Deck Spotlight: DeceptiLock

Deck Spotlight: DeceptiLock

Deckbuilding in Hearthstone is not a strong suite of mine. First of all, I play a lot of arena, which limits the amount of thought I put into constructed thinking. There is a different mindset that goes into that, and I seem to lack the motor for the constructed mindset. Second, I play mainly Rogue in Hearthstone, which limits my ability to build decks that are not Rogue decks. Third, I don’t like losing a whole ton, so just freewheeling it into ranked with some made-up deck is likely going to be soul-crushing.

That is why it is such a surprise that I am already Rank 10 in the first week of October 2016, with some deck I just made up. I had a backlog of Warlock quests, and the arena wasn’t giving me Gul’dan. I just made up a deck, a Reno deck since I don’t enjoy ZooLock at all, and started winning games. And the deception of the deck itself is probably the strongest attribute.

About the Deck

RenoLock decks came out of the demise of HandLock decks, following the nerf of Molten Giant. They are typically slow control decks that run a lot of removal, heals, and taunts. Given that RenoLock decks are typically highlander decks (30 1-ofs), there is a lot of room for creativity and innovation.

Given I had no experience building RenoLock, I honestly did not think of intermediate heals at all. Didn’t think of Earthen Ring Farseer, Refreshment Vendor, or Cult Apothecary. Also given my lack of experience playing really slow decks, I didn’t want a really slow deck that was resigned to Life Tapping every game. I did believe that RenoLock should have a lot of high value cards, in good legendary minions. I also believed that highlander decks are the easiest to add tech cards to, to better adapt to the meta flavor at the moment. With these thoughts in mind, I built the deck.

Decklist

tricks.PNG

Cards in Deck

Core Cards

  • Reno Jackson – For all I was concerned, Reno Jackson is the only core card in a RenoLock deck. He is the win condition, and the card to build around.

Removal

  • Power Overwhelming – While this card provides burst, it also has plenty utility for providing a cheap trade on a bigger threat. With PO, I immediately thought of Shadowflame.
  • Shadowflame – The first AoE card that came to mind, which works really well for a full clear with Power Overwhelming.
  • Demonwrath – Shaman seems pretty strong, and the appeal of a 2-dmg early AoE seemed good on totems.
  • Hellfire – My last choice for AoE. While I’m not completely a fan of the slowness of the card, the face damage provides extra utility.
  • Mortal Coil – This card is close to a core card, but I felt it was a Warlock core card. I don’t recall seeing a Warlock deck without it.
  • Shadow Bolt – This card was not a regular inclusion for old HandLock, but seems to be a decent card in RenoLock. The early-mid removal option for minions.
  • Siphon Soul – I think Siphon Soul is an easy pick for RenoLock decks. As an arena player, I put lots of value in having a hard removal, and this is that.
  • Twisting Nether – Given this deck is meant to drag things on for a while, having a full board clear to exhaust my opponent seemed appealing.

Value

  • Dark Peddler – A great pick for any Warlock deck, and the 1-cost card just has tons of utility, forcing one to pick the best given the board state.
  • Imp Gang Boss – Just coming from arena, the most valuable Warlock card. I also think it has a place in virtually any Warlock deck for ranked.
  • Dread Infernal – Not a conventional pick, but I think the extra 1-dmg AoE would be good against aggressive boards.
  • Sylvanas Windrunner  – The value in Sylvanas does not necessarily come in what you’re stealing, but mostly forcing bad trades on the opponent. Sometimes, she’s a full board clear, because your opponent doesn’t want things stolen.
  • The Curator – Not a conventional choice for Warlock, but the idea of having a taunt and drawing 2 cards seemed too good to not take advantage of in a highlander deck.
  • Ragnaros the Firelord – Dealing 8 damage every turn? Value Town Inc.
  • Lord Jaraxxus – I saw Jaraxxus as my second heal in this deck. Plus, the hero power is great in a long game. The weapon provided removal and reach in the late game.

Techs

  • Mind Control Tech – Not the most conventional ranked tech, but I play arena, so this is my idea of a tech! Also given the Shaman’s ability to flood the board, and overall tempo meta, I thought he is a fine inclusion. Plus, 3/3 for 3 isn’t horrible.
  • Eater of Secrets – There is a prediction that Hunters would contend with Shamans for the top spot of the meta. While that still has yet to happen, the Eater of Secrets is meant to shut down Hunter decks with secrets, which seem to be most. I also believed Freeze Mage would be back given the Yogg nerf, so this could negate Ice Blocks. Also useful for rare pesky Paladins running around.
  • Harrison Jones – Going on with the last thought of a Hunter meta, destroying an Eaglehorn Bow is usually better than getting rid of secrets. Warriors and Shamans often have weapons as well. Paladins and Rogues also affected.
  • Stampeding Kodo – This was a consequence of having The Curator in the deck, and being the best Beast available. Also, this is a great arena card, which I thought could have an impact in ranked.
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-05-16 22.40.11.png
Hunter plays 3 secrets. Me as Floating Watcher, “YES, YES!”

