Legend Decks Review #13
Welcome back for the 13th 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).
This time we have a mix of decks that did pretty well late last season AND the ones that provided great results early this season. I was testing those while laddering up, so some of my tests might not be 100% accurate. And I’m not even saying about the rank difference – early in the season you mostly face other players that were in Legend last season, so competition is not a problem. The difference is meta. Early season meta is way different and more wild and gets more and more stale the higher you go and the later it is in the season. But they have all worked well this time around – every one of them had 60%+ win rate over 20+ games, with Ramp Druid being the leader at nearly 80% win rate. Remember, though, that due to the low sample size and pretty stormy meta, the true win rate might vary.
Since new expansion etc. is “confirmed” to launch on April 26th, this is the last episode in the series before Standard. With the formats, I’ll mostly focus on the Standard, since it will be the main format I’ll be playing. I can, however, include some Wild decks if you guys want me to. For example, 3/1 split every week (3 Standard, 1 Wild) seems okay to me. I’d like to hear your opinion.
Thijs’ Astral Communion Druid
Oh the Astral Communion. I remember when it was first revealed. Reactions to the card were mixed, but mostly negative. I said that the card is probably not going to work, BUT maybe with more cards and in different meta there might be a deck created around it in the future. And well, here it is. The truth is – it is definitely not a first attempt to make this card work. Just after the release of GvG I’ve played against a few Astral Communion Druids myself. Heck, even just a 2 months back I had Bo3 in Legend against an Astral Communion Druid (not sure if it was the deck he used to get into Legend, but still). However, I’ve heard the hype of Thijs playing this deck, having great score and climbing so I had to check him out. And it was really impressive.
Okay, the first day was impressive. The second wasn’t as much, because let’s be honest – by that point everyone knew what he was playing. And the surprise factor is REALLY BIG in this deck. You expect Midrange Druid, you get something completely different. If you knew you’re playing against Astral Communion Druid, you’d keep your Big Game Hunter, Shadow Word: Death and such in the opening hand.
But, about the deck itself. It’s actually pretty straightforward. You mulligan heavily for the Astral Communion and mana ramp (Wild Growth/Innervate). Average cost of your minions, if you don’t count Novice Engineers which are just used for the cycle, is somewhere between 7 and 8. It means that in case you don’t get Astral Communion, you’re pretty screwed. The perfect case scenario is getting Astral Communion and Innervate. This way you can play it on turn 2 (when going first) or turn 1 (when going second). And that’s how the deck wins most of the games – at this point you have nearly zero chance to lose. OVer half of your deck are minions and the average mana cost is 7.5. So when enemy is playing his 2-3 drops, you slam an 8-drop for example. Enemy has pretty much no way to deal with it and you overwhelm him. Cards that are not big minions are mostly cycle or Raven Idols. Cycle is okay, because well, you dig deeper into your deck and closer to the stuff you want to. Nourish and Ancient of Lore are very important here, because they both draw more than 1 card. With just 1 card per turn there is a chance of drawing blank (Innervate) or drawing cycle and not being able to play the card you cycle into (if it’s 9+). If you have 3-4 cards in your hand, you should never have a blank turn at this point.
Obviously, when the deck works and you get Astral Communion it’s really great. But what if you don’t? Or you get it too late? That’s the problem. Not getting Astral Communion at all means that you’re playing incredibly slow and greedy Druid deck. If you play in any fast matchup, the chances are you’ve lost. By the time you play your first meaningful minion, enemy will pretty much kill you already. And since the deck runs no AoE or comeback mechanics besides Deathwing and 10 mana = too late against Aggro, it’s game over. Then again, if you don’t draw Astral Communion at all in slow matchups you still have a chance to win. If you are able to ramp in other ways, it’s still okay. For example, if you get the turn 2 Wild Growth and then turn 5 Nourish, you might be able to still win if opponent didn’t have too much early game tempo.
But then again, another problem is getting Astral Communion too late. Not only the effect gets weaker and weaker (because ramping up by 8 mana is MUCH BIGGER than ramping up by 4-5 mana), but the downside also gets bigger. Discarding your whole hand if you have 4 cards is okay. But if you have 8 cards and a lot of them are great, it’s much worse at this point. Sometimes even turn 4 Astral Communion is too late, so for the deck to really work you need both AC and Ramp (or at least Coin).
When it comes to card choices, most of them are pretty standard. You’d expect a lot of those big minions. But here are few more interesting choices:
- Naga Sea Witch – When it comes to the minions, this decks play one at a time. With Innervate it’s possible to play 2x 6-drop on the same turn, but that’s it. With Naga, however, you can play it AND another minion on the same turn, getting a free tempo. So if you play Naga + Ysera, enemy will most likely remove the Ysera if he can’t deal with both. So if Naga stays on your board, next turn you can play TWO big minions. But that’s the best case scenario. Naga is a double-edged sword, because sometimes it makes some of your cards more expensive (you can’t cycle Wild Growth, you can’t Innervate, you can’t Raven Idol, you can’t Wrath etc.). And not to mention that you rarely have big enough hand for the effect to really matter.
