After completing the comprehensive Festival of Legends preview, 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 Festival of Legends is scheduled for Thursday, April 20th! 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.
Growl Unholy-Aggro Death Knight
Unholy-Aggro DK was already happy to play eggs, but the introduction of Death Growl will likely encourage it to run more of them. Both Foul and Nerubian Egg make for very powerful combinations with Death Growl that help the deck snowball its early game board control. Naval Mine adds a lot of direct pressure on the opponent’s life total, something Unholy DK did not have the option to do before as it is very reliant on dealing damage through minions. Note that you can also cast Growl on enemy minions following a Blightfang!
Tour Guide has tremendous synergy with the deck. Much like Body Bagger on turn 1, it’s a good setup for Battlefield Necromancer on 2. It can help you set up a Nerubian Vizier or Construct Quarter on curve. It offers you two cheap bodies you can surround an egg with before playing Death Growl.
Rowdy Fan is another powerful Egg enabler that’s very difficult to kill on turn 3 and pushes a lot of damage.
The deck has an option to become slower and late-game oriented with Infectious Ghouls, Boneshredders and even Cage Head. There are a lot of possibilities for the deck and they’re all enabled by Death Growl.
Blood-Ctrl DK also received some big upgrades. When you combine it with an overall reduction in power and late game inevitability that’s expected in rotation, we think there’s a good chance that this deck will perform better. It’s already a favorite for many players, so it should be popular.
Tour Guide is an upgrade on 1 because it’s another enabler for a turn 2 Hematurge, a turn 3 Vizier or a turn 4 Construct Quarter. Having the ability to bank a free hero power is very nice for the class, on top of being worth two corpses to get Vampiric Blood online faster.
Arcanite Ripper is a huge early game weapon for the deck. Its baseline is already good even if you just use it to hit two minions, but it can be upgraded very quickly thanks to effects such as Blood Boil and Vampiric Blood.
Screaming Banshee is impossible to ignore. Dropping it on turn 5 is so daunting in faster matchups if your opponent cannot kill you immediately. It just threatens to take over the board completely through trades and becomes particularly backbreaking with Blood Boil, Vampiric Blood and either Death Strike or Gnome Muncher.
Finally, we have our pet suggestion, which is Ghost Writer. Having a single minion able to discover two spells for us could be a big deal, even if the card is quite slow. Blood Death Knight values discover effects very highly, but doesn’t have great value engines currently. Instead, it is forced to run the underwhelming Famished Fool and Amalgam of the Deep.
The deck has the option to run Dirty Rat if it ever needs disruption. This option is meta dependent but could become important at some point in the future. Asphyxiate helps prevent Dirty Rat from backfiring.
Menagerie Blood-Buff Death Knight
This is one of our favorite decklists, one that ZachO boasted a 9-1 record during the theorycrafting streams! Indeed, this deck could be more competitive than it looks.
The idea is to stack as many buff effects as possible, so in addition to Blood Tap and the new Harmonic Metal, Party Animal and Snapdragon skew deckbuilding to stack the list with minions of different tribes that preferably carry battlecries. Snapdragon buffs nearly every minion in the deck, giving it the true 3-mana Keleseth treatment. What’s important is that Nerubian Swarmguard, one of our biggest payoffs, can be buffed by all four of our buff cards.
The rest of the list is carefully diversified to have every minion tribe possible. Undead, Beast, Elemental, Murloc, Naga and Mech are all included. The Amalgam package with Gorloc Ravager means we can draw The One-Amalgam Band more consistently and it’s very often going to acquire a huge number of keywords.
Find your buff cards in the early game and scale up. Banshee/Swarmguard help you stabilize in the mid-game. If you can hit Dissonant Metal on Swarmguard, don’t hesitate. Don’t forget that Zilliax can magnetize an Amalgam!
Deathrattle Rainbow Death Knight
Building Rainbow DK is a tricky proposition, but our idea is to maximize corpse generation and expenditure to get the most out of the biggest payoff in the deck in Climactic Necrotic Explosion. The logic is straightforward.
How do we generate a ton of corpses? The Unholy shell is the strongest candidate to accomplish that thanks to Death Growl and our ability to produce an extremely sticky board. Infectious Ghoul is particularly interesting to utilize with Death Growl and can stress the removal toolkit of a defensive deck. Boneshredder is a corpse spender that is a good fit for a shell running Ghoul and Eggs.
What’s the best corpse spender available to a Rainbow deck? If we’re looking for the best synergy with a deathrattle deck, it’s Malignant Horror, which works really well with Death Growl since it can copy deathrattles you land on it. If not addressed, it can snowball corpse spending quite hard. Other options are Boneguard Commander and Corpse Bride.
The game plan is to flood the board proactively, generate a ton of corpses through sticky boards, stabilize with Sylvanas and Sindragosa, before finally shooting the biggest possible Climactic Necrotic Explosion at our opponent’s face.
This is another deck that performed extremely well in theorycrafting and is shaping up to be one of the new contenders of the format. Outcast Demon Hunter is primed to take over thanks to a healthy rotation and game-changing additions.
