February 7, 2017
Table of Contents
Legendary Deck Recommendations – February #1
So yeah, that’s official. It seems that the deck recommendations are rather popular, I’ll make a new article every ~2 weeks to provide you with the latest deck lists. I hope that you had a good run last season and this time I want to give you some decks that you might find useful when climbing in February.
I want to make a good mix of fun and competitive decks, but with one requirement – each of the decks I’ll post had to either get the player to Legend or be played in Legend with a quite good result. Not every of those decks is #1 Legend material, but each one of them is viable and tested by pro players already.
I’ll add a my thoughts to each list – description of the deck’s origins, play style, maybe a few words about matchups. I haven’t tested each of those decks personally, but I’ve played nearly every of those archetypes in the past, so I have some experience when it comes to that. I hope you’re going to like it!
Kolento’s Jade Druid
I’m going to start with a new version of Jade Druid. Kolento used this deck to climb into top 100 Legend last season. Yes, top 100 Legend, late in the season where the ladder is infested by the Aggro Shamans. He didn’t have as much problems against Aggro as he should have thanks to a few tech choices he has made.
Even though this list seems to have a pretty similar core, it has some major differences. I will try to go through them and try to explain Kolento’s reasoning:
First of all, he cut 2x Innervate. It’s probably the most controversial choice, as Innervate was always a backbone of the Druid decks. Innervate, however, is a very problematic card. It’s amazing if you draw it early, but it gets more and more useless later. Since this deck runs no Auctioneer (later about that), it has no way to cycle Innervate, so drawing it later is a dead draw. One of the easiest ways to lose a slow matchup is having a dead draw in the mid/late game and letting your opponent take the tempo. I’m not sure if cutting Innervate will become a common practice, I honestly doubt that, but it worked in Kolento’s case.
He runs no Raven Idols, but that was the most flex slot and it was commonly cut anyway, so no big surprise here. What is more surprising, though, is that he cut Brann Bronzebeard and Gadgetzan Auctioneer. But this is actually very easy to explain – those cards suck in fast matchups. While Brann can be okay-ish as a vanilla 2/4 for 3 that has quasi-Taunt (your opponent will likely kill it), Gadgetzan is most likely a dead card. Those cards were great in slow matchups, Brann could generate a lot of tempo and move the Jade train forward while Gadgetzan could cycle through the deck, especially by the end of the game where you had pretty much only Jade Idols in your deck. Those cards are insane in slow matchups, but maybe it is a bit too greedy to run them in this meta in the end.
What does he play instead, then? Anti-Aggro cards. He added Druid of the Saber as another early game removal – sometimes 2x Living Roots and 2x Wrath is not enough, and against Aggro it is REALLY important to deal with that turn 1 Small-time Buccaneer. Even though using 2 mana to kill it is a tempo loss, it’s better than leaving it on the board and taking 3 damage every turn from a 1-drop. Druid of the Saber can also be played proactively in Stealth to improve your next turn trades if you have some spare mana. Then, an extra Feral Rage. Decks that used Mulch usually had to cut one, because it’s hard to fit both. Feral Rage is the only health gain in the deck and it’s quite a solid one – 8 health against Aggro is a lot. But more importantly, it can also be used as an early removal. You can kill that Totem Golem or Frothing Berserker in one hit without really losing tempo, which is pretty solid.
And besides that? Taunts, Taunts, Taunts. Every Jade Druid already runs 2x Jade Behemoth, because of the Jade synergy. However, this deck plays 2x Druid of the Claw and 2x Ancient of War besides Behemoth. Taunts are amazing against Aggro, because they protect your life total and force your opponent to trade into them or use burn as a removal. It is quite possible to hit a t5 -> t6 -> t7 Taunt curve with this deck and it just destroys Aggro. But even in slow matchups, Taunts lets you stall the game for longer and stalling the game is exactly what you want to do.
