Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #20

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

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.

Data summary from Offcurve:

Bucharest Qualifiers
Bucharest Qualifiers
Masters Tour Seoul
Bucharest Qualifiers
Masters Tour Seoul
Bucharest Qualifiers
Masters Tour Seoul
Bucharest Qualifiers
Bucharest Qualifiers

Tier List:

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.

Meta Defining Decks:
Highlander Hunter (RNGLys | Staz)
Highlander Mage (Felkeine/Zhym)
Combo Priest (Sooni | SomiTequilla | Empanizado)

Qualifier Winners:
Midrange Hunter (CheeseHead)
Aggro Shaman (Silvors | 中壢邰智源)
Burgle Rogue (Un33d/Hypno)
Tempo Rogue (deads17 | 양봉꾼 | tolsimir | Jakaso27)
Zoo Warlock (zlofany)
Conjurer Mage (Lestos)
Control Warrior (Deaddraw | Soggun)
Cyclone Mage (Flix)

Top 8 Capable:
Bomb Hunter (mikolop)
Bomb Warrior (Magoho)
Murloc Paladin (Nova | SetKeirio231)
Murloc Shaman (Kevineter)
Token Shaman (Atome)

Masters Tour Seoul VOD matchups chart:

Highlander HunterHighlander MageCombo PriestAggro ShamanBurgle RogueTempo RogueCyclone MageBomb Warrior
Highlander HunterStaz vs Topopablo
Highlander MageZhym vs RNGLysZhym vs Felkeine
Hatul vs Tars
Combo PriestSooni vs RNGLys
WoT vs Staz
Sooni vs FelkeineSooni vs 물리왕
Burgle RogueUn33d vs Zhym
Tempo RogueDeads17 vs Staz
Deads17 vs RNGLys
양봉꾼vs 中壢邰智源
Conjurer MageStrifeCro vs Hatul
Control WarriorDeaddraw vs Zhym
Deaddraw vs Felkeine
GeneraL vs SooniDeaddraw vs Un33d
Cyclone MageGallon vs StazTGcaimiao vs Casie
js5 vs Tars
Bomb WarriorMagaho vs RNGLys
Magoho vs Staz
Magoho vs Felkeine
Magoho vs Zhym
Magoho vs Sooni
Magoho vs Empanizado
Magoho vs SilvorsMagoho vs 양봉꾼
Hybrid HunterStevenC vs Staz
Quest DruidEddie vs PikatwoEddie vs Deads17Eddie vs Bozzzton
Quest ShamanMaricochet vs WESparkling
Tempo WarriorRyokucha vs Gilgamesh
Holy Wrath PaladinHunterace vs HannibalzETC vs AKAWonder
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Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #19

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

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.

Data summary from Offcurve:

Tier List:

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
Tempo Rogue
Control Warrior (with taunt package)
Conjurer Mage
Cyclone Mage
Highlander Mage

Qualifier Winners
Combo Priest
Hooktusk Rogue
Aggro Shaman
Tempo Warrior
Highlander Hunter
Midrange Hunter
Shark Rogue

Top 8 Capable
Bomb Hunter
Bomb Warrior
Control Warrior (without taunt package)
Mech Paladin
Murloc Shaman
Quest Druid
Quest Rogue
Secret Hunter
Zoo Warlock

Featured decklists:

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.

Primitive’s Tempo Rogue

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.

primitive

SebastianJo/CaraCute’s Tempo Rogue

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! 🙂

sebastianjo

Flidow/SaltOPepper’s Tempo Rogue

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.

saltopepper

Balorix/Pardub’s Taunt Control Warrior

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.

pardub

Yogg’s Taunt Control Warrior

It’s pretty much standard stuff since months except we add the good package of Taunts of the last expansion. But i believe one Silence is MVP and you just can’t play Warrior without running one.

yogg

Killinallday’s Conjurer Mage (primary list from Apxvoid)

Osyris’s Conjurer Mage

Villain’s Highlander Mage

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.

villain

Maverick’s Highlander Mage

Empanizado’s Combo Priest

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.

empanizado

Ciprian04q’s Combo Priest

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.

ciprian04q

Duyyy’s Hooktusk Rogue

My deck is almost the same as the old version, I’ve update some new card into my decklist.
Bad matchup still warrior. Other matchup we could win all of them.

duyyy

WolfSRB’s Aggro Shaman

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.

wolfsrb

Tincho’s Tempo Warrior

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.

tincho

Habugabu’s Highlander Hunter

Chpatro’s Midrange Hunter

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).

chpatro

Bequiet’s Shark Rogue

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 😀

bequiet

FrKaKTyCmst’s Bomb Warrior

Felkeine’s Murloc Shaman

Kirm’s Control Warrior

Nova’s Quest Druid

TWJohnSunVGC’s Quest Druid

Tboyswizzal’s Quest Rogue

IIdollarCwon’s Secret Hunter

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!

iidollarcwon

Theflash’s Zoo Warlock

Kadak’s Quest Paladin

Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #18

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

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.

Data summary from Offcurve:

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.

