After the first week of the Tombs Of Terror event, here’s what the metagame looks like in the Conquest Best Of 3 format. The data analyzed here comes exclusively from Hearthstone Masters Qualifiers Arlington 16-30. You will see that the cards that have been brought back from Wild are having an impact, some of them more than others. Flamewaker and N’zoth, for example, had been overhyped, whlie Evolve and Ragnaros are making bigger waves.
Here are, in our opinion, the 30 most interesting combinations of decks we’ve seen this week. The qualifier winners were invited to share tips about their lineup, and some of them did. We understand that the players who are currently in Bucharest want to keep every bit of information to themselves. You can click on the titles to find the 3 decks codes directly on yaytears.com.
I saw that the most popular top 8 archetypes of the first qualifiers of this week were Combo Priest, Evolve Shaman and Tempo Rogue, and also realized that there weren’t a lot of Control Warriors, so I chose an aggro line up. I decided to ban Shaman and target Combo Priest. In a couple of rounds I faced players with Control/Mecha’thun Warriors and that was my ban in those cases. Since it was on Asia server and I don’t have a lot of cards there, I played a second Lightning Bolt instead of Vessina in Shaman and second Cruel Taskmaster instead of Grommash in Warrior.
I took Maxxe’s lineup minus the Drud because I think that it’s targetable (by Priest, notably). So I kept his Shaman and his Priest, and I went with Highlander Paladin, because I believe in its power level, above other Highlander decks.
I have done a video with the meaning fo my lineup since i have a youtube channel called Zio Maruth, but is full italian. My point of view about this initial meta was that the Shaman is god tier for me, so i want a lineup that ban him ( second choice ban Control Warrior) and try to counter 2 good decks that every player probably brings in his lineup, Combo priest and Quest Druid, since my Tempo Rogue and Tempo Warrior are pretty good in contesting first round of Priests and Priest never wins without his board. My Quest Shaman was hard teched vs Priest and is a sort of Control Quest Shaman since I play Plague of Murlocs and double Scoundrel but a lot of games he was banned. The power of my Tempo Rogue and Warrior also were the possibility to play aggro vs greedy decks like Nzoth decks, Sap is very powerful tempo play vs Karthut and slow taunts and I play a Spellbreaker in my Tempo Warrior
I built this lineup because I saw the meta in the tournament had a lot of aggo lineups such as Aggro Rogue, Combo Priest, Aggro Evole Shaman, etc. So my target is aggro deck. My deck is a little bit counter aggro, for example in the Mage deck, you will see Ooze, Bone Wraith and a lot of defensive cards. Most of deck that I ban in tournamnet is Quest Druid, Highlander Hunter and Holy Wrath Paladin.
So first of all my highlander decks were a little bit budget since i don’t have that much dust on NA. Otherwise i would have played Houndmaster Shaw in the Hunter deck and Grommash in the Warrior deck. My main target was Combo Priest which worked out perfectly the entire cup. That’s why I played Wing Blast and Desert Spear in the Hunter, super strong against Priest. Tempo Rogue with double Sap is extremely favoured against Combo Priest and the Warrior is also decent against it and overall a really underrated deck right now and in my opinion way better that the classic Aggro Warrior. So talking about the ban strategy i’ts kinda difficult. The ban is pretty flexible and really depending on the opponents lineup. I think in general you can say Shaman is the main ban with this deck. That’s what i did almost all of the first rounds where I faced a lot of aggro lineups. Even though Tempo Rogue and Highlander Hunter have a decent chance at beating it here and there. In the later rounds i faced a lot of control lineups with and without Shaman. Control Warrior was always my main ban when they had it in there lineup since all of my decks are unfavoured against it. Druid is also not a good matchup for my decks but there are really not that many and it’s beatable with a good starting hand.
Hey everyone! I’mlulnenko, and in the past two months I have hit #23 and #3 legend in wild using Quest Shaman. My current build features two copies of Coldlight Oracle, giving the deck the somewhat misleading name of “Quest Mill Shaman.” This guide will focus on my current build, which has been featured in multiple major meta reports and deck aggregators.
Quest Shaman is a difficult archetype to play due to the extreme diversity of possible game plans and the high amount of random card generation. Quest Shaman offers value, aggression, and mill, requiring players to constantly assess their situation to maximize their chances of winning. In this guide, I will highlight card choices, mulligans, and a few of my own game replays.
In this section, I’ll write the bulk of my guide, as I think it makes more sense to explain the intended synergies between cards and the strategies created by my card inclusions than it does to try explaining every possible matchup and game state.
Corrupt the Waters is the main build around card for Quest Shaman, for obvious reasons. This quest is fairly easy to complete without making many sacrifices in the early game (excluding, notably, a card in the mulligan). Compared to a deck like Evolve Shaman, Quest Shaman has less explosive starts, but matches up considerably better against control decks due to the value generated by the completed quest in combination with cards like Sludge Slurper, Zola the Gorgon, and Barista Lynchen.
Evolve is a great tempo bomb tool. In combination with Doppelgangster or Mogu Fleshshaper, Evolve provides a way to end games quickly in many matchups. Using Evolve in a less optimal situation, like with an EVIL Cable Rat and one lackey on board, is often also very strong tempo in situations where you may have otherwise fallen behind.
Glacial Shard allows you to freeze an opponent’s big minions until you can close out the game. Glacial Shard’s low cost, in combination with the abundant methods of bouncing and copying minions, allows players to easily freeze out their opponents while furthering their own game plan.
Sludge Slurper is a key tool for completing the quest, and provides quadruple value after quest completion because lackey battlecries and Slurper’s own battlecries are all doubled. Additionally, Sludge Slurper provides draw targets for Ice Fishing.
