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wonderPreaux last won the day on December 7 2013

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  1. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    Hi guys, Around mid-April I'll be updating the strategy discussions for Year-of-the-Mammoth. I'm thinking Finja midrange/tempo might be worth drafting a discussion for, and we'll see what rotation holds for combo/highlander. One thing I've been considering is shifting the discussion template a bit by taking some cues from something like Smogon's write-ups for Pokemon, that emphasis overarching movesets/builds (here, they would be classes of an archetype), a brief nod to flexes/techs built in, and then a section of deck tips in general (echoing the team-building suggestions for a Pokemon) and then checks and counters based on matchups on an archetype-wide interaction (this is possibly complex due to class permutations). Thoughts?
  2. I'll give you my top 5 of anything

    Top 5 breakfast cereals Top 5 sandwich meats Top 5 american/american style comic books you've read Top 5 seasons (weather or any tv show) Top 5 comedians
  3. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    RIP Freeze Mage. Also RIP stars/ranks I will lose as I will probably still try to play the deck. As an aside, while Azure Drake rotating out is probably a good choice in terms of centralization alone, I worry the 6 or so classes that could justifiably play it won't all find a good substitute for it. It seems like it could be really easy for classes to get left out in the cold. Moreover, imo it's not as though Drake is like Dr. Boom, where it was very very powerful and having little competition for its slot; its not as though Drake is oppressively powerful (though a lot of Drake counterplay involves Drake boosting Wrath, Arcane Blast etc so... there is that...) Last rotation was pretty exciting, so even though I'm sad to see a lot of these cards go, I'm optimistic for the next rotation.
  4. Hey nerds, go to the Hearthstone forum and discuss Hearthstone.

    1. TheGoldenTyranno


      Nevah! Mafiagroundz forever!

    2. Sophocles


      Shut up Tyranno

  5. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    It might be the case that the deck is just too underpowered in the early game, as weird as that is to say for a deck with 1 mana 2/3s and 2 mana 2/4 taunts, to boast a truly high percentage against the Patches decks. It is competitive, though, and I guess that is the balance I'm trying to strike, be competitive against both sides of the meta. I did end up opting for a slight adjustment, less than either of the proposed builds in my earlier post, cutting the Inner Fire and Defender for Acidic Swamp Ooze and Potion of Madness. My limited testing of it has been promising tonight, as I've managed to eke out some nice edges with Potion against Aggro and Control decks, while Swamp Ooze has been great at cutting out weapons and played a fairly good role of vanilla 3/2 otherwise. It could have just been a bad run of luck for me, though, since it occurs to me that every other time I've gone and tried to run a single deck straight to legend there was at least one night where I would just hemorrhage stars. I guess I just wasn't expecting to run into that so early. Also, I just noticed this, but apologies to all for the mess of a post last time with all the extra screenshots, I didn't realize ever one I loaded would make it into the post even if I didn't place them somewhere. Here's some more happenings from the last few nights, hopefully formatted properly...
  6. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    Day 3: I've tried to mulligan a bit more conservatively lately, I seemed to be doing a bit better as I wasn't out-and-out "bricking" as much. Unfortunately, I've hit a severe stumbling block and am sitting at Rank 6 after an uninspiring 24-25 run that briefly brought me to Rank 5 before I fell back down. The main problem I seem to have is that, oddly, I'm just not getting the aggro or midrange advantage that I figure I should. I get out-drawn so much in the early game where I feel like I have to hit the 1-2-3-4 curve with an activator just to have a chance, or hope for some blowout SW:Death against Shaman's 7/7. Shaman feels particularly difficult because it's so hard to get an opening that really works well against them; they have such a wide rand of opening that they can pull ahead with whatever spell/weapon/golem your hand might not be able to cover. Moreover, Aggro and Midrange can use all the same challenging openers but then you don't know until you scout with Drakonid OP or run into Hex/Lava Burst what you really have to plan for. I'm not sure if I'm just doing something really wrong here, but it feels like it's too easy for them to just run away with the game with runner-runner removal spells/weapons backed by any of their excellent opening minions. I'm not really sure how'd I'd make it to legend if I'm basically flipping coins on whether I'm going to be able to play the game or I'm just going to pass the first few turns and slowly get ground to pieces when I try to take the board. IDK if I'm playing these matchups badly, but it feels like I'm really missing something. With that in mind, I wanted to see if I could tune up the deck a bit, since I figure if I'm complaining a lot about getting out-drawn or bricking, I should go to the source of my draws at the least. If you guys have the time, I'd appreciate some feedback on this Dragon Priest list: Dragon Priest V1 (72W/50L) First, some explanation for the list. Overall, I started out just wanting to jam Dragon Priest and do Operative shenanigans. Since I was trying to run down the middle of the Patches/Kazakus gauntlet, my underlying philosophy was that I just wanted to curve out and not have a card that was totally dead on one side of the matchups. This is reflected in the use of middle-of-the-road cards like Defender of Argus, it's taunts against Aggro, and it gets dudes out of AoE against Control. Inner Fire is the same way, it's reach against Control, but then it also serves as a tempo swing against Aggro. The goal was to try and have a fighting chance against basically anything I ran into. For the most part, that's about what I got, but I do much better against Control than Aggro, which surprised me. I was initially worried that not running cards like Entomb or Ysera would leave me hurting in control matchups as I ran out of resources or lost hard to Sylvanas. That hasn't been my experience though; Brann + Operative/Historian is fantastic since it gives me a stream of high-quality cards without rapidly moving me to fatigue, and Sylvanas has simply been irksome, but not the blow-out I assumed it would be. Also, Northshire + PW:Shield basically stole games from Reno decks because I got to be a Warlock that can play better removals and Drakonid OP, sweet stuff. As I alluded to earlier, though, aggro decks are way better against me than I thought. I feel like it's way too punishing to miss a 1-drop or coined 2-drop, and Shaman/Warrior have more 1/2-drops than me and a plethora of ways to support them with weapons and spells. Shamans options to curve into midrange, get value with Flametongue while SW:Pain is strained by Trogg/Golem already, or use its superior proportion of burn spells to close games or grab more tempo are all especially imposing circumstances. I think that the main thing I need to do is shift the deck a bit more towards contesting aggro, and rely on that early curve to let me aggress against control and curve out to high value minions to exhaust the control decks under a shorter time frame. That said, here are some change I had in mind. Cards I'm considering removing: Cards I'm considering adding: In addition to advice on my current list, what to add and remove, I also have some draft ideas for V2, hopefully to try and finish the legend run. I'd appreciate some thoughts or recommendations on which path to consider. Sorry for the wall of text, I don't usually play Priest and I wasn't expecting to hit the wall so hard here. V2 - Anti-Aggro Focus V2 - Balanced Midrange
  7. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    Dragon Priest Day 2: Idk if I'm just running a lot colder or if it's the ladder, but I've dropped in win rate from 70% to 65%, which is disheartening. Notably, I've continued to lose a handful of games due to bricking out and drawing no dragons all game. I'm running 9 dragons, which my cursory research had noted as at/above par, so I'm not sure if I'm needing extra dragons or if I'm supposed to prioritize Dragons entirely over other relevant cards like Cleric/SW:P. Has anyone played a lot of Dragon Priest/decks who can comment on mulligan priorities? That said, there were some more neat happenings: Day 1 - R10 -> R7
  8. I think what mark is getting at is that there is a difference between doing something effectually versus doing something optimally. If you made a concerted effort, you could probably memorize all the basic comboes and and a generic sideboard guide for a deck, for instance, and then play it effectually within a day. However, until you get enough time observing and initiating all sorts of less-likely or deeply informative interactions, you might not be able to distinguish the best among many viable plays or craft a highly effective sidedeck scheme. Basically, the rough concepts probably come easy, but the polished and refined edges will take you way more time. Granted, idk that it takes a full time job to do it, but it's short-sighted of you to assume basic literacy is the only barrier to you learning how to wrangle your text-rectangles better than the rest.
