In our comprehensive Saviors of Uldum preview article, we evaluated every card in the set and gave our thoughts regarding each class’ prospects in the upcoming new meta. Now it is time to follow that up with one of our favorite articles. The high-power level of the upcoming set has filled us with many theory-crafting ideas, and we haven’t found a decent amount of them elsewhere, so this piece should present quite a bit of novelty and a different perspective.
As always, we generally avoid theory-crafting established archetypes, and if we do feature them, it’s usually to showcase new ideas and packages that they could possibly incorporate. Decks such as Cyclone Mage or Bomb Hunter are unlikely to change in the new expansion, so we won’t discuss them.
The first Data Reaper Report of Saviors of Uldum is planned to be released on August 15th. Don’t forget that with the launch of the new expansion, data is as crucial as ever, and your data contribution is what allows us to produce these reports.
Contributing to the Data Reaper Project through either Track-o-Bot or Hearthstone Deck Tracker (recommended) is very easy and takes just a couple of minutes of your time. If you haven’t done so already, you can sign up HERE. If you have signed up in the past, make sure your tracker or plug-in is active with the expansion’s launch.
Remember that while the decks we present have been extensively worked on for the last week and carefully built, they are still completely untested, and nothing can replace the post-launch refinement that is backed up by real-time game experience and data. The same can be said for the decks that were tested and played during the theory-crafting live streams promoted by Blizzard.
If you have a limited collection, we highly recommend that you DO NOT make big crafting investments on any theory-crafted 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.
In the famous words of Valeera.
Here. We. Go.
As we’ve said in our card preview, Druid received the foundation of a powerful late-game strategy, and the question is whether it can survive to turn 6 consistently before stabilizing with its pay off cards such as Hidden Oasis and Oasis Surger. We think Druid has the capability of fending off aggressive decks if it runs cards that allow it to fight for the board from turn 1.
Our idea is to run the Pounce/Claw package, which helps us clear early game minions without interfering with a turn 6 completion. Pounce should be an excellent card in Quest Druid in general because of its 0-mana cost, while Claw can also be played as early as turn 1 to kill a Flame Imp or a Murloc Tidecaller (in this case, we just play the Quest on 2). By picking off early game minions, we significantly increase our chances of stabilizing with a turn 6 Oasis since we don’t just sit and take 10 damage from a 1-drop.
Of course, this deck is very flexible. If early aggression is not a prominent meta feature, we could always increase our threat density to perform better in slower matchups. The reward of the Druid quest is a very powerful late-game tool, and the archetype should be able to shine if given time.
Generic “good stuff” might not be the only thing Quest Druid is capable of. We can see Elise potentially enabling non-highlander combo Druid decks that aggressively cycle to the end of their decks in order to activate her, and is there a better card to play when you reach the end of your deck than Chef Nomi?
With Overflow, Nourish and Crystal Merchant, our drawing power is on par with Holy Wrath Paladins. Once we hit turns 6 and 7, things really pick up and it’s all about clearing our hand in order to cast more card draw (Pounce, Claw and Anubisath Defender work great with this plan).
Once Elise is active and we’ve drawn Floop and Nomi, we can copy them to have 4 potential Nomi’s (Two Nomi’s and two Floops). Playing Floop alongside Elise on the same turn gives us 6 Nomi’s if our hand space allows it (Four Nomi’s and two Floops). Being realistic, you’ll almost never need more than 3, and Floop can be a nice card to use outside of this combo to survive faster matchups.
The Elise/Floop value combo can also shine in a highlander quest build, and since the combo is always active, we just need to draw it. While Highlander Druid may suffer from inconsistency in the early game, it might have the strongest late-game potential out of all highlander decks. The reason is that it can cast Zephrys multiple times in a game, making many wishes, and in the case of the Warrior matchup, play many Tirions until they Pyroblast the Mad Genius in the face!
Secret Hunter received a few nice upgrades in this set. Hyena Alpha is a top tier card that’s quite worthwhile to build around, and Masked Contender can help us make sure we have a secret active going into turn 4. We also really like Hunter’s Pack in this deck, since the archetype tends to lose steam without the availability of Master’s Call. Hunter’s Pack gives Zul’jin more gas and provides us with cards that synergize with our deck anyway. We want to play secrets, smack our opponents with weapons and burn them with Lifedrinkers and Kill Commands.
