After completing the comprehensive Showdown in the Badlands 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 Showdown in the Badlands is scheduled for Thursday, November 23rd! 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.
We have a major announcement to make! On Sunday, November 19th, we will have an in-house tournament for Gold and Patreon subscribers on the Mobius App. It will be a best-of-three, conquest tournament. There will be prizes, so it might be wise to pay attention to the early frontrunners of the meta and prepare a line up for this event. Details of how to sign up will be provided in our supporters’ channel on discord.
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.
It’s time for the showdown!
Many players tip Plague DK to be an influential strategy in the format due to its ability to disrupt the Highlander deck restriction and turn off Reno. We think its future success largely depends on whether it can find an extra level of power, through the new cards, to be able to contest non-Highlander decks. The most obvious and available candidate to be included in the archetype is the Excavate package with Reska.
The Plague and Excavate packages don’t necessarily talk to each other, but excavating provides Plague DK with treasures to contest an enemy’s pressure, with the ultimate swing turn offered by Reska. A Reska revived by The Azerite Rat can decimate an enemy’s board, while gaining life in the process.
The Azerite Rat has two other reasonable targets for resurrection. One is Chained Guardian. The minion may already have reborn, but rush minions are still quite good resurrection targets for the Rat thanks to the 2/2 buff, while giving Chained Guardian lifesteal provides a lot of recovery. The 3rd minion in priority is The Primus. For the Titan, lifesteal may not be the best, but giving it reborn makes it harder to remove cleanly.
Rainbow Death Knight got a lot of support in this set. Will it be enough to finally push it to competitive play? The jury is out, but there are some reasons to be optimistic. The featured build runs Renathal to accommodate more corpse spending and generation, to boost Climactic Necrotic Explosion’s potential ceiling.
Several key additions will be a welcome sight for the archetype. Crop Rotation is a strong responsive tool that generates a lot of corpses. Corpse Farm is now the best corpse spender with a single rune requirement, forming a good combination with the recently reworked Stitched Giant, which now only requires a single Unholy rune.
For survivability, Fistful of Corpses offers strong single target removal that utilizes the deck’s primary resource. Maw and Paw is a decent stabilizing card in the mid-game.
Since Rainbow specializes in corpse generation and minion death, it makes sense to run Reska alongside the Excavate package, as the legendary can get discounted very quickly. This deck is about grinding out opponents through hordes of minions, developing big threats with corpse payoffs, then pivoting to late game swings while building up their primary nuke.
One of the most interesting ideas we’ve brewed is a Cage Head OTK deck. We think this strategy got several game changing tools that make the 8-drop worth revisiting. The Excavate package targets the resurrection of Blight Boar, which costs 9 mana, making it the most expensive minion in the deck.
Crop Rotation is a big swing card that can be utilized alongside Acolyte of Death to draw 4 cards, or Sickly Grimewalker to clear an enemy board with poisonous rush minions. Acolyte of Death can also trigger more easily thanks to Pile of Bones being constantly redeveloped.
There are two primary win conditions for the deck. The first involves The Azerite Rat resurrecting a Blight Boar with Reborn. Blight Boar is then copied by Sinister Soulcage to produce two 13/13 Blight Boars with Reborn. You attack with the Boars and then play Dead Air, which summons four 9/9 Blight Boars. The total charge damage here is 62, which is very difficult to outlast. The Azerite Rat/Sinister Soulcage/Dead Air is a 10-mana combo.
The second win condition is targeted at faster matchups and can be executed as early as turn 7, requiring 5 corpses. It is simply playing Harrowing Ox, then playing a free Sinister Soulcage to copy it, producing two 9/9 taunts. Harrowing Ox can also be used to cheat out Cage Head, offering you protection on the Cage Head development turn, which usually leaves the Death Knight vulnerable. A copy of Dead Air can be used on Cage Head to prevent it being silenced.
The spell package in this deck is quite narrow, with most spells serving as key combo pieces, so Northern Navigation helps you find them more consistently, as if it’s Thrive in the Shadows.
Naga Demon Hunter may become one the most explosive decks in the format. Blindeye Sharpshooter offers a hybrid draw/damage engine that can completely flip the board state in the mid-game or even OTK opponents on turns 7-8. This makes Naga DH very complicated to build, as the right balance needs to be struck between Nagas, spells, and strong setup cards.
