Sottle

Sottle's Weekly Meta Analysis - Navigating the Undertaker Nerf.

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Hearthstone Meta Analysis: Navigating the Undertaker Nerf

 

Hello again friends! Instead of the usual format for this week's Meta analysis, I am going to discuss one thing, and one thing only. What does the Undertaker nerf mean for the Meta?

 

The nerf to Undertaker is, in my opinion, the single biggest change that Blizzard have made to the game since release. Undertaker has shaped the meta since its introduction in the Curse of Naxxramas adventure. Not only was it included in every aggressive deck as a way to spiral the board in the early turns, it also shaped the decisions of Control deck builders, since you needed to include an answer to Undertaker in the deck, or risk losing outright to that card.

 

To deal with the obvious outcomes, Undertaker being nerfed weakens two particular decks significantly, those decks being Midrange/Aggro Hunter, and Zoo. Without access to the oppressive Undertaker starts, these two decks will dominate the board early less often, which in turn leaves them with less of a platform to build on. Zoo is hit harder than Hunter, since Hunter is often just using Undertaker as a way to push damage to the opponent, where as Zoo is using it as a trading tool early, meaning they are hit much harder by the lack of health gain.

 

Hunter can react to the nerf fairly easily, by switching their gameplan to an all out Face Rush style, including cards like Wolfrider and Arcane Golem in their deck. This means they no longer care about the health of their Undertakers, they are simply interested in how much damage it can do to the opponent. A 2 Health Undertaker still dies to the same things are a 3 Health one, Fiery War Axe, Wrath, Frostbolt etc., meaning your opponent will still require the right answer to avoid having to take a lot of damage.

 

Zoo on the other hand has more difficult decisions to make. Zoo can either be now played as a Mech deck, trying to take advantage of Mechwarper as their sprial mechanism instead of Undertaker. Or alternatively, they can stick to mostly traditional lists and simply replace Undertaker with other 1-drops such as Argent Squire. Cutting Undertaker from the list makes cards like Leper Gnome too weak to include, since the 2 damage is usually not worth the weak board presence.

 

One of the biggest winners from the Undertaker nerf is Mech Mage. Mech Mage is now the Aggro deck of choice in the Meta, since without Undertaker gaining health, their starts are no longer outclassed and out-traded by Undertaker starts. This presence of Mech Mage is the Meta is hugely important, since it means there is still an Aggro deck that is very common, and very powerful that needs to be kept in mind when building decks.

 

Due to this, the Control decks have had to hold back from cutting all the anti-Aggro cards from their deck. It was posited that decks like Ramp Druid and Handlock would cut the Zombie Chows from their deck, since without Undertaker they would not be required. However, this has turned out to not be the case. Zombie Chow is still hugely important against Mech Mage, and in fact has arguably increased in power, since a Zombie Chow now beats an Undertaker start outright, instead of running relatively even with it.

 

With that said, there has been a slight rising of the curve in Control Decks, since they now only have to deal with one Aggro deck in the form of Mech Mage, instead of the previous 3. Because of this, Miracle Rogue in its various forms has come back into fashion somewhat, since Miracle Rogue is one of the most effective ways to punish people for building decks that are too greedy. If you give Rogue enough time to set-up, through your deck being too slow, you allow them to gather all the resources they need to kill you.

 

Overall the removal of Undertaker from the format opens up a lot more options for viable decks. The presence of Undertaker functioned as a punishing deterrent for people looking to play various types of late-game or combo decks, since you were required to have an answer to Undertaker, or simply lose to a large portion of decks in the format. Without that simple equation, the meta is now a more interesting puzzle for people to solve, and creates a much finer balance. As with any meta, this one is likely to be solved in the coming weeks and months, and a new dominant force will arise, but for now, enjoy the freedom of a post-Undertaker world!

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Well done on this week's Meta Analysis Sottle! I truly didn't realize that the Undertaker had that great of an impact on the Meta. I've only recently come up against decks still running with it (Hunters, in this case) and it still seems quite powerful.

Is the Undertaker still a viable card in budget rush/control decks or is it worthwhile replacing him entirely?

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It's still worth playing in a deck that has the simply goal of killing the opponent as quickly as possible, since they still require an answer to deal with it, or risk taking damage. 2 or 3 damage from your 1 drop, which then gets traded off by their first minion, is a fine platform to build on for all out Aggro still.

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