Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

I like to think of the current Hearthstone Un’Goro meta as the “trigger meta,” in that I have become annoyed with a lot of cards. A lot of this has to do with the meta decks in ranked play as Pirate Warrior, Quest (Caverns) Rogue, and Quest (Exodia) Mage are simply frustrating to lose against. While these constructed decks perturb me often, the same can be said about the Arena meta.

We are in the teeth of the new rotation, meaning that this is the lowest card pool in the Arena pool all year. When the second and third expansions come out in 2017, the draftable and playable card pool will increase. Thus, we will see more variety in the draft pool, as well as the Discover and random effect (Burgle, Transform) pool. Combined with the increase in spell rate, we are seeing a lot of cards over and over again. Let’s take an overview of the most common Arena cards, in this early Arena meta.

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This interaction took a while

Data source

I just pulled the data from hsreplay.net, about 12 pm EST on 4/18/17. The data pulls numbers from the last 14 days. I filtered out cards that are now rotated into wild, but may still be present in “grandfathered” Arena decks. I also filtered out Legendaries, as they are not really important to Arena.

Top neutrals

Neutrals are the glue of the Arena. But with a new card pool, boost to rares and epics, and decreased offering rate to Basic cards, what should we expect?

Frequency

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9 of the 10 top neutral cards are from Un’Goro, with Bog Creeper being the sole holdout. It’s interesting that the two poisonous cards in Stubborn Gastropod and Giant Wasp have the lower played winrates, which goes to show that cards without intiative have lower played winrates. Really no surprises in this list, as they are all very good. It is obvious that Volanosaur is #1 despite not being the best card in this list, since everyone gets to draft a golden one.

 

Deck winrate

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Here we have the top 10 neutrals in terms of deck winrate, and hey there’s Primordial Drake again. I think Bright-Eyed Scout may be an underlooked card, as it could be a late game play on Turn 9 for big tempo. Silithid Swarmer and Naga Corsair are on the list because they are good Rogue cards. Charged Devilsaur is also proving it’s worth as a great epic neutral.

Top class cards by frequency

Finally, I will look at all the top class cards in terms of frequency. These are useful in playing matchups against a particular class, to play around certain cards. I am only looking at cards that are in over 30% of decks for each. I picked 30% for no particular reason.

Druid

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Tortollan Forager, despite having a dumb voiceline, will be seen in 50% of Druid decks. Just a very good card. Druids will have a bunch of removal spells from the boosted offering rate, though no hard removal. Moonglade Portal is in 33% of decks, and has the bad RNG aspect to help swing games. As expected, Druid is one of the worst Arena classes right now.

Hunter

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Hunters are seeing healthy winrates, and their top 3 neutral commons are from the new set. Plus, they all have solid deck winrates. Explosive Shot and Call of the Wild show up over 33% of the time, so come to expect those power cards on Turn 5 and 9. Play around Deadly Shot and Unleash.

Mage

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When Flamestrike saw it’s offering rate cut in half, there was debate as to why Flamestrike and not Firelands Portal. We’ll never get the answer why, but Firelands Portal continues to be the menace of having high deck winrate and played winrate. The initiative of leaving something on board is too good, and the chance to get Leeroy and Doomguard are as high as ever…

Anyhow, you’ve got a lot of powerful stuff appearing for Mage. Important to play around Meteor with good positioning on minion placement. They’ve got some early game now as well, so just a lot of good Mage stuff.

Paladin

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Paladin dropped to the middle tiers it seems with Gadgetzan, but seems to have cards with higher deck winrates now. Spikeridged Steed is seen a ton, as it has the spell offering buff, and is just a very OP card. Dinosize is a card that I like a lot myself, despite initial impression, and is sporting a solid played winrate, as a finisher. Vinecleaver is also another sneaky card that looked bad to me at first, but has a huge played winrate. Paladin is back, and these cards are quite fun.

Priest

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Priest has the biggest list in terms of diversity, and they are mostly spells. Potion of Madness is still appearing in a maddening 41% of decks, so continue playing around that card. Free From Amber is as I expected, overrated, as the guy you get is a neutral card with likely no battlecry effect. Nothing really new to report, but Priests are doing their thing with reactive spells and just a big variety of choices.

