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Sottle's Weekly Hearthstone Meta Analysis for Week of 07/12/2014 - 14/12/2014

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Hearthstone Meta Analysis: 07/12/2014 - 14/12/2014

 

Hey guys, instead of the usual format for these articles, I figured it would be better just to take a general look at the first week of GvG Constructed play. So lets jump right in and take a look at what each class has gained and lost in the new expansion.


 

Druid

 

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On the surface, it seems that Druid is the class that gained the least, or perhaps suffered the most from the GvG expansion. The cards they were given have small effects on existing decks, and give them a few more options for deck building, but so far, none of them have had a huge effect on opening up new deck archetypes. Some players have experimented with building extreme late-game Tree Of Life decks, but these builds seem some way off being a powerful force. Outside of this, people have just been adding some of the new strong cards to existing Ramp and Fast Druid decks, to fairly underwhelming 
effects.
 

Hunter

 

250px-Rexxar-f.png?version=3f80009401aa5

 

Hunter players have been excited by the new Deathrattle minions available in the set as well as Glaivezooka, which add additional options to the Aggro Hunter deck. Adding Clockwork Gnome and the 4 Mana Deathrattle Mechs into the deck has increased the power of Hunter's Undertaker starts even further. 
 
Outside of this, players have been experimenting with Control Hunter builds that incorporate the new high cost Beasts that Hunter have been given, as well as Feign Death decks, that play more impactful Deathrattle minions to go along with Undertaker like Nerubian Eggs and Sylvanas. However, it seems for now, that Aggro Hunter remains the strongest way to play the class.
 

Mage

 

250px-Jaina_Proudmoore-f.png?version=8f6

 

Mage is one of the biggest winners from the GvG set, with several new viable decks popping up out of nowhere. Firstly, Mage seems to be one of the best homes for the Mech Tempo/Aggro deck that has been tried out in most classes so far. This is due to the strength of the Mech synergy minions Mage was given, namely Snowchugger and Goblin Blastmage, providing Mage with an extra boost over other classes that want to play a Mech deck.
 
Secondly, Control Mage has been given several useful new cards as well. With Freeze Mage being given additional options for board clear and stability in the form of Explosive Sheep and Illuminator respectively, as well as the recent nerfs to Flare, that deck seems to have improved significantly. Where as outright late-game control Mage has also been given a nice tool to extend the reach of their late-game threats in the form of Echo of Medivh to create additional copies of late-game minions like Sylvannas, or Molten Giants.
 
On top of all these, Mage has been granted one of the most insane cards in the set. Unstable Portal is a crazy card that is simply capable of winning you the game outright if you get lucky. I'm sure many of you have run into your share of ridiculous minions summoned from this card on ladder, and it seems it will continue to be a frustrating experience for many weeks to come!
 

Paladin

 

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Paladin is another huge winner in the GvG expansion. The increased early game stability that cards like Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle bring to the class create a number of new deck types that weren't possible before.
 
Firstly, Midrange Paladin is now a strong option. This is the deck I am currently playing on ladder with 70%+ winrate and it seems extremely powerful. The added early game targets makes playing buff cards an extremely strong proposition.
 
Secondly, Control Paladin decks can now load up on additional late-game threats, safe in the security that Muster for Battle and Shielded Mini-Bot brings to the early game. This brings Paladin back to the position as the ultimate late-game Control deck, but removes the weaknesses it has to early game aggression.
 

Priest

 

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Priest is another extremely strong class in the new Expansion, mainly due to the strength of Shrinkmeister. Shrinkmeister completely covers the previous weakness of Priest in being unable to deal with 4 attack minions. Now you can use Shrinkmeister to activate your Shadow Word Pains, Shadow Madnesses and Cabal Shadow Priests. With this weakness removed, and Priest being granted one of the strongest class Legendaries in the form of Vol'jin, Priest has become a very powerful class. We have yet to see any other type of Priest take hold of the ladder yet, but it seems possible that a more aggressive type of Priest may also be viable using some of the new tools they were given.
 

