After completing the comprehensive Murder at Castle Nathria 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 Murder at Castle Nathria is scheduled for Thursday, August 11th! 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.
Note that we’ve not gone with a symmetrical line up of decks for each class. Some just had the more interesting stuff!
After the nerf to Drek’Thar, Aggro DH disappeared from the Hearthstone scene, but Castle Nathria could call it back and change its playstyle, encouraging it to run a lower curve and be even more aggressive than before thanks to Magnifying Glaive, a Voracious Reader built into a weapon.
Bibliomite and Dispose of Evidence allow you to get ahead while setting you up to get full value from the 3-mana weapon, which essentially negates their drawbacks. The rest of the deck attempts to stay cheap, making it easier for the Demon Hunter to frontload power, go hard and go early. This might be Wayward Sage’s time to shine, as a card that fits this playstyle while also allowing you to discount Predation more reliably. We’ll have to see whether S’theno still works in this archetype thanks to Dispose of Evidence, or whether she’ll become a bit more awkward to utilize.
The only exceptions when it comes to cost are Kryxis, which performs a similar role to Magnifying Glaive but acts as a massive threat that can’t be ignored, and Kurtrus, because we could never give up our hero card.
The Relic package is the other major component of the Demon Hunter set. It’s a slow, scaling package of cards that serves a utility role for an archetype while offering a secondary win condition, so the logical thing to do is to try it in Fel Demon Hunter.
We’ve cut Fel Demon Hunter to its bare bones, and slapped Relics on top of it. The card draw potential of Relic of Dimensions is the most appealing part of the package if we can boost it with Phantasms and Extinction first. Relic Vault/Relic of Dimensions is a formidable pairing that can be a stronger draw engine than even Skull of Gul’dan.
One card we would like to test out with Relics that normally doesn’t see play in Fel DH is Queen Azshara, due to her ability to help us duplicate a relic for 1 mana through Ring of Tides. Every relic copied just makes the next one stronger, as well as Artificer Xy’mox.
Relics could also be a good fit for Deathrattle DH due to its high mana curve and Relic of Dimensions’ potential in the deck. It’s also a deck that’s likely to infuse Xy’mox without needing to heavily rely on Relic of Phantasms as it is very dense with minions.
Another addition to the deck is Kryxis. The card is a perfect fit since Deathrattle DH can cheat it out with either Razorfen Beastmaster (which would be a brutal outcome for the opponent) and Death Speaker Blackthorn.
Druid looks scary and seems to be brimming with possibilities. Widowbloom Seedsman is one of the strongest cards in the expansion, increasing the consistency of ramping Druids across the board. Convoke the Spirits is a huge ramp payoff that can win games on the spot, and thanks to Celestial Alignment and Lady Anacondra, can cost little to no mana.
Other cards that Celestial Druid may appreciate are Denathrius and Topior. Denathrius synergizes well with Scale of Onyxia, Raid Boss Onyxia, and Topior. Topior doesn’t need a lot of maintenance in this deck since we’re meant to play it for 1 mana and it’s a dragon activator for Kazakusan. We could tinker with Primordial Drake and Amalgam of the Deep as the last two dragons depending on the meta. If we’re faced with a lot of slower decks carrying disruption cards such as Theotar, we may want Amalgam. If we’re facing a swarm of Imps, Primordial Drake becomes more valuable.
And if players start running Steamcleaners, then Celestial Druid has other win conditions it could potentially utilize. It might not be that easy to get rid of it.
But Druid doesn’t seem that reliant on Celestial Alignment either. In fact, if Celestial Alignment ends up struggling, it will be nothing but good news for other kinds of ramping Druid decks, and there are so many things that Malfurion can do with his best buddy, Wildheart Guff. Just look at this slick Water Druid build running the Oracle of Elune/Naga Giants combo.
Kael’thas could be one of the most significant additions to Water Druid. It allows us to cheat out a 10-drop on 7 mana alongside a 1-drop. You play Kael’thas, either Kelpkeeper or Druid of the Reef, and drop Raid Boss Onyxia, Neptulon or Sire Denathrius. You can also combo Kael’thas with Oracle of Elune to copy Neptulon or Denathrius. The card just gives you scam potential and more applications for some of your strongest cards.