Glaivetar is an amazing source of card draw. This weapon can easily draw 4-5 cards on top of offering 8 damage for 4 mana. Rush the Stage tutors our Fierce Outsiders, Vengeful Walloper and Halveria Darkraven, one of the primary win conditions of this build. The amount of card draw in this deck is so high that we’re going to get to the end of our deck very quickly, finding whatever pieces we need to win a matchup.
But card draw isn’t all we have. Rotation is getting rid of a lot of weak outcast cards we didn’t want to randomly generate before, so we expect Wretched Exile and Felerin the Forgotten to perform significantly better, helping us accelerate Wallopers and keeping our hand full.
With so much card draw, we’ve opted to utilize two main win conditions. In board-centric matchups or against opponents without a lot of removal, Halveria/Security is a very strong finisher once we establish board control. In slower matchups, when facing strong defensive decks that carry a lot of removal to deny our board development, S’theno/Rowdy is a burst combo that can easily deal 30 damage on an empty board.
Rowdy Fan is a much stronger enabler for Lady S’theno than Abusive Sergeant. It deals 50% more damage per spell cast and is a better standalone card. Sometimes you just buff a minion and hit them for an extra 4 damage.
The Lady S’theno/Rowdy Fan combo is why we’re running both Predation and Dispose of Evidence, which greatly enhances our reach from hand. Dispose is not a problem to run in this deck because our hand is constantly full. In some situations, it’s helpful to get a card out of our hand and free up an outcast for activation.
Early game. Late game. Card draw. Card generation. Board finishers. Off-board finishers. Outcast DH looks like the total package. It’s got everything needed to succeed. Watch out for this one.
Pure aggression is another way to deal a lot of damage as a Demon Hunter. Aggro DH got some meaningful Core set upgrades on top of impactful neutrals that can change its fortune. Kayn Sunfury is back. A 4-mana Metamorphosis is on the menu. Cult Neophyte is an old favorite for the archetype. Rowdy Fan can act as part of a combo piece with S’theno but will usually just be a strong standalone card.
This is also the perfect deck for Pozzik. Aggro DH loves to frontload stats early in the game. Pozzik does exactly that, giving you a very intimidating threat that stresses an opponent’s removal options on top of adding junk to their hand. This makes it less likely that they can draw cards from Sightless Magistrate!
Relic DH might be losing Jace, but the Relic package ensures it can still maintain a strong late game. Can you tell we like the Lady S’theno/Rowdy Fan combo? Thanks to Relic of Dimensions, this combo is quite easy to execute in this deck and offers a ton of damage that is lost through the rotation of Guild Trader and Fel Barrage.
Demon Hunter is getting a big upgrade in the AOE department too, which makes it easier to clean up the board and set up our finisher. Immolation Aura gives Silvermoon Arcanist another spell to juice up, dealing 4 AOE damage to the board (3+1).
Finally, Taste of Chaos could be quite useful for slower Demon Hunter decks since the Fel pool is very small. You’re likely to find AOE, healing or damage when you need it.
Spell Demon Hunter is not going anywhere either, being just recently introduced in March of the Lich King. This build tries to leverage a token package with Security/Coordinated Strike/Warband to ‘bring back’ Sinful Brand to the format. Kind of, because Sinful Brand is already doing damage in the current format thanks to the nerf reversion of Final Showdown on its final week in Standard before rotation.
Feast of Souls is a strong draw engine with our token cards, which double up as both damage tools and board control tools. Spell DH’s shell is generally very strong in faster matchups.
The deck’s finisher is, once again, the Lady S’theno/Rowdy Fan combo. This sure is going to look bad for us when this combo ends up unplayable, huh? But considering Abusive Sergeant is currently utilized by Spell Quest DH very successfully, we have good reasons to believe it can work here.
A cute product of running Dispose of Evidence to increase our reach with S’theno/Fan is the potential utilization of Going Down Swinging. If there’s one deck that can use the card well on its release, it’s Spell DH. A turn 5 GDS/DoE looks devastating for a board centric deck.
Druid should look like a completely different class in rotation, looking to reinvent its ability to stabilize in the early-to-mid game and concoct a strong win condition into the late game.
Summer Flowerchild has the potential to enable many possibilities. It is the primary build-around card for all the strategies we’re showcasing for Druid. Its ability to both tutor and discount our late game cards means we can manipulate deckbuilding to our advantage and execute our big turns faster and more consistently. Every Ramp Druid list in this article has a package of cards meant to be drawn together to set up a big blow out turn.
The hero power package is very likely to be common in Druid decks. Free Spirit, Groovy Cat and Peaceful Piper form an early game core of six cards. Piper can draw either Cat or Spirit. This package helps enable Rake to become a very strong removal option. Spread the Word, another key draw engine in Druid, can have its cost reduced very easily thanks to this package.
