The metagame has settled down quite a bit, which means that this weeks Rock, Paper, Scissors is all about beating the most popular decks in the metagame. The most meta-defining deck on the block is Combo Priest; we have a Highlander Zoolock that will win early board and snowball itself to a win. Quest Druid and Quest Shaman are relatively late-to-midrange decks that use minion pressure to close out games, we've got a Frozen Sandwich Mage to keep them in check and lethal back. Finally, for those pesky Quest Shamans and Control Warriors that seem to never run out of resources, we have a Hearthstone-Internal-Data-Autocompleted Quest Hunter that never runs out of fresh board states to smack them for massive damage. We feature Highlander Zoolock, Frozen Sandwich Mage, and Autocomplete Quest Hunter.
Rock - Aggro
The term SMOrc comes to mind when I think of aggro.
Aggro is viewed as the most straightforward of the deck types for a beginner to understand and play. Your goal is to kill your opponent before they have a chance to stabilize the board, keep their life total outside your damage from hand, and you run out of cards to play. Your goal with an aggressive deck is always to balance how much damage you are dealing to your opponent each turn and fight for control of the board at each stage. Aggro thrives against Combo decks which sacrifice board presence, removal, and healing in order to play powerful combinations of cards that can win them the game. Aggro suffers against Control which focuses on removing all of your minions, healing, and generating value, so they have more resources at the end of the game.
Featured Deck of the Week: Highlander Zoolock
How to Play It
Zoolock seems to be the deck that never stops working, something about an infinite-draw-engine (well, only if you have health) seems to make this deck work metagame after metagame. Reynad was a genius, at least for copying the Zoo Deck from Magic and making it work in Hearthstone's earliest days. Fun fact: South Koreans call Zoo Warlock the Reynad Deck. Enough about him, this deck is pretty fun to play, and each game will play out differently as a result of it being a pure Highlander list. The deck leverages the sheer number of cards in the game at this point of the year to get consistency. Zephrys the Great is the answer that Zoo never had, which can create game-ending plays. Savage Roar or Bloodlust were never supposed to be in Warlock for a reason. It should be no mystery why Sandbinder is run to draw Zehprys the Great more consistently. Zoo is and always has been reasonably straightforward, play the cards you have the mana for. This deck has somewhat less-consistent mana curves than regular Zoolock, but more variety will make each game feel unique. You should be grabbing control of the board early and snowballing to prevent slower decks from ever having a chance to clear the board in the first place, use your buffs to play around spells from each class and you'll win games. Enjoy!
How to Beat It
If this deck loses board in the midgame before it can find lethal, it loses. The Highlander Warlock can suffer from inconsistent curves; playing aggressively to force them into tough spots is your best hope. Control Warrior really ruins a Zoolock's day. Quest Shaman isn't too bad at it either, if it gets a fast start. Most of the Warlocks are currently playing some version of Zoo, so if you see them on the ladder, be sure to mulligan against it with your best early-game removal cards. Decks that struggle to clear big boards will struggle against the Zoolock, and if they do nothing meaningful before turn 5 will likely find themselves in an impossible situation for a comeback. If you keep the board under control, you can often get the Zoolock to lifetap themselves into lethal range for your burst damage.
Paper - Control
Control is challenging because it takes practice to know what threats to expect from your opponent. The more knowledge you have of your opponent, the better you will perform. Control, typically, has a finite number of removal tools for individual minions and board clears. When playing this archetype each turn, you have to ask yourself a few questions: Do I need to remove this minion/board right now? How can I stabilize this board to keep it from getting out of control? How do I prevent lethal damage from my opponent's hand? By answering each of these questions, you learn when to clear the board and when to leave it, when you should be playing a taunt minion, and when you absolutely need to heal. Your end goal is how/when to stabilize and take full control of the game so your opponent cannot get back into the game. Control thrives against Aggro because eventually, all Aggro decks run out of cards; meaning that if you can keep the board, they will run out of steam and lose. Control suffers against Combo because it often lacks proactive plays to deal damage to the opponent, allowing Combo to play their combo pieces whenever they want.
Featured Deck of the Week: Frozen Sandwich Mage
How to Play It
Ah Freeze Mage, we can never seem to get away from it. Mage will always have ways to stall out games and keep other minion-based decks from dealing damage; it's a part of the class itself. Mage is in a bad spot after the nerfs to Conjurer's Calling and Luna's Pocket Galaxy. Reno Mage is still good, and likely a better version of what this deck does. But in the spirit of new decks, I have decided to feature this one! Due to the rise of Quest Druid and Quest Shaman, Mage has a spot as a control deck still. No, this deck is not the best control deck available, but it still does powerful things and can win games at a high level through some serious RNG in 5-costed Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron. On top of that, big minions are hard to deal with for these minion-heavy decks. If you freeze the board after playing Kalecgos, it can snowball really quickly. Secret synergies allow the deck to clear small boards before you get into some of the heaviest late-game hitting cards. This deck is a lot of fun, albeit a little gimmicky. But if you give it a shot pray to Yogg, you'll find a few ways to cheat out fun wins.
