November 29, 2016
Table of Contents
Pre-release Brews – RenoLock, Reno Dragon Priest, Secret Tempo Mage
Here we are boys. Gadgetzan expansion will be released on Thursday, much sooner than anticipated. Most of us have thought that it’s going to be out about a week into December, like GvG, but hey, we don’t really cry.
I was supposed to start my Daily Brews series, covering one brew per day over the course of next week, but it seems like my plans have failed. Instead, I will get them out in three batches – first one today, second tomorrow and the last one on the release day (but still a lot of time before the actual release). Even though the voting has became kinda obsolete, Kabal classes were one of the highest in the polls, so I’ve decided to go with the Kabal brews first. I hope you’re going to like them!
For the Kabal, I’ve decided to go with RenoLock (Leeroy combo version), Reno Dragon Priest and Secret Tempo Mage. I think that all 3 decks should be fun to play around and they’re all potentially pretty strong. I’ll start with the Warlock!
First deck I’d like to write about is RenoLock. RenoLock is by far my favorite and most played deck, so I was hoping that it will turn out to be better than it was in the current meta. Even though the initial reveals got me excited, the Warlock’s Legendary – even though it synergizes with Reno, it’s quite weak. You’d need to put a lot of Demons into your deck and there aren’t that many Demons that you want to play. I might try it out once the expansion is released, but I don’t think it will be better than standard Reno.
But, back to the deck. It’s actually not that different compared to the current RenoLock lists. I’ve decided to go with the Leeroy Jenkins + Faceless Manipulator combo version, as it leaves most room for extra cards. My goal was to optimize the deck to work quite well in faster matchups, while still having win conditions in slower ones. That’s the reason why I run 5 AoEs. I’ve decided to drop Demonwrath, which might seem weird as it was staple for so long, but the card has been underperfoming in the meta. There are a lot of matchups where 2 damage AoE is simply not enough. But it’s mostly a meta call and it might change.
When it comes to the new cards – first one worth mentioning is Mistress of Mixtures. It gives RenoLock a solid turn 1 play, while it’s not that useless in the late game. Unlike Zombie Chow, which only healed your opponent, it also heals you for 4, so can save your life later. It’s also a good PO + Shadowflame target. Next card is Kabal Chemist. I’m still not sure about this one and I’ll have to see how it performs. But it seems like most of the potions are at least playable and a lot of them are actually good. The latest Priest potion revealed – Greater Healing Potion – made me put this card, because that’s probably the one you want to get a lot of time. 4 mana 3/3 is not an insane tempo card, but with so many AoE clears, you should be able to afford falling behind on the tempo early. Another new card is Kazakus, which is an obvious staple in every Reno deck right now – it has powerful effect even if you create a 1 mana potion. And last, but not least, two new AoEs – Felfire Potion and Abyssal Enforcer. Even though Midrange Shaman didn’t get new strong cards, the deck was so much ahead of the others that it might still be dominating and the more AoE you have against Shaman, the better.
But, that’s just the initial version. It mostly focuses on the survival and doesn’t have that many win conditions. In faster matchups, you win by just constantly clearing the board and surviving. And in slower matchup, you can always count on either combo win condition or the Jaraxxus. There are, however, some changes that are possible depending on the meta.
For example, if it turns out that so much AoE isn’t needed (e.g. Midrange Shaman loses popularity, you play mostly against slower decks), I’d sub Felfire Potion for the Ragnaros the Firelord. Rag was one of the hardest cuts, but I had to do so in order to fit more AoEs.
Another obvious sub is Stampeding Kodo for Big Game Hunter. It’s also a meta call. Kodo is way better in matchups like Zoo or Midrange Shaman. But if it turns out that a lot of 7+ attack targets pop out in the meta, BGH might be better. For example, if the meta turns out to be heavy on Jade Golem decks, BGH should be better than Kodo here.
There are few other small tweaks possible, but I’ll have to play the deck first in the new meta to figure that out.
Reno Dragon Priest
Blizzard pushed two archetypes for Priest – Reno and Dragons, so I couldn’t decide on one. So why not both? I think that at this point we have enough individual strong Dragons and Dragon synergies to support this archetype. And honestly, I think that the new Priest Legendary might fit into the more tempo-oriented Dragon deck even more than into the Control one. But first things first.