  9. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    Attempting to break out of the dichotomy of the Patches vs. Kazakus meta, I'm trying to run Dragon Priest all the way to Legend. These are my stories... Day 1 - R16 -> R10
  10. Introduction Combo decks use specific build-around cards or a critical mass of spells to try and set up a singular turn that wins the game or effectively wins the game by affecting an unbreakable or irrecoverable board state to trump the opponent. Filling up a combo deck with defensive cards is the intuitive way to approach combos, since it allows you the time to cycle cards and build up your mana bar and the downside of losing out on tempo the whole game is mitigated when you can one-shot the opponent with whatever your combo is. When you manage to get a mana advantage on the opponent, though, you can wrest the tempo away from the opponent and pull into the lead. This lowers the bar for whatever your combo is because you can put pieces onto the board ahead of time or damage the opponent with minions to make your combo requirements easier. When you have a way of staying ahead of the opponent’s tempo, it exacerbates the linear and non-interactive way that combo decks can operate because it gives the opponent a harder time of building a board and killing you, which is usually the only way a “fair” opponent should be able to interact with you as a combo player. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan has added some neat new tools to combo decks, but it doesn’t really break new ground. Counterfeit Coin is no Innervate, but it does increase Rogue’s access to Coin for better VanCleef and Auctioneer synergy. Kun the Forgotten King is another such card that overlaps with existing combo potential, giving Druid another way to abuse a full mana bar by sliding out a 7/7 at a minimum or creating a massive swing with Aviana. While Druid and Rogue combo already exist and would be roughly as playable without these cards, it’s important to evaluate new releases given the environment of Standard rotation. Tempo-based combo is usually found on the right side of the spectrum, not necessarily a full control deck, but rarely ever on the aggro side. This is mostly due to the need for a full mana bar or a mana inflection that allows the aggressive deployment of some key minion. Given that combo decks aim to do a whole game’s worth of winning in one turn, a lot of their maneuvering is devoted to trying to get access to as much mana as possible, meaning there’s some strategic advantage to try and keep the game going to the mid-game phase at the least. While all decks require you to change your play patterns depending on whether you are the relative aggressor or control, the change will be somewhat exaggerated when using a combo deck. The most general way to explain it is that, when compared to the combo deck, an aggro deck would prompt the combo player to break apart their combo to manage the pace of the game whereas a control deck would prompt the combo player to aim for a full on one-turn-kill. This is because aggro decks don’t tend to have effective removal or healing, so using powerful synergies piecemeal to stave off aggression and make repeated minor pushes will steadily exhaust and overpower the aggro opponent provided the combo player can remain alive. Against control decks, however, their defense and removal tools would easily remove the combo threats unless they’re leveraged to their utmost, requiring the combo player to fully combo off and go over the top of the control deck’s reactive tools. Generally, you want to build your deck so that you have enough tools to have a fighting chance against both aggro and control, though you can skew towards one end of the spectrum as needed. Some matchups are more nuanced, however, and often these exceptions to the paradigm described above don’t bode well for the combo player. For example, some control decks have an ability to become implacable to one-turn-kills through Secrets or Armor. As a result, the combo player typically has to take risks playing fast and loose with their threats because they can’t rely on having any sort of inevitability in the matchup. This is another reason why a tempo-based combo is worth considering, if you just passively cycle all game and apply no pressure, you’re betting on the combo being an inevitable victory and effectively conceding any matches where either your ability to reach the combo or the inevitability therein is compromised. Another case where the combo player may have a difficult time is against midrange opponents. Since a midrange deck combines some of the offensive tools of a more aggro deck with some of the defensive tools afforded to a control deck, it can be difficult to find a winning line against a midrange deck with a potent draw. This is because early aggression can force you to use combo tools early on for survival and control, which then leaves you too exhausted of resources to finish off the opponent as they start dropping higher-end cards. Historically, many combo decks have bad midrange matchups and decks like Midrange Druid and Midrange Hunter presented huge problems for combo decks. Again, this underscores the importance of tempo concepts in combo decks, keeping an opponent’s development contained throughout the game presents the opportunity to shortcut combo requirements and reduces the strain placed on resources that would ideally be used to draw out and execute the combo further down the line. Class Considerations This is a somewhat complex Supertype to try and delineate valid classes for. The presence of cards like Barnes and Emperor Thaurissan in the generic Standard card pool means that, to a certain extent, you can make a valid case for any class with some amount of damage spells and card draw as being a combo class. However, the very best classes, the ones that are best suited to be combo decks, have extra tools available to them that other classes don’t. First, a combo class has components that are a design choice on the deck-builder’s part that makes the combo the primary game plan. This is, again, a somewhat blurred line to draw, but it is the difference between a combo deck and a midrange or control deck that happens to have a literal combination of cards that can be used to affect a large amount of burst damage. A somewhat heavy-handed way to look at it is, “would the cards in the combo deck have plausible uses outside the combo?”, a lot of actual combo decks tend to fail that question for at least a few of their cards, whereas decks employing a “combo finisher” tend to try and pick cards that have some backup or secondary use (as an aside, there are or were also combo finishers that involve terrible cards, but, again, blurred line). Secondly, a combo class has a way of minimizing or directing the opponent’s interactive plays. Conceptually, this is like an inverted tempo play: you aren’t advancing your own gamestate, but you are retarding and restricting the way your opponent can advance their gamestate. This is usually the tempo component that disqualifies classes from being true combo decks, not all classes have a degenerate component that invalidates opposing plays, most just have a lot of removal and a combo that, itself, is non-interactive. This is supplemented and/or substituted by more traditional mana-advantage effects that allow for massive plays in comparison to what the opponent is capable of. This is a form on non-interactive play because affecting a larger scale of play than the opponent either ends the game or reduces the opponent’s cards and plays to low or no impact on the gamestate. In summary, all the classes you’ll see below have some sort of effect that will be uninteractive at a minimum and may also involve a mana advantage. Druid is the combo class that relies the most on tempo through mana advantage and having a larger scale of play than the opponent. “Ramp” effects are a unique feature of Druid, trading a material advantage of cards in hand for a temporary window where all the Druid’s plays can be larger than the opponent’s plays. This means that the Druid can take far more assertive paths to completing a combo, Azure Drake is far more threatening than the Loot Hoarder or Acolyte of Pain, for instance, especially when ramp lets you play the former at the time other classes would be playing the latter options. In addition to gearing the entire mana curve up with ramp effects, Druid can also use Innervate to push ahead of the opponent and/or make up for slower draw or ramp plays. It is worth noting that especially aggressive decks can build a board from turn 1 and give ramp a run for its money, though. Whether the ramp is needed to survive aggro or threaten control, it is an important facet of Druid combo. It also has especially high utility in combo decks, given how cards like Wild Growth and Nourish can be used to draw towards the combo and Innervate can be used to help execute the combo as opposed to launching out an early tempo play or facilitating a board clear. The newly released Lunar Visions is something of an inversion, where it helps you make plays later by discounting cards but being clunky in its own initial cost. The card is certainly combo material, especially given the Druid’s tendency to be more minion-based, but it’s a risky gambit compared to the more cut-and-dry cards like Nourish. When the Druid really gets its ramp going, the way it actually wins the game is almost a formality. Usually, the reason to play combo instead of just ramping and then playing huge minions is that the combo lets you beat up on control decks that might otherwise equalize or subvert your tempo with economical removal. One combo method is spell-based burst to punish control while the spells serve a secondary role as removal against aggro. An alternative to that is to use Jade Golem spells to support building multiple chains of threats to overwhelm control decks, while allowing a curving minion presence against aggro. Lastly, token and buff effects can be used to build large boards at key inflection points to overwhelm opponents. The mana advantage Druid works to attain is exploited through minion engines that allow the Druid to extract extra value from its combo pieces and support cards. Cards like Fandral Staghelm, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Violet Teacher are used to produce large plays by adding extra value to cards like Jade Idol, Moonfire, and Power of the Wild. In the case of minion combos, the degenerate aspect comes in the form of deploying minions at a speed or size inflection point that the opposing deck won’t be able to respond to effectively. Druid’s cheap spells combined with spell-power effects are used for simply one-shotting opponents, though the ability to kill off an opponent from full life with little to no board makes it far harder to interact with than anything involving minions. As an aside, the newly released Kun, the Forgotten King has created interest in the combo potential of Aviana. While Aviana could always create explosive plays with Innervate, Kun is flexible as a tempo or defensive play on its own and is thus no large imposition on the Druid to play if it aimed for a minion-based combo deck already. Aviana’s discounting effects make just about any minion threatening, so the combo payout can be anything from building an impossibly large board of minions like Ancient of War, massive minion interactions with Brann Bronzebeard or C’Thun, or Malygos combos that don’t require Thaurissan. Aviana is an interesting highlight that exemplifies Druid’s flexible combo potential. Overall, Druid offers many opportunities to combo players, given that its primary class advantage, playing bigger than the opponent, is its degenerate component. The flexibility of being able to just do “more” than the opponent gives Druid a wide