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Rating  58

Contributed by

Guide Type

Dust Cost

Last Updated

February 2, 2017

Table of Contents

Ryzen's Oil Rogue
Class Cards (20)
2
Backstab 0
2
Preparation 0
2
Deadly Poison 1
2
Eviscerate 2
2
Sap 2
2
Fan of Knives 3
Edwin VanCleef 3
2
SI:7 Agent 3
2
Blade Flurry 4
2
Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil 4
Sprint 7
Neutral Cards (10)
Southsea Deckhand 1
Bloodmage Thalnos 2
Earthen Ring Farseer 3
2
Violet Teacher 4
Antique Healbot 5
2
Azure Drake 5
Loatheb 5
Dr. Boom 7

Mana Curve

4 0
3 1
5 2
6 3
6 4
4 5
0 6
2 7

Attack Curve

17 0
1 1
2 2
6 3
2 4
1 5
0 6
1 7

Health Curve

17 0
2 1
1 2
4 3
2 4
3 5
0 6
1 7

How to Counter the Meta’s Key Decks

Introduction


Hello everyone! It’s me, JulpaFTW, again, and today I’m going to teach you how to counter the meta’s key decks. Most of the articles you’ll find will focus on how to play a certain deck, and will usually only give a couple of tips on mulligans against other classes. The aim of this article is to reverse that approach and give you tips that will help you beat what’s out there. I’ll also include a section on more general advice that you should keep in mind when playing against different archetypes. Keeping this article as a sort of cheat sheet will help you analyze your decisions and give you a push to that coveted legend rank. As a side note, the deck list I’ve included is the deck I’m currently running. All credit for it goes to Ryzen who developed it. The deck has a pretty strong match-up against most classes in the current meta and is very fun (and challenging!) to play. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Decks


Oil Rogue

Oil Rogue is one of the most popular decks in the meta-game, and also one of the hardest to play. However, when played correctly, it is extremely deadly. It has great cycling potential, strong midrange minions, a myriad of tempo generating spells and burst damage to boot. So how do you handle this match-up? First, recognize what they’ll be looking for in their opening hand: early answers to your possible threats if you’re playing aggro and midrange minions such as Azure Drake or Violet Teacher if you’re playing control.

Against heavy control, they’ll mulligan for Sprint in order to try to outdraw you. However, if you’re playing Control Warrior, they’ll have scarce chances of winning since they don’t have enough threats or damage to get through the armor that you put up. Once you understand their mulligans, you can expect their first couple of plays: they’ll usually dagger on turn 2, and look to play minions on curve on turns 3-5 while dealing with your threats using Backstab, Deadly Poison and Eviscerate. Knowing this, you’ll want to mulligan for cards that deal 3 damage to handle their 3/3s (Earthen Ring Farseer, SI:7 Agent) such as Wrath, Fiery War Axe or Frostbolt among others. If you manage to take control of the board early on, they’ll have to waste a lot of their health using weapons to clear your board, and will be vulnerable later on.

Another thing to keep in mind is that they usually don’t run Big Game Hunter, so play your threats without fear as long as you can afford a tempo loss from Sap. While that tempo loss can be devastating, it only buys them time, not card advantage, so if you have board control, it won’t matter at all. One thing that Oil Rogues hate to see is 5-health taunts such as Sludge Belcher, since if they don’t have a very precise answer to it such as spell-power Eviscerate, they’ll have to sacrifice minions to deal the 5 damage or waste a Tinker's Sharpsword Oil to deal with your threat (these taunts also prevent them from pushing damage and pressuring your life total).

Counter decks: Control Warrior is near impossible for them to beat if played correctly, since they can answer 3/3s with War Axe and can stack infinite armor that is pretty much impossible for them to get through. Face Hunter also has a favourable match-up against them if they don’t run any specific tech cards such as Antique Healbot.

Techs: Harrison Jones can absolutely wreck their gameplay and net you card advantage at a very small stat discount. Healing cards such as Earthen Ring Farseer and Antique Healbot can get in the way of their bursty gameplan. 3-damage removal spells are key as analysed before, so be sure to include them if you’re running into many Oil Rogues.

Control Warrior

This guy is a staple that was born in the early days of Hearthstone – the old Pay-to-Win, wallet warrior. This deck looks to stall and answer threats in the early game and then unleash a seemingly never-ending stream of legendaries in the late-game. A lot of people simplify the way to play this match-up as “I have to avoid the late game altogether and kill them before turn 7”, but I disagree with this line of thinking. What you should be aiming to do against Control Warrior is to deny them draw from their Acolyte of Pain, pressure them during the early turns and come out in a dominant position in the late game.

