Running Wild: A Guide To The Wild Format
There are rumors among Hearthstone players about this dangerous place that exists outside of the standard universe, a dark and forgotten dimension where the problematic cards of the past were banished to when the almighty Creators were shaping the known universe. Some know of this place, some don’t know, but almost none dare enter it. Those who have lived during the rule of the Old Ones, those who were banished to this dark dimension, speak frightening tales of powerful entities which are piloted by their less impressive servants. They speak of undead monsters that spawn slimes with taunt and of a mysterious man carrying a Christmas tree but no story is as terryfing as that of the evil doctor, known by the alias dr. 7, the one who carries the evil number of 7/7/7 and is always followed by two very explosive devices, and in these tales it is he who awaits you if you dare venture into the dark dimension. Settle down, dear reader, settle down for I will now tell you a story about this dark place known to us, lesser beings, simply as…wild!
As you’ve might have already guessed from the title of the article and the satirical short intro that I wrote, I’m going to talk about the wild format, but before that I would like to thank all of you who have expressed their interest in reading more about the format. It was your expressed interest which drove me to start writing about my favorite format and now I present you with the new, hopefully weekly, series which I’m going to call ”Running Wild” where I’m going to cover everything on various subjects regarding the wild format. Because there is not a lot of talk about the format there is a lot to be covered in this article so, without further delay, sit back, relax, and let’s dive right into this!
This is running wild!
The Basics Of The Wild Format
First and foremost I need to start with some very basics because the wild format hasn’t been covered in almost a year and there are almost none websites out there that cover it. I’ll start with some misconceptions about the format and then move on to helping you transition from the standard format into the wild format in case that you’ve disenchanted your wild cards or in case that you’re just a new player who doesn’t have those cards because it is impossible to buy them. Once I’ve covered the basics then I’ll move on to some more advanced stuff that you need to know about the format. I’ll make each big title a link so that you can just jump to them via the description box on the right
What is the wild format? Wild format is what one would call an eternal format. Eternal format exists in every card game which has been around for some time and has many different sets. It is that one format where you can play most of the if not all cards in the game with more cards being added as new sets come out but no cards ever rotate out of the format. Wild format fits that description perfectly. At this point in time there are only two sets which are exclusive to the wild format and those are Curse Of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes but this April there will be three more sets added to the format and those are Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League Of Explorers. More sets will be added to the format but no sets will be leaving it. If you’re a type of person that cares about this format than your cards will always have value even if they rotate into it. In summary, an eternal format is a format in which cards to not rotate out but more often than not rotate into.
Three Common Misconceptions
When the standard format was announced the game wasn’t in the best spot. Back then what we now call the wild format was pretty similar in its metagame to the standard format today which means that there were a few decks which were deemed the most powerful decks in the game and the ladder was swarming with them. Another key point in the player’s frustration with the game was that there was never a card rotation previous to the standard format which means that if there was a card which was super powerful and troubling but not as powerful and as troubling to earn itself a nerf you would just have to make your peace that that card is always going to be in the game and that you are always going to have to play around it. Case in point Dr. Boom. With all that in mind it is not wonder why the players had migrated almost entirely from the wild format to the standard format once the standard format came in April of last year. The dreadful player experience at that time is the biggest reason for all the ”horror stories” that you hear about the wild format which is probably a big factor in why new players don’t dare to give it a try. As someone who has never migrated from wild to the standard format or, to be more precise, wild has always been the format which I play 90% of the time and I only play standard for research purposes and to gain more insight into the current metagame, I’m here to tell you that most of the things that you’ve heard about the wild format are just common misconceptions. Let’s debunk some of them, shall we?
Wild format doesn’t exist and it is unimportant because standard is the ”official” format!
This is the one that you will probably hear the most. Because there is one format which is the official competitive format than the other format doesn’t exist because it isn’t the official competitive format. You can tackle this misconception from two fronts: one are the players who are saying it and the other is the meaning of the official format. Now, I’m not going to generalize everybody with the following statement, but from my personal experience of reading through various Hearthstone forums what I’ve noticed is that players who are arguing that the wild format doesn’t exists are players who have disenchanted their entire wild collection when the standard format came out. People who can’t get back into the format because of their own actions and are now looking for ways to justify their actions. There is nothing wrong with disenchanting your collection for whatever reason but it is also not a reason to bash the format because you can’t play it anymore.