range of combo possibilities; tempo plays with tokens, lines of Jade Golems to outlast opponents, or spell-power bursts, which means you can likely find an effective combo build for the metagame. However, missing the ramp cards in the opening of the game can be a quick loss, which means this combo deck has a much higher dependency on the initial mulligan, whereas other combo decks can draw out of initially poor openers more easily. As her primary class mechanic would imply, Rogue is a class that is well-suited to combo plays. Rogue has the unique distinction of generating or playing copies of the “Coin”, in addition to having a variety of cheap spells with tempo-related effects. While Coins can ramp out minions just as well as they can spells, Rogue’s minions aren’t necessarily as imposing as a class like Druid’s, the Rogue’s spells are what’re really leveraged to solve problems, press damage, and ultimately combo out against opponents. In that same vein, Rogue also has Preparation, which is an enormous pseudo-ramp for Rogue spells. With these resources at hand, Rogue combo plays tend to focus on hitting a critical mass of spells while the Rogue minions serve to lower the bar for putting together the overall combo kill. In addition to being able to cheat the typical mana curve with Coins and Preparation, Rogue also has two degenerate weapons in the form of Edwin VanCleef and Conceal. Edwin VanCleef gives Rogue an unparalleled ability to combo off incredibly early and attempt to end games with a massive VanCleef combined with Rogue’s cheap spells. Other classes would be hard-pressed to find a way to produce a minion as large as VanCleef with the board advantage provided by the Backstabs or “Prepared” Eviscerates or Saps that tend to build up the VanCleef play. Edwin gives Rogue a unique way to steal wins against Aggro and Combo decks that have little recourse against a massive minion knocking a third of their health away by the third or fourth turn. Against Control, where removal is more likely to show up, smaller VanCleef plays can be mixed in with typical board control or tempo plays, adding a threat element of a moderately large VanCleef while preventing a single removal from crippling the Rogue. Conceal is the other degenerate card at Rogue’s disposal, a spell that allows the seldom-applied Stealth condition to cover the Rogue’s whole minion presence. While area-of-effect cards like Flamestrike or Twisting Nether are still a concern, the ability to prevent opposing trades or single-target removals from interfering presents a fantastic opportunity to press damage or otherwise threaten the opponent. In the traditional “Miracle” combo variant, which relies on minion damage augmented by tempo spells and burst damage, this can be a key card for guaranteeing the Rogue’s minions stay around to press a critical turn of damage. More than any other class, Rogue has an incredible affinity for Gadgetzan Auctioneer. The focus on cheap spells and Coins means that Rogue can use the Auctioneer as a first-rate draw engine. The extra card draw also makes up for the relatively small effect of the Rogue’s tempo spells, since they would now also be providing an extra card of value. Generally, most combo Rogues focus on using the Wicked Knife, removal spells, and the Rogue’s retinue of utility minions like Small-Time Buccaneer, Tomb Pillager, or Azure Drake to stay afloat and try to move towards a large turn of using Gadgetzan Auctioneer to cycle through the deck while taking board control. In this way, Rogue is the purest example of a tempo-based combo deck, actively contesting the opponent to set a turn of initiative that is used as the basis for the combo attempt. There are two ways for the Rogue’s combo attempt to play out: a broad minion-pressure approach, and a spell-burst using Malygos. The latter option is strategically more simplistic, as it just involves assembling a large hand of spells to play alongside Malygos, facilitated by Emperor Thaurissan and/or whatever Coins and Preparations weren’t used alongside Gadgetzan Auctioneer. While this approach does have the benefit of letting you combo fully without relying on having any minion pressure, it does have the downside of usually requiring two stabilized turns, one each for Auctioneer and Thaurissan, which can be difficult for the Rogue to manage. The other option for Rogue is to use their tempo spells to assert a minion presence and lean on the opponent until they’re brought in range of spells like Cold Blood and Eviscerate which put together a game-winning turn of attacks. This option is far more flexible and open-ended, as this strategy can exploit early Buccaneer damage, fold into an Edwin VanCleef or Questing Adventurer all-in, and forgo slow, telegraphing plays like Emperor Thaurissan. The downside is that, aside from cards like Conceal, this strategy is very open to opposing interaction, an opponent that can parry the Rogue’s initial minions and stabilize the board can seal the Rogue out of the game, as there isn’t enough burst in these sorts of Rogue lists to do a full 30-to-0 turn without minions to contribute damage. As mentioned above, Rogue is the most tempo-oriented of combo classes. With the right draw, a Rogue can keep the opponent off the board and throw a huge chain of spells and draw into motion before the opponent can get back on their feet. However, the amount of finesse needed to maintain tempo and the low margin for error involved means that the Rogue can fall apart when things don’t go according to plan. A lack of early tempo tools can leave Rogue very vulnerable to Aggro decks that can exploit the Rogue’s lack of Taunt or heal. On the other end of the spectrum, a control deck can capitalize on a lack of early board presence and keep the Rogue off the board to shorten the Rogue’s reach and pressure them before the Rogue can fully assemble any sort of combo. Mage is something of an odd case when it comes to tempo-based combo, because it seems like the class that would play with the least board presence, and also has no way of moving ahead of the opponent in terms of mana. However, Mage has an incredible ability to retard the opponent’s tempo with freeze effects and removal, so it can achieve its tempo advantage by holding the opponent back instead of moving itself forward. While holding back the opponent, the Mage combo kill is usually a grip of spells aimed squarely at the opponent’s face. The versatility of using these spells as removals means that the Mage can opt for a more minion-heavy build that uses repeated damage to contest aggressive or midrange decks, or a more defensive build that works to build resource advantages through area-of-effect and ends games with one-shot-kills against control and combo decks. The Mage’s unique freeze abilities works as contra-tempo for the opponent, conferring an indirect mana advantage with the same cost of hand-size associated with more direct mana advantages like a Wild Growth or Preparation. The idea being that damage is the overarching win condition in Hearthstone and the usual way to inflict it is through minions; freezing halts that process and give the opponent a turn of near-zero tempo as they are no longer advancing their gamestate, anything else you do on the turn you freeze the opponent is thus a tempo gain given that the opponent is likely just going to build their irrelevant board up bigger and then pass back to you. This is why you generally want to hold back freeze effects as much as you can in order to have more mana around for that turn; a Frost Nova on turn 3 confers no mana advantage, but a Frost Nova that disables the opponent on turn 10 effectively bought you 7 mana, for instance. Mage has particular minions that can support it’s spell-casting shenanigans as well. Doomsayer is an especially effective pick for Mage, given that it can combine with freeze effects to rob the opponent of any initiative or board development they may have developed throughout the game. Doomsayer’s particular ability to clear the board going into your own turn means that it can be used to dictate the initiative of the game, a good Doomsayer clear can actually switch control of the board over to you. Depending on the matchup and build of the Mage combo, Doomsayer can be used at different points in the game to threaten the opponent. A more aggressive minion to consider is Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a card that actually does boast a proactive mana advantage and a decent-sized body for the cost. Sorcerer’s Apprentice is usually used with cards like Mana Wyrm and Mirror Image to push early damage, though it can also be used to facilitate a game-ending chain of spells against more control-oriented opponents. The most degenerate or non-interactive tool at the Mage’s disposal is Ice Block. Ice Block basically prevents the opponent from winning the game on a turn of theirs where they normally would. This makes Ice Block the biggest tempo retardant ever because, for one turn, no amount of work on the opponent’s part can actually advance their gamestate from the near victory it was likely already at when your Block was triggered. The fact that Block is always the last thing to trigger, since it only happens when the opponent actually would be about to win, means it buys you the maximum mana advantage every time, which also makes it the best tool for putting together the end-game burn damage that your combo typically consists of. While there are tech cards and edge-cases that circumvent Ice Block, the former are rarely worth playing and the latter can be played around with some practice. While Mage isn’t a typical “tempo” combo deck, it’s unique approach to managing the game state and powerful Ice Block and freeze effects warrant an inclusion here. If you can learn to passively assemble a combo while, at a glance, being behind the opponent’s development the whole game, you can force through damage in a way that makes the opponent's actions seem irrelevant. The more aggressive variants can also challenge midrange and aggro decks by pushing early damage while relying on Ice Block to win the race. It is worth noting that the current metagame of burst spells and weapons does challenge the utility and effectiveness of freeze spells, though. Also, the dichotomy of hyper-aggressive Pirate decks and highly defensive control decks present in the meta makes it very difficult to build a Mage combo that won’t feel like it’s rolling dice in its matchups. Sample Decklists If you’re interested in trying out some of these decks, or want a reference for what the curve or basic list tends to look like, consider looking at these sample lists: Druid: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/saiyans-jade-druid-rank-1-legend-december-2016-season-33/ Rogue: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/xzirezs-pirate-miracle-rogue-december-2016-season-33-mean-streets-gadgetzan/ Mage: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/chessdudes-12-win-freeze-mage-heroic-tavern-brawl-november-2016/ Outroduction Combo decks are something of a pet archetype for me, I actually started playing Hearthstone to play Freeze Mage after learning of the nerfs that killed off the original Miracle Rogue and to this days there’s basically no combo deck I won’t try at least once. I think there’s a special challenge in trying to manage an opponent as opposed to contesting them, a challenge that’s definitely worth exploring and being aware of. While combo decks can feel somewhat automatic when they draw well, there are a lot of wins that are skill-dependent and creating a gamestate where only your own plays matter means that you have to make all your plays as effective as possible. Even if you hate combo decks, it’s probably still worth your time to understand what makes them tick and what metagames make them really worthwhile.