For Nagas, we run the best package of the cheapest ones, including Mistake acting as Sharpshooter fodder. Parched Desperado offers damage. Dryscale Deputy works particularly well alongside Sharpshooter in duplicating the spell drawn after it’s played. Wayward Sage is a great Naga to draw off Sharpshooter but can also be tutored by BOB.
For spells, we’re looking for things that offer damage and cost no mana. Dispose of Evidence, Through Fel and Flames and Predation become obvious candidates. Momentum can easily be discounted to 0 in a Sharpshooter turn. Oasis Outlaws costs a net 0 too.
The complementary cards are the trickiest part. Greedy Partner gives us a coin to use in a Sharpshooter turn, which might be critical. Sigil of Time is very strong in the early game, helping us accumulate resources before the Sharpshooter turn, but risks being a bad draw during the Sharpshooter turn. We’ve opted out of School Teacher due to this concern.
Relic Demon Hunter’s time in Standard is ending in 4 months. It is one of the most memorable archetypes in the class’ history. Initially, it was a burn-centric deck through Jace and Fel Barrage. After Jace left Standard, it became much more threat oriented. Now, it can re-add off-board damage to its toolkit.
Fan the Hammer is a very versatile damage spell that’s never wasted, offering a nice Jotun target, while giving Enchanter another strong board-clearing combo. Pocket Sand is a disruption spell that’s strong off Relic of Dimensions.
Relic DH’s late game scaling is also boosted by Dryscale Deputy. Draw a Relic after playing Deputy and you’re very happy. It can even copy a Fizzle snapshot.
Load the Chamber should be a very powerful card in Big Demon Hunter, since it’s a fantastic enabler of Felscale Evoker. Not only does it discount Evoker, it discounts your next Fel spell, which is also helpful at activating Evoker on time. Dropping Evoker a turn earlier could be the difference between Big DH as a fringe archetype and Big DH as a respected competitor. We’ve added a copy of Calamity’s Grasp to the deck, as it’s a 0-mana weapon after playing Load the Chamber, potentially helping us trigger an Illidari Inquisitor’s attack for 0 mana, much like Dispose of Evidence.
Another interesting potential addition to the deck is BOB. BOB may appear in multiple Demon Hunter archetypes as a tutor for a small Outcast package. We’re curious about his potential alongside Midnight Wolf. We wouldn’t normally consider Wolf in such an expensive deck, but if it’s drawn off BOB, it becomes trivial to activate on curve. If Wolf is naturally drawn early, we can also shuffle it back with Dispose of Evidence. Midnight Wolf gives the deck another threat that offers a strong swing in faster matchups. A turn 5 Evoker into a turn 6 Wolf sounds intimidating.
Gunslinger Kurtrus provides Highlander Demon Hunter with a fantastic disruption tool, but Reno Demon Hunter needs to figure out how to close out games. This build attempts to offer enough threats for the Demon Hunter to finish the game, while maintaining a relatively cheap curve with lots of draw and removal.
The deck runs generic neutral win conditions, such as Astalor and Fizzle. Ignis is the most important card, as a Windfury weapon can be fueled by Demon Hunter’s attack buffs. You have Parched Desperado, Chaos Strike and Saronite Shambler. We even put a Saronite Shambler inside ETC to maximize the Demon Hunter’s reach in a potential finishing combo. These attack buffs double up as survivability tools by enabling Going Down Swinging.
ETC may become an important card in Reno decks, since we can store critical 2nd copies of defensive cards. In Demon Hunter, the obvious candidates are Unleash Fel and Silvermoon Arcanist. You just discover what you’re missing for your turn 6.
The Dragon tribe is looking like an exciting prospect for the Druid class, with several possible approaches. The featured list looks to beat down opponents with the power of ramping and raw stats.
Splish-Splash Whelp is the most important dragon to find in the early game, having several strong 4-mana follow ups, accelerating our game plan. Cactus Construct is another strong early game card that is also a Nature spell we can draw with Widowbloom Seedsman alongside Innervate.
Our deck is very dense with battlecry minions, so Snapdragon (note, it’s not a dragon!) and Lor’themar Theron provide deck wide buffs to scale up our threats in the late game. Azerite Chain Gang further enhances this strategy.
At the top end, we have a curated Summer Flowerchild tutoring package. Dragon Golem is our primary win condition, so we want to find it as early as we can. Drawing Dragon Golem and Fye more often means that our ability to turn the corner against aggressive decks becomes more consistent. Both cards are also fantastic targets for a Theron buff, if we find the 7/7 legendary early.