Of course, when it comes to scams, nothing beats Convoke the Spirits. Even in a Renathal build, you’re very likely to find ramp early, which means Convoke the Spirits is a realistic target to reach in any kind of matchup. Get ready to open the box.
Death Blossom Whomper has great potential in a ramping Druid deck, and while it can certainly form a viable package in Water Druid alongside Stoneborn General and Hedge Maze, we can add Sesselie and warp deck building in a way that really maximizes her potential.
The goal of our deck is to combo Hedge Maze with Whomper the moment it drops on the board on 6 mana. It will either draw Stoneborn General and allow us to summon an 8/8 rush immediately with another stored within the 7/6, or it draws Sesselie and allows us to draw a minion and discount it by 8 mana.
So, what we tried to do is stack a lot of powerful 8 mana minions that can be played for free and provide a big board swing. The more we add, the smaller the odds are that we draw one of our cheaper, yet essential minions (Seedsman/Renathal).
Random 10-drops are strong with this set, so Primordial Protector drawing Convoke the Spirits sounds like an enticing possibility. Abominable Lieutenant is already familiar with Ramp Druid. Party Crasher can be a hilariously effective board swing that can get an expensive minion we’ve drawn out of our hand, such as a Stoneborn General. Goliath is another 8-drop with immediate impact and big swing potential, while Colaque is a defensive stabilizer. Go big or go home.
While Sire Denathrius can be a good card in Druid without a significant deckbuilding investment, it can also be the cornerstone win condition for a Druid deck. It’s the perfect fit for the class due to its ramping potential as well as Capture Coldtooth Mine, allowing us to draw Denathrius and start infusing him early with Flipper Friends and Scale of Onyxia.
Denathrius also has great synergy with Topior, since Topior makes our Nature spells spawn rushing minions that can further fuel our win condition. The featured build stacks cheap nature spells to make Topior the most oppressive board control tool possible.
Furthermore, we have some Kael’thas shenanigans available. Insatiable Devourer is a huge comeback card for a deck that already specializes at infusing. It doesn’t interfere with us drawing Denathrius with Mine, and it will be drawn with Mine in case we already have Denathrius in hand, which means it shouldn’t be difficult to infuse either. Kael’thas/1-drop/Devourer can end games in faster matchups, or we could just ramp into it the ‘normal’ way.
Of course, Brann/Denathrius (with or without Kael’thas depending on whether we drew Guff) can deal so much damage that it should be impossible to outlast even for the most powerful defensive decks. A Renathal 40 life total is nothing thanks to this combo.
Wildseeds make up the most prominent package in the Hunter class, and we think they’re worth experimenting in Beast Hunter, a deck that already runs Renathal as a health cushion and likes to prolong the game enough to hit its power spikes. The only question mark would be board space.
Wildseeds add defensive utility and damage to the deck, while packing a lot of value relative to their mana cost. This lessens the need for effects like Revive Pet, which would be highly diluted when running Wildseeds.
But this isn’t all that Beast Hunter is getting. Castle Kennels will help the spirits impact the board immediately after awakening. Alongside Doggie Biscuit, Castle Kennels offers an activator for Blademaster Samuro. Should Hunter be able to successfully utilize Samuro, it will have big implications on the format.
And if you’re looking for more threats, Beast Hunter might be the best deck to consistently infuse Altimor, offering even more late game prowess, if it didn’t have enough of it already.
Quest Hunter got a couple of upgrades from the Wildseed package, but they could be very meaningful. Stag Charge is a spell that deals damage and goes face, which means it is very likely to be a good fit for the archetype. Wild Spirits provides both defense and damage. Getting a 4/2 weapon is a big deal for a deck whose sole win condition is dealing damage.
What’s more is that Wild Spirits is another nature spell, following the previous addition of Shellshot. This is a big boost for Multicaster, allowing you to draw 3-4 cards more consistently with it in the late game.