Then, if you have board control, you’ll be able to answer to that stream of legendaries efficiently and eventually come out with a win. Know that if you try to race a control warrior down, you’re going to have a bad time. They’ll have Shield Block, Shieldmaiden, their hero power, Armorsmith and even Alexstrasza all to get their health to a reasonable level. Control warriors usually mulligan hard for weapons to keep the board clear during the early game. Their early turns will consist of armoring up, dealing with minions with Fiery War Axe or playing an Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain. In the mid-game they typically equip Death's Bite and slightly larger minions, and they have the big curve topping legendaries last. Their weak spot is the first couple of turns. You’ll want to establish a board that can kill an Acolyte in one swing, survive against a War Axe and later on, possibly a Death’s Bite.

Counter decks: Combo Druid absolutely wrecks them, since it’s good at pumping out minions on turns 1-5 and can produce obscene amounts of burst if your threats remain unchecked. For the most part, other than that, Warrior has even match-ups that are largely draw-dependent.

Techs: Harrison Jones makes another appearance, as he never fails to get value in this match-up. Big Game Hunter is also good now that Warriors include  7+ attack minions again, and midrange threats such as Savannah Highmane and Fire Elemental are their worst enemy. One interesting tech I saw was running Spectral Knight in midrange decks, since they have absolutely no way of dealing with it other than with their legendaries (which you’ll probably remove with an already established board!).

Midrange Hunter

This is probably the most competitive deck out there at the moment, sporting fast games and a high winrate. The mulligans will mostly be for minions on turns 1-3 such as Webspinner, Knife Juggler, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper, Animal Companion. They’ll look to establish early board control by trading efficiently using Knife Juggler + Unleash the Hounds combo, buffing a minion with Abusive Sergeant or Houndmastering a beast. The deck basically curves out in the mid-game and it’s all about the finish with Kill Command.

For the most part, you’ll be playing this match-up as the control deck. You’ll want to remove their threats quickly and efficiently and fight for board control during the first few turns. They have absolutely no card draw aside from Webspinner and Mad Scientist which aren’t traditional draws. If they don’t have a god-like draw, they’ll run out of steam by the time the late game comes around. When in doubt, always trade, assume that their secrets are Freezing Trap or Explosive Trap since the other secrets are underused in the current meta game (if you see a Juggler, it could possibly be Snake Trap). Only overextend if your minions have high health and are capable of taking a Juggler + Hounds combo (possibly even paired with Hunter's Mark), and be prepared to take upwards of 12 damage to the face from double Kill Commands. If you’re in a commanding position and have the win almost sealed up, don’t play more than 3 minions since they don’t have any efficient Area of Effect spells (AoE). Most of the time, it comes down to patience and cautiously playing around their traps. If you manage to proc them with a meaningless minion, you’ll be on the right path. Many times, they’ll lock you out of games with Loatheb, but this has little counterplay other than removing their minions as soon as you possibly can and having board control to begin with. Save your hard removal for Dr. Boom or Savannah Highmane.

Counter decks: Oil Rogue can mop the floor with Midrange Hunters, since they have lots of answers to the midrange threats such as Backstab or Eviscerate and can burst them down without fear of taunts. Paladin can also handle these exceptionally well by being a little bit greedy with their AoE.

Techs: They usually can’t do anything if you deal with their early pressure well, so cards like Zombie Chow and Wild Pyromancer are awesome at stopping them in their tracks while generating card advantage. Harrison Jones also wrecks Hunters if you can proc their secret before playing him against an Eaglehorn Bow, therefore denying them the extra charge and gaining even more card advantage. Kezan Mystic is unusually good against them too, since the freezing trap swing can absolutely wreck their gameplan. Consider adding one if you see a fair amount or Hunters, as the stat discount for it isn’t too bad.

Midrange/Control Paladin

This is one of the strongest classes out there. Both versions have similar gameplans, with the control variation having slightly less presence early on, but making up for it with a stronger late game. They’ll usually mulligan for early threats such as Zombie Chow, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle and Knife Juggler, so you’ll definitely want some early presence and ways to deal 1 damage to kill the silver hand recruits as well as pop the minibot’s divine shield. If they get value out of their Quartermaster, it’ll be extremely difficult to deal with the Paladin if you can’t immediately clear with some strong AoE such as Deadly Poison+Blade Flurry.