Meta defining decks:
Shark Rogue (Hi3)
Bomb Warrior (Zhym)
Cyclone Mage (Dennis | Supersam710)

Qualifier winners:
Bomb Hunter (BabyBear)
Midrange Hunter (INS4NE)
Aggro Shaman (Odemian | Player671)
Secret Hunter (ZhangFei)
Token Shaman (FinalS)

Top 8 capable:
Control Warrior (Tommyvy)
Deathrattle Rogue (Flidow)
Holy Wrath Paladin (DeadDraw)
Mech Paladin (Kevin)
Murloc Shaman (Sattors)
Token Druid (Rpbalance)

Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #17

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

Week 2 of Hearthstone Masters Bucharest Qualifiers happened while everyone’s eyes were on the Grandmasters season 1 playoffs. And the same Specialist decks dominated the meta in both cases.

Data summary from Offcurve:

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.

Meta defining decks:
Shark Rogue (Surrender | MrYagut | Fire)
Bomb Warrior (Purple | Beister)
Cyclone Mage (Fenomeno | PNC | Kuonet)

Qualifier Winners:
Bomb Hunter (Sialed)
Murloc Shaman (giveme80gold)
Aggro Shaman (Drujbanul)
Pogo Rogue (Fr0zen | Matty | LegBack)
Midrange Hunter (ClouDy | Mick)
Burgle Rogue (Greg27 | Korangar)

Top 8 capable:
Control Warrior (Magirl | Xeno)
Holy Wrath Paladin (Eddie | Lethal)
Mech Paladin (Tomas)
Raiding Party Rogue (bobbyex)
Secret Hunter (Sattors | ZhangFei)

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.

Blackrock Crash Tavern Brawl Boss-By-Boss Guide And Speedrun Tips

by lulnenko

Welcome to the FIRE FEST-E.V.I.L.!

The League of E.V.I.L. has crashed the floating city of Dalaran into Blackrock Mountain, meaning there is an all new solo adventure in this week’s Tavern Brawl! Play as Dr. Boom, Hagatha, Lazul, or Togwaggle and take down 8 Blackrock bosses in this limited-time-only dungeon-run-style event. For the first time ever, Hearthstone will track your speed and reward you based on how quickly you can defeat 8 bosses. If you can beat all 8 bosses in under 1 hour, you’ll receive a golden Bronze Herald, and completing the run in under 40 minutes will get you a golden Recurring Villain.

Hearthstone begins timing you after the initial mulligan and times you continuously until you defeat the final boss, Ragnaros the Firelord. That means even your card and treasure choices will need to be quick if you want to get a fast time! Rather than give a comprehensive guide detailing the strengths and weaknesses of every class, I will guide you through the fastest and most powerful strategy, aggro warrior. I will highlight the strongest strategies, card choices, and treasures; describe my approach to each of the 8 bosses; and give some tips for the TRULY speedy. If 40 minutes was easy for you, here is an appropriately E.V.I.L challenge for you: do it in 15!

Key Strategies, Tips, and Cards

For this run I will focus on strategies you can use as Dr. Boom, as I have found him to be the most reliable, most powerful, and fastest hero. Dr. Boom’s hero power, which shuffles 2 bombs for 1 mana, is extremely effective for killing bosses early, and warrior is offered consistently strong card choices. However, every class is viable (even for a speedrun) and many of the general tips and strategies are the same across all heroes. 

As Dr. Boom, you will need to create a deck that operates partially using a burn plan and partially using an aggressive minion-based beatdown. Due to the extreme power of Dr. Boom’s hero power, it is nearly always better to prioritize hero powering over playing a 1 or even a 2 cost minion. However, exactly how far you commit to either plan will be determined primarily by your first choice of treasure.

Robes of Gaudiness is massively overpowered. Always choose this treasure if it is offered to you in your first choice of treasures, as it will allow you to build an aggressive deck that plays big minions early and destroys bosses by around turn 4. Robes of Gaudiness makes your cards cost half their normal price, but it also rounds down, meaning 1 cost minions become free, 3 cost minions cost 1, 5 cost minions cost 2, etc. Avoid the trap of drafting expensive cards like King Mosh just because they receive a big discount. Instead, focus on drafting powerful 3 and 5  cost minions like Augmented Elekk and Leeroy Jenkins as well as any cards that can help your goal of developing a powerful early board.

Hand of Rafaam is also massively overpowered. The treasure adds 2 curses to your opponent’s hand, dealing 2 damage every turn unless they spend 2 mana to remove each curse from their hand. Bosses in Blackrock have very low health totals compared to bosses in dungeon runs, meaning the curse damage is far more relevant, and the bosses will usually let you develop your minions uncontested while they pay to remove curses from their hand. Additionally, Hand of Rafaam is extremely powerful as a stacked effect, making any run with 2 or 3 Hands chosen an easy victory. With Hand of Rafaam as your first choice of treasure, you can afford to focus more of your turns on shuffling bombs or even force your opponent to draw bombs using Coldlight Oracle. Focus on drafting cards that help your bomb plan like Augmented Elekk and Coldlight Oracle, charge minions like Leeroy Jenkins and Korkron Elite, and strong early game minions.

