Welcome back for the 8th episode of Weekly Top Legend Decks! Click here if you want to check out the previous episodes.
The point of this series is to analyze the competitive Hearthstone decks both from the community (you!) and pro players. While all the decks are Legend-worthy, I don’t necessarily pick the BEST ones each week, but rather the most interesting ones. It means that a lot of my choices won’t be your standard meta decks.
Even though it’s called “weekly” series, the intervals between episodes might be slightly longer during the holidays or when there will be no new, fun decks worth writing about. After all, if the meta hasn’t changed, there is no point in writing about the same stuff over and over again.
[toc]Zetalot’s Resurrect Priest[/toc]
Zetalot is consistently proving to be one of the top Priest players, and one of the top ladder players overall. This time around I want to present one of his latest “inventions” – Resurrect Priest. Couple of days ago he hit top 50 Legend when playing it. The card was being tried initially after the release, some players were running it in the Control Priest, but it was never popular. [card]Resurrect[/card] is a really interesting card, because it costs 2 mana and can bring ANYTHING back to life. And the thing is, when minions are brought to life, their Battlecries don’t proc.
Is it good or bad? Usually it’s bad, but here it might actually be a really good thing. That’s because Zetalot was running two minions with negative Battlecries – [card]Injured Kvaldir[/card] and [card]Injured Blademaster[/card]. They’re 2/4 for 1 and 4/7 for 3 respectively, which are beyond broken stats if not for their Battlecries. So, how can you abuse the Resurrect here?
The first and pretty common situation is to use it as a 2-drop. You play Injured Kvaldir. You trade it into something, either another 1-drop or maybe even 2-drop. There are plenty of targets. And then you play Resurrect on turn 2 to have a 2/4 for 2 – pretty neat. The same can be done with Injured Blademaster. You play Blademaster as your only minion, then it dies (it often does if you don’t immediately heal it) or you trade it into something like [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] and then you resurrect 4/7 minion. 4/7 for 2 mana, that’s a lot of value.
The thing about the card is that it gives you some value most of the time. It only costs 2 mana, but usually bring something bigger to life. The only 1-drops in the deck are Kvaldirs and [card]Northshire Cleric[/card]s. Kvaldirs aren’t really 1-drops when resurrected (they’re great 2-drops) and Clerics.. well, Clerics might be good resurrect targets even in the late game if you need card draw. And then, all the minions in your deck are worth 2 or more mana. So the point is that Resurrect almost always gets its value and sometimes even a lot more then you’d expect. The only problem with the card is, not surprisingly, the randomness. Because it’s random you might get something you don’t want to. Like resurrecting a [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] when you want to cast more spells and you don’t want to damage your board (not to mention that the Pyromancer’s effect will go off when you resurrect it). Or resurrecting a Deathlord when enemy has a clear way to kill it on the board and can outtempo you this way. Or resurrecting [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] in an Aggro matchup, when you want to heal yourself. But that’s how it goes, with great power comes great… randomness as it seems in Hearthstone.
Besides that, the deck is a pretty standard Control Priest. It doesn’t run any weird techs, it’s actually pretty light on minions and on threats in general – the main way to win slower matchups is through the long game value of [card]Entomb[/card]s and [card]Thoughtsteal[/card]s. Or through the incredible early game tempo, actually. When testing the deck I had two games where I played a turn 3 Blademaster, it was dead on turn 4 and I had two Resurrects in my hand. Playing two 4/7’s on turn 4 is quite hard to counter, especially since I can heal them after trading.
- When playing the deck with [card]Resurrect[/card], you need to keep track of the minions that died on your side on the board so you’ll know what might come back. Remember that it doesn’t only resurrect the minions that you’ve played – it can resurrect anything that died on your side on the board. So if you steal something with [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card] and it dies, it gets to the pool of minions you can resurrect. If you Thoughtsteal a [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], steal a minion and that minions dies, same thing.
- I’ve already said that before, but Wild Pyromancer procs its effect after it gets resurrected. It might be used for your advantage if you know that. For example, if Pyro was your only minion that died you might play it into the board with a lot of 1 health minions to clear it.
- [card]Injured Kvaldir[/card]s aren’t really worth wasting the [card]Circle of Healing[/card] on, unless you also have a Northshire Cleric on the board and can draw some cards. Then it might be worth considering. That’s actually another reason to run Kvaldirs – potential additional card draw from Northshires. If you play an early Northshire in slower matchups you might not have any targets to heal until it’s too late, and Kvaldir is guaranteed to be damaged.