  11. Supertype Discussion - Pirate Aggro

    Introduction The Pirate Aggro supertype is devoted to leveraging the newly released Pirate minions Small-Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate. This damaging duumvirate is only weeks old, yet it has already carved a massive swath through the metagame. Let’s start with Small-Time Buccaneer, the mundane muscle of our swashbuckling showcase. With a weapon equipped, the Buccaneer can start swinging in for 3 damage as early as turn 2, while the weapon that empowers it can push more damage or control the board by picking off minions that would contest the Buccaneer. For a deck that wants to reach a midrange curve, a 3/2 minion can push or force trades against aggressive decks which, when combined with a weapon, can seriously hamper the board presence of an aggro deck. For the aggro decks themselves, hitting the ground running with a 3/2 is a huge imposition on slower decks like Renolock or Jade Druid, especially with a weapon in play to pressure the control deck to use spells to contest Buccaneer instead of developing early minions. Additionally, unlike Mana Wyrm or Tunnel Trogg, Buccaneer doesn’t require you to expose or expend resources by playing spells or extending minions; tech card responses aside, weapon deployments are a fairly low-commitment way to spend mana. From there, let’s take a gander at Patches the Pirate. Patches has the unique feature of summoning itself from the deck to join the first Pirate that you play. While Patches is basically a Stonetusk Boar, the fact that it’s coming out of the deck with no commitment from your mana or hand makes it an amazing tool. Even if Patches simply ends up trading with a minion, it’s not as though you lost much by virtue of achieving that trade, it’s as though you got to weaken an opposing minions just by sitting at the table and playing a Pirate. By being a no-cost, high-utility effect, Patches manages to achieve a lot even with his paltry 1/1 body. Helping to establish board supremacy or push damage is a wonderful boon for an aggro deck. Aggro decks tend to be high variance and have little margin for error, racing decks or coming down to a final draw. With that in mind, the idea that you can start the match and have an opponent that is effectively at 28-25 life instead of 30 or confront an opposing minion that effectively sits at a vulnerable health inflection instead of a strong stat line can often be the difference between victory and defeat in the 5-7 turns that the game will actually last. As a footnote, while it is significantly painful to draw Patches, I don’t think it should skew your mulligan perspectives. It’s not as though these Pirate decks are like the Barnes/Y'Shaarj gimmicks, where drawing the intended deck-dweller collapses the whole deck. You can still grab plenty of wins with Stonetusk Boar, especially if you make intelligent mulligans for the given matchup and effectively push damage. While the Pirate decks intuitively occupy the high-speed aggro end of the spectrum, it should also be noted that the Pirate frame can be used to support a midrange-oriented deck that trades away some speed and all-in potential for resiliency and a higher scale of threats. The reason this modicum of flexibility is available to the Pirate supertype is due to a fundamental reality of Hearthstone: having initiative on board allows you to dictate the game and confers on you the greatest number of options. Simply put, the combination of the charging Patches the Pirate, the forcefully-stated Small-Time Buccaneer, and the board control afforded by weapons means it’s very easy to grab early initiative and have the opportunity to make favorable trades or push damage to the opponent’s face. If you want to ultimately forgo board control and ignore trade, you can capture lots of early damage in exchange for eventually losing the ability to leverage minions at all. Conversely, if you hold out weapon charges as removal and take advantageous or conservative trades, you can restrict your opponent’s ability to press damage and gain the optimal position to deploy subsequent threats. The payoffs for a given Pirate deck change depending on where on the spectrum you place your build of deck. For the very aggressive orientations, there will be games where your comparative lack of board control leads to you being displaced by large enemy minions. To combat this, the aggressive variants will leans more heavily on charge minions and one-shot spells to close the gap once the initial assertion onto the board is parried. Conversely, the Pirate decks that tech towards the midrange will be less opportunistic about damage and instead secure a good board position in order to impose more and more heavily on the opponent through larger minion curves. The need to accommodate a higher curve does leave less room for one-shot burst damage, though. It’s worth noting, of course, that these different builds also introduce different vulnerabilities. The very fast, hyper aggressive variants can quickly punish greedy, or slow opponents. However, these decks can falter against even mild amounts of interaction or resistance. On the other hand, the midrange decks can scrum against aggressive decks and hold the board down until their larger curve dominates. Unfortunately, this slower pace does make the midrange variation vulnerable to control decks by allowing the game to move into the control deck’s wheelhouse. While aggressive decks are often pigeonholed as low-skill decks, the ability to properly assess the metagame and assemble a deck that competently addresses your expected opponents is a key skill that this supertype can test. Class Considerations Leveraging the powerful new Pirate one-drop requires a specific set of synergies, other Pirates and available weapons, which delineate the classes to consider rather easily. While there is an impressive suite of all-class Pirates, any class that can spare crew members of its own is certainly ahead in consideration. Moreover, weapons are a necessity in order to boost the power of Small-Time Buccaneer and some other Pirate options. With that in mind, the non-weapon classes of Mage, Druid, Warlock, and Priest are easily excluded. Additionally, I’m going to make the assertion that Hunter isn’t a worthy candidate for this sort of strategy. The main reason for this is that the Hunter has a poor selection of weapons. Hunter has no way of equipping a weapon before turn 3 in standard and the Eaglehorn Bow would be difficult to use actively, given the need to hold it back for synergy with both Pirates and Traps. Having a weapon that deploys too late and is difficult to use means that, ironically, the class with the most aggressive Hero Power is rather out-of-place in this Supertype. I would say Warrior is the face of this new Supertype, but, in truth, it would be more accurate to say Warrior is the face of the Pirate Aggro prototype. Weapon-based board control and aggression is something that Warrior has always been capable of and Warrior found itself with synergistic Pirate cards a whole set ahead of Patches and Buccaneer. Thus, this first section will be a very familiar rundown of all the aggressive tools that Warrior brings to the table. As mentioned above, Warrior brings some interesting crew members into the Pirate fold. N’Zoth’s First Mate is a fantastic opening play available to the Warrior, activating both synergies right at the start of the game. Regardless of the aggro or midrange inflection point you intend to use, N’Zoth’s First Mate is a first-rate play with Patches, pushing 1 or 2 damage right away (depending on your plans for the Hook) and offering you effective trades against most 1-drop or 2-drop responses if you don’t want to just push another 3 damage next turn. Bloodsail Cultist is the other Pirate available to Warrior, a solid 3-drop that rewards you for maintaining a Pirate and weapon on board by “Upgrading” your weapon with an extra attack and durability. This Upgrade effect is a unique feature of the Warrior, allowing you to build up a massive damage bonus, especially given the extra durability added. Cultist is a particularly good offering, since it tends to reward you for being in a position you’d want to be in anyway: imposing on the board with a Pirate, with a weapon in play to control the board or push more damage. From there, Warrior can also tap into another synergy: Dragons. For those interested in a more midrange experience, the Warrior-exclusive Alexstrasza's Champion is a boon for the Warrior player. With the charge ability, Alexstrasza’s Champion can easily pick up favorable trades in order to stabilize aggressive opponent’s and secure your position to drop larger minions. Also, the Champion can just hit for 3 damage multiple times in control matchups, so the Champion is no slouch in matchups where you’re still the relative aggressor. Given the relative dearth of low-cost Dragons, though, it’s difficult to effectively maintain an aggressive build with this card, even though the stat line and charge ability are certainly alluring for an all-in “face” deck. One last minion I would like to highlight is Frothing Berserker. Given that the option to either press face or take advantageous trades is one of the most important distinctions to make tactically and strategically, Berserker’s ability to gain attack and represent more damage or another future advantageous trade is intriguing. Taking trades is less costly when the damage you forego is paid forward into the Berserker’s attack value. Also, the Berserker’s high toughness means it