One of the most entertaining parts of a new expansion is theorycrafting and coming up with ideas on how to best utilize the new cards. Today, we’re back with another list of brews to sate your experimental curiosity. We will also give our thoughts on each class’ future prospects in Rastakhan’s Rumble.
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Remember that the decks we present are completely untested, and there is no telling if they will be powerful. We’ve made an effort to mostly build new (sometimes crazy) archetypes rather than refine established ones. If you have a limited collection, we highly recommend that you DO NOT make big crafting investments on any deck. Wait at least a few days, if not until the first Data Reaper Report, to see what strategies end up being strong and fun before making a significant commitment.
Druid’s set might be focused on life post-rotation, rather than the here and now. We can see a scenario in which its new cards make little impact, with archetypes remaining very similar to their current iterations. Even without big upgrades, the class should be in a fine spot since its sets from KFT and K&C are so powerful.
The most interesting direction that the new set suggests is a Big Beast Druid deck that cheats out threats with Stampeding Roar and Oondasta and then resurrects them with Witching Hour.
The issue of this potential archetype is that it might end up an inferior version of Vanilla Big Druid or Taunt Druid. This is why we attempt to push the boundaries with the featured list by maximizing ramp, going as far as playing Biology Project and cutting removal. We focus on beating down opponents rather than grinding them out with Hadronox.
The advantage of the beast package is that we can run a pretty strong curve from 7 to 10 mana and use Juicy Psychmelon to tutor it out. This consistency nearly guarantees us having an oppressive swing turn once we get to 9 mana, and we should get to play Oakheart on 9 much more often than other decks could. Whatever aggressive or midrange deck you may face, once we cheat out 31 health in taunts, the game is probably over!
Another interesting Druid card is Treespeaker, which may incentivize us to run a treant package in our Token Druid. Force of Nature and Landscaping are not terrible cards so they should work well in that scenario. Unfortunately, Mulchmuncher clashes with Treespeaker, so we’re not sure they belong in the same deck.
Hunter should still favor its currently established archetypes. Cube Hunter is one of the best decks in the game and it’s hard to envision it completely going off the rails. Secret Hunter is the best way for the class to get aggressive. Spell Hunter should receive a boost in the form of Zul’jin, but one that doesn’t significantly change its current core beyond the addition of a few asymmetrical spells such as Deadly Shot and Crushing Walls.
Midrange Hunter is the archetype most likely to transform. Our featured list attempts to utilize the synergy between Dire Frenzy and Master’s Call. Since our entire deck is exclusive to beast minions, Master’s Call will always draw 3 beasts for 3 mana, which is very strong. An interesting inclusion is running a Snowflipper Penguin, which helps us activate some of our beast synergy cards and works really well as a target for the aforementioned combo.
One of the most speculated synergies in the new set revolves around Flark’s Boom-Zooka and Revenge of the Wild, which work well with a Big Beast package supported by Oondasta and Kathrena. This deck runs no cheap minions, relying on Spell Hunter’s early game core. The biggest problem of this deck is that it requires a very big package of beasts, pushing it to become very greedy. While it might not end up as consistent as Cube Hunter, it still looks pretty fun.
Mage received a few more cards that ask us to try Elemental Mage. It’s been nearly two years since Journey to Un’Goro launched and introduced us to this tribe, and this archetype has still not managed to make it into the meta.
“We have 4 months left until Un’Goro rotates out, so how about we give them Duskbreaker?”
“You want to make the same mistake we did with Duskbreaker? People will just put small Elemental packages in every deck just to use it”
“You’re right. How about we give them a 6 mana Duskbreaker, but also give them some sort of pre-nerf Innervate”
Okay, Blizzard, we’ll have another go.
The other direction Mage is pushed towards is maximizing the use of its hero power. We think a Baku Mage deck can probably work best to leverage some of the cards in the set, including Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk. The featured list tries to gear the archetype towards a slower playstyle, aiming to use the upgraded hero power for board control until it transitions into Frost Lich Jaina. We also include Blast Wave, which is an underwhelming card but a necessary evil to support Dragon’s Fury under the deck building restriction.
Paladin got a lot of cool stuff. We hope some of it materializes into new decks that would provide alternatives to the dominant Baku and Genn decks of the class.
Quest Paladin has two things in common with Elemental Mage. It has never been a meta deck since its introduction in Un’Goro, and it’s a Brian Kibler favorite! Immortal Prelate is one of the more interesting Paladin cards in the set and has great synergy with the archetype as well as Call to Arms. It makes Quest Paladin less of a one-dimensional strategy, carrying multiple win conditions. Spirit of the Tiger also fits the buff package well (as a value generating tool as well as a reliable buff target with its stealth), while Time Out gives us some breathing room against aggressive decks.