Receiving neither of these treasures as your first pick will slow you down significantly, but you can still defeat all 8 bosses with a great time. When choosing any other treasure, consider the following: any non-passive treasure reduces your deck’s consistency compared to a passive, any non-passive treasure above 4 mana is likely too slow to be particularly powerful, and anything that helps you win early is stronger than anything that helps you play a slower game plan. These all point to the strongest choices being passive treasures such as Dr. Boom’s Remote and Small Backpacks (note, however, that Robe of the Magi does not make your bombs deal more damage and as a result is a terrible choice). Again, try to draft minions you can play for early aggression, but draft cheaper cards than you would while playing Robes and draft more proactively than you would while playing Hand of Rafaam. For example, a Hand of Rafaam deck may pick Coldlight Oracles to accelerate their bomb plan, whereas a Dr. Boom’s Remote deck may choose pirates to fight on board in the early turns. Regardless, you should still weave in hero powers whenever possible, ideally “curving out” by using 1 mana to hero power and your remaining mana each turn for minions.

Boss-by-boss Runthrough

Highlord Omokk, the first boss, has a 1 mana execute hero power, only 15 health, and a small deck. Prioritizing shuffling bombs is usually the fastest way to defeat this boss. Use your hero power on turns 1 and 2 (ideally alongside N’zoth’s First Mate on 2) and play a 3 cost minion on 3. Also note that killing Omokk’s loot hoarders is often a strong play as it can draw into bombs. As this boss ideally dies by turn 4, Boombox is too slow of a card to play and should not be kept in the mulligan. In fact, this is true of Boombox against nearly every boss.

The second boss, Baron Geddon, has a 0 mana hero power that deals 5 damage to your hero if you have any unspent mana. Fortunately, Dr. Boom’s hero power makes it easy to use all of your mana. Play aggressively, as Baron Geddon will generally damage himself by playing Flame Imps early. You may choose to play Vicious Scraphound on turn 2, but otherwise mulligan similarly to how you mulliganed for Omokk.

Omnotron Defense System has hero powers that make progressively more powerful mechs, although you are unlikely to see past the second mech if you play aggressively. You may want to kill the mech summoned on turn 2, which grants +2 spell power to both players, because Omnotron can use spells like arcane missiles to clear your board and take control of the early game. Otherwise, most of Omnotron’s early turns are low-impact, allowing you to shuffle bombs and develop minions to win before anything gets too scary.

The fourth boss, Garr, is the trickiest, because defeating Garr requires a little bit of thought about how to clear the board. Additionally, Garr runs Volcanic Lumberer which can cause huge problems if played early. Garr starts with a board full of 0/5s which have a deathrattle that deals damage based on the number of them that have died that turn and a hero power that damages all minions for 1. The best way to avoid getting burned (and to avoid volcanic lumberer) is to damage these 0/5s to different health totals so that they die on different turns. For this boss, put more focus on developing early minions or weapons, but remember that your minions will take damage every turn. A strong curve is turn 2 Scraphound into turn 3 Rampage, as these cards will gain you a lot of armor while letting you put damage into Garr’s 0/5s. Try to push damage for lethal starting around turn 4 or 5 and shuffle bombs whenever possible.

Atramedes has a hero power that grants a weapon which is buffed every time you play a card, and you start the game with three copies of a card that destroys this weapon. There are a few things to note here which work in your favor: Atramedes will often trade for no good reason, the weapon costs mana to create, and three weapon destruction cards should always be more than enough. Play this match aggressively, without worrying too much about buffing the weapon, and remove the weapon when you have spare mana or if it gets large enough to significantly threaten your health. Atramedes will not usually contest the board strongly, so developing strong minions like Augmented Elekk is key to winning the matchup.

Nefarian, boss 6, has another automatic hero power that gives a random spell. These spells will almost never be relevant if you play aggressively, so this boss is essentially wasting mana every turn. Play aggressively and you should have no problem.

Boss number 7, Vaelastrasz, automatically draws 2 cards for both players every turn and plays some aggressive cards like Flame Imp and Implosion. Play proactive minions to make sure you do not fall behind on board, and shuffle as many bombs as possible. Some bombs will be burned by overdraws, but this should not be an issue as you can always shuffle more into the deck.

Finally, the boss that rules them all, Ragnaros the Firelord! Ragnaros starts with a weapon that grants him a powerful 8 damage hero power when it breaks. He has a tendency to swing his 2 attack weapon into minions that aren’t going to die, so setting up minions like Augmented Elekk or Clockwork Goblin for him to trade into will usually result in some extra damage. If necessary, clean up his Magma Ragers using small minions like N’Zoth’s First Mate or spells like Improve Morale while you set up minions or burst him using weapons and charge minions. If the game runs long enough that Ragnaros gets his upgraded hero power, Boombox is a strong counter play which can also set up lethal using brawl on the following turn. If all else fails, keep shuffling bombs, as they can sometimes give you a surprise lethal!

Blackrock Crash Week 1 Speedrunning

So you’ve completed the run in under 40 minutes, unlocking some free golden cards. But how fast CAN you go? I’ve personally managed 15 minutes and 27 seconds, but https://twitter.com/geyuan6_hs has posted proof of a 13 minute 16 second run (as King Togwaggle)! For this section I will assume you are already using most or all of the above tips.

The easiest, but perhaps least fun, way to ensure a fast run is to concede on boss 2 if you are not offered either Robes of Gaudiness or Hand of Rafaam after defeating boss 1. Each of these treasures will usually save several minutes compared to the next best option.

The next time saver I use is click-spamming. In Hearthstone, animations can be sped up significantly by clicking on the card or hero power icon that appears when your opponent makes an action. Entire enemy turns can be sped up significantly by placing the cursor on the left side of the board where these cards will appear and spamming clicks. Unfortunately, bomb animations cannot be skipped.