Rogue

 

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Rogue is in a strange transitional period at the moment, with players trying to figure out whether Miracle Rogue is still a strong option after the Gadgetzan nerf, and if not, what is the best deck to replace it? Players have toyed with a Spare Parts + Gadgetzan Auctioneer deck to try and cover the extra Mana cost of Auctioneer with additional drawing power. However, most people seem to be focused on Tempo Rogue builds, both with Mechs and without. Iron Sensei is one of the strongest new cards for a Mech based tempo deck, and is a key component of any such deck right now. Additional cards like Tinker's Sharpsword Oil are also strong options to enforce tempo and provide some additional reach in your deck.
 

Shaman

 

 

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Shaman is another class that players are still trying to find the right build for. Some players are still running decks that are similar to the old-school Midrange Shaman deck, while some have gone in the Aggro direction, trying to use cards such as Powermace, Whirling Zap-o-matic, and Crackle to burst their opponent's out of the game. It will take some time for a class that is so used to only having one viable option in terms of ways to play, to adapt to a new meta where it seemingly has several. The class seems to have a lot of potential to be dominant in the future.
 

Warlock

 

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Warlock seems to be leaning away from Zoo decks, with Handlock decks being more favoured currently. Usually after a new expansion, or patch, people default to Zoo as it becomes extremely powerful in an unstable meta where people are tying to figure out what to play. In this case however, it seems the power the cards Warlock was given to fit into a Handlock deck have convinced players that the Control option is the superior one for Warlock.
 
Darkbomb and Antique Healbot are the two key cards that have been added to Handlock. Darkbomb gives you access to early game spot removal that does not discard a card, using Soulfire in Handlock always seemed like a neccessary evil, as Warlock needed access to the removal, but hated to discard cards. With the nerf to Soulfire now making it cost 1 Mana, Darkbomb just seems a dramatically superior choice. Antique Healbot has just added so much more stability to Handlock's life total, and sures them up against classes that can kill you with burst damage past your taunted Giants.
 

Warrior

 

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Warrior is a class that has remained strong, despite not receiving a great deal of experimentation so far. It is still almost universally agreed that Control Warrior is the strongest way to play the class. There has been some experimentation with Tempo based Mech decks, but Warrior just seems to be lacking the tools to play the deck as well as classes like Mage or Rogue.
 
The key card that Warrior has been given is Shieldmaiden. The combination of this card with the already existing cards like Armorsmith and Shield Block just adds so much life gain to Control Warrior that they are often able just to outlast other decks and grind them out of resources, even if they are behind on board, or tempo. Since the deck plays so many swingy cards like Brawl and Execute, being able to hang on for a couple of extra turns to wait for that all important draw can be crucial.

 

----------------

 

 

Top 5 Cards

 

With the clases out of the way, let's take a look at some of the most impactful cards in the new set. You can also use this as a cheat sheet if you're wondering what to craft.

 

5. Antique Healbot

 

200px-Antique_Healbot.png?version=7faa5b

 

Here's a card that completely surprised me. When I first saw this card, as my card spoilers topic is testimony too, I thought it was really bad. It seemed way too slow, too clunky and just inferior to Earthen Ring Farseer. However, what I completely overlooked is that almost every time in a Control vs Aggro matchup, unless you get completely steamrolled, there comes where a point where you are irreversibly ahead on board and your opponent is just trying to kill you from their hand. In these situations, Healbot is king. The slowness, and the low stats just don't matter, all you need to do is live.

 

4. Unstable Portal

 

200px-Unstable_Portal.png?version=37ff38

 

You can refer to my Mage section for more thoughts on this card, but in short, you can make room in almost any Mage deck for a card that might just win you the game when you play it. The downside of a weak minion is so minor in comparison to getting a huge minion that you can play out so early that it pales in significance. This card will continue to be played, and will continue to win people games. A frustrating experience to say the least.

 

3. Shrinkmeister

 

200px-Shrinkmeister.png?version=93f42648

 

In contrast to Antique Healbot, I was spot on on my assessment of this card. Shrinkmeister was exactly what Priest needed. The combination of another early minion that Priest can play happily if they need to, and the insane combo potential with Shadow Madness and Cabal Shadow Priest cements this as one of the best cards in the set. People may talk a lot about Vol'jin, but the real reason for Priest's increase in power is right here.