Rogue

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Vilespine Slayer, possibly the strongest card in Un’Goro, predictably has high winrates and is the autopick in the epic slot. Hallucination is amazing, but falls victim to RNG gets now and then. But Rogue just has a ton of hard removal, as almost every card in this list is just that. Still great for Arena.

Shaman

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With the loss of strong early game tempo minions, Shaman has become a reactive Arena class. Volcano, despite it’s horrible played winrate, will be seen in half of Arena Shaman drafts. A lot of other spells are present, with the Hot Spring Guardian being an okay card seen a bit. Shaman doesn’t seem to be in a great spot, but if you like flashy looking spells, Shaman could be fun.

Warlock

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Warlock took a step back after being top dog. While Abyssal Enforcer getting reduced is the sexy answer, it is most likely because Imp Gang Boss is gone. Warlocks still have hard removal and AoE options, with things that hurt the player. It is interesting that the power epic cards like DOOM! and Twister Nether aren’t being picked more often. Ravenous Pterrordax is showing up a bit, and could be snowbally like the neutral Pterrordax.

Warrior

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Bringing up the rear as always is Warrior. There’s a short list here, because Warriors likely have to hedge picks for weapons, which inexplicably don’t get the increased offering rate that spells do. Weapons are spells for weapon classes! Direhorn Hatchling isn’t a great Arena card, since it relies on getting the draw for value, but it is the default leader. Just as a fun exercise, Ornery Direhorn, the class common was played 51,000 times in the last 2 weeks. Meteor, the Mage 6-mana epic, a situational removal play, was played 260,000 times in the last 2 weeks. That can show you what state Warrior is in.

The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

The Fall: Personal Hearthstone Crisis

I’ve always been an honest person in my life, sometimes too much to a fault. I also have difficulty hiding emotions or disguising facial expressions, and this has gotten me in trouble now-and-then. So, I’m going to say it: I’ve played the least Hearthstone I have played in a while. I started this January 2017 season very strong, getting to Rank 8 or 9 within the first week, doing well with various Miracle Rogue decks. Then things slowed down to a halt, and I find myself barely getting by the past few weeks. I must note that I have listened to the first 8 minutes of the Top Deck Kings Podcast #79 (which you should totally listen to) as of this writing, and I have paused it, until I finish all my thoughts, to prevent any cross-contamination. But I have pinpointed a few obvious reasons to my playing Hearthstone at a minimum these days.

1. Real life getting in the way

One of the perks to being a professional gamer is that gaming is your “real life.” While you may have family and friends to interact with, the job portion of real life is bundled into your gaming space. My real life is definitely getting in the way, as I am looking for a new job. While people look for jobs all the time, I was rather complacent in that area, and I am in a bit of trouble. Writing cover letters, updating resumes, and applying takes time, but the more arduous task is figuring out what I want to do in my life. This is something I am unlikely to figure out by the time I get my next job, and will be a struggle for the future. But, I am cutting out time each day to look for and apply to jobs.

2. Other games getting in the way

When I am very enthused with Hearthstone, it is the only game I play and devote time to. With other games getting mixed into my more limited gaming time, I am starting to manage my interests. Heroes of the Storm has a Lunar New Year promotion Rooster Race, with the special golden rooster mount acquired with 25 Rooster Races completed. I completely suck at HotS, but by god, I want that golden rooster mount. Valeera is also a new hero that appeared in HotS. While she is difficult to play, and I have a habit of overextending, I am a big fan of the character, and she has brought me back to the game. Competing card games Shadowverse and Duelyst have daily login rewards that require my logging in to get as well.

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Here we go

And thanks to LA-based esquire Decktech (@hsdecktech), I have been hooked on Yugi-Oh Duel Links on my phone. The whole reason I got into Hearthstone likely is tied to my interests in Yugi-Oh, and now it has been recreated as an addictive phone game. This is not unlike the Pokemon Go craze, but I do not have to brave the outdoor elements to play Duel Links. Also unlike Pokemon Go, Duel Links is actually quite the strategic and interactive game, not just walking around and throwing a ball in different angles.

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Sending people to the Shadow Realm is a full-time job.