- Master Jouster – Since the deck needs some sort of protection, this Taunt is really good. And the thing is – Joust in this deck is awesome mechanic. 2x Novice Engineer can lose you the Joust, that’s true, but the list runs so many big Legendaries that it’s hard to imagine jousting with one of you 7+ drops and still losing. So it’s an upgraded Sunwalker most of time – and that’s a pretty huge upgrade. Not only 5 attack means that it can kill 5 health minions in one shot (Loatheb, Belcher, Emperor and such) but also that the 5 attack minions can’t kill it (and 5/5 is a pretty popular mid game statline).
- North Sea Kraken – I haven’t imagined this card being played in any non-budget Constructed deck, but here it is. And it’s actually a really nice choice. The thing about this deck is the lack of any tempo. Most of the big minions are slow, enemy usually wins the game by just flooding the board and outtempoing the Druid. But this not only puts a big body on the board, but also has an instant impact. While it’s not Ragnaros the Firelord with 8 damage, the big part is that you can target it – 4 damage is usually enough to deal with something a high tempo deck has on the board and then it has no chance to randomly hit face or a 1/1.
- Deathwing – Ultimate comeback mechanic that really fits this deck. Not only it’s a complete board wipe, which can regain you all the tempo you’ve lost because of the Astral shenanigans, but the downside is very small. You rarely have more than 2-3 cards in your hand anyway after Astral. You’re often in complete topdeck mode. Topdecking Deathwing into opponent’s board means that not only you play a 12/12, you clear enemy board but you also don’t discard anything (or something useless) is okay. Then again, if you discard one or two cards and go back to topdeck mode – you also don’t mind, since the quality of your topdecks is very high.
So, overall the deck is one of those “go big or go home” type. Wins are usually amazing and really impressive. You completely overwhelm your enemy. But then again, it has a lot of problems with consistency and relies around a card you need to draw very early to work. It’s also almost a feed for the Aggro decks – Face Hunters and Shamans usually destroy it without Innervate + Astral Communion opening. One thing that’s important, though, is that the deck doesn’t lose anything meaningful in Standard (assuming the Druid nerfs won’t hit Ancient of Lore or ramp). If meta really slows down, even a bit, and this deck stays on the same power level or maybe even gets better with the big Legends from Old Gods – that’s the deck we MIGHT see more commonly in Standard.
- Mulligan HEAVILY for Astral Communion and Ramp. And I mean it. Without it, you’re going to lose a lot of games. In slower matchups it’s also okay to leave a Nourish if you have an Innervate or Wild Growth. This way you can ramp up in a more standard way. But don’t do that against fast decks – they’re going to eat you alive. You can also keep the Novice Engineer, since it’s a 2 mana cycle and Raven Idol (played as a spell on t1) since it can give you an Astral Communion or some other ramp. Never keep any of your big minions, because that’s just not worth it.
- Raven Idol is really cool in this deck. 90% of time you want to get a spell. You should have enough minions in the mid/late game and what you really lack are spells. What you pick obviously depends on the situation, but if it’s turn 1 you might want to pick the ramp. If you play against board flood decks you can pick Swipe, Starfall or even Force of Nature to get a board clear. Against Aggro, Healing Touch and Tree of Life are great picks. Even if you have really bad early game tempo, Tree of Life might completely reset the game. But since at this point you’re the one with hard hitting minions, you can start racing enemy. You rarely pick a minion – but if you let’s say topdeck a Raven Idol when you have nothing on the board and no minions to play in your hand after Astral, then you want to pick a minion and get the biggest/most impactful one you can play.
- Talking about racing the enemy. Race is usually a solid tactic when playing this deck. The thing is – you’re not playing a Control deck. You have pretty much zero removal, no way to deal with enemy board etc. If enemy plays an Aggro deck that can flood it, you’re going to waste SO MUCH DAMAGE while trying to clear it. There is no point in running your 9/7 Kraken into the 2/1 minion unless it is a matter of life and death. With this deck, it’s pretty easy to have 10+ damage on the board. At this point it’s often better to put enemy at 2-3 turn clock – even Aggro deck. If you got an early Astral and you’re still pretty healthy, there is no way he can outrace you. Back in TGT I have played Face Hunter match against Astral Communion Druid, who got turn 1 Astral and then was just clearing my minions. Running 8/8’s just to kill my 1/1’s. I won the game thanks to that, because the matchup he would finish in 3 turns lasted twice as long and I found enough damage with charge minions, Hero Powers and burn to kill him. I would never be able to do that if he just went face.