Drum Druid could add a dragon spin to it. This list by Matvey takes advantage of Take to the Skies’ tutoring capabilities to find Topior more consistently. Topior summons dragons, so by playing it, you can quickly discount Fye after casting nature spells. Desert Nestmatron is a good minion to include in the small dragon package as it’s guaranteed to be active if drawn by Take to the Skies, serving as a follow up to the spell being cast on turn 3.
Reno Druid is highly tipped to become one of the stronger Highlander decks thanks to Rheastrasza, which offers a value engine that can help you outgrind and outpace your opponents. This build looks to mix the best parts of a Topior Druid deck to fight against aggression, while maintaining Dragon-based threats for the late game.
Reno Druid has an increased chance of finding Reno thanks to Summer Flowerchild. Summer Flowerchild is so good in this deck that we had to put a second copy of it inside an ETC, in case you have it on turn 4 and just want to find Reno. Besides Reno, Flowerchild specifically draws your best cards: Rheastrasza, Fye, Topior and Dragon Golem. Inside our ETC is a second copy of Dragon Golem, for another wave of threats, as well as a greedy option in Freya.
Freya might be quite important. Since an opponent’s Reno clears Rhea’s Purified Dragon Nest, we may want to duplicate Rhea in our hand with Freya before playing her. Having two Rheas means that a single enemy Reno cannot deny our value engine. Freya can also copy our other very valuable dragons, or even our Reno!
We opted not to run Dragon Tales in this list because we don’t want to draw the card from Embrace of Nature. Nourish and Lifebinder’s Gift are more valuable targets. To boost the potential number of dragons in our hand for Dragon Golem and Fye, we’re running Time-Lost Protodrake. If you squint hard enough, it’s Dragon Tales that costs no mana!
A notable theme in Hunter’s Badlands set is buffing. Specifically, Hunter has accumulated a package of beasts that benefit from their attack being buffed: Bovine Skeleton, Twisted Frostwing, and Spurfang. This deck’s idea is to leverage their scaling through multiple buff cards to overwhelm the opponent.
A key card in the deck is Messenger Buzzard, as it buffs our hand, but not before drawing one of our beasts. Thornmantle Musician and Bestial Madness are also good setup cards for our beast package in the early game.
Our late game consists of the established high value buff cards in Hope of Quel’Thalas and Lor’themar Theron. Selective Breeder can find us copies of buffed beasts, which is a particularly strong play post-Theron. Minion density is very high to maximize benefits of buffs, so Magatha is appropriately added to provide us with reload.
Arcane Hunter has reverted to the Secret package after the nerfs to Prison Breaker and Yogg-Saron. We wonder if Starshooter can bring back the non-Secret variant. Starstrung Bow isn’t that strong of a weapon after its nerf to 5-attack, while Starshooter might be slower, but has a higher damage ceiling.
The idea is to try to snowball the early game through Monkeys and Bananas, then pivot to Starshooter, stacking Arcane Shots in hand. After accumulating a bunch of Arcane Shots, we can buff them with Silvermoon Farstrider before launching them towards the opponent’s face. The Arcane Shot generation can also help us activate Ancient Krakenbane. Star Power should be important in this deck as a turn 5 follow-up to Starshooter, to make sure we don’t get punished for equipping the relatively slow weapon.
The case for Reno Hunter is compelling. Reno and Theldurin provide us with strong, defensive swings. Our late game is based on the current iteration of Hound Hunter, which is already heavy on the legendary/singleton count after the addition of Thunderbringer. Theldurin also scales through Hope of Quel’Thalas and Lor’themar Theron.
Hunter has a lot of early game options that can pressure an opponent even with a Highlander build. The class has access to plenty of good 1-drops, with Sneaky Snakes and Tram Mechanic being added to the list. Our 2-mana slot is also heavy to take advantage of Greedy Partner. That coin could be quite impactful in helping us pull off a big turn earlier.
Our ETC is dedicated to redundancy, mostly focusing on survival (Star Power, Hollow Hound), with an option to get the 2nd copy of Faithful Companions.
Rainbow Mage is likely the class’ greatest hope this expansion. The popular archetype did get an option to meaningfully alter its build to become faster and more consistent. At the core of the changes are the two neutral 1-drops of the set: Tram Mechanic and Miracle Salesman.
