Table of Contents
Pre-Release Brews – Jade Druid, Control N’Zoth Shaman, Pirate Rogue
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan should hit live server somewhere between 8-16 hours from now. I suspect that EU release will be late again, but that’s fine, I’m used to it. First the pack openings and then deck building – the thrill of the fresh expansion is always amazing. But if you don’t have a lot of ideas for the decks, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
When it comes to Jade Lotus, I could list three Jade Golem based decks, but I’ve figured out that it would be pretty boring. That’s why I’ve decided to go with Jade Druid (well, one Jade Golem deck is must-have!), Control Shaman and Pirate Rogue. Enjoy!
First I’ve got one of the most anticipated decks. After the Frodan’s presentation has shown the deck’s potential, a lot of people want to test it out. And while I don’t think it will take over the meta, I think it’s the new approach for the Midrange Druid archetype and it’s going to be pretty strong.
If someone isn’t familiar with the Jade Golem mechanic yet, it’s pretty basic. Every effect that summons Jade Golem has a built-in snowball mechanic. First summons a 1/1, second summons a 2/2 and every next one grows by +1/+1. So the 10th Jade Golem you summon in the game will be 10/10. Pretty strong, huh?
And that’s why I first need to explain you the process behind deck building here. A lot of you will ask – why you end your curve at 6 mana? No Ragnaros the Firelord? No Arcane Giants? I mean, both could fit into the deck, that’s right. No other big threats? Sure, it might be necessary in other decks. But not in this one. First, against faster decks, the lower curve you have – the better it is. If you make your deck too greedy, your matchup against Aggro will hurt and this deck is already pretty bad against all-in rush decks. You DON’T want to play cards like Ragnaros or Arcane Giant, because drawing them early would be a death sentence. Not only you have to snowball your Jade Golems, but you also struggle with the early game draws? No way. Theoretically, Arcane Giants would fit there because of how many spells the deck uses, but no need to play them.
In Control matchups, you basically have an infinite deck. It’s not like you can’t lose any control matchup – you just can’t lose by running out of threats if you play the game right. It means that you DON’T HAVE TO play big threats, because in the late game you will be summoning huge Jade Golem after Jade Golem. You would be able to summon 0 mana 8/8s in the late game, but in this deck you will be able to summon 1 mana 8/8’s that will grow even further down the road. All you need to do is make sure that you will have a way to cycle, thus 2x Azure Drake, 2x Nourish and Gadgetzan Auctioneer. To win in Control matchups, you will want to set up the few Jade Idols (putting 3 more into your deck), especially with Fandral Staghelm. And after you put a bunch of them into your deck, you want to draw, preferably with Auctioneer. Now you can do something like summon Golems with 2 Idols and then put 3 more into your deck with the third. And go like that as long as you want.
When it comes to new cards, there isn’t a lot to talk about. I’ve literally put every new Jade Golem card into the deck. Not because all of them are amazing, but because they have strong synergy with each other. The more you play, the better they are individually. It’s still only 9 cards, I’ve honestly thought that there will be a little more Jade Golem cards, but that’s where the Druid shines. Normally with those 9 cards, you could go up to 10/10 (maybe a little more with Brann Bronzebeard). Which is nice, but honestly, it’s something the Control decks still might handle. Druid, however, is the only class that can go infinite on this strategy and that’s why it should be really strong vs Control decks.
The only issue I have with this deck is that it might be too weak against Aggro. If you will happen to face a lot of Aggro, playing second Feral Rage will probably be a good decision. You can actually play it instead of the Brann – Brann is mostly here for the cute combos against Control, it won’t be that useful (outside of the 2/4 body) against Aggro. If that won’t be enough and you will REALLY face Aggro after Aggro, you should switch out Gadgetzan Auctioneer for Moonglade Portal – Auctioneer is often a dead card and some healing is always good.
That’s going to be one of the first decks I will test, because I love the Druid and I’ve waited for something like this for a long time (as much as I like Maly Druid, I’m not really into the combo decks).