Total animation time can also be reduced by reducing the amount of unnecessary cards played and attacks made. It can sometimes help to think several turns ahead when determining which cards and attacks are really necessary. For example, I will generally skip playing Improve Morale unless I am setting up a Rampage or I believe that having a lackey in hand is very likely to benefit my gameplan. Additionally, if I have a 1 attack weapon and my opponent is at 5 health, I will generally choose not to attack as my opponent will still die to 1 bomb draw or die to my minions next turn regardless of the weapon swing.

My next speedrunning tip – admittedly an extremely obvious tip – is to play very quickly. However, this goes beyond making quick actions in game, as the timer used to determine your speed is a real world timer. While your general strategy does not need to differ from what is described in the first section of this article, if you are attempting a speedrun you need to quickly identify your choices of treasures and cards. You can save time if you are able to quickly identify key cards like Robes of Gaudiness, Hand of Rafaam, and Augmented Elekk. Gotta go fast!

Finally, it’s worth acknowledging that much of this speedrun will be out of your control. The most significant time-wasters that cannot be controlled are treasure randomness, bomb randomness, and lag or loading times. While these are out of your hands, there are a few things you can do to try to minimize the impact that bad luck can have on your speed. 

While an ideal run’s treasure choices look something like Robes followed by 2 copies of Hand, this is an extremely unlikely outcome and you can still get a great time even if you need to pick a treasure like Wondrous Wand or Dr. Boom’s Remote. In this case, it is worth considering your general gameplan, the deck you’ve drafted so far, and the remaining bosses. For example, Wondrous Wand is unlikely to be valuable against Vaelastrasz (due to his hero power filling your hand) or Ragnaros (because the fight nearly always ends around turn 4 anyway). However, it can be a strong choice if you have already drafted some high cost cards or strong charge minions and you want the potential to highroll your opponents.

Bomb randomness (that is, whether or not your opponent will actually draw the bombs you are shuffling into their deck) is also out of your control. What you can control is when you choose to shuffle vs. when you choose to play other cards. As mentioned in the Key Strategies section, cards like Augmented Elekk and Coldlight Oracle are extremely powerful because they will often force an early bomb lethal and they therefore drastically increase your deck’s speed and consistency.

Finally, in game lag or high loading times will also decrease your speed. Generally, this will be dependent on your internet connection, but if you have significant lag issues you may also save time by decreasing the graphics quality in the options menu.

Now, you have some scheming to do! Do you have what it takes to be the EVILest – or at least the speediest – villain at Blackrock Mountain?


PS: You can watch my 15:27 run in its entirety here. There’s still room for tons of improvement! https://www.twitch.tv/videos/451161388

Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #16

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

This week, the transition from Seoul Qualifiers to Bucharest Qualifiers translated into a reset of the open cups playerbase. This amplified the impression of a stale Hearthstone metagame. Four of last week’s winners (Hatul, Disq, Languagehacker and MaeveDonovan) proceeded to qualify for Masters Tour Bucharest in the first week, in an unprecedented hotstreak. NAGON, matff and KNMDehua did really well too. In other words, it was a lot of the same players playing the same decks.

Data summary from Offcurve:

With the metagame mostly settled down, we have tried to trend specific decks themselves to try to find which version of each archetype the community is coalescing to. Below are Bomb Warrior, Midrange Hunter, Shark Rogue and Cyclone Mage.

Languangehacker’s Cyclone Mage is the unanimous pick. It also won multiple open cups this week, after Languagehacker won the last Seoul Qualifier and the first Bucharest Qualifier back to back.
In Bomb Warrior, Gallon and NAGON are two versions that gained a lot of traction.
Players are copying Tars and Cosmo when it comes to Shark Rogue.
The other archetypes are still all over the place at the moment.

Week 1 of Bucharest qualifiers picked up where Week 8 of Seoul qualifiers left off, with the same four decks vying for what appear to be three spots in the tier of meta defining decks, and accounting for the overwhelming majority of decks brought by qualifiers participants. As the meta seems to have settled, we’ll cover any major developments, but barring any surprise nerfs or other meta shakeups, the majority of the meta seems to be Shark Rogue, Cyclone Mage, Bomb Warrior and Midrange Hunter (with a non-trivial amount of Bomb Hunter sprinkled in for variety) between now and the release of Saviors of Uldum. As our tier score formula accounts for top 8 representation (which roughly aligns with Swiss win rate) as well as number of qualifiers won, the positions of the Fab Four decks may shift around over the next month, but if there was a deck waiting in the wings to unseat one of those contenders, we likely would have seen it by now between Las Vegas Masters Tour, the experimentation at Grandmasters and players trying to outsmart the meta in qualifiers.

That said, Shark Rogue rose in representation this week, accounting for 25% of all qualifier entries and 11 qualifier winners. Our working theory is that the fact that the other three popular decks all take time to set up (barring Cyclone Mage with the perfect start) paves the way for a slower, greedier Rogue build to thrive, with less worry that a deck like Murloc Shaman or Token Druid will be able to capitalize on that slowness. We continue to track other rogue builds and none of them seem to be as effective against this field as the Spirit of the Shark build. (Just don’t complain to us if you try to take it on ladder and don’t do as well as expected.)