The first build involves Anub’Rekhan and Zok. The main combo to execute is Anub’Rekhan, Underking(s) and Zok. This produces a massive board that stops our opponent in their tracks thanks to Zok’s taunts, which are likely to have a ridiculous amount of health. We can then use Crazed Alchemist to flip that health into our attack to finish our opponent off, which means even slower decks are under threat by Zok’s taunts.
Alternatively, we can utilize Anub’Rekhan in combination with Jailer and Tony as our final game ending push. This does require you to have some armor from your upgraded hero power if you’re planning on playing all three together. You play Jailer first and Tony second if faced with a deck that cannot clear immune minions. This is a play that doesn’t necessarily require Anub’Rekhan and can be done over two turns. You play Tony first and Jailer second if facing a deck that can clear your immune board. They either take tons of damage from your board, or they clear it and put themselves in fatigue. Checkmate.
An alternative build looks to take advantage of the synergy between Timber Tambourine, Rhythm and Roots and Drum Circle to create a different kind of blow out.
The plan is to play either Timber Tambourine or Rhythm and Roots on 4 mana. This can be done consistently thanks to Instrument Tech giving us another chance of finding a turn 4 play. This is followed up by either Summer Flowerchild or Nourish on 5 mana. The final turn is when the Ancients are summoned to the board, in which you play any number of Green-Thumb Gardeners followed by Drum Circle to turn your massive board into taunts. This should completely shut down an aggressive deck and demands immediate mass removal from a slower deck to survive.
The third Ramp Druid build is quite different from the first two, but similarly takes advantage of Summer Flowerchild. The top end cards here are Topior, Death Beetle and Life from Death. The ability to tutor Topior very consistently and drop it on turn 6 is very appealing. Life from Death can infuse easily after Topior, since our deck is filled with Nature spells that summon 3/3 rush minions to the board. This ensures we can quickly turn the corner against aggressive decks while setting up our late game combo.
Death Beetle requires the help of Audio Amplifier to activate. After that, with one Beetle drawn by Summer Flowerchild and discounted, we can play both in the same turn once we hit 11 mana, dealing 20 damage to our opponent.
More late game win conditions are available to choke our opponent out of the game. Queen Azshara and Solar Eclipse are quite dangerous together thanks to the ability to find two colossal minions. Photographer Fizzle can be used to copy our Death Beetles, and the snapshot can be further amplified by Solar Eclipse. This deck has a lot of card draw thanks to Life from Death and a lot of cheap cards you can dump from hand, making Fizzle a serious possibility. Add Astalor and it’s difficult for the opponent to outlast us.
This is no Ramp Druid. This is Poison Rogue! This build takes the hero power package and builds the deck entirely around it to smack your opponent in the head with an oppressively big button. Unending Swarm is tutored by Summer Flowerchild to resurrect our Groovy Cats and Free Spirits, scaling our hero power further. Zola can also copy one of our hero power enablers, depending on whether we need more damage or more armor.
More damage is added on top of our hero power to hit our opponent harder. Feral Rage, Harmonic Mood, and Pounce, the first two potentially amplified by Solar Eclipse to deal a lot of burst damage.
At the top end, we have Zok, which could be quite a threat with our scaling hero power, in addition to being potentially played on curve thanks to Tour Guide. Since our curve is low and we run Unending Swarm, Life from Death provides us with more fuel to find our damage.
Festival of Legends could mean the return of Face Hunter. This list was tested during theorycrafting streams and produced very strong results. The archetype has been missing from the format for a while, but new cards introduced in this set work perfectly to further its game plan.
Bunch of Bananas is a very flexible buff that, in combination with Doggie Biscuit, means that it is very punishing to ignore the Hunter’s early game minions. It makes Trinket Tracker a very appealing tutor for the deck as well. Barrel of Monkeys makes sure the Hunter has a lot of early bodies to sink buffs into, while protecting other snowballing threats.
Thornmantle Musician is a strong 1-drop that’s worth 6 stats points overall if you activate Finale, which you should always be able to do in this deck. Arrow Smith is very similar to Kolkar Pack Runner in its ability to control the board and acts as a pseudo Raz Naz’jan to direct damage face on an empty board. It’s particularly strong with Bananas and offers us another early game Naga to activate Naga’s Pride.
At the top end, underestimate Jungle Jammer at your peril. This weapon offers a lot of off-board damage and board development to a deck. Bananas and Monkeys easily upgrade it to summon a big threat on its 2nd swing. Pozzik is the perfect card for the hyperaggressive Face Hunter and is an alternative turn 4 play.
At the top, Mister Mukla is a big threat in slower matchups. It both denies your opponent’s next draw by burning a card through filling their hand, as well as makes it very difficult for them to dig for answers.
The deck looks like a mean, lean, killing machine.
Big-Beast Hunter is facing major upheaval, but early game updates as well as new ways to cheat out big threats could keep it relevant in the format.
Monkeys and Bananas should be valuable in Big-Beast Hunter, as they offer the deck ways to snowball early in slower matchups and defend itself against aggressive decks thanks to the cheap taunts.
