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We take a look back on the first week of the KFT metagame to share everything you can do to dominate the next one.
With the first week of Knights of the Frozen Throne behind us we are just now starting to glimpse what the upcoming meta has in store for us. It’s still far too early to claim that all the new decks and archetypes have been finely tuned, but we have learned a lot from our first week with the new cards in KFT.
The first change we encountered in the new meta was the dominance of the dedicated control deck. Towards the end of the Un’Goro metagame the most dominant decks were almost entirely aggressive or midrange in nature, yet nearly all of the most played decks from the first week of KFT have been controlling. Everybody was very excited to try the new Death Knight cards, and since these cards have high mana costs they tended to end up in naturally controlling or midrange decks.
Once it became obvious that nearly every deck on the ladder was big and greedy, the next few days became a battle to become even bigger and greedier. At one point while watching Dog’s stream I saw him put N'Zoth into his Control Mage deck with only two Deathrattle cards in the entire deck (Pyros and the Frozen Champions from Sindragosa) to get back from N’Zoth’s battlecry! Talk about greedy.
As fun as it was to have a Control-dominated meta for the first few days of KFT, this kind of greed wouldn’t go unpunished for very long. Thanks to a lack of Aggro decks, the overwhelming popularity of Jade Druid, and the new cards Simulacrum and Ghastly Conjurer, a more consistent Quest Mage deck emerged as a way to punish the slow meta. As players started to gear more and more towards beating slow decks, the pendulum began to swing back towards the aggro side of things. In the past few days the number of Pirate Warriors on ladder has greatly risen, and I haven’t spotted a single Frost Lich Jaina or Uther of the Ebon Blade in over 100 games.
Towards the end of the Un’Goro metagame no one class was vastly more dominant than the others, but the same is certainly not true for the early days of KFT. Druid has become the most popular by a wide margin. According to the current Reaper Live report a staggering 36% of the Legend meta is made up of Druid decks. Thanks in no small part to the new cards Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague, Druid now boasts highly competitive Midrange and Control decks to compliment the Aggro deck which was already top tier in Un’Goro.
A major reason why all three decks are so difficult to play against is how difficult it is to mulligan against a Druid. You can never know for sure if you should be keeping cards which are strong against Jade Druid or Aggro Druid, which surely plays a part in the success of both decks. Druid might be quite strong at the moment but it is certainly not unbeatable, and according to the Reaper Live report there are multiple decks which have a positive winrate against two of three Druid builds.
The perfect deck for this early meta will have the defensive tools to outclass Aggro decks such as Pirate Warrior and Aggro Druid in the early game while still being fast enough to kill Jade Druid and Kazakus Priest decks before they get the chance to dominate the late game. Aggro decks make up only 25% of the current meta, which means it’s still much more important to slant your deck towards the speedy end of things so that you can beat up on the slower decks which are still popular. All of these signs point towards an aggressively slanted Midrange deck as the best choice for the current meta, and the data from Reaper Live agrees. The deck with the best winrates across the board is not a Druid deck at all, but an aggressive Midrange Murloc Paladin deck.
Midrange Murloc Paladin
2x Murloc Tidecaller 2x Righteous Protector 2x Vilefin Inquisitor 2x Hydrologist 2x Rockpool Hunter 2x Murloc Warleader 2x Rallying Blade 1x Stonehill Defender 1x Wickerflame Burnbristle 2x Blessing of Kings 2x Corpsetaker 2x Gentle Megasaur 1x Bolvar, Fireblood 1x Finja, the Flying Star 2x Spikeridged Steed 1x Sunkeeper Tarim 2x Bonemare 1x Tirion Fordring Shockingly, Midrange Paladin has positive matchups against every deck in the meta except for Token Shaman and Aggro Druid, but even these matchups sit at a very manageable 48%. The deck was already a strong choice in the Un’Goro meta but it picked up some exciting new toys in KFT to build upon its previous success. Defensive minions like Righteous Protector and Corpsetaker allow the deck stall aggressive decks into the midgame, where Midrange Paladin shines. A Bonemare or a Spikeridged Steed on a Skelemancer is commonly a game ending play, and all of the powerful legendary minions the deck had access to in the Un’Goro meta have gone nowhere.
Midrange Paladin also packs an impressive number of early Murlocs which are capable of applying tons of pressure. The dream 1-2-3-4 of Murloc Tidecaller into Rockpool Hunter into Murloc Warleader into Gentle Megasaur has to potential to kill as early as turn 4 against any opponent who doesn't pack interaction for the early game . With Murloc Paladin boasting such high win rates across the board, don’t be surprised if you see Hungry Crab start popping up as the tech card of choice in the near future.
