January 9th, 2017
by Nick ‘Hellthrower’ Gavra
STATE OF THE META
Despite the complaints about how dull the current meta state is, you will see that the variety of powerful available decks is quite large.
Compared to other periods of Heartstone, the current meta could be considered one of the healthiest. Take a look back at when everyone was playing aggro Hunter. Or when the ladder was flooded with Secret Paladins. How about the time when midrange Shaman was the only competitive deck? That’s right. At the moment, the decks that could be considered TIER 1, are more than 5.
However, for the purpose of keeping this list as small as possible, in order to be more helpful for both inexperienced players, and others who are looking for “the strongest deck”, we are forced to keep out some very powerful decks. Those are Dragon Warrior, Renolock, Jade Druid, Kun Druid and Dragon Priest
After this small introduction, those are, without any specific order, the strongest decks on ladder as of January 9th, 2017.
A truly aggressive Warrior deck. Has probably 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.
Some players have messed around with the deck, trying to come up with a more Midrange version, that focuses more on controlling the board and buffing your weapons and minions, but this decklist remains more consistent.
During the mulligan phase, you are looking for [N’Zoth’s First Mate] and [Small-Time Buccaneer] as the most important 1-drops. [Southsea Deckhand], [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]. 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 Pirate decks in this list.
Pirate Warrior has 1 flexible spot, where you can include [Acidic Swamp Ooze], [Hobart Grapplehammer], [Argent Horserider], [Bash], or any other aggressive card of your choice.
MIRACLE ROGUE (Questing Version)
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], [Questing Adventurer] 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], [Sap] and [Edwin VanCleef]. Remember to keep some cheap spells for [Gadgetzan Auctioneer], [Edwin VanCleef] and [Questing Adventurer]. 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.
The deck is not easy to handle, and is not recommended for new players. Your resource management should be different against each opponent and depending on the situation. Keeping some cheap spells for Gadgetzan and Questing, or using them to clear the board is not always clear. Wasting your resources to create a large VanCleef also varies from time to time. Experience and practice with this deck will soon give you enough knowledge and confidence to handle it.
[Swashburglar], [Small-Time Buccaneer] and [Backstap] are what you are looking for. If you have many cheap spells, [Edwin VanCleef] is also a keep.
If you are facing Renolock or Renomage, kepping [Sap] will more often than not work out to your favour. It’s important to remember that this decklist only has 1 copy of [Sap], due to the aggressive meta.
- If you are facing many control decks, you will need to make room for a second [Sap]. You could cut a [Counterfeit Coin].
- If you feel like you cannot manage the [Questing Adventurer]s correctly, you can swap them for [SI:7 Agent].
- [Bloodmage Thalnos] had been cut to make room for [Shadow Strike], due to the rise of midrange decks. Those can be swapped at any time depending on your most common opponents.
- For a unique tech, remove [Shadow Strike] for [Shaku, the Collector].
This is the most aggressive variant of Shaman on this list. It 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 an even more aggressive style, you could swap the [Feral Spirit]s with [Argent Horserider]s, and remove [Aya Blackpaw] for [Doomhammer].
MID JADE SHAMAN (NEW)
Welcoming a new contender in the list for the most powerful decks at the moment. Many players will choose the consistency of a midrange deck over the fast pace of an aggressive one, and this is why Midrange Shaman has competed with its aggressive variant lately.
Due to the release of Jade and Pirate cards, this will not be the Midrange Shaman we all remember from back in the Fall of 2016. [Thunder Bluff Valiant] and [Mana Tide Totem] are out to make room for the newer cards. The deck, however, operates very similarly. As every Midrange deck, you need to play on curve, make efficient trades, and establish a powerful board, in the mid-stages of the game.
Although it’s a midrange deck you can still:
- Get on board early on, with the cheap pirates, and finish the game fast enough.
- Pose a threat against control decks, with late game minions like [Aya Blackpaw], [Ragnaros the Firelord], [Al’Akir the Windlord] and big Jade Golems.
Mulligan: You are looking for [Small-Time Buccaneer], [Spirit Claws], [Totem Golem], [Tunnel Trogg] and [Jade Claws].
- Against Control: -1 [Lightning Storm] +1 [Barnes], -2 [Spirit Claws] +2 [Jade Chieftain]
- Against Aggro: -1 [Ragnaros the Firelord] -1 [Al’Akir the Windlord] +2 [Feral Spirit]s
Reno Mage has seen explosive rise the past 2 weeks. Although it seemed underwhelming as a Kabal class at the beginning of the expansion, players figured out its effectiveness against pirate decks. The reason Renomage is included in this list instead of Renolock, is:
- Its great defenses against Pirate decks with cheap spells, and Hero Power.
- Its value generation against control decks with cards like [Cabalist’s Tome], [Firelands Portal], [Ethereal Conjurer] (if played) and [Babbling Book].
As a Reno deck, many of the cards can be replaced. There are a few version roaming around the ladder, but this one, with [Alexstrasza] is the most popular. There is a version running [Medivh, the Guardian], and another one which takes an approach similar to Freeze Mage, with [Archmage Antonidas] and [Ice Lance].
The deck plays very similarly to Renolock. Control the board, use defensive and healing cards, and drop your opponent to 15 with [Alexstrasza] to finish them off with the remaining of your burst cards.
Unlike Renolock, Renomage does not have as many AoE spells, so be conservative with your [Flamestrike] and [Blizzard] and [Volcanic Potion].
Against a control deck, you should try to use [Kazakus] with Bran, as this value alone can win you the game.
- [Manic Soulcaster]: A very unique new card for Mage. Against an aggressive deck your best target would be [Reno Jackson], and against a control deck, probably [Kazakus].
REMEMBER: Reno decks have to make decisions on the go. You play reactive, while having a faded gameplan on the back of your head. Whether you have to keep [Brann Bronzebeard] to go with [Kazakus], or use [Manic Soulcaster] for tempo is up to you to decide. Try to consider what cards your opponent’s deck might have, and save your removals accordingly.
KEEP IN MIND, if you use [Manic Soulcaster] with [Brann Bronzebeard] you will put 2 COPIES of a card into your deck, which will temporarily disable [Reno Jackson].
Jade Druid will be troublesome for you. You need to play as a tempo deck against them, and not allow them to get out of control. Finish the game fast, before having to deal with a huge wall of Jade Golems.
Defensive cheap spells, like [Frostbolt], [Arcane Blast], [Babbling Book], [Doomsayer], [Dirty Rat] (although it’s a big gamble).
[Ice Block] and [Reno Jackson] could also be kept against aggressive decks, just to be safe.
Honestly, most of the cards can be changed. Look up the varied decklists online, get experience with the deck, and make your decisions accordingly.
- Cards that can be removed: [Forbidden Flame], [Babbling Book], [Acidic Swamp Ooze], [Dirty Rat], [Forgotten Torch], [Ice Barrier], [Kabal Courier], [Manic Soulcaster], [Mind Control Tech], [Sylvanas Windrunner], [Alexstrasza].
- Cards that can be included: [Mirror Image], [Mistress of Mixtures], [Earthen Ring Farseer], [Inkmaster Solia], [Frost Nova], [Flame Lance], [Ethereal Conjurer], [Cult Sorcerer], [Medivh, the Guardian], and anything else you consider necessary.
Data Collection: Our weekly “Ladder Breakdown” list is shaped according to many different factors. Those include:
- Observation of top tier players on their streams and social media.
- Observation of live tournament broadcasts.
- Other websites that provide their own tier lists and stats.
- Discussions with high rank players and coaches.
- Personal experience on ladder.
Thank you for the read and we will see you all next week.