The big beast package changes. Mountain Bear and Pet Collector are gone. Banjosaur is a threat that tutors your other beasts and offers a prime target to Big Dreams and Faithful Companions. Amplified Elekk, as the strongest defensive beast available, should do some heavy lifting in stopping aggression in its tracks. Mister Mukla needs no introduction.
Faithful Companions and Strangethorn Heart are the deck’s late game finishers. If Hunter manages to hit turn 10, it’s in a very good position to win the game, which is why we have a strong preference to continue utilizing Renathal in the deck.
Many players are assuming that Spitter Hunter cannot possibly be viable after rotation. It makes sense considering the archetype is losing several key pieces; but there are some cards that it can certainly utilize to stay afloat.
Monkeys and Bananas are just far too good in the early game and can help Spitter Hunter find early chip damage. Instrument Tech is a huge card for the deck, since you’re guaranteed to find a weapon in the early game without the need to run so many weapons.
The loss of a consistent turn 5 Hydralodon is a big deal, but the ability to play Mister Mukla as the 3rd beast in Selective Breeder’s discover pool is quite tempting. The amount of pressure you can apply through it in slow matchups might buy you enough time to stack up your Shockspitters to do respectable damage.
Mage’s set is quite exciting. The class’ late game potential is enormous and one of the key pieces that can be utilized to help the Mage deal an absurd amount of damage is Lightshow. This list was another top performer for ZachO during theorycrafting streams. Our game plan is to copy Lightshow as many times as possible to scale up the card until the opponent can sustain through it no more.
The idea is to run a very narrow package of spells alongside Volume Up. Rewind, Solid Alibi and Lightshow are the only other spells, which means you have an extremely high likelihood of being able to copy Lightshow off Volume Up’s Finale. If necessary, copying a Rewind or a Solid Alibi isn’t bad either! This deck utilizes Volume Up as a very hard tutor for our game plan.
Additional copies of Lightshow can also be found through Rewind, Commander Sivara, and Audio Splitter. Since Lightshow is the 2nd most expensive spell in the deck after Volume Up, it’s not difficult to copy it with Splitter.
There is one conflicting synergy in the deck. We really want to be able to utilize Cosmic Keyboard in the deck because it’s a very powerful card that helps us cast Volume Up without falling behind on board. However, our spell pool needs to be very small. So, we run a bunch of discover minions that don’t interfere with Volume Up. Suspicious Alchemist, Prismatic Elemental and Hipster help us fight for board in the early game and juice up our Rommath.
In terms of late game damage, the ceiling is very high. We have an Arcane Bolt package alongside Vexallus (which can also be used with Rewind and Lightshow). We have Aegwynn and Silvermoon Arcanist that boost Lightshows further, turning them into devastating nukes that can clear full boards. A Rommath that repeats 3 Lightshows deals 42 damage if you’ve played 5 during a game. No deck in the format should be able to outlast an Arcane Mage.
Mage has another very fun way of ending games. This is another build that proved to be surprisingly effective during theorycrafting. The DJ Manastorm Mage!
In the same vein as Arcane Mage, this deck utilizes Volume Up as a tutor for a relatively small package of spells that offer damage and stalling: Solid Alibi, Blizzard, Fireland’s Portal and Pyroblast. We have Cosmic Keyboard alongside the early game discover package, but this time we also have a few expensive spells that are very strong with Keyboard as well as Arcane Artificer.
Our late game win condition consists of Bonelord and DJ Manastorm. Once you’ve accumulated enough damage by copying Pyroblasts with Audio Splitter or Volume Up, play your Bonelord. A dead Bonelord means a 0-cost DJ Manastorm, which allows you to kill your opponent instantly with a barrage of Pyroblasts and Fireland’s Portals. Sometimes the deck wins thanks to Bonelord without even drawing Manastorm. A 0-mana Pyroblast at the start of every turn is quite hard to deal with. Sometimes the deck wins thanks to Manastorm without Bonelord. Manastorm played with Blizzard or Solid Alibi is a strong setup for the kill turn.
Frost Mage is losing Frostweave Dungeoneer, so there’s no reason to go exclusively for Frost spells. A minion shell that supports an aggressive Frozen Touch deck is still there and we can even copy Frozen Touch with Volume Up sometimes!
This deck lacks strong turn 2 plays in the Mage set, so we filled the gap with a couple of neutral minions that fit this deck well. Audio Medic and Rolling Stone help you establish early board control. Rolling Stone should be active almost always thanks to the abundance of 1-cost cards in the deck, both starting in the deck and generated. Arcane Bolt is its best friend!
Finally, Pozzik is a no brainer inclusion. It puts a lot of pressure on the opponent and can infuse a Frozen Touch by itself.
Mech decks have received a lot of support in the new Hearthstone year. Magnetic mechs have been brought to the Core set with buffs (Bronze Gatekeeper, Replicating Menace, Wargear). Frequency Oscillator is a very strong 1-drop that works particularly well with Mecha-Shark and Seafloor Gateway. Pozzik threatens a Zilliax/Wargear follow-up if the opponent kills Pozzik but doesn’t deal with his bots. Ini Stormcoil becomes much more powerful with magnetics in the format.