2x Forbidden Shaping 1x Silence 2x Pint-Size Potion 2x Potion of Madness 2x Shadow Visions 2x Shadow Word: Pain 2x Shadow Word: Death 1x Barnes 2x Eternal Servitude 2x Priest of the Feast 2x Shadow Word: Horror 2x Dragonfire Potion 2x Shadow Essence 1x Free From Amber 1x The Lich King 2x Obsidian Statue 1x Ysera 1x Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound In what I consider to be another big surprise, Big Priest is the only other deck with positive winrates against two of the three popular Druid decks . A brand new deck in KFT thanks to Eternal Servitude, Shadow Essence, and Obsidian Statue, the deck boasts a dominant 71% winrate against Midrange Druid and a very respectable 53% against Token Druid. Its 45% win rate against Jade Druid isn’t embarrassing either, which means this deck still has some game against the most popular deck in the format.
Big Priest seems like a very luck-oriented deck on its surface as it features high-roll cards like Barnes and Shadow Essence to pull powerful minions from its deck at a discounted cost, yet in practice the deck is shockingly consistent. It doesn’t have any true misses off a Barnes, who himself is the only awkward card to hit off Shadow Essence. Even if it doesn’t hit one of these cards early, double Dragonfire Potion and double Pint-Size Potion plus Shadow Word: Horror allows the deck to draw out the game until they can play their huge minions naturally.
With all that said, the deck still has a tendency to defeat itself by drawing the wrong combination of cards. It gets absolutely run over by Pirate Warrior and Quest Mage and isn’t able to run tech cards like Golakka Crawler or Dirty Rat due to the nature of Barnes and Shadow Essence. Fortunately for fans of Big Priest, these two bad matchups make up just 10% of the meta while the positive matchups for Big Priest account for roughly 40% of the meta, making Big Priest an excellent choice for the early KFT metagame.
Tech of the Week
The one piece of technology which has remained consistently powerful throughout the first week of KFT is The Black Knight. Thanks to the extremely widespread play of Bonemare there are almost no decks in the metagame which lack a juicy target for The Black Knight to gobble up. This Aggro Druid list which hit #1 Legend not only runs Bonemare, but also runs The Black Knight to pave the way for its cheaper minions to sneak in those last few points of damage. It doesn’t really seem to matter if your Aggro, Midrange, or Control, The Black Knight is a game winning tech card in the current meta.
Deck to Watch
The success of Midrange Paladin can be attributed to the fact that it is both fast enough to go underneath the current Control decks and defensive enough to go over the top of the current Aggro decks. Any other deck which is capable of accomplishing this same feat would also be very well positioned, which makes me believe that Nostam's Midrange Hunter is poised to take off.
2x Alleycat 2x Hungry Crab 2x Tracking 2x Crackling Razormaw 2x Golakka Crawler 2x Kindly Grandmother 2x Animal Companion 2x Bearshark 2x Eaglehorn Bow 2x Kill Command 2x Houndmaster 1x Nesting Roc 2x Tundra Rhino 1x Deathstalker Rexxar 2x Savannah Highmane 2x Bonemare This deck has all the tools it needs to blast its way through Jade Druid with the proper draw. Bearshark curves amazingly into Houndmaster, and Bonemare is like a Houndmaster on steroids. It runs a healthy curve of one and two drops to contest the board early, and pack all four crabs so it can steal some free wins off of Aggro decks. Deathstalker Rexxar seems at his absolute best in this style of deck, as he provides the deck with the card draw engine it needs to not run out of steam against controlling decks.
I still think the list has a bit of room to improve. Hunter is currently the least played class in the entire meta which also means it is the least tested. I’m not sure that double Tundra Rhino shines in this list without Deathstalker Rexxar already in play. The deck also might be in need one more tool to outvalue opposing Midrange decks in the mid to late game, as it doesn’t pack many tools to catch up once it’s fallen behind.
Our goal with this report was to get you up to speed on the current trends in the meta and to provide you with the analysis you’ll need to stay ahead of the competition. As this was our first meta report for Hearthstone we would love to hear your feedback on what you felt worked or what you thought might have been missing. Please feel free to tell us in the comments what you found to be helpful and if there if there is anything you’d like to see in the next meta report!
Until next time,
Choose your Champion returns for the Hearthstone Global Games finals.
Once again, as with every major Hearthstone competition hosted by Blizzard, we can choose our favourite representative and potentially win card packs! This time it's the Hearthstone Global Games finals with four teams of four people from four different countries.
The finalists are: the United States, Ukraine, South Korea and the Czech Republic.
Head over to this site and pick the country that you think is most likely to win. The voting will last until August 23 at 23:59 PDT. You will get a free Knights of the Frozen Throne pack just for participating in the voting. Since the Global Games are already on the semi-finals stage, you can win up to a maximum of two packs only (given that the two semi-finalists will progress to the finals and there's no progressing after that).
The finals will take place at Gamescom on August 25. Choose wisely!