- Besides that, the deck plays like a standard Control Priest, so you should probably check one of the guides in our Control Priest section!
- [card]Museum Curator[/card] – Another flexible minion that works in both fast and slow matchups. You can play it instead of the Thoughtsteal to boost your Aggro matchups even more – Thoughtsteal is too slow anyway. On the other hand, getting 2 cards is often better than 1 in slow ones. Overall, Curators are really cool, because you get to pick something like [card]Unstable Ghoul[/card], [card]Deathlord[/card] or [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] against Aggro or [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card], [card]Toshley[/card], [card]Sneed’s Old Shredder[/card] against Control. It allows you to pick whatever suits the situation best – you might need a Taunt, need a big minion or need I don’t know, a tempo play with [card]Dark Cultist[/card].
- [card]Light of the Naaru[/card] – Might be played instead of [card]Flash Heal[/card]. Standard stuff, 2 less heal/damage, but you get the body that can grow instead. Less immediate value, more possible value over time. It’s pretty much up to preference – Flash Heal is better as a burst in the matchups you need it (especially against RenoLock/Handlock) and Light of the Naaru is better in value matchups. Against Aggro it really depends on the situation – sometimes additional body is good, but sometimes you need more healing.
[toc]KevveC’s Aggro Egg Paladin[/toc]
I had the pleasure (well.. let’s say pleasure) to play against KevveC and his deck on the ladder couple of times. And I have to say that I was pretty impressed. Right now, most of the Pally decks are Secret, with some Midrange and Anyfin Paladins also pretty popular. But people have forgotten about Aggro Paladin – that was the only Paladin deck viable for a long time in the past. This reminds me of the classic Aggro Paladin, some have tried adding [card]Nerubian Egg[/card]s for the buff synergy, but they have thrown the idea through the window after some time. Reason? Not consistent enough, pretty slow. But right now the idea has came back thanks to the LoE card – [card]Keeper of Uldaman[/card]. The card has INSANE synergy with Nerubian Egg – you can buff it to 3/3 whenever you want. For 4 mana. While still developing another 3/4 body. Why is it so strong, though? At this point, Egg is activated and it can be popped. But you often don’t want to pop it instantly. You want to make things awkward for the enemy. You have a 3/3 on the board that you’re punching his face with every turn. He wants to remove it, but on the other hand he doesn’t want to, because a 4/4 will come back after he kills it. So the Egg becomes a threat big enough that it can’t be ignored, but it often has to be ignored, thus pushing a lot of damage.
Keeper of Uldamans are great cards in general, that’s why author is using two copies in an AGGRO deck. First of all, the deck will usually have some small body on the board for the buff. And second, it’s so much easier to make the trades or get through the Taunts with Keeper. Let’s say you face Control Priest. Turn 3 [card]Deathlord[/card] might just win Priest the game, because it’s so hard to get through the 8 health and you just get a small body as a reward. But Keeper turns it into 3/3 and now it’s very easy to kill it (it’s even better if the Deathlord was buffed before, Uldaman on Deathlord + [card]Velen’s Chosen[/card] is the best feeling ever). Not to mention neutralizing the late game bombs so you can push face damage much easier.
Besides Uldamans, the deck runs tons of buffs/Egg activators. [card]Blessing of Might[/card], [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card], [card]Blessing of Kings[/card], [card]Dire Wolf Alpha[/card], [card]Defender of Argus[/card] and even [card]Coghammer[/card] (well, hitting the Egg with Taunt pretty much activates it).
The deck’s curve is pretty much between 1 and 4 mana, so it’s very fast. It’s almost impossible to miss a small drop and not curve out. When it comes to bigger minions, it runs two – [card]Loatheb[/card] as the way to seal the game. Dropping Loatheb on already strong board is often game over, as the opponent can’t clear it. And the second one is the deck’s finisher – [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card]. That’s 6 damage for 5 mana, but more importantly a Charge body that you can further buff. As it often happens, you don’t have any minions left on the board in the later turns, because enemy started outvaluing you. Then all the buffs in your hand become useless. With Leeroy you can still get the instant 6 damage + whatever buffs you’re holding. For example, Leeroy + 2x Blessing of Might is 12 damage burst, Leeroy + Kings is 10 damage etc.
