Legend Decks Review #12
Welcome back for the 12th episode of Legend Decks Review! 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.
The intervals between episodes might be different – sometimes it will be one week, sometimes two or three in case no new, interesting decks pop up. After all, if the meta hasn’t changed, there is no point in writing about the same stuff over and over again.
All of the decks are tested, usually around rank 5 early in the season (which is really equivalent to Legend later in the season) and in Legend later (I usually hit Legend in the middle of the month if I’m not too busy with other things).
Jambre’s Egg Secret Paladin
I’m going to open this week with probably the most competitive deck out of 4. Jambre hit rank 1 legend with this deck and I definitely see why. We all know the Secret Paladin, no need to introduce the deck. And I’ve already covered an Egg Paladin deck that was pretty popular on the ladder like a month or two ago. Someone has merged those two and this ladder-crushing abomination came out in the process.
So, why Eggs? This question is easy – Paladin has a lot of great ways to activate them. Since Keeper of Uldaman came out in LoE, activating Eggs has never been that easy. You have a strong, on-curve play that activates the Egg at the same time? Well, that’s nice. And the activation, unlike the one from Abusive Sergeant is permanent? That’s awesome!
Besides the Uldaman, there are also other stuff like Abusive Sergeant I’ve already mentioned, Blessing of Kings, Defender of Argus, Avenge and Competitive Spirit. So as far as I can tell, Eggs won’t stay unbuffed for long. But what’s so strong about them? Nerubian Egg is good, because it’s giving you 2 for 1 opportunities all the time. You use the initial body to kill something AND you get a 4/4 on the board at the same time. Not only you don’t have to use your other minions to trade. Even 1/1’s are valuable – yes, killing opponent’s 3/2 with your 1/1 after Abusive is good, but killing it with Egg is even better. Then, Dragon Egg is good, because you can milk a lot of value from it. Once you buff it, every time it takes damage and doesn’t die – point for you. You get a 2/1 minion for free. So while it’s not necessarily good against, I don’t know, Midrange Druid and their mid game stuff, it’s awesome against anything running a lot of small minions – Paladins, Zoo Warlocks etc. Blessing of Kings on your Dragon Egg, 4 turns later you killed 4 small minions and you got 4x 2/1.
Talking about Kings, Nerubian Egg can also be used as a kind of “untouchable” minion. You Kings the Egg. Not trade it into anything, just go face with it. Now enemy (assuming he doesn’t have Silence, because you wouldn’t do that if you knew he can have it) is in the awkward spot. You have a pretty big threat on the board – he can’t afford to take 4 damage per turn. But hey, killing it does NOTHING unless you also kill the 4/4. You still have 4 damage. So enemy spending a turn on killing your Egg gave you a lot of tempo – you end up with the same amount of damage on the board, but you get to develop even more. So while this play is very risky against Silence, if enemy doesn’t have it – well, that’s awesome.
So, that’s why Eggs are good in Paladin. But let’s ask another question. Why Secret Paladin in particular? Besides the fact that Mysterious Challenger is a broken drop, obviously. But yeah, it’s mainly because of MC. But the reason might not be exactly “MC being broken”. As we all know, turn 6 MC is a great play. But it’s not always that good if Paladin doesn’t have board control. First of all – it’s very predictable. You proc Noble Sacrifice, Avenge hits the 6/6, 2/1 gets back from Redemption, enemy still has Competitive Spirit for the next turn. 2/1 is so easy to kill and now Paladin is left with only one body on the board – a big MC. Which is vulnerable to BGH and single target removals. So yeah, the tempo swing he got from MC was pretty much negated.
