Good day! This week, we're looking at a theme suggested by Karfhud in the comments section of last week's article!
Great, I'll be waiting for this one! :). Hmm... thought about some memes revolve around discover mechanic and/or inspire and deathrattle, all in highlander decks (love this one the most). Have nothing specific in mind, but those are keywords that should be generate some fair amount of fun ;).
Now, there isn't enough space to combine all of these, so I went for Highlander + Inspire (since Inspire is one of those long-forgotten keywords that still has potential!) Then, I took the twist even further and tried to make a Highlander Totem Shaman; but more on that later, for now let's take a look at our core cards for this week:
Alongside class-specific Highlander cards, these two are included in each deck. Reno is your go-to clutch heal, whilst Zephrys is either your last hope or your extra winning power. Keep in mind cards such as Scroll of Wonders or other similar shuffle cards will make these two useless for a while, so if you need to replace a card from one of the following decks, do so with care!
Making a deck based only around Totems is still a bit of a tricky endeavour, but combined with Highlander and Inspire cards, it can be pretty decent!
Your mulligan should always be a fancy totem. Any of the following are viable: EVIL Totem, Primalfin Totem, Totem Golem and even just Mana Tide Totem, regardless of the higher cost. The goal is to establish a board presence as soon as possible and attempt to stick to it.
- The Totems listed above
- Boneguard Lieutenant: If not dealt with can become very sticky very fast.
- Tuskarr Totemic: To start dishing out Totems at a higher rate.
- Primal Talismans: To cast as soon as you have at least three, but preferably 4+ minions on the board.
- Mukla's Champion: Helps you hang on to your board like your health depended on it (it does.)
- Thing from Below: Keeps your lil' totems safe for a while longer.
- Mogu Fleshshaper: Use this for defense, especially against Taunt minions.
- Draenei Totemcarver: If you have a few totems, this guy will be your cheap and strong minion, while leaving room for using your Hero Power on the same round.
- Kvaldir Raider: Another card that benefits from your Hero Power, play at least on turn 7 to also get a totem while buffing him.
- Reno Jackson: Keeps you alive longer to get your combos going.
- Zephrys the Great: While technically great at any point in the game, he is most useful when he can provide a buff for the entire board, so try and hold on to him until the late game.
- Splitting Axe: Your most important card this game. Either combine with Totem Crusher for a huge minion, or with Totemic Surge, Totemic Might and Primal Fusion to grow a huge Totem.
- Thunder Bluff Valiant: If you don't have, or have run out of Splitting Axe, this guy takes priority in making sure you still have enough damage to go face (when all combos fail, just go face with what you have)
Card Analysis & Replacements
Splitting Axe: Sadly irreplaceable. You could consider going for Wicked Witchdoctor, however, the spells in this deck are rather few, and they are mostly for playing on specific turns to trigger combos or to clear the board, which are two rather situational... situations.
Totem Cruncher: Another card hard to replace. Bloodlust might be a decent contender, with the drawback of losing all that extra damage and not being able to create a huge sticky minion. Depending on whether most of your opponents have a silence or transform card (to completely remove your Cruncher from being useful or from play, respectively), Bloodlust might be more useful.
Everyfin is Awesome: Weird choice in a deck where the only Murlocs you get are from Primalfin Totem, right? This card exists for its buff, rather than its cost-reducing effect. I prefer it to Bloodlust as it also offers +2 Health, and the damage bonus does not fade after one round. You could go the Bloodlust route instead, however, keep in mind you should only have one of each card (in case you already replaced Totem Cruncher with a Bloodlust.)
Reno Jackson: While replacing him would render the Highlander them of this deck close to futile, there are options! Jinyu Waterspeaker is a decently sticky card for turn 4 that restores 6 health, Healing Rain restores 12 Health and most of it should go to you, as Totems don't exactly have a high life expectancy once they take damage, and Antique Healbot provides another 2 extra health than the Waterspeaker, albeit at a higher cost and with lower stats. They are all decent options, keeping in mind the deck already contains a Witch's Brew. Tournament Medic is also a good option to get that Totem synergy going, whilst also healing yourself and having a hard to kill minion on the board.
Aggro is back, and this time Elise is not standing by! This deck relies on having a constant board presence, being able to mitigate enemy attacks, giving you enough time to get some combos going and get your value out of every card.
You may have noticed Reno Jackson is missing from this deck. He's just not needed! We have Moonglade Portal to trigger Crystal Stag, and the constant stream of minions you throw onto the board keep the opponent busy. Justicar Trueheart's upgrading of your Hero Power will also give you a steady stream of Armor.
Your mulligan is a tiny bit more complex for this deck, due to all the possible synergies you have at hand. Trying to get cheap minions such as Acornbearer or Crystal Merchant is always a safe bet, but other cards you require for your synergies should be prioritized, even if you won't have much to do the first two turns.