Paladin received some strong healing synergy cards in the set, but healing is generally not a very strong mechanic, especially in the late game. Many archetypes are capable of generating infinite value or infinite damage as part of their win condition, which makes slower decks that rely on healing obsolete.
So can we take a page of Zoo Warlock’s book and utilize healing in order to generate tempo and initiative? Paladin certainly has some strong cards that fit this strategy perfectly in Pearl Spellstone and the new Zandalari Templar, so we build a healing package around them. With Crystallizer, Bloodclaw and Thekal, we have a consistent way to self-damage and activate our healing in the early game. Lifedrinker, Corpsetaker, Farseer and Zilliax carry the magic number 3, which upgrades our spellstones most efficiently.
Shirvallah’s base mana cost led to the inspiration of building a new combo deck that uses Holy Wraths to deal 50 damage to the opponent in one turn. This requires us to draw our whole deck (so we fully maximize cycle similary to OTK decks of the past) and ideally reduce Shirvallah’s cost to 0 mana. We then play Shirvallah, and shuffle copies of the card with Augemented Elekk and two Baleful Bankers for 7 mana. This puts 4 copies in the deck, ready to be drawn by our Holy Wraths. A 0 mana Shirvallah also allows us to play Time Out in the set up shuffle turn, eliminating the opponent’s main counterplay option: killing us. Should those 50 damage points not be enough to beat armor classes consistently, we could always add Alexstrasza to make the combo even more difficult to outlast.
Priest’s set has quite a wide range of archetypes to potentially target with some strong all-around cards such as Auchenai Phantasm, Regenerate and Grave Horror.
We think Grave Horror has a lot of potential in a Miracle Priest deck that that looks to discount and copy them with Séance. What makes Grave Horror intriguing is its versatility: it’s both an intimidating threat and a stabilizing defender.
The featured build is one idea that looks to fit different game plans depending on the opponent. It utilizes Wild Pyromancer, Psychic Scream and Auchenai/Circle to fend off aggressive starts until Grave Horrors come online to seal the game. Its spell package makes Lyra the Sunshard a strong value generator, but it has two other primary win conditions against slower decks. The first involves cycling heavily into 0 costs Horrors, playing multiple copies for up to 4 mana and slamming down Mojomaster Zihi. This limits the opponent’s ability to response to an obscene amount of pressure. If the opponent’s deck is somehow capable of clearing the board with just 6 mana (Brawl, Equality combo), it should usually be very weak to the other win condition of Archbishop Benedictus.
Duskbreaker is looking to go out with a bang, much like his friend from last year, Drakonid Operative. The dragon tribe did get some decent upgrades, Crowd Roaster being one that helps cover one of Priest’s biggest weaknesses: conditional removal. Removal built into minions is also something that Spiteful Priest should appreciate, so we’ve made one. One interesting Priest card in the set is Princess Talanji. We don’t think it’s necessary to build a deck around her. Considering her stats and costs, even one large minion should generate a tempo gain. A taunt off of Stonehill Defender, a minion off of Glimmeroot or a big dragon off of Bone Drake might be able to support her enough to merit an inclusion.
The class’ main theme surrounds pirates, and we don’t think they will necessarily form a tribal deck. We can see packages of them fitting into archetypes and supplementing specific game plans. This is thanks to Raiding Party, which is the standout card in the Rogue set, and one we struggle to see not making it into the meta in some way.
A perfect example of an archetype that could benefit from Raiding Party is Kingsbane Rogue. Having more ways to draw Kingsbane, while also drawing pirates that can help us upgrade it, is a match made in heaven. Throw in Dread Corsairs, and playing Raiding Party to draw a buffed Kingsbane now becomes a net positive in establishing initiative. There’s also this card called “Preparation” running around that seems to work well with Raiding Party. The featured build should be close to what you’ll be seeing experimented with on day 1, with a few possible techs appearing (such as Walk the Plank).
If we do want to commit to a tribal deck, it will have to be aggressive and compete in the same niche as Odd Rogue, which is definitely a tall order. We do think Serrated Tooth is a pretty strong card that works well with Sharkfin Fan and Bloodsail Raider, while enabling a strong tempo swing during the mid-game. It also enables Ticket Scalper, which is one of the bigger pirate minions in the format. Our build attempts to maximize Captain Hooktusk by running a pirate package with relatively bigger bodies (that also work better with Gral), that can also be buffed Southsea Captain, making this turn 8 play quite powerful.
Shaman received quite a difficult set to evaluate, with several cards that look powerful on the surface but might be difficult to fit once it’s all said and done. Likkim is a card we feel could be very important for Shaman if it pans out, since it offers early game board control.
