A Sunstrider in Bloom

Last updated 5 months ago by
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Update 7/6

I'm still enjoying this deck and took it to Diamond 2 a number of times last season, but I could never quite make it over the hump to Legend.

After many many games, I found myself wanting some more answers for aggro as well as more draw to offset the pain of a bad curve.  As a result, I think the strongest version of this deck would...

Personally, I had the most fun removing both copies of Resizing Pouch and Kindling Elemental and replacing them with 2 copies of Claw Machine + Bloodmage Thalnos and Fordring.

However, I just uploaded the version I'm currently running which again spurns the Felmaws (too similar to face hunter) and focuses more on draw.  I took this to D10 in a couple days this season and it felt better than running Claw Machine.  Here's the explanation:

Subract:

  • 2x Resizing Pouch
    • I was sad to cut this (finally) useful pouch, but in the end I preferred getting to my strategy quicker than having the flexibility to change strategies late.  Again, you could replace only 1 copy of this (or none) and swap out Serpentbloom instead.
          
  • 1x Kindling Elemental
    • Drawing Kindling late really hurts, but a Turn 7 Primordial Protector (or T6 w/ coin) is worth it in my experience.  We could get away with running only 1 copy if only we had enough draw...

Add:

  • Sphere of Sapience 
    • Directly counters the game killer that can be drawing multiple 10-cost cards early while ensuring there's a Nagrand Slam for Primordial Protector to find later.
    • General strategy is to keep everything 5-mana or less and save your replacements for things you really don't want.  
         
  • Bloodmage Thalnos
    • An early body we don't mind dying for the draw alone.
    • However, its upside over say Loot Hoarder is that when drawn late it can actually become part of your win condition when combo'd with cards like Quick Shot and Wound Prey (and possibly something like Arcane Shot via Wandmaker).  
         
  • Taelan Fordring
    • Provides draw, but also a much-needed taunt for the likes of Doomhammer and Face Hunter.
    • Also negates the negative effect of putting Yogg-Saron, Master of Fate at the bottom of your deck via Sphere of Sapience.  And if you draw Yogg naturally then it'll grab you Primordial Protector right around when you'll be wanting to play him.

Hello Hunters,

With the introduction of the Wailing Caverns mini-set, our favorite Kael'thas Sunstrider + Nagrand Slam combo is back on the menu!

After some early failures (see "Potential Replacements" at the bottom of this guide), I've settled on this build as it provides a nice mix of combo enablers + early game survival + alternate win conditions.

I used this exact list for the majority of my climb to Diamond 5 this month, but the stretch from D10 - D5 was a grind so I'd view this deck as more of a fun alternative rather than your primary ladder climber.  However, if you really want to climb, you can improve your winrate by adding 2 copies of Imprisoned Felmaw and subtracting your choice of Serpentbloom, Resizing Pouch, Archdruid Naralex, or (1 copy of) Kindling Elemental.

Deck's Strengths
Deck's Weaknesses
  • Wide board removal when the targets have ~3 health or higher
  • Susceptible to aggro (Face Hunter) and midgame burst (Shaman, Demon Hunter, Paladin) if we don't draw our answers early
    • No healing outside of a Kazakus Golem
    • No taunts outside of the 2/2 Demon Companion or a Kazakus Golem
  • Card draw - we have some value generators to offset this, but without a way to consistently cycle we can get stuck with multiple 7-mana or higher cards early and run out of resources to survive until then
    • Tracking and Barak Kodobane are our only early draws with Primordial Protector thinning the deck a bit in the late game. 
    • A Kazakus Golem can also generate draw, but there's usually a more pressing need when building it. 
    • It's also true that Quick Shot has the potential to generate a card, but this has rarely happened in my experience because there are 6 cards that cost 7-mana or more so it's tough to be completely empty.  
Breakdown of the Kael'thas Combo

We need Kael'thas Sunstrider + Nagrand Slam in hand alongside two cheap spell activators...

