7 New Year Deck Recommendations!
Happy New Year, everyone!
Yesterday I’ve posted resolutions/challenges for the New Year. One of them was to play non-meta decks. The reason behind this resolution is that meta can get boring after a while and playing something that you don’t face every second match can be more fun for both you and your opponents.
Today I want to share the list of the decks I recommend for the New Year, or well, new season. Those will include both non-meta decks and meta decks that I feel like are most fun to play at the moment. Of course, definition of “fun” varies from person to person, so I have to say that some choices might be very subjective.
Each one of those decks was – obviously – tested by the creators and is capable of at least hitting Legend. A lot of them were also tested by me, in Legend on EU server, with at least a moderate success. They might not get you #1 Legend, because some of them are hard to play or were tinkered to counter the exact meta their creators were facing, but I hope that’s good enough for most of you.
Senfglas’ C’Thun Combo Druid
I didn’t rate Kun the Forgotten King highly before the expansion. By itself it’s a pretty poor card. But I haven’t thought about the Aviana + Kun potential. Basically, Aviana has one of the most powerful effects in the whole game, but you’re left with only 1 mana to utilize it (well, maybe slightly more with Innervate). However, if you follow it with Kun to gain 10 mana, now you have Aviana on the board… and 10 mana available. This makes some really, really fun combos possible. All the combos that either require a lot of Emperor Thaurissan procs or a vital minion to stay on the board. It doesn’t happen that often. But it does when you can perform the whole combo in one turn.
There are two most popular versions of the Combo Druid right now – Malygos and C’Thun. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses – I feel like Malygos one has better cycle and stronger minions (non-combo ones), but C’Thun one has better combo and sometimes wins the game without combo – if you curve out with your C’Thun minions into C’Thun himself you can win some matches like the old C’Thun Druid.
Anyway, the deck’s goal is to draw cards, stall the game, remove stuff etc. until you draw the combo. And then the magic happens. You play Aviana + Kun. Now, with 10 mana available you play Brann Bronzebeard and depending on the rest of your hand, you can either play some more C’Thun buff cards (each one counts twice because of Brann), then you play C’Thun (which deals his whole damage twice thanks to the Brann), then you Youthful Brewmaster the C’Thun and replay it again. After testing the deck for a bit, something like 60 pings (15/15 C’Thun) is quite common combo outcome. Meaning that, unless your opponent has a really solid board (REALLY solid board), he dies from 30 quite easily.
The deck mostly shines in slower matches, when you have enough time to draw your whole combo and play it, but it can hold the ground against Aggro. As long as it stalls the game with early removals / Doomsayer, it can put a quite solid Taunt wall later. Few players have hit high Legend ranks with different versions of the deck, so while it looks like a cheese of the month, it definitely has its strong points and can work on the ladder.
Vlps’ Control Warrior
It’s really funny, but I have to say it. Control Warrior is a non-meta deck. After all those years. It was mostly pushed out of the meta, because most of the popular matchups were simply… poor. First, the Jade decks, which were simply made to counter Control Warrior – slow, snowball mechanic that end up summoning A LOT of big minions every game, most likely more than Warrior can remove. Then the slower Reno decks, pretty much each Kabal class can simply outvalue Control Warrior in the long run.
So instead of caring about the slow matchup, this is an anti-Aggro build. With a lot of AoE, Armor gain, Taunts and almost no late game, it tries to win against things like Aggro Shaman or Pirate Warrior to boost the ladder performance. The new Gadgetzan addition – Alley Armorsmith – turned out to be a very powerful anti-Aggro card even without any buff mechanics in your deck. Of course, it would be better to play it as a let’s say 4/9, but as 5 mana 2/7 Taunt that gets you 4-6 extra Armor on average is still a huge wall + life gain.
But what about slower matchups? Jade decks’ popularity is heavily diminishing – right now you don’t meet a lot of those on the ladder. It seems like the Midrange Jade Shaman is the most popular one right now, at least in the higher ranks, but it’s still 1/3 of the Aggro Shaman’s popularity. But the matchup is still better than Jade Druid, which becomes less and less popular each week. And Reno decks aren’t exactly unbeatable. One thing that’s going for you is that a lot of the builds are also optimized to fight Aggro. And even if they aren’t, you can win some games with a well-timed Dirty Rat. Running two means that if you pull out 2 key minions, you might even win some slow matchups thanks to the Elise Starseeker.
I’ll be honest – it’s not the most optimal deck to play right now. It’s around tier 3. But if you want to play a Control deck that’s NOT a Reno deck, Control Warrior is your best bet. Some people still have a decent success with the deck, including the Control Warrior God – Fibonacci.