Creating this deck was quite hard, because I had to take few things into the account. I think that’s the biggest issue with the Reno Dragon Priest right now. There aren’t a lot of strong early game Dragon plays available to Priest, and if you cut them in the half, it might not be enough. So I’ve decided to add Faerie Dragon as another early game play. It’s a Dragon for the sake of synergies and it’s not that bad – 3/2 that can’t be removed by single target spells. But if you find yourself struggling in the early game, check out the tech choices below.
So I’ll start by going through the new cards. First one is Kabal Talonpriest. Even though it’s not a Dragon or doesn’t have a Dragon synergy, I feel like it’s really powerful in such a deck. Like I’ve said, Dragon Priest is more of a Midrange deck, it wins a lot of games by playing a high statted minions on the curve. And this card supports this plan – if you follow turn 2 Wyrmrest Agent with Talonpriest, you have a 2/7 Taunt that is really hard to deal so early in the game. I also like the combo with Brann Bronzebeard – you can make a 2/10 Brann, which will be really hard to deal with without hard removal. And this deck has some nice Brann synergy to keep an eye for. Then, the Kazakus – like I’ve said, the card is too strong to not play it in the Reno deck. So we play it. If you will need more tempo, you can go for a 1 mana potion. And you can also get a lot of value with the 10 mana one. Plus the insane Brann synergy. Next card is Drakonid Operative – new Priest Dragon. It’s both Dragon and has a Dragon synergy, but how insane synergy. Not only it’s 5/6 for 5, so best possible stats on curve, you get an extra card – not any card, you discover it from your opponent’s deck. So it gives you extra info (what opponent plays, what he hasn’t drew yet) and unlike cards like Mind Vision or Thoughtsteal, you can control it to a certain degree. Thoughtsteal might give you Shield Slam against Warrior, where you have no Armor, while here you can just not pick it. Then, we have new Priest Legendary, which works insanely well in this deck – Raza the Chained. Once you drop it, you get extra tempo each turn. 2 mana heal might help you escape out of burn range, keep your minions alive etc. while developing at the same time. And last, but not least, the new Priest’s AoE – Dragonfire Potion. It’s like an upgraded Excavated Evil, 5 damage AoE AND it doesn’t damage Dragons. I mean, sometimes it’s going to be bad, because Azure Drake is incredibly common, but on average you run more Dragons than your opponent does, so it’s often going to work like a 6 mana 5 damage AoE without any downsides.
Now, when it comes to the choices. First one might not be obvious, but it’s Doomsayer. Even though it works better in Control decks (and Dragon Priest is more like a Midrange one), buying you some time in the early game can really make things easier. I’d probably play it instead of something like Brann Bronzebeard if you face too many fast decks – Brann is way better in slow matchups. Then, the 4th AoE. You already have Holy Nova, Dragonfire Potion and Chillmaw. But for example against a heavy Shaman meta, adding that Excavated Evil might be a solid choice still. The problem is that it’s hard to fit it in. Justicar Trueheart is one of the flex slots, but I think it would be a mistake to not play it in the Raza the Chained deck. The Hero Power synergy is just too good. You can also consider dropping Brann for it, like I’ve mentioned before, because it’s more of a value card.
Last serious consideration are the late game plays. I think that Chillmaw stays here if you don’t run Excavated Evil. If you decide to play Excavated Evil, you can swap Chillmaw for something else, but I think that Chillmaw > EE in the Dragon deck. Right now I’ve chosen Ysera as the late game Dragon, but there are a few things you can change here. First, if you face a lot of slower matchups, you can actually add a second late game Dragon. Probably instead of some early game play, like Holy Smite. But I don’t think that’s necessary. Now, when it comes to which Dragon is the best. It really depends on the meta and the decks you will face. I’d say that Ysera or Nefarian are the best value Dragons. Ysera has a higher total potential if it stays on the board, but Nefarian usually gives you more value right away. I think that they are on a very similar level and are pretty much interchangeable. Another consideration might be Deathwing. It’s not a value card – it’s a tempo card that you use as a last chance move. It’s way better in Midrange matchups, where it might be impossible to clear some boards without it and the other high cost Dragons might be too slow. Alexstrasza is also a consideration, although I don’t think that it fits this deck well enough.
Priest of the Feast might be a quite questionable choice, but I still think it’s right. Even though the deck runs only 7 spells (+Kazakus potion, +possible spell from Operative), the card isn’t all about healing. The 3/6 body is great on the curve, your opponent also doesn’t know that you don’t run a lot of spells, so it will be a high priority target for any Aggro deck. So it’s basically like a 3/6 Taunt a lot of times when dropped on turn 4. Plus sometimes you will actually hit one or two spells and get some extra healing when necessary.
