After completing the comprehensive Scholomance Academy 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 Scholomance Academy is scheduled for next Thursday, August 13th! This should be possible due to the collaboration we have with Firestone, significantly increasing our data collection. We want to thank Firestone and encourage you to try it, as this companion app continues to improve and add features with every patch. Alternatively, you can contribute data through our Hearthstone Deck Tracker plugin. Installing the plugin is a very easy process that takes up just a couple of minutes of your time. We appreciate and thank all our contributors for keeping this project going.
We will note that should there be balance changes within the few days of the expansion, the Data Reaper Report could be delayed. We will provide an update in such a case.
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. These decks aren’t based off whatever’s been done in the early access streams either since we don’t watch them!
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.
Here. We. Go.
We fully expect that Demon Hunter will compete at the top of the meta after receiving several interesting additions in this set. One of the most powerful new cards of Scholomance Academy could be Voracious Reader, a neutral that could make a big impact on how aggressive decks will be built.
In this Aggro Demon Hunter list, we slightly lower the curve and add a couple of 1-drops. Intrepid Initiate works well with Demon Hunter’s cheap spells, including the new Demon Companion. Mana Burn becomes more valuable when we’re expected to draw more cards too.
With Skull of Gul’dan, Voracious Reader, and Manafeeder Panthara, we can power through our deck very quickly to find our damage and improve the consistency of Altruis. An interesting debate is whether we should keep Glaivebound Adepts, but we think their damage is too important to close out the game. Furthermore, adding a Trueaim Crescent could enable on-curve Adepts and Overseers that have become less common since the Twin Slice change.
This deck could lower the curve even more and run Glides, but that would likely require us to drop Altruis, Adepts, and remove our late-game damage. We’re not sure that’s worth doing and could be dependent on the meta.
The Soul Fragment package looks very powerful and has the best chance of diversifying the class. We particularly like the mid-game damage it could bring through Marrowslicer and a follow-up Adept/Lapidary. This combination alone can shave nearly half of our opponent’s health, leading us to suggest a build that relies solely on over-the-top damage rather than an early game curve, inspired by the “Control DH” deck we’ve seen in Ashes of Outland.
We can afford to build Demon Hunter this way since the Soul Fragment package provides us with excellent early game survivability. Shardshatter Mystic could become an all-star performer for this archetype, as well as Magtheridon’s new best friend!
Soul Fragments could also change other aspects of the archetype. Rather than running Skull of Gul’dan, we opt for a Double Jump tutor package. Crimson Sigil Runner and Spectral Sight are our only outcast cards, so Double Jump serves a similar role to Crystology in Holy-Wrath Paladin, when it drew Bloodmage Thalnos and Novice Engineers: Card draw pulling card draw.
Of course, this means we give up the Artificer/Lifesteal package, relying instead on the healing of Soul Fragments and our AOE capabilities. With the potential of over 50 (!) direct damage available to this deck without a single minion needing to connect face, Frag Demon Hunter should be a hard hitter carrying an appropriate name.
But that’s not all. What if Aggro Demon Hunter decides that Marrowslicer/Lapidary’s mid-game damage potential is too good to pass up? We could build a deck that only incorporates the aggressive elements of the Soul Fragment package alongside the early game shell.
This would likely mean that we give up Skull and Altruis (which go hand in hand), but they shouldn’t be missed on paper. The additional damage from the Frag package more than makes up for the loss of our late-game finisher, while cycling power through Chaos Strike and Manafeeder Panthara can make sure we don’t run out of steam, alongside Voracious Reader.
The message is clear. After Demon Hunter’s damage was heavily nerfed in the last balance changes of Ashes of Outland, it might come roaring back in Scholomance Academy. Vengeance!
The addition of Lightning Bloom should give Druid a big power boost, since it’s a class that’s all about making big blowout turns. Bloom’s arrival could lead to the return of Kael’thas Sunstrider. The nerfed legendary is a perfect enabler of big blowout turns, and he also works perfectly with two big spells we would love to play for no mana: Survival of the Fittest and Guardian Animals.
The featured build incorporates two tribes. We have the small dragon package we’re familiar with from current Spell Druid, enabling Breath of Dreams into a follow up Overgrowth. The Beast package complements Guardian Animals and provides a big follow up to Overgrowth, as well as card draw thanks to Twilight Runner.
