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The Best Decks For The Worst Classes

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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, plenty of time for the meta to adjust and adapt to the changes. 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 was. Both Patches the Pirate and Raza the Chained were oppressive cards 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. 

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Class winrates in Standard, courtesy of Hsreplay.net

Not only do these three classes boast the lowest winrates across all levels of play, they also lay claim to three of the four lowest playrates.

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Class playrates courtesy of metastats.net

If you're a fan of one of these three classes, then it's time to get back to the drawing board! In theory, a meta which is trending slower and grindier should favor decks that have powerful late-game plans or 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 either aggro or aggro/midrange decks (Secret Mage, Aggro Paladin, Spiteful Priest, and Murloc Paladin) according to metastats.net. The more things change, the more things stay the same, eh? With that in mind, let's take a look at some new and unique decks from each the game's three weakest classes to see how we can turn things around for them.

Rogue

No class was hit harder by the nerfs than Rogue. Arguably the best deck 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 PirateBonemare, and Corridor Creeper all hit the deck hard, Rogue is also being held back by the classes natural weakness against the go-wide aggro strategies which are currently popular on the ladder. 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. Cards like Elven Minstrel and Vilespine Slayer do a great job of getting Rogue ahead, but Valeera doesn't have nearly as many ways to interact with a decent Call to Arms pull as some of the other classes in the game.

Though you could try to tech your favorite Rogue out with every defensive Neutral minion you can find, 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 some of their slower draws with a powerful mid/late game of your own.

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:

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This build of the deck skimps on cards like Tar Creeper and Fan of Knives to go all-in on Kingsbane. It notably runs two Doomerangs and a pair of Counterfeit Coins to power out weapon-buffing minions such as Naga Corsair and 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 Secret Mage, but that would likely still be the case even if the deck traded its Counterfeit Coins for Tar Creepers.

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 breathed some new life into the archetype by providing it with plenty of shiny new toys. Both Zola the Gorgon and Sonya Shadowdancer give the deck 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 comes down.

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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 decks right now.

Shaman

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 PirateBonemare, and Corridor Creeper dealt a major blow to the power level of Token/Evolve strategies.

Fortunately for Shaman fans, the class is equipped with a very healthy number of tools for taking on an aggro-meta. DevolveMaelstrom PortalJade ClawsJade LightningLightning Storm, and Volcano all do an excellent job of dealing with pesky aggressive minions, which gives Shaman a fighting chance against cards like Call to Arms. If you really want to beat aggro as Shaman, you can probably find a way to do it without having to get very creative. The trick is finding a way to beat aggro with enough slots remaining in your deck to still beat control.

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:

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Purple was able to hold top 100 Legend with this list for 7 hours on streamMurmuring Elemental and Grumble, Worldshaker are all-stars in this list, doubling the effectiveness of Coldlight Oracle for the mill plan, healing cards such as Jinyu Waterspeaker to stabilize against aggro, and Jade cards such as Jade Chieftain to play to the board. 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 a rarely-played cards like Rummaging Kobold and The Runespear.

Frescha's Mill Shaman

With so many Warlocks 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, I suspect that the best Shaman lists will be running a pair of Hexes.

The fact that Murmuring ElementalJade 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:

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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 decks and can still 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 RainRummaging Kobold, or another tech card if neither of these 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

Warrior has been one of the weakest 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 has failed to impress in the current ladder environment while taking up most of the new card slots for Warrior from K&C. I don't expect Recruit decks to suddenly become playable due to the popularity of aggro, but that doesn't mean that Warrior fans should give up hope. The three new "armor-matters" cards, Drywhisker ArmorerReckless Flurry, and Geosculptor Yip, have largely been overlooked due to Warrior's abysmal playrates, and they're all excellent tools for fighting aggro.

It shouldn't be that hard for Warriors to beat aggro decks if they dedicate enough slots in their deck to do so. WhirlwindSleep with the FishesBrawl, 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, shouldn't a mill deck with two Dead Man's Hand in it be viable 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.

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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 are the only cards in the deck that actually win you the game, which makes this deck about as lean as they come.

This particular build of Mill Warrior has less margin for error when playing against control decks than other builds I've seen in the past. If you're brand new to mill strategies in general, you might want to trim a Battle Rage for something which can provide you with a back-up plan, such as Geosculptor YipGrommash Hellscream, or Rotface.

Fibonacci's Combo Warrior

Warrior has frequently been able to cobble together at least one wacky, janky, totally off-meta combo deck per 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 list a "pure" combo deck.

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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, giving it he space to pack a diverse array of answers for aggro decks.

Conclusion

There is still plenty of time left in the Kobolds & Catacombs meta for the game's weakest classes to turn things around. As the meta is currently leaning quite aggressively, any deck which is built to prey on aggro should be able to find at least 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 like 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.

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Legend ladder tends to have a meta of its own, often featuring slower, specifically teched and/or plainly weirdly built decks to counter a specific threat than the lower ranks. Don't be too surprised if you get (graphical description of sexual violence censored) at lower ranks with any of those.

Edited by Keizoku

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3 hours ago, Keizoku said:

Legend ladder tends to have a meta of its own, often featuring slower, specifically teched and/or plainly weirdly built decks to counter a specific threat than the lower ranks. Don't be too surprised if you get (graphical description of sexual violence censored) at lower ranks with any of those.

so true, i always feel like the ladder can be separated in 4 parts

Rank 25-15 (everything goes, lots of netdecks with substitutes, but also sometimes creative approaches)

Rank 15-5 (netdecks with some substitutes)

Rank 5-1 (mostly "Tier 1" netdecks, "best [ladder] decks" grinding to legend with some Tech cards)

Legend (netdecks with tech cards and really whacky stuff) but even Legend has a very wide spectrum....

so for an example take the Hungry Crab. It is a good tech card but at Rank like 25-10, the deck variety is so big it is sometimes not even worth teching in cards...

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Short comment: Mill decks are boring and disgusting so sad 3 classes are pushed to that point.

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I'd be interested to see a similar graph for the few days after ever expansion. I'd bet money that the spike in hunter is there for every expansion. People looking to take advantage of the fresh meta with a very basic aggro hunter to get easy ranks.

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