January 29th, 2017

by Nick ‘Hellthrower’ Gavra

Ladder breakdown is our weekly report of the strongest decks on ladder. These are the most recommended decks to use, if you want to achieve a high rank, reach legend, or compete for the highest spots in the legend rank.


It has nearly been 2 months since the release of Mean Street of Gadgetzan. The dominance of the pirate and Kazakus decks the past few weeks cannot go unnoticed. Judging by the history of the game, if the dominance of a deck greatly affects the ranked ladder or the Tournaments, actions will be taken a couple months later, and by actions we are referring to nerfs.

Karazhan expansion gave rise to some quite annoying to deal with decks, and it was just 2 months later that they were hit. Could we expect the same thing this time? Will we see, sometime in February, the punishment of [Patches the Pirate]?That remains to be determined.

For now, let’s just stick to our topic. This week’s Ladder Breakdown showcases 5 decks:

  • Pirate Warrior
  • Miracle Rogue
  • Aggro Shaman
  • Midrange Jade Shaman
  • Reno Mage

Below you will find detailed decklists, with a brief guide, Mulligan, and Card Replacements.

We were forced to leave some great decks out of competition, that still deserve to be mentioned. Those are:

  • Control Warrior
  • Dragon Priest
  • Reno Priest
  • Jade Druid
  • Kun Combo Druid
  • Renolock

Now, those are, in no particular order, the 5 strongest decks on ladder as of January 29, 2017.


A truly aggressive Warrior deck. During its existence, some changes have been made. Sometimes having mortal strikes in your hand can feel clunky, so some players have decided to make the deck more board-centered. The addition of [Southsea Captain] has helped with establishing an early board, and snowballing afterwards.

Try to quickly get on board with the 1 mana pirates, buff your weapons, and finish your opponent at turns 5-8.


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.

Card Replacements:

  • -2 [Southsea Captain]

+1 [Mortal Strike]

+1 [Acidic Swamp Ooze] or [Bash] or [Grimy Gadgeteer] or     [Argent Horserider] or [Naga Corsair]

  • – 1 [Mortal Strike]

+ [Acidic Swamp Ooze] or [Bash] or [Grimy Gadgeteer] or [Argent Horserider] or [Naga Corsair]

MIRACLE ROGUE (Questing Version)


The underdog of this expansion, despite the mediocre Jade and Class cards it got, has managed to take advantage of the Pirate package to climb to Tier 1. This decks owes its success to:

  • [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].

The deck is not easy to handle, and is not recommended for new players (it is, however, easier than the older versions of miracle Rogue). Your resource management should be different against each opponent and 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 eventually give you enough knowledge and confidence to handle it.


[Swashburglar], [Small-Time Buccaneer] and [Backstab] are what you are looking for. If you have many cheap spells, [Edwin VanCleef] is also a keep, especially against aggressive decks.

If you are facing  Renolock or Renomage, keeping [Sap] will more often than not work out to your favour. It’s important to remember that this decklist only runs 1 copy of [Sap], due to the aggressive meta.

Card Replacements:

  • – 1 [Swashburglar]
  • +1 [Sap] (against control) or +1 [Bloodmage Thalnos] or +1 [Shaku, the Collector]


          This is the most aggressive variant of Shaman, and potentially the single strongest deck at the moment. 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 crystals and plan out your lethal spells. Remember to manage efficiently your overloaded 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 play it).

Card Replacements:

  • – 2 [Feral Spirit]s

+2 [Argent Horserider]

  • – [Aya Blackpaw]

+ [Doomhammer]

  • -1 [Maelstrom Portal]

+1 [Sir Finley Mrrgglton]


          Mid-Jade Shaman has seen significant rise the past week. It is much slower than the aggressive variant. I revolves around good defenses, and mid to late game pressure through large Jade Golems. At the same time, it maintains an aggressive identity, due to the nature of the pirate cards.


[Spirit Claws], [Small-Time Buccaneer], [Southsea Deckhand], [Jade Claws].

If you are playing against an aggressive deck, you can keep one [Maelstrom Portal].

If you are playing against a Shaman or Warlock you could keep one [Hex] for [Flamewreathed Faceless] and [Twilight Drake] respecetively.

Against a Rogue, [Jade Lightning] is a good keep, to deal with [Tomb Pillager], but only if you already have a decent hand.

Card Replacements:

  • -1 [Southsea Deckhand]

+1 [Mana Tide Totem]

  • -2 [Thing from Below]

+1 [Mana Tide Totem]

+1 [Devolve]


Although Mage seemed underwhelming as a Kabal class at the beginning of the expansion, players figured out its effectiveness against pirate decks.

Mage’s power as a Reno deck lies in:

  1. Its great defenses against Pirate decks with cheap spells, and Hero Power.
  2. 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 seems to be 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].

Unlike Renolock, Renomage does not have as many AoE spells, so be conservative with your [Flamestrike], [Blizzard] and [Volcanic Potion].

Against a control deck, you should try to use [Kazakus] with Brann, as this value alone can win you the game.

Against aggressive decks, one of your best plays is [Kazakus] on turn 4, and take a 5 mana potion. The potentially best spell would be “deal 4 damage to all minions” and “gain 7 armor”. Obviously that varies on the situation.


  • [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, [Kazakus]. That, clearly, also depends on the situation.


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, it can pay off against pirate warrior).

[Ice Block] and [Reno Jackson] could also be kept against aggressive decks, just to be safe.


Card Replacements:

Honestly, most of the cards can be changed. Look up the varied decklists online, get experience with the deck, and make your decisions accordingly.

In general:

  • 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], [Cabalist’s Tome], [Ragnaros the Firelord].
  • 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.