And the most broken part of the deck goes to… yeah, [card]Divine Favor[/card]. This card is just so good. It allows you to play for the tempo THE WHOLE TIME without ever worrying about running out of steam. It’s especially good when playing against a slow deck, but even against Midrange you usually should get a lot of value, because your curve is much lower than theirs. It’s obvious that if you have a lot more small minions, you’re gonna get out of cards before your enemy. And when you get out of cards and enemy still has the cards, you use Divine Favor. The standard for 3 mana is 2 cards – [card]Arcane Intellect[/card]. So anything above that is already good. 3 or 4 cards Divine Favor is very strong, but in some matchups you can actually draw 5+ cards for 3 mana very easily. That’s insane. The card is probably the main reason to play Aggro Paladin over other Aggro decks, because no fast deck has the access to such a card draw mechanic.
If you enjoy Aggro decks or Paladin is your favorite class but you’re bored with the popular meta decks, you should definitely check this out.
- Even though it’s an Aggro deck, it’s a board-based Aggro deck. Unlike Face Hunter you don’t run a lot of Charge minions and your Hero Power doesn’t instantly deal damage and unlike Aggro Shaman you don’t run tons of burst. It means that you rely on your minions to deal damage. That’s why it’s important to protect them, thus to make the trades yourself. This way you can pick the best trades, you can buff the right minions to fight well against what enemy has on the board etc. It doesn’t mean that you want to clear every single minion on opponent’s board (sometimes yes, but not always). You want to take the good trades – if all your trades are bad, let’s say you have 2x 3/2 against opponent’s 2/1, you simply don’t trade, but go face. Enemy is forced to make the trade and you’ve gained 3 face damage this way.
- There are a lot of tools that help you to get better trades. You have ping from [card]Light’s Justice[/card] ([card]Muster for Battle[/card]), Divine Shield from [card]Coghammer[/card], tons of buffs, including [card]Defender of Argus[/card]. You really need to choose carefully and plan the minions you want to buff around good trades.
- You want to mind your positioning a little. Not as much as in the Zoo Warlock, but running 1x [card]Dire Wolf Alpha[/card] and 1x Defender of Argus means that positioning will often matter. Try to play minions you want to buff with Argus near themselves (that’s for example [card]Nerubian Egg[/card] and [card]Argent Squire[/card]) and you don’t want to play Wolf in the middle, but on right of the “annoying” minions like Deathrattle/Divine Shield ones. This way you can go through all your minions on the right (mostly small minions, tokens etc.) and trade them one by one and they will all get +1 attack buff. If a Deathrattle or Divine Shield is in the way of your trading (let’s say you have 1/1, then Minibot and then another 1/1 on the right side of your Wolf) then once you hit with it, it doesn’t die (or dies, but spawns something else) and rest of the minions don’t get the buff. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s enough if you want to start with the deck.
- Play around AoEs. Like I’ve already said, the board is very important. So you often actually want to protect your Divine Shields and Deathrattles instead of popping them. Let’s say you play against Priest and you suspect that he’s holding some kind of AoE (let’s face it, Priests are always holding some AoE). When making the trades, you might want to not hit with Minibot or pop the Creeper/Egg. It might make your trades worse and you might lose some power on the board, but you play around the AoE. And if enemy let’s say [card]Holy Nova[/card]s your board, you might still end up having 4/4, 2/2 and two 1/1’s instead of completely empty board.
- [card]Loatheb[/card] timing is important – play it on the turn that enemy would really like to AoE your board down. It’s best when you had the board that enemy “almost wants to AoE” last turn, but didn’t for some reason – maybe he has only one board swipe in his hand and needs to keep it, maybe he got greedy and wanted to get more minions. You can punish this kind of behavior by let’s say playing another minion, throwing in a Blessing of Might on something and then following with Loatheb. This way you pretty much guarantee your board to survive and live for another round of damage. Remember that Loatheb adds “only” 5 mana cost to the spells, so enemy can still play for example 9 mana [card]Consecration[/card].
- [card]Dragon Egg[/card] – The second Egg can actually also fit into the deck. It has probably even better synergy with [card]Blessing of Kings[/card] and still works fine with other buffs. If you’re buffing the Egg and trading it instantly, Nerubian Egg is way better. But the idea behind Dragon Egg is to get a few hits in, thus spawning multiple 2/1’s. If you face a deck running a lot of small minions and you can get 2 or 3 hits with it, it’s way better than Nerubian. And it also costs only 1 mana, making it easier to play on the curve (because you prefer to play [card]Shielded Minibot[/card] and some other 2-drops too over the Egg on turn 2).
