Week 3 (December 24, 2016)
by Nick ‘Hellthrower’ Gavra
Happy feast of winterveil, eveyone.
That phrase, followed by a [Small-Time Buccaneer], bringing out [Patches the Pirate], is the most common sighting the past few days. This day, one year ago, we were overflowed by christmas trees. [Mysterious Challenger] was the MVP of the ladder, making Paladin a top tier class. This time around, pirates have taken over, while Paladin stays at the bottom of the Tier list.
State of the Meta
This week’s decklists all include [Patches the Pirate], which undoubtedly has proven to be the strongest card in this expansion.
Not much has changed, though, since last week. Players are resorting to aggressive, pirate decks for fast and effective ladder climbing. Only 1 big change has been noteworthy. The slight downfall of Renolock, which I no longer consider a Tier 1 deck.
WHY HAS RENOLOCK FALLEN OUT OF FAVOR?
The answer lies in the rise of two specific decks. Miracle Rogue and Dragon Warrior.
Dragon Warrior is even better against Renolock, compared to Pirate Warrior, because, even if the opponent uses [Reno Jackson], Warrior will still have plenty of resources to develop a strong board, and draw cards.
Miracle Rogue has always been great against Renolock. [Sap] is one of the strongest cards against the deck. This time, however, Rogue also gets an aggressive opening with Pirates, that Renolock will struggle to deal with. [Leeroy Jenkins], along with 2 [Cold Blood]s and 2 [Eviscerate]s, are enough burst to defeat Renolock, even after he uses [Reno Jackson].
After this small introduction, those are, without any specific order, the strongest decks on ladder as of Christmas 2016.
DRAGON WARRIOR (NEW)
This is the most Midrange version of the Dragon Warrior. Possibly the strongest deck back in Summer, as it was baiting the most bans in tournaments and was dominating ranked ladder. Guaranteed to have a strong oppening, Dragon Warrior can cursh its opponents in all stages of the game. In the first turns, the Pirates and [Alexstrasza’s Champion] will take control of the board, while later, you will have strong taunt minions and card draw. In the end, you can establish the powerful 9/9 [Drakonid Crusher]s, or finish off your opponent with [Ragnaros the Firelord].
The deck succeeds in playing on curve, making efficient trades, and using direct damage, with charges and weapons. Keeping an eye on [Frothing Berserker] for explosive OTK turns is something to remember. [Execute] is used as a single optional copy, and its best targets are [Flamewreathed Faceless], a big [Edwin VanCleef], or any imposing threat Renolock can develop.
[N’Zoth’s First Mate], [Small-Time Buccaneer], [Sir Finley Mrrgglton], [Fiery War Axe], [Faerie Dragon] and [Alexstrasza’s Champion] are all great keeps. Consider keeping a cheap dragon as an activator. Similarly to any Pirate deck, avoid throwing away too many cards, in fear of getting [Patches the Pirate] in your starting hand. To avoid being repetitive, this will also apply to the rest of the decks in this list.
[Execute] and [Ravaging Ghoul] can be swapped out for [Blood To Ichor], which is amazing against aggressive decks, or a single copy of [Arcanite Reaper].
A truly aggressive Warrior deck. Has been the most common deck since day 1 of Mean streets of Gadgetzan. However, is has become slightly weaker, as Dragon Warrior works great against this deck.
Try to quickly get on board with the 1 mana pirates and finish your opponent at turns 5-8. Use your charge minions earlier if you are afraid your opponent will have a taunt, as you can always bypass the taunts with [Mortal Strike] and potentially [Steady Shot] or [Fireblast], if you are lucky with Sir Finley.
During the mulligan phase, you are looking for [N’Zoth’s First Mate] as the most important 1-drop. [Southsea Deckhand], [Small-Time Buccaneer], [Sir Finley Mrrgglton] and [Fiery War Axe] are also important keeps, and depending on your cards you could consider keeping [Bloodsail Raider] and [Dread Corsair].
Pirate Warrior has 1 flexible spot, where you can include [Acidic Swamp Ooze], [Hobart Grapplehammer], [Argent Horserider], or any other aggressive card of your choice.
With the fall of Renolock, Rogue will take the spot of the most difficult deck in this list. The underdog of this expansion, despite the bad cards it got, has managed to take advantage of the Pirate package to climb to Tier 1. The success of this deck is:
- [Swashburglar]: A very solid 1 mana pirate exclusive to Rogue that can bring out Patches early.
- [Counterfeit Coin]: Going second as Rogue has always been a huge advantage, and now you are always guaranteed to have more coins. Works great with [Gadgetzan Auctioneer] and Combo Cards.
- [Dagger Mastery]: Rogue’s Hero Power synergizes exceedingly well with [Small-Time Buccaneer], and therefore [Patches the Pirate].
Pirate Miracle Rogue, AKA Piracle Rogue has not any differences than a standard Miracle Rogue deck. Amazing tempo swings with [Backstab], [SI:7 Agent], [Sap] and [Edwin VanCleef]. Remember to keep some cheap spells for [Gadgetzan Auctioneer], [Edwin VanCleef] and [Questing Adventurer] (if you choose to run that card). By the time you draw [Leeroy Jenkins] and double [Cold Blood], you will most likely have dropped your opponent down to 14 HP to kill them.
Rogue also has a more favorable match-up against Dragon Warrior, compared to Pirate Warrior, as it can contest the board more effectively, without having to worry about its life total, and lack of taunt minions.
[Swashburglar], [Small-Time Buccaneer] and [Backstab] are what you are looking for. If you are holding a coin consider keeping [SI:7 Agent], and if you have many cheap spells, [Edwin VanCleef] is also a keep.
If [Flamewreathed Faceless] and Renolock were not so common, you could consider cutting one [Sap] for a [Shadow Strike].
If you are not finding the Pirate package too efficient you can add [Questing Adventurer]s and [Conceal].
If there are too many control decks in the meta you can remove one [Counterfeit Coin] for a [Conceal].
An uncommon decision is the replacement of one or two of the priates with [Bloodsail Corsair], to counter the weapon classes.
Even though a true Midrange Jade shaman is strong, the aggressive variant still holds the spot for the best Shaman deck at the moment.
This is a mix of Burn Spells, the [Patches the Pirate] package and some Jade Golem cards. Similarly to Pirate Warrior, you need to get early on board, use chargers when there are no taunts, and finish off your opponent with burn spells. Remember to manage efficiently your overloaded crystals and plan out your lethal strategy many turns ahead.
Plenty of good cards can be kept depending on your opponent and whether or not you are holding [The Coin]. Generally you want to look for [Tunnel Trogg], [Spirit Claws], [Small-Time Buccaneer], [Southsea Deckhand], [Totem Golem] and [Sir Finley Mrrgglton].
If you wish to go with a more midrange style, but still be aggressive, you could swap the [Argent Horserider]s with [Feral Spirit]s, and remove [Doomhammer] for [Aya Blackpaw].
Honorable mentions go to Renolock, which is one of the most refined decks at the moment, Jade Druid, which just seems a bit too slow for the meta, and Dragon Priest, still barely struggling to contest with the top tier decks.
We wish everyone happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy Feast of Winterveil.