Control N’Zoth Shaman
Aaand that’s one of the most expensive decks I’ve ever seen. But I guess that’s how slow, N’Zoth decks look like – you need to play all those expensive Deathrattle Legendaries to make them work. But since I’m lucky enough to have all of those cards (besides the new ones), I’ll probably still have pleasure to test it.
About the Control Shaman archetype. See, the thing is – this deck isn’t great right now. It is playable, even in Legend, but it’s definitely NOT a top tier deck. Will new cards change it? Probably not, they’re strong, but it’s not enough and others are also getting stronger. It’s still going to be ~Tier 3. And Midrange Shaman is still going to be way better. But that’s not something we can change – Midrange Shaman is already too far on the power level, Blizzard would need to nerf few more cards to tune down their power level.
But, if you’ve noticed something – Control Shaman doesn’t run almost any cards that will rotate out next expansion. On top of that, Blizzard SEEMS to try to get Control Shaman some new tools instead of pumping the Midrange archetype even further. So while Midrange is going to lose stuff like Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem and Thunder Bluff Valiant, this deck loses… Healing Wave which isn’t that big of a hit since Jinyu Waterspeaker was released and Chillmaw, but that card is definitely not a necessary staple – you can easily play without it. The only big hit is Elemental Destruction and that’s going to hurt. But if they give another Control-oriented AoE clear to Shaman, I seriously think that Control Shaman might take over Midrange for the #1 Shaman deck next Spring.
But, back to the deck. It didn’t really change much, but the two changes might be quite interesting. First of all – Jinyu Waterspeaker I’ve just mentioned. I think that it’s stronger than the Healing Wave. Sure, it’s a good healing spell, but not only if you don’t win the Joust it’s pretty low value, but also it doesn’t have any body, so it’s pretty useless in some matchups. Jinyu, on the other hand, is guaranteed 6 healing – flexible healing, because you can target your minions with it. Which is BIG in Control matchups – you’re often near full health against Control Warrior or Priest, so what’s the point of healing yourself? The 3/6 body that you can drop as soon as turn 4 is also a nice addition. Control Shaman lacked earlier plays and dropping a 3/6 on turn 4 is quite strong.
Then, the second minion – White Eyes. Cool name, huh? The effect is also really cool. 5/5 Taunt for 5 is fair, nothing to get excited about. It’s going to be quite alright in fast matchups, because every way to preserve your health is important. But then in the Control matchup, it becomes another win condition. Since Control games usually go almost to the last card, having two extra big threats in your deck is great. Why two, you might ask? Because N’Zoth respawns it and you proc the Deathrattle again. So a Control deck needs to deal with all your individual threats first, then it needs to deal with your N’Zoth turn and then it has to deal with two more 10/10’s. Because yes, The Storm Guardian is a 5 mana 10/10 Taunt minion. Imagine dropping those two in the very late game, against Control deck that’s already exhausted its removals. Really nice swing.
The deck’s play style stays the same. It has literally no early game proactive plays, all it does is remove stuff. Or rather waits until opponent plays a few things and AoEs them down. Stall the game early, start playing your big threats in the mid game and then N’Zoth later down the road. That’s the general game plan, which of course varies depending on the matchup. It’s a pretty hard deck to master and I’ll be honest that I don’t have too much experience playing it (I’ve played the Ancestral Spirit “BogChamp” version more). But if you want to see the deck in action, Savjz is playing it on his stream from time to time – here is one Twitch VoD. You can go through his video history to find more.
Another highly experimental deck. Pirate decks will get some love this expansion, but still probably not enough to make a dedicated Pirate archetype work really well. Why am I saying this after praising Pirate Warrior so much? Because Pirate Warrior doesn’t play on the Pirate synergies – it focuses on the WEAPON synergies and as it happens, Pirate cards are the ones that provide those. That’s why Pirate Warrior won’t play cards like Southsea Captain or Skycap'n Kragg. But anyway, Pirate Rogue got stronger and it might be a solid Aggro deck too.