Hunter can always just go face from turn 1 with minions as well. Batty Guest is a perfect 1-drop for the archetype, giving you a sticky body to buff with Doggie Biscuit and Ramming Mount, offering a solid dredge target for K9-0tron, while also helping you activate Frenzied Fangs.
Wildseed cards seem a bit slow in Face Hunter, but it’s possible that Face Hunter can utilize some combination of Spirit Poacher, Stag Charge and Wild Spirits successfully. However, it would have to cut into its explosive early game.
There’s also a possibility that we’re lowering the curve enough for Furious Howl to be a consideration in this deck, though past experiences have suggested that it is not an easy card to utilize well in Face Hunter. Something to keep in mind.
We really like the look of Wildfire Mage in Castle Nathria and think the addition of the skeleton package ‘completes’ the deck. Nightcloak Sanctum is a card that every Mage deck will want. Cold Case is a fantastic enabler for Multicaster and Magister Dawngrap. Kel’Thuzad gives the deck another top end threat alongside Mordresh.
We also think Deathborne should be tested before it’s written off, as it may provide a backbreaking answer to Imp Warlock. It gives us another board clear alongside Fire Sale and can be repeated with Magister Dawngrasp.
The option is there to run Kael’thas and Brann to double up Kel’Thuzad and Mordresh, but we’ve cooled on the idea as both cards aren’t very useful outside of the context of their late game combo and the deck may not need that kind of reach. Kael’thas is particularly useless.
A card that should rise in value is Commander Sivara, as copying a Cold Case is a significant boost to the consistency of Kel’Thuzad. If you’re not aware of this yet, Finley is very good in this deck because of the importance of finding your hero card.
Another interesting option is to forgo the Wildfire package and go for a full frost build with a high density of minions, which makes the potential win condition of this deck very intriguing. The goal of this build is to specialize at infusing, fueling Frozen Touch and Sire Denathrius to deal huge amounts of damage.
Alongside the Skeleton package, which is effective at infusing cards, we’ve got Frostweave Dungeoneer guaranteed to draw a key frost spell (Touch, Cold Case, Deathborne) and summon two 1/1 freezing elementals. Ram Commander is another strong infuse enabler.
Kael’thas and Brann are much stronger here outside of the context of their late game combo with Denathrius and Kel’Thuzad. Brann can combo with Dungeoneer, School Teacher (another two bodies in one card), Famished Fool (the infuse draw engine) and Lady Naz’jar (guaranteed to give us 8 armor). This deck has many 1-drops, including generated ones, that can be combo’d with Kael’thas to bring Denathrius down on turn 7.
Frozen Touch is particularly strong with Commander Sivara. If you play an infused version of Frozen Touch, Sivara will copy its infused form as it is! This means you can stock up on multiple copies of Frozen Touch that can be repeatedly infused thanks to the minion-dense nature of the deck.
And if Frozen Touch isn’t enough, Denathrius will be.
Secret Mage did get some support that made it worthwhile to theorycraft, and it doesn’t look too bad at all. We’ve got a couple of nice 1-drops in Shivering Sorceress and Suspicious Alchemist. Anonymous Informant can cheat mana in the early game. Sketchy Stranger can find us cheap Paladin secrets, some of them being Holy spells, which is relevant for both Multicaster and Magister Dawngrasp!
Informant and Stranger really help us set up Bartender and Orion. A cheap Paladin spell or a 0-mana discounted spell by Informant are good activators for our 4-drops. We picked the best possible secrets for the deck, and they happen to be from different spell schools, which is relevant for Dawngrasp and Multicaster.
This deck has a healthy number of minions so Frozen Touch should infuse at least once, making it a split Fireball. Having 4 Fireballs isn’t a bad way to close out games. We did strongly consider fitting in Scuttlebutt Ghoul, but the 4-mana slot is a bit stacked. If we wanted to try it, we could cut Alchemist for it.
This is a bonus list for those curious how this deck would look like now. Nightcloak Sanctum and Forensic Duster are perfect stalling 3-drops for the archetype, but that’s all it’s gotten, so we wanted to focus on the more novel possibilities in the class.