- Let’s assume you are at 10 mana and don’t know which minion you want to drop. Well, this one might be tricky. First of all – it heavily depends on the matchup and board state. I think that board is the most important part here. The bigger board control enemy has, the faster minion you need to drop. For example – Ysera is cool, but it has no immediate impact on the board. On the other hand, Taunt minions can’t be ignored, Ragnaros instantly shoots an 8 damage fireball, you might be able to kill something with Kraken, Icehowl can run into something etc. If enemy threatens lethal on the board or you know that he might have it in the hand, definitely play Taunt or even Deathwing if the board is just too big. Against medium sized boards, semi-fast cards are okay. For example – Sylvanas Windrunner. Even though it’s just a 5/5 and doesn’t get you any immediate tempo, if enemy doesn’t threaten you a lot, Sylvanas can slow him down (he might not be able to drop another big minion if you can steal it), force him to do the weird trades or even, if it gets ignored, get you some tempo next turn. Dr. Boom is also pretty good here, because it drops 3 bodies and is harder to deal with. Even if the main body gets killed, you still have something left. And then, against enemy having nearly no board or no board at all, you want to drop your value minions – Ysera and Ancient of Lore. They are both slow, they don’t have too much attack, but they gain you a card advantage, so it’s important to have them in the deck. Also, if your hand is very weak and enemy has no board tempo, you can spend your turn on playing Nourish. Even two of them – 2x Nourish is a great turn to completely refill your hand and give you tons of options for next turns.
- Loot Hoarder – instead of the Novice Engineer. It’s better before you Astral or Ramp up, because it has 2 attack so it can contest the early board more easily. Then again, it’s much weaker after the Astral, because it doesn’t draw instantly. If you play Novice you can still drop anything that’s below 8 mana on the same turn. Loot Hoarder can also get Silenced to completely prevent the draw. It’s a viable option, but it depends on whether you prefer to have stronger pre-Astral or post-Astral phase.
- Another source of cycle / card draw like Azure Drake – since you’re in topdeck mode after the Astral, getting anything like Azure Drake is very helpful. And the thing about Azure Drake is that the 5-drops aren’t AS HARD to ramp into as the other minions played in the deck, so even without Astral it’s much easier to play the Drake.
- When it comes to the big drops, writing down the whole list of alternate cards would take too long. The thing is – you can build this deck in tons of ways. Pretty much any big, impactful minion fits the deck. Cairne Bloodhoof, The Black Knight, Troggzor the Earthinator, Kel'Thuzad, Sneed's Old Shredder, Chromaggus, Alexstrasza, Nefarian, Onyxia – they can all be played in place of some of the top end cards in this deck. If you’re trying to make a more budget version you can even play stuff like Ironbark Protector or Force-Tank MAX. While they are significantly weaker than the Legendary minions of the similar cost, they should do just fine in lower ranks. Just remember that you can’t only play the slow minions – you need to have some stuff that has instant impact on the board, like the Icehowl, Kraken or the Ragnaros. Otherwise already very slow deck becomes even slower; even Control decks might be able to outtempo you if you only play slow stuff.
Bearnugget’s Hobgoblin Zoo
Warlock was always the most likely class to play a Hobgoblin deck. The reason is, like always, Hero Power. Hobgoblin decks need to run a lot of 1 attack minions that aren’t necessarily good if you don’t have Hobgoblin on the board, so the ability to cycle a lot was important.
But, what if you played a Hobgoblin deck that didn’t necessarily run those “play only with Hobgoblin” minions like Wisp/Murloc Tinyfin? Then we end up with this deck. A Zoo deck where Hobgoblin is just a dessert, not the main course. Instead of having tons of dead draws, you have only… two Hobgoblins. Which you want to save to combo with some of your other minions. That’s not much in the deck that can draw 2 cards per turn.
But, what would Hobgoblin be without the 1 Attack minions? This deck runs a single Argent Squire, 2x Voidwalker, 2x Echoing Ooze and 2x Haunted Creeper. That’s “only” 7 minions. But like I’ve said – Hobgoblin is not the center of the deck and every of those minions can be just dropped like any other minion. They are all good in Zoo and were played in the deck even without Hobgoblin. But if you manage to combo them WITH Hobgoblin, yes, they’re insane. Most notably – Argent Squire turns into Silvermoon Guardian, Voidwalker turns into Sen'jin Shieldmasta and Echoing Ooze spawns two 3/4’s for 2 mana. So whenever you have enough mana to drop any of those combos, it’s already worth it. Until then, you can just play the 1 Attack minions like you didn’t have Hobgoblin in your deck.
Besides the Hobgoblin flavor, it feels much like a heavy token Zoo deck. It’s very easy to flood the board and then utilize the effects of Gormok the Impaler and Sea Giant. Both are insane in this kind of deck.
Experienced Zoo players have probably noticed that this deck isn’t even very different from the standard ones that are all over the ladder. It basically removed the Nerubian Egg and Dire Wolf Alpha for Hobgoblin and Echoing Ooze. Even though that’s a small change, it affects the deck quite a bit. The standard version has a better chance for the early game tempo swing with the Egg. Egg + Abusive Sergeant or Power Overwhelming can kill a minion AND leave you with 4/4 on the board. Egg is also a very good protection against most of the AoE clears – if you have an Egg on the board and enemy tries to clear your board, you’re very likely to still end up with some board initiative. On the other hand, Hobgoblin version is less vulnerable against Silence. Eggs, when Silenced, are 0/2 minions for 2 mana, which sucks very hard. Silence can’t really deal with Hobgoblin turn – enemy can either Silence the Hobgoblin and leave you with buffed stuff or some of the buffed minions (which don’t become useless even after Silencing – especially Echoing Ooze which has 2 bodies) and leave you with Hobgoblin. Hobgoblin is also a much better mid/late game card, because once you have enough mana to combo it with 2-3 minions at the same time, you can make a huge tempo push that is usually very hard to deal with.
