After completing the comprehensive Fractured in Alterac Valley preview article, it’s time for theory-crafting! We encourage you to read the card preview as it is likely to shed light on many of our decisions regarding deck building.
Our first Data Reaper Report for Fractured in Alterac Valley is scheduled a day later than normal, on Friday, December 17th! We will note that should there be balance changes within the first few days of the expansion, the Data Reaper Report could be delayed. We will provide an update in such a case on our Twitter.
Once again, we remind you that you can help us perform our analysis by contributing your Hearthstone game data. This can be done using Firestone, which provides us with all its user data (with an option to opt out). Alternatively, you can contribute data through our Hearthstone Deck Tracker plugin. Installing the plugin is very easy and will only take a couple of minutes of your time. We appreciate and thank all our contributors for keeping this project going. We remind our existing plug-in contributors to check on their plug-in and make sure that it is still active. Sometimes, with big patches, the plug-in deactivates inadvertently.
Remember that while we have extensively worked to produce the featured decks, they are still untested, and nothing can replace the post-launch refinement that is backed up by real-time game experience and data.
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 to see what strategies end up being strong and fun before making a significant commitment.
Final disclaimer: The title is a lie. There are slightly more than 30 decks in this article!
Big demons are one of the main themes of the Demon Hunter set, and this is our crack at a Big DH build. We like the idea of incorporating Jace and the Fel package into the shell, since it gives us early survivability and late game damage. Remember that Sigil of Reckoning is a Fel spell, so it gets repeated by Jace!
The goal is to survive to turn 5, with the help of our removal and Warden of Chains. Then, we play Sigil of Reckoning followed by a turn-six Faceless. Get Inquisitor out? That’s 17 damage straight to the dome and two huge threats. Double Tormentor can completely lock out an opponent, especially if they’re relying on reactive spells to survive, but the taunts also do a job against aggressive decks. If you get Pit Commander out, you’re looking at 4 giant demons being summoned at the end of your turn 6. Pretty powerful!
And if the opponent somehow survives all of that, there’s always the damage from Jace.
Could this be the expansion that puts Token DH on the map? There’s certainly an air of potential here thanks to Ur’zul Giant and Kurtrus, Demon Render. Your goal with this deck isn’t necessarily to pressure early, as you can take your time developing tokens every turn, setting up your surprisingly intimidating late game. Battleworn Vanguard is fantastic at fighting for board, Ram Commander fuels your token engine and Flag Runner is a mini-payoff that your opponent will struggle to remove on curve. Parade Leader and Field of Strife help your token cards get more bang for their buck.
The Expendable Performers turn is where Giants are likely coming down for 0 mana, if they haven’t dropped already. Performers have two roles: enabling giants and enabling a possible OTK with Kurtrus, Demon Render! If you’re transformed into Kurtrus, the Felfire Deadeye/Expendable Performers combo can deal an absurd amount of damage with a free refreshing hero power! It’s only limited by how much health in minions the opponent has for you to run into. Deadeye is also helpful earlier in the game to fuel your Kurtrus. To consistently get this combo off, we run a sizeable card draw package with both Skull of Gul’dan and Feast of Souls.
Aggro DH hasn’t been around for a while, but some of the new cards are pretty good fits for the archetype and could possibly bring it back. Dreadprison Glaive isn’t highly thought of, but it might be a good fit for this deck because it can activate Vanguard on curve and scales well with our hero card. Kurtus, Demon Render, is a big addition that provides reach and burst, basically punishing any opponent who leaves up your minions on the board.
And then there’s Drek’Thar. You’re going to see this card a few times in this article, because we can already tell based on Stormwind data that it’s absolutely busted, and any deck with a low minion curve, or a heavy spell-based shell, will be highly incentivized to package him in. He just wins games.
Beasts are coming to Druid in Alterac Valley, and the obvious inclination is to package them into the highly successful Taunt Druid of United in Stormwind. This isn’t an easy undertaking since you must pick and choose what to put into the deck without taking away the power of a turn 2 Razormane Battleguard.
What we’re mostly looking to do is quickly discount Frostsaber Matriarch to combo her with Oracle of Elune in the mid-game, leading to a massive swing. Imagine your Oracle of Elune getting protected by 10 health of taunts? Seems like a very dominant play.