O-mana spells

1-mana spells

You can get Carrion Studies via Wandmaker and then discover Helboar with Carrion Studies.  In this case Helboar will be reduced to 0-mana and it opens up combo possibilities with Serpentbloom.  However, this is pretty rare so I won't cover it further.

Turn 7

  • Coin + Nightmare (on Kael'thas if the board is empty)
  • Coin + Serpentbloom if you have a beast that survives from the previous turn

Turn 8

  • Nightmare  + Serpentbloom (requires a beast surviving)
  • Coin + any spell 1-mana or less

Turn 9

  • Wound Prey + Serpentbloom 
  • Adorable Infestation (via Wandmaker) + Serpentbloom
  • Coin + any spell 2-mana or less
Remaining Card Synergies

Serpentbloom combos nicely with Wound Prey, Tame Beast (Rank 1) and Kolkar Pack Runner for on-demand removal

Demon Companion combos nicely with Kolkar Pack Runner when you get the 1/2 that gives +1 attack

Resizing Pouch combos great with Kolkar Pack Runner as early as Turn 3 because it can guarantee a Serpentbloom.  After T3 you just need to do some math to be sure you only have 1-mana remaining if you want the bloom.  Otherwise, the Pouch comes in handy as a late game re-fill as the minion pools get pretty small starting on Turn 7.

Tracking can find your missing combo pieces, but Mankrik's wife is another common target.  

Kindling Elemental was included so that you can get Primordial Protector out on Turn 7 (or 6 with coin) as this can really swing a game in your favor.  This combo also guarantees that you'll have Nagrand Slam in hand for a Turn 8 combo if you save the coin.

Wandmaker has no bad outcomes as they all synergize with Kolkar Pack Runner and we have a lot of cheap spells to generate value from Lock and Load

Archdruid Naralex

  • Nightmare can be a combo activator, help with removal by turning a 1/1 rush beast into a 5/5, can provide finisher damage, or can provide removal of a big enemy if you first freeze it using your Kazakus Golem
  • Dream can also be a combo activator but otherwise helps you deal with big buffed minions (e.g. Paladin) or a taunt minion blocking you from lethal
  • Ysera Awakens grants us our only wide board clear option which can be super helpful
  • Otherwise we'll get some efficient hand refill via Emerald Drake (great on curve) and Laughing Sister

Mankrik generates our only 3-mana spell which works super well with Barak Kodobane.  However, we can also draw his wife via Tracking and Primordial Protector (if we've already drawn both Nagrand Slams).

Kazakus, Golem Shaper is a wonderfully versatle card that patches some holes in our deck while also synergizing with some of our existing pieces

  • Can provide much needed taunts, lifesteal, card draw, and board clears
  • Can buff wide boards generated by Kolkar Pack Runner for finisher damage
  • Can provide spell damage to combo with Quick Shot and Wound Prey (and occasionally spells from Wandmaker)
  • The 10-mana minion with stealth can become a win condition all on its own (especially when you summon 2 copies)
Mulligan + Match-up Tips

I'm not a great player by any means so don't treat this as gospel, but rather food-for-thought. 

In general, my mulligan philosophy is to search for great cards instead of settling for good cards.  As a result, I'll often mulligan Demon Companion and Kindling Elemental if I don't have my primary targets as I prefer a chance at getting those over a guaranteed on-curve opener.  However, there are obviously exceptions to this rule depending on the opponent's likely archetype, whether I'm going 1st or 2nd, the combination of cards I get, etc.

Primary Mulligan Targets

  • Wandmaker - pro-active Turn 2 body that almost always generates a useful spell to combo with later
  • Mankrik - decent body to play on curve and sets up a powerful swing turn from Tracking on T4 or Barak Kodobane on T5

You want these in every match-up, but the rest are situational depending on your opponent...