 

3. Meta getting in the way

The above two reasons are actual excuses for me, but let’s not sugarcoat the problems affecting Hearthstone. While I am hesitant to say that the meta has gotten stale already, the game just seems very “binary” now. There still remain various competitive decks in Hearthstone, and definitely more than there were in certain points of the game’s history. But it seems like “everything” is Face Aggro (Warrior, Shaman) or Highlander (Kazakus/Reno). Classes are clustering too much it seems, and deck types don’t seem too different by class. Rogues are still doing fine in their own thing, and Jade Druid is here now and then. But Paladins and Hunters are suffering now. These problems have been discussed at length by Devs in recent articles and tweets. The main problem of course is the high rate of Shaman play, something bolstered by seemingly-continual OP cards released for the class.

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The HS Problem, courtesy of Vicious Syndicate

This is all likely some sort of bias, losing to frustrating decks like Pirate Shaman and Warrior. But truthfully, If Hearthstone didn’t have it’s problems, I would likely not be playing other games as much.

What now

Of course, what now? I actually expected possible nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer by the end of this month, but it seems like the Devs are deciding what to do about that card, and perhaps others. I haven’t stopped playing Hearthstone, as I am still interested in completing dailies, and doing an Arena run almost nightly. But the already tepid desire I had to play Ranked has just gotten cold. If things don’t change, I will likely revert to my old self, and just play Arena until the last 2 weeks of the month, when I can pick on weaker competition. Yep, Scavenging Buzzard mode is likely for next month.

 

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.

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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!

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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.

The Party is Over: How to Survive Till the Next Set

Hearthstone’s One Night in Karazhan adventure was released well over a month ago. While a very upbeat set thematically, the adventure caused a lot of consternation amongst competitive players from the get-go. Constructed players were mad about the release of Purify for the nonexistent ninth class, while the oppressive Shamans got more tools. Arena players were mad about Firelands Portal being a common, cementing Jaina as the tyrant queen of the arena. The backlash from the community so torrential and angry that the devs responded within weeks of Karazhan’s full release, with an arena card banlist, and card nerfs. We are just over a week since the card nerfs, and well, Midrange Shamans dominate the ranked meta and Mages still terrorize the arena.

While there is still some potential for new decks and strategies to emerge, there is only so much innovation that you can squeeze of the adventure and card nerfs. There won’t be a new Hearthstone card release for at least 1 or 2 months, and this is being optimistic that Blizzard is sticking to the 2 expansion + 1 adventure annual production goal. Though Hearthstone remains an amazing game despite the imbalance, even the most dedicated players can get bored during long stretches of nothingness. The meta starts to get stale, and it’s just the same old sauce curdling in your bowl. Luckily there are ways to keep Hearthstone fresh as we approach the stale meta phase of the game.

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LIGHTNING BOLT!

1. Play Arena

Tired of this oppressive and uninteractive meta? Play Arena! While some of us play Arena by default, I say this knowing that Hearthstone is defined by Constructed/Ranked. Good/pro players are known for how many times they achieved Legend and an overwhelming majority of players stick with Constructed.

There are many benefits to playing Hearthstone Arena. First of all, the satisfaction of doing well in the Arena with your draft can’t be rivaled by any other feeling. The Arena forces you to make tough decisions during your draft, as you are building a deck from scratch. You will be forced to take bad cards from time to time. And winning a game with some crappy card is just an amazing feeling. You learn to appreciate underlooked cards that don’t ever appear in Constructed. That brings me to my second point, you get a much deeper connection to all the cards from Arena play. You start developing an encyclopedic knowledge of cards from the exposure. You begin to have affinities to cards that you become comfortable playing (Addled Grizzly is bae). Thirdly, I believe that there are much greater stories that stem from the Arena. All the factors that come into play, from the two differently-built drafts, the bigger card pool, the gameplay decision-making, all collide into something magical. You will remember epic moments in the Arena, and also certain runs.

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Errrbody get addled
From a resource standpoint, Arena runs typically break even around 3 wins, which is a completely achievable 50% win rate. With deeper Arena runs, you start making gold profits, but Arena runs will typically help you build your collection through card packs and build up your dust. Building up dust is underrated, but can easily help you get a leg up in crafting whatever you want for the next card expansion.

