[Updated on August 8]
The first 24 hours after the launch of the newest expansion were pretty eventful, with dozens upon dozens of fresh decklists available for pretty much every class. Admittedly, some of them enjoyed far greater popularity than the others - a trend we have only noticed becoming stronger over the past few days that followed.
As Day 1 established the early Castle Nathria meta, we've seen some further refinement of the promising decks, and perhaps even more attempts to counter the dreadful imps or exploding skeletons. Naturally, things could still take a different turn even by the end of this first week, but there are a few rough directions to follow.
Since then, we've been continuously monitoring for all relevant updated decklists, and will continue to do so by adding more as they come up. In this new Celestial ranked season, the following options should deserve your due attention.
Murder at Castle Nathria - Notable Early Standard Decklists
By now, we are privy to some initial data via HSReplay, plus the ladder experiences of numerous top players. There is some of the usual serious analysis being done (just don't expect everyone to agree on any single take). Numerous calls for early nerfs always appear at the start of any expansion, yet a number of people would be just as happy to hear about buffs. Make no mistake, however - in general, the early impressions of the set land very much on the positive side.
As for the very early meta facts: Demon Hunters and Warriors are struggling to maintain even a 40% winrate overall, with Rogue not faring that much better (high skill cap?) despite no shortage of recordings showing huge stealthed minions or daggers with Attack value at double digits. There isn't a whole lot of appreciation for Paladin or Priest either. Expect the class sections for some of these to be notably thin.
You can find some inspiration for your ladder climbing below, ideally aligning with your current collection. As always, we advise you don't commit too heavily to crafting all the cards you don't own at the moment - the present meta landscape might shift again after the weekend! Especially if you are playing on a budget, it might be wise to hold on until the first balance patch. When would that be? As it happens, we actually talked about this already.
No standard balance changes are coming with 24.0. We are planning to patch as soon as we can after the new set is out, which is ~2 weeks.
It's been really barren and not looking too promising for the class after the Day 1 interest has faded away. It's like there was nothing more to add.
We've only just seen one new idea floating around, hailing from the stream of resident class expert and talented singer DracoCatt (with the deck being navigated by PigPen; full list below). Will some buffs still be required to take any further steps towards establishing a solid archetype, or is it only a matter of finding the right (relic) combinations? Or perhaps just waiting for the targeted nerfs to happen across the field.
As Lady Prestor builds quickly started fading away with the new set, Celestial Alignment remained. Cue much lamentation from many a player. The other builds rely more on the good ol' "Ramp and Big Stuff" strategy, with the Nature spell school focus due to Topior the Shrubbagazzor (a name clearly used just to make our lives more difficult).
Prince Renathal seems to be a staple nowadays, and more people are starting to embrace Theotar, the Mad Duke. We hear your Sire Denathrius is free to be borrowed for a dinner party. Otherwise the Infuse mechanic plus tutors plus tokens (and perhaps one Brann Bronzebeard with his pal Kael'thas Sinstrider) can be a downright deadly combo to have to face against.
Good time to hunt down some suspects. One of the top classes this early on, with a number of viable routes. Nope, Questline Hunter did not go away after all. Big Beasts remain (Zeddy also hit Legend with the list from HattriK that you can find below), and the midrange Face approach has been revitalized. The Wildseed package appears in pretty much every archetype.
Sidisi took a different creative direction by embracing Sire Denathrius and some Infuse cards. If that looks tempting to you, we can recommend a very detailed Twitter thread going into the mulligan, gameplay, and matchup commentary.
One of the most popular classes following the launch of Murder at Castle Nathria, and still holding its ground. It's all mainly built around the newest Volatile Skeleton package. Since the good takes have been established almost immediately, there haven't been any particular great shifts.
While the community cannot quite decide whether to actually call the archetype Skeleton Mage or Spooky Mage (we kind of like to alternate), there isn't nearly as much doubt when it comes to the most successful early decklists. Vicious Syndicate's ZachO has confirmed Meati's version (shown below) not to be bait, which is always very good to know.
There wasn't a great interest in Paladin on Day 1, and that hasn't really changed. A few stalwart players are doing their thing, the rest is pretending the class more or less doesn't exist.
A lot of the gameplay here remains fairly familiar and reliable; perhaps because of this also not particularly exciting. The early hopes for a full blown killer Questline/Dude Paladin haven't manifested so far.
A ton of interest in the class on the launch day hasn't translated into any greater momentum. In fact, players seem to have dropped most Priest variants as soon as they could. If variety is your desire, then the Day 1 decks are still your best bet.
What remains is the Elwynn Boar Priest a.k.a. same-as-always (no, really, no new cards to be found in here), and perhaps the only thing that can carry the class for now - Nagas and their Serpent Wigs. According to HSReplay's data, it's actually overperforming as the meta contender with nearly 60% winrate.
Off Curve navigator and devoted Priest follower WickedGood came up with a list that Dcon most recently piloted to Top 10 Legend. Murder at Castle Nathria might've delivered just the right tools that the deck was previously lacking (whenever it couldn't snowball off early buffs and board presence).
More recently, the likes of Thijs and Bunnyhoppor have been seen dabbling in larger Quest/Thief packages.
Obligatory 'high skill cap' warning. Or at least that's the line we always hear whenever a deck that's supposed to be strong-yet-complicated to navigate (especially when racing against the clock on certain turns) presents less-than-stellar winrate. Thus far, Miracle(-s) aren't happening often enough. But you are still bound to see some reports of crazy minion stats or Attack values.
As expected, nobody seems to be particularly interested in the Secret package. Beyond that, there just isn't much more left. A handful of players are still trying and sometimes even getting decent results (Jesse Alexander revisited that Questline concept, where Door of Shadows seemingly belongs). Furyhunter doesn't even think the deck he used is any good (fun matters!), but when did that ever stop him from climbing.
Lots of options at our disposal, the class seems to be in good standing.
Evolve shenanigans came back once again, trying to break the meta - supposedly in a 'less toxic' fashion than what we might recall from the past. Various Control variants can't complain either, often relying on that small Murloc package with a dash of new evolve cards sprinkled in. Primordial Wave occasionally becomes just a single copy inclusion, with Theotar, the Mad Duke enjoying even greater recognition.
Habugabu's greedy version (as shown below) apparently paid off for another player. And yes, there is a Murloc Holmes in there. I don't know about yours, but my copy has been dusted for the time being. Serves him well for crashing our games, it's a crime that cannot be so easily forgiven.
The undisputable Imp King Rafaam of the early Murder at Castle Nathria meta, and the prime candidate for the first round of nerfs. Hearthstone's most renowned (?) original villain can enjoy his current superiority. Apparently Imps were the key, even though technically they aren't being considered a (new) tribe. And yet, we are going to get a way to search for the relevant imp-ish subset cards in our Collection Manager.
Many of the successful lists have already been found on Day 1 (Shady Bartender certainly had to wait for this moment), so instead we saw some more creative mixing and matching in the recent days. You can always count on Ike in that regard.
As it begins, so it ends. So far nothing new, really. Only the ideas that've already been shared before.
How are your own very early impressions of the meta and the Castle Nathria expansion in general? Anything that's been working for you in particular, maybe there's something we're still sleeping on? Let us know in the comments!