At this point, we find ourselves not far away from approaching a full month spent within these watery depths of Constructed Hearthstone, and in many ways there's been no shortage of novelties. Which is what we expected - or even wished for - from the "triple punch" metagame shake-up that followed with the arrival of the refreshed Core Set, Standard rotation, and another new expansion.
For anyone keeping track, it might be evident that many of the currently popular decks have more or less formed as soon as Day 1, or crystalized within the week that followed. After all, we've got the evidence:
Since then, we've also seen a more recent minor patch bringing the initial set of balance changes for the overperforming suspects; including some older cards with Kazakusan and Raid the Docks - but many people believe that actually wasn't quite enough (ahem, Drek'Thar & friends).
Are we going to see another immediate follow-up on this once the first major Patch 23.2 rolls out by May 10? We actually do not know, as it happens. It's possible, yet we could also be stuck with the known status quo for a little while longer.
What we do know is how every class has been roughly performing, both on ladder and on the competitive tournament scene (between the big Masters Tour and stacked Orange Open, the inventions from professional players continued). And yes - if you've been sometimes feeling as if 50% of the field comprised of Aggro Demon Hunter and Control Warrior, that's probably not too far off from the actual reality. HSReplay has also shared some of their stats on a handful of the top contenders.
If you'd like to learn about an even more focused approach towards targeting specific decks that made it onto your "now it's personal" black list, we've decided to explore the idea of counter picks in more detail:
For what it's worth, that's far from a full story as to what's being played across higher ranks. Let us take you on an updated voyage through the well known and the lesser known picks, so you can see for yourselves. This time around, the class sections and their decklists will be sorted by the overall presumed power level and popularity rather than just the alphabetical order. Only, do keep in mind it's not all exact science:
Okay, so while this indeed happens to be also the first placement on the Hearthstone class alphabet, there is a good reason for aggressive Demon Hunter becoming public enemy number one - even with the likes of Control Warrior (or Paladin) trying to keep it in check. The impressive win streaks still somehow happen. And it's not like most of us could've seen it coming; the class' prospects didn't look so hot during the prediction phase.
The most popular variant (with way too many #1 Legend posts to count) tends to settle for a balanced approach between a single copy of Rustrot Viper and Bone Glaive, but you could easily find decks running doubles, or even going so far as to cut the latter. Far less common, but an occasional Battlefiend or Wings of Hate (Rank 1) can sneak their way in as well. Setting up larger Honorable Kills with Dreadprison Glaive (and Multi-Strike) - rather than just equipping it as soon as possible only to hit your opponent in the face for 1 extra damage - can be quite a difference maker for one's overall winrate.
Sorry, Jace Darkweaver and greedier Fel/Naga builds, currently just not your time to shine.
Well, this is already where we have enough justification to break up our alphabetical following. Control Warrior can go the distance, with reworked Kazakusan now more closely resembling the late game finisher/anti-fatigue strategies of one Archivist Elysiana. Except the treasures tend to be *slightly* more powerful on average for true game ending potential.
The regular build remains relatively unchanged, however in the Demon Hunter infested meta there's been the temptation to run more board clears (such as another copy of Rancor over one Amalgam of the Deep). Greedier builds might involve a Gorloc Ravager, while others enjoy slotting in Captain Galvangar or Mr. Smite for more burst. Perhaps even a Rustrot Viper like Bunnyhoppor, or Smothering Starfish like Rase.
There was also a very peculiar build from Harapeco. Did you even realize that Frozen Buckler and Shield Shatter share a spell school that could be tutored through Herald of Lokholar? Who knew, eh. Plus a smaller Pirate/Charge package - try at your own risk.
Following another nerf to Raid the Docks, Pirate Warrior can still actually hold its own but isn't such a terror - more likely to be found and perform better at lower rank brackets.
Questline Hunter is where it's at. Holding up fairly well, even though it's not without its weaknesses. The deck would definitely like to fit in more than just 30 possible cards.
There isn't just one Standard build, although in most cases we are talking about 2-3 card differences. Candleshot tends to be very handy for hitting Dragonbane Shot breakpoints and lining up these Honorable Kills (a lot of 3 Health minions around). But Harpoon Gun also has its fans. Double Rustrot Viper comes as a result of Drek'Thar and running so very few minions, yet fitting in Rainbow Glowscale for more Barbed Nets triggers (and occasionally useful Spell Damage) remains reasonable. Then we have the question of whether to run 2 copies of Marked Shot, or if stacking more of Explosive Trap is warranted against aggressive decks. Even that is not all, seeing as some individuals swear by including Doggie Biscuit.
Last but not least, can always count on Jambre to come up with something else along these lines.
As for the rest of the pack, Face Hunter has been struggling like it rarely ever does, while any other builds stay unexplored or just plain fail to break through - but leave it to a handful of passionate followers (Sidisi goes very in-depth on his creation in that series of tweets) of the class to try to change this lacking status.