If you are playing aggro, be the beatdown player and establish board control in the first few turns, disrespect their AoE a bit and aim to pressure the board more than their life total. If you let them get to the late game, they will be able to use Lay on Hands, draw into their board clears and outgrind you. Their general playstyle revolves around strong minions, efficient board clears and gaining card advantage through use of their hero power (if they manage to buff multiple recruits it’s immense value for them). Paladin has a lot of favourable match-ups, so if you find that you are struggling against them and there are a lot of them on the ladder, you might want to consider teching against them in order to improve your win-rate. As a general tip, don’t worry too much about your life total. One thing paladins lack is burst, so make liberal use of your health as a resource (whether you are a Warlock or a weapon wielding class).

Counter decks: Oil Rogue is the bane of paladin. As long as they don’t make any key mistakes, they’ll usually have answers to all of their threats and enough burst to finish them off.

Techs: Harrison Jones strikes again, this time hitting their Ashbringer, Light's Justice and Truesilver Champion (sometimes even Coghammer!).

Mech Mage

This deck is seeing slightly less play than it did straight after the GvG release, but is still a considerable force to consider in the metagame. Its aim is to establish a commanding board position early on through cards such as Mechwarper, Snowchugger and Cogmaster. Your job is to get rid of their 2 drop as soon as you possibly can, since Snowchugger will win them the game if you are a weapons class and Mechwarper will give them unparalleled pressure on the board if you let it live. They’ll usually hard mulligan for Clockwork Gnome, Mechwarper, Snowchugger, Mad Scientist, and other early game Mechs. With this in mind, drop everything for early answers to their board and try to develop your own threats. They usually only run Mirror Entity so play around it by summoning a weak minion or playing a minion before you use your AoE cards.

Dealing with Mechs as quickly as you can is a good idea, since Goblin Blastmage can decimate your board. They usually have no forms of AoE so don’t hold back any minions. You’ll want to force them to use their Fireball to clear your threats instead of using it for burn damage. Keeping track of your opponents’ cards is key in this match-up. Knowing how many spare parts they have can alter how aggressively you choose to play. Once you have board control, don’t let the game go on too long, since you don’t want to give them the possibility of playing Archmage Antonidas and spare parts for additional burst. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself how they can possibly punish you for going face before defaulting to clearing their board (of course, this is when you have a stronger board, otherwise focus on regaining control before you push for damage).

Counter decks: Paladin wrecks Mech Mage pretty hard with efficient AoE clears and strong midrange minions, Midrange Hunter also has a fairly favourable match-up against them.

Techs: Zombie Chow and Wild Pyromancer as well as other low-cost minions can help disrupt them as they try to build a board. Try to hold on to these if they play a Mad Scientist since they mostly only run Mirror Entity as a secret, so you’ll want to give them a minion with a drawback or a cheap one that you can easily dispatch. Kezan Mystic also swings tempo heavily in your favor if you use it to counter their Mirror Entity.

Combo Druid

This deck aims to pressure the board with early to midgame threats such as Shade of Naxxramas, Piloted Shredder and Druid of the Claw. They will likely mulligan hard for Innervate and Wild Growth although they might keep some situational cards against you (for example, if you’re playing warrior or paladin, they’ll keep Harrison Jones). Knowing this, keep tempo generators such as Sap as well as removal cards in case they get a ramped start.

Druid’s main weakness, and the way you’ll be able to defeat them, is by being patient and using your AoE appropriately. Pressure their board (since Swipe has a pretty weak AoE effect if not used with spell power) and pump out big threats that aren’t vulnerable to BGH. Druid lacks hard removal and strong AoE, but their minion quality is very high, and they have extra versatility that they can use against you if you allow them to. This is why early pressure is key. If they don’t play a Shade of Naxxramas early, keep your AoE to deal with it, since if you leave it unchecked, it can boost their combo to upwards of 20 damage. Try to avoid playing more than 3 minions if they haven’t used their Mind Control Tech, since it can lose you the game if it hits the right target. Also don’t ignore that they can heal with Ancient of Lore, so only go for a face damage race if you’re desperate to get the damage in before they draw into their combo.

Keep track of their plays such as when they used hero power and use it to infer what they might have in their hand. For example, if they used hero power + Wrath on turn 4 when they still had The Coin, you can probably tell that their hand is horrible (probably clogged with combo pieces) and you should aim to pressure them to take advantage of them not drawing into their Piloted Shredder or Druid of the Claw. In this particular example, since they don’t run too many 6-drops (usually only Sylvanas Windrunner and Force of Nature) they won’t be dropping a minion on curve anytime soon, so exploit this advantage!