This deck is all about reaching the magic number 7 and producing the obscenest plays possible, cheating out a ridiculous amount of mana while developing overwhelming stats on the same turn. We can’t say that we look at this deck and not picture a scenario in which it gets nerfed within a week. Then again, we could say that for a few of these decks!
Alongside Lightning Bloom and Nature Studies, Gibberling could be the most impactful card in Druid’s set. It provides an extraordinary cheap way to leverage spells into a wide board, working perfectly with Soul of the Forest. We can see the card being incorporated in Spell Druid as a “faster Mountseller” (where Breath/Explorer go out and Gibberling/Wild Growth go in), but we wanted to feature the more novel list in which Gibberling could thrive.
Aggro Druid hasn’t been around lately, but Scholomance Academy could re-introduce its early game blowout potential. The featured build tries to get Gibberling going as consistently as possible, by surrounding it with a spell-heavy shell and running Skydiving Instructor to specifically pull it unto the board.
Voracious Reader provides the deck with fuel, following a turn in which we vomit our hand and threaten Soul of the Forest and Savage Roar. Partner Assignment gives us something to do in the early game in case we’re waiting for our Gibberling. This deck is all about going hard and fast, not giving the opponent any time to mount an effective response.
Quest Druid has been a forgotten archetype through most of Ashes of Outland, but one card that could be a great fit for it is Runic Carvings. After the completion of Untapped Potential, Carvings will summon 7 treants, with 3 of them carrying the rush keyword. This represents an incredible swing turn that rivals Oasis Surger, allowing the Druid to retake the board and providing a big threat against slower decks.
Runic Carvings also carries synergies with other cards in the deck, such as Anubisath Defender. Other cards that might be worth experimenting with are Groundskeeper and Power of the Wild, but they were difficult to fit in without replacing cards that felt too important.
We think Hunter’s set is a bit disappointing, at least when it comes to creating new archetypes. We don’t have much faith in a Beast Hunter or a Deathrattle Hunter. Luckily for Hunter players, they’ve still got Highlander Hunter to fall back to, and it’s getting some meaningful upgrades in this set.
What we like most about the featured build is how much stronger it is in the early game. Demon Companion, Adorable Infestation and Wolpertinger provide the deck with a much better chance at contesting aggressive decks. Wolpertinger off Scavenger’s Ingenuity is so strong that it might be good enough to dilute the Zixor/Gryphon package.
But the late game is also getting an upgrade in the form of Lorekeeper Polekelt. By topping the curve at 7 mana, Polkelt allows us to find Dinotamer Brann, our strongest card, much more consistently (as well as Zixor Prime if we’ve already shuffled it into the deck!). Highlander Hunter is a great candidate to utilize Polkelt well because: (1) Its late-game bombs require no set up; (2) It doesn’t have card draw; (3) Its power cards are highly concentrated at the top of its curve; and (4) Its cheap cards are not strong in the late game, and they’re not too important for Hunter’s win condition at that stage.
Face Hunter is another deck that received some meaningful upgrades that could help it become more prominent. Tour Guide works fantastically well with Toxic Reinforcements, Phase Stalker, Manafeeder Panthara, and Dragonbane. Wolpertinger is the best Scavenger’s Ingenuity target. Vectus could be a mid-game damage bomb thanks to the deathrattles from Leper Gnomes and Kobold Sandtrooper.
It’s also possible that Voracious Reader will be utilized in this deck, but we’re unsure of this addition because Face Hunter tends to hero power a lot. Toxic Reinforcements is one of the strongest cards in the deck, and it heavily encourages the kind of playstyle that is the opposite of what Reader drives you to do.
Dragon Hunter will probably remain relatively unchanged from Ashes of Outland, with Wolpertinger offering an enticing new target for Scavenger’s Ingenuity builds over Stonetusk Boar or Zixor. But we wanted to feature a new list that tries to incorporate more of the new cards, and one idea is to run Guardian Animals in Dragon Hunter.