Secret Tempo Mage
And this one is definitely the most experimental out of the 3. Secrets were a big thing in Mage when Mad Scientist was still in the game. Now pretty much only the defensive ones (Ice Block, Ice Barrier) are played in Freeze/Reno Mage. But I think that with the addition of two new cards, Secrets might come into the more tempo-oriented play again.
I’ll start with going through the new cards first. Honestly, there are only two of them, but both are really powerful. First one is Kabal Lackey – a 2/1 minion for 1 mana, which gives you 3 mana of free tempo. That’s right, you’ve heard it correctly. You play it and you play a 3 mana Secret for free. It can lead to some really powerful early turns, even if enemy just plays a 2-drop into your Mirror Entity, that’s still a 0 mana 2-drop you’ve got. Not a bad deal at all if you ask me. Then, the second card – Kabal Crystal Runner – which gets better and better the more Secrets you play. It’s really bad as a 6 mana 5/5, but even after just a single Secret played it’s already okay – 4 mana 5/5 is quite a strong statline. Then if you manage to play more, it’s even cheaper. And it doesn’t have to be in your hand! Even though the deck plays just 5 Secrets, I think you will be able to get it out for 2 mana quite consistently (as it requires you to only play 2 of your Secrets).
The first difficulty when it comes to creating this deck was picking the right Secrets and the right amount of them. I’ve decided to go with 2x Mirror Entity, 2x Counterspell and 1x Effigy. So 5 in total and each Secret is basically meant to be a tempo gain for you, especially when casted for free. When you copy something with Mirror Entity – you gain tempo. Counterspell – you prevent opponent from doing stuff, which still costs his mana, so again – tempo gain. And Effigy is quite obvious – since you replace your minion with a random one, you don’t lose the tempo, so in the end you gain it. I’d say that Mirror Entity and Counterspell are obvious choices, the last one was harder. It was between Effigy and the new Potion of Polymorph. However, I think that since this deck wants to finish the games quickly, Effigy is stronger one – Potion of Polymorph is less likely to hit something meaningful. I also like the synergy between Effigy and Kabal Crystal Runner. For example, on turn 5 (if your Crystal Runner is at 4 mana already), you can cast Effigy + 6-drop and once it’s killed, you’ll get another random 6-drop back.
Since the deck is quite heavy on Secrets and there are 2 Kabal Lackeys to get them out for just 1 mana (counting the minion’s cost), I want to play around with Medivh's Valet. The card is insanely strong if the Battlecry procs and I think that it might be just easy enough to proc it in this deck. For example, a turn 3 (or turn 2 with Coin) dream is Kabal Lackey + Secret + Medivh’s Valet. And it will definitely be quite easy to proc it in the mid game, which might at least offset the (possibly) negative tempo of playing the Secrets from your hand.
I’ve put a single Kirin Tor Mage, I think that two aren’t necessary – it’s unlikely that you will draw so many Secrets early, since you will generally prefer to mulligan for the minions.
The deck can also have a more classic Tempo Mage start. With minions like Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer's Apprentice and Flamewaker, it’s possible to get the early tempo another way. I’ve also put in the Arcane Intellect and Azure Drake to have some sort of refill – this deck might run out of steam really fast with the heavy early tempo hand so you might want to have some refill. But since it’s a fast deck, I don’t play late game – I assume that most of the games should finish by turn 7-8, so the curve finishes on Firelands Portal. It’s a nice tempo removal and potential burn damage.
Like I’ve said at the start, this deck is the most experimental one. So it will probably go through some changes after I test it out. Right now it’s really hard to predict whether 5 Secrets will be enough to consistently get out the cheaper Crystal Runners, whether Flamewaker will be good enough without more cheap spells (like Arcane Missiles), whether Effigy plan will work out, whether it won’t be better to put in a second Firelands Portal etc. There are lot of unknowns, but I think that the deck has quite high potential and I like it.
If you have questions about any of those 3 decks or suggestions on how to improve them, feel free to share. I might not have explained some of my choices well enough, but I didn’t want those to turn into full “guides”, since the expansion isn’t even out yet.
Tomorrow I’ll post my Grimy Goons brews. And after the expansion is released, I should start writing full guides for the decks, so stay tuned!
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!