How to Beat It
Combo Priest will eat this Sandwich Mage for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. A few timely Doomsayer and clever secret play is it's only chance. Faster aggro decks like Tempo Rogue will beat it down in a hurry; but if the Mage ever wins board, it will win the game. As a Druid or Shaman play for early board control as much as you can, once you start getting minions frozen, you may run out of things to do while the Mage stacks damage to kill you. The Mage will ultimately die to burn damage of any major kind or gigantic boards that can't be removed except via Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron. Don't discount its ability to kill you from hand at the end of the game: 2 Pyroblast on turn 10 is a real threat that should be considered if you reach the end-game. There are also ways for just a couple of minions on board to quickly take you from 30 to 0 over a couple turns. If you are an aggro deck please, please play around Flameward; it is no longer a mystery that your 3-health board can die from it. Don't overextend resources and this deck shouldn't be a terrible matchup for any one deck.
Scissors - Combo
Combo is sometimes classified more like a game of solitaire than a game of Hearthstone. Historically, combo decks are assembled in a way that once you complete each step, you win the game with a lethal in one turn, known as a One-Turn-Kill (OTK) deck. However, the current state of Hearthstone has very few decks which are capable of this. Most combo decks execute a series of plays to set up incredibly powerful boards by cheating out discounted cards or an infinite source of large minions (think Pogohopper Rogue and Conjurers Calling Mage). Combo decks thrive against control because the control deck often does little to nothing to threaten lethal against you. Combo suffers against aggro because by running combo cards, you sacrifice removal and healing; allowing aggro to beat you before you complete the combo. Once a combo deck has played it's combo cards; it is almost unstoppable.
Featured Deck of the Week: Autocomplete Quest Hunter
How to Play It
This deck has been one of the more fun discoveries I've made with the latest expansion. I initially thought Unseal the Vault was complete trash when I first play-tested it against all of the Reno Mages and Control Warriors that destroyed it. However, with the nerfs, I was shocked to find decklists on HSReplay that were winning games at a rate of 55%. I decided to give one of those a shot and was still disappointed by it. I decided one attempt, to use the Autocomplete feature which utilizes Hearthstone's internal data by putting just Unseal the Vault and clicking the button. It gave me the best version of the deck I had ever seen! It was beating aggro, combo, and control decks fairly regularly by playing endless boards and annoying taunts. The plethora of 2-drops greatly increased the consistency of the opener. Knife Juggler and Dire Wolf Alpha gave the deck power to combat bigger board states with small rush minions. Once the quest was done, I would snowball into a win on turn 10 with Leeroy Jenkins into Unleash the Hounds for up to 26 damage! From the auto-completed deck I only changed one card: swap Sunfury Protector for another Cult Master. Whenever I could draw 3-6 cards from a Cult Master I would win the game; with so many ways to make a big board, every deck runs out of clears.
I have found learning this deck to be an incredible challenge. I learned when to use taunts and when to hold them for later, how to manipulate a board to get a free Sea Giant, and the best way to complete the quest to flip the board and leave opposing aggro and control decks unable to deal with all my token minions. The deck counters all token-based decks incredibly well, like the current most popular Quest Shaman. You often lose to Combo Priest, but even then I have found ways to win games by fighting for the board early and hard. I have climbed from Rank 5 to 1 with this version and am going to hit Legend with it this month. I hope you enjoy it!
- Complete Unseal the Vault
- Play Leeroy Jenkins
- Play Unleash the Hounds
- Use your "+2 Attack to all Minions" Hero Power
- Deal 8 (from Leeroy) + 3 for each hound you summon.
Typically your opponent will have a couple minions on board, add two more whelps and you end up with 4-6 hounds that deal 3 damage each + Leeroy, and you'll more than likely find yourself dealing lethal damage on turn 10. You often find other lethal with damage combos anywhere from turn 8-12. The max damage with 5 minions on board from your opponent is 26.
How to Beat It
Combo Priest, Combo Priest, Combo Priest. Combo Priest is the bane of this deck's existence. It the meta-defining deck at the moment due to how quickly it snowballs to a win. I have found wins with Quest Hunter against it, but that typically requires them to draw poorly and me to draw well. However, if you make it to the late-game against the Priest, you will win. The other tough matchup can be Control Warrior; it wins by using Warpath to clear a very sticky board and then playing buffed up taunts. With the nerf, it is more of a 50% winrate because rarely is Dr. Boom, Mad Genius able to impact the game because there are no turns where the Quest Hunter leaves nothing on board that is threatening. Keep in mind that to beat the Quest Hunter you must play around Unleash the Hounds and Sea Giant, both of which are incredibly powerful and will swing the match in the Quest Hunter's favor. This deck is not common, but it certainly takes wins by surprising you when you are expecting its polar opposite in Highlander Hunter. Plan accordingly once the quest is played and you can find ways to beat it.
I hope you have enjoyed this week's edition of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Tune in next week for another 3 competitive decks of each archetype.
Have you encountered these decks or played them? Tell us about your experiences and share your thoughts below!
If you believe a deck should be featured: please comment below or feel free to DM me and I'll take a look!