Counter decks: Midrange decks such as Hunter or Mech Mage tend to fare well against Druid due to them outpacing them in the early turns. I also like playing Oil Rogue against them due to the sheer amount of strong AoE that you can put out using Blade Flurry combos.

Techs: Healing cards such as Antique Healbot and Earthen Ring Farseer are good for delaying their combo capabilities, but you’ll mostly want to include minions that can take over the board during turns 2-5 and ways to deal with their Shade of Naxxramas. Good ideas for this include Bomb Lobber since it can kill a stealthed minion and also combat with Piloted Shredder. Another good idea is to include Sludge Belcher to delay their aggression and combat with most of their minions efficiently.

Archetypes


Control

Control decks usually want to stall the game out by using cheap removal and win through card advantage and board control. The key thing to keep in mind is that card advantage is the lifeblood of control decks. If they can’t get value out of their draw engines (for example, Northshire Cleric or Acolyte of Pain, then they might not draw into their powerful late game and will be weak unless they manage to survive with no notable threats for several more turns. This means you should know how your opponent plans to draw cards, and play around them. Another thing to keep in mind is what threats they might be playing. Are you up against a paladin who might play Tirion Fordring? Then save your Keeper of the Grove to silence it, or your Harrison Jones to swing tempo in your favor after killing it. Control values aren’t centered on tempo, but on value, and patience as well as card advantage are key to getting value out of your deck.

Midrange

Midrange decks want to overwhelm you on turns 2-5 with very efficient threats, and close out the game with cards like Dr.Boom or Savannah Highmane. You’ll want to gain board control early on, even if it means using up your hard removal on suboptimal targets, since their game plan relies mostly on tempo. If you look through the decklist for the typical Midrange Hunter, you’ll see that they have no draw engine. Therefore, they need to get their creatures out on the board on curve, otherwise they’ll run out of cards and steam. Of course, don’t blow all your hard removal against a Hunter on turns 2-5, because then you’ll lack it for Savannah Highmane and Dr. Boom, but don’t hesitate to use Shield Slam on a Houndmaster if it means keeping board control. The Highmane can simply fall to an Execute or Sylvanas later on, and if you allow them to keep pressure on the board, you’ll fail to get value out of your big legendaries (what does it matter if you play a Ragnaros the Firelord if they already have a Highmane, a Houndmaster and whatever they can play on their turn?).

Aggro

Aggro decks want to flood the board the first few turns and take control of the board through efficient trades and win from a commanding board position. The best way to handle their game plan is through early techs such as Zombie Chow that can stop their aggression in its tracks as well as cards like Wrath and Fiery War Axe. If they can’t take over during the first 3 turns, then your minions will be more efficient and will ultimately win you the game. The best thing you can do is keep track of their hand, and know that more cards equate to a much higher probability for an on-curve, strong drop, whereas if they only have 2 cards, they are probably weaker cards that will probably be suboptimal plays for the following turns. Of course, you can get top-decked and lose in this match-up (otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular), but the best way to beat them is to know that they’ll come out swinging, handle it by only paying attention to the board and stalling until their hand size decreases (which will happen even for Warlocks, believe it or not!). They usually lack huge drops, so use your removal to gain tempo more than anything else, but save some for the occasional Antonidas, Boom or Doomguard.

Conclusion


The aim of this article is to help you plan and play against the current meta’s most popular decks. Not all of them are in here, but the most popular and strongest ones are (I used the ones I gathered sufficient data for). If this article gets enough of a positive response, I’ll do an updated version when the meta shifts a sufficient amount and new decks are added into the mix (which is sure to happen with the release of Blackrock Mountain!). Until that happens, I believe these tips and taking on this type of analysis will greatly improve your play. Please leave any comments and suggestions below, and as always, thank you for taking the time to read this piece!

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12 Comments

Leave a Reply

  1. sentenza says:

    Thanks for this very useful guide. I’m already seeing the positive effect of reading it on my plays.

    One thing I’d like to see someday is a “match-up” matrix with the most played decks as line and column headers and each cell characterizing a given match-up as neutral (i.e. draw-dependent?) or in favour of one or the other. Not sure if I’ve clearly expressed the idea though 😉

  2. cdRienzo says:

    You seemed to have missed a write up against handlock, or am I missing something?

    • JulpaFTW says:

      There aren’t too many handlocks going around since BGH is run in a lot of decks atm. I didn’t gather enough data on them to give too many useful tips, but the key things are to always play around their molten giants by not damaging their face, assert control of the board and try to draw a lot early on to get to your answers for their giants and drakes.