Our goal was to try to make the beast package less terrible when the minions are not pulled from GA. Escaped Manasaber is a reasonable turn 4 play that can bridge into an Evasive Wyrm on 6. Teacher’s Pet is similarly reasonable on curve. We play one Lake Thresher because it’s the one beast we never want to draw. This list has quite a bit of mid-game power, while obviously looking much weaker in the early game, which is why we don’t have too much faith in Guardian Animals in general.
Mage got a cool set with a lot of cards that we really hope are going to work out, because they encourage some interesting playstyles. The issue is that many of these potential archetypes are reliant on some very elaborate combos that may not be consistent enough when you’re facing ruthless and super-efficient opponents. It’s very tough to predict how they will pan out, since they’re so synergy focused.
Highlander Mage is a more known quantity that has performed admirably well throughout Ashes of Outland. This build incorporates the cards we think are most likely to be good fits for the deck. We think Devolving Missiles is a very underrated form of removal. Highlander Mage is relatively weak to snowballing minions because of its passive nature, so being able to negate buffs could be very important. Think of cards like Edwin, Satyr Overseer and Warmaul Challenger.
Combustion is a nice and simple removal card that comes down on a turn where Mage is notoriously weak in. Jandice is the shiny new power play that’s available to the deck. It works very well with Conjurer’s Calling and gives the deck a way to seize the initiative in the mid-game.
The most supported Mage archetype in this set in Spell Damage Mage, and the featured build is a tempo-focused take on it. Here, we tried to make a deck that can proactively develop the board rather than just stalling for a miracle Mozaki turn.
One issue Spell Damage Mage has is “sticking” spell damage to the board, so we really like Mana Reservoir’s high health and low mana cost. Ethereal Augmerchant offers the cheapest way to enable spell damage synergy outside of Lab Partner. Targeting Arcane Watcher with an Augmerchant is a very similar power play to Amani/Brawler being buffed by a Guardian Augmerchant.
At the top end, we run Azerite Elemental as a snowballing threat that enables an on-curve Sorcerous Substitute. Think of it as a “Mozaki” without the need of cheap spells that we don’t really have space for. With so much spell damage and the potential to deal quite a bit of damage through minions, it only makes sense to run Arcane Explosion and all the burn we can afford. Ras Frostwhisper is, of course, the biggest payoff for such a build.
Cyclone Mage has been a fringe deck in Ashes of Outland, but not one that was far away from being competitive. In fact, we’re low-key excited about its prospects in Scholomance Academy. In a Cyclone Mage shell, we can build Mozaki to become a proper “miracle” card.
Wand Thief and Primordial Studies are cheap cards that fuel Mana Giants. Wand Thief is just a versatile card that can give us different tools depending on the situation we’re in. Primordial Studies doubles up as an enabler for Cram Session when we need it to cast it early. Firebrand is an incredible board control tool with our plethora of 1-mana spells, one that is quicker to go off compared to Imprisoned Observer.
At the top end, we first have Mana Giants. They provide intimidating threats that can be discounted very quickly, but we don’t center our entire strategy around them since we’re not running Conjurer’s Calling. CC is not a particularly strong card in this list because it’s useless if we don’t draw Mana Giants, and our threat density is much lower without Mountain Giants or Sea Giants. We could see that the card was underwhelming in this archetype throughout Ashes of Outland for this reason.
Then, we’ve got Mozaki, with the potential to obliterate an opponent alongside a Sorcerer’s Apprentice around turn 8. The play involves juicing up Mozaki with as many free 1-mana spells that aren’t Arcane Missiles, using the 1 excess mana to cast a gigantic Cram Session, playing whatever 1-mana spells we draw from it and finishing off with Missiles. Oh boy.
Don’t be afraid of playing Mozaki on curve, as it can often be difficult to kill for the opponent and greatly rewards you if it survives. The deck has multiple win conditions available to it, so it’s not reliant on the miracle play to win games. We still have Mana Giants, Mana Cyclone and Chenvaala, cards that can carry us a long way.
Paladin’s set is all about brute force, hoping to exert an overwhelming amount of pressure that the opponent cannot deal with. There are several cards that could be game-changers, but one that stands above the rest is Alura.
We think Alura’s potential is game-breaking, and that potential has influenced the featured Pure Paladin build, which is a very different twist from the standard Pure Paladin build you’ve seen in Ashes of Outland, or what many expect the deck to look like when the expansion launches.
