIGHT suspect that you’re some sort of Combo Warlock, he might as well think that you’re just a Control Warlock. 24 damage burst isn’t something that he can play around anyway. And him playing around it usually means going defensive, playing slow, wasting removals etc. And that allows your another win condition to shine – [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card]. This is the card that can single-handedly win any slower matchup. Having a free 6/6 every turn on top of things you drop from your hand is extremely strong. Even the most defensive Control decks can’t really survive more than 5-6 turns against it. And once they start playing from behind, they won’t likely come back.
Even without the full combo, individual pieces might come handy in different situation. You generally shouldn’t use them for non-combo purposes unless you have to, but sometimes it’s not that bad. Like, Power Overwhelming might help you with the trades, if enemy has a minion that puts you into lethal range and you need to kill it, you can even drop the [card]Arcane Golem[/card]. It’s better to surrender one of your win conditions instead of just losing the game. Faceless Manipulator can also be used outside the combo to just copy a big opponent’s minion. Like, he drops Ysera and you can copy it for 5 mana + do something else on your turn. But I still generally recommend that you keep those for the combo if you can.
Overall a solid decklist. Ersee not only had a very good run with it on the Dreamhack, but also on the ladder. He ended up #7 on EU ladder last season with an awesome 68% winrate. It really shows how strong the list is if you can pilot it correctly.
- Strategy really varies depending on the deck you play against. Against Aggro decks you really want to go for the early game tempo. You mulligan hard for the early drops, you throw away everything costing 4 or more and your combo pieces. Getting on the board early is your 1st priority, you don’t want to tap in the early game. Once you get to the mid game and you’ll be left with some mana each turn, if everything has gone alright you should be still at over 20 health. If that’s the case, you can start tapping even against the Aggro. It lets you draw into more answers, Taunts or Healbot.
- When it comes to the slower matchups, you might keep your mid game stuff – especially [card]Twilight Drake[/card] and [card]Voidcaller[/card]. Here, you don’t really NEED to get into the board on the first turns. Life Tapping on turn 2 and 3 is often good. Enemy might actually take you for a Handlock, which is actually good for you. I mean, it might not make any difference, but you prefer to keep the surprise factor (the fact that you’re Combolock) as long as you can.
- Tap every turn. Not only it gets you closer to the combo, but provides more and more options. The deck really struggles when it has small hand size. Some of the cards are situational, others are good only in certain matchups. When you have 6+ cards constantly you shouldn’t have any problems with finding a good play.
- Try to deal some minion damage to the enemy in the early/mid game. Your combo deals up to 24 damage, so you have to deal the rest other way. Dealing 6 damage isn’t really that hard, but you need to account for the fact that some opponents might heal.
- If you’re facing a [card]Reno Jackson[/card] deck, there is really no point at taking them below 20 health. Just go for the full board control and Tap each turn for the combo. If they go for the ~10 healing with Reno – that’s fine for you. If they get greedy and keep it – that’s even better, you just kill them as soon as you get the combo.
- [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] – Awesome card in every combo deck. While it doesn’t really allow for any craziness here, it can allow you to squeeze some more damage to your combo turn ([card]Darkbomb[/card]) or pass through the Taunt ([card]Ironbeak Owl[/card]). Since you run 2x [card]Dark Peddler[/card] and the chances that you’re going to get [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] from your Peddler are quite high, in certain scenarios Emperor allows you to play the triple PO combo for 32 damage. More often than not that’s an overkill, but it’s an OTK and the extra damage can be useful against Control Warrior that did Armor Up a lot.
- [card]Dr. Boom[/card] – Just a solid threat you can drop on the board. Gives the deck another win condition. Even baiting the Big Game Hunter isn’t the worst thing ever, as it might mean that your [card]Mal’ganis[/card] survives.
- [card]Twisting Nether[/card] kinda crazy card to play, right? But it might get you out of a lot of situations. Since you don’t run many late game threats, in some cases Control deck might just stabilize in the mid game and start dropping bombs. Then you really don’t have a lot of things you can do against big boards. Twisting Nether allows you to just reset the board state. I’ve ran it in my Control Warlock list and it was quite useful a lot of times. It can also be used as a set-up for the combo turn. Let’s say enemy has Taunts on the board and you have to deal with all of them before going for the combo. No problem, just Twisting Nether them (possibly [card]Darkbomb[/card] whatever’s left from Deathrattles) and go for the combo next turn.
