Warrior, Shaman, and Rogue have been struggling on the ladder lately, but these fresh new decks are looking to turn that around.
Warrior, Shaman, and Rogue have been struggling to find success lately, but that shouldn’t stop you from playing them on the ladder! In this article, I break down the best decks for taking on the current meta from the three worst classes in the game.
It’s been a couple of weeks since Hearthstone was hit by a major balance patch, which has given the metagame a healthy amount of time to adjust and adapt to the recent nerfs. Though a few of the top dogs from the pre-patch meta continue to be popular choices on the ladder (such as Cube Warlock and Aggro Paladin), and a couple of previously overlooked decks are now beginning to perform better than expected (Secret Mage and Spell Hunter), the new-look meta has proven itself to be much friendlier towards experimental decks than the previous one. Both Patches the Pirate and Raza the Chained were extremely oppressive to a variety of compelling and interesting strategies, which means their departure from standard should open the door up for a number of slower and grindier decks to flourish. For the remainder of the K&C metagame, this should be great news for fans of decks on the “control” end of the aggro-control spectrum.
It goes without saying that as the speed of a meta shifts, each of Hearthstone’s nine classes stand to gain or lose major percentage points. For the time being, the classes in need of the biggest boosts to their win percentage are Rogue, Shaman, and Warrior.
Class winrates in Standard, courtesy of Hsreplay.net
Not only do these three classes boast the lowest winrates across all levels of play, they can also lay claim to three of the four lowest playrates.
Class playrates courtesy of metastats.net
If you’re a fan of one of these three classes, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and see what can be done to fix this! In theory, a meta which is trending slower and grindier should favor decks with powerful late-game plans and game-ending combos. If you can’t go underneath the control decks with a speedy aggro deck of your own, the best way to beat slow and greedy decks is to be even slower and greedier than they are (mill strategies are a perfect example of this), or to find a way to combo-kill them in a single turn before they can end the game with their own win condition (Quest Rogue immediately comes to mind).
However, the reality of the current meta is very different from “slow and grindy”. Four of the top five most played decks are aggro decks (Secret Mage, Aggro Paladin, Spiteful Priest, and Murloc Paladin) according metastats.net. The more things change, the more things stay the same, eh? With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few new and unique decks from each of the weakest classes to see how we can take on the current meta.
No class was hurt harder by the recent nerfs than Rogue. Arguably the best class in the game pre-patch, Tempo Rogue has fallen to a sub-par 47% winrate according to hsreplay.net. Though the nerfs to Patches the Pirate, Bonemare, and Corridor Creeper all hit the deck hard, Rogue is also being held back by the classes natural weakness against go-wide aggro strategies. With only Fan of Knives and Vanish (and sometimes Blade Flurry) as ways to deal with wide boards, Rogue often has a difficult time catching up when far behind on board. Though cards like Elven Minstrel and Vilespine Slayer do a great job of getting Rogue ahead in the first place, they don’t have nearly as many ways to interact with a decent Call to Arms pull as the other classes do.
Though you could try to tech your favorite Rogue out with every defensive Neutral minion you can muster, this would have an equal-but-opposite negative effect on your control matchups. You can only sacrifice so many slots in your deck to aggro before you turn your good matchups into mediocre ones. It seems that the best bet for Rogue is to accept that you’ll lose to the best draws from the best aggro decks, but that you might be able to beat their more mediocre or slower draws with a powerful midgame.
Gallon’s Kingsbane Rogue
The first solid option for Rogue is a low-to-the-ground build of Kingsbane Rogue by Gallon, who peaked at rank 9 Legend with the deck two days ago:
This build of the deck skimps on cards like Tar Creeper and Fan of Knives to go all-in Kingsbane. It notably runs two Doomerangs and a pair of Counterfeit Coins to power out weapon-buffing minions like Captain Greenskin. The thing I love most about this list is that it knows exactly what it’s trying to do (build a massive Kingsbane as quickly as possible) and it doesn’t waste precious deck space pretending to be something it’s not. It probably needs to draw really well to beat Aggro Paladin or Tempo Rogue, but that would probably still be the case even if the deck ran more defensive cards than it currently does.
Ryvius’ Quest Rogue
The nerf to The Caverns Below all but killed the Quest Rogue archetype through Knights of the Frozen Throne, but Kobolds & Catacombs has provided the deck with plenty of shiny new toys. Both Zola the Gorgon and Sonya Shadowdancer give the deck even more ways to copy minions, while Wax Elemental provided the deck with a cheap tool to buy an extra turn or two of time both before and after Crystal Core is active.
Ryvius, a known Quest Rogue aficionado, was able to pilot this list as high as rank 8 Legend recently. He noted the deck is good as long you “avoid secret mage and aggro paladin”, which will likely ring true for most successful Rogue lists right now.
Whereas Rogue was in a great spot before the recent nerfs, Shaman has been in a rut since the release of K&C. Evolve strategies were happy to pick up Unstable Evolution from the latest set, but nerfs to Patches the Pirate, Bonemare, and Corridor Creeper dealt a major blow to Token/Evolve Shaman’s power level.
Fortunately for Shaman fans, the class is equipped with a healthy number of tools for taking on aggro decks. Devolve, Maelstrom Portal, Jade Claws, Lightning Storm, and Volcano all do an excellent job at dealing with pesky aggressive minions, which gives Shaman a fighting chance against cards like Call to Arms and Aluneth. If you want to beat Aggro decks as Shaman, you can probably find a way to do that without having to get too creative. The trick is finding a way to beat Aggro with enough slots remaining in your deck to still beat Control decks.
