Welcome to Budget Deck Breakdown, the series that breaks down budget decks using words that combine to form complete sentences. We've got something a little special cooked up for this weeks' entry; not only is this the first time we're featuring a (free) Legendary, it's also our first in the series to feature two decks. That's because this week we're looking at a pair of budget decks that take advantage of Shadow Hunter Vol'jin to summon big minions and, occasionally, win games.
Double the Vol'jin, Double the Vol'fun
The release of Shadow Hunter Vol'jin continued Blizzard's (much appreciated) tradition of giving out a free Legendary minion to every player in the lead-up to a new expansion. With Forged in the Barrens (and a new Core Set) on the horizon, it's nice to have a new toy to play with while we wait for the Year of the Gryphon. This week, I've decided to break up this breakdown even further by featuring two decks to show that even on a budget you can get up to some truly wacky shenanigans.
Warlock and Demon Hunter have a few things in common: Demons, Demon synergies, and being named Dan. Both classes also feature some very large minions that haven't seen a lot of play because of how expensive they are. Now, thanks to Shadow Hunter Vol'jin, we can start cheating out those large men as early as turn 4.
While both decks rely on Shadow Hunter Vol'jin for their earliest power plays, each has its own way of both using Vol'jin and adapting when they can't draw him early enough. Like Leo Tolstoy once wrote at the beginning of a very long and boring book, "Good decks are all alike; every bad deck is bad in its own way."
Key Cards - Demon Hunter
Illidan's Vol'jin combo involves playing Crimson Sigil Runner (often with a cost reduction from Illidari Studies) then swapping it to cheat out a big threat that can impact the board immediately with either Rush, Taunt, or (my personal favorite) a giant fireball. Double Jump can tutor the Crimson Sigil Runner for the combo or just for more card draw. Demon Hunter's big boys are: Hulking Overfiend, Coilfang Warlord, Runaway Blackwing, Scrapyard Colossus, and Claw Machine.
Key Cards - Warlock
Gul'dan has something a little different up his sleeves. Desk Imp already costs zero, and can be drawn with Sense Demons to make the combo a bit more reliable. Warlock's big minions are Enhanced Dreadlord, Plagued Protodrake, Runaway Blackwing, and Scrapyard Colossus. After Vol'jin dies, we can use Raise Dead to bring him back and do the swap all over again. Deja vu? More like Deja Vol'jin.
I said, "More like Deja Vol-"
Mulligan Strategy and Gameplay Tips
The first thing you mulligan for is Shadow Hunter Vol'jin because he's very important to what these decks want to do. Other than Vol'jin, you're looking for cheap card draw. For Demon Hunter, this means Chaos Strike, Acrobatics, and Double Jump. Warlock's card draw is Sense Demons (at its best when you already have Vol'jin), Free Admission (better when you lack Vol'jin), and a very good Hero Power.
Against aggro, you're also looking for cheap removal or AoE. Demon Hunter wants to see Twin Slice, Chaos Strike, or Immolation Aura. Warlock is looking for Unstable Felbolt, Nether Breath, or School Spirits. Demonic Studies can also be good for Warlock to find a cheap body to play for tempo while setting up the combo. Soul Shear is great for either class, in addition to answering the age-old question, "How many souls could Soul Shear shear should Soul Shear shear souls?"
Against slower decks, you want anything that does big damage or can disrupt their game plan if, through some stroke of truly horrific luck, you were to draw any of the twenty-nine cards in your deck that aren't Shadow Hunter Vol'jin. Demon Hunter has some pretty good options for disruption from Illidari Studies, so that is definitely something to look for in the matchup. Warlock, on the other hand, wants to find card draw and Raise Dead to maximize his ability to find and take advantage of Shadow Hunter Vol'jin.
Both decks have a similar early game plan, emphasizing clearing the opponent's board while hoping to get the Vol'jin combo off by turn 6 at the latest. If you have a chance, using Illidari Studies on turn 3 or 4 to reduce the cost of Crimson Sigil Runner is great for Demon Hunter since it accelerates your ability to get the combo off. Warlock doesn't need to worry about reducing the cost of Desk Imp and so can concentrate solely on drawing all the pieces.
When Plan A goes awry, there are still a number of things these decks can do beyond waiting to play their minions the hard way. Demon Hunter can always fall back on the tried and true method of using his Hero's Attack to hit his opponent in the face. Warlock is a lot more dependent on getting Shadow Hunter Vol'jin, but can use things like Demonic Studies to discount some of his minions the old-fashioned way.
Card Replacements for the Rich and Famous
Demon Hunter can go almost full Demon and make his early swings a lot scarier by adding Ancient Void Hound and Pit Commander. Pit Commander is especially swingy since he can fetch another big body from your deck.
Warlock has fewer choices at the higher rarities unless you're really sold on the power level of Fel Lord Betrug or Zzeraku the Warped. Envoy Rustwix doesn't necessarily play well with Shadow Hunter Vol'jin, but he can make a fine Plan B if your main game plan doesn't work out.
Both decks can appreciate what Colossus of the Moon brings to the table, especially against slower decks. The real spice in Neutral might be Blatant Decoy, so long as you remember to play out all your cheap minions before the Deathrattle goes off.
There are also plenty of adjustments to make to the deck while still working on a budget. Skull of Gul'dan can sometimes serve as a backup plan for Demon Hunter to reduce the cost of some big threats, so long as you can get it into an Outcast position (which is quite the trick in this deck). You could also replace Double Jump with Spectral Sight for more card draw that doesn't only tutor Crimson Sigil Runner, as well as replace the Acrobatics with Eye Beam.
Warlock can add in Aranasi Broodmother or Khartut Defender for more sustained healing against aggressive decks. Also, could I interest you in a single copy of Shadowflame to serve as a sometimes board clear and sometimes way to kill Shadow Hunter Vol'jin to enable Raise Dead shenanigans?
Shadow Hunter Vol'jin might only be everyone's second favorite 5 mana 3/6, but he still packs a serious punch in decks designed for fun. Both of our featured decks are primed for a good time, and come ready to make big swings with Shadow Hunter Vol'jin. When they're working, either deck can be a blast to play (and you don't even need to think about winning). Seriously: don't think about winning.
What decks have you been trying with Shadow Hunter Vol'jin? Are you excited for the launch of the Core Set and a new era of budget Hearthstone? Share your thoughts in the comments!