Good Matriarch enablers are Frostwolf Kennels and the forgotten Thorngrowth Sentries. Clawfury Adept seems like a great addition to aggressive Druid decks, and the beast tag makes it extra useful at all stages of the game. Mulverick is an interesting card that we can see being absolutely nuts or useless. It is very tough to evaluate it, though we like how it can potentially massively discount Matriarch. If you’re unsure about crafting it, there’s always the 2nd Panther to slot in, until we can tell whether he’s worth it.
But what if we don’t care for beasts because Drek’Thar is just that broken? The final slots in the current Drek’Thar build aren’t filled by great cards, but they’re just getting carried by the absurdity of Barnes 2.0. Now, Alterac Valley is giving us a very intriguing option to increase our early game blow out potential.
Irondeep Trogg has potential to be an extremely influential 1-drop in the format. All it needs are a few early game buffs and a turn 1 Trogg can just solo carry a game. It just so happens that Druid has a 2-mana buff, Mark of the Wild, that’s superior in power to what Face Hunter is currently having a lot of success with: Doggie Biscuit. We already have Adorable Infestation, and we could even sneak in a Mark of the Spikeshell in a taunt deck for that extra Trogg consistency. Watch out for this variant, it could just be better.
But Druid didn’t just get boosts to its aggressive strategies, ramping Druid decks got Wildheart Guff, which is going into every single deck that runs Overgrowth. The card seems nuts and opens so many possibilities for Druid to outpace its opponents in the late game.
Specifically, Celestial Alignment Druid received some very interesting additions. Pride Seeker and Pathmaker are fantastic enablers for Nourish, which is a card that the deck is currently forced to run but is weak before Alignment is played. Now we could potentially play Pride Seeker on 3 into a ramping Nourish on 4, and Pathmaker as a follow-up to draw 3 cards. Pride Seeker also allows us to bank the reduction a few turns later, casting Nourish on the same turn and immediately after we play Alignment, since it will cost 0, and we can proceed to go off without allowing our opponent to have the first post-Alignment play! That’s a very intriguing proposition.
Since Jerry Rig Carpenter doesn’t work well with Pride Seeker or Pathmaker, we’re inclined to choose the Anacondra/Germination win condition rather than the Mr. Smite/Pirates path. One thing that hurts the Anacondra variants by adding more minions is omitting Fungal Fortunes. There’s a potential solution – with Capture Coldtooth Mine available, we can now find Malygos more consistently, helping us massively reload and set up our game winning play.
Are secrets making a comeback in the Hunter class? We think they have a great shot of becoming meta. Ice Trap is a fantastic secret. Bunker is a great draw engine. Spring the Trap is a strong removal option that becomes nutty when an Honorable Kill lands. Beaststalker Tavish is an extremely powerful on-curve play that gives the Hunter serious lasting power and threat density. This is something that Secret Hunter normally struggles with outside of Petting Zoo, a card that always had the potential but never enough support to thrive.
But what convinces us more than anything that this deck could be a serious threat is its spell-centric shell, making it easy to incorporate a powerful Drek’Thar package with Injured Blademaster and King Mukla. This could be a more powerful turn 4 play than the old Barnes/Y’Shaarj combo in Spell Hunter back in the day, and we’ve got the Trackings to find our boy Drek.
Sprinkle some burn, with Bloodseeker looking like a great fit, and you have a solid base. Yes, we realize the Aimed Shots are a little questionable with Tavish, but we want to be able to close out the game early when we don’t draw him. That’s our thinking.
Stormwind Hunter decks are also getting a couple of cool things worth experimenting with.
Spring the Trap is a damage dealing spell and based on our refinement work for Quest Hunter over the last 4 months, it is very likely to be a good card in the deck because it progresses the quest. We’ve already been running Explosive Trap in the deck, so the ability to cheat them out for free alongside an Ice Trap sounds compelling. Finally… we have better things to do than play Wandmaker and Venomous Scorpid.
And if you’re wondering how to build Face Hunter for the new expansion, just swap out Wound Prey in our build from the last Stormwind report and slot in those Irondeep Troggs to get even more benefits out of Adorable Infestation, Doggie Biscuit and Ramming Mount. Arcane Anomaly and Intrepid Initiate get a new friend.
We haven’t seen King Krush in a competitive Hunter deck since the days of Cube Hunter, but could the king finally make its return to the Hearthstone meta? We think it has the best shot in a long time, and even though we are still feeling uncertain about the competitive prowess of Beast Hunter, it has a few good things going for it.