The story is completely different when Paladin has the board. Noble Sac is much harder to proc. Avenge doesn’t necessarily hit the MC, so doesn’t put it in the BGH range and splits the threats. Redemption is also tricky, because if you can’t proc the Noble Sac easily, you can’t just kill a big guy, because it spawns back. Not to mention that Competitive Spirit’s value is crazy with 4+ minions on the board. But, what does is have to do with the Eggs? Eggs ARE the board. They’re sticky. Enemy doesn’t necessarily want to remove them. They’re great Avenge-catchers. Even in case enemy answers your MC turn with some big removal like Lightbomb or Brawl, you’re still guaranteed to have something on the board. Having Eggs on the board before MC turn is great way to ensure the value from Secrets.
So yeah, that’s it. The deck runs a standard late game package of the Loatheb (well, Loatheb is not THAT standard, but is common), Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring. That, on the top of the Mysterious Challenger, is enough to outvalue most of your opponents. If things go wrong, you get only your early game and run out of cards – there is a single Divine Favor to refill the hand. Very common tech in Secret Paladin.
If you’re a fan of Secret Paladin (everyone has their guilty pleasures, right?) or you simply don’t care and want a deck for a fast ladder grinding, this one should be top on your list of “stuff to test”.
- Mulligan away all your Secrets besides Avenge. This deck doesn’t run Secretkeeper, so it doesn’t really benefit from the early Secrets that much. Not to mention that it runs only one copy of each Secret (besides Avenge), so you don’t want to draw the singleton Secrets before Mysterious Challenger.
- Dragon Egg, Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle are the main things you mulligan for. Dragon Egg might not be a good turn 1 play if you don’t have an activator, but besides Secrets it’s your only 1-drop, so you’re pushing the tempo by having it. Minibot and Muster are obviously MVPs in their respective mana slots, so you always want to have them. Haunted Creeper is also a good keep, slightly weaker than Minibot but good turn 1 play especially into opponent’s 1 health 1-drops. Nerubian Egg is a good keep if you have an activator already – Abusive Sergeant or Keeper of Uldaman. I wouldn’t really keep the Defender of Argus or Blessing of Kings, because they’re less flexible – Argus isn’t that good if you don’t have 2 targets on the board and Kings might not be a good turn 4 play. Keeper is more flexible – you can buff one of your minions, you can debuff opponent’s early big minion (like Twilight Drake against RenoLock, Deathlord against Priest/Warrior or Innervated Druid of the Claw against Druid) – it will rarely be useless.
- Board control is your #1 concern. Since you run a lot of buffs and a ways to make your trades better in general, you want to be the one making trades. This way you can control whether you want to crack your Eggs, you can trade up with Abusive, your Argus becomes much more valuable etc. What you really want to do is to have board control going into Mysterious Challenger turn – that’s your priority.
- You might decide to not crack your Nerubian Egg to play around AoEs. For example, against Warrior it’s often a good idea to keep it intact. This way you’ll still have some tempo after the Brawl, not only initiative.
- Keep track of opponent’s deck – buffs on Eggs are incredibly strong, but very weak against Silence. If enemy plays the deck that usually doesn’t run Silence (e.g. Control Priest, Control Warrior, Secret Paladin), you can Kings your Egg without worrying about enemy crushing your value. On the other hand, if you play against the Midrange Druid that hasn’t used any of his Keepers yet, well, it’s most likely too risky to put all of your eggs into one basket (pun not intended).
- There are some flex spots in the deck – you can cut cards like Divine Favor (great only if you face a lot of slower matchups), 1 Consecration (on the contrary, great if you face a lot of fast matchups – not that good against Control decks) or 1 Defender of Argus (sometimes it gets too clunky, especially if you don’t have the clear board control – it’s often a dead card on turn 4). In those spots, you can try playing cards like:
- Knife Juggler – Good in Paladin, has awesome synergy with Muster for Battle, but is actually a pretty weak 2-drop in a lot of matchups. With Dragon Egg having 0 attack and only 1 Noble Sacrifice, it’s hard to keep it alive in the early game. It’s better in the mid game if you can get the instant value from his effect. Can snowball the games if not removed on turn 2, though.