Tram Mechanic gives us a guaranteed Fel spell, something that Mage doesn’t consistently have access to, only through Discovery of Magic. Miracle Salesman gives us Snake Oil, which is a 0-mana nuke for our combo turn. This opens a more consistent OTK path that utilizes Sif/Reverberation rather than Molten Rune. The availability of this combo makes Lady Naz’jar less important.
Another potential addition to the deck is Stargazing, which acts as a Wisdom of Norgannon tutor. Pay attention to your spell school count to remember Wisdom of Norgannon’s current cost. If you can play Stargazing and then drawn Wisdom on the same turn, you can execute a huge draw turn. That’s 5 cards drawn in a single turn, with the combo potentially costing as little as 2 mana with a fully discounted Wisdom.
The Excavate package in Mage seems to have the most synergy in a Secret Mage deck. The main reason is that the secondary payoff, Reliquary Researcher, works well with Contract Conjurer. An active Researcher allows us to develop a 3/5, a 6/6 and 2 secrets for just 4 mana. That’s a lot of pressure on the opponent, which fits a proactive Mage deck.
Blastmage Miner encourages us to maintain our hand size and provides us with off-board damage. Some of this hand size management is helped by excavation, but a more subtle synergy comes from Frozen Touch infusion and a Keyboard/Skeleton package. Generally, damage cards get better when they’re partnered with more damage cards.
Mage’s Tier 4 treasure, The Azerite Hawk, is a stat bomb that doesn’t have a consistent outcome, so it fits a proactive deck better.
Stargazing did make us want to revisit the idea of Lightshow Mage. This build runs a core package of only three spells: Lightshow, Stargazing, and Rewind. The rest of the deck is full of minions, some of them strictly defensive, others are looking to copy Lightshow. Alongside Audio Splitter, we have the more subtle Dryscale Deputy, which can be used in combination with Stargazing.
It’s very likely that you’re going to end up with a bunch of generated Lightshows in your hand through the course of the game. The best way to get them out of your hand is Tae’thelan, since a generated Lightshow will cost 1-mana when Tae’thelan is on the board. You could even OTK the opponent with Tae’thelan chaining a bunch of Lightshows. At the very least, Tae’thelan makes it easier for you to set up a game-ending Rommath. An alternative way to dump your Lightshows is by utilizing Magister’s Apprentice.
Can Big-Spell Mage make a return to the format with the addition of Sunset Volley? This build attempts to turn Sunset Volley into an end game nuke by repeatedly copying it, discounting it with DJ Manastorm, then repeating its effect through Rommath. This late game package has potential to be quite overwhelming.
But for this deck to have a chance to win faster matchups, we need swing turns that happen earlier in the game. For this purpose, Greedy Partner takes the role of old Mailbox Dancer to accelerate us into a Barbaric Sorceress turn, with the hopes of discounting either Sunset Volley or Arcane Defenders. Barbaric Sorceress can be tutored by Crushclaw Enforcer, with the deck running Tram Mechanic and Miracle Salesman to activate Enforcer.
Old Big-Spell Mage had Balinda, its best card, next to Barbaric Sorceress. In our search for a similar power spike that can be accelerated by a coin, we’ve landed on Mes’Adune, complemented by Ragnaros and Neptulon as its tutor targets.
Paladin got a well-rounded set that seems to fit a lot of different strategies. The most prominent Paladin deck in the current meta is the Buff variant of Pure Paladin. This deck got a few, very influential cards that plug the final gaps in its build.
Holy Cowboy is a great setup minion for multiple plays. It forms a powerful, 5-mana combo with Keeper’s Strength. It discounts multiple Holy spells in our deck to 0-mana, so they’re easier to take advantage of (such as Spotlight).
Hi Ho Silverwing is going to be in almost every Paladin deck. A Loot Hoarder with divine shield that tutors a Holy spell? It’s hard to pass that up. Deputization Aura synergizes with the deck’s tendency to develop one big threat, which means it can be worth a lot of healing. It’s also a sneakily good setup card for Keeper’s Strength.
Showdown is one of the most thought-provoking cards in the set. Its combo with Prismatic Beam looks incredible. We suspect that Showdown’s strongest utilization will be in the Dude variant of Pure Paladin, but one issue comes up. We really want to run Sea Giants to enhance the Showdown/Beam combo, but it’s hard to give up on The Countess.
The solution we came up with is simple: run both! Since Sea Giants are the only neutral cards in our deck, Order in the Court will activate Countess within a couple of turns at most. This deck can win through multiple paths.