The main boon is Mountain Bear. This card is an animal Voidlord. Battle Ram allows us to drop this big bear on turn 5 and stabilize against aggressive decks. If anything makes this deck competitive, it’s this 4-5 curve, because surviving against aggression is the archetype’s biggest weakness.
For early game survivability, the secret package could help along with Bloodseeker. We just need to be able to stall the game long enough. Bunker allows us to thin our deck, find our defensive secrets and put brakes on the opponent’s board development. Landing an honorable kill with Spring the Tap could be huge as well. Tavish should be a fantastic defensive play, and even though he clashes with Revive Pet, we think this hero card will still be worth including.
What this deck does have in spades is late game. With Wrangler and Breeder, we should be able to fill our hand with big beasts to cheat out with Leoroxx for a massive swing turn, and if we can cheat out King Krush on turn 7 with the help of a Battle Ram, we can Revive Pet/Shan’do Wildclaw for a double Krush combo worth 16 damage as early as turn 8. Shan’do is great at copying a Mountain Bear too.
Spell Mage has been around in competitive form for eight months. Will it last a year? The nerf to Quest Mage hurt a lot, but Mozaki Mage has popped up after the nerf and showed respectable results. It still wasn’t great, but it’s getting two or three excellent cards that we think fit the archetype better than they do for Quest Mage.
Siphon Mana is possibly the strongest card in the Mage set, and specifically allows Mozaki Mage to set up its combo turn more easily. Shivering Sorceress is very powerful as well, since it can discount things like Fire Sale or Refreshing Spring Water while developing a body that helps you contest the board. It also has neat synergy with Siphon Mana, since you can sack it with the spell for an honorable kill! Some may argue that for the limited minion slots we can fit into a Spring Water deck, we should be running Amplified Snowflurry instead, for the extra survivability, and we like that idea as well.
Big Spell Mage looked a bit questionable during our theorycrafting work, we’re not gonna lie, but we think we like the results. If anything, this deck looks like a blast to play.
Our focus was on surviving the early game by playing as many defensive minions as we can. Sorceress and Snowflurry are great early game additions in that regard. Armor Vendor and Deepwater Evoker can help us last through a beating, and Spammy Arcanist has nice synergy with Imprisoned Observer, since Observer can soften up a board for it to connect.
At the top end, we’ve got our big spells that fuel Magister Dawngrasp and Iceblood Tower. Our goal is to cheat out an Iceblood Tower with Clumsy Courier to get the ball rolling. Sphere of Sapience can help us alleviate poor draws. We think it’s a good fit for this kind of deck.
But what if we forget about running lots of Big Spells, and just focus on casting Rune of the Archmage for the comeback potential? Wildfire Mage is already incentivized to run a very small package of spells with tutors, and this means that we can draw Rune very consistently.
In this deck, Magister Dawngrasp isn’t a massive blowout play, but they’re arguably a more consistent win condition. It’s also nice to get a free Ice Barrier off, meaning Dawngrasp gives you a whopping 13 armor. Try to save your Wildfires if you’ve drawn your hero card so they don’t get reset. Combined with Mordresh, we should have enough damage to finish off opponents reliably.
Paladin is another class that received a lot of support for a ‘big’ deck. Cavalry Horn cheating out Brasswing and Templar Captain seems like an appealing proposition, but is it game winning? In this list, we tried to maximize the blowout potential of these cards against aggressive decks with Gift of Luminance and Hold the Bridge, which should be a devastating follow-up on turn 6.
To get there, we’re running a curve of Lightbringer’s Hammer, Barricade and Protect the Innocent. We think Hammer is a decent card that hasn’t found a home yet, but the synergy with Protect the Innocent has promise. Vitality Surge is a massive heal that also makes sure we will have something to cheat out with Horn.
Late game is where Big Paladin’s weakness might be. There’s no great inevitability and lethality that we can identify, unlike in Big Demon Hunter, for example. It’s about overwhelming the opponent with stats and tanking through damage with Lightforged Cariel.
Lightforged Cariel is a powerful card, but where she might be most powerful is Handbuff Paladin due to the deck’s synergy with her hero power. This deck carries wave after wave of minions to buff at all stages of the game.
In fact, Noble Mount is the only spell in the deck. There are three reasons we like Noble Mount. The first is the synergy with Prismatic Jewel Kit, but that wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile during Stormwind. The second is that Irondeep Trogg should become a cornerstone card for the class and a Trogg buffed by a Noble Mount can end the game. The third is Stonehearth Vindicator. Being able to tutor Mount in the early game and just develop a 3 mana 4/2 with Divine Shield and an Argent Squire deathrattle is nice.