Cyclone Mage saw a big uptick in representation following Languagehacker’s win in qualifier #1 with the deck, and as we began tracking the trend of specific lineups, we saw his exact 90 card lineup was the most popular Cyclone Mage lineup for the remainder of the week. Since Bomb Warrior isn’t going away, Cyclone Mage is still a reasonable pick to bring given its even matchup against Shark Rogue and its favorable matchup against the Warrior.

Speaking of Bomb Warrior, it improved in its win rate in Top 8, but still sits at a 44% win rate at that stage as opposed to a 52% win rate overall. Given its positive win rate against Shark Rogue, there may yet be a chance for Bomb Warrior to regain its spot as king of the hill.

Midrange Hunter was the odd deck out this week, likely because of the proliferation of Shark Rogues. If those numbers change and Cyclone Mage or Bomb Hunter becomes more popular again, Midrange Hunter should rebound.

Bomb Hunter continues to hang around despite having no favorable matchups against meta decks except Control Warrior, which is not being brought in enough quantity to matter. Despite the odds, some players are managing to win qualifiers with it, so if that’s the deck you’re most comfortable with, you could do worse. (There’s probably something to be said for shorter match times as well.)

This week’s surprise performer was Mech Paladin, piloted by Adriano to the top of qualifier #2. The deck is actually not as bad as it is on ladder given that it has positive winrates against Midrange Hunter and Bomb Warrior, but it also had a below 50% win rate overall, so players planning on bringing Mech Paladin should be extremely confident in their ability to pilot it in unfavored matchups.

Token Druid was one of this week’s surprise performers, qualifying gtapack and Hatul for Bucharest. As with Bomb Hunter, it doesn’t seem to have any overwhelmingly positive matchups (except against Bomb Hunter itself), so much like past surprise performers, there probably isn’t too much to read into this in terms of predicting future performance.

The other top 8 contenders are the usual suspects, and none are brought in enough numbers to justify discussing in detail. One note on a deck not on this list – 84 players brought Control Warrior (without bombs) to qualifiers this week, but the deck performed miserably. It had a 38% win rate, and not one of those players progressed to a top 8 bracket. This is one of the clear cases where Specialist and ladder diverge; if you want to bring Warrior, do yourself a favor and set yourself up the bomb.

Meta Defining Decks
Shark Rogue (Tars | Cosmo)
Cyclone Mage (Languagehackr)
Bomb Warrior (Gallon | Nagon)

Qualifier Winners
Token Druid (Hatul | gtapack)
Bomb Hunter (Tiki | Jobsad | Disq)
Midrange Hunter (Haffax | eg99)
Mech Paladin (Adriano)

Top 8 Capable
Aggro Shaman (Drujbanul)
Freeze Mage (Dog)
Holy Wrath Paladin (Fungggg)
Party Tempo Rogue (KNMKarsa)
Secret Mech Hunter (Maricochet)
Specters Mage (Scharhrot)
Zoo Warlock (KNMDehua)

Team NoProsHere Specialist Meta Report #15

By NPH Pasca and WickedGood

Seoul Masters Qualifiers are over! Open cups will resume on Thursday, but they will be about Bucharest and they will be in the High Inquisitor Whitemane metagame.
This report covers the Hearthstone tournaments in the specialist format in the past week.

Data summary from Offcurve:

Tier list discussion:

Week Eight was a story of meta consolidation and fewer risks taken as we entered the final week of Seoul qualifiers. More so than any week prior, we saw extreme consolidation into a handful of decks, with fewer outliers surprising us with breakout performances. This might be a sign of the meta finally being solved, or that risk tolerance decreases as fewer opportunities to qualify remain, or both.

Cyclone Mage was the big winner this week, as more players turned to it as the natural counter to the glut of Bomb Warriors we saw last week. Representation went from 10.6% in week 7 to 13.6% in week 8, and while the same percentage of Cyclone Mage players progressed to Top 8 as last week, those players were more rewarded for their choice of deck this week, with a 62% win rate in Top 8. This is no surprise given how many Bomb Warriors also progressed to Top 8, but that goes to show that Cyclone Mage is performing in its role as the Warrior killer.

Shark Rogue continued to perform, and was even in popularity with Bomb Warrior this week. Its matchups against non-Warrior classes actually improved (Bomb Hunter and Holy Wrath Paladin, two of its only even matchups, moved to favorable), so if Warrior sees a decline based on its poor performance, Shark Rogue could be poised to take over as the top deck. Players looking to bring Cyclone Mage based on this week’s results could do so at their own peril, because Shark Rogue is one of the only decks favored against Cyclone Mage.

Midrange Hunter also rose to the top of the list based on its good matchup against Warrior. In past weeks, we’ve described this deck as being a poor choice, since does effectively the same thing as Cyclone Mage but not as well. However, if we do see a rise in Cyclone Mages, it could see some success given that it can effectively counter both that deck and Bomb Warrior. That said, Midrange Hunter’s win rate against Shark Rogue is a miserable 28%, so this will continue to be a risky pick as long as Shark Rogue is relevant.

We’ve talked around Bomb Warrior but not about it thus far, and that’s because it actually falls out of the level of meta defining decks given its performance this week. While still the most popular deck and boasting a very good 53% win rate in Swiss, in Top 8 that win rate cratered to 39%. Not to belabor the point, but the entire meta is gunning for Bomb Warrior, and it’s unlikely to see a favorable matchup in Top 8. Of 134 decks that actually played in Top 8 (excluding players who qualified by reaching Top 8 for the 6th time), nearly half were either Cyclone Mage, Midrange Hunter or the mirror, which makes for an extremely hostile environment for a Bomb Warrior to try to string together two consecutive wins, and as a result, few were successful.