- [card]Flame Juggler[/card] – Author was initially running a single Flame Juggler. What’s the reason? Other fast decks, obviously. Flame Juggler is a much better 2-drop than [card]Knife Juggler[/card] against other fast decks. Your Knife Juggler most likely isn’t going to live past the turn you’ve played him anyway. It means that the guaranteed 1 damage random ping + the better body (2/3 is better than 3/2 in fast matchups, because it trades better with 2/1’s and doesn’t die to Minibot in one hit) might be worth it. Flame Juggler might be insane 2-drop if you’re feeling lucky – right pings in the early game can win you the game. But on the other hand, he’s often just a vanilla 2/3 that deals 1 damage to opponent’s face. It’s still not terrible, but definitely not game-winning.
- [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] – I was surprised when I didn’t see Truesilver. The card is very good and might work in Aggro Paladin even better than in the standard one. After all, it doesn’t only help with board control, but also might be used as the burn. That’s 8 damage for 4 mana. It’s over 2 turns, yes, but it’s often just what you need in the late game to finish your opponent off. And when played on the curve it might protect your board (which you should have by turn 4) against opponent’s minions. Not having to trade the board = more damage over time.
[toc]Titan89’s Godlike Priest[/toc]
I know, I know. Another Priest list. I initially wanted to include this in the last episode, but I had too many Priest decks previously so I’ve decided to postpone it. And here we are, with Priest week again. But nevermind. This Priest deck is GODLIKE. I mean.. that’s how author named it. I’d probably call it Excavated Evil Elise Anti-Aggro Control Priest, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?
This deck got pretty popular recently. I’ve got to play it myself only a few days ago, but I was having pretty good time when doing it. It just works so well against the Aggro. The main idea is to sub the [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] + [card]Circle of Healing[/card] combo in favor of [card]Excavated Evil[/card]. It works so much better against Aggro for a few reasons. First of all – it’s more consistent. It requires only one card instead of 2. Second one – the 3 damage is usually as good as the 4 in fast matchups. Third one – you actually might give your enemy a dead draw. If you play against Aggro Shaman and you’re fighting for your life, you’re at low health, you really prefer him drawing Excavated Evil over, I don’t know, [card]Lava Burst[/card] or [card]Doomhammer[/card]. It might clear some of your board, that’s true, but that’s not a big deal.
To push the advantage against fast decks even further, it runs [card]Shadow Word: Pain[/card], 2x [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] (which also have insane synergy with [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card] in slow matchups), 2x [card]Velen’s Chosen[/card] and even the [card]Shadow Madness[/card]. The last one wasn’t really used in Priest for quite a long time.
The deck is clearly anti-Aggro. It doesn’t run any big threats, it runs way more AoE than is needed in slow matchups (I mean, the 3 damage AoE isn’t even that good against Control Warrior), it runs a lot of small cards that might be useless and the Excavated Evil might actually give enemy an edge in fatigue game. So what’s the deal here? You play an anti-Aggro deck, but you also play the [card]Elise Starseeker[/card]. The point is that you stall the game and play fatigue match against slow decks. So against another Control Priest or Control warrior, you want to keep as many “useless” cards as you can and then in the late game turn them into random Legendaries. Easy!
Well, not as easy, because the standard Control Priest is still better in slow games. But the Anti-Aggro aspect of this deck is very strong. And actually, with much more early game cards, including Velen’s Chosen, you might sometimes win a match by just simple tempo. If you coin out a Deathlord on turn 2 and buff it with Velen’s Chosen on turn 3, yeah, you’ve got yourself a pretty nice body on the board. If enemy has no answer, he often just loses the game, because he has no way to go through it and you just develop your board behind it while healing it.
If you’re a Control Priest fan, it’s definitely a good deck to try. Especially since new season is coming close and as we all know, first days of the ladder are full of Aggro enemies to pray on with such a deck.
- Since the deck is much faster, you want to have the early game tempo. That’s pretty much the point of playing it over the standard Control Priest. Especially with [card]Velen’s Chosen[/card] – it’s an incredibly strong card if you have something to play it on. For example, turn 1 [card]Zombie Chow[/card] or [card]Northshire Cleric[/card] into Coin + Velen’s on turn 2 can win you a lot of games. Enemy isn’t very likely to have an answer for such a big minion in the early game and you can heal it further. Once you buff something with Velen’s – try to keep it alive. Your 2 cards combo (1-drop + Velen’s) might eat 3 or 4 minions if you heal it up and that’s a lot of value.