As you can see, both versions have their pros and cons. As a big Zoo fan, I like to test every new version that I stumble upon. And this one was a very fun experience. I honestly can’t tell which one is better – like with every uncommon deck, the surprise factor is a big deal. Enemy often uses the AoE on an average board (which is why would you do against Standard Zoo so they won’t snowball it with Argus and stuff) and then you refill whole thing with Hobgoblin + small stuff next turn. On the other hand, you can play most of the games like a normal Zoo and still win them.
So if you like Zoo, definitely try it out!
Honestly, there is not much to write about in this section. The deck plays like a normal Zoo Warlock, so if you never played a similar deck, you should probably look for some Zoo Warlock guides (and trust me, there are plenty!) The only tips I’d like to give are about the Hobgoblin. First of all – DON’T keep your 1 Attack minions just to combo them with Hobgoblin if it’s going to hurt your curve. For example, it’s turn 2 and you have both Hobgoblin and an Echoing Ooze in your hand (where Ooze is your only 2-drop). Tapping here would be a horrible play – you want to drop that Ooze and you don’t care about possible future synergy. You can keep the 1 attack minions when it doesn’t hurt your curve or you can realistically combo them next turn. For example – it’s turn 3 and you can drop Dark Peddler + either Flame Imp or Argent Squire. If you have Hobgoblin in your hand, it would be a good idea to drop Flame Imp – this gives you a possible Hobgoblin + Squire play next turn. Another scenario is the late game scenario – if you plan to make a big Hobgoblin play next turn, you can save a 1 Attack minion if it won’t hurt your tempo too much. Dropping Hobgoblin on turn 3 is usually not a good play, because it’s just a 2/3 without any effect until next turn. It can be cleared easily. Do it only if that’s your only play or you have a lot of 1 attack minions and you think that enemy won’t be able to remove it. The risk might pay off, because let’s say dropping two 3/5 Taunts and two 3/4 minions on turn 4 is a HUGE tempo move and enemy won’t likely come back. If you have a good turn 3 alternative – e.g. Imp Gang Boss, it’s still probably better to go for the safer play.
- Second Argent Squire – I’ve seen quite a lot of Zoo decks that run 2x Argent Squire and 1x Flame Imp. This combination is better against Aggro decks and Paladins, because not only Squires don’t deal damage to your Hero, but they are also better against Shielded Minibot (can ping off the shield without dying). Since it’s a viable strategy, it would make sense to play two Squires in a deck with Hobgoblin. However, Flame Imps are better against slower decks, because health total is not a big problem and 3/2 for 1 is incredible tempo, which can push for some early game wins.
- Reliquary Seeker – 1 Attack minion, which is good with Hobgoblin? Check. Effect that is strong in token-oriented Zoo decks? Check. Yeah, Seekers fit the deck really well. But they’re, hm, high risk, high reward card. High risk, because if you don’t manage to proc their Battlecry or combo them with Hobgoblin later, they’re just a 1/1 for 1. Which is really, really bad. I’d say that Seekers help in slower matchups, but suck very hard in faster ones. In fast matchups you rarely have board of 6 minions and if you do, you should win the game even without them. The card also doesn’t have the most amazing Hobgoblin combo, because it’s just a 3/3 for 1 mana. Which is obviously nice, but pretty bad compared to the others.
- Lance Carrier – Once again. A minion that works quite nicely with Zoo, because the permanent +2 Attack is a strong effect on certain cards. Abusive Sergeant is most likely stronger, but you can’t run more than 2 (and some Zoo decks probably would do that) and the permanent buff is sometimes really good. If you want to run Lance Carrier, I’d probably advice you to run 2x Argent Squire too, because they have incredible synergy (even when trading, Squire can often attack twice). Lance Carrier also combos with Hobgoblin due to 1 Attack. But then again, the card gets considerably weaker without Nerubian Egg in the deck, because Egg is another great target to put the buff on.
SomiTequila’s Ramp Druid
Either the author’s post about the deck was removed or I just can’t find it – if you have the link, leave it in the comment section!
This is the deck I’ve played most of the 4. Druid is my second favorite class after Warlock, but I just don’t like the Midrange Druid’s playstyle too much. So instead, I can play a Midrange Druid without the combo… Or a Ramp Druid, as the author calls it.
But, why did I say Midrange Druid without combo? Because that’s pretty much what the deck is. You remove the combo and add 4 other cards and you pretty much have this deck. The only other change is Shade of Naxxramas -> Mind Control Tech, but MCT already wasn’t an uncommon tech in Midrange and a lot of decks ran 1 MCT and 1 Shade. Shades aren’t that good without the combo, so no real reason to play them. Oh, yes, there was one more change – removing Dr. Boom. But why, exactly? To not have any Big Game Hunter targets in the deck. But that’s honestly not even a necessary change – I’ve tried putting Boom back and it’s also good. It’s more of a personal preference.