Adding Cariel to Libram Paladin requires some adjustments. You cannot run Libram of Justice since it becomes unplayable after equipping Immovable Object. This pushes the deck into a more proactive direction, but with Irondeep Trogg available, Libram Paladin should be happy with the transition. Unlike Handbuff Paladin, which normally wants to keep Irondeep Trogg in hand most of the time until they can buff it out of removal range, Libram Paladin will always be slapping the boy down on turn 1. Between Noble Mount, Hand of A’dal and even Libram of Wisdom, it’s a serious early game threat. Trogg also becomes a massive late-game threat with a stack of Wisdoms.
A card we expect to be an all-star performer in Libram Paladin is Stonehearth Vindicator. You’re guaranteed to have strong follow-up for Vindicator on 3, which also happens to discount Devout Pupil. Even Hold the Bridge, which can become a strong stabilizer through Wisdom stacks and/or Saidan the Scarlet, turns Vindicator into a 5/2 with divine shield for 3 mana.
We got an extra deck in Paladin because we just couldn’t leave this deck out. Dun Baldar Bridge can enable an entirely new archetype, one that is reminiscent of the original Quest Rogue from Journey to Un’Goro. The key to success with such a deck is Derailed Coaster and a build full of cards that refill your hand with cheap minions. Ram Commander is a new card that perfectly serves that purpose along with Pack Mule, Sneaky Delinquent and Angling Rod. You play Bridge on 4 and then make up for falling behind with a massive Coaster on 5. Any board-centric opponent should be absolutely devastated on the spot.
For slower matchups, you’ve got multiple ways to load the board post-Bridge to deplete their AOE and other defensive tools. Beyond your cheap minions (Trogg is here too!), you’ve got Stand Against Darkness and Day at the Faire packaged with Stonehearth Vindicator. A neat little trick you can do is play Bridge on 4 and Vindicator on 5. Your drawn Day at the Faire now costs 0, so play a 1-drop to corrupt it and cast away! You now have a completely full and threatening board.
Defensive Priest decks will likely focus on a deathrattle theme thanks to Undying Amulet and the arrival of Xyrella, the Devout. Big Priest has already emerged during Stormwind, only to display a win rate that’s in the low 40’s. But have no fear, new cards are here, and they will make this deck far more grindy, consistent and resilient. Will this be enough to shoot its win rate to the 50% mark? That’s another story!
Spirit Guide is a big boost to the consistency of this deck. Finding the insanely powerful Gift of the Naaru will be nice and drawing your Undying Amulet will help you upgrade the card through trades more quickly.
Obviously, this deck is still about finding Vanndar. He enables your Mo’arg Forgefiends, which are very tempting inclusions thanks to Amulet/Xyrella/N’Zoth, and makes this deck an absolute tank in the late game. Undying Disciples will be important for stabilizing and clearing boards. Goliath has been a terrific card in the deck, so we’re keeping it.
Will Priest boast yet another new aggressive deck in Alterac Valley? It certainly could if Bless turns out to be as strong as it looks. This deck’s ability to snowball the early game looks obscene. Any of our 1-drops can spin completely out of control very quickly. Bless turns a Frazzled Freshman into a 6/6 on turn 2. Shadow Word: Devour should be very powerful in aggressive mirrors and can act as a makeshift Divine Spirit, turning Bless into an Inner-Fire type of finisher.
And then, we have Drek’Thar to blow the game wide open. Injured Blademaster works great with both Drek and Rally. We were even considering running Gift of the Naaru to add another Blademaster synergy but decided against potentially healing our opponent.
Power Infusion is another card that works great with Bless, and Psyche Split helps us make sure that defensive decks will have greater troubles dealing with our threats. Just imagine Irondeep Trogg getting copied with all these buffs. Gross. Or Beautiful, depending on your perspective.
Shadow Word: Devour and Bless don’t just look great in an aggressive Priest deck, we’ve got a Miracle Priest deck that would love to have stronger activators for Sethekk Veilweaver. The Drek’Thar variant has looked superior in every way since its introduction in Stormwind, and we expect that to continue into Alterac Valley.