- [card]Shrinkmeister[/card]s are very flexible. In worst case scenario you want to play them as vanilla 3/2 on turn 2. But if you can, abuse their effects. First way to do so, and probably the easiest one, is to use them when doing trades. Let’s say you have a Zombie Chow on the board and enemy played a 3/2 minion. You can Shrinkmeister it, trade in the Chow and it still lives with 2 health. You can shrink something into the [card]Shadow Word: Pain[/card] range (basically anything that’s 4 or 5 attack and you need to deal with) and you can Shrink 3-4 attack minions into [card]Cabal Shadow Priest[/card]’s range. The last combo is especially powerful, so try to use it. The best case scenario is stealing [card]Ysera[/card], but [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] or [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] are also awesome targets.
- [card]Shadow Madness[/card] usually gets 2 for 1 (you steal a minion and run it into another minion), but that’s not even the main reason you run it. What’s more important is that if you steal a minion with Deathrattle and it dies on your side of the board, you get the Deathrattle. It means that you can either deny opponent’s important Deathrattles (like denying the free Secret from [card]Mad Scientist[/card]) or get them yourself (like stealing a buffed [card]Nerubian Egg[/card] and running it into something to pop it on your side). One of the common examples is using it against opponent’s [card]Sludge Belcher[/card]. If you run the Belcher into another big minion, not only you deal with the pretty big threat (Belcher), damage or kill another one, but you also get a 1/2 Taunt afterwards.
- If you know that the game is going to fatigue, keep your small/useless cards for the [card]Golden Monkey[/card] value. While playing that [card]Zombie Chow[/card] or [card]Shrinkmeister[/card] might give you some board tempo, it’s much better to turn them into random Legendaries. You also might want to keep the [card]Excavated Evil[/card]s unless you had a good reason to use them. That’s because it’s bad to give your opponent a card in the fatigue game. Yes, he sometimes might use it and give it back to you (so it will be even), but then again if he’s smart he might keep it so you’ll suffer more fatigue damage than him. Sometimes one draw further means dying before your enemy.
- Besides that, the deck plays like a standard Control Priest, so you should probably check one of the guides in our Control Priest section!
- [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card] – This is the card I’m missing most from the list. I know that the deck probably doesn’t need yet another AoE, but the reason why Pyromancer is so good is that you can get those AoEs as soon as turn 2 (with Coin). If enemy tempos out really well with a lot of 1-drops/2-drops, sometimes a well-timed Pyromancer + Coin + [card]Power Word: Shield[/card] might turn the whole game around. Not to mention that turn 3 Pyromancer + Shield is a perfect counter to [card]Muster for Battle[/card].
- [card]Thoughtsteal[/card] – If you want to make the deck little less anti-Aggro and more value-oriented, Thoughtsteal is going to be a great include. The card is insane in slower matchups, because you’re getting the card advantage (2 for 1) while not digging deeper into your deck, so you won’t suffer later from increased fatigue damage.
- [card]Auchenai Soulpriest[/card] – I know, I know, the deck just removed them to play Excavataed Evils instead. But I don’t mean to play the full combo, just the Auchenais. Why? Because they still are great. Turning your Hero Power into a ping is really good. That’s what Priest often lacks – enemy has a 7/2 minion on the board and you have to use [card]Shadow Word: Death[/card] or something to take it down. Instead you can just play Auchenai and Hero Power it. Soulpriest has great synergy with [card]Zombie Chow[/card]s too – instead of healing your enemy, you damage them. This pushes the tempo tactic even more. If your Zombie Chow survives until turn 4, if you’re pushing for damage, instead of giving enemy the health back you damage him even more. And last, but not least, it’s awesome with [card]Justicar Trueheart[/card]. When your Hero Power becomes 4 damage for 2 mana, now enemy will do everything to remove Auchenai from the board. If Auchenai sticks when you have upgraded Hero Power, enemy has no chance to win the value game – you get a free (card-wise) upgraded [card]Darkbomb[/card] (4 instead of 3 damage) every turn.