[toc]Purple’s Brann Malygos Warlock[/toc]
Second Warlock combo deck in this set. Yes, I know, we need some variety. But honestly, those decks are quite different and I recommend trying both of them if you enjoy Control decks with a combo aspect.
Malygos Warlock shined for some time after the [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card]’s release in the BRM. It was kinda a novelty thing, people didn’t really know how to play against it for some time and thanks to (once again) the surprise factor it climbed to the top of some tierlists. The general idea was to play the a bunch of Dragons and Dragon synergy cards in addition to Warlock’s core and then have [card]Malygos[/card] as a finisher. Malygos by itself is too expensive to combo him with a lot of stuff on the same turn, but that’s why Thaurissan was useful. With just one discount on 3 out of 4 combo pieces, the [card]Malygos[/card] + 2x [card]Darkbomb[/card] + [card]Soulfire[/card] combo was possible, dealing 25 damage in total. But even a single Darkbomb + Soulfire (17 damage) was usually good enough to kill the enemy after the mid game Dragon pressure.
Later, the deck was played against in TGT. Thanks to the [card]Twilight Guardian[/card] the deck has gained another strong mid game drop that shined against Aggro (3/6 Taunt on t4 is hard to go through). Now with LoE it starts to resurge thanks to – once again – new cards that are very strong in this archetype – [card]Dark Peddler[/card] and [card]Brann Bronzebeard[/card].
Let’s talk about the first one. Dark Peddler is seemingly a mediocre 2-drop. Just 2/2 for 2 that gives you a 1 mana card. But the truth is that since Class cards are weighted 4 times more heavily than Neutral ones and since Warlock has a lot of good 1 mana cards, Dark Peddler is almost guaranteed to pull out something good. [card]Mortal Coil[/card] against Aggro, [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] as another source of unexpected burst or to make better trades, [card]Voidwalker[/card] if you need a Taunt, [card]Flame Imp[/card] if you need a solid minion… Even second copy of [card]Soulfire[/card], which obviously has awesome synergy with Malygos. The 2/2 body often dies for free, but sometimes might even get a solid trade. Dark Peddler killing a [card]Knife Juggler[/card] just scream “value!”.
And the second new addition I particularly like. [card]Brann Bronzebeard[/card] is very strong minion if you run a lot of Battlecry cards. And as it happens, Dragon mid game cards have very strong Battlecries. About HALF of the deck benefits from the Brann – some cards more, some less, but generally you can go for some crazy combos. I’ll just list a few stronger ones. [card]Dark Peddler[/card] and [card]Azure Drake[/card] discover/draw two cards instead of one. [card]Earthen Ring Farseer[/card] and [card]Antique Healbot[/card] heal for 6 and 16 respectively. [card]Twilight Drake[/card] gets double health bonus, so with let’s say 7 cards in the hand it ends up as 4/15 minion. [card]Blackwing Corruptor[/card] deals 6 damage. There are even more stuff, but not as impactful most of the time. Still, Brann staying on the board for a few turns can get incredible value. Unanswered Brann is often a game over for the opponent.
When it comes to Tech cards, it doesn’t run a lot of them. Double [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] to help in slower matchups (faster matchups are already covered with different stuff). Second copy is mainly ran because of the synergy with [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card] – 5 attack minions are much more popular than 7 attack ones, but thanks to the Abusive you can turn 5 attack into 7 and snipe it with BGH. Second, more surprising tech is [card]Kezan Mystic[/card]. It really depends on the meta and decks you face. The card is great against pretty much any kind of Mage, but Freeze Mage in particular (it allows you to steal the [card]Ice Block[/card] to either push for lethal or prevent enemy from killing you). It’s good against Hunters, the traps are often making things awkward for you. Like having a huge [card]Twilight Drake[/card] on the board and being unable to attack with it because of the [card]Freezing Trap[/card]. It’s also decent against Secret Paladin. Paladin Secrets aren’t good, but getting 4/3 + a free Secret + denying the Secret from the opponent is good enough against Secret Paladin. The problem is that against all other classes it’s pretty much a 4/3 for 4. I mean, it might happen that they get a Secret from let’s say [card]Nexus-Champion Saraad[/card], but those are rather Trolden scenarios, not stuff you’re going to see every day.
The deck is pretty consistent, it has a lot of different win conditions, cards that are good in a lot of different matchups etc. So if you look for a deck to ladder with and you like the Dragon theme + bursting with Malygos, this is a perfect deck for you.