2. Try Something New

Playing Arena as a Constructed player is technically trying something new, but there are other things you can do in the game. Despite being a wasteland for broken cards, Wild Hearthstone will instantly provide relief from seeing the same deck rotation in Standard. Overall, is more deck and class diversity, with things like viable Priests running amok. A player in Wild also has the chance to create deeper decks, with all the cards around. While things are unsettled, Wild Hearthstone has a chance to appeal to a distinct audience once more card sets are in the game.

It also isn’t a horrible idea to try a new deck if you are sticking with the Standard meta. We are still fresh off the recent nerfs, and decks are still in the process of optimization. Before everyone “figures things out,” bust out some new deck to take advantage. It doesn’t even have to be some whole new deck, just variations and techs off a popular archetype. I recently made a RenoLock deck without any guides, and it came out quite different than the conventional Reno deck. And it has a 67% win rate now at Rank 10! I don’t expect this to keep up as I climb the ranks, but it is fun to win with such a deck.

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Fun and uninteractive wild decks
Hearthstone can also be made a fun experience when playing with other people. I recently started playing Arena co-ops with Tweeps who also love the Arena as much as I do. I have always seen Arena co-ops on streams, but would never imagine I would be part of one myself. There are so many benefits in being part of an Arena co-op, namely having an extra set of eyes to evaluate the board state, as well as learning the playstyle of other players. Arguing/debating plays and picks is also a great quality of the Arena co-op.

3. Set New Goals

Sometimes you won’t even notice the arduous Ranked meta when you have a set goal in mind. While grinding to legend status or some other arbitrary rank are real goals, the ability to keep a winning streak is all the more magnified on the path to attaining said goal. You’ll probably get more bummed out than before.

In my opinion, grinding for a golden hero, with 500 ranked wins, is the best way to not notice the meta. I acquired golden Rogue in the throes of the Huntertaker meta, shortly after the release of Blackrock Mountain. I had about 400 wins when I picked up the “Fast/Cycle Rogue” deck, which was essentially an aggro deck that tried to outrace Face Hunters. While my winrate was fairly close to 50%, the games were not only fast, but also fun, as I was playing a whole new Rogue deck. Though I am nowhere close towards earning another golden hero, the push I had for golden Rogue was a great experience in not noticing what was going on in the meta.

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Aggroed my face off for that golden Rogue
Another goal one could take on is beating the Heroic difficulty on the adventures. While Heroic difficulty guides exist on Hearthpwn and elsewhere, this isn’t really a fun way to go about it, more of a quick cheese to get the cardbacks. Take the time to go through the Heroic adventure levels, refine your deck strategy, and repeat. It could be a new rewarding experience within the game you are tired of playing.

4. Play Less Hearthstone

Despite being classified once as a stress-relieving game on Google Play, Hearthstone is far from relaxing. The time going into a stale meta is a good time to try out some other games. The natural digression from Hearthstone would be other electronic card games. TES: Legends is a similar card game from The Elder Scrolls franchise, and has a greater deckbuilding capacity, with at least 50 cards in a deck. Further, there are fun “lane effects” which remind me of “field power bonuses” from Yugi-Oh, as well as unique qualities in runes and prophecies. Duelyst is another cool card game that has elements of grid movement and positioning. Also, Duelyst is a game that releases 4 new cards every month, allowing things to not go completely stale.
If one needs a little time off Hearthstone, there are plenty of gaming options right on the Battle.net launcher. WoW and Heroes of the Storm are free-to-play games that one can jump right into. I personally have gone back to playing occasional HotS games in group games versus computers. WoW is a different beast within itself, and can potentially suck you in for eternity. Overwatch, Blizzard’s FPS endeavor, seems to remain going strong and is staking it’s claim as a competitive eSport.

5. Create Something

Taking a prolonged break from Hearthstone could be detrimental to one’s long term prospects as you get behind earning gold and understanding the competitive meta. A dull grinding phase should not be a reason to walk away from such an amazing game. There are ways to dial back your Hearthstone play, but maintain your love for the game. Get creative. Start streaming your matches on Twitch and YouTube. Write about it, vlog about it. Record podcasts about the game. If you can draw, create a Hearthstone masterpiece! Channel your inability to play the game into something positive for the community!