I was actually playing a similar deck for the big part of my grind in Legend. It had a few different cards, but overall the theme was the same – ComboLock with [card]Reno Jackson[/card]. I was hovering around rank 200-300 most of the time, getting into top 100 a few times too (on EU). StrifeCro was also playing a very similar deck lately, peaking around top 20 Legend (on NA). So yes, if anyone’s wondering, the deck really works. And I have to say that it’s really good in the current meta. The only popular matchup that’s bad is Midrange Druid and honestly, it’s not even unwinnable (probably about 35/65 in Druid’s favor, though). So if you don’t face too many Midrange Druids, you should definitely try this deck out.
We all know the RenoLock by now. It’s a Midrange deck that doesn’t run duplicates to utilize the effect of [card]Reno Jackson[/card]. The idea of Reno deck is to use the Hero Power a lot – this way dig deeper to find the Reno, which completely negates the downside of [card]Life Tap[/card] (which is losing health). Reno is insane in a lot of matchups – it’s good against Aggro, because it has potential to heal you for up to 29. Then it’s great against combo decks running [card]Alexstrasza[/card]. They get you down to 15 – you go back to 30. It’s also good in very slow, grinder matchups. This way you can get like 10 Life Taps throughout the whole game and still not be in danger of dying at any point. In exchange of running such a strong card, the deck becomes slightly less consistent – with only single copy of each card, even though you’d really like to put two of some of them.
There are different versions of Reno decks. There is a demon-oriented one with [card]Voidcaller[/card], [card]Doomguard[/card] and [card]Mal’ganis[/card], there is a grinder one that uses [card]Feugen[/card] and [card]Stalagg[/card] pair to get the 11/11 on the board and then there is a combo one. There are actually two versions, one running [card]Arcane Golem[/card] and one [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card]. Both of them have their merits, but this particular version runs Leeroy.
So, the combo is pretty simple. You have two standard combos – 20 damage one and 24 damage one. The first one requires [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] tick on only one of the pieces, the second one on two. The first one is [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card] + [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] + [card]Faceless Manipulator[/card] and the second one adds the [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card] too. I don’t count him in the standard combo, because in most of the games he’s used as a way to get better trades on the board. It is possible to have even bigger combo with the card from [card]Dark Peddler[/card]. Another Abusive or [card]Soulfire[/card] push the combo to up to 28 damage and another Power Overwhelming – up to 32 damage. It’s really rare that you get so big of a combo, but it might be a way to win the game in some of the matchups.
What’s the reason to run the combo? Burst damage is never a bad thing. In some matchups you just need to burst the enemy down, or rather it’s the easiest way to win. If opponent’s deck runs a lot of healing, like another Reno deck, it’s much easier to win through the burst than through the long, grindy game. I mean, why not bring a gun to a knife fight? It’s also a way to win against [card]Anyfin Can Happen[/card] Paladin. The deck runs so much board clears and healing that it’s pretty much impossible to win through the standard ways. Before you will be able to kill him, he just gathers all the Murlocs and OTK’s you. So you want to set up the 30->0 turn by let’s say having something on the board already, then playing Loatheb + another minion and then using the Leeroy combo.
There are, however, matchups where you don’t win through the combo. Against Aggro and Midrange decks you might as well play the combo pieces individually, because you win by keeping the board control and minion damage. I mean, sometimes you get a combo finisher, but that’s rare case. So what are the combo pieces good for in this kind of matchup? [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] and [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card] obviously are used for trading. You have small minion on the board, enemy plays something bigger, you buff yours and kill it. Another way to combo them is with [card]Shadowflame[/card]. If you need a big board clear, you might buff your small minion and Shadowflame it. [card]Faceless Manipulator[/card] is just an overall solid card for this kind of the deck. If you Faceless anything that’s worth 5 or more mana, that’s already cool. So for example, you can Faceless your own big minions (like [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] or [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card]) for even more value, you can Faceless situational minion like a Taunt if you need one. You can also faceless enemy’s big threat before dealing with it. I found out that [card]Faceless[/card] on [card]Ancient of War[/card] or [card]Tirion Fordring[/card] is great just before you Silence and kill them. And last, but not least, the [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card]. This is the least flexible combo piece, because it spawns two 1/1’s for the enemy. It might still be used for trading (let’s say you can run it into [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] and clear the 1/1’s afterwards) and you can use it as the [card]Shadowflame[/card] activator. Leeroy + face hit + Shadowflame is 6 damage to all enemies, which is pretty big. But most of the time Leeroy is used as the finisher, even if not with the rest of the combo pieces, it’s still some burst.