What we’re trying to do is turn Alura into a Barnes-type card, where her Spellburst ability outcomes range from good to the utterly ridiculous. Blessing of Kings and Blessing of Authority help with the latter, but they also synergize with other cards in the deck: Argent Braggart, Goody Two-Shields, Devout Pupil and Lady Liadrin greatly benefit from their selection.
The most controversial and maverick decision is to cut Libram of Justice and Consecration since they can be quite weak Alura outcomes and are reactive in nature. The point is we want to dish out the pressure rather than wait for the opponent to come to us. Get Argent Braggart going while taking advantage of Salhet’s Pride’s consistency in drawing it. Get Devout Pupil discounted as quickly as possible and make Goody Two-Shields the most threatening 3-drop it can be. By the Light!
(P.S Cutting Kings and Authority for Justice and Consecration is the “no ham” build we envision for the archetype.)
Alura can also fit a more aggressive Paladin shell that tries to compensate for its lack of card draw with the addition of Voracious Reader. Intrepid Initiate’s synergy with Paladin’s early game buffs makes it a very threatening turn 1 play. Tour Guide offers two bodies on turn 1 to set up a Hand of A’dal. We’ve got plenty of sticky minions on the 2 and 3 mana slots, helping you get off Blessing of Kings on curve.
Some players may consider the choice of Blessing of Authority as strange, but its strength is easy to explain. You can think of it as a Bittertide Hydra without the drawback. A 5 mana 8/8 is strong in an Aggro deck, even if it doesn’t have “charge” when you play it. You just need to remember to hit face with the target minion before you buff it with Blessing of Authority, and sometimes Alura casts it on herself for free and wins you the game.
Another archetype that has received support in this expansion is Big Paladin. We don’t have much faith in this deck, but we tried building it as best we could.
One big upgrade for the deck is First Day of School, since it gives you some bodies to contest the board while you’re trying to survive the early game. Ceremonial Maul could be the strongest weapon in this deck because of its synergy with Hammer of Wrath and Duel, giving you something to do in case you didn’t draw Call to Adventure and Nozdormu.
Duel and Commencement provide you with some consistency in your ability to cheat our threats, but Paladin’s issue is how fairly underwhelming these threats are compared to Warrior. Turalyon is a nice card to summon with Duel, but it’s not a win condition by itself like Rattlegore.
With Priest, we’ll start with the simple and finish with what we’re most hyped about.
The Priest set is a bit of an unknown commodity compared to other classes. One of the biggest questions we have is how impactful will Illucia be in Galakrond Priest. We’ve detailed why we think this card could be one of the strongest in the set in our Preview article, and why Priest could still surprise us all despite looking weak on paper.
Illucia fits the theme of Galakrond Priest like a glove and playing her at the right moment could be the difference between winning or losing the game. As frustrating as she might end up being, the tensions she creates when it comes to decision making of both the Priest and his opponent could make for compelling gameplay.
Resurrect Priest has been a very fringe player in the Ashes of Outland meta, but it did receive two very meaningful additions. Raise Dead offers card draw for the archetype at no mana cost and a drawback that almost never matters. Gaining additional copies of minions that you already decided were good enough for the deck is nice, and Raise Dead is particularly strong when combined with Archmage Vargoth. It’s a card that helps alleviate one of the archetype’s biggest problems in the late game, which is getting outvalued (yes, even with Galakrond).
The other potential upgrade is Gift of Luminance. Much like Grave Rune, it increases your threat density and heavily punishes the opponent if one of your minions is left alone. Pretty much anyone of your minions, save for Psychopomp, is a good target for this buff.
This is where Priest’s identity could drastically change. Inner Fire Tempo Priest has been lurking and waiting for better cards, and it got them. Frazzled Freshman and Intrepid Initiate are perfect 1-drops to follow up with buffs. Power Word: Feast is the perfect buff for our 1-drops and Injured Tol’vir. Devout Pupil gives us the opportunity to cheat some mana and possibly buff it on the same turn we play it. Voracious Reader draws us some cards. It’s not ideal but it’s something!
Then, we’ve got Alura, and the highest of high rolls, in having her cast Psyche Split on herself and end games on the spot. Of course, let’s not pretend that any of the other buffs aren’t good either. This build is geared to make Alura as silly as possible.