can live through and subsequently punish the area-of-effect that may counter a choice to forego trades. Basically, no matter which way you play the game, Berserker can contribute as a threat while presenting you with exploitable options as to how you manage damage in the current or future turns. To support those minions, the Warrior has a well-known suite of excellent weapons. Fiery War Axe has a reputation from control Warrior as being a great removal tool, and it plays that role just as well here. Of course, it’s also 6 damage for 2 mana, a half-price Fireball when it comes to pushing damage. The larger Arcanite Reaper is often a half-price Pyroblast, given that midrange minions would compete for the turn 5 deployment or push Reaper out of the deck as you make room for more minions. That said, Reaper can hit a few inflection points against cards like Azure Drake; it’s not as though Reaper is terrible in midrange, it’s just often associated with more aggressive builds where it can be more easily slotted into the deck and leveraged. Warrior’s prospects dim slightly when you start to look at damage from effects. The most notable card is Mortal Strike, which is analogous to Fireball when you hit the Warrior’s “limit break” health total, but comes off as over-costed in other cases. From there, most Warrior effects just improves the Warriors own attack power, which defeats the typical purpose of damage effects: finishing opponents when they stabilize behind taunts. This contributes to the weakness of Pirate Warrior: it’s fragility to interaction. The most intuitive answer to an aggro deck with weapons would be to snipe weapons and put up taunts. The unique Upgrade effects of Warrior don’t really help you solve those problems, thus, “burst” effects are lacking overall. On the subject of “lacking”, let’s touch on the Warrior Hero Power. In context, it’s the actual worst Hero Power you can have. It doesn’t let you deal any damage, it doesn’t give you any material advantage in terms of minions or cards, and the Priest Hero Power would be more useful by giving you the added utility of patching up minions. Also, with a dearth of spell damage, kiting lethal damage with the Hero Power is less likely to lead to good outcomes given how consistently taunts can lock you out of the game. Overall, Pirate Warrior comes off to me as the most “Pirate Aggro” of the Pirate Aggro options. You have arguably the best weapon in the game, Fiery War Axe, and the best Pirate cards to incentivize the theme. However, Warrior has the least ability to be resilient to interference. A lot of Warrior effects double down on the vulnerabilities of Pirate Aggro decks, so you’ll often be a sitting duck when the deck gets its opening parried or the tech cards hit you hard. Be sure to exercise a lot of care optimizing your deck, or you’ll give up the power and efficiency that justifies the deck’s straightforward vulnerability. Rogue, like Warrior, has been picking up scrappy seafarers for a while before the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. However, these new additions to its lineup give aggressive Rogue builds real potential. It is worth noting that the “midrange” equivalent of Pirate Rogue tends to be simply using Pirates to entangle or destabilize opponent’s before a typical “Miracle” turn, an arrangement that will be covered in-depth in the “Tempo-Based Combo” discussion. Here, we will be looking simply at a non-combo aggro Rogue strategy. Discussing the impact of Rogue’s Hero Power or weapon options separately is somewhat inefficient, given how the former informs the latter. The Rogue’s Hero Power is a unique appeal as it guarantees the weapon follow-up for Small-Time Buccaneer and also makes weapon-removing effects merely a loss in tempo as opposed to a loss of tempo and a card. This stable weapon effect is built up into a theme of weapon-boosting or weapon-interactive cards for Rogue, like Deadly Poison or Blade Flurry. This, in turn, has had the consequence of Rogue receiving few effective weapon cards, because they would conflict with the natural use of the Rogue Hero Power and threaten dangerous interactions when paired with card effects that were originally designed for use with a 1-attack weapon (for a historic example, see “Assassin's Blade” builds of Oil Rogue). In the aggressive context of this Supertype, however, Perdition’s Blade is a notable aversion to the above paradigm. With its combo ability, Perdition’s Blade can help contain the board against aggressive decks or provide the effect-based burst to spring past taunts or otherwise close a game. The high cost and slow pace of Rogue’s other weapon options means that you’re going to be relying on the Hero Power overall, though. As a result, the Rogue can face a challenge controlling the board, due to the comparatively low stats of the Wicked Knife. However, a de-emphasis on actual weapon cards means that the Rogue isn’t stuck with awkward hands of multiple weapon cards piling up and the Rogue can devote slots to tech choices more easily as it isn’t beholden to filling it’s deck slots with weapons. The Pirate crew available to the Rogue is more wide-ranging and powerful than its choice in weapons, thankfully. Leading the boarding party are two Rogue 1-drops, Swashburglar and Buccaneer. The Swashburglar is a minor source of card advantage with underwhelming stats to compensate. However, Swashburglar represents a small amount of blow-out potential in gifting you a spell-based class’ burn, a hefty creature, or a self-predating class card like Sacrificial Pact, all of which are difficult to play around given that the opponent has no idea what to expect. From there, the Buccaneer is a more consistent threat, boasting 2 attack and representing extra damage when you equip a weapon in his presence. Unlike Goblin Auto-Barber, the card this is somewhat the spiritual successor to, the Buccaneer doesn’t require a weapon to be present ahead of time, so you can lead with Buccaneer and have the threat of an improved weapon, while always retaining the option to instead play more minions. Among those minions are an assortment of Combo cards, which are improved by the high density of 1-drops available. Rogue’s Combo minions are all well-suited for the tempo and aggro amalgam that characterizes Rogue. Undercity Valiant and SI-7 Agent are great at helping the Rogue control the opposing minion presence, or putting together the last bit of damage to bypass a taunt or win a race. While these effects are small in scale, the one-two punch of an imposing 1-drop and damaging Combo effect is a great way to present pressure or wrest board control from an aggro opponent. Of course, no discussion of Combo minions would be complete without giving some attention to Edwin VanCleef. VanCleef can come down as a follow-up to a one-drop and be, at minimum, an undercosted 4/4. Or, you can plan a more ambitious line using cards like Coin or Backstab to ramp up to an 8/8 or 10/10 to quickly push an all-in. Rounding out the Rogue kit are an assortment of tempo cards that augment or substitute for burn spells. Eviscerate is the direct method of dealing damage, boasting an impressive 4 damage for only 2 mana. Cold Blood is a hit-or-miss substitute, given that it’s vulnerable to taunts or a stabilized board, but it is very cheap at 1-mana. From there, Rogue can call on tempo-oriented spells like Backstab or Sap, which can remove minions at a very low cost in order to confer board control over that turn, and facilitate a Combo effect. While these effects don’t directly deal damage, it’s important to understand that these low cost ways of removing enemy minions mean your initial phase of minion-based damage gets to be extended longer, which means that the endgame of having to get past a taunt or edge out an opponent with burst is less of a hurdle overall. Rogue is in an interesting place when it comes to the Pirate Aggro Supertype. The ability to produces a weapon allows you to compartmentalize an important synergy that you’d normally have to devote card slots to. Additionally, the Rogue’s typical tempo tools blend naturally with the short-term aim of Pirate Aggro, keeping an opponent off balance as you continue to swing in with your Pirate crew. However, the general idea of the Combo mechanic doesn’t quite mesh well with the idea of snowballing early minions, you might find conflicts in your hand when it comes to optimizing all the Combo effects versus supporting early Pirates. Those early Pirates are also more important because the Wicked Knife is so much less imposing than the Weapons available to other classes that you have to rely on repeat damage from minions to deal the lionshare of damage to an opponent. Shaman, like Warrior, is no stranger to the Aggro spotlight. The assortment of tools that made Aggro Shaman so effective a year ago are still mostly present and effective, rolling in the new Pirate additions reinforces this solid base by replacing what has been lost to nerfs and rotation. Also, Shaman has many effective ways of moving into the midrange, as demonstrated by last format’s prevalence of Midrange Shaman. Shaman’s managed to pull itself into the forefront of the metagame on the strength of these tools at least once already, so the Shaman option is definitely worth your attention. While Shaman doesn’t have Pirates of its own, it’s not as though Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem are slouches. Totem Golem is immensely imposing as a fairly-costed 3-drop that gets to slide in as a 2-drop play in exchange for 1 Overload. This means you can often pick up a favorable trade or get in multiple hits with the Golem. Golem is also notable for being effective as a stand-alone card, which is particularly good given how so many cards in this Supertype rely on synergy or positioning to be optimally imposing. On the subject of synergy creating an imposing presence, Tunnel Trogg can contest many early minions or push high amounts of damage through use of Overload. Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem are as threatening a suite of attackers as ever, even if there isn’t any particular cohesion or connection to the Pirate theme. If aggressive all-ins aren’t a good call for your meta, Shaman does have two effective ways to approach a midrange curve: Totems and Jade Golems. The focus on Totem synergy is well-known from the Shaman-heavy metagame that preceded Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Thing From Below is a solid body that can affect a large tempo swing, though you may have difficulty in finding time to play Totems when an aggressive stance is needed or opportune. In the same vein, Thunder Bluff Valiant can give you an immense tempo swing and a very dangerous board, provided you can find the time to produce multiple Totems. The Jade Golem effect is much easier to coordinate and can have a high, if varied, power level depending on the density of Jade effects in your draw. Even if you’re only getting small minions at the start, the fact that Jade effects are tacked onto worthwhile weapons and burn you’re likely already playing means that each card you can tech in is progressively better. Aya Blackpaw is the most notable Jade minion to tech as a midrange choice due to her ability to double-dip on Jade Golems. Also, I’ll take a moment to give special mention to Flamewreathed Faceless. The fact that Faceless is so aggressively costed means that it doesn’t have to be out of place in an all-in “face” deck; it can be the all-in, where you risk a large tempo loss to go out and push a large amount of damage. Conversely, when you get into a protracted exchange of resources as a midrange deck, having a big generic minion to carry on the slugfest and try to win in a “last minion standing” kind of way can be very useful. The effectiveness of this card tends to wax and wane given how many people are going out of their way to beat it with tech cards, but that’s, in a way, a signal of how powerful it can be against vulnerable opponents. Shaman’s weapons are notable for having relevant textboxes, instead of just damage-dealing stats. Doomhammer is well-known for its raw damage potential, capable of quickly knocking out half the opponent’s health with the Windfury ability. It can also double as great board control, albeit with a high health cost, which gives Doomhammer some use if you’re trying to move into the midgame. Spirit Claws is another potent weapon for Shaman, helping to pick off minions or represent a remarkable amount of damage with a Spell-Power minion to empower the Claws. It is worth mentioning that more aggressive Shaman builds can have a hard time fitting in Spell-Power support for the Claws, but a 1-mana weapon that helps keep the early board clear is still a great deal. Lastly, the newly released Jade Claws is a fine way to start up Jade Golems, or simply swing momentum by producing a minion and removing one with a weapon charge. Jade Claws also hits a good set of inflection points; it can followup Tunnel Trogg or Small-Time Buccaneer to help either synergy and its 2 attack is a solid rebuke for most early-game minions you’d want to protect your 1-drops from. Be wary, though, that coordinating your weapon charges to get optimal damage and prevent your hand getting clogged up should be on your mind, given how many Shaman weapons are viable. Shaman’s burst damage potential was part of what made the Aggro Shaman deck so effective last year, and that hasn’t changed much now. The Shaman’s spells are the most dangerous of the Supertype classes, especially with the Overload ability to push costs to the next turn -- a turn that you never have to confront when you’re killing the opponent with as much as 20 damage on a full mana bar. The new release of Jade Lightning adds more burst with the Imp-losion-lesque addition of giving you a Jade Golem, a solid choice for both aggro and midrange given how it can act as game-ending burn or a tempo swing. Your overall use of spells may decrease as you work to find room for midrange cards, though. I’ve seen more than a few comments from streamers or other forums that talk about how Shaman is becoming or has become the best class, or consistently near the top. Looking at the options Shaman has within the Supertype, I’d say there’s a good case to be made for that kind of thinking. Shaman has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to how to arrange your curve, with great tools for every inflection point of deck design. The only hangup for Shaman is coordinating Overload, which is a minor change to the typical thought process of curving out, and it’s otherwise difficult to find a particular vulnerability that applies to Shaman. In my opinion, I think this will cool off when Tunnel Trogg and, especially, Totem Golem drop out of Standard. I’m going to breeze through the Paladin entry because Paladin has had an overall tough time in the metagame and the Aggro Paladin concept has a few significant shortfalls that can only be forgiven for the interesting gimmicks and tools unique to Paladin. While Wickerflame Burnbristle is a remarkable deterrent to other Aggro decks, Paladin doesn’t otherwise have a lot of great minions to consider in an aggro deck. However, his minion-buffing effects in Smuggler’s Run and Grimestreet Outfitter represents an intriguing gimmick. Against other aggro decks, buffing up a charge minion or Dragon Egg to an effectual inflection can be sufficient, whereas you may opt to buff a handful of minions to combat control decks. Additionally, Small-Time Recruits and Divine Favor give Paladin a level of card advantage that other classes in the Supertype can’t match. This gives Paladin much more longevity against area-of-effect counters or drawn out minion exchanges. These cards also blend well with the aforementioned hand-buff effects, allowing you to build up a large hand and then buff it all. Having access to more card advantage also mitigates the lower quality of Paladin’s cards. Unfortunately, this is where we start to confront the aforementioned shortfalls of Paladin as an aggro class. In order to meet the timing inflections needed to support Small-Time Buccaneer, or just general board control, you’re forced to consider lackluster options like Light’s Justice. Rallying Blade isn’t terrible, though, given the generic Divine Shield minions Paladin would likely already be using. Moreover, Paladin’s burst options are costly and awkward to use, meaning that the support and endgame options you rely on can often be insufficient. Paladin made its way onto this list because I couldn’t think of an objective disqualification for it, it’s technically capable of supporting Pirates and carrying out an aggro objective, even if it has a lot of inferior tools for that job. I tested a few lists and I found a streamer who gave it a try as well (see the decklist section), and the deck really did have a unique appeal when everything lined up for it. The problem was that so many inflections and lines of play aren’t quite sufficient because the weapons aren’t as good, generic minions mean you can’t possible have better minions than other aggro classes, and there’s a real lack of endgame burst. However, it’s not as though Paladin has nothing to offer, hence the brief entry here. Sample Decklists If you’re interested in trying out some of these decks, or want a reference for what the curve or basic list tends to look like, consider looking at these sample lists: Warrior: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/sintolols-aggro-pirate-warrior-rank-1-legend-mean-streets-of-gadgetzan/ Rogue: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/rufengs-aggro-pirate-rogue-rank-1-legend-cn-mean-streets-gadgetzan/ Shaman: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/sjows-aggro-jade-shaman-seatstory-cup-vi-december-2016/ Paladin: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/dogs-aggro-paladin-mean-streets-of-gadgetzan/ Outroduction While oft-maligned, I think it’s important for the metagame to have a healthy and viable aggressive presence. When a great number of decks are viable at the top tier of play, a larger proportion of your wins are due to what you queue into, which diminishes the skill-intensiveness of the format. However, when a small number of decks sit, undisputed, at the top of the format, the stagnation can make the format less enjoyable. This stagnant situation can arise when aggro or control doesn’t have a good representation in the metagame. For example, the pre-nerf Patron deck more-or-less wiped out aggro and largely confined tournament and ladder play to Patron/Midrange Druid/Handlock. The inability for aggro and control to wax and wane prevents a subtle rotation of the small number of top decks. A small, yet living and rotating, group of top decks makes for a skill-intensive and lively format. Aggro decks, despite the bad reputation conferred on them by some of the community, are a necessary part of that ecosystem.
  12. Supertype Discussion - Highlander

    No, it was not. Perhaps it formatted poorly off the original google doc. My bad. @ACP Could you please edit the text color in the OP to the default?