Subject 9 works quite well in a Highlander deck, so we feel that the secret shell is a good fit if we want to accommodate Brann and Zephrys into our deck. Highlander Hunter’s advantage is that it’s got some pretty powerful finishers with Brann and Zul’jin. Brann is particularly awkward for Warriors to deal with into their turn 7, and Zul’jin is the closest thing to an “I win” button in the format.
Quest Hunter hasn’t been explored much in theory-crafting, and unlike other quests that look very weak, it’s not hopeless. When building the deck we tried to accommodate cards that are inherently powerful, rather than force bad token generators into the deck. Hyena Alpha is a sick card that also furthers the quest, so we run secrets that are awkward for the opponent to activate in order to reliably proc it on turn 4. In addition, both Rat Trap and Snake Trap further our game plan quite well.
We also run Master’s Call over Questing Explorer, because it’s simply a more powerful draw engine that’s not difficult to build around considering that the Hyena/Springpaw package is a perfect fit for Quest Hunter. At the top end, Swarm of Locusts and Halazzi accelerate quest completion and offer strong comeback potential alongside the quest reward. However, Swarm of Locusts can also act as our finisher in slower matchup thanks to a discounted Tundra Rhino from Scarlet Webweaver. That’s potentially 22 damage from hand for 8 mana.
Special thanks to Impact for suggesting this combo in Quest Hunter, and drilling the concept of Aggro Priest into our heads, as you’ll find out later!
Mage’s set isn’t the most exciting one, but it did get some powerful secret synergies that are worth experimenting with. Arcane Flakmage and Flame Ward offer something that the archetype traditionally has not had, which is AOE. Cloud Prince is incredible when activated, which is why we like running Arcane Keysmith in order to improve the consistency in which Prince connects on curve. We even have a way to buff Secretkeeper on turn 2 thanks to Arcane Mysteries, which also allows us to play the secret whenever we want, synergizing with Flakmage and Prince.
Other than that, this deck is all about burning the opponent with direct damage and going face whenever possible.
The new secret synergy cards may not just be strong in an aggressive deck. Flakmage is a powerful AOE effect that a slower Mage deck could appreciate, while Cloud Prince offers us two more Fireballs on a stick, so why not play Freeze Mage? With Arcane Mysteries, we can hold the 0-cost secrets until we need to activate a Cloud Prince in order to burst our opponent down, and we ideally use full-cost secrets to activate Flakmage in order to clear a board. But the other new card that attracts us to Freeze Mage is Naga Sand Witch.
We know there are a lot of ideas floating around a greedy Big-Spell Mage with Naga Sand Witch, Tortollan Pilgrim and Yogg’s Puzzle Box, but another use of Sand Witch could just be as a pseudo-Thaurissan in order to discount two Pyroblasts and give us a ridiculous amount of damage that can even kill Warriors.
So here’s the maximum damage plan in a few steps: 1. Alexstrasza 2. Launch all the damage we can find to face 3. Fireball or Prince with Sandwich 4. Two Pyroblasts. There are scenarios where we won’t need steps 1 and/or 2. There are also scenarios in which we won’t need steps 3 and 4. The plan is flexible and depends on the opponent and the state of the game.
With Reno Jackson making his return to the Standard format, there is intrigue in running Highlander Mage. After going over different builds, we tend to prefer running the Cyclone Mage shell over a slower Freeze/Control build. As a result, we replace the threat density lost from giants and Conjurer’s Calling by running more threats at the top end, which also work well with Luna’s Pocket Galaxy. You may have noticed by now that we run Sandbinder in every highlander deck alongside Siamat. Increasing our chance of drawing Zephrys is good, while Siamat is another elemental that’s just a good fit in highlander decks due to his flexibility. In Mage, Sandbinder is even better because of Mountain Giant and Mana Cyclone.
We think Paladin got the worst set in the expansion. It’s just not very exciting, including the quest, which forces us to run too many mediocre reborn minions. The best fit for the quest would be a Mech Paladin shell which plays the cheap reborn minions in the early game, and then uses Emperor Wraps to copy high value deathrattle mechs. Crystology does help us find those reborn minions faster, but we still need to run enough of them so that we can complete the quest on turn 6 consistently and get Mechano-Egg/Emperor Wraps off on 7. This deck does have some pretty powerful win conditions, but it is significantly slower than the Mech Paladin of Rise of Shadows.