What are the new cards, then? MCT I’ve already talked about. The reason to play this card is that the deck is mainly made to counter heavy Paladin/Zoo meta, against which MCT is really awesome. Otherwise it’s just a 3/3 for 3. Feel free to change this one into anything you like if you don’t face a lot of Paladin or Zoo.
Another addition is Raven Idol. This card is really, really cool because of the flexibility. The truth is – you can’t tech the deck against everything. It’s just impossible. Since Raven Idol gives you 3 choices every time you play it, you just pick whatever fits the matchup or the given situation. It gives you a quite decent turn 1 play – increases a chance to get turn 2 Wild Growth, give you an Innervate to push the early tempo or if you don’t know what matchup you exactly play against you might just pick some strong card like Wrath or Swipe that will probably find its use later in the game. Then again, it’s probably even better as the late game play. One of the 3 options is almost always good. Some cards are incredibly strong, but also very situational and Raven Idol makes them better. Let’s say Starfire – a card that you probably wouldn’t put into your deck, but getting it in the late game against a slower deck is insane. 5 damage + cycle is very good. It often gave me Starfall when I needed to clear the board, Poison Seeds to deal with big minions I couldn’t kill otherwise (or even Grim Patrons) or even Moonfire when I was one off lethal. Tree of Life is also a very interesting pick. I get it every time against Face Hunter or pretty much any Aggro deck. Getting this card means that if you manage to live until turn 9, you win the game. Or not even turn 9, considering that Druid is known for the Ramp. Aggro won’t be able to outvalue you and getting back to full health with the board lead and much, much higher late game card quality is game over.
Then, we have a really cool tech card – The Black Knight. I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t played in Druid-heavy meta. But someone decided to put it into the deck and trust me, it works like a charm. Let’s be honest – MOST of the decks run some sort of Taunts. Sludge Belcher is probably the most common one. A lot of Zoo-like decks also run Defender of Argus. And Druids, Druids with their Druid of the Claw and possibly Ancient of War. Black Knight is a quite good tech in the current meta. Hitting something with it not only means value, but also tempo, which is incredibly important. For example, if enemy drops a turn 5 Taunt and you play the Black Knight, not only you’ve dealt with their turn 5 play, but you’ve also played a 4/5 minion at the same time. It’s insane how good it is when it hits. In the worst case scenario it’s a 4/5 for 6, which is obviously terrible, but from my recent experience – worst case scenario is pretty rare.
Then, we have 2x Ancient of War. Not much to say about this card. A lot of Midrange Druid builds already ran one copy, so it’s not uncommon to see that on ladder. It’s just a huge Taunt, which is crazy good if enemy has no answer. It can straight up win the game against an Aggro deck or Zoo Warlock if they have no Silence. 5 Attack means it hits back really hard and most likely kills anything that enemy runs into it. And 10 health means that enemy has to run quite a lot of stuff to kill it. It often gets you 3 or 4 for 1 and stops A LOT of face damage. And if one copy is not enough, you play two to really screw your opponent.
Last, but not least, we have a Kel'Thuzad. A huge win condition in the Ramp Druid decks. While it’s unnecessary against most of the Aggro/Midrange, because you don’t need that much value to win, it’s a great way to seal the game in slower matchups. If you ever manage to get 2-3 minions on the board and enemy plays something big, you just drop Kel’Thuzad and run all of them in. It results in enemy ending up with no board and you with Kel’Thuzad + freshly resurrected minions. Now, enemy is in the spot – “I kill Kel’Thuzad or I lose the game”. Putting enemy in such a situation is already good. If enemy can’t answer it – you win. If enemy can – he still has to deal with the rest of your board. Board wipes like Twisting Nether or Equality + Consecration are usually the only good way to deal with that kind of board. Brawl is also good, but there is still a chance that Kel’Thuzad wins and brings everything back again. Lightbomb actually sucks against that kind of board, because Kel is 6/8, so he would survive. But, overall the card can be insanely good, but it’s very situational and it might hard to find a good moment to play it.
So as you can see, the deck isn’t VERY different from the Midrange Druid. It just plays the slower game and relies on different win conditions. Why would you want to play this deck over Midrange Druid, though? Combo seems to strong to give up, but that’s not always the case. Like I’ve said in the beginning – this deck is mostly made against a specific meta. It’s better against faster decks – Aggro or Zoo-like. Combo is not your win condition in those matchups. It’s often used as a board control tool and sometimes completely useless. While yes, you win some of those matchups with the combo, having different stuff instead of that usually works your way, not against you. It’s also great against the standard Midrange Druid – Combo isn’t great in this matchup either (usually the one with mid game tempo wins, combo is often unnecessary) because of the tech choices. Black Knight and Kel’Thuzad are both insanely strong against Druid. The first one almost guarantees a huge tempo swing and the second one is incredibly hard to deal with as a Druid. FoN + SR Combo. on the other hand, is much, much better in the slower matchups. So if you face a lot of RenoLock, Control Warrior, Control Priest, Freeze Mage and such – you should definitely stick with the Midrange Druid. But if you mostly encounter Zoo Warlock, Midrange Druid and Secret Paladin – this version might be better one.