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

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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.
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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.
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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.

 

Old Gods Arena Risers and Fallers

Old Gods Arena Risers and Fallers

As a Hearthstone player who disproportionately enjoys the Arena more than Constructed, I spend time looking at Arena tier lists quite a bit. Because of a seemingly prolonged slump, I have been back to using drafting guides recently. As the goal of the Arena is to have a deep run, and reap good rewards, it is always a good idea to have information to help draft a better deck.

The Old Gods meta has been admittedly rough. I’m seeing a lot of runs end at 2 or 3 wins. 5-6 win runs are becoming rare, while I get some 7+ runs here and there. As I continue my eternal quest to get back to a 5 win average, here are some impressions I have had on some of the Old Gods cards in the Arena. I have either played the cards myself, or have seen them commonly by the opposition. I’m also showing the tier list scores from two popular tier lists, The Lightforge and HearthArena.

Card Lightforge Score HearthArena Score Commentary
Forbidden Ancient 100 70 Forbidden Cards have great strength in their versatility, either as a curve filler, or for big impact. In the arena, where mana curves are ugly, and nothing is certain, a minion like this just helps glue a deck together. Might be an autopick for Druid epics.
Addled Grizzly 34 50 ↑ This card is perceived as bad, and it is. But the upside that it brings might make it seem more average. And in this heavy taunt meta, this guy might stick around long enough for a lot of buffs. Works decently with Mire Keeper. Way off-curve card, more late game.
Mire Keeper 62 74  ↔ Mire Keeper lets you ramp, but in the arena, the 2/2 slime is the better tempo play. It will almost always create an awkward trading situation for your opponent. Or present you with an awkward situation.
Infest 50 57 ↓ I have seen the wombo-combo with Infest and Unleash, which is sheer card advantage. But often this card is too clunky, and requires trading and a board for beasts, which as a whole aren’t too amazing.
Faceless Summoner 80 88 ↔ If you’re facing a Mage, you’re probably going to see this card, as it was very well-hyped upon reveal. The truth is that it isn’t too hard to deal with, when you have board control. On an empty board, it is great.
Servant of Yogg-Saron 38 52 ↑ You’re always going to be rolling the dice here, which limits it’s effectiveness. But like Yogg-Saron, most spells work in favor of the caster. I’d say it’s more high-risk/subpar than bad.
A Light in the Darkness 66 78 ↔ Outing tempo for value, this card is what it appears to be. The 2-mana is a bit costly though, which hurts.
Rallying Blade 82 89 ↔ I had no idea the tier lists rated this card this highly, so it is even. The personal bias of seeing a 3-mana 3/2 weapon is obviously underwhelming. But the power is enough to deal with the early game. And it makes all Divine Shields better.
Power Word: Tentacles 60 48 ↓ I have only seen this card clogging up the hand of Priests that I am laying the smackdown on. It might do okay in a topdeck/board control situation, but it is just too clunky.
Shadow Strike 80 77 ↑ This card is up there with Backstab and Eviscerate as autopick Rogue spells. Very dangerous card that most people are unable to play against.
Southsea Squidface 60 69 ↔ This is a slow card that is incentivized to trade, which is a bit odd. More often than not, you will just get 1 charge out of the squid oil, which is good enough to make it above-average.
Thistle Tea 36 37 ↔ I posted somewhere once that Thistle Tea will be as good as Sprint in the Arena. What I didn’t realize is that Thistle Tea will punish you for a bad draw, where as Sprint will give you an even sample. Also consider this: Thistle Tea is a late game card advantage play. Rogues have a ton of 1-drop minions. Not too useful in the gameplan.
Flamewreathed Faceless 78 91 ↔ Flamewreathed Faceless reminds me a lot of Whirling Zap at GvG launch, as it is a card that will outright win you the game if you can’t deal with it there. I can’t say that this card has really given me fits just yet, but it is as good as advertised.