Devolve is a blatantly overpowered card in a wide variety of matchups. Most notably, magnetized mechs will lose all buffs when devolved, allowing this card to single handedly destroy Mech Paladins and Mech Hunters. Devolve is also strong against deathrattles, taunts, Odd Paladin’s silver hand recruits (to prevent them from being buffed), and any overstatted minions such as Flamewreathed Faceless. However, Devolve should not be considered a counter to SN1P-SN4P Warlock (at least not by itself), as Target Dummy allows Warlock players to create large mechs that cannot be devolved.
EVIL Cable Rat is a key tool for completing the quest, and provides quadruple value after quest completion because lackey battlecries and EVIL Cable Rat’s own battlecries are all doubled.
Ice Fishing: 2 mana draw 2 cards. If you are not already sold, note that it will usually draw at least one Sludge Slurper, which is a strong card in every matchup and at any point in the game.
Novice Engineer is a decent way to draw 2 cards cheaply after quest completion, and can be played before quest completion if necessary. Its low stats make it a suboptimal play in many situations, which is why I only run a single copy.
Questing Explorer is a fantastic card before quest completion and a pretty terrible one after. Regardless, this card is definitely worth running due to its strength in the early game and because you will often have enough value in your hand that drawing this late will not significantly hinder you.
Sandstorm Elemental is a strong tempo play against aggressive decks (and sometimes others). It pairs nicely with Devolve.
Bog Slosher can be used to help complete the quest early or make a variety of strong plays. When the quest is complete, Slosher gives huge stat buffs, which is particularly useful in combination with cheap minions like Lackeys, Glacial Shard, and Mogu Fleshshaper.
Coldlight Oracle is in this deck to make the copy of Ice Fishing look less silly. In all seriousness, this card is by far the hardest inclusion to explain and almost certainly the one that most readers skipped to. It is worth noting that this deck DOES NOT run any cards that allow for an anti-fatigue gameplan, meaning that playing Coldlight Oracle to kill an opponent in fatigue will only work if the opponent has drawn more cards than you have. It is also worth pointing out that hero power + 2 copies of Coldlight Oracle will make both players draw 8 cards, meaning that this “combo” is nearly guaranteed to destroy many cards in the opponent’s deck. The primary purposes for Coldlight Oracle are milling opponents’ combo pieces, milling cards against any warlock deck (because warlocks will generally draw faster than shamans), milling cards against priests who have already played Psychic Scream (because this will allow you to fatigue the priest), killing mages who have played Aluneth (which is hilarious), and desperately drawing in situations where doing so is deemed necessary.
Zola the Gorgon is one of the best value generators available to shaman due to its cheap cost and strong synergy with quest completion. Compared to Bog Slosher, Zola is often a bit weaker before completing the quest, but after quest completion she gives double copies of minions allowing for freeze gameplans in combination with Glacial Shard, board swings in combination with Mogu Fleshshaper, and many other strong plays.
Lifedrinker benefits greatly from quest completion and offers both healing and burst in the form of a fairly cheap minion that also buffs Shudderwock.
Barista Lynchen is a “greedy card” in the sense that she is a bit slower than most of the inclusions in this deck. She is a passable tempo play in the early game and a phenomenal amount or resource generation in the late game if needed. In slow matchups, pairing Barista with EVIL Cable Rat, Sludge Slurper, or multiple copies of Kobold Lackey is often ideal.
Doppelgangster pairs well with Evolve and/or Mogu Fleshshaper as a huge tempo play and has fantastic synergy with Shudderwock. Returning one Doppelgangster to hand with Bog Slosher lets you create a board full of buffed Doppelgangsters. Playing Doppelgangster early, when possible, is also often a good play even without Evolve, as it’s a decent tempo play and makes your future Shudderwock into a huge tempo bomb.
Mogu Fleshshaper, even without any synergies, is one of the strongest cards in Hearthstone. Seriously. Mogu allows for massive board swings vs aggressive decks and massively boosts Evolve turns. Mogu also has strong synergies with Doppelgangster, Bog Slosher (cheap 7/8 rush, anyone?), and Zola the Gorgon (2 cheap 3/4 rushes that can be Evolved into 8 mana minions), making it a no-brainer inclusion.
Shudderwock does all sorts of cool nonsense. He’ll often be played as a big tempo bomb, due to the Doppelgangster, Glacial Shard, Lifedrinker, and lackey battlecries he will replay. Additionally, Zola, Barista, and Bog Slosher battlecries will often add followup Shudderwocks to hand, and the battlecries of both lackey generators and lackeys will fill your hand with (mostly) useful cards. In some situations, Shudderwock can use Coldlight Oracle’s battlecry to kill the opponent (or you, if I am being honest) in fatigue.
Card Exclusions (and Possible Substitutions)
Earth Shock, Hex, or Plague of Murlocs can be used to significantly improve the SN1P-SN4P Warlock matchup. Devolve would be fine alone, except that strong Warlock players know to stack their magnetized threats onto Target Dummy, which is a 0 mana minion and thus cannot be devolved. Earth Shock and Hex can be used on the same turn as Devolve as a way to deal with Target Dummy (so, in a sense, they are anti-tech card tech cards). Plague of Murlocs can be used against a full board, but will often need followup such as Sandstorm Elemental to deal with the resulting murlocs. Strongly consider running these cards in some combination if you plan to play at high legend.
Eater of Secrets is a passable, but totally unnecessary mage hate card. My September decklist, which hit #23 Legend, ran two copies of Eater of Secrets, but my winrate against mage actually improved significantly after removing Eater of Secrets in favor of the Coldlight Oracle package. Only run this card if you REALLY hate Secret Mage.
Baleful Banker, Archivist Elysiana, Body Wrapper etc. could be added if you specifically want to go all in on the “mill” part of this decks game plan and win in fatigue. In my experience, these seem unnecessary.
Loatheb is just a generally strong card and should be a decent inclusion if you can find space to run a 5 mana 5/5.
Jade Cards can be used to build a different Quest Shaman list, but don’t fit in this one without removing too many strong cards.
