Hearthstone at its core is a game that people should have fun with, but that can get bogged down in the pursuit of competitive meta strategies. Thus, I humbly present Memes and Dreams, a new series on Out of Cards looking to bring some good ol' memey fun into people's Hearthstone experiences. Each week we will do a deep dive on a different 'for fun' deck, discussing the basic ideas of the deck, what makes it tick, and roughly how to pilot it. To kick things off, we'll cover a deck that has brought me immeasurable amounts of joy and clown-fiesta shenanigans, Rafaam Quest-lock!
E.V.I.L. Draws Close
Rafaam has been one of my favorite characters in all media ever since his introduction way back in League of Explorers. His design, attitude, entrance music, and of course, memeability. Unfortunately Arch-Thief Rafaam never quite cut it as a competitive card, so imagine my joy at seeing he is front and center in the Year of the Dragon as the leader of E.V.I.L. Arch-Villain Rafaam. However as arguably worse than his original iteration. That said, the meme-factor increased exponentially! He is the only card I have ever crafted golden and tried so desperately to make work in any given meta. Thus I give to you, the latest (probably not greatest) take on all things supreme.
The Meme - Control the board for as long as you can and play medium-level threats to keep your opponent busy.
The Dream - Slam down a 0-cost Arch-Villain Rafaam and watch your opponent cry in anguish as you continuously dish out glorious legendaries each turn, pulling off never-before-seen synergies and combinations one could hardly imagine.
The man, the myth, the legend(ary)! Rafaam is the entire point of the deck and why I'm going to miss Year of the Dragon so much when it rotates. It can be tricky to find the right time to play him, but once you do, be ready for some shenanigans.
I piloted Rafaam based decks before the quest was introduced, but it makes everything MUCH more interesting. One of Rafaam's biggest weaknesses is generating expensive legendaries that are too difficult to play. Supreme Archaeology greatly alleviates that burden and allows for some of the biggest clown fiesta moments you can imagine.
Plot Twist exists exclusively as an enabler for Supreme Archaeology and Aranasi Broodmother. The trick is finding a safe time to play it on a stable board and filled hand.
Soul Fragments were a massive boon for the deck when they were introduced in Scholomance Academy and made the deck feel so much better to play. Soul Fragments count double for Supreme Archaeology progress, to help you stabilize, and transform into random legendaries post-Rafaam. They do so much for the deck that we don't run any cards that destroy them!
This nifty fella lets you top-deck board-clears like Twisting Nether or Soulciologist Malicia after Tome of Origination is online and keeps Soul Fragments from mucking it up.
Budget / Alternate Options
I can understand being a tad hesitant to craft or keep Lorekeeper Polkelt after he just got nerfed, and thankfully he isn't integral to the deck's identity. There isn't any other card that can perform his function however. But supporting draw cards such as Free Admission or Sense Demons help complete the quest and can fetch sustain or board control cards such as Crazed Netherwing or Mo'arg Artificer.
I recommend using Sky Gen'ral Kragg if you can, but also know that getting a whole adventure that is about to rotate might be ill-advised. Generally good board control tools or single target removals like Hellfire or Siphon Soul work well enough. A similar replacement works for Alexstrasza if you don't have her and are shaky on getting the dragon synergy to work, as Twilight Drake is a strong substitution that was actually run until Circus Amalgam came along and helped stabilize the board a bit more consistently.
If you haven't been able to get epic board clears like Dark Skies, Twisting Nether, and Mo'arg Artificer, then Hellfire still works. Otherwise cheap taunts like Bone Wraith or Bonechewer Brawler can help stabilize the early game. Bloodmage Thalnos isn't necessarily budget, but he works really well in the deck and is a flexible card, so it's a safe craft. Brittlebone Destroyer, Flesh Giant, and Cascading Disaster are very close to making the cut into the deck and are great if you find yourself needing harder removal.
If Rafaam isn't your taste of meme or you want a Supreme Archaeology deck before it rotates, the new Old Gods are a good way to go. A Quest-lock Old God deck could follow a very similar game plan to Rafaam's while still having silly late-game antics, especially if you try to run multiple Old Gods!
The natural predator of Memes and why the deck is so focused on board clears and healing. There is an argument to ditch the quest in this matchup, but to do so is heresy. Otherwise mulligan for cheap minions and damage spells. Dark Skies shines here since it can deal with a massive variety of health totals on the board. Unless absolutely necessary, I try to hold on to Mo'arg Artificer and Nether Breath until I can use them in tandem. The massive health swing is enough to cause some aggro decks to concede on the spot. In a similar regard, hold off on using Plot Twist until you either need to dig for a board clear or massive healing from Soul Fragments. Completing the Quest fast isn't too helpful if you toss away all your useful cards and die in two turns.
The deck that you're most likely to get the Dream off against. This used to be a favored matchup and still is in some cases, but quite a few control decks wipe the floor with us. This deck has no good way to deal with Rattlegore and can be decimated by Tickatus. Too many big threats become very difficult to deal with and require smart or patient use of Twisting Nether. You could slot in some harder removal like Brittlebone Destroyer, Cascading Disaster, or Silas Darkmoon if you keep having trouble dealing with in Control matchups. Otherwise, turbo out quest completion ASAP and play Arch-Villain Rafaam with a completed quest ideally around turn 9 to get as much value off as possible.
You are the 'aggro' deck in this matchup. While the deck technically functions like a combo deck, the Rafaam 'combo' will not win you the game on the spot. Their combo will. Forget the board clears and just try to play as many minions as you can while rushing out the quest and Rafaam. This is also one of the few cases where playing Rafaam might be fine without completing the quest. Even if you're not close to completion, the random legendaries can provide enough threat and tempo that you might be able to kill them before they pull off their finisher. All the board clears and healing in the deck mean nothing when the enemy is counting on dealing 30+ damage from hand, so just go as hard and fast as possible.
Rafaam is one of my favorite characters of all time and this might be my favorite deck of all time. For me this deck embodies some of my favorite qualities in Hearthstone. I love wacky and interesting effects, but those are typically found on legendary cards, which can be difficult to acquire and are often restricted within certain classes. Rafaam supplies all the awesome effects of different legendaries while also creating scenarios that are otherwise impossible. Rafaam lets you use Disciplinarian Gandling to proc Reliquary of Souls and Murgur Murgurgle before immediately drawing a 0-mana Prime. Rafaam helps you destroy an opponent's dreams by creating a third Deathwing in a row before putting the nail in the coffin with Archivist Elysiana to win the fatigue war. Rafaam is the epitome of a 'for-fun' card and I encourage you to give him a try, especially since I'm pretty sure he is the only member of E.V.I.L. that has never made a meta appearance.
What is your meme deck of choice? Do you try different ones each expansion or do you try to evolve old ones with new cards? Tell us in the comments below!