We think Paladin has a big problem building a deck that aims towards the late game due to the weakness of its available win conditions. Therefore, we tried building an aggressive highlander deck that tries to abuse Finley in the early game as well as Zephrys’ tendency to give us the last points of damage we need to end the game. We tried to sprinkle as much card draw as we could to make sure the deck can last relatively long, considering that its singleton nature is likely to make it less consistent than a normal aggressive deck. Card draw is also important to help us draw Zephrys and Finley.
Tip the Scales is probably the most interesting Paladin card in the set, and immediately got us to think about running a deck with Primsatic Lens and no other spells. That means we can somewhat consistently play Tip the Scales as early as turn 5, which would blow out plenty of opponents should they not have the AOE required to answer it. But there’s another interesting aspect to Tip the Scales, which is deck thinning. If we draw the first Prismatic Lens before turn 6, we could reach the end of our deck on turn 8 with the second Tip the Scales very often. We have 21 murlocs in the featured deck, which should be enough to get Tip the Scales off twice.
And should we reach the end of the deck in slower matchups because our opponents managed to clear our board multiple times with their AOE, why not give them another head scratcher with a turn 9 Nomi? And why not run Zephrys, a reasonable 2-drop that can give us the perfect card for lethal outs in the late game?
Not a bad meme now, is it.
Priest got a pretty exciting set, but is this set strong enough to move the class up the relevancy ladder? It’s certainly possible with a card like Psychopomp, which can offer a strong tempo and value play depending on how the deck is built around it.
For Wall Priest specifically, the option is there to add a faster early game that can give the archetype a better chance of fighting for the board. During Rise of Shadows, this deck was far too passive to be successful, doing nothing in the early game except taking damage. It also had the issue of not having a resurrect effect until turn 9. Psychopomp offers a solution to both issues and encourages us to run both Injured Bladermaster and Injured Tol’vir to set up a strong turn 4. We wouldn’t worry about Psychopomp diluting our Mass resurrection pool either, as it’s a small loss to accept for a bigger gain.
We also really like Penance as an early game removal spell, and Sandhoof Waterbearer is a strong resurrect target that cannot be ignored while working perfectly with our injured minions. Plague of Death is an option but is very meta dependent. For early giants and Edwin, we’d rather have SW: Death.
This quest has been talked about much, and it has inherent issues. It’s difficult to translate the healing package required to support completion of the quest, into the aggression needed to leverage the reward. Healing cards don’t work particularly well in a pressure plan, while the quest reward itself still relies on having targets to consistently buff. It’s not an independent, “infinite” hero power like the one seen in the Rogue quest.
Therefore, we’ve produced a build that looks to support further lines of aggression, as well as to enable stronger late game inevitability. Lightwarden is a card we’re genuinely shocked no one else seems to have brought up. It is an amazing Extra Arms target on turn 1. It can blow out opponents through our mass healing tools in a Frothing Berserker-like fashion. It becomes a terrifying buff target with Obelisk’s Eye.
For the late game, we run Recurring Villain, which will resurrect itself repeatedly if we keep buffing it, giving us a significant threat to leverage in a more “infinite”-like fashion.
This deck runs the same Tol’vir/Blademaster package with Psychopomp as we saw in Wall Priest and gives up Questing Explorer for Acolyte of Pain. The latter is a stronger draw engine in this deck since it isn’t as depressing to resurrect with Psychopomp, and scales much better in the late game with Obelisk’s Eyes. Sandhoof Waterbear is the “finisher” of the quest, since it can complete a third of the requirement in 1 turn and can do so repeatedly at no investment of other cards, making it a terrific fit for the archetype.
This absolute master-meme-piece is a unique take on a new kind of aggressive Priest decks that look to abuse Wretched Reclaimer, Psychopomp and Embalming Ritual. The concept behind Ninja Priest is that we continuously buff, copy and resurrect stealth minions in order to hit our opponent in the face with non-interactive damage that cannot be prevented save for non-targeted removal. It takes advantage of the fact that stealth minions return to stealth once they die and resurrect. Another minion that benefits from the same synergies is Serpent Egg, so it’s included alongside the stealth package.