- Coghammer – Has great synergy with buffs, but not so great with the Eggs. While it activates the Nerubian Egg, you prefer Divine Shield on something that can actually attack. Terrible on the Dragon Egg – Divine Shield means it doesn’t give you any Dragons. On the other hand, the card is awesome with 2x Blessing of Kings, 2x Abusive Sergeant and even the Keepers and Argus.
- Seal of Champions – Another way to activate the Eggs, good in this Zoo-style Paladin deck, but once again – Divine Shield isn’t really what you want on your Eggs. Very often you just want to crack them right away, especially in the matchups where Silence is a concern.
- Aldor Peacekeeper – I like having 1 Aldor as a tech card in Secret Paladin. Since this deck is all about controlling the board and then swinging the game later, Aldor is a great mid game option. Let’s say enemy drops the Emperor Thaurissan – instead of losing health or even killing off your own minions when trading, you can just Aldor it and kill it (pretty much) for free. It’s a big tempo swing + the 3/3 body is also fine.
VanDamage’s Hybrid Shaman
A Hybrid Shaman. But Hybrid of what? It’s pretty easy to tell that it mixes Aggro Shaman with Midrange Shaman, taking the strongest cards from both of the archetypes. In result, we have a slower version of Aggro or faster version of Midrange, however you want to look at it.
The deck’s play style is also a mix of those two. On the one hand, you still have a lot of potential damage and you can assume the role of aggressor in most of matchups. On the other hand, you have more tools to control the board with a bigger focus on the minions. Standard Aggro Shaman usually doesn’t care about his board (outside of the guaranteed damage stuff like Charge minions or Leper Gnomes) in the mid/late game. Enemy most likely wrestled the board control back anyway. What it wants to do is to burn enemy with Doomhammer and burn spells.
Here, the disposable charge/Deathrattle minions are replaced with higher value stuff. Tuskarr Totemic and Unbound Elemental in 3-drop slots, both of which have potential to net TONS of value. While Tuskarr Totemic is slightly RNG-dependant, getting a Totem Golem or Flametongue Totem might snowball the game really hard. Unbound Elemental is another snowball minion – with 12 Overload spells in the deck, it’s really easy to buff him. And while starting 2/4 stats are pretty weak, just one Overload spell makes it a 3/5 for 3 which can grow further.
On top of that, what used to be one of the best cards in the game – Fire Elemental. While they introduced some great 6-drops, it’s still one of the best. A free Darkbomb packed into a pretty big body is what brings nightmares to many. Not only it helps you with the board control, but it might push for the last points of damage. Even in the worst case scenario it drags attention and can’t be taken down by the Big Game Hunter. In the deck where 1/3 of draws are some kind of damage, buying a turn by forcing enemy to deal with your big guy is also precious.
What I like about this deck is flexibility. You aren’t completely forced into one play style – with Fire Elementals, Lightning Storm and Hex you can go for the slightly longer game. What’s the point of doing that? Doomhammer. The card is incredibly strong if you let it roll. It’s 16 damage over 4 turns even without any buffs – much more with Rockbiter Weapon. But even if you start attacking on turn 5, your last hits will go through on turn 8. That’s often way too late for an Aggro Shaman. He either kills the enemy or dies at that point. This deck can much more easily take advantage of the Doomhammer, possibly even both. I had a game where I gone through all charges both Doomhammers against Control Priest and I could stall the game thanks to the Hex and my own midrange minions.
What I dislike is that flexibility comes at the price. Your early game will be much less consistent without stuff like Leper Gnome, Abusive Sergeant, Knife Juggler and Argent Horserider (yes, you have other 3-drops, but Horserider has instant impact on the board). If you take the Aggro route, missing a 1-drop is huge. Sometimes your hand just forces you into a given play style and you can’t do anything about that. Other thing I dislike is that once you lose a board control, a lot of your minions are really bad. The 3-drops don’t do anything right away. If enemy controls the board, he just kills them easily and that’s it. You saved some face damage, but you didn’t gain any damage on opponent’s face. On the other hand, Charge minions and Leper Gnomes are always good – the first ones are only blocked by Taunts and the second one by Silence, but besides that, they are guaranteed to deal some damage. It’s very important when you’re pushing for the last points and you really need that reach. Especially since the deck doesn’t run Lava Bursts, which means that a lot of potential damage is lost.