The simplest path is by playing a Dude Paladin deck. Hi Ho Silverwing can either draw Boogie Down or Crusader Aura, increasing the consistency of our board pressure plan.
The second win condition is the Showdown combo, which should be particularly brutal in faster matchups. After you find Showdown, play Order in the Court to dig up your Sea Giants, then hit your opponent with a Showdown/Sea Giant/Beam turn. Many decks should get obliterated by this swing. If the opponent manages to clear this board, you should have an active Countess ready to go.
We initially prepared a Reno Paladin build that employed a defensive game plan. We didn’t like it because Paladin, as a Highlander class, possesses weak late game lethality. It just doesn’t have good finishers. Spirit of the Badlands is a decent value engine, but it’s a grindy card that doesn’t pressure the opponent into a corner.
Then we decided to take a page out of Hunter’s book, employing a more aggressive curve that looks to pressure the opponent from the early stages of the game. At this point, it hit us that we can take advantage of Order in the Court to not just draw Reno more consistently, but also to activate The Countess and The Purator. This build runs Reno as the only neutral card, so post-Order, it’s the third card we find after drawing the heavily discounted Lightray and Living Horizon. The Purator can also find us Spirit of the Badlands.
The Countess and Reno have deceptively strong synergy together. A turn 7 Countess is usually followed by the opponent trying to punish the Paladin for the initial slow turn. A turn 8 Reno ends the opponent’s advance, giving you a free rein to develop Invitations on turn 9. Alternatively, you can Reno on turn 8 to set up an uncontested Turn 9 Countess.
A defensive Paladin deck such as Earthen Paladin did get some very meaningful tools to survive. Prismatic Beam is a fantastic AOE spell even if you don’t, or can’t, run Showdown. Lay Down the Law offers single target removal. Deputization Aura provides the Paladin healing and synergizes with the increasingly growing Earthens.
The addition of Miracle Salesman meant that we had the option to drop Righteous Protector while keeping Pelican Diver. However, Righteous Protector is quite a strong resurrection target, so we’ve intentionally kept it. Diver is the worst Boogie Down 1-drop currently.
Control Priest will have to navigate through a format with increased late game lethality, making disruption possibly more valuable than ever. Beyond Dirty Rat and Theotar, the latter we suspect should be in the main deck rather than a part of the ETC band, we have the addition of Benevolent Banker. A turn 8 Creation Protocol that finds Banker is the ultimate spell yoink turn. You can do this on turn 6 if Love Everlasting is up. Alternatively, Power Word: Synchronize can also produce Quickdraw active Bankers. Just remember, Banker is a fine card even if you don’t get to Quickdraw it. Its baseline version is a stronger form of Thrive in the Shadows.
The other additions to Control Priest we like are the bottle cards. We think they’re being slept on. Invasive Shadeleaf is quite efficient after you use the bottled spell. Holy Springwater heals for a lot and is never wasted. Lightbugs are difficult to deal with unless the opponent has AOE, which means most aggressive decks are going to struggle against them.
Priest has the weakest end game threat out of all Highlander classes. Reno is a very strong control card, but without a Raza/Anduin finisher, Reno Priest looks like a Control Priest deck with a bunch of worse cards. Elise can be a powerful stat bomb, but her usefulness in slower matchups is questionable.
This build attempts to sharpen up Priest’s late game, by turning Elise into a card that wins Hearthstone games. For that purpose, we’ve curated the deck’s minion pool substantially. Aman’Thul, Behemoth and Yogg are very powerful copy targets. Rivendare might be able to work with Elise, especially if we can find more than one copy of Elise through Creation Protocol. Just be aware that if Rivendare dies twice, you’re likely shutting off your Highlander activation due to duplicate horsemen.
The last minion is ETC, with the most sought-after piece being the 2nd copy of Creation Protocol, because what you care most about in this deck is playing Elise. The curated minion pool means that each Creation Protocol has a 50% chance of finding Elise, assuming you haven’t drawn any minions yet.
The rest of the deck is about survivability. The only strange inclusion here is Tram Heist. It might be genuinely powerful in Reno mirrors and against Excavate decks. If not, just drop it for another piece of removal, such as Serenity.
Does Naga Priest get to play more Standard Hearthstone before it rotates out? Some cards in the Badlands set feel like they were meant for the archetype. Dryscale Deputy can help us copy Serpent Wig.
