Running Wild: Unconventional March Decks
Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to another installment of the ”Running Wild” article series. Last time I’ve talked about the design philosophy of eternal formats in card games and this time I’m going to share some wild decks with you. Why? Because the pirate package has finally been nerfed, that’s why 😀 It is still way to early to get a good feeling for the wild meta but because of the nerf you can expect it to slow down a bit and allow you to try some slower decks that you couldn’t try before because the meta was way too aggressive. So, today we’re taking a look at some unconventional wild decks that you can try to climb the ladder with. I’ve chosen unconventional decks because I don’t want to repeat myself by constantly mentioning tier 1 decks which more often than not appear in both formats and I believe that those of you who gravitate towards the wild format do so because you seek more deck variety. Besides, next month we’ll be getting another expansion which means that there will be a whole lot of new decks to experiment with so this is the best time to give these decks a go before another drastic shift in the meta.
Pirate nerf impact
First and foremost I want to get this out of the way. Lately I’ve been playing more Gwent than Hearthstone so I didn’t get to experience the standard metagame firsthand but from what I’ve observed and researched it appears to me that the nerf didn’t really impact the ladder in a way that most players thought it will. Pirate warrior and jade golem shaman are still the best decks in the format which I believe is something that most of us, including me, didn’t want to see happen. It is unfortunate that the metagame hasn’t changed at all but the nerf impact on the standard meta is not the same as the nerf impact on the wild meta. Wild is a format that has a lot more ways to combat aggressive decks and now that the nerf has taken place you can start playing other decks with good success. Now, some of you might say that this is not true because you’re running into the same decks on both ladders but you do need to keep in mind that that is mostly because people are sick of the standard meta and are gravitating towards the wild format but due to the fact that a good portion of the players lacks wild exclusive cards they are bringing their standard decks with them. Limited options that some players have are the reason as to why this is happening. This doesn’t mean that other decks aren’t effective. That is far from the truth and today we’re going to explore some of those decks.
Here There Be Some Decks
Before I start this section let me just explain how is this going to work. I’m going to take a single deck from 3 different classes and post it here. Decks that don’t have links to external sites are my own creation but most of these decks are inspired by their much older versions and/or ideas that never came to life. I can’t guarantee you that these decks will get you to legend rank nor can I say that they will do so fast because the idea is to present you with some slower wild decks for you to play with.
Without further delay, here are 3 slower wild decks for you to play in March
Originally this was supposed to be a heavy ramp deck but I’ve eventually decided to switch directions into something far more fun and far more annoying for your opponents. As I was going over my collection I ran into an old friend of mine, Tree of Life, and I sought to make a non mill deck that revolves around it. For those of you who weren’t playing the game back when Goblins Vs Gnomes was released there was an old mill druid deck which had utilized Tree of Life as the main form of recovery. The idea was to fill your opponent’s hand, make them waste all of their resources on you, slowly but surely remove their board and when you’re sure that they have run out on stuff to throw at you play Tree of Life, heal yourself back to full health and begin your mill chain. The deck never really worked but it was fun to play nonetheless. I’ve decided to give Tree of Life another go and after pondering for a while I finally came to a conclusion: Tree of Life jade golem druid deck!
What is the point of this deck? What is the idea behind it? Well, you know how before the expansion actually came out there were doomsayers saying that jade golem druid is going to be the most powerful thing ever and that because of Jade Idol you can go ”infinite” with your jade golems? Ok, we know that you can’t go infinite with your jade golem but you could go into some very high numbers. The problem was that the deck was too fragile for aggro and that it sometimes lacked recovery which allowed Reno decks to actually beat it from time to time. The idea of this deck is to fix that problem. Tree of Life not only provides you with insane recovery but it also allows you to go into super late game where your jade golems are going to be gigantic and just stomp your opponent. Does Tree of Life seem like a bit of an overkill? Is it a win more card in this deck? No, it isn’t because its primary usage should be to allow you to slowly drain your opponents resources and then recover before they get the chance to finish you. This is why we’re running 5 different taunt minions, to both survive and force your opponent to spend their resources by removing them. A single Tree of Life should be more than enough to seal you the game if timed correctly and if followed by Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Jade Idol. In cases where a single Tree of Life just isn’t enough, the second one allows you to go deep into fatigue territory where most of the cards in your deck, if not all of them, are going to be Jade Idol and you’re going to start pumping out jade golems like a madman.