Paladin didn’t seem to provide us a lot of great new options with its set, despite getting some powerful cards. We were compelled to make a Pure Paladin build to test the merits of The Countess.
Elitist Snob is the most significant addition to a Pure Paladin deck, and the card scales extremely hard with handbuffs, so the logical step would be to make a Handbuff Pure Paladin. Sinful Sous Chef and Muckborn Servant help us maintain our hand size for Snob. Buffet Biggun is a good activator for Prismatic Jewel Kit once it’s infused.
At the top end, we have Divine Toll offering us burst and finishing potential. At worst, it’s a serviceable comeback card, but it’s important to have a closer in the deck since we can’t run Mr. Smite or Battlegrounds Battlemaster. It can also be discounted by Cariel Roame.
And if the game goes late, we have The Countess as a win condition. We might be better off running crucial neutrals like Samuro and Click-Clocker, but for day 1 fun, she’s ideal. Let’s not knock it until we try it.
We looked for ways to best leverage the Silver Hand Recruit package Paladin has received in the set, and our mind wandered to Quest Paladin. In the words of Tinkmaster Overspark; this time for sure!?!
Sinful Sous Chef is an ideal card to have both for quest completion purposes and post-quest payoff. Buffet Biggun sounds like a scary threat to drop after quest completion and should be trivial to infuse. Promotion is another decent 1-cost card that becomes a lot better when our dudes are bigger and harder to remove. Stewart the Steward adds another layer of incremental value to the deck. Great Hall should get good value in this deck both offensively and defensively.
And then we have some strong infuse neutrals that could be ideal fits for the archetype. Famished Fool fills the desperate need for card draw in this deck while Murlocula helps us contest the board.
Proactive and board-centric Priest decks got a bombastic package of mid-game power. Cathedral of Atonement, Pelagos and Partner in Crime are terrific fits for Naga Priest, giving it more card draw and threat potential. Pelagos is both a standalone threat in the deck, turning into an 8/8 with a Serpent Wig, or an alternative to Bless in enabling burst damage through buffs on multiple minions.
Strongly consider the potential of Cathedral and Partner in Crime. This turn 3-4 curve could be devastating to the opponent and allow you to take over the board. Staying on board is the name of the game for this archetype, so if you can produce an oppressive number of stats in one turn that are more difficult to answer rather than gradual board development, your opponent is less likely to be able to deal with it. Cathedral is also great follow-up to any of your early game minions.
The Cathedral/Partner combo looks just as good in Shadow Priest, and the archetype did get some other strong minions in the set that could lead to its return. Dredger Staff can help snowball your early game by protecting your minions, much like Beaming Sidekick does very well in the deck, but it can also buff your Partner in Crime!
Crooked Cook might not be active on curve, but it’s a 4-health minion you can drop on turn 2 and threaten to have it activate itself if it gets buffed by Cathedral on turn 3. In general, this deck’s early game minions become increasingly annoying with Cathedral buffs. They better kill Peasant, Attendant or Trogg on turn 1 or they’ll be out of removal reach very quickly after.
Quest Priest got very nice upgrades. Cathedral lessens the need for you to play discover effects as your hand is unlikely to be depleted. It allows you to play Blademaster Samuro, while playing a buffed Partner in Crime might be the perfect way for you to complete the first phase of the quest.
Sketchy Stranger is the best 2-drop for this deck, by far. With a 75% chance of finding a Mage secret, it’s often a 2 quest procs in one card for the most crucial stage of the quest. Look for that in the mulligan. Forensic Duster stalls out the opponent and allows you to bridge into your powerful mid-game.
Since the deck tends to play a lot of minions, Clean the Scene is an ideal turn 5 board clear. Infusing it shouldn’t be a problem, and it’s serviceable enough to clear the opponent’s early game in its baseline form. This deck was dying for a strong 5-cost card to have alongside Spirit Guide.
