Merely hours from now Hearthstone’s newest expansion, The Witchwood, will kick off the Year of the Raven. Accompanied by new mechanics players venture into the spooky forest, exploring all 135 new cards and their effects. In combination with Standard rotation making three expansions (Old Gods, Karazhan and Mean Streets) Wild-only, the meta is bound to drastically change.
Time for the best theorycrafters in Hearthstone to shine. We asked some of the best Hearthstone players in the world to share their thoughts on a deck they’d think would be popular in The Witchwood meta, and which cards specifically seemed powerful to them.
Renowned deck builder Stanislav “StanCifka” Cifka came across an unforeseen gem when browsing through the collection: “I surprised myself when I started working on Shaman, a class that has been bad in the last few months, and actually came up with a deck that I can't wait to start playing.”
“The real fun begins against Control, where you will have time and probably need to go "infinite" with Shudderwock."
Ever since Shudderwock (or “SHUDDERWOCK!”, as StanCifka put it enthusiastically) was announced and its effects were shown on the reveal stream, players have pondered on the best Battlecry effects to put in their deck. Zola the Gorgon and Saronite Chaing Gang are present in virtually every iteration of the list, but StanCifka’s list boasts a surprising Prince Keleseth in addition to primarily defensive tools. “Against Aggro you actually have a nice, powerful deck. You take control of the game with your board clears and then just kill [the opponent] with Primordial Drake and Grumble.”
But the list isn’t just great at fending off pesky aggressive decks, if we may believe StanCifka. “The real fun begins against Control, where you will have time and probably need to go "infinite" with Shudderwock. You get Shudderwock back in your hand every time you play him, once you have played Zola the Gorgon at some point prior. Hopefully during this you are clearing his board with Primordial Drake, doing some sweet life-total swings with Lifedrinker and pumping your deck with Prince Keleseth.”
And then there is still the combination with Shaman’s other legendary Grumble, Worldshaker to add that final extra bit of value. “This goes nuts is with Saronite Chain Gang (which creates extra copies of Shudderwock himself) and Grumble, Worldshaker. You have a chance to get your newly created copy [of Shudderwock] bounced, which will result in 1 Mana copy for you to replay.”
With tools against both aggressive and control-oriented decks, StanCifka is confident in his list’s potential: “This deck will be sweet and powerful, and I am sure you can expect some totally epic games with it!”
‘Deck doctor’ Paul “Zalae” Nemeth looks forward to playing a Paladin list that’s focused around the class’ Hero Power. So much so, that it abandons all odd-costed cards to trigger Genn Greymane’s effect: “Dude Paladin really liked to hero power at two mana. At one mana it's insane, it doesn't conflict with a Death Knight.” The loss of odd-costed cards isn’t too big, he thinks. “Most of the truly good [cards] are even-costed anyway, like Call to Arms and Sunkeeper Tarim.”
That is not to say the deck doesn’t lose anything noteworthy at all. For example: Vinecleaver and card draw. “Without Divine Favor the curve did get a little higher to compensate for that loss. Another option is to use Val’anyr in combination with Saronite Chain Gang.”
“Dude Paladin really liked to hero power at two mana. At one mana it's insane"
Other choices compensate for the loss in reach and burst damage. Rallying Blade, set to leave Standard, and Unidentified Maul both offered early-game removal in addition to giving your board a small upgrade. With the slower route taken in Zalae’s Even Paladin, Truesilver Champion sees the light of day once more. The aforementioned Vinecleaver sees Silver Sword take over its slot as a high-value weapon.
Inherent to the odd/even mechanic are some turns on which it’s a bit awkward to get all your Mana spent. Even Paladin’s cost-reduced Hero Power isn’t the only way the deck can fill in the turns on which you have an uneven Mana total, though. With DryGulch Jailor, more than one Mana can be abridged to use all available Mana as effectively as possible.
But whereas some have clear ideas for decks, others have a card they can’t wait to try out. For Dima “Rdu” Radu, one of Mage’s new legendaries stands out: “I think Toki, Time-Tinker is going to be a really solid card which will see play in most Mage decks. It offers consistency. [The effect is] similar to Elise, only that you get the card instantly.”
"You just jam Toki to get the card immediately.”
Indeed, much like both Elise cards Toki has the potential to generate a big advantage. “Even though it doesn't win you the game instantly all the time, the fact that you get a card that your opponent won't expect can be super valuable.” Especially against control-oriented decks Toki seems to have a lot of potentials.
However, with Elise you did get a chance to roll a good card out of five randomly generated cards, and with Toki there’s just one card you have to get lucky on. Not a big problem, Rdu says: “Random legendary minions are usually fine. With Elise you got random Un’Goro cards, which are pretty bad, you also have to draw the pack and then pay 2 Mana to open it. You just jam Toki to get the card immediately.”
With the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s first Playoffs happening in just three weeks, pro players have to be quick to figure out what will be the best deck to bring in order to qualify for the first Seasonal Championship. Perhaps the upcoming Witchwood Inn-Vitational could inspire them, when the Americas team takes on their European opponents.
What deck will you play as soon as the expansion goes live? Let us know in the comments below!
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