April 11, 2018
Table of Contents
Joseph’s Brews: The Witchwood! Druid/Mage/Shaman/Warrior!
Rotation is finally here! New sets are always an amazing amount of fun, but nothing can hold a candle to an entire rotation. Tomorrow we are officially saying goodbye to Karazhan, Whispers, and Mean Streets. It’s been a good ride (for the most part) but I’m looking towards the horizon. Though there aren’t a ton of clearly defined archetypes in the new set, there are quite a few cards I’m definitely interested in trying. As is tradition, this guide will cover four builds I think will have some potential in the new meta. I know I’ll be trying all of these on day one.
Though there is no doubt that Elemental Mage (with both Archmage Arugal and Book of Specters) is going to be the talk of the town come day one, I am much more interested in the applications of an odd-based Big Spell Mage. Big Spell is a list I have championed since I first theorized it in my last brewing article, and it has proven to be a real contender since then. This version aims to go beyond that by taking full advantage of Black Cat and Baku the Mooneater. Black Cat is just a cheaper, more flexible Azure Drake that is likely going to give an insane amount of punch for the deck. Upgraded hero powers are always strong, and being able to ping for two in a Control Mage is incredible. There are going to be a few key losses (namely Blizzard and Meteor) but being able to shoot down two health minions for the entire game is definitely worth the payoff.
Easily the most interesting card here is Ironbeak Owl. You may be skeptical, but losing Polymorph is a big blow. The card solely exists to deal with Rin, the First Disciple, which this deck cannot beat if it doesn’t have an answer. Owl is an imperfect answer, but allows us a bit of extra flexibility without auto-losing to the four mana gnome. You will also notice that in order to make up for the odd curve we are slightly shifting away from the conventional big spell cards. Rather than going all in on AOE, we have Frost Nova to make up for losing Blizzard and Deck of Wonders to help proc Dragon's Fury. Keeping the three mans slot also allows us to run Tar Creeper and gives us cause to play the hard removal of Voodoo Doll, which is a welcome addition to this control shell.
New Elemental Shaman
This is not the first time we’ve visited Elemental Shaman in a brewing article and, honestly, it might not be the last. Though this deck doesn’t do anything inherently new, it got some really cool tools we’ve never seen before. The idea here is to go wide and then use your powerful midrange threats to overrun your opponent. This one is simply all midrange all the time, and for good reason. You have the classic over-the-top elemental cards like Fire Elemental and Kalimos, Primal Lord, but you also get new support in both Earthen Might and Hagatha the Witch. It is easy to think of Elemental Shaman as a control deck running cards like Volcano, but I don’t think that’s the route you want to take. The focus should be keeping the board the entire game. For me, that means Lightning Storm as your main AOE.
Honestly, the one card I’m not sure about in this build is Shudderwock. It is easy to just go “this card is OP” because of how many battlecries you have, but, as always, I am nervous about the “targets chosen randomly” part. Though I believe the legendary will be good at some point, a deck like this one might not be the right shell. I can only imagine how many times I’m going to Blazecaller my own face. Still, the combo with and Kalimos, Primal Lord is too good not to try. Also, while some people may think about running Sandbinder, I am not a fan of the card. You are a midrange/tempo deck that wants to set a good curve. Playing a four mana 2/4 that specifically does not trigger your elementals seems like a big problem. Yes, he’s a strong topdeck, but we have better options in this list.
Odd Beast Druid
Moving on, we have Hand Druid a deck that…zzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry, fell asleep there. Of course we’re not talking about
Freeze Shaman Hand Druid, we’re here to talk about decks that might actually be good. As you can tell, I think Genn Greymane sucks. A one mana hero power is not great, and it is definitely not worth gutting your deck for. However, Baku the Mooneater is a different story. While you undoubtedly want to upgrade into Malfurion the Pestilent at some point, getting to hit things for two throughout the early game is extremely nice (not to mention the armor). This list is a control-ish shell that takes full advantage of both Hadronox and Witchwood Grizzly to create giant taunt after giant taunt after giant taunt. Witching Hour is absolutely fantastic with the bear, and scooping up a second Hadronox is nothing to sneeze at either. This feels like a slow grind build where you keep building up to bigger and bigger taunts until your opponent runs out of options. I also love the addition of Rotten Applebaum as a great source of healing for games with slower hands.
The biggest issue with this one is not having ramp or removal. Losing both Wrath and Swipe really, really, really hurts, but I’m hoping the upgraded hero power can make up for that. We also have Greedy Sprite to take up some of the slack and Nourish to provide card draw. Though odd may not be the way to go, the hero power combined with Gloom Stag has quite a bit of potential. Yes, there is a lot of silence, but it’s not easy to take down a 4/8 taunt on turn five. And, even if your opponent has an answer, you can always drop Ancient of War on seven. Countess Ashmore is also great card draw that helps you reliably grab Hadronox. The one-of Mark of Nature is to help make sure the spider dies. Depending on testing, I could see myself running two.
Did somebody say Tempo Warrior? No? I don’t care, we’re doing it anyway. Another one of my favorite lists, it has been a while since Tempo Warrior has had a lot of power. However, the new rush mechanic seems perfectly suited for this build. You have Darius Crowley holding down the fort, in addition to Town Crier and Woodcutter's Axe. Add in the delicious value-machine that is Countess Ashmore and you have a complete package. This deck is going to do what Tempo Warrior has always done; control the board with strong minions and then push for lethal. Rush is strong, but you don’t need to go all-in on it here. The above package is plenty powerful. Though you could mess around with cards like Redband Wasp and Rabid Worgen, those seem much too weak when compared to and Kor'kron Elite. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Rather, just make sure it works better than ever before.
As we know what the rush package is going to look like, the trickiest part of this deck is figuring out what cards go around the core. What type of tools do you need to make sure it all comes together? If past lists are any indication, you want a string of consistent or powerful threats. Grommash Hellscream is a no-brainer finisher, and Harrison Jones is an amazing tech choice. I also love The Black Knight in the early days of the meta (where taunt always seems to be the most prevalent). There are many options with this one, but the two cards that need to be here are Gromm and Scourgelord Garrosh. I am not completely sold on Muck Hunter, but it is definitely worth testing in a deck with both Whirlwind and Blood Razor. Without the effects its pretty awful, but it could also be used to trigger or Frothing in a pinch.
Grab your gear, we’re heading into the Witchwood. This set may not look like the most exciting thing on paper, but you cannot forget it’s coming during rotation, which always shakes up the meta quite a bit. Yes, Warlock is going to be extremely powerful. However, there are many different builds that I believe will be able to challenge that claim. These four all seem to have good bases, and I know I’ll be tweaking them in the coming days. We’ll definitely be covering them on my series as well. Hope you’re excited for the set, and I hope you all pull golden legendaries. Thanks for reading!