It’s pretty hard to sum the whole strategy in a few points, the deck is actually pretty hard to play. But I’ll try to give you some basic points.
- Against Aggro, mulligan heavily for the early game – drop anything that’s more than 4 mana. You might keep [card]Kezan Mystic[/card] against Hunter and [card]Twilight Drake[/card] if you already have some other early game stuff. Play the first turns defensively, you should overwhelm any Aggro deck with the quality of your mid game drops AND heal up after you stabilized, but if they deal too much early game damage you might not have enough time for a comeback.
- While [card]Brann Bronzebeard[/card] can be used as an auto-win when combo’d with Healbot later in the game, if he’s your only 3-drop against Aggro, drop him. He has quasi-Taunt – if enemy has a way to deal with it, he’s most likely going to tank the damage. And if enemy can’t deal with it – you can hide him behind Taunt ([card]Twilight Guardian[/card]) or instantly cash in the value with [card]Twilight Drake[/card].
- Against Control, you can go for a slower game. You can keep a 4-drop, especially Twilight Drake. If you tap on t2/t3 it gets huge on t4. You don’t want to drop Brann on turn 3 just like that. You shouldn’t be under any serious pressure and it’s really a waste to throw him away like that.
- In the faster matchups you rarely win through your Malygos burst-from-your-hand combos. It means that you can even just throw him on the board if you get the opportunity. If you have some burn spells in your hand, just kill the opponent. But in reality you rarely get to drop Malygos against Aggro. You either die in the mid game if you didn’t get good draws or you just stabilize and kill enemy with mid game Dragons and stuff.
- In slower matchups you really need the combos. It makes [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] one of the most important cards. You don’t want to drop him just like that. Wait until you have at least a 2 combo pieces in your hand and only then drop him. It’s very unlikely that he stays on the board for more than a single turn, but if he somehow does – that’s great. It sometimes allow to squeeze in the [card]Hellfire[/card] into your combo turns for 8 damage.
- Against Aggro, use [card]Darkbomb[/card]s to clear the board. Surviving is more important than keeping them for your combo. Against slower decks, try to keep them if you can. Using one is okay if you really need to, but really try to not use both.
- [card]Imp-losion[/card] – It’s a great Warlock card despite all the 2 damage rolls that are losing you the games (it’s just variance, after all). Serves as both the removal and a way to push the board tempo. Great card in pretty much any Warlock deck.
- [card]Defender of Argus[/card] – One problem with this deck is that it runs no Taunt givers. It has only two Taunts – 2x [card]Twilight Guardian[/card] – which might be not enough against certain decks. Defender of Argus not only allows you to dodge the Charge minions from Face Hunter, combo from the Druid, [card]Grommash Hellscream[/card] finisher from Warrior etc. but also makes your trades better. It’s also another Battlecry to combo with Brann!
- [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card] or [card]Blackwing Technician[/card] – Current list runs only one real 3-drop – [card]Earthen Ring Farseer[/card] – but even it doesn’t always get value on turn 3. To make the early game more consistent you might consider using one of the 3-drops. [card]Blackwing Technician[/card] has better stats, but it requires you to have a Dragon in your hand to work. While it’s not a problem in the mid/late game, you might not get one by turn 3. On the other hand, [card]Imp Gang Boss[/card] has weaker stats, but an upside of being awkward to remove, especially for Aggro decks. It often spawns 2-3 additional 1/1’s that you can trade into enemy minions.
- [card]Siphon Soul[/card] – While this card is pretty weak (6 mana single target removal? Warrior has 1 mana removals with [card]Execute[/card] and [card]Shield Slam[/card]), Warlock lacks good single target removals. This can be problem in the late game in case enemy clears your board and starts dropping big stuff. While BGH is often enough, it doesn’t answer some minions like [card]Ysera[/card]. Siphon Soul can be kept as a way to answer those minions that are hard to kill otherwise. And against Aggro it’s always +3 health which might buy a turn in the late game.
Thank you for your attention again! Sorry that I’ve only covered two classes this week, but I found those decks most interesting. Next week should be more interesting thanks to all the crazy decks with the new LoE cards. If you want to check out two last decks in the action, you can find some VoDs from DreamHack on their official YouTube channel. The grand final between Purple and Ersee is there, so be sure to check it out!
If you want to submit your own decklist – send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!