If you’re wondering why High Priest Amet isn’t here, it’s because he’s fairly underwhelming ever since Divine Spirit was gone. In many situations, he’s just too slow for the archetype that usually wants to get taller than 7 health on turn 4-5. The other legendary that goes in is Illucia because, well… we like winning Hearthstone games.
Just like Anduin, we don’t think Valeera will be letting Galakrond go easily. This archetype might be the only way the class can feel comfortable going into the late game. The good news for the Galakrond faithful is that the deck is getting boosted, especially in the mid-game.
After the recent nerf to Galakrond, fully upgrading the card hasn’t been Rogue’s priority. This has lowered the value of Devoted Maniac, a card we’ve been putting up with for so long. Lilian and Jandice represent two powerful cards that are big upgrades on Maniac.
Another card we’re very curious about is Wand Thief. You might think that Thief has the best chance of seeing play in a Burgle Quest Rogue deck, and we agree it would be a terrific fit there, but we also think it’s worth testing in Galakrond Rogue.
The thinking behind this adjustment is that Pharaoh Cat is weak in the late game, while being very strong on turn 1. We’d much rather draw Wand Thief at later portions of the game since Mage spells can be very powerful in Rogue. Discovering one is certainly more powerful than a random reborn. We’re very likely to find freezes or burn, which can be game changing at times.
Finally, we switch off the underwhelming Skyvateer for Sneaky Delinquent. Delinquent’s impact on the board is much more significant, and by giving us another stealth minion to use later, it greatly helps our Greyheart Sage consistency. It’s a bit of a no brainer, in our opinion.
Secret Passage is the most influential card in the Rogue set, pushing us towards a non-Galakrond direction and a more aggressive shell. There are two main philosophies when it comes to the usage of Secret Passage. In this build, we utilize it as a complementary card to a real Hearthstone deck that is centered on other synergies. Secret Passage essentially acts as a way for us to find a better play or find damage that’s required to finish the game.
Steeldancer could be one of the most powerful 4-drops in the format, and it works perfectly with Self-Sharpening Sword, which we can upgrade to 3 attack by the time we drop Steeldancer the next turn. We also have Vulpera Toxinblade and Deadly Poison as additional weapon buffs. This weapon package is joined by the Stealth package, which serves an important role in helping us control the board and draw cards. The deck is topped by Jandice, which rewards our ability to keep the opponent off the board.
The second philosophy involves going ham. Going real ham. We’re building our entire deck around abusing Secret Passage so that we can basically vomit every single card we can find after playing it. This means that our most expensive card costs two mana and nearly every card we have in our deck equals damage.
This deck is so lightning fast that running Tour Guide to activate Deadly Poison and Southsea Deckhand on turn 2 makes sense. Who wants to spend mana on a hero power anyway?
The Stealth package also works well in this deck because every minion represents face damage, but we don’t need Greyheart Sage here. Voracious Reader is how we draw cards after vomiting cards, and the stealth minions are about enabling Ashtongue Slayer and the 3 instant damage it provides.
By running such a cheap curve, we’re also running a very cheap deck. Secret Passage is the only epic and the deck runs no legendary. F2P BTW.
Shaman is a class with a lot to prove, but even though we haven’t rated its set too highly, it doesn’t mean it didn’t get some crazy good cards. We’re talking about Scholomance Academy, everyone got crazy cards that could end up being extremely impactful.
Totem Shaman is a deck that was significantly boosted by this set. Lightning Bloom is going to be played in every Shaman deck. Trick Totem is a Totemic Reflection target on-curve. Tour Guide might become its very best 1-drop. Totem Goliath is a big threat that is dangerous to ignore, but extremely awkward to remove. Runic Carvings provides the comeback potential that the deck has been missing.
But perhaps the card that will make or break this deck is Diligent Notetaker. Totem Shaman has two very important 0-mana spells besides Lightning Bloom: Totemic Might and Totemic Surge.
Combo Notetaker with Totemic Surge, and you’ve got a stronger, permanent Bloodlust for 2 mana. Therefore, we cut Bloodlust altogether, as it was a necessary evil during Ashes of Outland. Combo Notetaker with Totemic Might, and you have an unkillable totem board. These two power plays are absurdly cheap and could make a huge impact on Shaman’s ability to both stay on the board and leverage it. That’s what Totem Shaman needs to do, besides queuing into a lot of Druids.