Mind Control Tech is a reasonable choice if you want to gain a lot of points in various Shaman matchups, but is unlikely to be particularly helpful elsewhere.
Other cards can certainly be experimented with as well! Quest Shaman excels at several different game plans, so you could probably fit a wide variety of cards into this deck if you would like.
Making the proper mulligans in Wild can be difficult, because there is a wide variety of deck archetypes available to every class. For the purpose of this guide, I will assume that the most common matchups are the matchups I most commonly experienced from ranks 4 to Legend #3 in October and from ranks 7 to Legend #23 in September. For skilled players, it may be more beneficial to know my reasoning behind certain mulligan decisions than to know exactly what choice I would make. Here are the general mulligan principles I would suggest, although there is room to experiment.
Always keep Corrupt the Waters. You could make a case for throwing it back against Paladin in an attempt to draw Devolve, but I would not recommend doing so.
General Mulligan: Keep Sludge Slurper, EVIL Cable Rat, Ice Fishing, and Questing Explorer almost all the time. Keep 2 copies of any of these. Don’t keep Ice Fishing if you also keep 2 Sludge Slurpers because Coldlight Oracle is usually weak in the early game.
vs Druid: Assume Star Aligner Druid, use General Mulligan.
vs Hunter: Assume Mech Hunter, use General Mulligan but also keep Devolve.
vs Mage: Assume Secret Mage or Reno Mage, use General Mulligan either way.
vs Paladin: Assume Mech Paladin or Odd Paladin, use General Mulligan but also keep Devolve and Sandstorm Elemental. If you are certain it is Mech Paladin, don’t keep Sandstorm Elemental. If you are certain it is Odd Paladin, also keep Mogu Fleshshaper. If keeping Mogu Fleshshaper, consider keeping Evolve.
vs Priest: Assume Reno Priest, use General Mulligan.
vs Rogue: Assume Odd Rogue, use General Mulligan but also keep Sandstorm Elemental. The main purpose of Sandstorm Elemental in this matchup is to kill the common Rogue opener of any 1 mana pirate which pulls Patches the Pirate.
vs Shaman: Assume Even Shaman or Questless Evolve Shaman, use General Mulligan but also keep Mogu Fleshshaper and Evolve if you have both. If you are certain it is some Control Shaman (any deck as slow or slower than the one you are currently reading a guide for), do not keep Mogu Fleshshaper or Evolve.
vs Warlock: Assume SN1P-SN4P Warlock or Reno Warlock. Use General Mulligan, but also keep Devolve. If you are certain it is SN1P-SN4P Warlock, keep Bog Slosher if you already have any of the minions mentioned in the General Mulligan.
vs Warrior: Assume (Taunt) Quest Warrior. Use General Mulligan, but also keep Devolve.
A common mistake is keeping Novice Engineer. While she isn’t a totally horrible turn 2, there are always several cards you would rather have.
In this game, my opponent does not have a particularly explosive opening hand, opting to keep Aluneth in an attempt to kill me with burn damage. However, this allows me to take control of the early board using lackeys and kill my opponent using fatigue damage.
This game shows how Shaman is able to simultaneously out-tempo and out-value control decks like Reno Mage. The tempo gained by lackeys and Evolve allows me to play Barista Lynchen, setting me significantly ahead of my opponent in resources even if my board is cleared.
In this game I am able to repeatedly stall, push chip damage, and answer any threats played by a Reno Mage who has an early Frost Lich Jaina. Pushing chip damage allows me to set up a surprise lethal using Coldlight Oracle to draw my opponent into fatigue.
Here, Archbishop Benedictus denies me any game plan using Coldlight Oracle to kill my opponent in fatigue. Additionally, my Shudderwock board is easily dealt with and my Shudderwock makes no extra copies of himself in my hand. Regardless, I am still able to continually pressure Reno Priest with near endless threats.
While Devolve is not able to answer Target Dummy, Glacial Shard can stall the Dummy for a very long time. Here I use Glacial Shard to stall until I am able to kill my opponent using fatigue from Coldlight Oracle.
We are only one week into the qualifying season for Masters Tour Arlington and the Hearthstone metagame is already going to change drastically tomorrow witht he addition of 23 cards from wild sets. Next week we will produce a complete meta report with the usual data analysis, but for now, let’s just take a look at the winning lineups. Four of the players who have earned their seat in Arlington have also accepted to share insights into how they have approached the Conquest Best Of 3 format.
For a good overall view of the Conquest metagame, we recommend taking a look at 샹하이‘s famous infografics.
Overall deck archetype popularity (graphic by WickedGood):
I just bring the lineup I’m most comfortable with. Combo Priest is insane, Druid is decent, and I played a lot of Holy Wrath Paladin (climb from 2000 to 50 Legend) so I just bring it. This lineup is pretty weak to Control Warrior so the ban strategy is Control warrior > Combo Priest (because of its power level) > others. This lineup is good against Quest Shaman and lots of people bring it in the first few qualifiers.
My strategy is to target Quest Shaman and Combo Priest, and ban Control Warrior > Hunters > Druids in that order. Playing those 3 decks (warrior, hunter, druid) doesn’t make sense, because those decks accomplish different goals, so I always ended with 1 clear ban (and no problem winning with HW Paladin, which is ok vs Priest and Quest Shaman) and good match ups if they have Quest Shaman or Priest. Any antipriest aggroish lineup is also good for me since Hunter and Warrior are very good vs those as well. People believe that Midrange Hunter is unfavorite vs Priest, but I stongly disagree, got about 350 games with Midrange Hunter on ladder (mostly in Legend) and since i updated my version with Hench Steeds (2/1 Rush guys) i am 28-15 vs Priest, I think i won every game vs Priest with Hunter in tournament as wel. I think people mulligan really bad with that Hunter. 1 drops into Hyena, or Timberwolf into Rushes helps a lot early and you almost never lose mid late as a Hunter vs Priest, And it destroys Shamans with proper mulligan as well 57-12 vs them, it feels like deck is built to destroy Shaman, new weapon, Hyena and early minions help you win board and keep pushing damage while clearing and not overextending. Also played some removals like Brawl, Execute and Warpaths in Zephrys Warrior to help vs Shaman and Priest, deck felt really strong. And HW Paladin was nice because it is good vs those main two decks as well, as I said people never play Hunter, Warrior and Druid in the same lineup because it is counter intuitive.