The deck is less, well, “SMOrc”y than standard Aggro Shaman. I didn’t play both decks enough to compare the matchups of both, but I’d say it’s stronger in the board-oriented matchups – like against Zoo Warlock. The 3-drops, Hex and Lightning Storm are all really strong in this matchup and you don’t need additional burn if you manage to control the board in the mid game.
- Mulligan heavily for the 1-drops and 2-drops. I would even throw away the 3-drops in order to get those. If you’re on the Coin and you have Tunnel Trogg, keeping Feral Spirit might be good. Not only it buffs it to 3/3, but it also protects it against minion trades and weapons.
- When you drop , the priority Hero Powers are Hunter’s and Druid’s. Both help you with the reach – Druid’s Hero Power with Doomhammer also deals 2 damage per turn. Then, there is a Life Tap. I think people are picking it too quickly from time to time. First of all, you don’t want Life Tap in Aggro/Tempo matchups. If you need to spend all your resources on contesting the board every turn, you won’t have enough time to Life Tap + it brings you closer to death. In those matchups, Mage’s Hero Power might actually be the best one. Life Tap, on the other hand, is broken in slow matchups. When you face Control Priest or Warrior – picking Life Tap is a good idea, because the matchups will be long and they don’t pressure your life total.
- Bloodmage Thalnos is here for additional reach, e.g. playing Thalnos + 2x Crackle + Lightning Bolt is 3 more damage. It’s also for boosting your Lightning Storm – guaranteed 3 damage is important, because a lot of minions you want to get rid of will have 3 health.
- Earth Shock is pretty flexible – in fast matchup use it as a removal, to deal 1 damage. It’s great against Deathrattle minions like Leper Gnome or even buffed stuff. When Avenge lands on that Shielded Minibot in the early game and you can’t handle 5/4 with Divine Shield, ES comes handy. In slower matchups keep it for the Taunts. Since most of your late game damage is based on the Doomhammer, one Sludge Belcher can ruin your whole game plan. Silence it and proceed to smack the face.
- Generally, the Fire Elemental‘s Battlecry should target minions and help you with the board control. There are, however, exceptions. If you’re close to lethal, hitting face is good. Killing minions is generally better, because it buys you more time. If you kill a 4/3 with your Fire Elemental, you save yourself let’s say 8 or 12 face damage. It sometimes lets you survive two or even three more turns. And during those turns, you’re drawing more damage. Stalling the game is important, especially once you lost the board control.
- Abusive Sergeant – Even though it comes with the standard Aggro package, Abusive is not a strictly Aggro minion. While the +2 face damage is often good, what’s even stronger is the ability to trade up. Let’s say you have 1/3 on the board and enemy drops a 2/3 minion. You can’t really trade, even over time, enemy is going to kill your minion for free. Even worse when it’s a high priority target like Mechwarper or the Darnassus Aspirant. With Abusive, you can just straight away trade them. This deck is much more about Zoo-like board control and Abusive helps with that kind of play style.
- Azure Drake – Going completely opposite way and boosting the Midrange aspect of the deck. Azure Drake is a strong minion, because it has decent stats while cycling itself AND having Spell Damage. Spell Damage is obviously incredibly strong in a deck with that many spells and the cycle lets you not run out of steam. The only problem is that it might be slightly too slow. It’s great if you still have board control dropping it on turn 5, but it’s pretty weak if you drop it into opponent’s minions and you have nothing.
Cursed’s Doomsayer Face Hunter
Oh, wow. I was amazed by the Deathlord in Midrange Hunter before, now I see something even better. Doomsayer in Face Hunter. On the first glance, it completely doesn’t make sense. But when you think about it slightly longer, you realize that it’s a great tech card in this deck.
