What are pros playing post-Naxx: 9 players, 9 classes, 9 decklists
|Table of contents|
Today, we take a look at nine different post-Naxx decks played by some of the most popular Hearthstone streamers on the scene. This small collection aims to provide an overview of the ladder meta and showcase some of the new deck types which have appeared with the expansion as well as the upgrades that older decks have received.
Note: Have in mind that all nine decks have been screenshot at different points of time so by the time you're reading this article they might've undergone changes. After all, climbing the ladder is all about making constant, minor improvements but in the end this collection should be enough to give you the basics on how to build for a certain class.
Before Naxxramas was released, the Druid Tokens were one of the best performing decks in the meta-game, especially the competitive one. Built upon the well-roundedness of the Druid class and the killer combos between Violet Teacher and Power of the Wild, the deck performed exceptionally well in tournaments and, alongside Miracle and Handlock, was one of the decks-to-beat a month ago.
With the release of Naxxramas, the Druid was a class which mostly got updates for its older archetypes rather than receive a new one altogether. The Token build gave a warm welcome to Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg, making its board presence even more resistant to AoE removal. Token Druids rarely ran out of minions and were able to maintain an even higher pressure all throughout the game.
On the right is the decklist of Cloud 9’s captain Marcin “Gnimsh” Filipowicz as screenshot on August 11th. This token iteration features all you love about the build – Violet Teacher combos, persistent board, two Swipes and Force of Nature/Savage Roar finishers. Two Haunted Creepers take the 2-drop slot and later in the curve there are two Spectral Knights on the 5-drop slot (or earlier with Innervates, which is often game-winning against certain classes).
What’s weird about Gnimsh’s build is a single Naturalize, which is normally not used in any Druid deck, ever. However, not only can it be used to clear fat taunters, it can also hit your own Sylvanas in order to steal a bigger, better minion (useful against control decks).
If you’ve played at least five ladder games this past couple of days, chances are four of those have been against Hunters. A strong deck overall even before Curse of Naxxramas, Hunters recently got several more fantastic cards they like to play.
Early Naxx wings gave them the Haunted Creeper as a reliable 2-drop, a slot which was previously taken by lower-value minions like River Crocolisk , as well as the Webspinner, a 1-drop that replaces itself with another Beast, filling Hunter’s hand with more threats.
However, what really made Hunters annoying was Mad Scientist from the most recent construct quarters. It fills the 2-drop slot and gives you a free secret. Value? Value. What's more, Tempo Storm captain Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk has gone out to say that this is the "best creature in the game".
The rest of the deck is more or less what you're used to seeing in old mid-range Hunters. It has double Buzzard/Unleash combo as every Hunter should. It has two Eaglehorn Bows now that there are essentially six copies of secrets in the deck which you can draw (counting the two Mad Scientists). There's a Loatheb because Loatheb should be everywhere and two Savannah Highmanes and a Leeroy to finish the curve.
Right now, the Hunter is one of the quickest ways to climb the ladder. Except against control Paladins and taunt-stacked control Warriors, the new mid-range Hunter doesn't particularly suck against anything and the games are usually quick so if you're that kind of person that likes driving other people mad - get on it.
If you’re looking for a fun deck to play, the Mad Scientist Mage secrets deck is the one for you.
This deck by DreamHack Summer champion Dima “Rdu” Radu makes heavy use of Mage’s secrets. This set of spells, for Mage specifically, is usually considered quite bad with the exception of Ice Barrier and Ice Block but here they come in cheap through Mad Scientist’s deathrattle.
Although it reads like a heavy control deck, the Mage secrets decks is actually a minion-based, mid-range one. It needs to start with some good first turns with Mana Wyrm and/or Mad Scientist and then transition into the mid-game depending on what secret the scientist yields.
Although all of Mage’s secrets are very situational, the fact they come in for free create an important tempo advantage. A free Mirror Entity means you’re getting a bonus minion when your opponent plays one, which can attack immediately on your next turn, while Counterspell saves your minions from removal.
Even secrets which are not activated until later in the game, i.e. Ice Block, are of use because they stay hidden for many turns and help the Ethereal Arcanist grow, which is one of the win conditions in the game. The other minions should be very familiar to the Mage lovers – Water Elementals, Azure Drakes, Sludge Belchers, Argent Commanders are all high-value minions which are good by themselves.