The goal of the deck is the same as it was during Sunken City. Find Seafloor Gateway and let Mecha-Shark go off. We think the idea of running Audio Splitter to copy Seafloor Gateway is optimistic, since you need to find both cards before you can play Splitter. It delays your turn 3 Gateway and might lead you to fall behind too hard. If it does work, it can allow Mech Mage to set up pseudo-OTK’s with Mecha-Shark.
Pure Paladin has a strong chance to become one of the frontrunners of the new meta without utilizing any Festival of Legends cards! For this archetype, the Core set updates have been massive, turning its Silver Hand Recruit variant into an efficient machine. Dude Paladin looks very clean.
Muster for Battle is one of the best Paladin cards ever. It makes infusing Buffet Biggun on-curve trivial, in addition to synergizing extremely well with Class Action Lawyer. Hand of A’dal is a great follow-up to any of our 1-drops and adds another application for Kotori Lightblade. Lothraxion the Redeemed makes it that much harder to clear our boards and turns Stand Against Darkness into an exponentially better card.
The Order in the Court game plan looks ruthless. It starts with Blood Crusader/The Countess, into Lothraxion the Redeemed, into Stand Against Darkness/Buffet Biggun, into Muster/Seal/Jury Duty/Trainer. If you happen to outlast invitations, you will then have to overcome wave after wave of shielded dudes, waiting to be buffed the moment you run out of answers.
We are very curious about the possibility of Pure Paladin running Annoy-o-Troupe to cheat it out with Blood Crusader. It does delay our Countess turn following Order in the Court, but in faster matchups, a turn 6 Annoy-o-Troupe can end the game. Your opponent just can’t hit your face with minions, pretty much ever, so taking 9 damage is a worthwhile price to pay. Since we don’t have a tutor for Order in the Court anymore, it might be wise to have a stronger alternative game plan, much like Dude Paladin’s.
Annoy-o-Troupe does have another upside. The small mech package with The Purator can activate Goldwing often enough to be quite impactful. This build does seem to have more comeback potential, if you don’t get burnt down off-board, which is always going to be an issue for Pure Paladin.
Big Paladin got an exciting set of cards that may help it become more powerful than it’s ever been, which admittedly doesn’t say much considering this archetype has never been very good. This build attempts to maximize the consistency in which we can cheat out threats once we hit turn 6 thanks to Masked Reveler.
The big minion package consists of strong Reveler/Kangor targets. You have the colossal minions, Amplified Elekk (this card turns into Reno Jackson if you pull it with Kangor) and Stoneborn General.
Then you have Annoy-o-Troupe, of course, the cornerstone card of the deck. Lead Dancer can pull Troupe or Kangor. Reveler and Lead Dancer have some anti-synergy, but we think the deck should live with it. Just don’t hit Dancer off Reveler, it’s quite simple!
The deck did receive some survivability boosts too, which should help all Control Paladin decks throughout the year. A 3-mana Consecration makes for a good Equality combo following the loss of City Tax. Hammer of Wrath is now a useful card. Truesilver Champion heals for more. Starlight Groove makes Paladin quite tanky and annoying to push damage against, working in tandem with Annoy-o-Troupe. One shuts down minion damage extremely well, the other negates off-board damage extremely well.
Our biggest question mark for the deck; How does it fare against other defensive decks in the format, packed with removal? There is no great inevitability plan here.
The support for the Mech tribe has not gone unnoticed in the Paladin class. In addition to magnetics and Frequency Oscillator, we really like Disco Maul’s ability to set up a big, buffed minion that we can then land a magnetic on. In fact, we like Disco Maul in any kind of aggressive deck that doesn’t directly synergize with Muster for Battle.
Overheal is the new keyword in the Priest class. The mechanic seems generally supportive of an aggressive deck due to the snowballing nature of the minions that were given the ability. The featured build’s curve attempts to consistently activate Overheal at the earliest turn these minions can be played. Idol’s Adoration, Tour Guide and Fan Club are the setup cards for Holy Champion, Mana Geode and Heartthrob. Injured Tol’vir isn’t an Overheal minion, but it’s quite good in this setup too.
The deck aims to flood the board and snowball. With multiple minions in play, Dreamboat can activate several Overheal minions and get a sizeable stat buff. Sunfury Clergy and Holy Nova are additional mass overheal triggers.
At the top end, we have Pozzik and Hedanis. Hedanis works well with Flash Heal to instantly deal 5 damage to a random enemy while developing a 4/8. Flash Heal is also strong with Heartthrob on turn 4.
Undead Priest has gotten quite a bit of help in a push to keep it viable. Darkbishop Benedictus is staying in Standard by being added to the Core set. Most of the shell remains intact, but the archetype is losing its best card in Voidtouched Attendant.
The Burn variant of Undead Priest is currently the superior one. Furthermore, the Swarm build is even more reliant on Attendant to win games since it more often comes online as a board damage buff in the deck. Considering these facts, we should expect that the Burn variant is going to be stronger post-rotation.