While combo being one of the win condition, the deck wins a lot of the games by just grinding the enemy down. When you face another Midrange deck, you have the advantage of drawing two cards per turn. So even if they outtempo you, you might come back thanks to the value. If they try to rush you down, you clear their board, heal back to full with [card]Reno Jackson[/card], that’s usually game over. You still draw 2 cards per turn as opposed to their (usually) one, so that’s a pretty big advantage.
And yet another win condition, mainly utilized in Control matchups is the [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card]. That’s the card you can’t really outvalue in the long run. The deck can offset the initial tempo loss quite easily with something like [card]Twisting Nether[/card] (it’s GREAT card when you’re Jaraxxus – you clear the whole board with Twisting Nether and Hero Power, so you have 6/6 vs opponent’s empty board) or [card]Shadowflame[/card] + a lot of healing. Once a few turns pass, enemy shouldn’t be in a position to kill you, because you should have dominating board lead. The only bad thing about Jaraxxus is the health. 15 health is not enough in any burst matchup. Midrange Druid deals 14 damage with the combo, but it’s very easy to get the last point of damage with [card]Innervate[/card] or [card]Living Roots[/card]. Patron Warrior can play [card]Grommash Hellscream[/card] + [card]Inner Rage[/card] and hit you with the weapon. Anyfin Paladin, pretty much kills you with the first [card]Anyfin Can Happen[/card]. So you really need to be careful. Play Jaraxxus only when enemy has gone through their burst combos already or when you’re sure that they can’t kill you.
It would be too long to talk about each card individually. Most of them are removals or they can just be played on the curve to get the board lead. There are some situational/tech cards like [card]Acidic Swamp Ooze[/card] (very good in the meta, especially if you face a lot of Warriors/Paladins/Shamans), [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] (you can find a target in most of the decks), [card]Mind Control Tech[/card] (awesome against board flood decks, but even the slower ones might have 4 minions on the board from time to time) etc.
The deck is so cool and I can really recommend it. It’s fun to play, it’s not brainless (you need to form a game plan since the firs turns and follow it through the whole game), it mixes many different playstyles depending on the matchup – with the right hand it can be played like a tempo deck (Zoo-like), against Aggro you can play it like a Control one, against Midrange you can play it like another Midrange and in some matchups you can play it like a Combo deck. So yeah, it’s really flexible and adapts quite well to each matchup. 10/10!
- The deck runs a lot of small minions, so you shouldn’t keep any 4+ drops unless you play in a pretty slow matchup or you have a smooth curve. You also throw away any combo pieces. You aim to get the small drops and possibly the AoEs in certain matchups ([card]Demonwrath[/card] is great against Paladin, [card]Hellfire[/card] against Aggro Shaman, Tempo Mage or Zoo Warlock). Curving out is important – you can’t tap on turn 2 and 3 in fast matchups, because it’s way too slow.
- [card]Brann Bronzebeard[/card] can get you a lot of value, so you should generally save it for the instant combo with something else. But if you don’t have anything else to play on turn 3 or you know that enemy can’t remove it, you can go for it if you have some follow-up next turn. For example turn 3 Brann into turn 4 [card]Twilight Drake[/card] is a pretty big play. In the matchups where you want to combo the enemy down you want to save Brann to combo it with [card]Dark Peddler[/card]. It increases the chances of you getting another [card]Abusive Sergeant[/card], [card]Power Overwhelming[/card] or [card]Soulfire[/card]. One game I had 36 damage combo after getting two PO’s from Brann + Peddler (it wasn’t even necessary, but it was still cool). Brann + [card]Loatheb[/card] is also a good way to set up for the combo turn. This completely blocks all the spells, so enemy is much less likely to gain health or clear your board.
- If you have to, use your combo pieces individually. For example, getting a Faceless on [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] might be much better than the combo, as you will simply outtempo enemy really hard with almost free hand. Same goes for Power Overwhelming – if you need to kill something (once again, a minion like Emperor) and you have no other way to do so – you can go for the PO kill.
- [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] timing is really important. First of all, try to hit it with your [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card]. This way once you play it on turn 10 you can instantly Hero Power for a 6/6 minion. This is a very big difference, because you offset the tempo loss (from spending the whole turn on doing nothing) a little. The best timing to play Jaraxxus is when you have the board control or at least some Taunts. You want to play Jaraxxus once enemy uses his burst (for example, if Tempo Mage has gone through both of his [card]Fireball[/card]s and [card]Frostbolt[/card] already, it’s safe to play it). You also want to have a potential board wipe after if enemy decided to make some tempo move and played a lot of minions into the board – [card]Twisting Nether[/card] and [card]Shadowflame[/card] are best. The first one completely clears the board (besides possible Deathrattle minions) and the second one is 6 damage AoE with your Hero Power so it’s still pretty good. There are matchups where you don’t want to ever play Jaraxxus, like Anyfin Paladin, Freeze Mage (unless Jaraxxus actually heals you once they almost kill you) or another ComboLock (because once they kill your Taunts you’re 100% dead).