So, to sum things up – the deck is now weaker against Control, but strongest against Aggro. But the thing is that you should still be a favorite against let’s say Reno Mage or Control Warrior, but now you also stand a solid chance against Shamans and such. I think that in the current meta it’s the strongest version of Jade Druid and if you want to play one, this might be the version you should give a try. I will definitely give it a go soon, but I’m having really hard time cutting the Innervates from Druid list
Fibonacci’s Control Warrior
This deck is an interesting case. Fibonacci, our Warrior god, used it to get a high Legend finish last season (#3 on NA to be precise). Yes, #3 Legend FINISH with a Control Warrior. Why? Because of the Shamanstone. As you’ve probably heard (or seen if you were playing in Legend), last day and especially last hours of the season were all about Shaman. And this deck is optimized to beat them. Not only that, but it also works nicely against Pirate Warrior and Miracle Rogue.
Control Warrior is in a very weird spot right now. On the one hand, it beats the fast decks very easily. On the other hand, it loses hard to Reno decks and slower Jade decks. For example, Fibonacci had over 80% win rate against Shaman, but only 15% against Jade Druid. Luckily for the Warrior players, Jade Druid is not a very popular deck, but still. If you want to play Control Warrior, you need to prepare to lose a lot of slow matchups. They aren’t unwinnable – if you have a lot of experience and learn the deck really well, you can still beat them (Fibonacci had over 50% win rate against Reno decks, but like I’ve said – he’s a Warrior god).
The version I’ve showcases is the one he used on the last day of the season. What’s interesting is that he cut most of the bigger threats. He doesn’t run Ragnaros the Firelord or Ysera. Instead, he plays Deathwing as an ultimate board clear. He also runs 2x Sleep with the Fishes which is a very underrated card – it’s INSANE in the Shaman meta, because Ravaging Ghoul + Sleep with the Fishes combo is basically a 5 mana Flamestrike with 3/3 on the board, and most of the Shaman minions are right in the 4 damage range.
However, this anti-Shaman (or anti-Aggro in general) build sucks even more in slow matchups. You might be able to beat RenoLock thanks to the Grommash Hellscream + Cruel Taskmaster combo… Wait, I want to talk a bit more about that. Cruel Taskmaster, a single card, makes a RenoLock matchup actually winnable. I have nearly 100% win rate against Warriors that don’t run (or didn’t draw) that card, but my win rate against Warriors with Cruel Taskmaster is closer to 70%, which is a big difference. Sometimes even when I know exactly that they have it, I just can’t play around it. After I ooze Gorehowl they pre-equip Fiery War Axe and have 15 damage combo available with Grom/Taskmaster and I have exactly 15 health as Lord Jaraxxus. Only Taunts can save me, but I have limited number of Taunts so once they deal with them, I just lose. And I have to play Jaraxxus in this matchup, or else they will win the fatigue. It’s really interesting how a single card can change a whole matchup. But, back to the topic. You have pretty much no win condition against slow decks. You can try to hit a great Dirty Rat to deny value, but that’s not enough. You can also try to surprise them with Deathwing and win like that, but that’s also very hard – they will likely have some removal, since you don’t play almost any other big minions you can bait the removal with. Yet another option is simply going to fatigue – you might win the fatigue game, because should have tons of Armor. However, it’s very hard without other big threats or Elise Starseeker.
So. This deck will suck against Jade decks, it will (unless you’re amazing at playing Warrior) suck in Reno matchups, but you should expect to beat most of the aggressive stuff. Is it a good enough trade-off? Well, it all depends on the meta you’re facing. If you face more Aggro, then this should be a good deck choice. But if you face more slow decks, keep away from this build, as you won’t likely end up with a positive win rate.