The deck’s repeated usage of Serpent Wig should be able to discount Thirsty Drifter relatively quickly. Pip the Potent is our Wig copy engine, but copying Funnel Cake or Priestess Valishj could also be a powerful play.
Rogue has so much cool stuff to do this expansion. Expect one of those things to be digging. Rogue is going to excavate at a higher pace than any other class. An Excavate Rogue should be swimming in treasures.
This build is quite straightforward. We’ve got the maximum number of Excavate cards. We’re running a copy of Pit Stop, to make sure we can find Drilly in most of our games. The best turn to play Pit Stop is turn 6. With Preparation, you can cast the spell on turn 4, find Drilly, play it on Quickdraw and guarantee 3 Excavations. A Shadowstep and 2 additional free mana could lead to 5 excavations off a single Drilly play.
There’s also another approach, which replaces Pit Stop with Scourge Illusionist. The prospect of finding 0-mana 4/4 copies of Drilly is quite mouth-watering, with the risk of Scourge Illusionist becoming useless if we ever draw Drilly. It is also a slower turn that’s more open to counterplay.
As we’ve said in our Comprehensive Preview, we recommend you not to play The Azerite Scorpion until you’ve excavated 8 times. Once you generate the 2nd Scorpion, you can start going off.
Another cool thing Rogue can do is throwing coins into a Wishing Well, generating a bunch of 1-cost class legendaries and playing them as early as turn 5 to blow out the opponent. If the legendary minions are dealt with, you can replay them with Tess Greymane.
This deck runs all the coin generators because each coin is worth a lot for this deck. Coins can also be used to fuel Queen Azshara if we have no time to play a Well and need a quicker swing in a faster matchup. Azshara is known to be a fine card to run alongside Tess Greymane. Kaja’mite Creation and Stick Up provide further fuel for Tess. We expect Stick Up to be one of the strongest Rogue cards, one that can go into any type of Rogue deck due to its versatility.
The alternative approach is going back to the Castle Nathria win conditions of Miracle Rogue: Sinstone Graveyard and Necrolord Draka. This build’s late game staying power might be inferior to a Wishing Well build, but it’s more explosive. Draka is a very lethal card, one that gives the opponent little time to respond, while circumventing removal.
One neat combo the deck has access to is Dryscale Deputy/Gone Fishin’. Deputy looks like a serviceable card in Rogue since many of its spells are cheap and high impact. It also helps us activate Greedy Partner with greater consistency.
The final Rogue deck might be the funniest one. Rogue has the greatest potential to field a competitive Ogre-Gang deck, thanks to Shadowstep and Breakdance offering the opportunity to replay Kingpin Pud multiple times, forcing the opponent to clear wave after wave of Windfury Ogres, or die trying.
The supportive shell is the standard Concoctions build with a Greedy Partner spin. You may have noticed this already, but all our Rogue decks feature a Greedy Partner package with a high number of 2’s. We’re addicted to this card. It’s so, so good.
Elemental Shaman needs to play an Elemental every turn. Its late game is reliant on it, with Skarr offering a powerful, Mordresh-esque finisher. This build is fully dedicated to playing an Elemental every turn, as consistently as possible. Why are we running Bubbler? Because we always need to find a 1-drop on turn 1. A Bubbler on turn 1 means a happy Skarr on turn 7.
In fact, only 3 cards in this deck are not Elementals. Trusty Companion is an insane buff for a tribal deck, but perhaps there will be situations when a tough decision needs to be made on turn 2. Do we buff our 1-drop and try to snowball, resetting the count for Skarr and Azerite Giant? Or do we delay Trusty Companion until we can play an Elemental on the same turn?
The other non-Elemental card is Magatha, clearly a strong draw engine for a deck that runs only 2 spells. But in this case, it’s quite clear that you don’t want to play Magatha on turn 5 in most situations. Ideally, you play Magatha on turn 6 and drop an Elemental next to her. This is part of the reason why this deck runs 8 1-drops.
When in doubt, play an Elemental.
Nature Shaman is getting quite an update, with its curve potentially lowering. This build comes from Milkshake.
Cactus Cutter encourages us to run cheap spells that we can play on the turn we draw them off Cutter. Dryscale Deputy is another early game minion that encourages a more curated, cheap curve of spells. It could be quite important in finding us more damage pieces. Finally, Greedy Partner makes too much sense in this deck, considering the possibility to cheat out Golganneth a turn earlier, or saving the coin for a different swing turn. The main sacrifice that is made here is some Overload cards that could activate Flowrider, but we’re quite content with that concession, especially when Golganneth becomes a stronger tutor for our combo pieces as a result.