- [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] + [card]Shadowflame[/card] is another really cool way to clear the board. Not only it’s a 5 damage AoE, but it also might steal whatever leftovers enemy has. It means that anything surviving (6+ health minions, minions coming out of Deathrattles or minions with Divine Shield) now ends up on your side of the board. For example, if Secret Paladin plays [card]Tirion Fordring[/card], you might play Sylvanas + Shadowflame to steal it. It’s also decent way to clear the [card]Dr. Boom[/card] if you don’t have other removals – you clear everything and steal the 7/2 minion.
- Once you have your combo pieces in the hand, be sure to count how much damage can you do and try to get enemy into the range. Obviously running all your minions into opponent’s face and [card]Darkbomb[/card]ing it is a clear tell, but it’s still sometimes right thing to do (you basically force enemy to have healing/Taunt). But once you get your combo, you want to switch the gears a bit and instead of keeping the board clear all the time you want to play more for the tempo, drop the Defender of Argus/Loatheb and start pushing face damage, generally set up the lethal turn.
- Don’t be too greedy with [card]Reno Jackson[/card]. 4/6 body is also valuable, especially if you have no other plays. Let’s say it’s the only minion you can play on turn 6, but it only heals you for 10 – that’s fine unless you’ll REALLY need the healing later. In some slower matchups the body is even more valuable than the healing, so you might play a tempo Reno if you need to do so. Another way of being too greedy is waiting too long with the healing. Yes, it’s obviously better to get 20+ points of healing, but if you think that enemy might kill you next turn, go for the Reno. For example, if you’re at 14 health against Druid on turn 7, you might want to drop Reno instead of Boom (unless you’re behind on the tempo and you need to catch up) to play around [card]Innervate[/card] + combo. Better safe than sorry – at first I was playing really greedy and I got punished way too many times with unexpected lethal.
- [card]Arcane Golem[/card] – You can play the Golem instead of [card]Leeroy Jenkins[/card]. The downside is obviously less burst damage. The standard combo deals 16 damage with Arcane Golem and 20 with Leeroy – those 4 points of damage might be a difference between winning and losing the game. On the other hand, Leeroy combo requires the [card]Emperor Thaurissan[/card] tick, so you can’t play Emperor until you have at least one combo piece in your hand and you can’t play the combo until you draw Emperor. Leeroy is also less flexible when used outside of the combo – in the late game Arcane Golem can be used just as a 4/2 minion with Charge for trading purposes, because his downside makes no difference. On the other hand, Leeroy is more expensive (so harder to use it for the tempo) and leaves two 1/1’s behind for the enemy, which you often need to clear so they won’t kill your minion(s). Both approaches are alright and I’ve actually had pretty similar results with both versions.
- [card]Earthen Ring Farseer[/card] – I play it instead of [card]Mind Control Tech[/card] in my deck. It’s more consistent, but offers less potential game-winning swings. I like to have another source of healing, it’s pretty cheap so you can combo it with Brann for 6 points of healing + it can be used to heal the minions up after trading. And it’s much better to drop it on turn 3 than Mind Control Tech, because you don’t lose the Battlecry value.
- [card]Siphon Soul[/card] – I’m not a fan of this card. Probably no high level player is. It’s just weak – 6 mana for single target removal + 3 points of healing? That sucks hard. But the problem is that it’s the only big removal available to Warlock, so I still play it in my deck. Because without it, if enemy drops a big minion like [card]Ysera[/card], you’re pretty much screwed – you have no way to kill it, all you can do is Silence. It’s also good for taking out big minions that are not in the [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] range. For example, clearing Tirion Fordring and following up with [card]Acidic Swamp Ooze[/card] (or Silencing it and Siphoning after). Or getting rid of the [card]Ancient of War[/card] that pops out from time to time in Druid matchup. Or even using it as a way to protect your board – instead of running in two or three small minions into enemy 5/5, you can just Siphon it and keep the board lead. Bad card, but sometimes you have to play bad cards when you have no better options.
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