First of all – why Doomsayer? Because it’s an awesome 2-drop in the deck that requires pretty much no board to win the game. In the deck where most of the minions are completely disposable. When you drop it on turn 2, besides Silence, enemy has pretty much no way to kill it. Later in the game it also might be hard, because enemy was using all the resources to clear your board.
Doomsayer dropped on turn 2 allows you to play turn 3 on your terms. You can Animal Companion, you can play one of your 3 mana Chargers and force enemy to have removal in his hand to deal with it etc. If you play in any matchup where early game tempo is important, Doomsayer is awesome. Like let’s say Secret Paladin. If enemy gets an Noble Sacrifice into Shielded Minibot into Muster for Battle opening, you’re basically screwed. Without the early game board control you can’t really kill him before turn 6-7 and that’s when he overwhelms you with Mysterious Challenger. But fear not. When you drop a turn 2 Doomsayer, not only you kill that Minibot which would otherwise be SO ANNOYING, but you also prevent the turn 3 play. So you’re coming into turn 3 with clear board and initiative.
Then again, it can be played to prevent opponent’s plays and buy you another turn. Winning with Face Hunter is mostly about maximizing damage – the longer the game goes, the more damage you’ll deal. Not only you weave in an additional Hero Power, but you get another draw, you get yourself closer to those Charge minions and burn spells, if your hand is clunky with weapons you get another free swing etc. So with just a slight knowledge of each matchup, you can drop Doomsayer before opponent’s key turns. Like turn 5/7 against Druid or turn 6 against Secret Paladin.
Doomsayer replaces Haunted Creeper in this deck. While Creeper is a great card, it’s not so awesome in a face deck. 1 damage per turn isn’t as threatening and enemy can often ignore it. You usually prefer to have Knife Juggler or Mad Scientist dropped. But, Haunted Creeper is a defensive play. If enemy opened with a 2/1 1-drop – you play Haunted Creeper. If opponent coined out the Minibot – you play Creeper, because you don’t want your other drops to die for free. In most of the scenarios where you want to play Creeper, playing Doomsayer is just as good, maybe even better. Doomsayer is also better late game option. Even if enemy already got the board control and Doomsayer has no chance to proc, it tanks at least 7 damage. Which means 7 more health for you. Which often means an additional turn. Creeper you can drop, but it requires much less attention than Doomsayer. If enemy has some kind of Taunt, it can usually be ignored. Doomsayer can’t. It’s even better if enemy has 5-6 damage on the board and no way to deal the last points, then Doomsayer gets so much value.
The only thing I’ve liked about Creeper is that Deathrattle had nice synergy with the Juggler and that it was a beast for the sake of Kill Command. This deck is very low on Beasts, 1x Ironbeak Owl, 2x Animal Companion and 2x Unleash the Hounds means only 5 Beasts in total (2 of which can’t be played if enemy has nothing on the board) – it might sometimes be hard to activate the 5 damage of Kill Command when you really need to.
Oh, one thing I haven’t mentioned is actually Nerubian Egg. With Zoo being popular and Egg Paladin semi-popular, it works as a great counter to Doomsayer. Enemy can’t deal with it? Drops the Egg. Then you activate it for him and he opens with a 4/4 on the board instead of the empty one. So you lose the complete initiative. It’s still fine most of time, but sometimes Eggs can screw you really hard.
I’ve focused on talking about Doomsayer, because that’s the main change in the deck compared to standard Face Hunter. Rest of the deck is the one you normally see. Yes, there are obviously some tech choices you can stumble upon like 2nd Silence, Snake Trap etc. but this deck is pretty average-looking.
If you haven’t greeted fellow travelers in a while, you can check out this deck and try it. Trust me, it feels so good when you see them taking whole turn wondering what the hell is Doomsayer doing in Face Hunter deck.