Another heavy anti-Aggro build on this list. It seems like that’s the way to go right now, since Hoej has also hit high Legend ranks with this deck. He climbed to #1 Legend a few days before season finished, so it was a quite solid feat. But what’s the deal with this build, anyway? There is a single and I’m repeating it, A SINGLE card that’s played strictly for the Control matchups – Lord Jaraxxus. Alright, cards like Kazakus or Dirty Rat are also great vs Control, but they’re not strictly anti-Control, they’re just good in general. There is no Sylvanas Windrunner, no Mountain Giant/Faceless Shambler, there is no Ragnaros the Firelord, there is no Leeroy Jenkins combo. This is an anti-Aggro build and it really works well in the fast matchups.
Removing all the expensive (and thus dead in Aggro matchups) cards and adding more, way more early/mid game instead makes the Aggro matchups a walk in the park. And I mean it – I already had positive win rates against decks like Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman and after testing this deck I won majority of my games against Aggro. On the other hand, my slow matchups win rate suffered a lot. Especially the mirrors – this deck just straight up loses to a RenoLock mirror unless you get a very early Jaraxxus and you happen to play against a non-combo list. That’s right, Jaraxxus is the only saving grace in the slow matchups. You try to play it as soon as possible, because without other big threats to play you’re forced to play reactively. And let’s just say that RenoLock is not a good reactive deck in slow matchups (multiple small AoEs, for example, are great reactive cards against Aggro but not exactly against Control).
One really interesting tech I want to talk about is the Frost Elemental. It’s the only card in the list that hasn’t seen any RenoLock play historically. I’ve seen the card in Constructed.. maybe 2 or 3 times since I’ve started playing Hearthstone. It was always an Arena card. However, it’s not as bad as some people imagine. In terms of value, it’s no Sylvanas Windrunner, but on the other hand it’s a really good tempo play. Freezing a Shaman’s 7/7 means that he can’t punch you in the face for one turn, which makes Frost Elemental 5/5 that heals for 7 – that would be a solid card to run. That’s one of the best case scenarios, but even freezing something smaller prevents some damage or let’s say a good trade on the board. Then, what I really like about the card is the combo with Corruption. Corruption has seen some play in the RenoLock recently, as it’s also a nice tempo card. You can play it early on something like Totem Golem and your opponent doesn’t really have a way to stop it. Sure, it still survives for one more attack, but the 3 health cost is not that much for the tempo you’re gaining (plus you prevent any further attacks from the Golem, so ultimately you save some life). But the card gets more interesting when you can combo it with Frost Elemental. For 7 mana, you play a 5/5 minion and destroy a minion you choose. Since the frozen minion won’t be able to attack, Corruption’s downside is pretty much lifted and you get a great, cheap removal. Sadly, the combo doesn’t work well on the minions with ongoing effects like Emperor Thaurissan or Ragnaros the Firelord, since they will proc no matter whether they’re frozen or not, but it’s pretty good against majority of the minions.
I’ll be honest that I’m feeling a bit sad when playtesting this deck. I enjoy playing big Legendaries, I enjoy doing flashy stuff and winning that way. But when the two choices of the meta decks are pretty much Aggro or anti-Aggro, it’s no longer a viable strategy. Slow decks are becoming less and less greedy, cutting all the late game and adding more early game anti-Aggro tools and at the same time, they become pretty boring. I mean, I don’t have to play them – I’m not grinding the high Legend ranks anyway (I did in December, but the current Shamanstone is too much for me) and I can hit Legend easily with the slower builds too. Still, I’m really looking forward to the patch that should come in a few weeks and hopefully cut some or the Shaman’s and Pirates power. End of the rant.
pAc’s Miracle Freeze Mage
pAc is a French streamer/pro player if you’re not familiar with the name. This deck isn’t really a new one, pAc has been playing it for a few months already, but it only recently caught my attention. Even though it looks like some wacky, casual mode deck, it actually does work. pAc was playing it in Legend, climbing as high as top 50, which is pretty impressive already. But you know what? I’d play this deck even if it wasn’t viable, because it’s so fun.