Hunter - Almost always Face Hunter

  • I'll keep Wound Prey for their opener and Kolkar Pack Runner to re-gain the board in the Turn 3-5 range
  • General game plan is to just remove everything they play and try to get them to waste damage spells like Quick Shot on your early minions like Mankrik
  • Be careful about leaving 1-health minions on the board starting on Turn 4 (Piercing Shot) and especially after Turn 5 (Trampling Rhino)
  • A 5/5 golem with Lifesteal that either does 3 damage to 2 enemies or summons a copy of itself is super useful here.  Otherwise two 5/5 golems with taunt can help a lot.
  • You'll either win or lose around Turn 7 when they'll start running out of resources and you'll start developing big stuff on the board

Shaman - Aggro Shammy has given me more trouble, but Elemental Shammy may be more popular

  • I'll keep Kolkar Pack Runner and Quick Shot in addition to our staples (Wandmaker + Mankrik)
  • Similar gameplan to Hunter - deleting their board/preventing any and all face damage is our top priority
  • Otherwise we want to develop annoying minions like Mankrik's wife that make them waste resources (e.g. if you make it to Turn 7 feel free to drop Kael'thas as he typically acts as a soft taunt)
  • I try to save a Serpentbloom for a dangerous midgame target like Inara Stormcrash, Lilypad Lurker, or a buffed Arid Stormer
  • A taunt golem can save you against Aggro Shammy's weapon/hero damage and you can try to hold onto a Demon Companion for the chance at a 2/2 with taunt, but they'll usually have low-health removal at the ready
  • Similar to Hunter, we win by exhausting their resources by the midgame as they still don't have a lot of draw

Demon Hunter - typically face Deathrattle DH which I find to be a harder match-up than Big DH

  • I look exclusively for Wandmaker and Mankrik here and if I have Mankrik I'll keep Barak Kodobane as well
  • I haven't found a great strategy for DR DH so I should probably make a thread on the site asking for advice
  • When I've tried removing minions on Turn 2/3 in the hopes that they haven't drawn qualifying minions to get pulled from hand yet, it always seems to backfire and I just face wave after wave of annoying DR baddies
  • As a result, I typically just ignore the early board and go face these days.  Obviously this allows them to make their preferred trades, but it doesn't let them go face with increasingly bigger minions without having to wait another turn.
  • I'll hold onto a Serpentbloom combo (via Wound Prey, Kolkar Pack Runner, or Tame Beast) for a bigger target in the mid or late game (e.g. Al'ar, the Death Speaker Blackthorn combo, Illidari Inquisitor or Big DH's big minions).
  • We win by going face and then getting finishing damage from our swing turn cards like the Kael'thas combo and Primordial Protector

Druid - I've faced an even mix of Spell/Token Druid and Primordial Druid

  • I stick with our primary mulligan targets,
  • Our strategy against both decks is to develop as fast as possible (e.g. Demon Companion on Turn 1) and push face damage - goal of this is to end the game early if possible, but otherwise force them to play spells before they can get maximum value from them
    • If you're facing Spell Druid then you also want to take favorable trades whenever possible to eliminate buff targets while keeping your minions in play
    • If you're facing Primordial Druid then avoid trades and go face while Hero Powering as much as possible.  Save your damage spells like Quick Shot for a finisher once they recover tempo and have a wall of taunts
  • Want to save Kolkar for as long as possible because both decks have big swing turns where we'll want to poison multiple hyenas to clear
  • Be mindful of your minion positioning in preparation for Lake Thresher
  • Archdruid Naralex can be clutch in this match-up both for developing the board early and for wide board removal against Spell Druid + single target return to hand against Primordial Druid
  • We win by playing on curve and working in Hero Powers whenever we can't play a minion (saving spell damage for face at the end)