There are certain elements in Spell Damage Shaman that we really like. Runic Dagger is a huge consistency factor when it comes to enabling everything we want to do with the deck, since our synergy is less reliant on having a board. Sorcerous Substitute could be a consistent 12/12 on turn 6 thanks to Runic Dagger, for example. Shaman also has a plethora of damage spells that can be used for board development (Portal, Blast). Squallhunter is a massive threat that comes down early.
What we like less about this deck is the lack of card draw compared to Mage’s Cram Session, which is why we might opt for Far Sight as a cycle and a set up for a stronger combo play.
To give us more gas, we run both Lady Vashj and Instructor Fireheart. Vashj is actually a perfect fit for this deck because of how many 3 mana spells we run that could be incredible when drawn by her. Fireheart is a finisher that can help us find damage and is particularly scary when we have spell damage available with her.
But Spell Damage Shaman isn’t the only Shaman deck capable of hitting you with a ton of damage. Quest Shaman also has this potential, and with additional card draw and a few enablers, it can carry a surprising amount of burst.
Tour Guide might be the most important enabler, as it allows us to bank a 0-mana hero power for next turn, and that’s nutty when you consider what we can do with our quest reward. In addition, Manafeeder Panthara draws us 2 cards, and acts as a stronger Novice Engineer after quest completion, making it more likely that we find our damage.
When it comes to damage, we’ve got Weaponized Wasp, which turns into a Fireball, and Cumulo-Maximus turning into a Pyroblast! Overload can be activated with Lightning Bloom, Sludge Slurper, Sandstorm Elemental or the cheap overload spells we generate from Wandmakers and Cobalt Spellkins.
Everything about the Warlock set is clean, and we think the class has a great chance of competing at the top of the meta with multiple decks. While Quest Warlock should enjoy some of the additions in this set, the archetype that could make the biggest comeback is Handlock
Flesh Giant is the new Mountain Giant, fueled by Warlock’s Life Tap and healing capabilities thanks to Soul Fragments as well as Nether Breath. The featured build has everything you want in Handlock: multiple mid-game threats, efficient single target removal, ridiculous AOE prowess, and healing.
The game plan of this deck is to tap early (and we can now tap on 1 thanks to Tour Guide), develop threats, smack face for big damage and finish off the opponent with burn. You’ve got Malicia and Valdris providing late game recovery. Valdris can be a strong tempo play if we manage to draw a giant with it, and due to soul fragments, carries healing potential.
Handlock has both the defensive tools to outlast aggressive decks, and the beatdown tools to pressure slower decks. On paper, it is the complete package, but we’ll have to see whether theory becomes reality. Many decks that looked good on paper didn’t end up thriving as much as they were expected to.
Zoo Warlock has been quite successful in the last two weeks of Ashes of Outland, and it’s in prime position to build on that success.
But Zoo Warlock may not be considered a single archetype anymore. There is a possibility of divergence, with two shells that focus on different packages of synergies.
The first is the Lackey build with Dark Pharaoh Tekhan, which you’re familiar with already. This variant should be boosted by the addition of Gandling, a game-changing 4-drop that you can never leave up on the board. Boneweb Egg should improve the consistency of EVIL Genius, while Tour Guide should be included in every Warlock deck.
The second variant runs Flesh Giant. Yes, Flesh Giant! This build takes advantage of the self-damage mechanics available to the class to suicide itself into big turns. The card draw from Hand of Gul’dan allows us to find our giants, and in some cases, we can even copy them with Expired Merchant. Darkglare can be a ridiculous minion in this build too, cheating out a lot of mana to develop so many threats that the opponent cannot reliably answer.
The card that could make a big impact in this list is Raise Dead, since it’s a 0-mana activator for Darkglare, Diseased Vulture and Brittlebone Destroyer. 0-mana cards with meaningful effects have the tendency to make a big impact eventually, so we’ll see if Raise Dead can follow that trend.
With so many Aggro and Burn decks being hyped up this expansion, it’s a reasonable prediction that Warrior will be around to benefit. The class looks very strong on paper, with both of its primary archetypes receiving big upgrades. Lord Barov is going to be insane with Risky Skipper.