I didn’t play it much, only a few games so far (I try to test every deck I post here, but since there are quite a lot of them, I don’t have time to grind a lot of games with each). However, I will definitely play it more, as nearly every game was really interesting and challenging.
But, let me explain the basic idea behind the deck. It’s a combo deck, a Freeze Mage. The goal is to stall the game for as long as possible by freezing/clearing the board, Ice Blocks etc. However, instead of a classic cycle in a form of Loot Hoarder/Novice Engineer/Acolyte of Pain, it runs Gadgetzan Auctioneer and a bunch of cheap spells. After hitting just a single Emperor Thaurissan tick, it’s very easy to cycle through 6-7 cards on a single turn. Without the Preparation, Innervate or such, the cycles are worse than in Rogue/Druid, but they’re still quite impressive. On the other hand, however, Mage has access to a minion that those two classes can’t use – Archmage Antonidas. Antonidas is like a backbone of the deck. With so many cheap spells, you can quite easily and consistently get 5+ Fireballs from him. And that should be enough to close any matchup.
But I’d have to say that the card that makes the deck really great is Barnes. With only a few minions in the deck, there is a very high chance to hit either Gadgetzan Auctioneer or Archmage Antonidas. Sure, it’s a 1/1, but it keeps the effect. So you get those out for 4 mana instead of the standard 6/7 and you have much more mana to work with when it comes to combos. In one game, I got 4 Fireballs from Antonidas… on turn 6. Since I wasn’t playing against Reno deck, that was just game over – I started burning the face and my opponent couldn’t do anything.
The general game plan is to stall until the mid/late game, then start cycling with Auctioneers, then set up a huge Antonidas, play Alexstrasza and kill the opponent. Of course, the game plan varies between the games. Against Aggro it might be enough to clear the board all the time and then play a single big minion. And against Reno decks you need to think a lot more, set up the cards correctly, because the Reno Jackson played in the middle of your burn can be devastating.
As much fun as it is, the deck is also hard to play and not the best one in the current meta. I’d say that Reno decks are holding it back most. While of course, you can win against Reno, the matchups are pretty hard. Since the card heals up to full and this deck runs no way to “OTK” (like the classic Freeze Mage can do with Evolved Kobold for example) to negate the Reno’s value, you usually have to burn them twice to really kill them. Which, of course, is possible, but you need to set up a great Antonidas first. I feel like a deck like that might be popular next rotation when Reno is out. On the other hand, Emperor Thaurissan rotating out might also be a big hit to the deck’s consistency, so I’m not 100% sure. However, if you like the Freeze Mage play style or you want to play a deck that you probably have never seen before, you can try this out. pAc has proven that you can hit high ranks with this deck, however he has months of experience, so you shouldn’t expect great results right off the bat.
J4CKIECHAN’S Egg Druid
That’s the deck I haven’t played in a while. Last time I’ve played it, it was pre-Standard. I’ve faced J4CKIECHAN like 3 times after the Gadgetzan’s release and he was playing a variation of Egg Druid twice, so I guess that he really wanted to make it work. And did he make it work? Well, more or less.
If you don’t know the archetype, it’s the deck that made Jackie known to a wider audience first. When everyone and their mother was playing Midrange Combo Druid (RIP Force of Nature + Savage Roar) or Aggro Druid (turn 1 2x Innervate + Fel Reaver PTSD), Jackie decided to play something else instead. If you mix surprise factor with a pretty strong, fast deck, you get a nice win rate even in Legend. “Egg Druid” comes from the fact that the deck runs Eggs, which are 0/2 minions, but get extra value when they die/take damage. The first version used to run Dragon Egg and Nerubian Egg. Since the latter one rotated out, this version runs Runic Egg instead, which is arguably weaker, but still quite powerful (an extra body for buffs + cycles itself). The deck used to run Jeeves, which was a very interesting and unique tech, but once again, sadly it rotated out already.