Handlock Vestiges

  • Mountain Giant – Drawing to Reno is an objective for this deck, and this only helps make Mountain Giant a great tempo play in the midgame.
  • Twilight Drake – Another card that benefits greatly with drawing cards. This is a card I felt was core to the slow Warlock, and helped bring in The Curator.
  • Sunfury Protector – While most RenoLocks run Defender of Argus, I think Sunfury Protector is better for the the deck. I believe having a 2-drop to play is more valuable than the +1/+1 boosts. Also, the deck is expensive and doesn’t run cost reduction, making a 4-drop clunkier with other big stuff.

Smoothing the Deck

  • Bane of Doom – Being a moderate-risk high-reward card, Bane of Doom was never a strong ladder card because of the inconsistency. But the highlander build allows Bane of Doom to exist as this hybrid removal-summon. It is a real wildcard though, and the consequences will win or lose games.
  • Soulfire – This is not a normal card to run in RenoLock. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I didn’t know any better when making this deck, and felt the extra removal was needed for my survival. Having Soulfire made me realize this deck has burst potential.
  • Leeroy Jenkins – Originally a Doomguard, I felt a charge to the face could provide a pocket burst option. With Power Overwhelming already in tow, with Soulfire and Hellfire, we could make for some good plays that don’t allow the opponent to interact with the board.
  • Azure Drake – I already had The Curator and Twilight Drake down pat. Being a Rogue player, Azure Drake was always in my deck and never really disappointed me. I felt this deck could use a card like Azure Drake.
  • Voidwalker – I lacked early game and felt that Voidwalker doesn’t disappoint in trading with small stuff. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
  • Flame Imp – I lacked early game and felt that Flame Imp doesn’t disappoint in early game aggro, or forcing removal. This helped build the Zoo look of the deck.
  • Huge Toad – Pick 30. I still felt I was lacking early game and combed through all available 2-drops. I felt Huge Toad was tied with Flame Juggler, but had value being a Beast, and searchable with The Curator. Also good for confusing experienced players who read meta reports.

How to Play

  • Through the happenstance of deck building ineptitude, I built a RenoLock deck that combines elements of ZooLock and DragonLock. The real strength of this deck is tricking your opponent into playing around some other archetype.
  • From my limited experience so far, this deck has a very low skill floor. It is not very skillful, and it can forgive many mistakes in the gameplay.
  • The real skill of this deck is knowing your opponent’s deck and win condition. Know when it is time to get Reno and play Reno. Know when it is time to play Jaraxxus. Play faster than your opponent if they are a straight up Control deck. Play reactive when you are a slower deck, but know you have pocket reach cards as well.
Hearthstone Screenshot 10-06-16 23.30.35.png
Lord of Fatigue