One important thing to keep in mind when you’re running Drek’Thar: Do NOT corrupt your Insights. If you corrupt an Insight and draw Drek’Thar, he will not work because costing 2 means his battlecry shuts down. Just play Insight on 2, find Drek’Thar, Palm Reading on 3, and start winning the game on turn 4.
Shadowcrafter Scabbs is possibly a top 3 card in the set and is going to make every Rogue deck look better than it otherwise would be. Perhaps, its most striking synergy is in Quest Rogue, which becomes far more lethal with the hero card available to it.
You already want to run Battlemaster to boost the damage output of your quest reward, and now the 6-drop gets another fantastic set up with Shadowcrafter, since you can deal 16 damage from stealth after you transform. You could also play the reward in stealth mode as you watch your opponent flood the board in response. Hit face, play Shadowcrafter Scabbs, reset the board while developing your Shadows and put your quest reward back into your hand for another round.
Another potential damage combo is Mr. Smite/Tenwu/Shadowstep, which saw experimentation during Stormwind but has looked lackluster. Thanks to Shadowcrafter Scabb’s hero power, you can now deal 18 damage for 8, which is identical to the classic Leeroy Jenkins combo. With shadows on the board, it gets really hard for the opponent to avoid getting killed even at close to full health.
Overall, Quest Rogue gets a massive upgrade in its ability to finish games against defensive decks. It’s possible that having too many of these damage combos is a luxury, in which case we can boost our early game power with Coldtooth Yeti to pair with Foxy Fraud and 4-mana Scabbs. It’s a triple Scabbs palooza!
Taking advantage of the new deathrattle synergies given to the class, we introduce Korrak: the deck. This build is all about cheating out multiple copies of Korrak throughout the game and the first Korrak can be summoned as early as turn 1 with Prep/Sketchy information. We don’t care about other deathrattles; we just want the guaranteed Korrak, even if the 2nd Sketchy doesn’t do anything. It’s all about hard mulling for Sketchy to get the ball rolling. We could increase our early blowout potential with Graveyard preceding Sketchy Information too, and this makes a follow-up Counterfeit Blade particularly devastating.
Korrak will find its way into our hand quickly, so Forsaken Lieutenant becomes a useful card to get another Korrak. Don’t look for it in the mulligan just because it costs 2 mana. You want Sketchy above all else, and if you have Sketchy, find Preparation, Graveyard and Blade.
We fill the rest of the deck with a combo package. Scabbs Cutterbutter has insane mana cheating potential with so many 3-mana plays in the deck. Imagine playing Foxy Fraud/Scabbs/Graveyard/Sketchy in one turn, or swap one of the spells with just a Yeti or an SI:7 Agent. There’s some game in this Rogue deck without Korrak, especially when the top end still carries Battlemaster and Shadowcrafter Scabbs. All you need to do is put your opponent low enough for those cards to finish the job.
Thief Rogue, or as we like to call it “Burger Rogue”, looks a little suspect with Cera’thine and Contraband Stash. It could well work in practice and surprise, but does this archetype have potential in case it doesn’t pan out? The mana cheating ability of the core Thief package is interesting enough to try and make it work.
If Maestra ever sees competitive play, it will be in this deck. Since you disguise yourself as another class, and (almost) your entire deck is made of Rogue cards, Wildpaw Gnoll starts getting discounted with every card you draw after the mulligan. This ends when the disguise is off, but with the help of Cutlass trades, you can easily get Gnoll down to 2 mana, and then your other Thief synergy cards will take care of the rest. Maestra also enables a turn 3 Double Agent or turn 2 with coin, or you could always just play a Swashburglar, Wand Thief or Reconnasaince early. No need for The Lobotomizer.
How do we close games out without Cera’thine/Stash? Just inject the Leeroy Jenkins combo enabled by Shadowcrafter Scabbs. Shadowstep should be a useful card in this deck with a lot of decent targets. But while Quest Rogue is more likely to spend them to progress the quest, there’s more leeway to save one here for Mr. Smite and Tenwu.
The meme Moorabi era is long gone, Freeze Shaman now looks like a seriously competitive deck with a threatening late game, great card draw, and powerful stalling tools. This build is inspired by Feno’s iteration of the deck, which includes a Multicaster package.
The reasoning is that Lightning Bloom can be a very powerful card in the deck in conjunction with Wildpaw Caverns, Bolner combos and Bru’kan. Adding Devolving Missiles now gives us three spell schools, while Wandmaker helps Multicaster’s consistency too. It should almost always draw at least 2 cards.