And finally, we have more disruption tools available for those late game strategies that the deck just can’t handle very well. Theotar is cheaper and more accurate than Mutanus, and we expect it to be core to the deck. Steamcleaner is a card we wouldn’t play right away, but if Kazakusan and/or Prestor are still rampant, it’s a nice option to have in the 5-mana slot.
Though skeptical of its competitive potential, we wanted to feature a fun Thief Priest deck and thought of ways to maximize its strengths. Renathal could be a good fit for the archetype, as it allows us to focus on value accumulation and forgo some of our defensive tools. The deck also doesn’t have specific cards it is desperate to draw, as it will be mostly concerned with stealing the opponent’s.
Renathal encourages us to be proactive in general, so we wanted to have a serviceable early game. Soothsayer’s Caravan sounds like a weird inclusion, but much like Crooked Cook in Shadow Priest, we wanted a 2-drop that could threaten a Cathedral buff and snowball.
Our goal is to steal as many good cards from the opponent as possible. Ideally, we steal their win conditions and kill them with it. We can accumulate a few cards, discount them with Mysterious Visitor and then ‘yoink’ them out of our opponent’s grasps with The Harvester of Envy. We also have Theotar to do the same thing.
The Secret package in Rogue could either be incorporated into an existing archetype, such as Thief Rogue, on a smaller scale, or become its own deck. We wanted to explore the possibility of making a dedicated Secret Rogue deck and this is the result.
Anonymous Informant and Sketchy Stranger are neutrals that help the deck’s consistency. We never want to draw our secrets, but if we do, Informant reduces the next one we play to 0 mana and helps activate Gravedigger on curve. Sketchy Stranger can also give Informant a 3-mana Mage secret to cheat out, or a 1-mana Paladin secret to help Gravedigger’s uptime.
The most challenging aspect of the deck is its ability to close out games, so we’ve added a small Azsharan package with Mr.Smite to have more threats and burst potential. Nercolord Draka should be able to give us a strong enough dagger to help out too.
This deck turns Sinstone Graveyard and Necrolord Draka into primary win conditions that are supposed to kill the opponent by themselves. The game plan is to hoard coins with Sketchy Information/Loan Shark/Snowfall Graveyard and then go into huge Auctioneer turns with the intention of drawing tons of cards and finishing with the craziest possible Graveyard Ghost and/or Draka dagger.
This deck will likely be very hard to play and navigate, as you need to recognize the correct timing of when to “go in”. One card choice that seems hard to assess is Efficient Octo-bot. The mana reduction potential has obvious synergy with what the deck wants to do, making Auctioneer turns easier, stronger, and perhaps coming down earlier. The issues are its awkward activation, interference with Shroud and possible redundancy in the face of so much free mana through coins. If Octo-bot ends up underwhelming, we could just run Door of Shadows.
The draw engine might also be experimented with. Edwin and Malygos are possible alternatives to Gadgetzan Auctioneer.
A couple of neutrals could change how Deathrattle Rogue functions, with a possible alternative approach to running Naval Mine now available. Masked Reveler and Stoneborn General are great Smokescreen targets. General offers the strongest deathrattle in the game and a potential blowout if drawn from Smokescreen and enhanced by Snowfall Graveyard or Counterfeit Blade.
Masked Reveler increases the consistency in which Smokescreen hits strong deathrattles. We could also find a Forsaken Lieutenant, which isn’t bad, though Reveler still has a fail rate (Trickster, Shattershambler). We could drop Shattershambler but it’s likely that the upside of running the card alongside Burning Blade Acolyte exceeds its potential fail rate with Reveler.
In theory, we could Smokescreen as early as turn 1 with Coin, Preparation, Bone Spike, Trickster and Smokescreen. Good luck trying.
While we fully expect Thief Rogue to be a prominent archetype for the class, Quest Rogue may have gotten the clearest and cleanest upgrades possible, which should significantly help the deck both in the early game and the late game.
