Welcome to Budget or Fudge It, the new Hearthstone article series where we use our superior sleuthing skills (and the internet) to sniff out (fairly) competitive decks and ask: can we make it budget-friendly, or is that too much of a stretch? Our first test faces us against one of Stormwind's Questlines, the legendary spells that make up the backbone of Hearthstone's newest expansion. Many players opened at least one of these little gems, but may not have had the chance to play with it because Questline decks tend to be rather pricy.

We'll be featuring the other Questlines in future installments, but this week we're focusing on a Questline that has had a moderate amount of success both on the ladder and in competitive play. We'll look at a deck that cheaply puts a viable shell around it and ask the immortal question (that we definitely didn't come up with ourselves): Budget, or Fudge It?

The Final Showdown

Final Showdown Card Image

Europe fans rejoiced when Demon Hunter's first Quest debuted near the top of the charts as the newest enabler for good ol' Il'gynoth OTK, doing so well that it got the deck's namesake Demon nerfed fairly quickly. Despite the nerf, Grandmasters still see fit to include Il'gynoth OTK in their lineups (as evidenced by the most recent weekend).

Unfortunately, we won't be dissecting OTK Demon Hunter in this article, as the deck is entirely reliant upon a second Legendary for its win condition (hardly what we'd call budget-friendly). However, we didn't invoke the idea of Grandmasters in vain. The deck we will be looking at has seen success in several Grandmasters' lineups, most notably as part of DreadEye's recent Americas-winning lineup.

Most of this deck is exactly what the budget player needs: Rare and Common cards forming a solid shell of synergy that takes advantage of Demon Hunter's ample card draw and Final Showdown's Cost reduction to get cheap Brutes into play early, then use the tempo to overwhelm its opponent. 

Our biggest obstacle to making this deck more budget-friendly is a pair of Epics vital to its gameplan: Felosophy and Lion's Frenzy (Kayn is also here). How closely can we replicate their effects with cheaper cards? The only way to find out will be to transition to the next section.

The Next Section

Pretty spiffy, huh?

We'll start with the card that is, effectively, the deck's secondary win condition: Lion's Frenzy. Our budget options don't include weapons that can gain as much Attack as the Big Cat, but we do have a few tools that might get close. We could look to replace it with another weapon, like Aldrachi Warblades or Marrowslicer, or stack Attack on our Hero with Relentless Pursuit. Marrowslicer seems like the best choice: it's our most aggressive weapon, and the Soul Fragments synergize with the Quest while also giving us extra Health for stability against aggro.

Lion's Frenzy Card ImageMarrowslicer Card Image

Our replacement for Kayn Sunfury is painless: we'll just swap in Royal Librarian, who can do a similar job of wiping away (one) Taunt. We'll also use its Tradeable to complete the Questline.

Kayn Sunfury Card ImageRoyal Librarian Card Image

(They're the same picture.)

Felosophy is where things get trickier. Its ability to copy Brutes is one-of-a-kind, and essential to dropping multiple big bodies on board before our opponent can deal with them. But if there's no way of replacing it, can we instead add in more ways to find it? The deck already runs Illidari Studies, the most reliable way to find extra copies of Felosophy, but we can get even more chances of finding Felosophy by adding one of a stable of Discover minions (Pandaren Importer, Entrapped Sorceress, Venomous Scorpid). We could even cut out the middle man entirely and run Netherwalker - fun fact: its hit rate for Irebound Brute (1 out of 24 Demons) is only slightly worse than the chance of Pandaren Importer finding Felosophy (1 out of 22 spells). It looks like our best chance at replacing/Discovering Felosophy comes in the form of a tiny Pandaren entrepreneur.

Felosophy Card ImagePandaren Importer Card Image

After careful consideration, our budget version of Brute Demon Hunter looks like this:

The Verdict

While the original deck gets very close to being budget-friendly (give or take one Kayn), we were able to find replacements for its most expensive cards and deliver a deck that can do a passable imitation of the original. However, our deck's inability to reliably find Felosophy (a very important card for the deck) stifles its ability to make power plays. If you have some of those expensive cards (particularly the Epics) in your collection, you're in a good position to take the deck for a spin. If not, you're going to have to fudge it.

Do you have any ideas for improving the "fudged" version of the deck? Did we overlook some good budget cards? Share your thoughts in the comments!