One new card that fits perfectly in the deck is Idol’s Adoration. It is a double Tour Guide without the body, which happens to be an upside when you don’t want to dilute your Animate Dead resurrection pool.
Control Priest has received one of the strongest cards in the set in Love Everlasting. The archetype looks primed to perfect the most grindy game plan known to a Hearthstone player. We’re featuring a build that attempts to leverage Love Everlasting in the best way possible, by utilizing a Thief package.
This deck is filled with an obscene number of discover and generation effects, with the goal of fighting for board while accumulating spells in hand to outpace the opponent once Love Everlasting comes online. Psychic Conjurer is a pretty good 1-drop after its health buff. Hipster should be a strong choice too. The high number of undead minions means Nerubian Vizier and Grave Digging should be active often. With the deck running 4 locations after the addition of Fan Club, Dispossessed Soul becomes an interesting option.
At the top end, Ghost Writer makes the cut as our pet card for attrition decks. Sister Svalna is the card you most want to find after playing Love Everlasting, as it ensures you never have to worry about keeping it up. Clean the Scene and Harmonic Pop are the best AOE options for the archetype. Clean the Scene gets infused easily because of our minion density, while Harmonic Pop is an amazing follow-up on turn 4 to Love Everlasting.
A surprising weakness in the new Control Priest is the absence of strong healing cards, which is why Fan Club is included and Cannibalize will likely be important. Dirty Rat could be added if necessary.
Miracle Rogue is at a crossroads. Most of its shell has not been lost to rotation, but it needs to find a solution to its Draka problem. The loss of Mailbox Dancer means that one of its primary win conditions may not be able to perform at the same level. The featured build attempts to replace Dancer with Murkwater Scribe. Scribe’s discounting potential and synergy with Shadowstep (just remember to not waste the spell discount on it!) can function as a mana cheating engine that could fuel Draka.
A card that Miracle Rogue has previously utilized and is returning to the Core set is Cult Neophyte. Neophyte is a solid way to end a Miracle turn and makes it more difficult for your opponent to respond to your threats.
Alternatively, Miracle Rogue may choose to drop Draka altogether and incorporate a Combo package with Record Scratcher and Rhyme Spinner. This requires a sizeable number of combo cards. In addition to Gone Fishing’ and Ghostly Strike, we add Disc Jockey (which is very important since it generates more combo cards) and Beatboxer.
Since we’ll be looking to prioritize bouncing the combo package back to our hand with either Shadowstep or Breakdance, we drop most of the Concoction package to make space.
The game plan is to exploit the mana refresh trigger of Record Scratcher to accelerate Rhyme Spinner into becoming a blowout card with Breakdance.
One card the Combo variant might be able to utilize better is Astalor. Rogue normally can’t afford to bounce back the 2nd and 3rd stage copies of Astalor but Breakdance is a good bounce effect to use on bigger minions, giving us a 1 mana rusher to impact the board and banking another Astalor to use later.
Is Thief Rogue’s time finally over, or will the archetype’s stubborn grip at relevance keep it alive longer? Quite frankly, rotation is brutal to the archetype. Its late game doesn’t seem scary anymore and it’s extremely reliant on Tess Greymane to carry it through drawn out games.
The Trickster/Jackpot blowouts are still there and so is Queen Azshara. Swashburglar has been buffed to a decent statline. New cards that could be useful for the deck are Mixtape and Hipster. Hipster is particularly useful at finding us a spell to Trickster on turn 4, reducing our dependence on Jackpot to get the most out of the tricky 4-drop.
Rogue has received some weapon synergy cards in Mic Drop and Harmonic Hip Hop. The best weapon to utilize them with in the new format will be Swordfish, so we’ve opted to build a new Pirate Rogue deck that’s centered on these pieces.
Instrument Tech is an extremely valuable addition to this deck, as it is paramount to find Swordfish on turn 3. Running 2 copies of Tech helps us achieve that much more consistency, which means it’s more likely that Mic Drop and Harmonic Hip Hop are used optimally.
An important pirate that has snuck back into the Core set is Dread Corsair. That makes a turn 3 Swordfish even better, as you’re nearly guaranteed to buff it to 4 attack and discount Corsair to 0 mana with the number of pirates in the deck.
Shaman’s Overload set sparks questions. It seems capable of competing in faster matchups. Altered Chord is a particularly strong survivability tool that we love in this deck. Pack the House is an adequate win condition against faster decks too, but how does Shaman compete in the late game?
After thinking it through, our suggestion is a Prescience build. The reason we like Prescience is that it tutors Inzah, the centerpiece of our deck. It enables us to play Pack the House on 6 more often and allows us to do other neat things.
One card that players are not thinking about enough is post-rotation Azsharan Scroll. There are only two Frost spells available to Shaman: Chill Vibes and Cold Storage. Cold Storage can be used to copy Inzah and play it again, while Chill Vibes is a strong heal against aggressive decks. There are also only three Fire spells available to Shaman: Blazing Transmutation, Scalding Geyser and ‘JIVE, INSECT!’. Do we need to explain further why Azsharan Scroll could be nuts here?