- Doomsayer is best to be dropped when you don’t have anything on the board (happens often as Face Hunter) and enemy has something small and likely no answer for it. It’s a great turn 2/3 play into, for example, Paladin’s Shielded Minibot, Zoo Warlock’s Imp Gang Boss, Tempo Mage’s Mana Wyrm etc. Basically anything that’s hard to remove or can snowball while removing your minions at the same time. This way you can guarantee a board initiative the turn after Doomsayer.
- Time him before opponent’s key turn or just after he cleared your board and you have no other minions. Yes, it might sound weird to drop him on the empty board, but it often forces enemy to just pass the turn, giving you another draw and dealing 2 more damage with Hero Power.
- Besides Doomsayer, play the deck like a standard Face Hunter. Maximize the damage over time, try to Hero Power as much as you can in slower matchups and play for the highest tempo in faster matchups. If you want to read some guide on the standard Face Hunter, check out our Aggro Hunter section
- Southsea Deckhand – I like the idea of Southsea in the weapon-heavy lists. This version runs 4 weapons, so the maximum amount Hunter realistically can (other Hunter weapons don’t really fit this kind of play style). With 8 Charges in total, there is quite a high chance that you’re having a weapon equipped at the given time. Especially since you might hold off with your Eaglehorn Bow if you also have an Explosive Trap in play. I like Southsea over Worgen Infiltrator. While being worse on turn 1 (no Stealth means it can get pinged etc.), it’s so much better in the late game, where Worgen can be killed in Stealth by random effects like Knife Juggler/Flamewaker/Arcane Missiles or just straight AoE.
- Snake Trap / Bear Trap – Other Trap choices that can fit the aggressive Hunter. While Explosive might be strongest Trap, the thing is – people expect it and play around it. As it turns out, when you play around one trap and you encounter different one, your plays might be really bad. For example – opponent might run his small minion into your minions in order to play around Explosive, and Snake procs. Or let’s say enemy has only one small minion on the board, runs him to proc Explosive before dropping other minions and Bear procs, giving you a 3/3 with Taunt. I even played a Face Hunter list with 4 different traps once, which was probably over the top (more than 3 is too much), but really fun to see enemy trying to play around Secrets that aren’t in play.
- Second Ironbeak Owl – It heavily depends on what decks you face. If you play against a lot of stuff that requires Silence, Owl is great. For example, facing tons of Priests – turn 3 Deathlord can completely stop you if you can’t Silence it. Owl also works nicely against most of the decks playing Mad Scientist (Silencing off the Secret is usually enough value), it’s good against Warlocks (both Zoo and Reno) and against Taunts in general. Owl is a Sludge Belcher killer, it saves you 7+ damage you’d normally have to throw into the Belcher to get through.
- Hunter's Mark – Another option, running one might be really good. It counters the early Deathlord even better and is a nice way to get through the big Taunts too. But on top of that, it might help with the mid game board control too. For example, Zoo drops an early Sea Giant and puts you on a 3 turns clock. You won’t likely have enough damage to race him. But with Hunter’s Mark, you can now kill it and have much more time to kill the Warlock.
Xzirez’s Hybrid Warlock
Hybrid Warlock? More like 20 Damage Burst Warlock. Seriously. The first time I’ve encountered this deck I was playing RenoLock. I already had Reno Jackson in my hand and was sitting at comfortable 22 health against 4 damage on the board. I didn’t know about this deck back then so I didn’t even consider playing Reno. I mean, 18 burst damage from he hand? No way. Then enemy played Leeroy Jenkins + 2x Power Overwhelming + Soulfire. Yeah.
But, first things first. You can call this deck a Zoo with a lot of reach. You can call it a mix between Zoo Warlock and Malygos Warlock. But in reality it’s a pretty unique deck. Most of the decks that threaten possible ~20 burst damage from the hand are pretty strong. Even better when you have a strong minion shell that can deal a lot of early game damage.