General Mulligan and Gameplay

  • Coin Games – Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant
  • Shaman (Midrange/Aggro) – Demonwrath, Early Game Minions, Reno – Shaman will always be the aggressor against this deck. Some early 1-2 drops will help disguise this deck as ZooLock. Fish for your AoE, and doesn’t hurt to have Reno right away either. MCT isn’t bad against Shaman. You can tap more than before, given the Shaman nerfs.
  • Hunter (Midrange Beast/Secret) – Hellfire/Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Eater of Secrets, Harrison Jones, Reno – All Hunters will have a Bow, so Harrison Jones is a good pick. Eater of Secrets will have a big impact when the secrets come down. AoE is not as essential than the Shaman matchup, but could work on their early game. Reno Jackson not bad to have, but not essential. Keep hard removals for seemingly Turn 8 Ragnaros, and expect Turn 9 Call of the Wild.
  • Warrior – Early Game Minions – Warrior is the hardest to predict. Against Control Warrior, just keep taping and play your minions as you get them. While you will get removed, there are enough valuable minions in this deck to get by. Jarraxus is the win condition there. Dragon Warrior is a tougher match, but just count on your removals. Overall, playing your early game minions to disguise a Zoolock is the best strategy vs Warriors.
  • Druid – Twilight Drake, AoE, Early Game Minions – Druids still play Yogg now, meaning they use a ton of spells. This will allow you to tap a good amount, and lay down some hefty minions. Violet Teacher and Saplings could force you to pick some AoE in the beginning.
  • Mage – Early Game Minions, Shadowflame, Demonwrath, Reno – Tempo Mages seem more aggressive than ever after cutting Yogg. Have your early game to contest the board, and your AoE removals. Not a bad idea to have Yogg in games as well. Against “Fast Mage,” you’ll need Reno right away, and be ready to use him right away. You’ll need to protect your life from getting bursted down. Against Freeze Mage, tap often and get your Eater of Secrets.
  • Warlock – Early Game Minions, AoE, Reno, Kodo, MCT – Demonwrath is less reliable here, as your opponent could very well be running demons. But AoE would shut them down. Having Reno is not bad, as they are trying to race you. Having your early game doesn’t hurt in contesting the board. Your tech stuff doesn’t hurt either, given swarmy Zoo decks.
  • Rogue – Shadowflame, Early Game Minions, Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant – Shadowflame is your only defense against a bunch of cloaked targets. Twisting Nether not bad to have against them as well, but not worth the mulligan. Mountain Giant is really good against Rogue, given Sap just makes it cheaper the next turn. Use your early game to bait out removal, and progress to your value minions to win.
  • Paladin – Early Game Minions, Harrison Jones – Anyfin Paladin seems to be the rage, and it is a fairly slow, final burst deck. In this matchup, you can be the aggressor with your early game and big midgame. The Leeroy/Soulfire/Power Overwhelming burst is pretty good here.
  • Priest – Do whatever you want. They’ll exhaust their Excavated Evils on your early game and Entombs on your minions. You’ll have enough valuable minions to outlast them. Dragon Priest is a little more tricky, and you’ll need to fish for your removals.

Moving Forward

I’m going to ride this deck out on Ranked for the rest of the season, until I hit a wall. I’m surprised a gimmicky deck like this has done well so far. I’ll see what adjustments I will have to make to it as the meta gets tougher on this deck.

 

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Anatomy of a 12-Win Arena Deck

Anatomy of a 12-Win Arena Deck

I was relieved to get back to the Lightforge scene last night, my first since late January. It is my 7th 12-win run overall, and my 4th with Valeera/Rogue. While I did not record any of the run or take useful screenshots, it would be useful to take a look at the deck retrospectively to see how everything worked together. Below is the deck, ordered in some confusing fashion with relation the card’s entry in Hearthpwn.

12-2 Rogue Arena [6.4.16]

Deck type/mana curve

Every deck that is drafted in an arena run will be unique, so it is impossible to categorize them like you would a constructed deck. Typically, arena decks can be generally categorized in a few broad categories:

  • Aggro – Lots of 1-drops and 2-drops, very little stuff after 4 mana.
  • Tempo – A cross between aggro and midrange. A good amount of 2-drops are typically present in tempo decks to fill each turn.
  • Midrange – Midrange decks have a mana curve that maxes out around 4 mana, with similar numbers of 3-drops and 5-drops, and a somewhat equal distribution of 2-drops and 6-drops.
  • Control – Slow decks that don’t really follow the 2-drop consistency rule. Lots of bigger drops. Most often seen with Mages for the arena, with lots of removal spells of all varieties.

Hearthstone Screenshot 06-04-16 23.58.26.png

Looking at the mana curve of this deck, it most resembles a tempo deck. Nothing to really play on Turn 1, but lots of 2’s, 3’s, and 5’s. And for the run, my gameplay was very tempo-based, which is very “natural” for those familiar with the Rogue playstyle. I continually loaded the board with minions with little fear of AoE removal or MC Tech, while trading to control the board.

Two drop consistency

A somewhat deceiving mana curve, as there are only 6 2-drops, with a pseudo 2-drop in Bladed Cultist. With some variety in the stat distributions, it caused me to think a little of what to play when I had choices. Unstable Ghoul was a card that could deal with an enemy 3/2, or something like a 3/1 Twisted Worgen. 2/3’s like Mechwarper or Bloodsail Raider were my choice plays on an empty board as a 2-drop. The more aggressive 3/2 Huge Toad was decent for dealing with tokens or something with 4 health. Echoing Ooze was typically a tempo play used to fill a turn later on. Loot Hoarder was a consideration against non-ping classes.