Bomb Hunter continues to be an enigma, hanging around but never quite able to maintain consistent performances. The deck had below 50% win rates both in Swiss and Top 8 but still managed to win 3 qualifiers, which says it more than likely beats itself more than is countered.

The low sample size qualifier winners this week are Token Druid, Zoo Warlock, and Midrange Token Shaman. These decks have been discussed in this space before, and really should only be considered by players who are exceedingly comfortable with them. That said, Zoo seems worth calling out due to its favorable matchup against Shark Rogue (though with a very small sample size). If Shark Rogue takes off, Zoo might emerge as a reasonable meta choice.

As for decks that reached Top 8 but did not win a qualifier, we saw an uptick in Control Warriors this week, but that deck still seems to be an inferior pick in Specialist compared to the bomb variety, with only a 44% win rate in Swiss and no wins in Top 8. Freeze Mage fared slightly better at 49% in Swiss, but given Cyclone Mage’s success, there really doesn’t seem to be any argument for bringing Freeze Mage unless one wants to both play mage and counter Cyclone Mage.

We continue to monitor rogues without Spirit of the Shark, and saw both Sharkless Tempo Rogue and a Raiding Party variety reach top 8 this week, but neither variant topped 51%, while Shark Rogue finished with a 53% win rate despite a high number of mirrors. At least in specialist, it’s still Shark Week somewhere.

Mech Paladin reached Top 8 twice, but given its only favorable matchup is against Bomb Warrior, there are more well rounded ways to counter that deck. Murloc Shaman is to Cyclone Mage as Mech Paladin is to Bomb Warrior, and while it’s harder to counter Cyclone Mage, you can do it without giving up nearly every other prevalent matchup like Murloc Shaman does. Aggro (Overload) Shaman, however, may be worth considering, given it had even or favored matchups against all of the prevalent decks this week (though with only 30 players bringing the deck, this is based on an extremely small sample size). Finally, Deathrattle Hunter and Nomi Priest were brought in single digit quantities and successful in even fewer.

Meta Defining Decks
Cyclone Mage
Shark Rogue
Midrange Hunter

Qualifier Winners
Bomb Warrior
Bomb Hunter
Token Druid
Zoo Warlock
Token Shaman

Top 8 Capable
Control Warrior
Aggro Shaman
Freeze Mage
Mech Paladin
Party Tempo Rogue
Sharkless Tempo Rogue
Deathrattle Hunter
Nomi Priest

Featured decklists:

As always, we thank the players who generously share their pro tips. You can click on their name under the quote to find them on Twitter, most of them stream or create other awesome content. Clicking on the deck name will bring you to Yaytears for deck codes.

Languagehackr’s Cyclone Mage

Secondary vs Hunter/Rogue and tertiary vs Warrior. I think Galaxy is good enough to run in all lists for the high roll potential. Scavengers help a lot vs aggro and found it helps more than Rabble Bouncer. Wanted to try out Alex again vs Warrior. Also I tried playing a lot more for tempo against aggro (Sorcerers Apprentice/Cyclone hands for example) and it helps immensely.

languagehacker

TheLastChamp’s Cyclone Mage

This was my first attempt with Mage. The deck’s power level is unmatched in my eyes. The only additions I made were Cairne Bloodhoof into the Warrior list over Astromancer. I think 1 6 drop is always a good thing to have plus Cairne specifically calls out Garrosh which I love. I think Cairne is stickier vs brawl and I think Astromancer plats directly into Supercollider. As far as strategy a few tricks I learned were that sometimes picking any secret off Magic Trick can be good just to make your opponent test for different possibilities. Also vs Mech Hunter or any Token deck trading into say a Replicating menace to fill their board with minions and then nova after stops them from being able to magnetize anything and keeps your threats safe from Missile Launcher poison combos. Also Doomsayer I think is the best response to Faerie Dragon which sometimes gets in for 9 or 12 damage vs Mage. The 1 Polymorph is Mech Hunter/big Edwins but I think maybe a 2nd half time scavenger would be better. Last thing I think is worth noting is playing your sorcerer’s apprentice on 2 is often the best play. Feels weird to not save it for combos but every time I wasn’t greedy with cards it seemed to pay off. Mage just has more resources than most classes (maybe not Rogue). Again this was my first attempt with Mage so I’m literally noprohere but I think the fact that it was my first attempt speaks to the power level of this deck and if anyone is on the fence about trying Mage I would do it asap 😀 Don’t be like me and try and play Egg Paladin for 238 cups! Just get in with Mage! 😛

thelastchamp

MaeveDonovan’s Shark Rogue

I’ve tried some different versions of this deck, with Foxes and Vendetta or just Tempo/Lackey based, but this seems to be the best Rogue you can ever play and Rogue is the best class you can ever choose, especially when there are so many Hunters outside. The first list can basically win vs everyone, and I kept using it especially vs Hunters and other Rogues. For the second list, which you play vs Warrior, I’ve tried some greedy versions but if you go full greedy with Schemes and other stuff like that they can just SMOrc and win so this one with drakes seems to be the best one to keep pressuring them. The third list is vs Mages, and I’m pretty sure Faerie Dragons are better than going full removals with like second Betrayal for example, because you play for tempo and pressure, and Faerie Dragon is not a dead card in those spots. With this being said, SN1P-SN4P is the NUTS in every match-up and I will keep playing it until I can. Special mention to Edwin, who is still here with us yayyy and carried vs Warriors.

