Welcome to Budget Deck Breakdown, the series where we build a deck from Commons and Rares, then talk about it. Sometimes we talk too much about our budget decks and all our friends stop answering our calls. That is the price we pay for playing on a budget, but playing budget Hearthstone means never having to say you're sorry (because Blizzard removed the emote). In this week's article, we'll be talking about a deck built around a card that was overshadowed by much splashier minions that did similar things. Today's deck, like every Mage deck from the Year of the Dragon, is built to generate random cards. Let's make a mess with Dune Sculptor.
You Sculpted a Dune...and We're Supposed to be Impressed?
The biggest obstacle that Dune Sculptor faced in his time in Standard was Mana Cyclone: a younger, cheaper minion that was much more reliable when it came to generating random Mage cards. The obvious reason is that random Mage spells are superior to random Mage minions. So Dune Sculptor had to sit by himself in the corner, reenacting scenes from Ghost, and watch Mana Cyclone get all the attention from deck builders. Today, we're giving Dune Sculptor a final send-off with a deck designed as best we can to take advantage of the minions he generates.
This list is very different from most decks built around Mana Cyclone, where the idea is to jam in as many cheap spells as possible so you can chain them then play the Cyclone to refill your hand. Our deck looks instead at the kinds of minions that we might get from Dune Sculptor, and because there are a lot of Mage minions that synergize with Secrets we've instead opted to include a smorgasbord of Secrets to take advantage. The hope is that some of our Secrets can stall or frustrate our opponent long enough for us to get off a decent turn from Dune Sculptor, then use the synergies of our random minions to overwhelm our opponent and win the game.
This deck is built around Dune Sculptor, and finding spells fro him to use as gas to generate more minions to close out the game. To find Dune Sculptor (and spells to play with him) we've included a lot of card draw. Elemental Allies can draw our spells thanks to minions like Confection Cyclone and Violet Spellwing. Imprisoned Phoenix is an Elemental that synergizes with Elemental Allies, but it's also a Spell Damage minion that synergizes with Cram Session. Questing Explorer can also draws off of Quests, so we're also running Learn Draconic to more regularly trigger her Battlecry and give us extra Tempo from our spells.
Our Secret package is designed for maximum stall and annoyance, and no Secret package would be complete without Ancient Mysteries. Because it reduces the Cost of the Secret to 0, it becomes a lot easier to play the Secret on the same turn as Dune Sculptor. Speaking of cheap spells, this list includes Magic Trick and Wandmaker to find more spells to combo with the Sculptor.
Mulligan Tips and Gameplay Guide
The first thing you want to mulligan for is the Quests. Elemental Allies is great because it turns early tempo into card draw. Learn Draconic gets online a little slower, but still works great with Questing Explorer, should you find one. Ancient Mysteries is a good way to find an early Secret and discount it, so it's also a solid keep.
Against aggro, you're looking for cheap interaction like Ray of Frost and defensive Secrets like Flame Ward and Ice Barrier to help you stay alive. Primordial Studies, Wandmaker, Confection Cyclone, and Violet Spellwing are good ways to have early bodies with which to contest the board.
Against control and other slow decks you definitely want to consider keeping Dune Sculptor and begin thinking of the best time to use him. A Dune Sculptor at the right time gives us our best chance of generating value and putting our opponent on the back foot. Counterspell is sometimes good at denying their ability to interact with our board; Netherwind Portal does nicely at turning their spells into our tempo. Heavier card draw like Cram Session (alongside Imprisoned Phoenix) can also feel good to keep in this matchup.
The deck's game plan revolves around staying alive long enough to get a good turn from Dune Sculptor and outvalue our opponent. It's pretty neat when you can get him down in a position where your opponent will have a hard time answering him, but don't worry about getting too greedy. Sometimes it's OK to only get a few minions from the first Dune Sculptor, if it later provides you a window to either win the game or get better value from your second Dune Sculptor.
The Secrets are this deck's best chance at staying alive against aggro, specifically Flame Ward and Ice Barrier. Against Control decks, you want to make sure you have good timing with Counterspell and Netherwind Portal to maximize their frustration. Don't be afraid to bluff one Secret for another; that's why they're Secret. For instance, this deck can't run Rigged Faire Game (for obvious reasons), but your opponent doesn't know that.
Card Replacements for the Rich and Famous
Rigged Faire Game can replace one of the other Secrets as another way to draw cards. There are a handful of minions that could be added to the deck also, but because we've got Dune Sculptor, it's kind of like we're already running them. Jandice Barov is a good 5-Drop that can put extra pressure on the opponent, while Keywarden Ivory is a fun way to find more spells. Mana Giant is a big boy that works well with a lot of what our deck does. Mana Cyclone has plenty of decks dedicated to it already, but it's worth an add if you're in the mood to generate a lot of random things.
If you want to stay on a budget, Sorcerer's Apprentice can help discount our spells for bigger Sculptor turns. I can think of no better way to finally usher her off to Wild than by jamming her into a deck that isn't very good. You can also try a version of the deck that cares less about Secrets and instead runs cards like Wand Thief, Conjure Mana Biscuit, and Cobalt Spellkin. If you're facing a lot of aggro, adding in Firebrand and Brain Freeze can help curb their ability to stomp your face in.
Dune Sculptor is a fairly fun card generation engine, and yet another budget build around we've been able to give a twilight send-off to. This deck runs Secrets for random minion synergies and to help survive against aggro; you can instead opt for a Tempo-lite build with more cheap spell fodder to power Dune Sculptor and really go off with random minions.
Next week's article will be our last breakdown of the Year of the Phoenix before the Year of the Gryphon launches and we get a new expansion and a whole Core Set to play with. Watch out, because next week will be a doozy.
Are you excited for a new Year of Hearthstone? What kind of budget decks do you want to see in the Year of the Gryphon? Share your thoughts in the comments!