From the start I wanted to figure out a lineup that performed well against popular lineups, so I collected the lineups of everyone in previous cups who made Top 8 and then compared those lineups to ladder stats from HSReplay. It became very apparent that Highlander Warrior and Aggro Overload Shaman (specifically the Jambre version) performed quite well against that field, due mainly to favorable matchups vs Combo Priest and Quest Druid. The 3rd deck was harder, but eventually I figured out that Highlander Paladin had pretty solid matchups across the board. The specific lists were all netdecked. I used the standard Jambre Shaman list. I copied Fr0zen’s Paladin list because he’s smart and hit day 1 legend with it, so why not? I was going to use my own list for Highlander Warrior since I was one of the early advocates for that archetype, but I saw a list that Navi00t played in an earlier cup and liked it, so I decided to try it out for myself. Game plans are pretty simple. For both Highlander decks, you want to curve out well. The more you know about what Zephrys will give you in different situations, the better you’ll do with those decks. I struggled with the Shaman at first, but once I figured out that it was a combo deck rather than an aggro deck, I performed much better. Control Warrior is an auto-ban, and you’ll usually want to ban Highlander Warrior as well. Outside of those decks, the bans become trickier as there aren’t a lot of massive unfavorables for the lineup. I usually ended up banning Quest Shaman, Rogue, or Zoo Warlock. The lineup’s primary targets are Combo Priest and Quest Druid, so leave those up. Against Combo Priest, clear their board aggressively and ignore their life total at first. Once you’re faced with an empty board, then push damage and try to kill them before they can reload with Bwonsamdi. Against Quest Druid, mulligan for a good curve and push face as aggressively as you can. The longer the game goes, the more it favors the Druid, so you want to finish them off early before they can build any momentum.
My lineup targets Combo Priest and usually i ban Control Warrior or the most control deck from my oponent. All my decks are super good against Priest so after picks and bans i choose the best deck against the second deck (if my oponent has Priest). Actually that was my first quali with this line, but after studing the 8 first top8 I saw how Priest was popular and how Aggro Warrior was good against it, so I changed Zoo for Warrior.
Masters Tour Seoul was not the only Hearthstone tournament in the Specialist format this past weekend, there were also 15 Bucharest Qualifiers, where the metagame is far less conservative! Here’s all the stats from both Masters Tour and Masters Qualifiers this week.
We said last week that we were wishing for some clarity around which mage archetype was best for Specialist, and apparently our wish is the new meta. While the weekend started off with Masters Tour Seoul players evenly split among Cyclone, Conjurer and Highlander, as that tournament wore on, Highlander proved to be the most successful archetype, and Bucharest qualifier players took notice. Highlander eclipsed the other mage archetypes by nearly 4:1, and it’s fair to say the deck is shaping the post-Uldum meta. As we discussed last week, the deck is extremely versatile and extremely hard to beat if it can play Luna’s Pocket Galaxy on curve. In a world where Warrior was the best deck, that became a natural choice.
That said, if Mage is the new terror of the meta, then the new counter appears to be Highlander Hunter, which was the best performing deck in qualifiers, and took RNGLys to the top 4 of Seoul. We noted the deck starting to emerge last week, but as the power of Mage became apparent, the combination of consistent face damage and secrets for disrupting Mage’s early turns proved powerful (not to mention a charging 8/8 on turn 7), and it turned out that there wasn’t as much of a tradeoff in terms of consistency when building around a Secret Hunter shell. While this is effective against Mage, it’s also favored against most of the other meta decks, particularly Combo Priest, since one Freezing Trap or early Rat Trap can ruin their entire game plan. This meta continues to evolve, so counters in terms of deck selection or secondary deck adjustments could bring Highlander Hunter down to Earth, but for now, Brann is where the action is.
We pointed out the power of Combo Priest in last week’s meta report, and the decline of Warrior has only helped it, resulting in an eye-popping 60% win rate at Masters Tour Seoul through Swiss. It’s not all sunshine and roses for Anduin, as Highlander Hunter is a worse matchup for Combo Priest than Control Warrior. The biggest thing holding Combo Priest back may well be the number of decision points required to navigate a game successfully, but players willing to put the time in to learn the deck may find themselves rewarded.
In terms of the next tier of decks, this is where we find Control Warrior after a fairly sudden fall from grace. The rise of Mage has not been kind to it, since Pocket Galaxy can generate a flurry of value all at once that Warrior can struggle to cope with. It could rebound with tweaks, but this week it was brought in nearly the same numbers as Highlander Mage but saw considerably fewer players qualify for Bucharest or even reach top 8 of qualifiers. (Note: Since last week we’ve consolidated Warriors running the Armagedillo package or not into one Control Warrior archetype, since there’s no significant difference between the two archetypes.)
Rogue has taken a step back as well. We’ve redefined the archetypes into Burgle and Tempo (the former runs Vendetta, the latter does not, and neither runs Bazaar Burglary, because that is captured as Quest Rogue). In qualifiers, Tempo had a higher win rate than Burgle in Swiss but lower in Top 8, and vice versa. It’s unclear which approach is better at the moment (though it’s worth noting that Tempo has better win rates against Highlander Mage and Highlander Hunter), but either is capable of winning a qualifier in the current meta.