Serrated Bone Spike is a card that every Rogue deck is going to love, and it helps enable both SI:7 Agent and SI:7 Assassin. Door of Shadows draws a very curated list of cheap spells that are highly beneficial when duplicated, and the deck plays enough minions to infuse the spell consistently. Doubling up Shadowstep or SI:7 Extortion is huge for quest progression. Bone Spikes can create big swings turns, while Gone Fishing’ offers more draw.
Sinstone Graveyard should produce a significant number of stats considering the deck’s cheap curve and gizmo generation, and the same is true for Draka’s dagger. Once the quest is completed, these cards become even more threatening and easier to juice up. We would still expect the SI:7 cards to be the most important aspect of the deck but having the rest of the deck “not suck” is very beneficial.
The Evolve package in Shaman looks promising, and we could see the return of one of the most infamous archetypes in the history of the game. This build focuses almost entirely on evolve synergies, built on the foundations of the murloc package centered on Clownfish, as well as the Snowfall/Macaw combo, which has proven to be extremely successful over the last couple of months.
The key early game line is to find Schooling, Muck Pools and Goldshire Gnoll. An early 10-drop can win some matchups by itself, and Schooling is the perfect card to use to discount Gnoll. Of course, we’re not upset if we get to Clownfish on 3, cheese some stats and evolve a body.
Turn 4 is where we can find another power spike, with either Vashj or Caretaker providing a big board swing when we have a Muck Pools charge ready to go. Caretaker can also be played by itself on 4, and have it followed by Bolner/Macaw on turn 5.
Late game, we have Tiny Toys/Convincing Disguise. Unlike previous iterations of Evolve Shaman, this deck can’t produce the same kind of non-games on turn 4-5. Its biggest play requires some ramping up through infusion, and it’s only available as early as turn 7. Good.
Some think that Totem Shaman is destined to be a strictly Bloodlust deck, but we have a different idea! The game plan is to fight as hard as possible for early game board control with the help of the murloc package, but pivot to a Snowfall Guardian/Gigantotem swing later. This can be followed up by none other than Battlegrounds Battlemaster.
Of course, if we can find The Stonewright early, we can double or triple up its battlecry with Bolner/Macaw and have our hero power summon a threat every turn that’s bound to wear down slower opponents. Another funny idea we had that’s probably not very practical due to deck space and lack of consistency is to run Criminal Lineup and Barbaric Sorceress with the goal of copying a discounted Gigantotem.
Two important things to note. Anchored Totem will buff any basic totem we summon, including those spawned by Carving Chisel and Party Favor Totem. Nightmare Amalgam discovers Gigantotem 50% of the time, which means we are essentially running 3 Gigantotems in our deck on average.
We finalize Shaman with what might be the most well-rounded deck available, which is taking current Murloc Control Shaman and improving it with a small package of cards.
The minion density of the archetype as well as the absence of a late game finisher that provides true inevitability in slow matchups has encouraged us to explore the possibility of running Sire Denathrius. We have played Taelan before to tutor Y’Shaarj in Shaman, we can do so again with the new hottest 10-drop on the block.
When it comes to infusing Denathrius, Shaman carries the perfect tools to do it. Schooling, Wildpaw Caverns and murlocs. In faster matchups, we can use a Piranha to cheat out Denathrius on turn 7 with Kael’thas. Brann already has an affinity with the deck and keeping it alongside Kael’thas gives us the double Denathrius dream. It also encourages us to run School Teachers, which are good Denathrius activators.
Finally, we’ve got more disruption. Brann/Theotar is a relatively cheap and highly disruptive late game combo, and Piranhas are the perfect fodder to give to our opponent. So, Shaman has a reliable late game win condition it can tap into, as well as strong tools to deny an opponent’s win condition.
Alternatively, Shaman could just go harder for board, and we expect to see experiments with partial incorporations of evolve synergies into this archetype. We’ve listed a small Evolve package that can replace the Denathrius package. Shaman has versatility and flexibility.
The Warlock set in Castle Nathria is particularly insane, and the imps look like the real deal. The featured build is our attempt to make the strongest Imp Warlock possible, which involves the complex process of going to the collection and adding every card in the format that puts Imps in play.