  13. Supertype Discussion - Highlander

    Introduction The Highlander supertype is based on powerful battlecry effects that trigger when no duplicates are present in the user’s deck at the time of the battlecry resolution. The debut of this effect came in late 2015 with the League of Explorers expansion, which introduced Reno Jackson. At the time of its release, Reno Jackson represented a break from increasingly standardized decks and a possible answer to an increasingly aggressive/midrange metagame. Boasting both a powerful effect and the all-class identity, Reno Jackson encouraged experimentation in the use of Highlander decks. With the late 2016 release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, new cards were added that expanded the Highlander mechanic, ensuring its continued existence, at least in a theoretical state, into the near future. There are two main nuances in the Highlander deck theory that should constantly be evaluated: the use of duplicates and the depth of the cardpool in the current metagame. Duplicate cards in the deck dilute the average value of your Highlander effects by preventing the use of Highlander effects until you’ve drawn or milled at least one of each of your duplicates. Each additional duplicate requires you to see more of specific cards in your deck in order to enable your Highlander effects, which means each card you’d run as a duplicate is carrying a higher cost in terms of average deck power and should be carefully scrutinized. However, if the card(s) you choose to play duplicates of have a high power-level compared to the next non-duplicate card you would integrate into the deck, especially if the duplicated card is a “keep” for most or all matchups, then the duplicate(s) can be a net positive to the expected value of your deck. Expected value is also the main factor behind the second Highlander consideration: the depth of the available cardpool. Highlander decks tend to improve as the cardpool available to the metagame grows because the larger cardpool will usually introduce more cards that are close enough in power level that the decrease to average card power caused by running all singletons will be lower, which means the Highlander effects are a greater net gain in deck power as a deck-building choice. With this in mind, Highlander decks will tend to wane in power at every new rotation year, as the Highlander decks will lose relevant effects that incentivize the deck and face an increased cost to utilize the remaining or current Highlander effect cards. Highlander decks tend to fall into the more controlling side of the Aggro-to-Control spectrum, with a decent reach towards the midrange. The control orientation tends to come from the Highlander effect of Reno Jackson, the massive heal ability incentivizes a late-game focus by increasing the likelihood that you’d have the sustaining ability to force the game to go long. Moreover, aggressive decks tend to focus on the premium tools to push and exploit early board presence, and would thusly feel little benefit from the Highlander effects available, while paying a heavier cost of consistency. However, because the singleton focus of Highlander decks reduces the effective application of synergies and increases the use of generally effective stand-alone cards, these Highlander decks are capable of playing a midrange type of game with an above-average draw to “curve out” well. Class Considerations Originally, the only Highlander effect available was an all-class card, which made class considerations very broad. Generally speaking, you could justify a Highlander deck to any class that seemed to have a high enough number of decent cards to meet the requirements of a deck that is mostly or completely singletons. However, the new Kabal theme introduced in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan tripled the available Highlander effects that are available to Warlock, Priest, and Mage, which makes it hard to justify using any of the six other classes. To clarify, I assert it isn’t worthwhile to build Highlander decks with any of the non-Kabal classes, but there is a history of combo decks incorporating Reno Jackson. I feel this sort of variation shouldn’t be considered in this Supertype thread because the Reno Jackson in these sort of cases (Freeze Mage or Mill Rogue, for instance) is an exotic method of healing meant to support the combo pay-out of the deck, without substantially changing the overall plan of the deck. For the decks we will be discussing here, the power of the Highlander effects themselves is the pay-out and there is a substantial effect on the deck’s operation as a result. Warlock was quickly picked up as a Highlander poster-boy when Reno Jackson was released, as the effect was most easily adapted into the increasingly ailing Handlock shell. In comparison to the other classes, Warlock's most obvious “draw” is his Hero Power. The ability to draw on command is incredibly advantageous in control matchups, both because it builds an early resource lead and because it means you get to forego putting cards in your deck strictly for card draw or hand advantage, increasing the room for threats and removal. Compartmentalizing card draw within the Hero Power also affords you a greater chance of drawing the midrange curve that can seal out aggro decks, as you can simply hard-mulligan for Reno Jackson and any low-mana card that’s in your deck. In short, the Warlock Hero Power makes it much easier to gather and manage your threats and removal, both in terms of what you’re playing and what makes it into the deck. The Warlock class cards, however, are not as alluring as the Hero Power. Krul the Unshackled, the Warlock-exclusive Highlander effect, is fairly uninspiring; promoting a Doomguard is about the best you’d expect and any such devotion to the effect requires you to play increasingly poor-in-context Demon cards. With, arguably, the worst class-exclusive Highlander card, Warlock unfortunately boasts only a few effective threats and mostly offers a variety of decent area-of-effect and hard removal cards. That said, there are a small number of notable non-removal Warlock cards to keep in mind. Imp Gang Boss is a terrific deterrent to early drops, boasting effective stats to contest small minions while often dropping multiple Imps to further entangle an aggressive opening. Imp Gang Boss’ characteristics also synergize well with Warlock area-of-effect, being immune to Demonwrath and allowing some minor Imp propagation with Hellfire. With the exception of Totem Golem, it’s easy for Imp Gang Boss to gainfully interact with anything at the early-game weight-class and is a very powerful card, albeit in a fairly mundane capacity. From there, we move to the new Abyssal Enforcer. Abyssal Enforcer is well-positioned to fill the Warlock’s lackluster 7-drop slot and provides a great area-of-effect, basically a Hellfire on legs. One of the key strategic objectives of control decks is to stabilize into the lategame by managing to both clear the board and establish a board of its own. Abyssal Enforcer is fantastic at achieving that end by allowing you to trade off mid-game minions to force a clear and establish the solid body of the Enforcer. It’s also a formidable follow-up to Reno Jackson, mopping up the aggressive minions that the Reno Jackson staves off. Abyssal Enforcer was a welcome addition to the Warlock cardpool, shoring up the midrange positioning of the Warlock Highlander deck. At the high-cost end of the spectrum, Lord Jaraxxus is the opposite of the humbler Imp Gang Boss: a flashy and unique way of overpowering the late game. Lord Jaraxxus can confer basically every advantage you could ask for as a control player: minor heal by resetting your health to 15, board control from the 8-charge weapon, and, lastly, a significant upgrade to the Hero Power which subverts the late-game liability of Lifetap by replacing it with a bottomless supply of significant threats. However, the high mana cost of Lord Jaraxxus and the precarious implications that 15 life presents in some matchups means that Lord Jaraxxus is not a card you should play, or even incorporate into your deck, thoughtlessly. While it does demand some careful deployment and intuition of the opponent’s threats, Lord Jaraxxus offers an incredible trump in the control matchups and is a significant boon to the Warlock class. With that short list of super-stars and a fistful of removal, Warlock unfortunately runs short of imposing class cards and must lean heavily on the Neutral card pool to find threats. The Highlander design of the deck means that Warlock can reliably dip into the Neutral legend pool to find imposing bodies. Additionally, the Lifetap ability makes Warlock well-suited to use combo finishers like Leeroy Jenkins and Faceless Manipulator, which pushes Power Overwhelming from a lackluster removal card (via trade or Shadowflame) to being a serviceable burst enabler. Also, the Neutral cardpool provides a wide range of tech cards and middling-quality minions, which allows you to shift the deck’s inflection towards aggro or control matchups as needed. However, having the highest reliance on Neutral cards does present a card quality concern for Warlock players to be wary of: when matchups are highly aggressive to the point where it restricts your Lifetap use, you are effectively holding a lackluster deck compared to the other Highlander classes. Warlock’s access to incredible card draw does have to be balanced by awareness of the sort of cards you’re actually drawing into. Mage was another choice for early adopters of Highlander strategies when League of Explorers first debuted. Mage has a broad range of effects available to it through the variety of spells the Mage can draw on, Reno Jackson was used to sustain long enough to successfully put together card advantage plays and optimally match the Mage’s varied removal spells to high-value targets. While cards come and go, that original premise remains the same, especially with the advent of the new Highlander effects available. The Mage Hero Power is incredibly flexible, placing one damage on any target, allowing you to snipe off low-health minions or push damage on the opponent to bring them into range of the Mage’s damage spells. This small incremental advantage builds up over long games and also helps against aggressive decks by guaranteeing a minimum standard of removal. Leveraging the Mage’s varied effects and card advantage opportunities can create a powerful and unique control experience. The Mage-exclusive Highlander card, Inkmaster Solia, is an intriguing, yet dubiously useful, tempo swing that facilitates the combination of playing a big area-of-effect while developing a decent-sized minion body. Additionally, pairing Solia with a 10-cost potion from Kazakus can allow you to build a board presence while filling your hand or otherwise applying effects. Unfortunately, while Mage’s tempo-swinging Highlander effect is more useful than Warlock’s, there is no Jaraxxus for Mage to fall back on in terms of late-game firepower. Instead, Mage must work hard to make the most of its card advantage effects and gaggle of spells. Mage’s Hero Power erodes the opponent, but doesn’t advance your own resources. This, combined with a reliance on one-shot spells, means the Mage must devote card slots to various ways of drawing and building hand advantage. The Mage does this through minions and spells that can either draw, discover, or randomly add cards. A common tactic is to combine these effects with Brann Bronzebeard, doubling battlecry effects to gain massive value on cards like Kazakus, Babbling Book, or Ethereal Conjurer. SInce most of the cards drawn or acquired are spells, it’s common to see Alexstrasza or Archmage Antonidas used to increase the impact of these spells. For adding extra threat density, cards like Elise Starseeker or Manic Soulcaster can be used to add or recycle high-impact legendaries. These threat density options are important considerations due to the Mage’s card draw bringing you closer to fatigue, while the the poorly stated “value” minions and one-shot spells are poor choices at representing an imposing threat. The aforementioned spells are noteworthy in their variety and unique effects, though. One of the most intriguing choices is Ice Block. An anti-tempo safety tool that prevents lethal damage, Ice Block increases the impact of Reno Jackson’s full heal while also making the Highlander Mage particularly well-suited to face combo or aggressive all-ins. Mage also has a monopoly on freeze effects, mainly through