This deck has different combos to enable the shenanigans, centering on Vivid Nightmare, Embalming Ritual and Wretched Reclaimer. The all-star card in this deck is Wasteland Assassin, which has both stealth and reborn as keywords. Simply casting Vivid Nightmare on Wasteland Assassin can secure us up to 16 damage from stealth, and there are other lines of play that can also produce a surprising amount of damage.
To finish off whatever is left of our gobsmacked opponent, we have Leeroy Jenkins. Leeroy combined with Nightmare or Reclaimer is 12 damage. Leeroy/Ritual/Reclaimer is 18 damage. To make sure we remain as non-interactive as possible, we run two Mass Dispels to get rid of those pesky taunts in the way. Face is the place.
The Rogue Quest in Saviors of Uldum has great potential. It is likely the fastest quest, accomplished by a game plan that already fits Rogue’s current tools. Its reward can be a huge boon in our battle for board control and resources, topped with pressing a significant amount of damage to face.
Naturally, our goal would be to build a deck that can complete the quest as quickly as possible. If Pilfer must go in, it goes in, as well as every guaranteed quest proc that’s available in the card pool. The longer we fool around before completing the quest, the less impact Mirage Blade will have. Not that we’re upset running Bazaar Mugger or Clever Disguise…
If you’re interested in putting weapons in your deck, this one has four. We basically cut the nerfed Preparation/Raiding Party package from Party Rogue and run both Waggle Pick as well as the new Hooked Scimitar in order to enable Deckhand/Corsair turns. This deck can dish a lot of damage, so it’ll be interesting to see whether it can do so as consistently as Party Rogue.
The other big addition to Rogue decks is Pharaoh Cat. A turn 1 play was sorely missing from the class, so it should certainly appreciate the extra flexibility it provides.
Special thanks to J_Alexander for helping us formulate this concept. He has come to a similar conclusion regarding the next concept too.
We’re not too high on Deathrattle Rogue mostly because Anka is a legendary, therefore a 1-of. The plan seems strong enough in theory. We play Anka on turn 5 which curves into a 1/1 Mechanical Whelp and Necrium Vial on turn 6. The problem is that we can’t do it consistently.
Therefore, we don’t go completely all-in on deathrattle synergy, thus helping the deck win games in which it didn’t draw the ideal curve. Vendetta/Fence package and the Togwaggle package are proven performers, and Togwaggle works particularly well in this build since Wonderous Wand can discount some high-cost cards.
This is the third quest we’re very high about because it’s a great fit with Shaman’s current game plan and gives us a reward that scales very hard into the late game. This allows us to produce a very lean build with many early game minions, but one that still possesses the value potential that may eclipse even greedy control decks.
Once again, the key is to complete the quest as quickly as possible, so we can ideally use the hero power in conjunction with Former Champ on turn 7. The lackey package with Weaponized Wasps is incredible in this deck. It helps us fight for the board and even pressure opponents while we’re making progress on the quest. Plague of Murlocs makes sure we don’t get rolled over by Mages. Bog Slosher and Barista Lynchen should enable some of the sickest combos this deck can muster in the late game and give Warrior a serious run for its money.
Vessina and Sandstorm Elemental are two terrific cards that made us wonder whether it’s possible to build an effective Token Overload deck. Rather than running Doomhammers and burst, we run the lackey package to help us seize the board and leverage it into damage in the form of Vessina or Bloodlust. Remember this 8-card package (Slurper, Totem, Rat, Wasp), because we think you’ll be seeing a lot of it.
Control Shaman hasn’t had a good time in Rise of Shadows, and most players are not optimistic about its chances for success in the new expansion. However, it did get a few interesting upgrades that could potentially elevate it in the new meta. One important tool is Plague of Murlocs, which should tilt the Mage matchup significantly, for example.
The archetype’s main problem is passivity, and its late-game plan isn’t strong enough against Warrior, so we added a big punch to its kit: King Phaoris. While Phaoris is enabled by some of our expensive spells, including the new addition of Earthquake, let’s not forget his synergy with Hagatha the Witch. Hagatha fills our hand with spells, which can also fuel a Phaoris turn. With such a powerful battlecry, the ability to repeat it with Shudderwock is also enticing, giving us more lines of play to potentially overwhelm Warrior in the late game. For the early game, we run the lackey package. You get the drill.