So, what’s the deal with this deck anyway? It’s pretty simple – it’s a high tempo, early game focused deck that wants to get the board early, outtempo the opponent and finish him with a bunch of minions + weapons. We’ve heard that before, but it plays in a slightly different way than Pirate Warrior. As it happens, Warrior has access to way more aggressive weapons than Rogue has AND it has a solid class Charge minion (Kor'kron Elite) so it can take a way more “rush” stance and doesn’t have to board control as much. This deck, however, relies on the early game minion damage a lot to make everything work. You can’t just play whatever 1-3 and then still deal 20 damage with your weapons. I mean, you can, but it’s more unlikely. Warrior has Arcanite Reaper, which in theory deals less damage than Rogue’s Assassin's Blade, but over less amount on turns too (and it synergizes really well with Upgrade!). Rogue really has to buff that weapon to make it work. But this deck can luckily do that quite well.
When it comes to the new cards, there is obviously Patches the Pirate. I’ve already explained why it’s so strong in the last article, but to summarize – in most of the games (I’d say at least 80%) it’s a free tempo (which either deals some face damage or forces your opponent to waste resources on it) + it thins your deck, which is what you want in Aggro. Another one is Small-time Buccaneer. I like it in Rogue even more than in Warrior, because Rogue can ALWAYS equip the weapon on turn 2 if necessary. Usually turn 2 Hero Power in such a deck is tempo loss, but in case of this one it might not necessarily be. Then, we also have one copy of Luckydo Buccaneer (so many Buccaneers in this deck) – one copy, because those can really ruin your early draws and I don’t think that this deck runs enough ways to make 3+ attack weapon to support playing two (you ALWAYS want to drop him as a 9/9, you can’t afford to have a 6 mana 5/5 at this stage of the game). I really like the card as an one-of big finisher, especially if you manage to play it on curve after Southsea Squidface and/or Assassin's Blade.
Then we have a bunch of old cards. Early game is mostly about tempo – you play cheap removal (Backstab) that can double-up as burn damage later (Deadly Poison, Eviscerate), you play a lot of 1-drops, you play Sap to win the tempo game (if you Sap a slow minion without Taunt when playing aggressive Rogue deck, it’s often as good as killing it) and you play some Pirate synergies. Southsea Captain and Skycap'n Kragg might not be the strongest cards, but they work really well with the number of Pirates this deck runs. It has 16 Pirates in total and SEVEN 1-drop Pirates. Both synergize well with multiple low cost minions, as buffing them all gives you most value + they can reduce the Kragg’s cost quite low. When it comes to the Kragg, it’s quite questionable – I’m still not sure if it will be good. In theory, if you get it down to 5 mana, it should already be worth it. But in reality you want to get it to 4 or lower. But I think that this deck has enough Pirates to consistently have 2-3 on the board.
On top of everything, there is a Leeroy Jenkins finisher. Assassin's Blade is another finisher, even though you have to execute it through the multiple turns and pray that your opponent won’t Harrison Jones you. It’s still solid, especially if you manage to buff it. I’ve played Pirate Rogue in the past and I know that Assassin’s Blade + Deadly Poison can be really powerful. Sadly, the Blade Flurry is gone (not really gone, but could as well be), but the 5/4 weapon is still threatening, especially if you can back it up with Sap to stall the game when you’re dealing 5 with your weapon every turn.
I think that Pirate Warrior will be stronger, but Pirate Rogue isn’t the worst deck ever. Especially if you have fun with aggressive/heavily synergistic decks, then you should find it pretty fun to play.
So that’s all for the Brews. I’ve covered all 3 gangs, giving you 1 deck from each. And now, I know that not all of those decks will work. Some of them are very experimental and some are already clearly not a top tier deck material. But I’ve tried to be a little innovative instead of giving you boring decks we all know with just a single card changed. I will definitely brew and test more decks after the expansion is released, so I can’t wait to share them with you. I hope that you’re all going to enjoy the new decks and new expansion in general!
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!