With Likkim in question, we look to find room for it in both aggressive and slower decks. Aggro Shaman has pretty good synergy with Overload, and its shell has already been established in Boomsday, though it hasn’t been successful yet. Thunderhead is already a strong card that just needs a better home, while Spirit of the Frog could be a sleeper addition to a burn Shaman deck. Drop it to set up an explosive following turn by draw chaining damage spells and you can launch a significant amount of damage at your opponent’s face.
Control Shaman is another archetype that hasn’t really fleshed out with most of the spotlight focused on Shudderwock Shaman when it comes to late game strategies, and it’s probably going to stay that way. Plague of Toads does help accelerate Snowfury Giant discount while upgrading Sapphire Spellstones, so it’s a strong card for Control Shaman. With high impact, high mana cost spells; it now makes more sense to run Storm Chaser.
Gul’dan received a thought provoking set that really gets the creative juices flowing. Much like Druid, the class looks quite safe to perform well even if the new cards don’t pan out, since it has several archetypes that are very powerful and well-rounded. We’ll be quite disappointed if none of the new ideas pan out, though.
The biggest story for Warlock is the discard mechanic receiving more support, with a couple of new cards that have a discard effect that isn’t completely random. Shriek and Reckless Tiretroll are very welcomed designs, since they increase the chances of the mechanic succeeding in a slower deck that relies on resource management. For a similar reason, Soulwarden looks like an absolutely crazy draw engine for a discard deck while High Priestess Jeklik is a high impact legendary that turns the drawback of discarding cards into a net gain.
Since we have terrific early game board clears in Shriek and Defile, we choose not to run too many early game minions. This makes it easier to start discarding Zavas or Jeklik once they’re drawn. Since Discard Warlock has two legendary minions with lifesteal, Corpsetakers become a natural fit alongside Ziliax. We run a big demon package that works well with Skull of the Man’ari and Gul’dan. Sprinkle another card draw engine with Countess Ashmore, and you have a late game deck that carries quite a bit of minion pressure to threaten slower decks much better than a quest reward could.
The crazy doesn’t stop there. How about that Void Contract? Seems like a terrible card, let’s make it work by running Bloodbloom and a big spell package with Arcane Tyrant. This list is inspired by Ike, who found success with a similar shell during Boomsday.
The primary win condition of the featured build is fatigue. We look to Void Contract as soon as possible in late game matchups to nuke win conditions that rely on multiple combo pieces such as Shudderwock Shaman or Malygos Druid. In addition, we run a package of cards that helps us delay or avoid fatigue. Glinda/Banker combo makes us avoid fatigue indefinitely (Glinda, shuffle Glinda with Banker, use echo Banker to shuffle Banker). Using Bankers to shuffle Elise copies delays the fatigue clock as well. It provides a back-up plan in case our Void Contract removed Glinda, and gives us card advantage against our opponent. The final combo to keep in mind is using Bloodbloom to cheat out an expensive spell, and then playing Glinda followed by a board full of 0 mana Arcane Tyrants.
Let’s slightly reduce the crazy. Grim Rally is an intriguing card that promotes the usage of deathrattle minions. This may help establish a hybrid Zoo/Cube Warlock deck that plays a midrange style more similar to Cube Hunter. With Eggs, Cubes, Lackeys and Voodoo Dolls, we have plenty of minions we want to sack. We also have plenty of ways to do it now for cheap while also leveraging our board further: Grim Rally and Sanguine Reveler work better in this style than Dark Pact.
Most of the focus in the Warrior class is directed to the Dragon tribe. Smolderthorn Lancer, Emberscale Drake, Dragon Roar and War Master Voone look like pretty strong cards for a dragon deck.
The problem of this potential dragon deck is inevitability. The class doesn’t have a reliable way to finish opponents in the late game, so it has to be able to pressure, which is why we prefer a midrange style when building Dragon Warrior. We add a Rush package in order to take away initiative from faster decks, stabilize and grind them out. Bone Drake works really well alongside Dragon Roar to amplify the value generated by Voone. It also works well as an Ashmore target, which has always been a great fit for Rush Warrior decks.
Oondasta is the highest rated card in our community card preview poll, and we think it’s a particularly great fit with Akali, the Rhino. Currently, Recruit Warrior runs a fairly generic late game with not much synergy between the pieces, but Rastakhan’s Rumble introduces a big beast package that can work perfectly for the archetype. For example, Amani War Bear is a great target for Akali, Oondsata and Gather Your Party/Woecleaver. Add the already printed big beasts of Charged Devilsaur and Witchwood Grizzly, and dragons may not be the only tribe to make a splash for the class.
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