We do like Snowblind Harpy in the deck. We can stall the opponent’s board threats with Windchills and Snowfall Guardian, but we’re susceptible to burn. Bolner/Harpy gives us a very powerful option to sustain against the Face Hunters of the format, and with Brilliant Macaw, we could stack enough armor to even put ourselves out of reach of a Garrote combo.
Our plethora of battlecry minions can also be reduced with Gavel. Two Gavels and one Custodian should be fine in a slower deck since Gavel is likely to be a good mulligan keep and the deck doesn’t want to draw a dead Custodian later in the game.
In the late game, Bearon Gla’shear is our finisher backed up by Macaw and Cheaty Snobold. Bru’kan of the Elements is a powerful and well-rounded hero card that can wear opponents down. Everything in this deck looks pushed.
Elemental Shaman is also highly encouraged to drop its Primal Dungeoneers and go cold. Sleetbreaker is an excellent 2-drop for any Shaman deck because it generates the absolutely busted Windchill. Frostbite is a very powerful nuke for a beatdown deck, and the frost spell package fuels Bearon to be the top end threat. Since Bearon is an Elemental, we can discount it with both Granite Forgeborn and Kindling Elemental.
A little bit of a sleeper in the neutral set is Ice Revenant. This minion can quickly snowball off the frost package. One Windchill already puts it at Boulderfist Ogre stats for 4 mana. Then we’ve got Wildpaw Caverns, which is a tougher choice just because it’s harder to fit in Lightning Bloom when the card draw potential isn’t as strong in this deck, but Cavern’s sustained pressure is something Elemental Shaman should still very much appreciate.
We love Windchills in Quest Shaman. Even though they aren’t overload cards, the amount of stalling and drawing power we get is huge. Multicaster can draw 4 cards in this deck! The days of Quest Shaman completing its quest with a depleted hand are likely to be over, and it may now be able to answer those dreaded Flesh Giants.
Will the Demon Seed continue to be a dominant force in the Alterac Valley meta? This is certainly a well-established strategy that’s got a good chance of sticking, though it will be interesting to see how it performs when the rest of the field gets significantly stronger.
Having said that, Handlock did get a couple of cards worth testing. We expect Dreadlich Tamsin to be a strong card in the deck, even though there are some synergy clashes. Completing the quest is almost irrelevant for this strategy, though losing the ability to discount Flesh Giants stings a little. But the bottom line is that the card is individually so powerful that it’s worth trying to make it work.
Full Blown Evil could also be quite good. Cult Neophytes aren’t too hot currently, and we can see a meta where they’re nowhere near as useful. FBE allows us to deal with early pressure, but most importantly, it allows Handlock to deal with the opponent’s late-game resistance and push its advantage once its threats start coming down.
Zoo has received quite a few unfair interactions that could help it become competitive again. The highlight is Sacrificial Summoner. Develop an egg on 2, drop Summoner on 3 and you have a good shot of summoning an overwhelmingly large board you have no business developing on turn 3. The great thing about this package in Zoo is that Injured Blademaster and King Mukla are also the natural fits for Drek’Thar, so even though Shady Bartender is a strong card in the archetype, the Drek’Thar temptation is a bit too strong.
What we also like about Zoo is the added redundancy. Didn’t find Summoner on 3? You could still play Desecrated Graveyard and proceed to pressure the opponent over multiple turns by developing Graveyard targets and producing efficient 4/4’s. Possessed Villager could be nice Graveyard food. You could also go Fiendish Circle into Ritual Doom to produce another massive turn 3 board following an egg.
Since Bartender cannot be included, Wicked Whispers is the best option to leverage wide boards and your token cards. This deck can consistently pop off in the early game to the point we’re cautiously optimistic about its chances for success.
This is probably our favorite theorycrafted deck, but it’s all fun and games until you get hit with over 100 damage. Wicked Shipment, Tamsin Roame, Tamsin’s Phylactery and Humongous Owl can produce a back-breaking combo that no opponent can outlast.
We’ll explain the procedure. You’re required to trade and upgrade Wicked Shipment twice (once can still be enough, but let’s be safe). You get your Humongous Owl killed, preferably with Grimoire of Sacrifice if you’re worried about transform effects and want to make sure it dies. You then play Wicked Shipment, Tamsin’s Phylactery to give the imps the Owl’s deathrattle and play School Spirits to kill them. On an empty board, this ‘small’ combo deals 48 damage for 8 mana.