JAB’s Reno Mage
Reno Mage is surely a meta deck. And I will say even more – it’s rising to be one of the strongest meta decks right now. Quite unexpectedly, honestly, because right at the start it was considered the weakest out of the 3 Reno decks. First people played the hell out of Reno Priest, later RenoLock and now – while RenoLock is still the most popular – win rate charts seem to slightly favor Reno Mage.
It might be because after a long streak of RenoLock’s dominance, people are learning to play against it optimally, maybe they tech against it etc. Reno Mage is still a more “unexpected” deck, so most of the players don’t have enough experience in the matchup. Then, the lists still aren’t 100% optimized, different players are running different builds which might vary quite a lot. This makes Reno Mage more unpredictable.
Then, the meta also works in the Reno Mage’s favor. The deck doesn’t have a lot of counters in general – most of the matchups are quite good. Only things that are really strong against Mage are slow Jade decks (they counter every Reno deck) and Priest (both Dragon & Reno), and both are quite unpopular. On average, they make up for ~15% of the Legend ladder combined. 15% bad matchups (bad doesn’t mean unwinnable!) doesn’t influence the deck’s win rate that much, while having good matchups against Warrior decks (which is ~17% of the Legend ladder by itself) and most importantly even/good matchups against Shaman decks (over 25% of the Legend ladder) means a lot.
Now, I will have to say that not everyone will find this deck fun. The deck has unique play style of a classic Control deck – you play a very slow game where you grind your opponent out. The deck is heavy on removals and value card that let you keep the board clear and outvalue whatever your opponent tries to do. It’s also a bit flexible when it comes to the burst, you can pull up to 15 damage from your hand without any Emperor Thaurissan procs or extra cards. Overall, I like what the deck tries to do. I like to play the resource game, I like to take games down to fatigue, I like to have a consistent game plan throughout the whole game and stick to it. That’s why it has became one of my favorite decks this expansion.
Reno Mage might be a great way to start the season. Because season starts are quite fast in general, I don’t expect to see a lot of slow Jade decks, so the deck might be even stronger than it is right now. All you need to do is to learn to play it a bit. It’s a deck with quite easy basics, but it’s still very hard to play optimally.
TwoBiers’ Overload Shaman
And this, on the other hand, is a definition of a non-meta deck. I have never seen something like that. I mean, sure, I’ve seen the Shaman decks built around Overload mechanic before. With both Tunnel Trogg and Unbound Elemental growing, it makes sense. But this deck is… weird.
It’s not an Aggro deck, because it’s too slow and plays things like Elemental Destruction and Hex. It’s not a Control deck, because it doesn’t really want to outvalue the opponent. I’d call it some weird tempo-oriented Midrange deck. Overload cards are weaker than the normal cards if you count both the card’s cost AND overload, but if your overload cards get some extra effects (like buffing your minions) or you can get rid of the overload quite reliably (Lava Shock), they make for a quite nice tempo moves.
The deck runs quite a lot of big minions you can get out ahead of the curve. We all know how strong the 4 mana 7/7 can be, but this deck also runs 5 mana 7/8 Taunt. In both cases, unless you have some extra overload, you can negate it completely next turn with Lava Shock. While Lava Shock costs 2 itself, it’s still a great tempo move.
Finders Keepers is also an interesting cards that I haven’t played with yet. Range of Overload cards is quite big. You have small minions, big minions, healing, Taunt, weapons, single target removal, AoE removal, burn, card draw… Since you’re discovering one, you should pretty much always get something useful. 1 mana Overload can also be very strong when you have Unbound Elemental on the board – playing it and discovering and playing Lightning Bolt can make the Elemental snowball quite fast.
I haven’t tested this deck yet, but TwoBiers apparently hit Legend on NA when playing it. I mean, it’s definitely something most of the players don’t expect to face. I can see it being quite strong with a good opening hand. But on the other hand, I’m not entirely convinced – I mean, not running Maelstrom Portal or Lightning Storm in this meta is like a suicide.
But the fact that TwoBiers still got Legend with such a weird Shaman build just shows how broken the class is. Midrange Shaman was dominating last season, Aggro Jade Shaman is dominating right now, Midrange Jade Shaman also seems to become more and more popular, Shaman’s cards are just too powerful.
Feno’s Menagerie Druid
That’s probably one of the most unique decks I’ve seen recently. The theme was already tested right after Karazhan – playing the deck with 3 different tribes (Murlocs, Beasts, Dragons) and then the cards that synergize with them – in this case Zoobot and The Curator. Actually, the only new addition to the deck is a Murloc Legendary – Finja, the Flying Star, but it seems to work better right now.
