Patches the Pirate: Fundamentals Over Flashiness

Unless you’ve quit the game of Hearthstone, you would know that Patches the Pirate has been one of the most popular cards in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The card has contributed to the wave of Pirate decks that are dominating the meta early on, seemingly making waves over than any of the swanky tri-class decks.

What I find most interesting about Patches the Pirate is that he is being used in a completely different way than when first revealed. It is a bit of a demonstration of competitive winning fundamentals, over an amazing play. The glory versus the story, if you will.

History

Patches the Pirate has an astoundingly long card development backstory (http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Patches_the_Pirate#History), possibly more than any other card. I first noticed a version of the card, the so-called Captain Scaleblade, being a teaser card in the The Grand Tournament trailer, and not being released in the card set. After a number of swaps with artwork, and drop out of some cards to Wild, Patches the Pirate is finally here, in a set with decent Pirate support.

Removed_Grand_Tournament_Minion_T.png
Definitely would’ve been a cool card.

First Impression: Gang Up

Patches was one of the first cards revealed at BlizzCon, and the gameplay demonstration showed him being involved in a wombo-combo. Basically, Patches was Ganged Up twice, and released with 6 clones upon playing a Southsea Captain. 12 damage!

patches.PNG
Fun and interactive

Hearthstone devs also mentioned that Patches was not released earlier because of interactions with GvG cards Ship’s Cannon and One-Eyed Cheat. The Patches was advertised as a combo charge with the janky ingredient Gang Up.

Accurate Impression: Aggro-Control

Skilled players knew right away to not include Gang Up in their decks when playing Patches. Rogue decks often fail as a result of dead cards, like Cold Blood, Preparation, and Conceal. Adding 2x Gang Up would further exacerbate the matter. Rather, Patches shines without Gang Up because he embodies what Aggro-Control is all about. This is also a very basic Arena concept of grabbing the board early with big tempo, controlling the board, and playing aggressive. Small-Time Buccaneer is the early game hammer that works well with Patches, putting 2/3 worth of stats, that swells to 4/3 with a weapon. Other 1-cost pirates like N’Zoth’s First Mate and Swashburglar put out a total of 2/2 for 1 mana. All of this early game tempo, comboed with a weapon, allows the player to hold on to the board and let the aggression win the game.

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The “Pirate Package”is so effective that amazing things are happening. Shamans have dropped cards from the bulletproof Midrange deck to include Jade Claws and the Pirate cards. Warriors have gazillions of decks and have all switched to one deck. Rogue is actually playable! While I expect the meta to adapt and stomp out the Patches Pirate package in the coming weeks, it is amazing how a perceived combo card became the Aggro-Control staple of MSG.

Stream of Consciousness on the Slow Meta

This is as unorganized as it will get on this site, so get ready for me just talking for the sake of writing a post before Thanksgiving.

84 out of 132 cards have been revealed for Mean Streets of Gadgetzan as of this post, with one coming from Kolento (hot meme inserted) in a couple hours.  We already know what the Grimy Goons and Kabal do, and we just learned of the main mechanic of the Jade Lotus yesterday. All of these faction mechanics clearly point towards the direction of an upcoming slow meta.

The Grimy Goons work by putting out anti-tempo drops, which in turn buff minions in the hand. We don’t really know what these decks would look like, but there are card staples that you still want. Warriors are known for carrying good weapons, and lots of removal spells. This would go against what the Grimy Goons do, in keeping a bunch of minions in hand for buffing. Hunters have the Dispatch Kodo, which costs 4, and requires a bunch of buffing to be devastating. Paladins look like the best fit to go aggro, and benefit from the Grimy Goons, given they have cheaper buffs like Smuggler’s Run. While Paladins can play faster, the need to buff things with anti-tempo cards will make the new aggro Paladin slower than the current version.

File:Grimy Gadgeteer(49679).png
Dangerous card

The Kabal have potions and powerful highlander legendaries. With the exception of bad card Bloodfury Potion, the currently revealed potions are all control spells. Three of the potions are board clears, one is a debuff, one is a mind control-psuedo board clear, one is a removal secret and one is Bloodfury Potion. Tempo and Face-Freeze Mage don’t really get much benefit for playing a highlander style, as they will lose a ton of damage spells. Inkmaster Solia is certainly a good card, but costs 7. Warlocks have gotten a 4-mana murloc, which could signal the return of Warloc shenanigans, but have received more control cards so far, like Abyssal Enforcer and Felfire Potion.

File:Inkmaster Solia(49693).png
Definitely fun, but can’t tell how good.

The expected rise of the Priest class (gee thanks, Reddit) also adds to the expectation of a slow meta. The debacle about releasing Purify at the dire juncture of the oppressive Shaman rise led to some legitimate admissions of fault from Blizz devs about saving Priests. This led to some frankly broken Priest cards revealed from the get-go, showing that the class is here to play soon.

Pros: The artwork. Cons: Everything else.

And finally, the Jade Lotus was revealed to have the Jade Golem mechanic, which summons a base 1/1 golem, and becomes a bigger golem for each new one. While the post teased a 30/30 golem, this is honestly going to be impossible to pull off. Like the Grimy Goons, one needs to consider how many of the Jade Lotus cards can supplant other options in the deck. Rogues for example, need core cards like 2x Backstab, 2x Eviscerate, 2x Preparation, 2x Sap. Some of the new cards, like Jade Shriuken will be weaker versions of spells that add the Jade Golem mechanic. While the Jade Golem mechanic has snowball potential, it seems very slow. We just need wait to see how fast these guys can be produced. If this mechanic does succeed, it straight out destroys control decks. Think about how strong the Jaraxxus Infernal hero power is in the late game, by producing 6/6’s. The Jade Golems will just exhaust removal, and keep making bigger threats.

Card literally released when I wrote the paragraph above.

This makes me think whether this signals the return of super aggro. When I say super aggro, I mean Old Gods Aggro Shaman, and even old school Face Hunter. All of these gang mechanics are just slow, and aggro decks can take advantage of all the set up to pick apart the hero. Of course, the nerf of cards like Knife Juggler and Abusive Sergeant have put a damper on the truly aggressive decks. And we haven’t seen any card that is cheap and aggressive so far. The question is whether the new age of aggro decks are fast enough and powerful enough to kill an opponent setting up for big gang mechanic plays.

Anyhow, I am pretty excited to see all the new cards. My internet is going to be limited and I may also be occupied with whatever family stuff needs doing in Thanksgiving. But I may likely be in some coffee shop in Kings Highway over the weekend to get in some Wizard Poker. And refreshing Reddit to see what card reveals I missed.

Portrait of a Scumbag Deck

I admittedly “hate” aggro, though that only reflects my attitudes towards my opponents in constructed play. I have found myself draft arena decks (where I play most) towards fast decks, often classified as aggro in Heartharena. I just drafted this monstrosity.

Dang, I missed the Core Rager pick.
Dang, I missed the Core Rager pick.

A super low-value deck with 1 5-drop (not really) and 1 Molten Giant. It looks like my win conditions are Timber Wolf + Unleash + Kill Command. Yes, this deck will either get 1 win or 9.