Purple’s Mill Shaman
Mill has classically been known as control-beater, so it stands to reason that any mill deck which can weather the storm against the current suite of Aggro decks should be a solid choice for the current meta. With that in mind, take a look at this beautiful monstrosity of a deck:
Purple was able to hold top 100 Legend with this list for 7 hours on stream. What’s your excuse?
Jokes aside, I actually love the direction this deck is going in and think a list like this has a ton of potential. Murmuring Elemental and Grumble, Worldshaker do double-duty in this list, doubling the effectiveness of both Coldlight Oracle and Jade cards. Healing Rain and Jinyu Waterspeaker excel as both anti-aggro and anti-fatigue tools, bolstering the deck’s early and late game at the same time. With so many cards in the deck performing multiple functions, its no surprise that Purple was able to find room in the deck for rarely-played cards such as Rummaging Kobold and The Runespear. As a big fan of Shaman, I can confidently state that this will be the next list I’m looking to test and tune for the competitive ladder.
Frescha’s Mill Shaman
With so many Warlock’s running around these days, Hex is probably as strong as it has ever been since its nerf last September. Until Rin, the First Disciple and Carnivorous Cube become less prevalent on the ladder, the best Shaman lists will probably run a pair of Hexes.
The fact that Murmuring Elemental, Jade Spirit, and Grumble, Worldshaker are all Elementals could also motivate a mill-focused strategy to build a bit more around the Elemental sub-theme, which is exactly what Frescha did with this list:
I love the additions of Hex and Kalimos, Primal Lord as tools for combating Warlock, and have always been a huge fan of Hot Spring Guardian in Elemental decks. Though it doesn’t heal for quite as much as Healing Rain will in the late game, it serves as an excellent road block for aggro strategies and can even have its Battlecry doubled by Murmuring Elemental or Grumble, Worldshaker. The Skulking Geist serves a tool for beating both Jade Druid and Combo Priest, but can probably be swapped out for a Healing Rain or Rummaging Kobold if neither of those decks are popular on the ladder at your rank.
Overall, I’d expect that the “best Shaman mill deck” would be somewhere between Purple’s and Frescha’s lists. There’s still plenty of room for growth and innovation within the archetype, and I look forward to much of that myself in the coming weeks.
Warrior has been one of the worst classes in the game since the nerf to Fiery War Axe, and not much has happened in recent weeks to change that. Though Recruit decks showed some brief promise in the early-goings of the K&C meta, the archetype took up most of the new card slots from K&C and has failed to impress in the current ladder environment. I don’t expect Recruit decks to suddenly become playable due to the popularity of aggro, but that doesn’t that Warrior fans should give up hope. The three new “armor-matters” cards, Drywhisker Armorer, Reckless Flurry, and Geosculptor Yip, have largely been overlooked due to Warrior’s abysmal playrates, but could potentially be used to shore up some of the classes old weaknesses.
It shouldn’t be that hard for Warriors to beat aggro decks if they dedicate enough slots in their deck to do so. Whirlwind. Sleep with the Fishes, Brawl, and Blood Razor are excellent against wide boards out of Paladin decks, while Execute and Shield Slam can deal with problematically large minions out of Spiteful Summoner decks. Against the likes of Tempo/Secret Mage, Drywhisker Armorer and Bring It On! are capable of buying additional turns of time. The real question, once again, is how do we plan to beat Control after we have teched out our deck to beat Aggro?
Cocasasa’s Mill Warrior
If Mill Shaman is somewhat viable right now, wouldn’t a mill deck with two Dead Man’s Hand be playable as well?
Cocosasa was able to reach top 100 Legend with this extremely low to the ground build of Mill Warrior. The deck features only one card that costs more than 5 mana, allowing it to consistently play to the board against go-wide aggro decks in the early game.
Cocosasa plays nearly every anti-aggro card I mentioned above, trimming on quite a few late-game cards to do so. Coldlight Oracle and Dead Man’s Hand (and sometimes Zola the Gorgon) are the only cards which can actually win the game for you in this list. As the mill plan is the only plan with this deck, this particular build of Mill Warrior has less margin for error when playing against control decks than other builds might. If you’re brand new to mill strategies in general, you might want to trim a Cornered Sentry or a Battle Rage for something which can stabilize the board for you on turn 10, such as Geosculptor Yip, Grommash Hellscream, or Rotface.
Fibonacci’s Combo Warrior
Warrior has frequently been able to cobble together a wacky, janky, and totally off-meta combo deck each new expansion. Fibonacci has brewed up the latest (and hopefully greatest) Warrior deck with an OTK in it, though it would be a bit disingenuous to call this a “pure” combo deck.
As Fibonacci noted in this tweet, this is really an anti-aggro deck which happens to have an OTK in it. As the deck contains just 4 minions, you’ll need to rely heavily on your spells to keep the board clear until Woecleaver can come down and pull out Grommash Hellscream for potential OTKs. The combo kill probably won’t be as relevant against aggro decks, but it’s a necessary evil for beating other control decks. I like this deck for a lot of the same reasons I like the Mill deck; it doesn’t need to dedicate that many slots towards actually winning the game, so it is able to pack a diverse array of answers for aggro decks.
There is still plenty of time left in the Kobolds & Catacombs meta for the game’s worst classes to turn things around. As the meta is currently leaning quite aggressively, any deck built to prey on aggro should be able to find some modicum of success on the ladder. Anti-aggro decks which can also afford to pack a lean and reliable late-game win condition, such as mill decks or combo decks, might also be able to find success against control decks with slower win conditions such as Rin, the First Disciple. Though I don’t expect all of the above decks to become mainstays of the meta, I’d expect them all to perform admirably on the ladder in the right hands.