It’s also worth mentioning that Aggro Shaman and Midrange Hunter are still around and are still taking the occasional qualifier. Both decks hover at around a 45% win rate in Swiss, but the players who reached top 8 had a fairly high rate of qualification, so players with a lot of practice on these archetypes could find success. Aggro Shaman in particular is worth watching because of its favorable matchup against Highlander Hunter, so that could be a sneaky deck selection should Highlander Hunter increase further in representation.
Zoo Warlock also took a surprise qualifier toward the end of the weekend, and could be a consideration if Control Warrior drops in representation, given its good matchups against Highlander Hunter and Combo Priest. Its poor matchup against Highlander Mage is currently a liability given the number of freezes available to the Mage, but if that deck comes down to Earth and players are scared off of Control Warrior, Zoo could become a reasonable pick to try to counter the meta.
Of the decks to reach top 8 but not qualify, most of what we discussed last week continues to hold. The one deck in that group worth taking notice of is Bomb Warrior, which Magoho piloted to top 4 of Masters Tour Seoul. Taking a more proactive approach may continue to be the way to go in Specialist (as opposed to Ladder, where Control Warrior was the better approach going back even before Saviors of Uldum), and there may be a new reason to play the deck given that shuffling multiple bombs into the opponent’s deck turns off Zephrys, Brann and Reno. Bombs also punish decks that want to draw heavily like Combo Priest. Bomb Warrior had slightly unfavorable win rates against both highlander decks this past week, but given that the deck has reasonable matchups against the field, there may be an opportunity to improve those matchups in sideboarding.
Fifteen Open Cups have happened since the release of the Saviors of Uldum, and they have set the metagame in which the players will be submitting their lineups for Masters Tour Seoul this Friday. This report analyses the data (4108 Hearthstone games) from these 15 official Qualifier tournaments, and nothing else. All the data below is about the Specialist format, not ladder.
We’re now one week removed from the release of Saviors of Uldum, and already we’re seeing some fairly serious shifts in the Specialist meta. The top three classes (Rogue, Warrior and Mage) are still at the top, but the individual decks that are performing the best for these classes has changed significantly, and the next tier down has seen some major shifts. If we see changes to the powerful cards in Mage and Warrior, the Specialist meta could blow wide open, but for now there are enough new decks to discuss.
The unquestioned winner of Week 5 was Tempo Rogue, which finds success without Spirit of the Shark for the first time since Raiding Party was nerfed. Interestingly, the only Uldum cards any of these lists add is Pharoah Cat for early card generation, but the shift of Warrior from Bomb to Control makes the Myra’s Unstable Element/Chef Nomi package more viable than constant value generation from Spirit of the Shark. Warrior does a lot of things well, but dealing with consecutive wide boards isn’t one of them. That said, the strength of this matchup declined as the week progressed, presumably because Warriors adjusted their secondary decks accordingly, so this will be a dynamic to watch going into Masters Tour Seoul. Tempo Rogue is also strong against all the other prevalent decks in the meta except Highlander Mage, so how the Mage distribution settles out will determine Tempo Rogue’s fate as well. (Of note was a single Hooktusk Rogue that also won a qualifier, so this approach may be worth looking at going forward as well.)
Armagedillo and Frightened Flunky have been enough to tip Warrior toward full control, and it’s a formula that’s extremely difficult for a good chunk of the meta to handle. Control Warrior may not be the most successful deck in the meta, but it’s easily the most popular (14% of all decks brought, and 100 more than the next most popular) so it’s responsible for shaping the meta. If you want to progress in a tournament you need to have a deck that can rush down or outvalue Control Warrior. So far, the only decks that have managed to do that consistently are various flavors of Mage and Combo Priest; Control Warrior is favored or strongly favored against nearly every other deck with significant representation.
Mage is undoubtedly strong, but which flavor of the deck is best to bring to a tournament is still being decided. The successful Mages brought to qualifiers this week break out fairly evenly between Cyclone Mage, Highlander Mage, and Conjurer Mage (which we’re currently defining as any deck running Conjurer’s Calling with duplicates, but without the Mana Cyclone package, which is inclusive of Freeze Mage and Big Spell Mage). Cyclone Mage started the weekend as the most prevalent but gave way to a split between Conjurer and Highlander as the weekend drew on, which probably means that Cyclone was brought to prey on the unrefined decks featuring new cards while the newer approaches were being tested, as well as the fact that Cyclone Mage has an even matchup against Control Warrior, while both Highlander Mage and Conjurer Mage are heavily favored (71% and 67%, respectively). As far as matchups go, both have good spreads against the field, while Highlander is better against Rogue, and Conjurer is better against the other Mages. It will likely take seeing both decks perform at Masters Tour Seoul to settle which is the Mage for Specialist going forward.
The newcomer making a splash this week is Combo Priest, with a new set of tools including Psychopomp, High Priest Amet, and Injured Tol’vir. While the sample size is naturally limited, it had positive win rates against every meta relevant deck except for Tempo Rogue and Midrange Hunter, and notably had a 56% win rate against Control Warrior and positive win rates against all three flavors of Mage. The play style presents multiple waves of must-remove sticky minions, which has always been the weakness of Warrior, while also benefiting from a lack of practice against the deck given how new it is.
Another new entry is Tempo Warrior, which uses self-damage effects like Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster in Conjunction with new card Bloodsworn Mercenary, which copies damaged minions, and weapon damage. This is a deck that can get off to an extremely fast start, sometimes presenting a 3/3 and two 5/1 Reborn minions on turn 3, and can also save the Mercenaries for large burst damage finishes by copying Inner Raged Kork’ron Elites or Leeroy. While it has a miserable 19% win rate against Warrior, the speed of the deck and burst from hand help it tremendously against Mage and Rogue, evading freezes and often getting its gameplan finished while its opponent is just starting to get set up. If Control Warrior gets targeted successfully or there are significant nerfs to cards in that deck, Tempo Warrior could well be the way of the future.