Early game and mid game will most likely feel like Zoo Warlock. You try to play on curve, you fight for the board control. Even if you have some unusual card choices like Piloted Shredder or Sludge Belcher, those actually still work fine in the Zoo. What you need to be doing, however, is valuing the trades vs face damage once mid game comes. Even though you have a lot of potential burst, you still need some minion damage first. You won’t kill enemy who is sitting at the full health just from your hand. Board control is more important in the early game, but then comes a moment when you need to switch the gears and start pushing.
One card choice might come really surprising – Azure Drake. Yes, it was played in the Malygos Warlock, but remember that MalyLock had some Dragon synergies too, and Azure Drake is a Dragon. Here? No Dragon synergies. Warlocks generally don’t play card draw, because they just don’t need to – Hero Power provides all the card draw the decks require. But this deck is slightly different. First of all – the more you draw, the faster you can close the game. It’s kinda like with a combo deck. The burst stuff are your combo pieces, they are often really necessary to close the game. Then again, with 8 spells that deal direct damage in your deck, the Spell Damage is also very useful. Not only to push for the last points of damage – something like a 2 damage Mortal Coil is incredibly strong. Azure Drake also has great synergy with Imp-losion, because not only it increases the damage, but also the number of Imps that spawn. The 2 damage rolls aren’t possible when you have Azure Drake – you roll between 3 and 5. And you can imagine how strong can be rolling 5. Killing their 5/5 in one go and flooding the board at the same time, for 4 mana.
Overall it’s a really cool deck. Especially if enemy doesn’t expect what he’s playing against. And he actually might not expect that. A lot of the early game moves look like you were a Zoo Warlock. Maybe slightly weird version, but a Zoo Warlock. People play around burst from Zoo, but not as much burst as here. A lot of the games are won pretty much for free. You win because you had so much damage from your hand and enemy didn’t play around it. It doesn’t mean that enemy is bad – it’s just that you rarely expect so much burst.
Warlock is my favorite class and I had pretty good run with this deck. One warning, after a longer session with this deck you might want to take a shower – you’re going to feel so dirty after killing yet another guy who didn’t expect your LeeroyPOPOAbusiveSoulfireSoulfire.
- Mulligan for your 1-3 drops: Flame Imp, Voidwalker, Leper Gnome, Dark Peddler and Imp Gang Boss have the highest priority. You can keep Knife Juggler if you have a 1-drop too, especially Voidwalker – so you can protect him. You might keep Abusive Sergeant with an already good curve, it might come handy from time to time. Ironbeak Owl is also good keep in certain matchups – like in Warlock mirror or against Mage (you can Silence Mad Scientist against Tempo and Doomsayer against Freeze). When it comes to the spells – Mortal Coil is a keep in fast matchups, especially against decks running some 1 health minions. Darkbomb is also a keep in matchups that might require you to remove something early. Like against Midrange Druid if Darnassus Aspirant becomes more popular, or let’s say against Aggro Shaman and his Tunnel Trogg. With good curve and Coin you might keep Piloted Shredder or Imp-losion too.
- Like I’ve said in the overview, at one point you’ll probably have to switch the gears and start pushing for the face damage. When you do that depends on your hand. If you have a minion-heavy hand, go for the board control game. No reason to let enemy pick trades just to deal some face damage if you can’t kill him anyway. Just refill your board every turn while trading the minions. Things get better when you draw your burst – then you want to set up lethal as soon as you can. With let’s say 15 damage in your hand, you want to put enemy at 15 health. You can’t completely ignore the board control in case enemy Taunts up (against Leeroy) or heals, but setting up lethal is a really strong play.
- While the burst spells are great for well, bursting, from time to time they need to be used for the board control. Especially the Darkbomb and Power Overwhelming. PO can be used to trade up, it’s great if you have some small minions on the board – like the 1/1’s from Imp-losion and Imp Gang Boss. Darkbomb is used as a general removal. It’s good if you want to kill something, but you lack the damage or your on-board trades are bad. For example, if enemy drops a Piloted Shredder into your Imp Gang Boss – it really sucks. But then if you Darkbomb it and clear the 2-drop with your 2/4 while developing something yourself, it’s a nice tempo play.
