The beginning of the Year of the Gryphon draws near - Forged in the Barrens is right around the corner and, this time, we'll receive even more goodies with the new Core set!
As we sit here, waiting patiently for card reveals to begin, it's time to shine the light on some cards that were never really played to give them a proper farewell. In this article, we'll list 10 different decks, each one containing at least one card that has seen little to no play throughout its existence in the Standard format.
Disclaimer: obviously, these decks aren't supposed to be high tier nor competitive - if you happen to own the cards and are looking for a bit of fun we suggest you try out the following lists; otherwise, you should just hold your precious dust for better units like Blademaster Samuro.
Demon Hunter - Token Package
But wait Avalon, Demon Hunter was released with the Year of the Phoenix: It doesn't have any sets from the Year of the Dragon! Correct, but I'm still right! Illidan's Initiate set will rotate together with Rise of Shadows, Saviors of Uldum and Descent of Dragons, so some Demon Hunter cards are going to go away from Standard.
Now that we cleared this, time to get to the deck. Illidan's Initiate Set is full of Token synergy, which saw lots of experimentation but never really took off, despite Team 5 printing Demon Hunter new support every expansion.
The gameplan is simple: use your waves of cheap tokens to trade away the opponent's units and establish board control - Umberwing and Coordinated Strike are very good early game cards, especially if you're able to support them with Wrathscale Naga or the 300 IQ inclusion Parade Leader. Payoff cards are the main reason why you play this deck, so look at your whole hand and possible matchup before tossing them away: if you think you're likely to be against a slow opponent, then keeping Nethrandamus in hand is not that foolish. Zai, the Incredible is there to provide additional value in case you need that final push to bring the game at home: an additional Sea Giant, Wrathscale Naga or Nethrandamus can be game-winning, especially if previously discounted by Skull of Gul'dan!
Druid - Lucentbark and Steel Beetle
Ever since the release of Steel Beetle, I've always been fascinated by the idea of building a (5) Druid, with cards like Beetle, Anubisath Defender, Groundskeeper, Garden Gnome and Sunreaver Warmage. My dreams are definitely beyond reach, but this is a nice compromise we can settle on.
This Druid list has it all: early game survivability with Lunar Eclipse, Steel Beetle and Speaker Gidra; mid-game sustainability with Groundskeeper, Anubisath Warbringer and Umbral Owl; late-game durability with the combination of Greybough and Lucentbark, whose Deathrattles (combined with Germination) will surely give your opponents quite the headache.
What, you still can't close the game? That's why we also run the double Old Gods Yogg-Saron, Master of Fate and C'Thun, the Shattered.
Hunter - Vereesa Windrunner and Marked Shot
Vereesa is a card many people were excited about when it was first released, but it soon became clear how underwhelming it was. Despite some experimentation in weird Malygos Hunter lists with Jepetto Joybuzz and Master's Call, Vereesa Windrunner never really saw play in its Standard lifetime. The comparison with Rune Dagger is beyond embarrassing, and we think that making Thori'dal, the Stars' Fury's effect last during the next opponent's turn as well wouldn't have made the card broken and would've created a neat synergy with Explosive Trap.
Since I was unlucky enough to unpack her back in the day, I tried so many ways to make her I don't say viable, but at least fun and useful. In the end, this is what I landed on: the deck you see below merges Beasts, Deathrattles and Secrets in the hope of keeping Aggro under control and close matches in the mid-late game with continuous board-swing effects like Guardian Animals (note: you could low roll a Phase Stalker but we're talking about a unit you want to mulligan for and you cannot think about playing such a deck without taking any risks), and Jewel of N'Zoth.
Do you want other reasons to play this deck? Bola Shot and Moonfang have achievements related to them, and this deck is somewhat able to slot both of these cards together; moreover, Thori'dal's effect makes Bola Shot kills more consistent.
Mage - Animated Avalanche and Arcane Amplifier
I was really excited when Animated Avalanche got revealed back in the day because I love Elementals and I thought Elemental Mage would've been a thing again - unfortunately for me, I was so wrong.
Darkmoon Faire gave Mage new Elemental synergy with Confection Cyclone, Gyreworm (which seems design exactly for Elemental Mage), Firework Elemental (a minion that didn't make the cut in this list) and Grand Finale, which carried the archetype in the first weeks after Day 1, but immediately fell out of the radar due to both the lack of support and presence of lots of better alternatives.
I'm still confident that the Year of the Gryphon will bring us what is needed to bring back Elemental Mage, but in the meantime, you can have fun with this.
No, the list is currently played with Elemental Allies, Confection Cyclone and Imprisoned Phoenix is not Elemental Mage to me - it's a Spell Damage deck that relies on a Elemental Allies' draw engine and Imprisoned Phoenix is played because it has +1 Spell Damage and not because of its tribe tag (or not mainly because of it).
Paladin - Sand Breath, Tasty Flyfish and Skyfin
Sir Finley of the Sands was definitely the most underwhelming Highlander card out of Saviors of Uldum, maybe on par with just Elise the Enlightened - despite the card being interesting (and flavorful) in a vacuum, it's rarely been able to be enough of an upside to go singleton with Paladin while keeping the power level above the meme-tier.