Highlander Hunter was a niche bring for a small number of intrepid adventurers, and had half as many top 8 entrants and won as many qualifiers (one, to be exact) as the more popular Midrange Variant despite only 20% as many players bringing the deck. It’s hard to say from the small sample sizes we have if this experiment is worth continuing, but given it advanced through a qualifier it’s notable and worth watching for now.
Finally, several decks from the prior meta are still viable enough to win qualifiers with minor changes. Aggro Shaman, like Tempo Warrior, continues to win along the “burn them down before they can play the game” vector. The deck isn’t significantly different than the Rise of Shadows version, but speed can kill. Midrange Hunter only introduces Desert Spear instead of Headhunter’s Hatchet, and performed well despite a considerably worse matchup against Control Warrior than it had against Bomb Warrior in the last meta. Shark Rogue exists as before, and only introduces Pharoah Cat for slightly more early game.
The tier of decks that reached top 8 but did not qualify this week is mostly made up of Rise of Shadows decks, sometimes with some card changes. We’ve spoken at length about Bomb Hunter, Bomb Warrior, Mech Paladin, Murloc Shaman, Secret Hunter and Zoo Warlock in past meta reports, so we’ll suffice to list them here but not discuss further; should one of these decks win a qualifier (or perform well at Masters Tour Seoul) we’ll revisit them at that point.
Two new decks showing initial positive results both feature their classes’ respective quests. Quest Druid showed some signs of life, and both lists that reached top 8 went with a heavy draw approach, featuring Chef Nomi as a finisher. The deck has some potential, but bad matchups against Warrior, Mage and Combo Priest mean that the deck likely needs further refinement. Similarly, Quest Rogue saw some signs of life, but given bad matchups against Warrior and Conjurer Mage that we can see from the small sample size, prospective Rogue players may want to consider dropping the quest for Chef Nomi instead.
Meta Defining Decks
Control Warrior (with taunt package)
Below are 26 of the most interesting loneups played this week. You can click on the deck title to get deck codes from Yaytears. Huge thanks to the players who have accepted to share tips about their decks despite the secrecy surrounding the preparation for Masters Tour Seoul. You can click on their name to find their Twitter profile and see what else they are up to.
When the new set dropped I hadn’t bought any cards on the Asia server as I’m primarily on NA so with only Tempo Rogue built I had to find a way to adapt to the new meta. I failed miserably in a cup with Quest Rogue and immediately scrapped it, then I saw a couple Rogue lists that featured Chef Nomi and I was instantly inspired to use it in the next cup. The list is fairly standard as far as a Rogue list but I wanted a bit of a more aggressive deck so I added Poisons, Deckhands, and Eviscerate but after a few test games I realized I really missed Sap and ended up cutting 1 of the Evis to put the Sap back in. Myra’s is incredibly powerful even if you whiff Nomi and I think I was underestimating it in the last meta. The secondary deck is for Warriors, it’s pretty standard but I want to say that I think Drakes are incredibly powerful in that matchup and Zihi almost never got played but the idea of him is still strong. The tertiary deck is for Mages and it’s just the staple techs and I think its very effective in the matchup and didn’t see a need to change it. In the cup I played 2 Warriors, 2 Midrange Hunters, 1 Mech Hunter and 1 Tempo Rogue (r1 bye) with a game score of 14-3.
So you use the secondary deck for Warrior and the tertiary for Mage and Priest. Since no one runs weapon removal atm, i really liked these aggressive lists with Waggle Pick and Deadly Poison. Pharaoh Cat is exactly the card which Rogue was missing, because you have a turn 1 play and you have about 30% to get a random reborn card from another class for Underbelly Fence or Vendetta. Later on it is a Combo activator and gives you also value. The last card which I want to point out is Nomi. It single handedly wins you games vs Control Warrior, which is besides Mage the most popular deck right now. I even keep Myra’s in the mulligan, if i play the primary and face Control Warrior. If i would change a card from the lists, it would probably be Harrison Jones from the Secondary Deck, because most Warriors only run Super Collidor and no Weapons Project. I would run Jepetto instead, because it enables you an earlier Toggwaggle or Nomi! 🙂
Strategy: It’s a Tempo style Rogue deck, so keep the pressure up. Know how much damage you can deal, and what card you have to save up, in order to achieve the quickest lethal. (E.g. when to use Shadowstep/Waggle Pick charge, and when not to). With the Burgle mechanics, this Tempo Rogue should have a lot of flexibility, value and tempo at the same time. One of the highroll potential of this deck is T6 Myra’s into Chef Nomi Shadowsteps. Most classes do not have answers for a Nomi turn or at least it is costly for most of them and can ensure you an easy win. The perfect curve is, Turn 1 Pharaoh Cat (getting a non-rogue class card) into Turn 2 Underbelly Fence and either Blink Fox, Backstab SI:7 Agent, Backstab Miscreant or even a big Edwin with free Vendettas. Mulligan: It is important to understand which card you need against which matchup. A very important factor is also if you have coin or not. Depending on it, you can choose to keep cards like Evil Miscreant and SI:7 Agent. Always think ahead in time, what will you do T1, T2, T3 and T4, and mulligan accordingly. Always keep Pharaoh Cat. Without coin I would definitely keep Blink Fox. Deck Build Up: One new and very good card is Pharaoh Cat. Rogue was missing a good 1 drop up until SoU. One of my tech choices were Hungry Crab, expecting more battlecry and overlord shamans. In hindsight, since there are not alot of shamans in tournaments, I would have swapped the 2 Hungry Crabs out for a Sap and Eviscerate. It was not too bad to have Hungry Crab as an activitator, but having Sap or Eviscerate to push more damage, would be better. Other than that, it’s a fairly standard non-shark tempo burgle rogue. Burgling keeps your hand from being empty, and cards like Vendetta and Underbelly Fence ensure you a high tempo. Why not Shark? Having a Shark in the deck would ensure great values, but thats not what I am necessarily looking for. What I am looking for is high tempo. Side Decks: 2nd deck is aimed at Warrior matchups. Toggwaggle’s Scheme ensures you to not fatigue and especially enables you to play “infinite Heistbaron Toggwaggles: Lackey, into Heistbaron Toggwaggle, Scheme the Heistbaron Toggwaggle and next turn play free Heistbaron Toggwaggles for even more value. Cable Rat gives you another Lackey, while Lifedrinker gives you some much needed healing and bonus face damage. You could consider to keep Leeroy in the deck and take one Lifedrinker out, to shuffle him instead of Heistbaron or to burst down your opponent. The third deck is a tech against Mage and the new “Buff Priest”. Not sure how to describe the new priest, but you need to remove any minions as soon as possible from that priest deck, otherwise it will be GG. Faery Dragon cannot be targeted and is hard to deal with as Mage. Walk the Plank and Betrayal is obviously great against Giants and buffed cards. For most other matchups pick the main deck.