- On the other hand, Soulfire is generally kept for the face damage or until your hand is empty. It’s often not worth to discard a card just to kill a minion on the board. Use it for that only if your hand quality is low (which means that discarding something won’t matter that much), when trade is just too good (e.g. you’d need to run two minions in to kill his 5/4 or you can just Soulfire) or when you are forced to, because enemy let’s say threatens lethal. If you have really fast start, you might sometimes run out of cards by turn 4-5. Soulfire is incredibly strong in that kind of scenarios, if that’s the only card in your hand you suddenly have a 1 mana 4 damage spell with no downside.
- Dark Peddler is MVP of the deck, because it has a huge chance to give you even more burn. Unless you really need more minions on the board, Power Overwhelming is usually the best pick. Soulfire is also good, but if you draw the others from your deck it might get too clunky (lethals that require you to play more than 1 Soulfire aren’t completely reliable). Abusive Sergeant is also great, another 2 damage you can add to your burst turn. Mortal Coil is also pretty strong, especially if you happen to have Spell Damage on the board.
- You might want to keep your Ironbeak Owl for the late game Taunts that can stop your combo. E.g. if you already have the required damage, but enemy plays Sludge Belcher – suddenly you can’t do anything. Ironbeak Owl might save your day. And it costs only 2 mana, so it still allows you to play e.g. Leeroy + 2x PO + Soulfire.
- Arcane Golem + Faceless Manipulator – I know, I know. This ain’t ComboLock. But you can easily turn it into one without wasting a lot of resources. You go for the heavy cycle anyway – with Hero Power, Mortal Coils, Azure Drake. Arcane Golem can substitute Leeroy on your burst turn. On the one hand, it does less damage, but less mana means that sometimes it’s actually more. For example, if you’re at 6 mana, you can only deal 10 damage with Leeroy + PO/Soulfire. With Arcane Golem, even 2x PO is already 12 = more damage. And the possibility of a huge burst turn with Arcane Golem + 2x PO + Faceless is there. Also, you can find another uses for your Faceless. You can copy opponent’s big minions or your own Belcher for example. I actually won one game by copying my own Knife Juggler. I had one on the board and Imp-losion in my hand, while I faced a board full of small minions. The play cleared the whole board. It’s obviously not the best value, but Faceless is rarely completely useless. Not to mention that you don’t need to spend a lot of resources to put this combo – you already have PO’s, you add in Arcane Golem instead of Leeroy and now you just need to remove one card (like second Soulfire, because you won’t likely need as much burst with the AG + Faceless).
- Big Game Hunter – A tech choice that might fit into the deck. The deck sometimes require you to cycle more through your deck in order to draw the burst stuff. Sometimes the games will draw out. If enemy drops a big guy, like a Dr. Boom, you usually can trade up with Power Overwhelming or something like that, but not only you’re using your burst on the minions, you also kill off your own minions. BGH comes handy in those situations. It’s also great against Zoo Warlocks running the Sea Giants. It’s very hard for you to deal with an early Sea Giant, especially if it’s hidden behind a Taunt.
- Defender of Argus – Talking about Taunts. While this deck puts quite high early/mid game pressure, you often just need a Taunt. And not only that – Argus allows your minions to trade up. While it’s clearly worse without Nerubian Eggs, I think that it’s still a solid choice. Allows to push for more damage, makes your trades better and blocks those face rush decks from killing you before you can kill them.
If you want to submit your own decklist – send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a proof of Legend, matchups statistics (it’s best to use some sort of tracker for that), your own thoughts and stuff like that. Or if you’ve already described the deck somewhere, you can just send me the link to your Reddit/Hearthpwn/etc. post! I’ll definitely try to put at least one deck submitted by you guys every week.
If you have any other suggestions or comments, leave them in the section below!