For this reason, we'll meme even harder on this one - Dragons and Murlocs band together to create a very low-curve, board-dependant archetype that relies on snowballing early with Murloc Tidecaller, Sir Finley of the Sands' effect (many hero powers, like The Silver Hand and Ballista Shot, are really good if you want to push damage) and Crabrider combined with good buffs like Sand Breath and Hand of A'dal.
Zephrys the Great is the biggest reason to play this deck, as it will grant you that Savage Roar or Bloodlust you'll need to close the game.
Bonus Paladin - Jar Dealer, Sandwasp Queen and GoliathTheDwarf
Considering that the Year of the Phoenix has not been very kind to Uther and that Paladin has seen very little success with very few viable archetypes, we thought you'd all appreciate a second idea to play the class.
This deck revolves around slowly building control of the board in the early game with Brazen Zealot, Soulbound Ashtongue (you're an aggro deck: you don't really care about your life total as long as you're alive) and Righteous Cause; then, Magic Carpet transforms your one drop into Rushing bullets so that you'll almost always be able to clear your opponent's threats. Rally! grants you a very useful comeback mechanic after a clear, which has high odds of bringing you back strong units like Murgur Murgurgle (getting an additional Murgurgle Prime may be game-winning), Magic Carpet or Voracious Reader (great hand refill effect together with Salhet's Pride).
Turn one Young Dragonhawk into turn 2 Hand of A'dal is just poetic.
Priest - Embalming Ritual and Octosari
I know it's quite hard to believe, but when I first saw Nazmani Bloodweaver I immediately thought about a way to abuse its effect to OTK your opponent. While C'Thun, the Shattered is the "easy" way, I tried a lot to find an optimal Octosari list in order to mill your opponents to death. Basically a more lethal Tickatus with a lot more steps.
Fortunately for our readers, you don't have to settle for one of my crappy theorycrafts, since MarkMcKz had the same idea and showcased this combo in a YouTube video (here).
Basically, you want to use Nazmani Bloodweaver's effect to reduce Octosari's cost enough to Embalming Ritual/Grave Rune it, give it to your opponent with Silas Darkmoon and then kill it multiple times to guarantee the win via fatigue.
Rogue - Shadow of Death, Stowaway and Anka, the Buried
Despite receiving support in Darkmoon Faire with Ticket Master, Malevolent Strike, Grand Empress Shek'zara and partially C'Thun, the Shattered, Shuffle Rogue has never been a strong archetype, not even back in Saviors of Uldum when Shadow of Death got printed. On the other hand, we have just enough support to at least try to have fun with a reasonably functioning archetype that isn't just a pile of cards with no synergy.
This deck features the same early draw engine of Stealth Rogue with Spymistress and Greyheart Sage, as well as the always good Swindle and Skyvateer. On the top-end, we have Scrapyard Colossus and Khartut Defender - those are basically the unit you want to reduce with Anka, the Buried, shuffle with Shadow of Death and eat with Teron Gorefiend.
Shaman - Lightning Breath, Squallhunter and Nithogg
Dragon Shaman has so many good cards that would probably cost a lot more in other classes, but since they received very little to no support they've never been a headache for anyone.
With this Highlander list, our goal is relying on the sheer power of some units (mainly but not limited to Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza) in order to follow a control-like gameplay and slowly run our opponents out of resources while we gain more and more control of the game.
Since we can't compete with decks that have way more value generation than us, C'Thun, the Shattered will help us gaining the edge of them as well. Finally, you don't run a Highlander Shaman without The Smosh: that would be just rude.
Warlock - Chaos Gazer, Dark Pharaoh Tekahn and Grand Lackey Erkh
Rogue was by far the class that was able to exploit Lackeys the most, despite Warlock received good cards like EVIL Recruiter, EVIL Genius and especially Dark Pharaoh Tekahn (a Legendary that was played way more by Valeera through Dragon's Hoard than Gul'Dan himself).
With this deck, we are trying to give a proper farewell to the Lackey mechanic in a class that should've been way better at them. By doing so, we also play Grand Lackey Erkh, a Warlock-in-disguise card that was technically able to enable Lackey shenanigans in each class (thanks to EVIL Cable Rat), but that never ever saw play because it was a 4 mana 2/3 that required lots of mana to work with and almost any class had better things to do in the late game.
Chaos Gazer is the icing on the cake - there are definitely better ways to introduce disruption in the game (see Shadow Hunter Vol'jin and Felsoul Jailer), but it doesn't mean that the right hit won't mess up your opponent's plans!
Warrior - Hack the System and Armored Goon
I'm gonna be totally honest: when I first came up with this idea, building a Quest Warrior didn't excite me at all - Hack the System is atrociously bad (despite the general hype around it when it was released) and, pretty much like Lakkari Sacrifice is for Discard Warlock, it flaws your gameplan rather than improving it.
However, Rogue-Warrior Dual-class cards are quite the spicy meatball: Doctor Krastinov, Steeldancer, Cutting Class and Nitroboost Poison - all of them are natural fits into Quest Warrior and provide incredible support to your (desperate) cause. I'm almost convinced to say we might have found a gem, but I... I just can't give Hack the System the credit it might deserve. But if you manage to have success with this list, you can always prove me wrong.
Do you like any of these decks? Do you have any cards or archetypes you would have liked to see showcased?