Middle game

The 3-5 drop corps of this deck was really solid. Argent Horserider, Scarlet Crusader, Unearthed Raptor, Aberrant Berseker, Tomb Pillager, Pit Fighter, all good cards to have in the deck.

Big drops

This deck had only 2 minions in this department with Boulderfist Ogre and Sea Giant. Sea Giant was easily the MVP of this arena run. Because almost everyone in the arena plays fast or tempo style, there will always be minions on the board. This allowed Sea Giant to virtually be a pain like Flamewreathed Faceless, a really big guy for cheap cost. Sea Giant also fitted really well with the deck, given the plethora of small removal and cheap minions. 2 Pit Fighters and Tomb Pillager acted like big drops for this deck.

Hearthstone Screenshot 06-04-16 23.58.10.png
Final Boss was not a Mage with 2 Flamestrikes and Pyroblast this time!

Reach

This deck was a bit weak in this department. Eviscerate, Deadly Poison, SI:7 Agent and Argent Horserider represented my reach sources. This meant that I often had trouble closing out games when I was still fighting for the board. I had an 18-turn game I lost, owing to the lack of reach at times.

Survivability

No Bog Creepers here, but there are three taunts with Booty Bay Bodyguard, Sludge Belcher and Unstable Ghoul. While Sludge Belcher is a premium taunt, the others are not. Booty Bay Bodyguard is a poor value, but is definitely a card that is deceptively useful. Sometimes, even bad taunts all have value in doing their job in protecting your face and trading on the board.

Card draw/cycling

Loot Hoarder, Fan of Knives, Gnomish Inventor provided card draw, very useful for a tempo style deck. Sprint is considered inefficient card draw, but it is a virtual win condition in a topdeck fight. At times, I used Sprint when I was way ahead on the board.

Early removal

Deadly Poison was amazing in the run, as it is like having Fiery Win Axe early on. SI:7 Agent, Argent Horserider, Eviscerate, Stampeding Kodo are all premium cards that helped control smaller minions.

Hard removal

Sap and Assassinate got the job done in the hard removal department. Sap was a card I used to gain tempo often, bouncing a 4-drop or something similar, to gain advantage on the board. I got lucky with some topdeck Assassinates in this run. Because I only had 1 Assassinate, I tried to trade when I could and use my reads to determine what to Assassinate.

AoE/Board clears

Rogues don’t really have real board clears besides the (now) inefficient Blade Flurry. Fan of Knives did some work dealing with tokens or helping me trade. While not a real board clear, Betrayal was a very high-reward card that helped me turn the tide of a few games. Unstable Ghoul is a token clearer, though I did not use it for that function here.

Synergy

I comboed Unearhted Raptor with Tomb Pillager a few times. The extra coins were useful for playing Boulderfist Ogre and Pit Fighter in the same turn, or even used for milling the entire deck of an opponent who played Fel Reaver. Most of the synergy in this deck revolved around Sea Giant, as Imp Master, and shielded minions like Argent Horserider and Scarlet Crusader allowed those cards to stay around. I always played Bladed Cultist with the combo to make it a 2/3.

Conclusion

This is probably one of the most boring decks I have played in the arena recently. 5 rares, 2 epics, and 23 commons. Almost every card is from the evergreen (Basic/Classic) set. No RNG in the deck besides Huge Toad. Quite a few vanilla minions.

But hey, the overall card quality is definitely there. The deck had a great tempo-style mana curve, had enough card draw to keep the deck going, and had enough removal. Most of all the cards I had just helped me control the board , which helped compensate for the lack of reach. Overall, it was a very boring deck that was just very fundamentally sound in most departments. Throw in my familiarity with Rogues and a good smattering of luck/topdecks, I made it back to 12.

Hearthstone Screenshot 06-04-16 23.58.38.png
Cha-ching!

We’re gonna be rich!

Reno Jackson is a gamechanger. I wasn’t too hyped of it coming into the League of Explorers previews, but upon receiving it, things have changed. After completing the first wing of LoE, I put together a Reno Rogue deck, aka “I’m Sorry Ms. Jackson.”

I was testing out the deck on Casual for a while and finally took it to Ranked play, where it stands at 2-1 while playing in Rank 16. There is a bit more fine-tuning to do, given the variability forced upon by Reno of having 1 copy of each card. More to come!

Reno Jackson also blinds opposing minions.
Reno Jackson also blinds opposing minions.
Screw your Doomguard (if you play Doomguard.)
Screw your Doomguard (if you play Doomguard.)
I didn't get a chance to Backstab my own Gahz'rilla.
I didn’t get a chance to Backstab my own Gahz’rilla.