As the Mage secrets is a deck that’s not yet figured out completely, I suggest you take a look at another iteration of the idea, that of reddit user and legend Mage player Witvviky. Witvviky’s deck follows the same playstyle but features a lot more secrets, including Vaporize and the new Duplicate.
We already mentioned that Mages have pretty crappy secrets. Well, guess what, the same is true for the Paladin. Easy to counter and check and with too minor effects to swing the tempo, Paladin’s “traps” have been disregarded by the Hearthstone population and with good reason.
Just like Mages, however, Paladins are now trying to make sense of their secrets through the flavor of the month minion Mad Scientist. After all, even bad secrets are better when they come in for free.
The list on the right was submitted on Twitter by Curse’s Johan “Darkwonyx” Hansson who’s running a weird Paladin deck on the high legend ranks.
The “secret” part of this build is the two copies of Redemption and Repentance. Redemption is used together with deathrattle minions for double effect so cards like Loot Hoarder, Harvest Golem and Haunted Creeper are particularly persistent. Redemption also works well with divine shield minions who will re-enter the battlefield with their shield on. This is where Scarlet Crusader and Sunwalker come in, and even Tirion Fordring if you happen to draw a Redemption in the late game.
Repentance, on the other hand, is a mini Equality which is never played because it’s easily countered by the opponent playing minions which have low health to begin with. Here, however, you can get it for free through Mad Scientist and you can use it in the late game to soften opponent’s big finishers.
Here comes the Priest… or at least the build play by the lord of Anduin Jason “Amaz” Chan himself.
A lot of pro players have been toying with Priest lately and chances are that you encounter the class on ladder a lot and seeing a lot of variations of it. You will see some Deathlord/Wailing Soul synergies and some double Cabal Shadow Priest plays which are also fine if they fit your style.
Amaz, on the other hand, has decided to take very little from Curse of Naxxramas for a total of three cards. His 1-drop slot is reinforced by Zombie Chow, a strong early-game minion which can become a nuisance when buffed/healed and whose drawback is negligible in the early game because opponents don’t really take five damage against Priest in the first few turns.
On the 3-drop we see double Dark Cultist, Priest's newest minion released with the Construct Quarter. A 3/4 for 3 mana, the Cultist passes the vanilla test with flying colors and has a nice buff to give away on Deathrattle. Finally, there’s Loatheb on the 5-mana slot because what else are you going to put on the 5-mana slot.
The rest is fairly standard and is everything you’ve seen before in tournaments or on ladder: Auchenai/Circle of Healing and Injured Blademaster/Circle of Healing combos, Pyromancer shenanigans, Shadow Words and Power Words and lord Ragnaros at the end of the curve.
While the deck is powerful, we do not really recommend it for climbing the ladder. Although it performs well against the Trap Hunters which are kings of the ladder at the moment, it often struggles against Zoo if it doesn't get the right draws (SW: Pain, Wild Pyromancer or Auchenai/Circle combo) and tends to go into fatigue against slow decks like control Warrior and Paladin.
Miracle has always been the top Rogue build and pre-Naxxramas, the deck ruled the ladder. Even now, when almost all Naxxramas cards have been released and other classes are experiencing resurgence, Miracle Rogue continues to appear in online and tournament play alike just because it’s god damn strong.
However, there is one more build that occasionally pops up and wrecks face – the aggro Rogue originally developed by Backspace.
Channeling the inner aggression of the Rogue class, this build is all about hitting the enemy in the face, hard. The deck was initially designed to counter the slower, meta-defining decks of pre-Naxx like Handlock and Miracle because they had hard times living till their finishers or had their cards burnt from Coldlight Oracle and King Mukla.
On the right, we have Ryan "Realz" Masterson’s aggro Rogue which he brought to the recent VGVN tournament with the small adjustment of King Mukla replacing Blood Knight which is better for climbing the ladder overall. You’ll note that the deck barely uses any Naxxramas cards, Loatheb being the only exception, but other builds like that of MYM’s Rdu actually include double Haunted Creeper to replace the Loot Hoarder’s in Realz’s build.
The deck performs well in the aggro vs aggro match-ups as his race potential is big but you might find it difficult overcoming the very slow control decks, i.e. Priests, Paladins and Warriors. The latter have a plethora of taunters and/or healing mechanics and if you do not end them by turn six or seven and let them stabilize you'll likely be facing your own doom.