Because this deck is mostly just synergies upon synergies, we should look on the cards we need to put together instead of when to play them:
- Elise the Enlightened: Crystal Stag + Anubisath Defender + Moonglade Portal + Spreading Plague +Evolving Spores
Copying any of these will provide a huge bonus. Try to play Elise when you have at least 3 of these cards in your hand, for maximum effect.
- Dendrologist: Soul of the Forest, Garden Gnome, Landscaping
- Soul of the Forest: BEEEES!!!, Acornbearer, Mark of the Loa, Spreading Plague, Garden Gnome
- Garden Gnome: Spreading Plague, Moonglade Portal, Lunar Visions
These constitute the bulk of Treant-surrounding synergies. Having just one card of each card's synergy is generally enough to make them work, and these help provide small bonuses throughout the game, most important of all increasing your board presence. Speaking of treants...
Treants are useful for filling out the board before casting any of the above spells, as to maximize their output. These spells have much-coveted synergies as well...
- The spells listed above: BEEEES!!!, Crystal Stag, Oasis Surger, Spreading Plague, Landscaping, Acornbearer
I need to highlight BEEEES!!! for its amazing design, generally used for clearing out a bigger minion and leaving some "bee scraps" behind, however in this deck it is most effective when it attacks a 1 or 0-health minion, leaving all those extra bees to be buffed!
Card Analysis & Replacements
Crystal Merchant: A good card for getting to your small minions faster.
Lunar Visions: The cost reduction makes for a good combo with Elise, to stave off playing her while you have 6 cards or more in your deck. A cheaper replacement exists in Nourish, since our main use for Lunar Visions is still card draw.
Crystal Stag: Amazing card that pairs well with quite a big chunk of this deck. Mulchmunder provides the same stats, yet will likely cost more and can only attack one minion, but coupled with its Treant synergy it can be a decent replacement.
Anubisath Defender: Great card when doubled by Elise, and played following one of your 5+ cost spells. Bewitched Guardian has decent synergy with Elise the Enlightened, even though will not be a potential free cast, or if you are looking for a more outlandish replacement, Gift of the Wild can bolster your board control even further.#
Also knows as "The Night of the 1,000 Renos" or "Reno Hard 5: Live Another Day", this deck was discovered in an ancient Uldum tomb guarded by, you guessed it, even more Renos.
If I know the definition of mid-range, this is a mid-range deck. It's got cheap cards. It's got expensive cards. It's got all kinds of cards! Your main quest, should you choose to accept it, is to spam all those low-cost spells and get your Quest Hero Power as quickly as possible. Always mulligan for the cheapest of cards, and try throwing an Arcane Intellect in there to speed things up.
- Arcane Artificer: The sooner he's out, the sooner you get beefier.
- Babbling Book: More spells, more destruction.
- Shooting Star & Magic Dart Frog: Goodbye, early aggro.
- Unstable Portal: Turn 2-3 Fel Reaver is worth it.
- Reno the Relicologist: There's a Reno for each phase of the game. Play this one as soon as he is worth playing.
- Kazakus: By this point in the game you should have a pretty clear idea of who you are fighting, and as such be able to create a potent spell to deal with your troubles.
- Kvaldir Raider: This minion scares the living Thrall out of your enemies. Use with Garrison Commander for maximum fear factor.
- Reno Jackson: Among the crazy RNG you will experience with your Hero Power, keep this Reno close just in case you have a few bad Hero Power yields in a row.
- Dalaran Aspirant: Ideally combined with Garrison Commander, keep Inspiring this minion to increase the potency of your spells and make removing enemy minions easier each turn.
- Archmage Antonidas: Perfect combination with your Quest Hero Power, he will help you seal the deal.
Card Analysis & Replacements
Archmange Antonidas: His main purpose is giving you more insane damage, yet he can be a little slow, so we'll be looking at lower-cost cards to replace him. Cabalist's Tome is an okay replacement and can help you complete your quest faster. Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron is volatile, yet it tends to help you more than your opponent in Wild. Ethereal Conjurer can save you with an Ice Block or a Frost Nova in tight spots.
Kazakus: The spell he gives you generally gets used in the late game, and while nothing can replace some of his crazier spells, Pyroblast is also generally able to send most minions - and most heroes - back to Valhalla.
Aside from those cards and the core Legendary cards, the deck is pretty "cheap", thus most other cards should not need replacement.
As a final note, there are four Renos if you count the one depicted in Forgotten Torch's art.
It turns out, Inspire isn't as irrelevant as one might think in 2019. Whilst not in the spotlight, decks can make use of a few Inspire cards to get by, and some can really help turn the game around!
As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments, as well as any suggestions you might have for next week's topic!