The second front is a bit more delicate than the first one because it revolves around the term ”official”. I will be crazy to deny that standard is the official competitive Hearthstone format, that part is as clear as day, and I’m quite ok with that. Coming from both a professional and competitive card game background I’m well aware of the existence of standard formats in various card games and the importance of those. I’ve played standard Magic: The Gathering competitively back when the only other format were legacy and vintage. An existence of a official competitive format with set rotations is healthy for any card game. The problem here is the following sentence: I’m not playing wild because it is not the official competitive format so it is like it doesn’t exist. Now, please, don’t get offended with the what I’m about to say and if you do please mention that in the comments below and I’ll gladly discuss it with you in a polite manner, the format being the ”official competitive format” and the ”official tournament format” shouldn’t mean anything to you unless you are one of the less than 1% of the players which actually compete in official Blizzard tournaments and regularly try to finish the season in the top 100 legend to gain points for participating in those official tournaments. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be competitive but because of the way the tournaments and the competitive scene is designed, a format being the ”official competitive format” in reality means nothing for 99% of the playerbase. If you’re one of the players who this means something to and you’re playing with hopes of getting into that 1% of the playerbase and compete in the official tournaments than I’m rooting for you, but for those who aren’t like you this means nothing, so playing one format instead of the other because the other one is not the ”official competitive format” is silly.
Wild format is too similar to the standard format!
At this point in time I will have to completely agree with you. You’re not just right but you are objectively right. In my last meta review I’ve posted a link to a website with statistics on what decks are being played in the wild format and judging by those statistics the two formats are nearly identical. There is a reason for this, however, and that is mostly because the pirate package of Patches the Pirate and Small-time Buccaneer in combination with Ship's Cannon and Reno Jackson being the only recovery card good enough to help you survive the onslaught. Before the Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan this was certainly not the case and once the nerf hits the pirates this month you will start to see more and more diversity in the wild format. Unlike the standard format there are many different powerful decks in the wild format and the two metagames are very much different. Besides, if you need any more proof, with the upcoming rotation Reno Jackson will be rotating to the wild format and thus making the two metagames even more diverse because one will never again have Reno decks.
Wild format is just secret paladin over and over again!
There is a lot of diversity in the wild format. There is more diversity in the wild format than there is in the standard format. Later on I will post more functioning wild deck archetypes to show you what I’m talking about. Are there secret paladins being played in the format? Yes, yes there are, but not nowhere near as much as you think. I’ve been playing the format since forever and while there were a lot secret paladins when the format was just introduced there weren’t as many as there were before and ever since then there have been less and less secret paladins. I don’t even remember running into a secret paladin last month. Are you going to encounter them? Probably, but don’t expect to see too many of them before rank 5. There will always be powerful decks which are always going to see play and secret paladin just happens to be one of them but that doesn’t mean that it is roaming around in the same numbers as it has before. If you’re going to look at the deck diversity than that is where wild beats the standard format.
Getting Into The Wild Format
The only major problem with wild formats is their accessibility. If you haven’t been playing the game for a very long time than you’re probably better off keeping to a standard rotating format that wasting large amounts of money in an attempt to get a viable and competitive eternal format deck, especially since eternal formats use cards that haven’t been printed sometimes in decades. For example, I’m a huge MtG fan and when I’ve started playing the game my go to format was the standard format although I’ve always wanted to try out the eternal formats which are legacy and vintage. The problem with me trying out those formats was that they were hidden behind a huge paywall, too huge for me at that time, and there was nothing I could do about it. Fast-forward a decade and now I can play those formats because slowly, over time, I did manage to get the cards that I needed to make some eternal decks but it was still a huge financial effort and it took me way longer than I have hoped it would.
Hearthstone doesn’t have that problem. Unlike in any other card game that has an eternal format while you can’t buy packs of older expansions or older adventures you can craft the cards that you are missing and that is what makes wild format the most accessible eternal format in any card game.
Crafting cost is the same for each card rarity in each format and it is as follows:
Common cards cost 40 dust to craft
Rare cards cost 100 dust to craft
Epic cards cost 400 dust to craft
Legendary cards cost 1600 dust to craft
Now that we have established that wild is the cheapest eternal format in all of card games lets establish how accessible it really is. As a new player you have probably heard stories of insanely expensive decks like control warrior which uses a ton of legendary minions and reno lock which is somewhat more expensive to craft that its current standard iteration. You have no doubt heard about powerful must have legendary minions like Dr. Boom and Loatheb. To be completely honest with you if I were a new player and I’ve heard about all this expensive cards I would also consider wild format a barely accessible format but the reality of it is much different from what you might assume on first glance. There are only 35 wild exclusive cards that are actually seeing play in the format and those are: Duplicate, Avenge, Dark Cultist, Voidcaller, Death's Bite, Zombie Chow, Haunted Creeper, Deathlord, Mad Scientist, Nerubian Egg, Sludge Belcher, Loatheb, Flamecannon, Snowchugger, Unstable Portal, Goblin Blastmage, Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle, Coghammer, Quartermaster, Velen's Chosen, Light of the Naaru, Lightbomb, Crackle, Darkbomb, Imp-losion, Shieldmaiden, Clockwork Gnome, Cogmaster, Annoy-o-Tron, Tinkertown Technician, Piloted Shredder, Antique Healbot, Kezan Mystic, Dr. Boom.