If you’re looking to make some changes than adding a second Ancient of War or a Druid of the Claw would be a great choice. If you don’t know what to remove then I would suggest that you remove Dr. Boom because it is not a crucial card for this deck.
Those of you who have played the game back in the days of Goblins Vs Gnomes might remember a deck called Echo Mage. The deck revolved around a card called and the general idea of the deck was to combo with Molten Giant once its cost becomes 0. As a result you will get more free copies of Molten Giant in your hand. The goal was simply to fill your board with your free Molten Giants and win the game on the following round. However, this deck had suffered an ill fate when Molten Giant was nerfed last April and despite some players still trying to make the deck function in the wild mode it was never the same. The low health risk was too high, especially for a deck that couldn’t run Reno Jackson, but luckily for us we’ve been given an alternative to Molten Giant. Enter Arcane Giant!
Now, the obvious problem with Arcane Giant is that while it is easier a less risky to drop it to 0 cost it is harder to do so then with pre nerf Molten Giant which might be a reason why players haven’t been testing out this deck. I’ve been playing wild ever since it was introduced and I’ve ran only into a handful of decks like this one. The main reason is obvious, it is harder to execute this combo when you’re not playing Molten Giant but we’re going to try to make it work anyway. So, first thing that we need are 14 spells and the deck has access to 24 spells minus the 2 which are going to be . Because the combo is a bit harder to execute we’re also going to be taking the route of a tempo mage and adding powerful minions like Flamewaker and Mana Wyrm which interact with spells as our secondary win condition. Although your goal is to play Arcane Giant and don’t get too frustrated if you run into a very aggressive opponent who you need to finish off quickly so you decide to go the tempo route instead.
Duplicate is one of the gems of wild format which was been forgotten by many when the format split had happened. Ideally it serves as an alternative to if you can’t draw it in time but it also works quite well with any other minion in your deck. Cabalist's Tome is here to get you even more spells if you find yourself in a position where you need to make your giants smaller but you don’t have the means of doing it. Brann Bronzebeard is the MVP in this deck because it can double your card draw when combined with Azure Drake which gets you your Arcane Giants or spells quicker, it can heal you for 16 when combined with Antique Healbot which provides you with some much needed stabilization and it gets you extra spells when combined with Babbling Book and Ethereal Conjurer.
Out of all decks that I’m going to show you today this one is by far my favorite. I’ve been toying with the idea of Malygos shaman forever and although I did manage to make it work I’ve never managed to make it work the way that I’ve wanted it to. Luckily for me the expansion which came out last year were really good towards this kind of a deck and I’m more than happy to present you with the latest iteration of Malygos shaman! 😀
Back when I was first experimenting with the idea of Malygos shaman I ran into a problem which was ”How to play Malygos and ensure that it lives long enough for me to kill my opponent on the following turn?”. You see, overload was a huge part of this problem. I had to be extremely careful of what I play before turn 9 or else I wouldn’t be able to play Malygos but to make matters worse it was extremely hard to keep Malygos alive for an additional turn. Druid and rogue don’t have this problem. Druid has Innervate to make sure that he has additional mana, if even necessary, to combine spells with Malygos or to just play Malygos a few turns earlier when it is safer to play it and rogue has Conceal which keeps Malygos alive for a turn and basically wins you the game. In conclusion, Malygos for 9 mana was not acceptable at all…but Malygos for 4 mana was more than welcomed! Enter my favorite shaman card, Ancestor's Call.
I absolutely love Ancestor's Call! I’ve instantly crafted two copies of it the moment Goblins Vs Gnomes came out and I’ve never regretted doing so but making it work was a real pain for a very long time. Normally one would thing that it is only logical to combine that card with Malygos but a lot of the tools that are in this deck weren’t even out at that time, especially the main combo card of Hearthstone, Emperor Thaurissan, so pulling off a Malygos shaman was no easy task. I’ve playtested the card for weeks every time a new set would come out or when I would get some crazy idea on how to make it work but it just wasn’t good enough. To be perfectly honest, the first time that I’ve managed to make this deck work was when Blackrock Mountain came out but even then it had lacked a lot of things and the biggest one was sustain. The deck had no ways healing you. Needless to say, whenever I wanted to make the Malygos and Ancestor's Call deck work there was something that was missing…but now I think that it is ready to shine. It is still nor perfect, there are always areas to improve upon, but it has gone very far from the deck that I’ve made all those years ago. Excuse me for going into much greater detail with this deck but I love it so much and I’ve been working on it for so long that I just feel the need to explain everything.