maevedonovan

Sjoesie’s Shark Rogue

Credit where credit is due: the lineup isn’t mine, I copied the list that I liked the most from yaytears’ site (I don’t know the original author of the lineup but this is where I copied it from: link). As for the different decklists: The first one is the decklist you use against most decks. This includes Midrange/Bomb Hunter, the mirror, Aggro Shaman etc. The flex spot for the list is Eviscerate or 1 Cable Rat for sn1p-sn4p. It’s the least reactive of the three, so often you go pretty aggressive against the midrange decks and keep board control against the aggro decks. Lackeys help enormously in both aspects, so good usage of them is mandatory. The second is the anti-mage list. Betrayal and Walk the Plank help dealing with the giants, Faerie Dragon helps pushing some early damage and is hard for Mage to deal with. Both the first list and the second list are close to optimal. The third list is the one you mainly use versus Warrior (and in some cases versus Control Shaman). I chose this list over the one that runs Mechs because most Warrior specialist decks still have an anti-Mech build. With this one you can put an immense pressure if you manage to shuffle Togwaggle and you do get more sustainability/midgame power. It’s the one I’m least sure about (Warrior remains a tough matchup even with this build), but it worked good enough for me. I changed Cairne into Jepetto, but looking back at it, I should’ve left the Cairne in the deck and replace one Scheme instead.

sjoesie

Lestos’s Midrange Hunter

This version and its sides was largely inspired by Bunnyhoppor, and was built by my teammate Dreivo who played this deck a lot. I just tried his list after other Midrange Hunter versions, and liked it the most in the current Qualifiers meta. You have all the tools in it to control the game if your opponent is aggro, or to be aggro when your opponent is passive. In a lot of matchups you want to play aggressively so that your opponent is busy dealing with your threats and you can reach your Zul’Jin to finish the game. If your hand is not aggressive then it’s very likely that you have the tools in hand to deal with your opponent’s aggression, so you can achieve the same objective. I don’t feel like I need the Hatchet too much, It feels pretty awkward versus Rogue and Warrior, which I face more than Hunters or Token Druids against whom it is pretty useful. I like two Deadly Shot, which often deals with an Elekk on T3, a Shark or an early Van Cleef. Marked shot is very strong as well, giving you good options very often. You want to play the Secondary version against Warrior and Holy Wrath Paladin, the Savannahs help you fight for the board against the first and have some minions stick after a boardclear against the second. I didn’t feel the need to add a Rhino to this side yet, but that’s something I’m still considering. The Tertiary deck is meant to face Rogues. Rat trap on turn 2 is strong most of the time and will force your opponent into sub-optimal plays. However I’m still not sure about this anti-Rogue side since my Main performed equally if not better against Rogue the last two weeks. I might replace it by an anti-mech side, inspired by the one used by Maricochet and FlècheNoire to win the Qualifiers 167 and 137M.

lestos

Hoej’s Bomb Warrior

I didnt make the lineup – I think it was Magoho.
In regards to strategy, I think you often should see Warrior as a tempo deck. Don’t trade too much – getting face damage is really important especially vs Rogue, since they get so much value late game after sideboard. Also the mirror really rarely goes to fatigue so don’t be scared to draw cards and try to out tempo the other Warrior. Most Warrior lists also only play 1 Brawl, so they will run out of removal at some point.

hoej

Nagon’s Bomb Warrior

I don’t want to put Elysiana on the primary deck that I use three times for Rogue and Hunter. Secondary deck is for mirror match. This match after game 1 will be very aggressive. I think Wargear is better than Gromash on early game. Tertiary deck can compete with both Mage and Mech Hunter. Against Mage, it is difficult to remove all card after game 1. So I need to beat face while removing enemy minions. Faerie Dragon is the best card for this plan. Spellbreaker is good to silence Twilight Drake or my frozen minion. Supercollider is the only card that can remove double Giants and essential card. so I put it in primary and add for tertiary. Against Mech Hunter, they always play Mechanical Whelp and Nine Lives. Supercollider and Big Game Hunter is good to remove 7/7. 2-drop is also good for Mech Hunter to trade Ursatron.