From this comprehensive list of most used and most powerful wild exclusive cards we can see that there are 20 commons, 10 rares, 3 epics, 2 legendary cards. Now, if you were to craft two of each card (and legendary minions) it would cost you a grand total of 9200 dust. That does seem like a lot of dust for two copies of every good wild card and I’m not denying that 9200 is a lot of dust but truth of the matter is that for most decks you won’t even need all of these cards.
TRANSITIONING WITH STANDARD DECKS TO WILD FORMAT
As an example I would like to use three decks: zoo warlock, n’zoth priest and control warrior. Zoo warlock probably one of the cheapest decks to transition with from standard to wild format as you need only four rare cards (2x Imp-losion and 2x Nerubian Egg) and two common cards (2x Haunted Creeper) for the deck to fully function in the wild format. Every other card in the deck is a card that you can use in the standard format. Transition from standard to wild N’zoth priest will usually require four common cards (2x Dark Cultist and 2x card]piloted-shredder[/card]), two rare cards (2x Sludge Belcher) and two epic cards (2x Lightbomb). For control warrior transition you would need to craft two common cards (2x Death's Bite), two rare cards (2x Sludge Belcher) and one legendary card (1x Dr. Boom).
However, deck transition isn’t for everybody because there are always new players who don’t even have complete standard format decks let alone the dust necessary to craft wild cards. Luckily for them there is a much cheaper solution to make wild format more accessible and that solution comes in the form of mech cards. Mech minions are crazy synergistic and extremely cheap to craft. So cheap, in fact, that there is not a single non common neutral mech minion required to build a deck.
Crafting each necessary neutral mech minion and mech synergy minion in the format would cost you a grand total of 640 dust which is a complete steal from what you are getting. Keep in mind that not every class can pull of a mech deck and those that can are warrior, shaman, rogue, druid and mage with druid being probably the weakest one of the bunch. For completely new players who have some extra dust and wish to try out the wild format I would strongly recommend a mech mage or mech warrior deck though now pirate warrior works as well although it might be just a little bit more expensive due to Patches the Pirate.
Wild Format Decks
Now comes the part that most of you have been waiting for and that is the decks which you can play in the wild format. What I’m going to do here is list you all the viable deck for each class for the wild format and then I will list a couple of decks because there are just too many decks and I want to leave something for future articles as well 😛
Viable Wild Decks
What I mean by ”viable wild decks” is that I’m talking about decks which are good in the format. Not necessarily tier 1 decks because that would be a very short list but deck archetypes that function in the format and that you can go and try to build. Every standard deck can be played in the wild format do some degree of success but since I want to make this article as wild exclusive as possible I will do my best not to mention too many standard decks
Druid: ramp druid, Malygos druid, egg druid
Hunter: face hunter, midrange deathrattle hunter
Mage: tempo mage, freeze mage, Reno mage
Paladin: midrange paladin, face paladin, secret paladin
Priest: dragon priest, deathrattle priest, Reno priest
Rogue: miracle rogue, deathrattle rogue
Warlock: zoo warlock, Reno warlock
Warrior: control warrior, patron warrior
That is 20 viable competitive decks without counting much of standard decks and weirder decks like Dreadsteed warlock. In short, there indeed is a lot more diversity in the wild format than it is in the standard format but if you’re going into the wild format now do expect to see a lot of standard format decks because of the previously mentioned reasons. If you’re looking for true diversity than please be patient until the nerf hits in late February.
Three Wild Decks
I did promise you some decks and since this is our first wild guide article I think that it is only fitting that I share some of my own decks with you and next time I will be covering other wild decks that pro players, who are playing wild, are using. I’ve got a couple of wild decks that I love using and I’ve picked 3 of my favorite ones to share with you today. On an unrelated note, I’ve never made a 10th deck and I always stick to 9 decks.