Evolve 70 72 ↓ This is a case of a card might be better in the hands of a skilled player. Honestly, I have only seen this card used in a desperation maneuver for a taunt to protect against lethal. I think people are holding on to it too long, and not using it on 2-3 minions on board. It still has potential in the right hands.
Darkshire Councilman 70 61 ↔ This card is making its mark in constructed as the Zoo Undertaker, but is far less useful in the Arena. Obviously, it can spiral out of control if the drafted deck has the right tools and taunts.
Ravaging Ghoul 82 84 ↑ This card was predicted to be very good, but I’m going to take it a step further. I think it is bonkers. The combined board clear of tokens and Warrior synergy is too good.
N’Zoth’s First Mate 90 85 ↓ This guy is pretty good, but I don’t think it warrants god-tier ranks. I’d say it does the job as well as a Zombie Chow, and provides much needed early game. But…
Bloodsail Cultist 70 69 ↑ combining Bloodsail Cultist with N’Zoth’s First Mate is a dealbreaker. That is an insane 1-2 punch that will outright win you the game. Oh yeah, she’s pretty good as well.
Bog Creeper 78 87 ↔ ADWCTA said that Bog Creeper would be the best neutral common in Old Gods, and I don’t disagree. While class cards are often better, it is a card you should autopick against other good neutral cards, though you may want to stop after 1. Maybe 2. It basically creates very awkward trades, sometimes taking down 2 big guys and many smaller ones.
Bilefin Tidehunter 50 65 ↑ I think the score for this card should be somewhere in between, but a bit better than 50. Sure it’s not a great value card, but it has pretty good utility in the early and late game.
Psych-o-Tron 66 65 ↑ Another predicted good taunt for the meta. It seems underwhelming against a big board, but it is a little better than these tier scores in my book.
Nerubian Prophet 70 57 ↑ Not sure what is up with the HearthArena rank here, but it is clearly a fairly good card. Like a Forbidden, it has lots of utility. Either kept as a turn 3 4/4, or as a reduced-cost filler.
Twisted Worgen 56 60 ↔ This is a oft-seen card, as aggressive players might like it. It is performing as planned though, and makes Shattered Sun and Dark Iron Dwarf better as well.
Aberrant Berseker 66 61 ↔ This card is always going to trade 2-for-1 with smaller minions or force some face damage in, but at the same time isn’t an overpowered card.
Corrupted Healbot 64 71 ↓ You have to think what a 6/6 on Turn 5 is, compared to it’s brother Zombie Chow, a 2/3 on Turn 1. It will kill almost any 5-drop and have 1 or 2 health left over. It sounds okay in practice, but I haven’t found good results with it. I’d say it is more a low 60 card.
Corrupted Seer 60 60 ↑ You’re basically getting a Consecration with a 2/3 body, which makes the 6-value fine. The lowish scores are because it is conditional on being behind. But when you are behind, look out.
Blackwater Pirate 26 30 ↑  While the tier score is well-warranted, it is a solid pick when you have a couple weapons drafted.I think this should be rated in the 40s.
Hearthstone Screenshot 04-30-16 23.13.15
By claw and cutlass and hook.

State of the Game

Scene from a typical Hearthstone forum.  Property of the WoW Comic and Blizzard.
Scene from a typical Hearthstone forum.
Property of the WoW Comic and Blizzard.

There has been a lot negativity recently on message boards (mainly Reddit) addressing the unpleasant state of the game. It can be well summarized here by Trolden. Disguised Toast even took a break from creating HS content!

As someone who plays Arena significantly more than Ranked, I can say I haven’t felt the angst as much as someone who is struggling in Ranked. I can say that I abhor facing Paladins now, in both formats.

It’s easy to understand everyone’s frustration over the balancing changes by Blizzard. The nerf of Patron Warrior obviously angered those who relied on that deck as the main source of laddering or simply enjoyed it. This is not the first time a nerf of a combo-archetype has resulted in a card’s demise (see Starving Buzzard, Gadgetzan Auctioneer). To make things worse, the Secret Paladin has taken over the meta, thus making everything unenjoyable with a woefully overpowered card.

Besides the usual sprinkled-in threads of regular gaming complaints (RNG, Pay-2-win), this front of discontent seems more united this time around, with famous Hearthstone figures speaking out. Has anyone else felt the same way about the game? Is it just plain restlessness from having no new content for a few months?