Our goal in the late game against the most defensive-minded decks is to generate or draw ‘JIVE, INSECT’ and copy our Ragnaros with Criminal Lineup. This can be done with the help of Jazz Bass or a couple of Inzahs through Cold Storage.
We obviously don’t need to do this in most other matchups. Queen Azshara, which is another target for Prescience in our spell-centric deck, can give us Ring of Tides which we can use to repeat Jive or Pack the House. We can also just go for the random colossal, since colossal minions are strong. Just look at Glugg.
The final Prescience minion is Famished Fool. We thought about this a lot and there aren’t other great options, but having a draw engine that can be partially activated by Prescience itself is alright. Shaman needs the card draw.
This build is more value-centric and doesn’t rely on burst damage through spells to kill opponents, so we’ve skipped on Overdraft. We don’t expect to play many overload cards in one turn.
Shaman’s ability to compete in the early game looks quite promising. Totem Shaman is being rejuvenated by Core set updates, bringing Thing from Below and Grand Totem Eys’or back to Standard. Thing from Below and Gigantotem form a pair of legitimate win conditions for the deck, with Shaman looking to slowly encroach on the opponent with totems before the big bombs drop.
An Amalgam package with Gorloc Ravager is an obvious way to give Totem Shaman card draw while accelerating our payoff cards with Clownfish/Amalgam plays. Tour Guide gives us a solid turn 1 play and a strong setup for a turn 2 Anchored Totem. The extra totems we can generate in the early game make it easier for us to infuse Party Favor Totem and Totemic Evidence.
Finally, we add JIVE, INSECT! Every Shaman deck should probably run this card. In a proactive deck, it’s a backbreaking play because your opponent is already busy trying to fend off your board development. Needing to deal with a giant 8/8 that shoots 8 damage at their face every turn will often be too much for them to handle.
Shaman could form a Menagerie archetype that’s more aggressive in nature. Frostfin Chomper could finally have enough support to see play. It’s a card we’ve wanted to work on for a while because of its potential with Anchored Totem. Rolling Stone and Brass Elemental are two Elementals that fit the archetype well and activate Chomper alongside the Amalgams. Both are rush minions that scale with Party Animal buffs. Rolling Stone should be very consistent thanks to Schooling, and Brass Elemental is quite scary when you’re also running Rowdy Fan.
Warlock is gearing up to have an exciting start of the expansion with many possible paths. One of the main packages introduced in this set is the fatigue package. Not true to its name, this package seems to be the best fit in Imp Warlock, since both Crazed Conductor and Baritone Imp provide it with imp-ish threats at different stages of the game.
Some of the damage we inflict on ourselves could start to stack up if we’re approaching the late game, so Void Virtuoso is a cheap demon that helps us avoid it. We could even run Felstring Harp, though the card doesn’t fit the deck particularly well since it’s a dead draw early in the game. If we want some late game healing, it makes more sense to add something that also hurts our opponent, such as Dar’Khan Drathir.
Chad Warlock looks scary. It seems to have received a big boost both in its early game survivability and late game consistency. This could be a breakout deck for the expansion. The addition of a Voidcaller package with Mal’Ganis and Enhanced Dreadlord gives it another mid-game spike alongside Amorphous Slime. These threats become impossible to ignore thanks to Cover Artist.
Tour Guide is going into every single Warlock deck for the next year. Felstring Harp should be an auto-include in any late game strategy that looks to survive the early game. The buff to Hellfire makes it very strong following a turn 2 Harp. Defile is the best Warlock AOE spell of all time and Gul’dan welcomes it back with open arms.
Then we have Symphony of Sins, which is the ultimate late game card. It has amazing synergy in Chad Warlock, since Movement of Pride tutors and discounts Mr. GigaChad himself, Thaddius. Sometimes we pull Chad earlier in the game and Pride finds us a Flesh Behemoth or Mal’Ganis, making us very upset (not). If you run Symphony in your deck, it’s advised to run Finley too.
This is one deck where we believe E.T.C can be useful (this time for sure!). We can store Rivendare in E.T.C for the matchups we need it for and avoid it being pulled by a Slime or a Behemoth in matchups we don’t need it. The other band members are also quite neat: Spirit Bomb for the emergency removal, or Sunfury Clergy for the heal.
We can skip the Big Undead package and go for a heavier focus on demons. This is the one deck in which we think Demonic Dynamics makes sense. If you want to understand why, head over to the Warlock section in our Preview article where we explain the odds of redundancy here.
In addition to potentially adding consistency to a Voidcaller package, Demonic Dynamics becomes more valuable when we run Jailer, since it has a high likelihood of finding us another Mal’Ganis and we’d ideally like to have more than one Mal’Ganis in our deck. Yes, this deck is going for the ultimate immunity combo! One of our win conditions is to tutor Jailer with Movement of Pride and follow it up with Mal’Ganis. We can also shove the Jailer to the bottom of our deck through Finley if he’s drawn too early.