I just want to advise people to play without Eternium Rovers. If you don’t run them you dont need to run draw cards because your cards have enough value. Also Plague of Wrath is good in every matchup and works with Boom’s deal 1 to all enemies hero power. Second list is anti-Mage 3rd anti-Warrior.
The lists could use some improvement, I just threw them together like 30mins before the cup haha. The secondary was for aggro decks like Murloc Paladin, Shaman, Zoo etc and i switched to it for the Combo Priest matchup as well, and the tertiary was of course for Warrior.
The deck gave me very good results in ladder so I decided to give it a try in the tournament, the list seems very good to make some changes, so I did not know what to change, I changed some cards that could help me generally, without affecting the essence of the deck, surprisingly Forbidden Words was very useful against Mage in the secondary deck, probably Topsy Turvy would be good too. Only used the primary deck, and vs Mage the secondary.
I have to be honest, I copied the list from Chobi, who took a top 8 with it in another Qualifer, and only changed a card in a side deck. Also, have to be honest I did not spend too much time to practice with it, I was pissed that I failed constantly with meta decks and I wanted to play something different… I tried on Europe a different version of the deck and feeled pretty nice. A big advantage of the deck was that most opponents had no clue how to play against Priest and won 2-3 rounds in swiss only because of this. In the short experience with the deck, Rogue feeled like a bad match-up, Control Warrior pretty good match-up, Reno Mage also pretty good, Conjurer Mage and Bomb Warrior feel like 50-50… but the biggest issue is the Priest deck is you depend of good staring hand, if you lose tempo it’s very hard to recover. I used primary deck against Conjurer Mage that was the top deck in the last week, secondary I used for almost everything that is not Conjurer Mage. Shadow Madness feeled a great way to steal some wins after you lose board. Tertiary did not used at all, but it was for Aggro Shaman basically.
It’s pretty much a standard Aggro Shaman deck as they get. I “decided” to play this old deck in the new meta, because it is literally the only deck I have on ASIA server 🙂 On the plus side, it is the deck I am most comfortably with, and I have noticed that there aren’t that many Warriors on ASIA. Secondary is for the Warriors but it felt useless, probably better to switch for some anti aggro tech. Tertiary great vs Mages, Faerie Dragon MVP, Unbound Elemental not so much. As for the matchups, hard mulligan for Underbelly Angler vs Warriors to have a chance to win. Against Mages go for murloc early game always and Frog is important. New Highlander Mages are harder than Cyclone. Rogues are tough, Murlocs are not so good here, Thunderhead is your best bet. Hunters are super easy from my experience. Vs Mech hunter you just control the board and snowball after that. On the other hand against Midrange its not so much about board, but more about getting chip damage early on and then swiching to full face at one point. Always play around Vicous Scalehide. I faced two Combo priests and both games were nailbiters, which I have won even though I had one of the worst draws ever seen, and they had the nuts. Just remove their board at all costs, even if it takes playing two Lightning bolts on buffed Cleric turn two and killing another non buffed cleric with Lava burst on turn 4 😀 Should be an easy matchup if you don’t draw terribly. That sums it up, and the most important thing with the deck I feel is counting damage over 2, 3 or even 4 turns for lethal with Frog draws included and cautious use of overload.
The decks is extremely offensive with strong starts like Rover/Town Crier, into another drop 2 and then still pushing with some drop 3 or buff some minions. Also this has really good rush minions and the weapon that helps a lot in the aggro matchup. For the mulligan, Rover/Town Crier always, also Temple Berserker is a really nice drop 2 to keep, Frothing is really nice too against slow matchups. Taskmaster is a good keep with Rover on 1, since you just play it on tempo and making 3/2 2/2 turn 2 is strong in the slowest matchups.
Well, main list is teched against Mage with double Deadly and Hunter’s Mark, which turned out well because half my opponents were Mages. Strategy here is complete smorc and remove their Giants. Secondary is vs Warriors, the goal is to extend the early pressure with bigger threats in the midgame, and eventually hit that huge 0 mana Rhino+Zuljin burst thanks to Scarlett Webweaver. Last one is for Rogue, I actually couldn’t test it because I didn’t faced any Rogues but I think it is far from optimal (I shouldn’t cut Desert Spear).