- Mulligan is similar to the Midrange Druid. Ramp is most important – Innervate and Wild Growth are always a keep. Raven Idol should also be a keep – it’s better to play it than to miss turn 1 and you can try fishing for the ramp too. Living Roots is a keep in faster matchups – you don’t want to keep it against Priest or Warrior, because 2 damage doesn’t kill that much and the 1/1’s might be a liability against Northshire Cleric or Acolyte of Pain. Mind Control Tech is a keep in fast matchup. In slow matchup it’s a keep if you don’t curve out with Wild Growth into bigger drops. In fast matchups you also want to keep the Keeper of the Grove, in slower matchups Piloted Shredder. Shredder is also okay in fast matchups if you have Innervate or Wild Growth, while Keeper might be a keep against Priest to counter the Velen's Chosen plays. You should probably throw away everything that’s 5+ unless you have an Innervate. In case of Innervate, you might keep one 5-drop too – Taunts are better in fast matchups, while Azure Drake is better in slow ones.
- Even though the deck puts pretty much the same mid game pressure, playing it without combo is way, way different. Board control is much more important. Face damage isn’t. You win most of the games with the board dominance – you just kill everything they play and drop your own stuff. You want to outvalue fast decks by just dealing with everything minion they have and running them out of cards (unless they threaten to kill you in a few turns and you have no heals, then you can try to race). And you want to play the mix of value and tempo game against slow decks. You can’t go all face and expect to finish with the combo, because you don’t have one. You need to put just enough board pressure to force enemy into using their board wipes, but not enough to lose too much value. After enemy is out of answers, you want to flood the board and kill enemy with constant 10+ damage per turn, while dealing with the key cards they drop.
- Putting mid game pressure against slow decks is important. The reason is that they will most likely take you for the Midrange Druid and think that they can’t take any damage, have to deal with your threats no matter what. Let enemy waste their removals on your 4-drops and 5-drops, then they won’t have a way to answer your bigger stuff.
- With Raven Idol you should usually pick a spell. Most of the Druid spells should be useful at some point, while 3 random minions from the whole game means it’s hard to find something good. The chances of getting something playable is much bigger when picking a spell. I only pick minion when I don’t have a lot of steam in my hand and I’m playing in slower matchup. Constant pressure is important, and having some (possibly) big minion to play is very good. Also, picking a Savage Roar might be a good tactic in slow matchups. Once they identify you as a Ramp Druid, they won’t likely play around the combo. Or at least not as much as they would against Midrange. It means that you can surprise them with quite a lot of burst. Let’s say you have 2 minions on the board and you play Druid of the Claw in Charge mode + Savage Roar. That’s 12 unexpected damage, which can lead to a win.
- Mounted Raptor – If you don’t feel like playing two copies of Mind Control Tech, Raptor might be a good thing to play instead of one. If you can’t proc MCT’s effect, Raptor is much better, because of the 2 bodies. Playing him in faster matchup means that you’re much more likely to kill 2 minions – one with the initial body and possibly another one with the 1-drop. It can also possibly bait an early Silence from the opponent. In slower matchups it’s overall better – MCT rarely steals something anyway and Raptor is better against removal and AoE.
- Nourish – A single copy is quite decent in slower Druids. It’s really awesome if you manage to play it early with Innervate. I often pick it from Raven Idol when going second and having Innervate – turn 2 Coin + Innervate + Nourish means you ramp up into 5 mana. Pretty much any time I would have an early Innervate + Nourish I’d go for it, because it gives you such a big mana advantage. Then again, the card draw is also useful if you’re running low. You won’t be able to win the fatigue matchups against Warrior or Priest, so you want to draw the cards and put pressure. Drawing 3 means you end up with so many options. And if it’s turn 10 you can also drop a 5-drop on the same turn.
- Cenarius – It can be used instead of Kel’Thuzad as another finisher. I’d say that it’s better in fast matchups, but worse in slow ones. Two 2/2 Taunts can actually matter when enemy got through the other Taunts. The buff on the other hand might be a finisher in slow matchups. With let’s say 3-4 minions on the board, giving +2/+2 to everything is really huge. It can make your trades better, it can push for quite a lot of face damage, possibly even give you an unexpected burst damage you need.
- Loatheb – You can play it instead of Belcher if you don’t feel like you need that many Taunts. Loatheb is better against decks that rely on spell damage instead of charge/weapon damage to kill you. So for example, Aggro Freeze Mage or the Standard Freeze Mage. Also pretty much any kind of Rogue. The 5/5 body is also better than 3/5 a lot of times, beacuse 3/5’s get traded for “free” by 5/5’s. I’d say that Loatheb is also better in slower matchups – you can seal the game this way. Let’s say you already have quite a strong board and you don’t want to play more because of the AoE. You can play Loatheb and deny their AoE turn while making a big push. If you already have ~10 damage on the board, the chances are that you’ll be able to kill enemy next turn.