This may sound simplistic, but it’s probably the correct decision. Every Imp on the board leads to a stronger Vile Library and a stronger Impending Catastrophe, and these cards win us the game. We do think some of the Imp cards are underrated, and the addition of such incredibly powerful synergies should make them shine.
Imp Swarm, for example, is a strong turn 5 play alongside Catastrophe. We’re drawing at least 3 cards without losing any initiative since we’re still developing at least 6 power on the board. It’s also a serviceable turn 2-play. Piggypack Imp is an infuse activator that becomes very annoying to deal with when resurrected with Rafaam.
Flustered Librarian is going to deal a ton of damage if left alone. Mischievous Imp is trivial to infuse in this deck. Imp King Rafaam will win games by himself, and if he doesn’t, Shady Bartender will.
Tamsin’s Phylactery and Runed Mithril Rod just got much better. With Impending Catastrophe added, Phylactery Warlock can now draw more cards and do it much faster. That’s a big deal considering its whole success is dependent on doing exactly that. Backfire is a thing of the past, while Multicaster was a painful concession. No more.
To make Catastrophe consistent and potent, we add Fiendish Circle on top of Wicked Shipment, which we’re already running. Draw 5 cards for 5 mana? Yes please. We don’t mind running Fiendish Circle at all, since it can be utilized as a Phylactery combo piece in a pinch.
Whispers of a Handlock return can be heard as well. While the Renathal experiment hasn’t worked too well thus far in Curse Warlock, it might be a good idea in Handlock. We have a deck that wants to be very passive in the early game, tap multiple times and then play Dark Alley Pact on 4. Basically, we start to ramp up into our power turns around the same time as Beast Hunter.
Dark Alley Pact also happens to summon an imp, which can be resurrected with the same stats by Imp King Rafaam. Yes, we can resurrect our giant imp on turn 6 with a baseline Rafaam for some reason. It’s also a prime target to be discounted by Shadowborn and duplicated by either Tamsin or Azshara.
There’s also Lady Darkvein, which can summon a couple of 2/1’s carrying Dark Alley Pact or Shadow Waltz. That very much feels like a winning play. The shadow spell package is just the perfect fit for this archetype to keep churning out threats. And should we remind you that we can still draw 5 cards for 5 mana? Yes, we can do that too.
Theorycrafting Warrior decks was tough. Control Warrior doesn’t seem to have anything new or exciting to add, and unless the meta somehow lines up perfectly for it, it should struggle to find any footing.
This leaves us with Enrage Warrior, the deck that has received the most support from this set. It is also an extremely challenging deck to build, and we suspect that only live play experience will bring us to the answers on how it should approach games.
Our build theorizes that the best way to play Enrage Warrior is by flooding the board early, ‘activating’ it with a Whirlwind effect and then playing Imbued Axe. This means no Conditioning since we want to dump our hand rather than to save it to get value from a hand-wide handbuff.
Another factor that pushes us to flood the board early is Barrens Blacksmith. This card suddenly offers us a legitimate Arbor Up type effect on curve thanks to Sanguine Depths, and this location also helps activate several other cards in our deck, such as Acolyte of Pain.
Burden of Pride strikes us as Warrior’s Demonic Assault. The taunt bodies can protect one of our snowballing minions, such as Frothing Berserker or Anima Extractor. It threatens a Barrens Blacksmith follow-up, or a Whirlwind/Imbued Axe. It is also a good way to infuse Imbued Axe. Worth testing.
At the top end, we have Olgra, another payoff to a wide, damaged board (which is why we run both Whirlwind and Man the Cannons), our hero card Rokara (because it’s a hero card) and Grom. With Grom, Olgra and Wretch, we have a lot of “charging damage”, which encourages us to go for Whirlwind plays with Anima Extractor. The Wretch/Taskmaster combo can be very threatening, especially with a buffed Wretch.
Special thanks to Impact, JAlexander, and Jdeg who have made significant contributions to this article, as well as our Patreons and Gold supporters who have taken part.
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 August 11th, when Data Reaper Report #238 comes out.
We’ll see you then.
The Vicious Syndicate Team