I love this deck. When I’ve first started playing the game, making a control warrior was my top goal because it was the best deck at the time. This is an evolved shell of the deck which means that for the most part it is the exact same deck that I’ve been using for years and only a handful of cards have been changed. Revenge has replaced Whirlwind and back in the day there were two copies of Cruel Taskmaster in the deck. I’m even considering putting one Cruel Taskmaster back into the deck to act as a cheap removal for the pirate opening but I’m still not sure what I want to get rid off.
The game plan is very simple. This is a semi slow deck which seeks to outlast its opponent by removing their minions and exhausting their resources. Once you enter a very late game you can just play Ysera and it will more often than not win you the game. To finish the game more quickly you can use the well known Alexstrasza and Grommash Hellscream combo. Until turn 6 you’re playing it very slow but from turn 6 onward you’re starting to become more and more aggressive because that is when your big minions are coming into play and if you play everything right and your opponent doesn’t have a board until then then you’re most likely going to win the game.
Some people ask me why am I running Baron Geddon and that is because I’ve always played it in my control warrior deck because of its board clear effect. If I’m dealing with the meta which revolves around small minions that more often than not Baron Geddon is a godsend. Ysera can be replaced by Ragnaros the Firelord, it is just a matter of preference. Sometimes I run Ysera and sometimes I run Ragnaros the Firelord but lately one has become golden and the other still isn’t so Ysera is my current go to end game minion.
When the standard format was introduced this was the deck which I was playing the most. I love N'Zoth, the Corruptor and I’m willing to argue that it is the most powerful minion in the entire game. With this deck you’re trying to do the obvious. You’re trying to beat down your opponent with you deathrattle minions if you can and if you can’t do that then you drop N'Zoth, the Corruptor once you’re opponent has exhausted all of his/her AoE spell and 9/10 time you will win the game after that.
Ever since N'Zoth, the Corruptor was introduced to the game, Deathrattle Priest has been one of the more powerful wild decks. Unless your opponent is playing a completely mindless aggro deck it becomes too much of a trouble for them to constantly clear your board and because Piloted Shredder and Sludge Belcher are so perfectly balanced cards your opponent will need to clear them effectively twice thus spending more resources to do so. By the time your opponent is done trying to clear all your deathrattle minions from the board, you’ve already collected a good portion of dead deathrattle minions and exhausted all of your opponent’s AoE spells so it is perfectly save to just drop N'Zoth, the Corruptor and watch your opponent concede.
For survival you have a big taunter in the form of Deathlord along with two board clear spells, Holy Nova and Lightbomb, and finally you have my personal favorite, , to help you keep your total HP high enough to last until a perfect N'Zoth, the Corruptor turn. You can also try a dragon deathrattle Reno priest where you’ll just add a single copy of these minions alongside dragons to have an alternate win condition.
Last but not the least is my zoo warlock deck. Zoo warlock has always been a very fun deck for me to play and it has been preforming very well ever since its introduction to the game. Lately it has fallen from grace in both standard and wild formats as it can’t keep up with the constant aggression of pirate decks and it is too slow to take on 3 different Reno decks but it is still not a bad deck overall. Once the pirate package takes a nerf I believe that the wild format will once again see a rise in zoo warlock.
This is a very old list with a couple of changes. Those of you who have been playing this game before the introduction on the standard format can easily recognize the basis of the list and only several cards were changed since last year. Originally I had two copies of Possessed Villager because it is very good and stick 1 drop which does well in a zoo deck but after finding out that I could use more aggression I’ve dropped a copy of it to make room for Leeroy Jenkins. For the life of me I can’t remember what I was running before I’ve put two copies of Darkshire Councilman but when this card was first introduced I just knew that I had to put it into this deck and it has been the absolute MVP of my games. Players did complain how it was too powerful in the standard format but in the wild it is even crazier because you can abuse its effect with cards like Imp-losion and Haunted Creeper. Just play Darkshire Councilman and trade with your smaller deathrattle minions if you can and if it is a favorable trade and you will have one huge minion in no time. In a deck that looks to have every deathrattle minion create a different minion Darkshire Councilman works wonders.
We’ve reached the end of the first ”Running Wild” article. Next time I’m going to focus on some other staple wild decks and once the card nerfs are revealed I’ll make a metagame prediction article where I’ll tell you what I think the metagame will look like. I would do a bigger metagame report but I find it pointless because it will most likely shift drastically depending on what cards are going to get nerfed so it is better that I wait. What did you think about the first wild article? Let me know in the comments below. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can.