Playing Ancestor's Call:
First and foremost I need to explain how, when and why are you playing Ancestor's Call in this deck because it is the key piece of the entire strategy. The deck falls apart without it and not knowing how to use it can cause you many losses. The deck isn’t running a high number of minions when compared to the number of spells in the deck. The reason for this is because it doesn’t need to many minions for the combo to work and you want to thin out your hand before playing Ancestor's Call so that you can increase the odds of it summoning Malygos. The main reason as to why the deck is running two copies of Ancestor's Call is in case that the first one fails and summons something else. If you have two copies of Ancestor's Call in your hand and the first one fails to summon Malygos and you can’t cause lethal with only 2 mana crystals do not play your second Ancestor's Call. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have 6 mana crystals free when you play Ancestor's Call and summon Malygos. 6 mana crystals is the golden standard in this deck.
Here is the damage that you can deal with that many mana crystals and Malygos on the field.
5.) Single Emperor Thaurissan cost discount: Lava Burst (2) + Lava Burst (2) + Crackle (1) + Crackle + Lightning Bolt (free) + Lightning Bolt (free) is 52/54/56/58 damage. This is the BEST CASE SCENARIO!
So, what did we learn from this? We’ve learned that with Malygos on the board and 6 free mana you can deal lethal, fairly certainly, with a combination of 3 cards and without any of them being hit by Emperor Thaurissan which is quite crazy. Freeze mage, in comparison, uses the combination of 4 cards to deal 15 damage and this deck can dish out from 24-30 damage with only 3 cards. That is pretty insane!
Ok, let’s say that you have multiple minions in your hand and you are absolutely forced to use Ancestor's Call. What are you looking to hit if you miss Malygos? Earth Elemental is an amazing card to accidentally hit with Ancestor's Call because you won’t suffer the overload. Emperor Thaurissan is an alright target though unnecessary because if you’re already casting your Ancestor's Call to get out Malygos then it is only logical to assume that you’re doing it because you have lethal in your hand. Yes, unfortunately there aren’t many good targets for Ancestor's Call but this deck only runs 12 minions so the odds of you have a lot of them in your hand at turn 10 aren’t the greatest. The most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that Ancestor's Call is not a panic button and it should never be treated as such as if you panic and play it too soon in hopes of getting some value from it other than lethal with Malygos it can blow up in your face because your opponent gets a minion as well. I know that some of you are thinking that this could be a great counter to Reno decks but it is unnecessary to play around Reno Jackson when all you need is to deal 4-6 damage to your opponent prior to turn 10 and you’ll win the game easily.
One of the bigger problems that I’ve had while modifying this deck over the years was finding a reliable source of recovery. This is a combo deck and like every other combo deck it revolves around you actually surviving until you can play your combo and in this case that is turn 10. The original version of this deck had played Antique Healbot as the main healing card but it had lackluster stats for its cost and I didn’t find it all too useful to be honest. It was decent recovery but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I’ve needed a strong minion which can heal me for a lot of health and have a decent body to be able to trade into something afterwards. Thankfully this minion came out in the latest expansion, Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan, in the form of Jinyu Waterspeaker, an absolutely amazing shaman minion which costs 1 less than Antique Healbot but heals for the exact same amount and instead of being a 3/3 it has a 3/6 body which is amazing for its cost. The card really has great value overall and it is the best healing minion that I could have found.
The other healing option comes in the form of Healing Wave, a 3 mana shaman spell which came out in The Grand Tournament, and it is the second best healing card that shaman has. I’ve been playing around with this card ever since it came out but the problem was that it was very inconsistent. In control decks it would sometimes hit a big minion and I would feel great for winning the joust and healing for 14 but sometimes it would hit a small minion and I would feel pretty bad despite getting 7 health for 3 mana. This deck, however, doesn’t really suffer from this problem. Because we’re running only 12 minions in the deck it is extremely easy to keep track of them (this doesn’t apply to you if you’re using a decktracker…for obvious reasons) which makes it easier to decide when is the right time to play this card. I’ve modified the deck so that there are no ”useless” minions in it that could ruin your chances of getting a high cost minion. Out of 12 minions in your deck 6 of them cost below 5 mana and you’ll most likely play at least a Totem Golem, a single Jinyu Waterspeaker and hopefully your Mana Tide Totem which would lower the number of possible targets by 3. I think that this is a realistic scenario as you would want to get out your Totem Golem in the early game, draw cards from your Mana Tide Totem as soon as possible and you’ll definitely want to play your lesser heals, aka your Jinyu Waterspeakers, before playing your most powerful healing cards. So, what happens now? Now you have 3 minions that cost below 5 mana and 6 that cost above which are all good targets for winning the joust and healing yourself for 14. Sure, Healing Wave might not be the most reliable healing card but it certainly is one of the most powerful ones if you time it correctly.