nagon

Disq’s Bomb Hunter

After many open cups grinding, I sat through the statistics that the good people at offcurve.com provided to find out how the field looked like. For quite a few weeks, the top 4 consisted of Bomb Warrior, Shark Rogue, Midrange Hunter and Cyclone Mage (in no particular order). So I sat down and went through all possible decks of my stats and the stats of offcurve.com to find a deck that has a good winrate against them and came down to Bomb Hunter. But instead of going with a lot of Bombs, I start my primary list with the Nine Lives, Necromechanics and Mechanical Whelps in the list. This will give me quite an edge against Warriors, Shark Rogues (due to Spider Bomb) and Midrange Hunters due to the sheer amount of value. Mages were the problem and it’s a 50-50 winrate against them. Cyclone Mages can get some good cards from Mana Cyclone or some bad ones. It also depends on whether they put in a lot of Freezes, which is detremental to you, or if they go with silences/mind control techs.
Highlighted card choices: Necromechanic is a 4 mana 3/6. Do not fear to play it as a tempo card to get on board, but know the matchup. If you can combo it with Nine Lives into a Mechanical Whelp, it spawns 2x 7/7s for the cost of 7 mana. And that they are Mechs will help magnetize them. Know the matchup when you can use it as a tempo card. Sn1p-Sn4p: Already a broken OP card, but it’s even better in a Mech deck. Bomb Toss: One Bomb toss is in there. It is for early removal like Scavenging Hyena, push for an extra ounce of lethal or use it to remove Zilliax. Don’t use Bomb Toss to get the token out, use it for removal.
The primary deck is for everything. It is an all-rounder and can go either quite aggressive or midrangey. The secondary deck is for your worst nightmare; Token Druid. While the deck will help pull off a win potentially, it is a hard matchup you are unfavoured for. The tertiary deck is meant to play against more aggressive Mech Hunters or Shamans. However, I only got to use it once and it didn’t really work as expected. The tertiary deck definitely can be tinkered upon.
Don’t fear the anti-mech packages, but play around it. Spread your mechs, plan around their removal and MCTs. The three times opponents brought an anti-mech package, I won against all of them by playing differently and taking value trades and making sticky deathrattles. The anti-mech package is not as unfortunate for you as it may seem.

disq

KNMDehua’s Zoo Warlock

The secondary is designed to counter Warrior, with Mech minions that can’t be hit by Dynomatic. The tertiary has more reach, to win the race vs Hunter.

knmdehua

五香肉丁’s Token Shaman

This Shaman deck is made for beating those common deck in masters qualifiers: like Warrior, Mage & Rogue. The strategy is simple, play most Battlecry cards I can, and get the value from Shudderwock. Also a lot of people don’t know how to play around this deck, if they don’t clear my board, I can use the legendary spells to get many huge minions, or just use the Bloodlust to kill them. My primary deck counters the Warrior decks, deplete Warrior removal cards and use the Bloodlust kill them at last. Card choices: Barista Lynchen, get more value from the small Battlecry minions, sometimes I can get back my Shudderwock, create more value. Jepetto Joybuzz, draw two minions and made them become 1 mana, it’s so good when you draw the Shudderwock or Barista Lynchen. Storm Chaser, draw Bloodlust or legendary spells. My secondary deck is play around the Rogue and aggro decks, this matchup is so important in the early game, I usually keep the weapon and the lowcost spells, to get the board before Rogue plays Spirit of the Sark. Card choices: Mossy Horror, kill spirit of the shark and those small minions. Rabble Bouncer & Sea Giant, punish opponent playing too many minions. My tertiary deck counters mage, I removed all those high mana cards, and added the Murloc, because the best way play against Mage is become the aggro, kill them before mage play the Giant. Card choices: Underbelly Angler, if Mage can’t kill it, I can get many Murlocs, become the Murloc Shaman. Murloc Tastyfin, get two murlocs from my deck. Big Game Hunter, kill the Giant. Mossy Horror, clear mirror & Khadgar combo.

五香肉丁

Hatul’s Token Druid

Myr’s Aggro Shaman

Plko’s Freeze Mage

Dono’s Control Warrior

미르기르기’s Deathrattrle Hunter

Primary deck is the standard form. 2nd deck is anti-Warrior deck. I use Savana Highmane and Dire Frenzy and Zul’jin in order to maximize the deck value. 3rd deck is anti-Rogue. I use Rat Trap to contain Rogue’s card play and Multi-Shot to clear Rogue’s field. But I think removing two Acidic Swamp Ooze is my mistake. So if you want to use this deck in a Masters Qualifier, remove one Sunfury Protector and one Wing Blast instead of Acidic Swamp Ooze.

미르기르기

WaningMoon’s Mech Paladin

BabyBear’s Murloc Shaman

This Shaman list is very versatile with many options and different game plans. There is Thunderhead with overload cards to clear the board vs aggro decks, Former Champ with Mutate to create a strong board and the Shudderwock, Mojomaster, Swampqueen Hagatha package for a late game plan. The primary list is overall fine, the secondary list is played against Mage because Zentimo with Hex or just Big Game Hunter can deal easily with big minions. The tertiary list is for token decks.

babybear

Cydonia’s Murloc Shaman

Murloc Shaman is the best deck in the game if you want to destroy Mage (they can only win if they get coin and nut draw every game), and have game against Warrior, Rogue and Hunter but it is bad against other aggro decks like Zoo or Aggro Shaman. There are many ways to build it but I like having a ton of Murlocs for consistency and starting with greedy list since the upside against Warrior is way bigger than the downside against other classes.

cydonia

Matsuri’s Chef Nomi Priest

This Nomi Priest is Purple’s deck. It is not much different from ordinary Nomi Priest, but I felt that the number of Warriors decreased and the number of Rogues and Hunters increased, so there was less hard match-up. Find a winning line in Elysiana against Bomb Warriors. The timing to put out Elysiana is when the Bomb is buried with Nomi and Seance closed. The other is when the other party deals with Nomi without using Brawl. The secondary deck is looking at the Mage, the tertiary deck is looking at the Rogue. However, there is a better construction, as neither of them has been considered deeply.

matsuri

KNMKarsa’s Raiding Party Rogue

D3oxy’s Tempo Rogue