A 4 mana Jailer has another special use. If you remember the Jailer/Tony combo in Druid from earlier, you should see where we’re going with this. Thanks to Movement of Pride, this finisher is also possible in Warlock.
We’ve added a few other big threats that can win a game by themselves in faster matchups if we decide to cheese an early Jailer. An immune Mish-Mash Mosher permanently clears the board, all while stacking its attack to kill the opponent very quickly. A Gigafin that cannot die, can’t resurrect the board it swallowed. An immune Dar’Khan Drathir is quite obscene too.
This deck is more hilarious than it’s ever supposed to be good, but we had to build one deck around Rin. The build runs only four ‘real’ minions: Explosive Sheep, Azshara, Rin and Rivendare.
Our goal is to play Rin, potentially with Shallow Grave, to delete a bunch of cards from both players’ decks. We then proceed to repeat this play with Habeas Corpses and Cover Artist. No deck that looks to win through a specific late game win condition should be able to recover from this.
You ask yourself, how are we supposed to win after nuking our own deck? One way is to precede the Rin turns with an Azshara copying Symphony of Sins. Another is to let Rivendare die. We can then Habeas Corpses the Rivendare post-Rin to shuffle a win condition back into our deck.
This deck may not have minions, but it does have some neat defensive tools. Habeas Corpses can be used to resurrect an Explosive Sheep to repeatedly clear an aggressive opponent’s board. We can also copy Sheeps with Cover Artists.
As we’ve said, this is likely a Tier 10 deck, but it sure sounds funny. If this is your kind of jam, we got you covered.
Blackrock N Roll Control Warrior
There is no doubt that Warrior is a class on shaky ground, but there is some potential for it to be competitive. It’s not looking dead in the water. There are some useful pieces that can help the class establish ‘some’ relevance. Blackrock ‘n’ Roll is a serious win condition for Control Warrior in a package with Lor’themar Theron. Some of Warrior’s late game threats become extremely dangerous if they’re on the receiving end of these buffs.
A taunt package with Last Stand, Silverfury Stalwart and Zilliax should be able to end games on the spot against any deck that doesn’t have silence or non-targeted removal. Remornia and Trenchstalker can kill an opponent the moment they drop to the board without any counterplay.
When it comes to survivability, Kodohide Drumkit needs to do a lot of work. An instrument tech makes sure we find it on turn 4 consistently, while Rockstar helps us upgrade it quickly alongside several cheap armor gain cards.
Menagerie Blackrock N Roll Warrior
There’s an option to stack more threats in our deck and run Renathal to help us bridge into the mid-game. This deck is more akin to a Big-Beast Hunter than it is a Control Warrior, with a seemingly endless number of threats, as well as From the Depths to cheese them out earlier.
These threats are also diversified to tribes, so Roaring Applause and The One-Amalgam Band become strong considerations. Drum Soloist is a good fit here, helping us get back to the board if we’ve fallen behind. The deck generally runs a lot of taunts to defend itself from aggression, so Armagedillo can get quite a bit of value.
Kodohide Drumkit doesn’t make too much sense in this kind of deck since Drumkit requires significant support from an armor package, so we’ve opted for the forgotten Azsharan Trident. It gives us a turn 3 play backed up by two ways to Dredge out Sunken Trident on turn 4.
Roaring Applause is a fantastic card that fits a faster deck best, since a Menagerie Warrior with a low curve can flood the board and activate it harder. The mech tribe looks like the important core tribe in Warrior since magnetic buffs provide us with the required finishing potential.
The build runs mostly mechs, amalgams and a few standalone tribal cards to make sure Power Slider becomes a reasonably strong swing card in the mid-game. Hookfit-3000 has extra value as a dual tribe minion and offers a strong follow up play to a turn 2 Woodcutter’s Axe. Frequency Oscillator can help us connect a magnetic buff a turn earlier. Stereo Totem is another early buff card next to Party Animal. Pozzik has good synergy with Wargear and Zilliax because of its deathrattle. If Voone is ever a strong card, it’s going to be in this kind of deck.
The 41st deck in this article. We’ll be frank. ZachO ran into this deck during theorycrafting many times while trying out about 10 different decks. He never lost. Tony Warrior had a 0% win rate against every deck he tested. The win condition is scary on paper. Play Tony and cast Fires of Zin-Azshari to transform your opponent’s deck. Once Tony dies, play Steamcleaner and put your opponent in fatigue. Chorus Riff helps tutor your minions to make this combo more consistent and come online as early as turn 7.
But the supporting shell is just not there. Riffs aren’t terrible cards, but they aren’t great either. The deck just dies, sometimes after playing the combo, because the combo doesn’t affect the board and the Warrior can still get punched in the head by the opponent’s remaining resources.
Perhaps ZachO’s opponents didn’t build the deck as well as they could have. Here you go, a perfect 30 list of Tony Warrior for you to lose games with on Day 1 of the expansion.
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 as well.
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 April 20th, when Data Reaper Report #261 comes out.
We’ll see you then.
The Vicious Syndicate Team