Warrior - mainly face Rush Warrior although I have seen some Control Warrior

  • I stick with the 2 primary mulligan targets but will also keep Quick Shot for Rush Warrior as several key cards have 3-health (e.g. Parade Leader, Playmaker, and Rokara)
  • Otherwise I play this match-up similar to Druid - try to develop early and push face damage as both Rush Warrior and Control Warrior can recover the board later.
    • Saving your poison for bigger threats is also important here which makes having Quick Shot for the early game even more valuable. 
    • Against Control Warrior in particular we're playing as the tempo deck because they have more removal and stalling/armor than us.  If it gets to the super late game you'll probably need to start praying to Yogg for a win condition.
  • Some Rush Warriors are playing Mutanus the Devourer so it can be a good idea to hold onto a cheap minion starting on Turn 7 if you have one of your big minions like Kael'thas, Protector, or Yogg in hand. 
    • In particular, I'll keep Kindling Elemental in hand as it doesn't offer much offense and losing one of your swing cards can really screw up your plans.
  • We win by putting in chip damage across a number of turns before they can stablize and then finishing with Hero Power + Spells

Paladin - I've seen a mix of all 3 archetypes but thankfully they play similarly 

  • I look for our primary targets + Kolkar Pack Runner and often Wound Prey
  • General strategy is to try to control the board and not leave minions up that can be buffed by spells/secrets
  • Typically try to save cheap spells for a big Kolkar turn so that I can both test for secrets + deal with the consequences of activating them on the same turn
  • You'll typically need a lot of poison for these matches so it's not too risky to draw it pre-emptively via Resizing Pouch if you're going to float mana
  • Dream via Naralex can be a game changer vs Libram Pally
  • We win by exhausting their resources and then dropping Protector/Nagrand Slam

Mage - have mostly seen the No Minion version, but the advice is similar for Spell Damage and Freeze Mage

  • I look strictly for Wandmaker and Mankrik in this match-up
  • Our goal is to develop minions and push face damage via Hero Power - they have more burst than us so we need to get damage in early while they're still fishing for spells
    • A side benefit of say playing Demon Companion on Turn 1 => Wandmaker on T2 => Mankrik on T3 => Kazakus on T4 => Golem/Barak on T5 is that they'll feel forced to use some of their spell damage on preventing us from snowballing which also protects our face from what they really want to do
  • While we want to develop threats on the board early, be careful of your positioning/going too wide as Combustion can really help them stabilize.  As a result, I try to play 1 minion + Hero Power as much as possible.
    • The reverse of this is also true in the late game - once you're in range of Mask of C'Thun it can be worth it to develop a wide board via Kolkar Pack Runner in an attempt to protect your face
  • Have a poison card saved for some of the bigger midgame targets like Ras Frostwhisper, Aegwynn, the Guardian, or the 5-mana minion from Apexis Blast
  • We win by pushing face damage and having them waste spells on our small minions

Warlock - almost always face Control Warlock

  • I look for the 2 primary targets, although I'd consider keeping Kazakus, Golem Shaper if I got him
  • Our strategy is similar to Mage - develop minions on curve, ignore their minions and go face, Hero Power whenever possible.
  • We win by constantly developing threats before they get their big clears and healing up and running.
  • This is a match-up where the Kael'thas Sunstrider combo can be clutch so it's worth saving pieces for it and they don't have a lot of midrange targets worthy of your poison anyway.

Priest - I've seen a mix of Control, Menagerie and Corrupt Priest but they all play pretty similar

  • Another match-up where I stick with the 2 primary mulligan targets
  • Our gameplan is also similar to Mage/Warlock - we're playing as the tempo deck and want to push out minions/face damage whenever possible to exhaust their removals and healing
  • The Kael'thas combo and the Primordial Protector combo are also really important in this match-up
  • However, we need to keep the board fairly clear too as there's always the possibility that they can stabilize via Apotheosis
    • Dream can come in handy here along with a 1/1 poisonous hyena
  • This is also a match-up where we need to be careful of Mutanus the Devourer in the late game so holding onto a copy of Kindling Elemental is advised once you're in range
  • If you get to the late game, don't be discouraged by all of their board clear and healing options.  Just keep putting on pressure and hope that they haven't randomly discovered a 3rd or 4th Soul Mirror.
    • Given the possibility of a long game, I'll try to hold onto Resizing Pouch so I can get a big minion to keep up pressure around Turns 8 - 10.
  • We win by pushing damage early or praying to Yogg late

Rogue - haven't seen many, but it's usually the miracle list and not the secret list