The final important new addition to the deck is Miracle Salesman, giving us a 0-damage spell that we can play for free on the combo turn. This adds consistency and reach to the deck, on top of being an early body that helps us contest board. It looks perfect for Nature Shaman.
Reno Shaman could go in different directions, but as always, data nerds like to try to maximize the deck’s strongest cards. We think Doctor Holli’dae, coming down on turn 5 every game, would be strong. What we don’t love about Shaman’s Highlander payoff, is that its impact falls off if it’s drawn too late. Reno Shaman’s other issue is its ability to close out games.
Our idea is to run a spell deck, with only three minions and Prescience. Doctor Holli’dae, Golganneth and Rivendare. This gives us a significantly increased chance (around 66% higher) of finding a Doctor Holli’dae on curve, or a Golganneth on curve. Sometimes we’ll have both.
The sacrifices made to not run minions, are not that significant on paper. Shaman’s minions aren’t great, with Cactus Cutter being the standout missing piece. What Shaman has been boosted with is a significantly better removal package. Elixir, Dehydrate, and Tumbleweed are all solid cards. Interestingly, two of them work quite well with Conductivity.
Rivendare is the 3rd minion in the deck because it gives Shaman a real finisher. If you draw the three horsemen and play From De Other Side, you win the game. This can be disrupted in multiple ways, but it’s a clock that needs to be respected.
We had to find a way to put Walking Mountain in a theory crafted deck. Thunderbringer is nice, but what we really wanted to do was cheat it out.
Cactus Cutter is a spell tutor, so if our entire deck only consists of two copies of From De Other Side, then we’re quite likely to have it in hand, even in a Renathal deck. By the same principle of Big-Spell Mage, we’re building Big-Spell Shaman to play a Barbaric Sorceress and discount From De Other Side. Our deck is stacked with deathrattle minions that summon very big things when they die, so a cheated out From De Other Side can be devastating.
Specifically, Thunderbringer summons a Walking Mountain and either Glugg or Red Herring on its deathrattle. A Red Herring giving stealth to a Walking Mountain is probably one of the funniest interactions in this article.
The most hyped deck of this expansion is probably Excavate Warlock. The Azerite Snake looks like an incredibly powerful win condition that represents an intimidating clock on the opponent in the late game. This build looks to maximize Snake utilization by bouncing it with Brewmasters. Playing Snake three times against a non-Renathal opponent means the game is 100% over, unless you’re facing the Snake mirror!
For those wondering, Warlock’s top end curve, fueled by Doomkin, is extremely powerful and not something we’d like to cut even in a supposed “combo” deck. Our thinking is that we’re playing Control Warlock and at some point, our opponent dies. Having more mana is good.
Running 4 Brewmasters could lead to some of them feeling like dead cards, so we like the idea of running Armor Vendor alongside Kobold Miner as a cheap, serviceable bounce target in case we need to sustain ourselves. Giving armor to our opponent doesn’t matter due to the nature of our win condition.
A different approach sheds the defensive shell and replaces it with a beatdown shell. The concept is to hit our opponent hard in the head and use The Azerite Snake as our finishing nuke, rather than looking to play defensively until we can bounce it.
Warlock did get some powerful beatdown tools, most notably Waste Remover, which is another 4 mana 7/7 that follows up Forge of Wills. But this one can attack! Alongside Waste Remover, we’re adding a small Sludge package to add some Barrels to the bottom of our deck and have them spewed out by Waste Remover.
This deck barely runs spells, so Trolley Problem’s drawback can be circumvented by not having any spell in hand (or having a Barrel of Sludge), while Magatha looks surprisingly appealing.
Warlock is almost certain to make some noise in Wild due to Discard synergies, but we tried to make a Discard Warlock deck for Standard too, focusing on the Sludge package as a strong complementary foil.
Except for Trolley Problem, which discards spells, all our other spells are meant to be discarded. Our goal is to generate, copy and destroy them, while developing threats. Disciple of Sargeras discards a spell. Lakkari Felhound can be funneled to discard a couple of spells. Savage Ymirjar may cost 5 mana rather than 4, but it’s a 7/7 rusher that offers another Forge of Wills target and discards a couple of cards. Pop’gar the Putrid is a nice preceding play for it too.