- Harrison Jones – Facing a lot of weapon classes? Easy pick. Not facing a lot of weapon classes? No reason to bother with this card. It’s especially great in Warrior matchup – against Patron Warrior you can deny a big Grim Patron turn by proccing the Whirlwind effect on your terms. And in Control Warrior, Gorehowl has became a quite common tech lately and it’s insane against your deck. Gorehowl gives Warrior both huge value AND tempo, while the health cost isn’t that big against non-Combo Druid. Getting rid of it fast will boost your chance to win quite heavily. And of course, the dreadful Doomhammer in Aggro Shaman matchup. Hitting it with Harrison is often a game over – not only you get rid of at least 12 damage, but you also draw 6 cards, so you’ll most likely play a Taunt or Heal every turn after.
- Dr. Boom – Like I’ve said, if you don’t mind having a single BGH target in the deck, Boom is a nice option. It’s probably worse than in standard Midrange Druid, because spawning 3 bodies has nice synergy with Savage Roar. If the card doesn’t get hit by BGH, it’s obviously insane. And if it gets, it’s not THAT big of a deal since you’ll most likely kill something with Boom Bots anyway.
FalconePunch’s Mech Hunter
That’s right, a Mech Hunter. We had Mech Mage and Mech Shaman, with Mech Priest, Mech Druid and Mech Rogue somewhere behind, so why not Mech Hunter? Funnily, it might have been the LEAST popular Mech deck. But I’d say that popularity didn’t do the justice. The only times I’ve ever seen this deck in game was actually on my friend’s account around rank 20 late in the season. But, FalconePunch was a true believer and he took the deck to pretty high Legend ranks.
What’s exactly the reason to play the Mech Hunter? Every Mech deck has some kind of advantage over the others, a reason to play it. For example, you don’t see Mech Paladins, because they just don’t have good Mech synergy. Hunter’s only class Mech synergy is Metaltooth Leaper. And you know what, the card isn’t half-bad. 3/3 Mech for 3 that has a potential to snowball the board. Since Hunter is all about damage and even having 2 Mechs on the board is very common, +4 permanent damage to your minions is not something to underestimate (and it scales really well with your board – something like permanent Mech Savage Roar with a body).
But, honestly, if it was only for that minion I doubt the choice would be good. Hunter class, however, is a great fit for a Mech deck. Mech decks are generally very high tempo, quite aggressive and mostly want to get enemy low with minions and then finish with the burn. This kind of play style fits Hunter. While without Kill Command Hunter doesn’t have a hell lot of burn, the Hero Power gives him a huge advantage. Problem with the Mech decks is that they fizzle out once they run out of cards and enemy clears the board. One draw per turn isn’t a lot and it’s hard to put enemy on the clock with let’s say Mage’s Hero Power. Hunter can do that much more easily. Enemy stabilizes at 10? You just play whatever you draw and Hero Power every turn. He can’t afford to leave that on the board and race you, so you have quite a lot of time. And then you put him on the clock.
Some of the Hunter’s class cards are also nice pick for this kind of deck. I’d say that the most important one might be Freezing Trap. The trap doesn’t get you any value, it’s a pure tempo gain. But that’s EXACTLY what Mech Hunter wants – especially after getting it for free from Mad Scientist. The reason it is so strong is that Hunter relies heavily on the board to deal damage. Enemy dropping something that can trade into your board, like Piloted Shredder or Twilight Drake might be pretty problematic. While you still probably have the tempo lead, enemy will kill your minions one by one and eventually clear the board if you don’t manage to kill him before that. But, with Freezing Trap things are quite different. Enemy dropping one medium sized minion doesn’t bother you at all, unless it has Taunt. You can just ignore it and push for damage. And as we all know, with how the Mech Mage snowballs, even buying one additional turn to freely develop the board often means winning the game.
Weapons are also quite good – they let you clear opponent’s early minions without putting yourn own to danger. They also allow to push for the last points of damage. And last, but not least – Quick Shot. It has multiple uses. First is small removal, second one is late game burn and third one is just cycle once you run out of steam. That’s probably the best topdeck in the game in the late game, because not only you instantly deal 3 for 2, but you also draw next card.
When it comes to the Mech shell, it’s pretty standard up until turn 5. The only two unique choices are Clockwork Knight and Piloted Sky Golem. Okay, Clockwork Knight isn’t really UNIQUE, but yes, that’s my only wonder – why it’s in the 5-drop slot and not the Fel Reaver. I think Reaver would fit the deck better, but that’s just my opinion. And then Sky Golem – we don’t see this card every day, but it’s really cool. It’s comparable to the Hunter’s Savannah Highmane (and as we all know that’s one of the strongest 6-drops in the game). I’d say that Highmane is overall stronger, because of the 1 more health (putting it out of range of some removals), 2 bodies it spawns (so they are kinda harder to kill) and being less random, more steady. You always get 4/4 stats in two 2/2 bodies. With Sky Golem, the variance is really huge. On the one hand, you might drop a Piloted Shredder or Hungry Dragon, which are nuts. On the other, you might drop a Gnomish Inventor or even something as bad as Summoning Portal (which is terrible if it’s not your turn and enemy can instantly kill it without taking damage). But let’s just say that the average result is good enough to justify using it. Being a huge Deathrattle minion has it’s pros and cons – pro is obviously being AoE and removal resistant, harder to get rid of. But the con is being vulnerable to Silence, leaving just a 6/4 for 6. Which also isn’t as terrible as you’d think IF enemy has no way to instantly clear it (hitting for 6 into the face is a big deal as Hunter).