Shaman players have really been looking forward to Naxxramas. Previously a class which had no more than two consistent builds (with minor differences between the two), the totem lords were now given Reincarnate – a card which just screams “combo”.
It didn’t take long before Reincarnate decks appeared. Abusing the plentiful of deathrattle minions now available in the game, Shamans turned to their new card to create an entirely new archetype of decks.
On the right we see Harry "Massan" Cheong’s Reincarnate Shaman deck as displayed on his personal website. The goal of the deck is to populate its own board through Deathrattle summon effects (Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg, Cairne, Sludge Belcher, Harvest Golem) or steal opponent’s threats by targeting its own Sylvanas.
Of course, a Deathrattle deck wouldn’t be complete without Baron Rivendare who makes things even more fun and creates sweet combos like:
- Rivendare + Cairne + Reincarnate = 3x 4/5 bodies
- Rivendare + Sylvanas + Reincarnate = Steal two minions and get 5/5 body ready to steal a third
- Rivendare + Nerubian Egg + Reincarnate = 2x 4/4 bodies + 0/2 Nerubian Egg
- Rivendare + Creeper/Golem/Belcher + Reincarnate = Many, many tokens
Do note that Massan’s Reincarnate Shaman is not the only version of the deck out there. Other iterations, like TidesofTimes’ for example, run Ancestral Spirit and Feugen and Stalagg for even bigger, scarier combos which flood the board with many 11/11 Thadius’s.
Another very interesting combo-ish deck that’s been getting popularity is Sebastian "Xixo" Bentert’s Deathrattle Warlock deck. Based on the foundations of the Zoo, this deck starts with small drops like Flame Imp, Voidwalker, Haunted Creeper and Knife Juggler but once it has all the pieces together, it starts getting scary.
The core of this deck is Void Terror, a card previously considered terribly but getting more and more popularity nowadays due to the many deathrattle cards in Naxxramas. Able to hit the board as early as T3, Void Terror’s goal is to eat deatrattle minions to grow in size while not destroying the board presence; think of cards like Nerubian Egg, Harvest Golem and Haunted Creeper.
Another important card is the Voidcaller, a 3/4 for 4 mana with a pretty sweet deathrattle. When eaten by the Void Terror, Voidcaller will not only boost him with some sweet stats but will also replace itself on the board with a random demon from player’s hand, thus bypassing any eventual drawbacks. Thus, Doomguards come charging without destroying your hand, Flame Imps hit the board without hitting for 3, etc.
Minions and cards which boost stats also play an important role as they will essentially grow the Void Terror even bigger when the buffed minion is consumed.
You will notice that the end of the curve is occupied by Feugen and Stalagg but these slots can be freed for other cards as well. A similar deck played by Realz in the recent VGVN tournament actually used this space for Lord Jaraxxus and Dread Infernal which can be "cheated" in play through Voidcaller quite early.
Finally, we have Sebastian "Forsen" Fors' control Warrior, ready and equipped with Garrosh's newest toy - Death's Bite.
Patrons of the archetype will immediately fall in love with this card once they see just how much more power and depth it adds to the control Warrior. It fills the 4-drop slot which was weak in previous Warrior builds (it also comes immediately after Fiery War Axe expires). It hits for 4 damage twice, meaning it can clear a lot of the mid-game threats. It’s deathrattle casts a Whirldwind and is another way to activate Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith and Grommash.
One small change Forsen has done is put two Frothing Berserkers in the deck, which is something that’s been uncommon for control Warriors for quite a while. Although somewhat of a slow card (only on T4 can Frothing Berserker attack for lots of damage if he gets buffed and if he survives the turn he enters play), the extra trigger tools like Death’s Bite make him a bigger threat than before and he can be used to apply pressure on slower decks or cause the mid-range Hunters a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, have in mind that Frothing Berserkers is a situational card which can end the game for you or do absolutely nothing and it requires extra planning before it can develop its potential. Warrior players might choose to sub it out for some extra removal, like another Slam and maybe even a Cleave now that Zoo and mid-range Hunter are the meta-defining decks.
At the end of the article, we'd like to remind all our readers that blind netdecking will never yield fruitful results. Climbing the ladder is about understanding and countering a dynamic metagame as well as getting proficient with a certain class, or deck or playstyle. Get inspired by what the pros are playing but be ready to tune each of these decks to your liking and if the metagame requires it.