The Sludge package isn’t just a beatdown package. It can be used to OTK opponents! This deck’s goal is to store as many Barrels of Sludge as possible at the bottom of our deck. We can do that with the help of a Sludge on Wheels/Defile combo. Ideally, we want a minimum of 6 Barrels to kill a 30-health opponent.
The second setup involves the Fatigue package, with the goal of scaling up Crescendo. Crescendo is a Fel spell, which means it forms a strong combo with Pop’gar to nuke an enemy board while healing, similarly to Silvermoon Arcanist/Unleash Fel. You can also use Pop’gar with Barrels in your hand, to heal for quite a bit while clearing board.
The final combo involves playing Silvermoon Arcanist/Crescendo/Steamcleaner. Each Barrel of Sludge deals 5 damage with Arcanist on the board. Crescendo is only necessary to clear the opponent’s board so that the destroyed Barrels of Sludge hit the opponent’s face. On an empty board, or if you have tons of Barrels to destroy, Crescendo may not be needed. You do have to keep count of the Barrels at the bottom of your deck.
While the Excavate package in Warrior doesn’t excite us too much, we do like Badlands Brawler and think it’s a strong enough card to even encourage a partial Excavate package. This Odyn Control Warrior build runs 4 Excavate cards: Kobold Miner and Reinforced Plating. Plating isn’t terrible in an Odyn Warrior deck because it’s an armor card. Kobold Miner can be nice off Chorus Riff because it’s cheap.
The main goal is to excavate twice. Once that’s done, Badlands Brawl becomes a very powerful card that can help us either set up a clean Odyn turn or reduce pressure post-Odyn. One copy should be enough, as we’re running the Riff package. You can think of this Badlands Brawler as our replacement for Yogg-Saron.
Though Odyn is a clean win condition that’s very effective, we could decide to frustrate our opponent by playing a full disruption Renathal deck. When we say full disruption, we mean it: Dirty Rat, Call to the Stand, Disruptive Spellbreaker, Theotar, and finally, Boomboss Tho’grun.
Badlands Brawler should do a lot of heavy lifting here, alongside a low curve that carries a ton of removal. The deck still runs an Odyn package, because at some point we’d like to win the game, but if you’re down to upset your opponents by preventing them from playing Hearthstone, this deck could be for you.
The Taunt package in Warrior is the biggest focus of the set. Cards like Unlucky Powderman and Detonation Juggernaut encourage high taunt density to maximize their benefit. Another parasitic card is Battlepickaxe, which can hit the opponent’s face forever if you fuel its durability with taunt minions every turn. The best enabler for Battlepickaxe is undoubtedly Dread Corsair, with Instrument Tech looking like a convenient tutor.
This build looks to play at a relatively faster pace, by hitting the opponent in the head while blocking their path to victory with taunts. The Fire package with Thori’belore makes a lot of sense here, as it fits the deck’s beatdown style. We run Blackrock n Roll, as it’s a chance to scale our threats in slower matchups, but the deck isn’t all-in on the legendary spell.
This build is all-in on Blackrock n Roll, shedding the Fire package for a late game curve that scales hard with Blackrock n Roll and becomes very threatening in slower matchups. This idea has been proposed and failed in the past, but we think the Warrior Badlands set provides a real opportunity for this strategy to redeem itself.
First, Powderman and Juggernaut alongside a heavy taunt build means that our minions can still be strong even if they’re drawn before we play Blackrock n Roll. We still have a Hearthstone deck. These 2 buff cards don’t provide as big of a buff as BRR, but they do make almost all of our cards better. This should help us stabilize in the early game and not get punished as hard after spending 4 mana ‘doing nothing’.
Second, Blast Tortoise is a game changer. This is a taunt that AOE’s the enemy board based on its attack value, making it an incredible comeback card post-Blackrock n Roll. The archetype did not have access to this effect before, so it used to get overrun quite easily. A single buffed Blastoise can end the game in faster matchups. On the spot.
That’s it from us in this reveal season. The next content piece we produce will not have speculation or guesswork. It’ll be about the facts.
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The Data Reaper Podcast will return to discuss the early impressions of the Showdown in the Badlands meta! Follow us on Twitter for updates on when it will occur, if you want an early scoop on developments before November 23rd, when Data Reaper Report #279 comes out.
We’ll see you then.
The Vicious Syndicate Team