It’s an aggressive Midrange deck that mostly relies on snowballing the early board and winning this way. You flood the board, you buff the board, you kill your opponent with Savage Roar. That’s the easiest game plan, but it often doesn’t work that way. Besides the strong early game, the deck has a quite solid Midrange core. Druid of the Claw is either more immediate damage or a Taunt against Aggro. Azure Drake and The Curator cycle through the deck. I’d like to stop for a moment and talk about The Curator here – the card is simply amazing in this deck. 4/6 Taunt for 7 mana that draws you 3 cards. The Curator is already very strong with just 2 draws, with 3 it’s borderline broken and way stronger than the pre-nerf Ancient of Lore. The deck runs enough of the each tribe to consistently draw 3 cards, after playing with the deck for a bit I never drew less than 2 cards with The Curator. And since Azure Drake is often the Dragon you draw, The Curator can give you plays for the next 2-3 turns after dropping it.
Now, to the more unique cards. First of all – Zoobot. It’s a card with a huge potential, but (previously) without a right deck to put it into. At base, it’s bad – 3/3 for 3, you would never play it. But even after hitting just one minion, it kinda breaks even – 3/3 + 1/1 buff is like a better Shattered Sun Cleric or 4/4 stats in total. But then at 2 buffs it already gets very strong, giving you 5/5 stats in total for just 3 mana. If you manage to hit 3 minions, you snowball the game like crazy. I’d say that in this deck you should hit 1-2 buffs on average, which makes the card pretty strong. You can sometimes even hit +2/+2 on the curve after turn 1 Enchanted Raven and turn 2 Faerie Dragon. Later in the game you can just drop the relevant tribe cards and buff them immediately. This is one of the cards that make the deck.
Another unique card is Finja, the Flying Star. So far used only in Anyfin Can Happen Paladin, but it also fits into this deck. The card is slow, but if you manage to make it work, it can be quite powerful. Sure, you lose the tempo by playing a 2/4 for 5, and you might not have anything to attack with it immediately, but once you find the target, summoning let’s say Murloc Warleader + Bluegill Warrior is pretty strong. You get a 3/2 Charge you can play immediately and 3/3 that buffs all your other Murlocs, including Finja. Since you have a solid chance to pull Warleader, it might even buff Finja out of ping/AoE range after you kill something. At first I found the card pretty questionable, because it’s hard to find a target that dies to 2 points of attack after turn 5, but you can bring most of them down in the range with stuff like Swipe or some Charge minion. And since the effect procs even if Finja dies, it can be used as an extra “2 damage ping” that gets its value back after the attack and thins your deck.
I will probably test the other Menagerie buff card in this deck – Menagerie Magician – but I can see why it’s not played. It can be too slow and 5 mana is harder to “combo” than 3 mana – you can play some minions AND Zoobot much easier than minions + Menagerie Magician. Still, I think it’s worth to give it a shot and try it out.
Overall, the deck is pretty fun to play and can catch your opponents off-guard. After seeing Druid, most of the players mulligan for a very slow Jade Druid, which can bite them back after you start flooding the board and rushing them down.
Rase’s Combo Dragon Priest
This is an interesting twist on an already classic Dragon Priest deck. With the new Gadgetzan additions, the deck jumped from somewhere around tier 4 to tier 2-3, depending on the exact meta you face. It’s still not the strongest deck, but it has some solid matchups.
However, it struggles with the same problem Priest always did – no burst damage, which means no way to close some games. While it doesn’t hurt that much in Control Priest, because the deck tries to outvalue the opponent anyway, it’s a really big disadvantage in Dragon Priest – the deck which is rather aggressive and often tries to push enemy hard in the mid game with strong minion presence. But once the minions are gone, it can’t really do more than 6 damage from the hand (2x Blackwing Corruptor, or 1x with Brann Bronzebeard).
Rase tried to fix that issue and added the Prophet Velen + Mind Blast + Holy Smite combo. The whole combo deals 14 damage from the hand. On top of that, Alexstrasza can bring your opponent down to 15. If you have any minion presence, just Alex your opponent, hit him with whatever you have and then combo him down next turn. That’s the usual game plan. But what I like about the deck is that each of the combo pieces is flexible and can be used individually. Well, maybe outside of the Mind Blast, which is pure damage – but it’s still 5 damage you can use as a finisher when you need it.
I feel like the combo version is stronger in the matchups that you might be short of reach with – especially against decks like RenoLock or Miracle Rogue, that won’t get you deal any damage after they take over the board in the late game. Especially the RenoLock – Lord Jaraxxus is auto-win for the Warlock unless you can burst them down, and this combo allows you to do just that. All you need to do is to get Warlock down to 14 or less health, which shouldn’t be hard considering that he starts with 15.