The featured build is meant to be a different twist on Enrage Warrior and not the cookie cutter approach you’d expect to see, but there’s a theory behind it. We don’t just do it for show, but we want to be open-minded and leave no stone unturned.
Since the nerf, Corsair Cache has been a worse card. There’s a scenario in which the power level of the new expansion is so high that playing Corsair Cache on 2 to draw a 2-attack weapon is going to be a liability. It’s already displaying those tendencies today. We can’t consider it to be an auto-include package alongside Liverwire Lance anymore. It will have to be tested.
Enrage Warrior’s early game blowout potential is much stronger with both Divine Honor and Rampage available, and we would like to play both since they increase the consistency and potency of our Kor’kron Elite burst combos. But to play 4 ‘enrage’ buffs, we do need other standalone targets that don’t require Inner Rage besides Warmaul Challenger. Enter Injured Tol’vir, which we already know is a decent early game card in the deck, but one that could get stronger with more buffs available to it.
The final twist is at the top end. If Kor’kron Elite combos can now deal well over 20 damage to our opponent, do we need Grommash Hellscream anymore? It’s possible that Troublemaker will become a superior 8-drop, putting enough pressure on the opponent that they cannot both deal with it and stay out of our Kor’kron combo range.
If you think Lord Barov is going to be nuts in Enrage Warrior, wait until you play it in a deck that also has Sword & Board and Bladestorm. In this archetype, we feel Troublemaker is a much safer inclusion, as we can tell that Bomb-Control Warrior currently lacks late game power. It’s exhibited by the fact it runs Captain Greenskin or Hoard Pillager to increase its damage output, and it’s also shown by the success of a build that runs Galakrond and Kronx with no invokes. Bomb-Control Warrior has scope for improvement there.
This is where Troublemaker comes in. With so many board clears available, there’s a strong likelihood that Warrior will be able to play the 8-drop into an empty board quite often if it survives to this stage, which is just a game-ending play in many matchups. Beyond the inevitability that comes with bombs, Warrior can now boast inevitability through the board, and that is a huge asset. Combined with Blastmaster Boom and Grommash, the finishing potential is right up there.
And yes, we’ve tentatively cut Battle Rage because they’re not particularly good in this archetype already, and it might be less important to dig for resources in a slower archetype when you almost always draw one game-winning play on turn 8. We opt for Shield Block due to an expectation of an aggressive burn meta, but these are flexible slots that can be switched.
We’ve started building this archetype with low expectations and ended up liking it more than we probably should. Big Warrior looks to be exhibiting a solid game plan. It could rise 12 tiers and it wouldn’t be enough (it’s so, so bad right now), but it piques our curiosity.
Reaper’s Scythe is part of the reason why. It’s a weapon that can really put the brakes on an opponent’s development. You can save the Spellburst charge and just dare the opponent to put minions on the board, and the more time you buy, the better you’re positioned. Even if you just end up not getting much value from it, there’s still Ramming Speed and Brawl, which are additional tools that discourage development.
And then we have the late game, which is much more powerful than Big Paladin’s, for example. Rattelgore is a game-changing card in the deck because it’s so ridiculous off Commencement, Dimensional Ripper or Doom Reaver. What do you even do in the late game against that if you don’t carry a silence with you? Add Troublemaker and Deathwing, which are great Big Warrior cards, but also good 8-drops that you can just play out.
The best part is that this is the one deck in this article where Sphere of Sapience makes complete sense. We can get it off Cache and make sure to throw back our threats to the bottom of our deck to increase the chances we can cheat them out through other cards. Having Rattlegore at the bottom of our deck is nuts.
And so, the season of speculation ends. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and not taken everything we’ve said too seriously. Discussing how good decks or cards may be is certainly fun but find us someone who thinks he knows what’s going to happen and you’ll find a fool. Even the game designers themselves can never know where the future lies.
The good news is that we can now experience the actual game with the new cards and see what ends up happening. Next week, there won’t be any speculation. We’ll deliver the facts and present reality. Let’s just hope there won’t be 12 balance changes within the first few days, so we can have that report!
Keep your eyes on this website, there might be a podcast episode popping up soon…
The Vicious Syndicate Team