I’m starting with the overview of what was played in the previews cups. I’ve checked the cups and saw a lot of Mages and Warriors and some Druids and other stuff which is not worth to mention :D. So beating these 2 Decks was the key. So I’ve decided to play Rogue, like I did in the past. As you can see the primary deck is pretty normal besides Myra’s, Cat and Crab. Especially Cat helped me a lot in mirrors and some aggro decks. Crab was just a safety to have a higher % vs Shaman and Murloc Paladin, it ate once a 4/6 Taunt Murloc :D. And Myra’s is there to find the last damage you need to win the game or in rare cases to fill up your hand. The secondary deck ist to beat Mages. Worked out pretty well. Maybe i would fit in a Sap in my primary for that case. I was missing it vs some Reborn cards in Mage. And the last deck is especially to beat Warrior but specially for Control Warrior. Because it got more Popular in the last day. I just took Nomi and Scheme like i did in the past. I’m a huge Nomi fan :D. Scheme synergizes with Togwaggle and as well as a 3rd and 4th Step. It’s like you go Myra’s and hit maybe 1 Step and Scheme and then you’ll wait a turn and shuffle 2 Nomis in your deck. You can always bridge a turn after Myra’s cuz you have a lot of stuff to play. I would tech hard towards that matchup but I didn’t have the time to figure out what else I can put in 😀
Secret Hunter is a good deck against Mage and Priest. It’s weak for all aggro decks, anti-aggro customization is a must for the 2nd deck. Although I did some anti-Warrior customs on the 3rd deck, Hunter’s Pack is more powerful (vs Warrior) than I thought, so it’s good to use 2 Packs in the first deck and another build in the 3rd deck. The difference with the Highlander Hunter is that it lost the Warrior match win rate and regained the Rogue match win rate. Seven Secret cards are appropriate, and 2 Rat Traps are very good. 2 Snake Traps look good on the ladder, but I think the Highlander version is more competitive on the ladder. Good luck!
THE END IS COMING! The Specialist format is doomed as the Masters program will adopt a new version of Conquest. This is effective right now for Grandmasters and Battleriff will move on after their current season, but we do not know when it will be applied to Qualifiers. Until then, we will keep documenting the Specialist metagame for those who go agane.
The scope of the current report is Maters Qualifiers Bucharest 46-60, or week 4.
Shark Rogue holds the top spot firmly. It’s the most popular deck in the format and still has an impressive win rate. It also benefits from the lack of a hard counter in the meta. Bomb Warrior is much more polarizing but still top tier. Zhym’s list was a very popular (and successful) choice this week. Cyclone Mage has a lower win rate but is almost as popular so it counts as “meta defining”. Its play pattern is also unique, so it’s one of the decks that everyone sideboards against.
Bomb Hunter isn’t one of the most popular deck, and players don’t tech against it anymore. Its 60% win rate in top 8 brackets is unequaled. Midrange Hunter continues to be very popular despite mediocre performance, but it keeps some kind of balance in the top tier (Mage would probably be better than Rogue without it). Aggro/Token Shaman and Secret Hunter have also won Qualifiers. Their win rate suggests that they deserve more representation.
Control Warrior, Holy Wrath Paladin, Murloc Shaman and Token Druid are simply underwhelming. Mech Paladin has good potential but low representation. Flidow is the only player trying to make Deathrattle Rogue work, and he’s having honorable performance with it.
The top tier of qualifier decks seems pretty set at this point. Shark Rogue, Bomb Warrior and Cyclone Mage collectively account for over half of qualifier entries and 60% of decks that reach top 8. We’ve discussed the rock, paper, scissors dynamic of these three decks in detail in past weeks, and nothing short of new cards seems likely to disrupt that.
Shark Rogue is the highest representation of the top 3 decks, regularly accounting for 25% of players in any given qualifier, which translated into 14 of 36 qualifier winners with a 53% win rate. It’s got the smoothest matchup spread of the top 3 decks and a chance to rescue itself from any given match with randomly generated cards, so its continued success in a slow meta isn’t particularly surprising.
Cyclone Mage continues to be the direct counter to Bomb Warrior, and its matchup against Rogue is beginning to even out thanks to newer techs such as Half Time Scavenger, which allows it to develop a threat on board that allows it to gain armor and present a target for Conjurer’s Calling the following turn. (Being able to spam giants onto the board isn’t bad, either.) It performed extremely well in Grandmasters this weekend, but the 50% win rate overall and 48% in top 8 demonstrate that it is still a heavily skill testing deck.
Bomb Warrior continues to be a presence in qualifiers despite its polarizing matchups. The continued presence of Rogue is still making it a reasonable choice to bring, since 1 in 4 of Bomb Warrior’s matchups are favored and another 15% are mirrors. It’s unlikely to be going away any time soon.
Both Hunter decks underperformed this week, particularly Midrange Hunter, which had a 47% win rate overall and a miserable 29% showing in top 8 appearances. Bomb Hunter did better (52% overall, 63% in Top 8) but only saw 5 players reach top 8 out of 143. These decks will continue to hang around because they are relatively cheap to assemble for players playing off their primary server, but those with a full collection available should consider one of the top 3 over these decks.
Shaman surprised this week, with both Murloc and Aggro (overload/Doomhammer) Shamans qualifying. The two decks seem to have opposing matchup spreads; Murloc seems to have a decent Warrior matchup but struggles against Mage and Rogue, while Aggro loses to Warrior but beats the other two. Sample sizes are small, but this seems to be a development worth monitoring.
Pogo Rogue hopped into popularity thanks to Fr0zen bringing it to Grandmasters playoffs and only losing his semifinal match due to a default win due to a misqueue. Initial stats imply that it’s only good against Warrior and loses to Mage and Shark Rogue (which makes sense, since it’s designed to kill slow decks, and Shark Rogue can outrace it, and Mage can make big Giants while freezing the bunnies), but we’ll need a larger sample size to draw any conclusions.
As for other notable decks of past weeks, Control Warrior continues to lack any reason to play it over Bomb Warrior in terms of popular matchups, and Holy Wrath Paladin has similar struggles with its matchup spreads. Meanwhile, Mech Paladin, Party Rogue and Secret Hunter all over performed in Swiss overall (52-54% win rates) but failed to qualify despite one or two Top 8 appearances apiece. There could be some merit to experimenting with these decks, but at just over 50 appearances between the three decks combined, there isn’t enough of a sample size to say for sure.
We do not feature any player insights this week, partly because every archetype has already been discussed a lot at this point in the expansion cycle. However, noproshere.com is open to content creators, and if you are the winner of a Qualifier willing to write a complete, standalone deck guide, we invite you to reach out to us.