So, overall, a pretty interesting deck. I wouldn’t really call it insanely competitive, but it’s definitely viable. And pretty cool if you like Mech decks and heavy tempo playstyle. It’s also a rather cheap deck – the only Legendary is Dr. Boom and let’s face it, everyone has it. Then the only Epics are Sky Golems and they can be subbed by some budget option if you don’t really want to take it to Legend. So yeah, you should try the deck out while you still can if the Standard will be your main play mode. About 2 weeks from now 2/3 of this deck will be unplayable in Standard. So folks, grind those Mech wins while you still can!
- Mulligan for the early drops and weapons. Having a smooth curve is important, so definitely keep your 1-drops and 2-drops. I would actually throw away the 3-drops in case I don’t get the 1/2. It should be rather easy to curve out with the deck, but a good start is most important. You shouldn’t really rely hard on the Mechwarper effect when mulliganing. For example, Piloted Shredder might come out on turn 3 with Mechwarper on the board, but you can’t guarantee that it will survive, so it’s better to throw it away.
- The perfect scenario is minions going face and weapons + Quick Shot + Freezing Trap used to control the board. Your life isn’t really important, unless you play a hyper Aggro deck like Face Shaman. Then you have to be careful and use the minions more.
- Metaltooth Leaper is amazing when you have a huge board, but don’t mind dropping it on turn 3 when you have let’s say only 1 other Mech. Keeping the curve is more important than getting a huge buff. Obviously, in that case you’d prefer to just drop a Spider Tank and keep Leaper for a better opportunity. I’d say that 2-3 Mech is enough for a good Leaper, you can’t get too greedy or else you give enemy time to get to their AoE clears. Cash in value even if it’s not too high, don’t be too greedy. You can also save it as an unexpected burst finisher, kinda like the Savage Roar stuff. That’s good against decks like RenoLock which can heal back to full if you get them too low but don’t kill. Remember that Boom Bots are also Mechs, so if they don’t get cleared on the Dr. Boom turn, you can take advantage of it.
- Your game plan is pretty simple, so there is not much more to talk about. Your priority is face damage, but you take the good trades. For example, if enemy has a 3/2 on the board and you drop the Shredder, killing it with your 1-drop is good idea – this way you protect your bigger minion. Then in the mid/late game once you start running out of steam you try to weave in as many Hero Powers as you can and put enemy on the clock. Then finish him off with the mix of minions, Hero Power, weapons and Quick Shots.
- Gorillabot A-3 – That was my first thought when I’ve seen the deck. Pretty much every Mech deck after LoE has added this card. It’s just insanely strong in Mech deck – the body isn’t even that terrible to play on the curve and getting to Discover a Mech (not even get a random one, Discover is much stronger) is crazy good effect. In fast matchups the 3/4 stats are good enough to trade AND you might pick something like Annoy-o-Tron or or even Antique Healbot in case enemy is rushing you down. Then again, in slow matchups it’s even more insane – you just pick whatever biggest Mech you’ve got offered and you have much more steam in your hand. I’ve played some games against kind of Control warrior where I’ve just outvalued them with 2 big Mechs out of Gorillabot and they’ve just ran out of removals to answer everything. Very good card.
- Fel Reaver – That was my second thought. I’d definitely play it over the Clockwork Knight in this kind of deck. It’s pretty aggressive and you want the face damage AND you don’t really care about discards, since you don’t run any kind of combo etc. 8/8 for 5 is huge and gives you a big tempo lead. Enemy can’t leave it on the board, has to kill it. Even if he finds a way to do that, it usually takes a lot of resources or the tempo. So you’re still in the lead and can just drop a Sky Golem afterwards – good luck dealing with this one too. The only bad thing about Fel Reaver is… Big Game Hunter. If enemy runs one, your tempo play might be completely ruined – not only BGH takes away all the tempo, but it swings it back in opponent’s favor. So well, Fel Reaver is kinda high risk, high reward card – it can get completely countered sometimes (cards like Aldor Peacekeeper or Keeper of Uldaman also work well) but if it works, it can just win you the game on the spot.
- Loatheb – I really like Loatheb in the Mech decks. Since they are all very board centric, they all have one big weakness – AoE clears. You have a huge board, enemy plays a big AoE, you lose the big board and then you’re sad. But Loatheb can kinda prevent that. You have semi-big board, you are pretty sure enemy is saving his AoE, you just drop Loatheb and go all-in. You get one more turn of hits before enemy can clear the board and that one turn of hits is often game over. Against Mech decks, enemies tend to save their AoE until it gets more value. It’s a common strategy that Warrior won’t brawl a 3 minion board, because he wants to wait another turn for enemy to play another thing. In theory it’s good, because he can afford to do that with all the Armor gain and stuff, but Loatheb can completely ruin this strategy.
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!