But let’s say we want to deal more damage just to make sure no opponent board can sustain enough Owl shots to survive. You play 3-mana Tamsin Roame before playing Phylactery, so you get another free copy and give your minions two Humongous Owl deathrattles. 7 minions dealing 16 damage is 112 damage on an empty board. A Wicked Shipment that’s upgraded once still produces 80 damage with 5 minions. The full combo costs 11 mana, so a single piece being discounted by Runed Mithril Rod gets it done.
What makes this deck very promising is that the combo doesn’t require a lot of pieces, so we can invest heavily into survivability and draw, running the Artificer defensive shell of Fatigue Warlock. So, we have a Fatigue Warlock deck that doesn’t need to deal damage to itself, runs Dreadlich Tamsin and has a win condition that’s potentially faster and impossible to outlast.
Still think this deck is a meme?
We’re intrigued by Control Warrior’s new survivability tools and finishing potential, which led us to devise a deck that can properly take advantage of them in the most consistent fashion.
Captain Galvangar, Faceless Manipulator and Battlegrounds Battlemaster form a 36-damage combo that can be reduced to 10 mana with two copies of ‘Two the Front!’. The problem is that running five somewhat dead cards in our deck and relying on drawing all when we don’t have great card draw isn’t too appealing of an idea.
And then, we hit an epiphany. We can build our deck around Vanndar Stormpike, which allows us to massively discount all our combo pieces. We only need to discount either Galvangar or Battlemaster to guarantee the full combo at 10 mana with just one ‘To the Front!’. If we discount all combo pieces, we no longer need TTF.
What makes this solution even better is the utilization of Rattlegore. A discounted Rattlegore can be dropped on turn 6! We can play Rattlegore and Faceless Manipulator on the same turn, then follow up with a Battlemaster for a two turn kill. The fact Rattlegore can utilize the same pieces Galvangar does, adds further redundancy to our win condition and reduces the number of ‘dead’ cards in our deck to one copy of ‘To the Front!’.
The price of not running Barov hurts, but we can invest every other slot in this entire deck into survivability, and Warrior certainly got new ways to survive. Frozen Buckler/Shield Shatter are amazing additions, but the cornerstone win condition against aggressive decks is none other than Rokara.
Imagine playing an aggressive deck against this list. You’re unlikely to kill the Warrior before turn 7. Then Rokara comes down. Look at just how many damage-based removal spells are available to the Warrior. Every minion you develop from this point on can have its health manipulated into an honorable kill and provide another 4 armor to the Warrior. That seems like an impossible situation to deal with. This deck will destroy aggression. The question is the late game. If lightning-fast combo win conditions thrive, this deck is unlikely to be able to match their speed. If they do not thrive and the meta skews more towards the board, Warrior could have great success.
The Glory Chaser/Scrapsmith is intriguing, and we think the best fit for these cards are in the old shell of Rush Warrior, while adding Pack Mule to the mix. The sequence of playing Conditioning on 5, into a turn 6 ‘To the Front!’/Glory Chaser/Tauntx3 seems strong.
‘To the Front’ also works well with Playmaker combos, with little Rokara offering the big payoffs after we flood a big, buffed board. Big Rokara, the Valorous offers us reach and damage over time. Since our deck is light with threats, we need to be able to go over the top and having a Hunter hero power as well as a cracked Arcanite Reaper can help. This deck’s board control tools should make it quite formidable in board battles, but once again, we question the late game. For this deck, rather than the lightning fast combos, the heavy removal kits would be the issue.
Rokara, the Valorous, should also be great in Big Warrior. The other obvious additions are Frozen Buckler/Shield Shatter. We’re not feeling Lokholar the Ice Lord in this deck. We’re gaining armor so it’s less likely to be activated for 5, and it’s awkward off Grunt if it dies on the opponent’s turn.
Special thanks to Impact, who’s been helping us in theorycrafting for the last few expansions, J_Alexander for inspiration on some of these ideas, as well as our Patreons and Gold supporters who have taken part as well. Since we had more time to produce this content due to the timing of the final card reveal, we could share more of the process, and it was fun.
The Data Reaper Podcast will return to discuss the early expansion impressions of the meta! Follow us on Twitter for updates on when it will occur, if you want an early scoop on developments before December 17th, when Data Reaper Report #215 comes out.
We’ll see you then.
The Vicious Syndicate Team