Next up is card draw. You want to get your combo pieces out before turn 10 and in order to do so you need cards that draw cards. Shaman is great in many things but drawing cards isn’t one of them so we need to make the best out of what we’re given. We have 4 cards that draw other cards and those are Mana Tide Totem, Ancestral Knowledge, Bloodmage Thalnos and The Curator. One of those 4, Mana Tide Totem, has the potential to draw multiple cards and if you’re lucky you might just draw 2 cards. With the amount of removal in this deck I will assume that you can draw 2 cards more than 50% of the time so I’ll count this as a draw 2 cards minion. Only one other card in this deck can draw you 2 cards 100% of the time and that is Ancestral Knowledge which makes this card something that you want in your hand when you’re digging for your combo pieces. An alternative is to play two copies of Ancestral Knowledge instead of one copy of Mana Tide Totem. This works well but it has the crippling flaw of overload (2) which can mess up your game plan if you’re looking to draw your last combo piece on turn 9. I’ll talk more about this in the following section. Bloodmage Thalnos is not a part of your combo so you’re most likely going to use it to increase the damage of your Lightning Storm and to draw you a card. Some combo players might have to fight off the habit of playing Bloodmage Thalnos as a part of the combo but in this deck that is far from the case. That draw a card line is the most important part of the card.
This leaves us with out last and best draw card in the deck, The Curator. Now, I didn’t just made this deck on the spot and started to write about it. I’ve playtested multiple versions of this deck, especially the current one, and while playtesting I was using two copies of Azure Drake instead of The Curator and Bloodmage Thalnos. Some might argue that Azure Drake is a better choice for this type of deck, especially when it is not a key part of the combo, but I’ve found that not to be true or, should I say, I’ve found a better alternative. What do you want to get with your draw cards? You want to get your combo pieces. What are your combo pieces? Spells and Malygos. What is Malygos? Malygos is a dragon! That is the most important part here and the reason why we’re not running Azure Drake. With Malygos being the only dragon in your entire deck The Curator basically says ”Battlecry: Draw Malygos” 100% of the time. It is a 7 mana 4/6 minion with taunt which tutors for the most important part of your combo 100% of the time. You don’t need to dig for Malygos when you have The Curator in your hand.
Playing around overload:
Last but not the least thing that I need to mention is that you need to play around overload. By no means should you ever go into your combo turn without all 10 mana crystal available. That is why I’ve mention that sometimes Mana Tide Totem can prove to be more useful than Ancestral Knowledge because if you’re desperate for that one last piece of the combo then playing Mana Tide Totem over Ancestral Knowledge will actually allow you to execute that combo on turn 10. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to have all 10 mana crystals available by turn 10. There is a single copy of Lava Shock in your deck just in case that you panic, mess up and lock the mana crystals that are necessary for you to pull off the combo. As you get better with this deck you will learn that you most likely don’t even need the Lava Shock but it is still good to have it nonetheless.
We’ve reached the end of yet another ”Running Wild” article. Sorry if I went a bit wild (pun intended) with describing how to play the shaman deck but that is because it is a combo deck and combo decks do require far more detailed guides than any other types of decks. Today we’ve taken a look at 3 slower deck and next week we’re going to pick up where we left off with the ”Call of the grave” article. We’ve explored deathrattle decks and next time we’re going to focus on either control decks (other than Reno decks) or combo decks (other than freeze mage and miracle rogue). I would love to hear from you what types of decks are you interested in reading about. So, what do you think about the presented decks? Which one do you like the most? Have you played or even made similar wild decks before? What is your experience with the current wild metagame? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer you as soon as I can. Your feedback is always most welcomed! 😀
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