spells like Frost Nova and Blizzard. Freezing enemy minions is a unique opportunity to win races, take favorable trades, or set up kills through burn damage. Freezing also gives Mage an obvious boost in the effectiveness of its Doomsayer or Emperor Thaurissan. Another unique way Mage interacts with minions is the ability to Polymorph threats, which helps to answer problematic deathrattles or buffed minions that would otherwise harass you through the Mage’s area-of-effect. Mage also has a high emphasis on spell damage. Cards like Azure Drake and Bloodmage Thalnos are especially valuable not only for their card draw, but also because they boost the damage of area-of-effect and burn spells alike. The characteristic of Mage spells to be raw damage is a remarkable utility, especially with Mage class cards like Cabalist’s Tome and Ethereal Conjurer that can provide you with extra burn. The question of whether to hold burn or clear the board is an important strategic consideration and the extra spell-power that minions provide can influence those inflection points in an important way. If your area-of-effect has the extra damage to clear the whole board, for instance, you can save something like a Frostbolt to win a race or further delay the opponent’s board. Or the extra spell power available can increase the utility of Fireball by letting it clear Flamewreathed Faceless or Ragnaros with a Hero Power. For Mage, the spell-power ability is particularly relevant compared to the other Highlander options. The range of Mage’s spell interactions and high value card advantage plays creates the opportunity for unique and compelling wins. Everyone wants that Brann Bronzebeard, double Kazakus, double Manic Soulstealer play, everyone’s seen that clutch Babbling Book either on their board or the opponents, and everyone’s seen the frustration caused by a Mage who snags the win with a last-second burn spell after their Ice Block. However, a lot of these exotic and interesting plays require you to, for lack of a better term, “finesse” a lot of the cards in the deck. Mage has a lot of awkwardly sized minions that justify themselves by drawing/finding extra cards that might also be tricky to use or have a certain high-priority use, leading to a lack of straightforward ways to assert your influence on the game-state. The plethora of interaction that the Mage has access to has to be focused in a way that meaningfully pushes a win condition, lest the deck fall flat. Priest is an interesting addition to the Highlander options. Priest has been an underdog for a while, especially in all of its various control forms. Priest wasn’t particularly noteworthy as a Highlander option when League of Explorers debuted, but the addition of the Kabal cards for Priest and the improvement to the Dragon-Priest archetype have raised the relevance of Priest. The Priest Hero Power to heal damage to both you and your minions is useful in long games and holding the board, with the enduring challenge being, of course, getting a foothold onto the board in the first place. The Priest has very effective removal options, some are cost effective, some steal the minion away from the opponent, and some even steal minions in cost effective ways. With all of these reactive tools, the rise of Priest has been understandably correlated to the increasing availability of minions with great stats, especially health, that allow the Priest to establish the presence that makes their effects powerful. The Priest-exclusive Highlander card, Raza the Chained, is a fantastic legendary that is the most impactful of the Kabal class-exclusives. The incremental bonus can arrive early on in the game and build up a health and mana advantage as it allows the Priest to fully develop minions and removal while still retaining the value of injured minions or kiting burst damage by rebuilding health. In addition to the obvious long-term benefit of improving the Priest Hero Power, the ability to use reset Hero Powers at zero cost opens up interesting burst possibilities with cards like Spawn of Shadows, Shadowform, and Garrison Commander. With Raza freeing up your mana, it’s worth looking into the minions and spells you’ll actually spend that mana on. Priest’s early game minions can build a vital foothold in the game and also inform some deckbuilding decisions. Twilight Whelp and Wyrmrest Agent are very cost-effective minions when played with their dragon-synergy effects, which tends to pull the deck design towards dragons. This decision is further incentivized by the midrange and late-game dragon cards that are also available. Whelp and Agent are great at picking off early minions, especially given their above average health, which gives you an early opportunity to extract value from the Priest Hero Power. In addition to these dragon-synergy options, the tried-and-true Northshire Cleric is another notable early-game minion. In aggressive matchups, the Cleric can tie down opposing minions and draw you towards your area-of-effect cards, while also offering you the chance to set up massive draw combinations with cards like Holy Nova in slower matchups. Lastly, the newly added Kabal Talonpriest can present favorable trades while providing another cost-effective, high-health body to help you carve a niche in the early game. Moving into the mid-game, Priest has other powerful tools at its disposal. Kabal Songstealer is a solid five-drop body, but also gives Priest easy access to the recently deemphasized silence ability. This allows you to keep up tempo while disabling troublesome effects that would hinder your straightforward use of well-stated minions. Drakonid Operative is another great midrange minion, with a stellar effect to discover opposing cards while boasting a robust stat line. Discovering the opponent’s haymakers can be a boon for a class that tends to be short on burst damage or high value cards. Additionally, the discover mechanics and Operative’s dragon typing give you an opportunity to use Netherspite Historian to often find another Operative. These options solidify an already impressive mid-game built on dragon minions and Raza. Moving into the late-game, Priest options start to run thin. Often relying on Neutral dragon legends, or the occasional N’Zoth or Elise, Priest can find itself challenged if it can’t simply out-muscle opponents in the early or mid-game. Granted, this is less of a concern for aggressive matchups, where the Priest can simply exhaust and collapse an opponent with heals and removal backing a decent curve. For those control-heavy metagames, it can be worthwhile to consider some sort of Hero Power burst combo with a greater emphasis on card draw. Priest has classically been challenged by a lack of proactive or imposing cards to really make its plethora of removal options truly valuable. Passively removing opposing cards, even in a cost-effective or high-value way, would often fall short in the tempo-oriented game that is Hearthstone. With powerful Highlander effects and strong minion presence, Priest can now be a legitimate threat, bullying aggro decks and putting pressure on control decks that it used to be unable to challenge. That said, Priest does suffer from a very myopic focus on minion interactions and often lacks burst damage, meaning it can fall victim to combo decks or tactics that otherwise ignore direct minion combat. Additionally, Priest can run lower on value than other control decks, especially if caught by an area-of-effect, because the need to focus early mana on developing or removing minions means that it’s difficult to develop card advantage. While Priest does have a narrower range of operations, it can allow you to build and maintain a dominating presence over your opponent. Sample Decklists If you’re interested in trying out some of these decks, or want a reference for what the curve or basic list tends to look like, consider looking at these sample lists: Warlock: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/asmodais-rank-1-legend-kazakus-renolock-december-2016-season-33/ Priest: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/savjzs-reno-kazakus-dragon-priest-rank-1-legend-december-2016-season-33/ Mage: http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/apdrops-kazakus-reno-mage-december-2016-season-33/ Outroduction I think Highlander decks are a great design choice by Blizzard, it’s a cool way to encourage a deeper look at the card pool and incentivize people to really scrutinize the way a deck is constructed. I’ll be looking forward to everyone’s discussion of this powerful and intriguing strategy.
  14. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    It seems like the Super-Type discussion threads have had some good feedback. I'm glad for that, since I personally like the concept too, it seems like a good way to differentiate the Hearthstone section from all the guides and such you'd tend to find online. Just so everyone knows what to expect, this is an example outline for what an OP would look like: Going forward, these are the threads I plan on creating at the least: - Pirate Aggro - Highlander Control - Tempo-Based Combo I haven't actually seen much that wouldn't fit into those three Super-Types, unless we want a super-broad "Minion Midrange" thread. If anyone has an idea for another thread they'd like to see, or addition to the expected outline, please do let me know. I plan on having the first thread done in a week, and I'll try to get at least one thread done per week. Though, this is my work's busy season (auditor irl), so I won't get more ambitious than that. @ACP Once we start having these discussions threads up and running, is there any chance I could get a permission to edit posts at any time, so I can update these threads?
  15. Hearthstone Random Talk Thread

    On 12/5/2016 at 7:28 PM, wonderPreaux said: I think the Deck Discussion section is underused because we were used to just posting decks in the main discussion thread. Like, if we want to do it YGO style and have big OPs for super-types of decks, I'll gladly post some up. Hey there, cool cats, In the spirit of making our section less of a desolate ghost town, I'm gonna try and start posting some more content in the deck discussion/general area threads, so that we have better venues to discuss the game. With that in mind, I'd like some opinions before I get started. Deck Discussion Threads What sort of threads would you guys want? I see two very good options, but I'd love to hear suggestions/opinions: - Organize by class: Easy, intuitive way of looking at it ex: Zoo Warlock thread, Control Warlock thread (Reno/other), Tempo Mage, Freeze Mage. The downside here is that there's little that would distinguish the thread's OP from a basic guide, at some level, it wouldn't necessarily facilitate high level discussion. Also, discussions would be easy to interact with and locate, though there might be a bloat of varied threads. May fall victim to splitting hairs over decktypes, or flash-in-the-pan threads also. - Organize by super-type: Ex. Pirate, Reno; each thread would explore the nuance between the class approaches to the super-type as well as the given decks themselves. Ex: Pirate Rogue having Backstab and/or Gang Up as well as reduced susceptibility to Ooxe whereas Pirate Warrior boasts improved resilience against early control minions due to War Axe. Discussing and comparing available cards elevates the discussion into a more nuanced examination of card usage and pros/cons of any given build, at the cost of making the thread more esoteric to enter into. As an aside, it lets up accommodate flavor-of-the-month/meme decks by folding them into a super-type instead of giving them their own thread. Beginner Content/Conceptual Discussions Idk how many people lurk this subforum or look at it, but one thing that got mentioned in gen-grounds discussion of this sub-forum is that some people might not post outside the general thread because they don't feel confident to talk theory or technical play. I think a section of how-to or beginner content, in addition to technical discussions, even in a "how would you play this hand" type of thing, could elevate and encourage contribution. Would there be interest in technical play or beginner/novice content? If anyone has any other suggestions on content they'd like to see, I'd love to hear it. I have some experience streaming card games, so if people have an interest in video guides or "DGz plays X certain deck" where me and some other cool DGz folks hop in a Skype call and gang-bang the ladder, those are all things I could consider as well.