Whether it's to be considered 3rd or 4th in terms of power level might be debatable, but one thing is beyond clear: no more cheesing out Kazakusan with ramp almost immediately at the start of the game. Now there are a lot more hoops to go through, even if the class still has it far easier than others on the account of the sheer power of Wildheart Guff alone.
And wouldn't you know it, more than just one variant of Ramp Druid exists (Druid of the Reef and another Spammy Arcanist signify paying more attention towards stopping certain aggressive decks). Perhaps the dragon focus isn't even necessary? Celestial Alignment also refuses to fully go away (if you keep running into Boar Priests, rejoice). Lastly, we've heard rumors of a special Vanndar Stormpike-fueled list over from the Chinese community.
Lost in the Park Druid still doesn't look worth recommending, that poor neglected other Guff. But for anti-ramp fans who prefer going wide on board, there might be some renewed hope with the more familiar Taunt package including an old favorite in Tar Creeper.
There is more than enough life here, and it's not all mechanical. The Control and Heal aspects are always handy when aggressive decks are prevalent. The various lists, once again, might differ from one another ever so slightly, but remain quite similar to their early versions.
As Naga Mage surges in popularity, we currently find ourselves in the middle of a heated discussion as to which of the two variants should be considered superior. The data and the experiences of many players seem to have been pointing towards the Wildfire option, although the Ignite build has found its stalwart defenders with such fine experts as Orange or Habugabu. Pick your side or try both if the class appeals to you and you've got the cards.
Mech Mage? It still exists, but not such a common sight anymore.
Burn Shaman isn't quite the same potent deck as it was just a couple months ago. Losing Lightning Bloom and other overload synergy has made a notable dent. The bright hopes from the early days of the Sunken City meta were quickly dashed. And yet, it continues to fight on.
Bioluminescence requires a decent amount of setup and board control in order to unleash its impressive potential (double digits Lightning Bolt does sound juicy), which isn't something many decks are willing to afford you.
Is Chain Lightning (Rank 1) a better alternative to Maelstrom Portal as long as Aggro Demon Hunter reigns supreme? It doesn't scale nearly as well with Spell Damage, but starts off stronger for its base version. Cookie the Cook has been one of the more recent additions (as Radiance of Azshara often underperforms), while Far Sight offers interesting implications. Luckily, we've got at least one resident Shaman mixologist at work (Florist, huh).
Battlecry Shaman, on the other hand, has been sinking beneath the waves even further. It's fairly rare that any news of its potential success happen to reach us.
Pirate Rogue (there just isn't anything else from the class making rounds within the scene) is in a bit of a pickle. Aggro Demon Hunters running rampant don't really allow it to try much greedier lists; as such, it often becomes a struggle for survival. The deck certainly looks a lot weaker than it used to at the beginning of this expansion.
So far this month, there haven't really been any relevant success stories when it comes to ladder climbing; the class has been faring a little better in tournaments, but then being able to ban something that's problematic for you goes a long way.
Relying on more defensive options such as SI:7 Extortion or Backstab could be worth some consideration, although what might be better against Demon Hunter is at the same time often worse against the likes of Control Warrior. No fun.
Elwynn Boar is a genuine item nowadays, and takes grave offense if you happen to question its prowess. Enter Priest for your newest "high skill cap" experience. And who better to kick off the new craze than the master of peculiar decks xBlyzes himself?
Expect to mess up quite a bit if you just try to pick it up without any training (sort of, but not quite, like it was the case with D6 Warlock or Garrote Rogue). That is, if you even believe all the praise and the rumors - perhaps your heart belongs in the other camp, which passionately attempts to debunk such promising Boar myths.
Whether it's only ever good in the hands of a top tier player or just the ultimate bait in a boar disguise - remains to be seen. For the time being, expect to stumble into quite a few variants of the main list that have been propagating since the big news.
Rightfully hovering near the bottom? Warlock has been struggling to find any solid foothold for a while now. That Murloc power somehow not manifesting...
There's actually been one recent development, with Monsanto possibly starting a small chain reaction with a creative base list. A couple of notable players took and ran with it, adding a few tweaks here and there. This is how we ended up with another "#1 Legend" fashionable claim from Meati (with the Alignment Druid earning the honor beforehand). Yet if you know anything about Meati, then you perhaps know to take these reports with a grain of salt. At least sometimes. So more than a bait or just luck?
But hey, at least we got this amusing interaction out of the whole deal. A number of players still swear by having fun with the deck and iterate on the list as they go, so if you believe that might be your kind of thing... it's not like the class has much else of note going on.
As you can see, quite a few classes enjoy a greater deal of valid options, and the metagame doesn't seem to have been entirely solved. There is still room for experimentation in there, the Year of the Hydra feels fresh! But it is more than a little unfortunate if a certain deck/card or two keep holding everyone back by being a clear power outlier.
How about your own experiences, be it ladder climbing or otherwise? Anything else out there that could warrant an inclusion?