  • I stick with the 2 primary mulligan targets for this one
  • They can pull off a lot of swing turns in the mid-late game so I typically ignore what they're doing and push face damage so they don't feel safe trying to bounce Jandice Barov on Turn 6 for example 
  • We win by going face before they can cycle through their deck and get all the combo pieces they want
Potential Replacements

An earlier version went all-out trying to pull off the combo so I ran the following:

These cards replaced Demon Companion, Kindling Elemental, Wandmaker, Archdruid Naralex, Mankrik, Kazakus, Golem Shaper, Barak Kodobane, and Primordial Protector

Another version replaced Kindling Elemental + Primordial Protector with Scavenger's Ingenuity + Jungle Panther to set up the combo a turn earlier via a stealthed beast.

And yet another version sacrificed some of the combo's redundancy in favor of more value.  In particular, I swapped out Serpentbloom (i.e relied solely on Resizing Pouch for poison) for Venomous Scorpid but found there was too much removal for 3-health minions minons for it to be worth it for the extra spell alone.  However, I did find success replacing Scorpid with Imprisoned Felmaw which I mentioned as a competitive possibility at the start of the guide.

Alterations I'm currently considering:

  • Adding Adorable Infestation in place of Demon Companion as this would provide another Turn 9 combo option by buffing Kael'thas and then giving the 1/1 beast poisonous. 
    • However, getting a little bit of face damage/removal from the 2/1 with charge is nice and getting the +1 attack from the 1/2 has helped with board clears via Kolkar and sometimes provides lethal when I have a wide board.
  • Ace Hunter Kreen has always been appealing given the potential to save a poisonous rush beast for another turn, but I haven't tried it yet.

Phew, this turned into a super long guide!  Thanks for reading and feel free to leave questions and suggestions below!  Until next time...

Happy Hunting!

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Card Changelog (Click to View)
Update #3

Card changes 5 months ago (Stormwind Pre-Order)


Update #2

Card changes 6 months ago (Wailing Caverns)


Update #1

Card changes 6 months ago (Wailing Caverns)


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Comments

  • anchorm4n's Avatar Snow-Covered 1630 1716 Posts Joined 03/13/2019
    Posted 6 months ago

    Nice one! Gonna try this out as soon as I can, I love me some Kael'thas decks :)

    1
    • RangDipkin's Avatar Rexxar 335 135 Posts Joined 05/30/2019
      Posted 6 months ago
      Quote From anchorm4n

      Nice one! Gonna try this out as soon as I can, I love me some Kael'thas decks :)

      Thanks for giving it a shot!  :D

      Would definitely be interested to hear what tweaks work best for folks.  I'm currently questioning running 2 copies of both Serpentbloom and Resizing Pouch and have had a mixed experience with Archdruid Naralex (although the refill is nice given Hunter's struggles with draw).

      0
  • Pezman's Avatar Pirate King 1815 1575 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
    Posted 6 months ago

    I love this idea! Pulling off the combo as early as turn 8 is super cool, but realistically that won't happen often. How about adding a Primordial Protector? This can give us significant board presence on turn 8, and ensure Nagrand Slam is in hand for the combo later on.

    2
    • RangDipkin's Avatar Rexxar 335 135 Posts Joined 05/30/2019
      Posted 6 months ago
      Quote From Pezman

      I love this idea! Pulling off the combo as early as turn 8 is super cool, but realistically that won't happen often. How about adding a Primordial Protector? This can give us significant board presence on turn 8, and ensure Nagrand Slam is in hand for the combo later on.

      Thanks for checking out the deck!

      I made some significant changes to the build to survive the early game better while retaining the T8 combo, but I think you're right that the most viable version of this will abandon that completely in favor of a more reliable T9 swing turn.

      To accomplish this, I really like the suggestion of running Protector!  So far I've played 5 games running the current list but swapping out Scavenger's Ingenuity + Jungle Panther for Kindling Elemental + Primordial Protector and have been really enjoying it :D

      0

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