  3. what I still struggle after playing 3 months is when games go to late game, I don’t have any answer for those legendaries (deck with 2 or more legendaries) since I F2P player with no legend card except those from naxx wing 1 & 2

    • Isloor says:

      What classes do you play? As an example, if you believe the opponent likely has legendaries and you’re a class with hard removals, you’d typically save one (ie don’t use your last hex/polymorph/SW:D on a 5/4 when you might get a Dr. Boom come at you within a turn or two).

      You can also run BGH. He’s a bit to craft for a beginner, but very useful.

      Also consider running silences. Many, but not all, of those legendaries get their full value because of their total abilities, not just base stats. I’ve had 2 games in the last few days where I’ve gotten game winning value when my Paladin opponent plays Tirion, and I respond with my lowly Ironbeak Owl.

    • JulpaFTW says:

      It’s pretty tough to deal with P2P decks sometimes, but there are some solutions: Priest has a lot of basic cards that answer to lategame threats such as Shadow Word: Death and Mind Control. As Isloor already said, Big Game Hunter is a really good craft in the current meta, although it is quite expensive at 400 dust. Another way to achieve decent winrates is playing something like Face Hunter that includes a lot of cheap cards and is extremely good at zerging down control decks before they can play multiple legendaries. Thank you for reading and don’t worry, as you play you’ll unlock more cards and have a lot more options to deal with those late game threats.

      • Isloor says:

        This also makes me think about the following: There’s a point of judgment as to when to switch from board control and value trading, to going face and closing in on lethal. Even budget decks have win conditions, and its important for you to understand yours (or realize that your deck may have a flaw that needs to be addressed). Some control deck styles are very comfortable taking a game to fatigue if needed, and get stronger as an opponent runs out of steam. Other decks, like aggro, get weaker as enemies survive into the mid and late game, and cannot retake the board when they lose steam. Make sure you know your deck archetype, when its strongest, and when it can fail.

        Because you specifically cited dealing with large legendaries, it also makes me question whether you have the cards available to you, which may not be fancy, but may fill holes, in the right places. If you lack big bodies, but feel your deck needs big bodies as closers, consider budget big bodies like Boulderfist Ogre, War Golem, or Forcetank Max. As much as it doesn’t have the fancy tokens, a Forcetank Max with it’s shield intact survives a head-on collision with Dr. Boom. And its a LOT cheaper to craft if you don’t have it.

        If you post some details about your deck(s) or preferred heros/play styles, we can definitely help further to get you the most viable deck, and give you some specific guidance on your matchups.

    • daethor185 says:

      Honestly, with the decks listed here, face hunter (which is a very cheap deck, around 1000 dust total I think) looks like an extremely strong pick for the current meta. The only decks shown here that have a truly favorable matchup against it seems to be control warrior unless I’m mistaken.

      • JulpaFTW says:

        It’s definitely extremely strong right now! Some specific techs such as Antique Healbot can wreck it, but if a deck isn’t prepared to face them, they’ll steamroll easily.

      • Yes, Control Warrior is considered the definitive Hard Counter to Control Warrior, and it is also true that Face Hunter in addition to being incredibly suited to Laddering is also particularly potent in this metagame, but it doesn’t mean that it has strong match-ups across the board.

        Whilst favoured against Oil Rogue, Rogue can actually race the deck whilst buying itself time with Healbot Tech, and the new age Backspace Rogues which haven’t quite taken off yet generally destroy Face Hunter because they do the same thing as Face Hunter, but with more Tempo and a lot more Single-Turn burst.

        Priest more or less always has a favoured match-up Vs Face Hunter always thanks to cards like Chow, Wild Pyro with PW:S, Naaru or any other cheap spell and their efficient Board Clears and Healing with cards like Holy Nova and the Auchenai Circle combo. If a Priest stabilises against a Face Hunter, they will 99% of the time win the game, because they can outvalue your minions without breaking a sweat and negate your hero power whilst still play anti-aggressive cards in Cabal Shadow Priest and Sludge Belcher.

        Skilled Slower paladin players can certainly go toe to toe with Face Hunter and stabilise against them but they require a lot of Healing to do so, and Certain Variants of Warlock decks can also provide quite effective although I suppose it’s lucky these aren’t as refined or popular. Midrange Paladin is favoured for Laddering among the same reasons as Face Hunter; It’s fast and aggressive.

        Those overall are the reasons you should choose to play the deck, its speed, consistency at dealing 30 damage and aggression leading to more reward in the current Laddering system for less time invested.