On the other hand, the deck might be slightly weaker against Aggro, where the additional burst is pretty meaningless and the lack of AoE might hurt. I mean, it’s a Dragon Priest deck not running Dragonfire Potion, which is often the best comeback mechanic against Shaman.
I haven’t tested this specific list, but Rase hit #8 Legend with it. I don’t know how the deck will work against the early 2017 meta, but if you face a lot of RenoLocks it will definitely be the better version to play than the non-combo one. It might also be better against other Dragon decks, where Dragonfire Potion is underperforming. However, in case of facing Shamans, I think that sticking to the classic version would be better.
Dethelor’s RenoLock (No Combo)
And here is my personal favorite. I wasn’t sure about the no-combo version, it seemed weaker at the start, but then I’ve analyzed my matchups and actually, no combo version is much better in most of them. I’ve pushed it to around top 100 Legend few days ago with this list after going on a 11 games win streak (sadly, later falling down again, but I still think that the deck performed well). Dethelor also pushed into high Legend ranks when playing it.
On the ladder, there are two most popular RenoLock lists – the Savjz one that he kept #1 Legend with way earlier in the season (first deck to really feature Dirty Rat and showcase its power) and then, more recently, Asmodai hit #1 Legend with his slightly different list (featuring Blastcrystal Potion and Soulfire). Both lists had their strengths and weaknesses, but in the end they were quite similar – they both were running Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator combo.
And while yes, the combo is very powerful, it’s only powerful in certain matchups. It’s great when you need burst, but the only POPULAR matchup where the combo helped was the mirror. In most of the other popular matchups, the combo was used more… freely. Individual combo pieces were thrown around when necessary and RenoLock rarely gathered the whole combo – or rather rarely NEEDED to do that. For example, the combo is strong against Reno Priest too, but it just wasn’t necessary – a single Jaraxxus could win that matchup.
The problem with combo was that each individual combo piece wasn’t as useful. Power Overwhelming could be combo’d with Shadowflame and Faceless Manipulator on Mountain Giant or a big Twilight Drake was a strong move, but those were still very situational. Dethelor figured out that he can drop the combo and instead focus on the other matchups than the mirror. And yes, in the end his win rate in mirror was bad (9-10 according to his stats), but his overall win rate was still at 69% (here are the full stats posted on his Twitter) – especially win rate against Druid and against Shaman has improved. Those are the matchups where you don’t need the combo, you need individually strong cards and this deck provides those.
But, what does he exactly play instead of the combo? I’ll compare it to the Savjz’s list, as it seemed to be the most popular RenoLock version on the ladder. If you don’t know how does it look, check it out here.
So, the combo + Dark Peddler removed. Why the Peddler? I also felt that the card was underperforming in some matchups. It was good in the ones where you wanted a combo finisher, because it could give you extra burst (PO, Soulfire, Abusive). But in other matchups it felt more like a filler card. Back in the day, 2/2 on turn 2 could often trade into something. Right now? Pretty much never.
Then, both Mistress of Mixtures and Defender of Argus adds more consistency in faster matchups – extra small drop/healing and extra Taunt giver, both strong in fast matchups. Then, the Spellbreaker and Ragnaros the Firelord are very solid in slower matchups. Right now pretty much no one runs Silence, so one one expects it – and there are always some solid Silence targets. If you get ahead on the board, Sylvanas Windrunner can ruin your day and Silence helps against her. And let’s even say Aya Blackpaw – if it’s later in the game, Spellbreaker might be clearing a let’s say 6/6 minion with his Battlecry (and stopping the Jade Golem growth by a bit). And Ragnaros… the while it’s not that good in fast matchups, it’s one of the best cards in slow matchups. The meta seems to be pretty anti-Aggro. A lot of people aren’t running many big removals. If you curve out well with let’s say Drake/Giant, then Emperor and then Ragnaros, there might not be an answer for the last one. It’s one of the main reasons of such a high win rate against Druid – the class always had a hard time against the card. Ragnaros also increases the power of resurrecting minions Kazakus potion effect.
Right now, in the current meta, I prefer this list over the combo version. It might change depending on the meta, it also depends on the exact matchups you face most, let’s say if you play in the mirror a lot, it’s harder to win with this deck. I mean, it’s not unwinnable – during my win streak, I won against 3 other RenoLocks that had combo. Well-timed Brann Bronzebeard + Dirty Rat might pull out a combo piece and then other non-combo cards should give you a slight edge in the long run.
So that would be it for my New Year recommendations. I hope that you will enjoy some of the decks – I’ve tried to add a good mix of meta and non-meta decks and most importantly, I’ve added only the lists that were tested and AT LEAST got to Legend (usually grinded high Legend ranks too). Let me know which decks you plan to play this season!
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!