Some of the cards that Warlock received encourage us to transition current Zoo builds to slightly heavier shells that could potentially cut Magic Carpet. With the minion quality rising, it’s a bit harder to justify running multiple mediocre 1-drops, and our main issue in the current meta is dealing with Warriors who easily wipe clean our small-minion boards. We’ve also received another egg: Serpent Egg. We think this card can be very strong in Zoo, alongside Void Terror, which was an excellent activator for Nerubian Egg in the past. Since we’re cutting 1-drops, for mid-game threats, Grim Rally makes less sense.
Our mid-game threats are strong enough to justify changing the deck’s structure. EVIL Recruiter is nuts and well worth running all the lackeys we can find, including the ones discovered by Sinister Deal. Lackeys can also help us activate our eggs if a Void Terror or an Evil Genius can’t be found.
Joining Terror and Recruiter, the Thrasher/Vulture curve is also very strong, and can sometimes snowball games out of control. The biggest question mark is Dark Pharaoh Tekahn. We’re not sure he’s worth the investment, but his merit can only be judged through real games.
We think there’s a slim chance you’ll see late-game Warlock strategies that are good. The quest is terrible and a waste of time, and while Plague of Flames is an insanely good card, it isn’t enough to make up for the fact our win conditions suck.
To find uses for Plague of Flames, its indirect synergy with Darkest Hour becomes clear. Both are activated efficiently by the same cards (Rafaam’s Scheme, Fiendish Circle), but these activators are awkward to run without having multiple uses in a control deck. While the Darkest Hour combo is quite slow without the availability of Bloodbloom, turn 9 or 10 is still faster than the abomination of Supreme Archaeology, and at least provides some semblance of a finisher.
To try and survive until we get there, and to make sure the combo protects our face, we build a wall of taunts and high-value deathrattles. Betrug and Dorian provide us with impactful board plays alongside Plot Twist, while Plot Twist’s combo with Augmented Elekk is our primary win condition against Warrior. We just outlast their Elysiana by never hitting fatigue.
Bloodsworn Mercenary is the most exciting card in the Warrior set and has the potential to be a cornerstone card for a new archetype. The only question is, does this archetype have the card quality necessary to succeed?
When building Enrage Warrior, we realized that the more aggressive it is, the better. Our key combo is Inner Rage/Mercenary on turn 3, so we want to maximize the possibility of connecting our 2-drop (or 3-drop with the coin) into it. Therefore, we’re running Armorsmith, Amani Berserker, Frothing Berserker, and Raging Worgen. All of them can blow out the game if they are copied while damaged. With Armorsmith, it’s truer for faster matchups.
But we don’t want to rely on just one combo, so we’re seeking redundancy. Cruel Taskmaster offers another Inner Rage effect, while Rampage can also work with Inner Rage and Mercenary to set up a blowout turn. This deck is all about creating that one moment in which the opponent is devastated.
Since we’re running Enrage mechanics, it makes sense to run Acolyte of Pain and Battle Rage for card draw, which increases our likelihood of finding resources to hit that key turn. Our finishers are Leeroy and Grom. Albeit late, a combo of Leeroy/Inner Rage/Rampage/Mercenary can deal 20 damage from hand.
We don’t expect to see Control and Bomb Warrior change much. They’ve got some neat cards; the most important ones are Restless Mummy and Frightened Flunky. Both are most likely to slot into existing builds for these archetypes.
However, there is one way in which Control Warrior can diversify, and that’s by adding a bigger taunt package alongside Flunky, with Armagedillo and Tomb Warden. Flunky will often discover additional pieces of this combo, and we can randomly generate more Wardens, making this package more consistent than it appears on paper.
The main upside of this package is proactivity. Warrior can suddenly summon big threats that can also protect its life total. Post-Mad Genius, Tomb Warden becomes even more insane with rush. A curve of Armagedillo/Mad Genius/Tomb Warden/SN1P-SN4P is particularly oppressive. To incorporate this package, we cut some of the situational tech cards. We know some players suggest completely replacing Militia Commander with Restless Mummy, but we really like having additional removal at the 4-slot and wouldn’t cut the number of rush minions back to 3. Increasing the chances of drawing a turn 4 play (rather than Zilliax) from your turn 1 Town Crier is a good thing.
That’s it from us. If you’re interested in discussing these decks with us, we invite you to join our Discord.
We’ll see you on the other side of Uldum!