The basic idea behind the deck is simple. You want to flood the board with small minions and then utilize a) buffs b) cards that grow stronger with the number of minions on the board. And so, the deck floods the board, then buffs the board and then plays Soul of the Forest to make the board sticky and when the time comes, it bursts the enemy down with Savage Roar. I have to say that I had some turn 4-5 wins with this deck (not exactly this version, but I’ve played it in the past quite a lot) thanks to that card. SR with 5 minions on the board is 12 damage for 3 mana, really sick.
There are two new Gadgetzan additions – Mark of the Lotus and Patches the Pirate. The first one gets insane value in a deck like that. Since your game plan is to flood the board and you’re very likely to have some lingering minion presence (people don’t really want to kill the Eggs for you), 1 mana for +1/+1 on every minion is very powerful. The card is already strong if you hit it on 3 minions – that’s +3/+3 for 1 mana. However, if you manage to get even more, the value goes up and up. Hitting 5 minions or something is a dream, but it happens surprisingly often. I’d say that the card is far more powerful than Power of the Wild (which is still played, because you want to have as many AoE buffs as possible) even though it loses some flexibility. The other card, Patches the Pirate is well… an interesting choice. It just shows that you really want to add Pirates into any deck possible. Since Small-time Buccaneer doesn’t work well with Druid (no weapons) and Southsea Deckhand is just a vanilla 2/1, Jackie decided to go for the Bloodsail Corsair. 1/2 works better against Pirates, because it doesn’t die to Patches/1 damage weapon and it’s a better buff target. And it also gets an extra value against weapons. It’s the only neutral early game Pirates that doesn’t combo with weapons but rather works against them, so it was the only choice. Summoning 2 bodies for 1 mana is great in a deck that wants to buff so many things. Playing turn 1 Dragon Egg into turn 2 Pirate + Mark of the Lotus is already a nice tempo and a great answer to a turn 1 Small-Time Buccaneer (you kill Buccaneer with a buffed Patches and their Patches with your Dragon Egg, spawning a 2/1 at the same time).
The deck has two main weaknesses. First is AoE – if your opponent plays AoE after AoE (let’s say RenoLock’s turn 3 Demonwrath into turn 4 Hellfire) it can ruin your day, as you want to flood the board to make use of your buffs. Soul of the Forest is a good countermeasure, but if they AoE before you use it, it’s for nothing. And the second weakness is the lack of some powerful cycle mechanic. You often run out of cards as soon as turn 3-4. Sure, it means that your tempo was amazing, but if you don’t win thanks to it, you’re now in a rough spot. Runic Eggs cycle themselves, Mark of Y'Shaarj can get an extra draw sometimes (although not often, because you usually use it on the Eggs and you don’t run many Beasts), but that’s it. The second problem can be fixed simply by adding something like a Cult Master, but that’s more useful in the slower matchups, as you’ll be constantly trading minions with your opponent and only rarely a bigger board would stick. However, Cult Master is an amazing addition in slow matchups, as you can easily get 4-5 draws from it + even more if it doesn’t die.
I really enjoy this deck. I feel like a flood archetype is something that’s heavily underdeveloped potential in Druid class. Devs seem to be adding more and more ways to play Ramp/Big minions or Beasts more lately, but I think that if they focused a bit more on the Flood/Token archetypes they might be really fun to play and pretty powerful. After all, cards like AoE buffs, Savage Roar or Soul of the Forest have great synergy with multiple minions.
Once again, it might not be a top meta deck, but if you want to play something a more unusual, you should enjoy this one. Plus it’s on a cheap side, given how most of the meta decks right now cost ~10k dust or more.
Do you know any fun/interesting decks that can also get you to high ranks? Some decks with non-meta choices, techs that you haven’t seen before etc.? If yes, let me know and I can include them next time! I hope that you’ve liked this batch of decks, I have played a few of those myself and I found them really cool. I’ll try my best to provide you with more fresh lists every now and then.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!