 

2, Muster for Battle

 

200px-Muster_for_Battle.png?version=eca9

 

Muster for Battle, or if you prefer "Unleash the Dudes" is such a huge tool for Paladin in the new meta-game. Not only does it completely shut down early aggro, it provides amazing synergy with cards like Knife Juggler, Quartermaster, Sword of Justice, Cult Master and more. Beyond even that, it also single handedly makes cards like Blessing of Kings and Dark Iron Dwarf playable in Paladin, which in turn opens up the door to play Echoing Ooze. The chain of events is just endless, but in short, no card in the new set has had as big an effect on deckbuilding as Muster for Battle in my opinion.

 

1. Dr. Boom

 

200px-Dr._Boom.png?version=fdd85150f384c

 

Early days so far, but for now at least it seems Doctor Boom is the dominant force out of the new set. It is being played in almost every high level Control deck right now, and manages to tick the magic box of being effective as a board clear tool against Aggro, while simultaneously being an effective play against Control. It synergises fantastically in Druid with Savage Roar, provides Warrior with more Mid-Game clearing options, is fantastic in Handlock to provide two Sunfury targets...The applications go on and on, but initial impressions suggest Boom to be an extremely powerful card.

 

Honorable Mentions: Vol'jin, Shielded Minibot, Mechwarper, Bomb Lobber, Tinkertown Technician, Goblin Blastmage, Crackle, Shieldmaiden, Darkbomb.

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Yeah, I was gonna ask the same thing. I think it's running out of gas too fast, or maybe I am just doing something wrong with trading. I also don't like zoo/hunter because Undertaker is so big part of the mulligan.

But I've played alot of arena recently. I've got 7+ wins so many times \o/ Just waiting for 12 wins. :D

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It's a pretty reasonable choice, but there's a lot of Warrior around that could be a problem. I think Paladin is really strong to climb with right now.

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I just submitted an update to my Midrange Paladin guide, but in the meantime here's the decklist while we're waiting for it to be published.

 

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Are you going to post meta analysis this week? biggrin.png  I can't decide that which deck I should use on ladder (I'd use paladin, but I don't have enough dust)

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      It is often correct to hold onto a card which might not be ideal but is just above the cut. In what I call “50% Theory”, I always try to stop and ask myself if there is a greater than 50% chance that the card I’m thinking about mulliganing away will turn into a worse one. I often find that my first instinct is to mulligan away a less than perfect card to try and find something better, but that when I apply 50% theory I realize that my odds of improving my hand actually decrease by shipping the card away.
      Curving Out
      Another reason to keep potentially expensive cards is because your hand can naturally curve into them. For example, let’s say you’re playing a deck which typically always mulligans away 4 drops in the dark. If the other two cards in your hand are a 2 drop and a 3 drop, then it could potentially be worth keeping the 4 drop so long as it is a natural follow-up to the other two cards.
      Checking the curve of our hand can also help us catch when we might have too much of a good thing. Many cards which are typically excellent in opening hands might not pair well with the other cards in our hand, or even with a second copy of itself. N'Zoth's First Mate is typically the best card for Pirate Warrior on turn one, but the second copy should almost always be shipped away. The same can often (though not always) be said for Innervate, depending on what the final card or cards in your opener are. If you’re on Aggro Druid and your opening hand is double Innervate + Bittertide Hydra, then you have a potentially game winning play on turn one. If your hand is double Innervate + Living Mana, then you’ll want to ship both the Living Mana and one of the Innervates to try and find yourself a better curve.
      The Checklist
      To recap, here are a list of questions you should ask yourself about each hand while mulliganing:
      Based on my opponent’s class and the local metagame, which decks could my opponent be playing? Is this a line up theory matchup? Are there any narrow answers or threats in my hand? Do I have any cards which are very powerful against one of these decks? Am I increasing my overall win percentage by keeping these cards? Do I have any cards which are very weak against one of these decks? Am I decreasing my overall win percentage by keeping these cards? Does this hand curve out? Does it have a game plan? Do I have any expensive cards which I should mulligan away for something less expensive? If so, is there a greater than 50% chance that getting rid of one of these cards will yield a worse result? It’s important to note that the de facto “most important factor” of mulligans, the mana cost of the cards, is the second to last question when working down this checklist. This isn’t to say that the mana cost of the cards in your opening hand isn’t important, it's just that there are many other things you should be thinking about as well.
      Another thing of note is that I never stop to ask if I have cards in my hand which should be automatically kept. I believe that you can get yourself into trouble by thinking about cards as “automatic keeps”, and should instead start off by viewing each card through the lens of the specific matchups you’re anticipating. Granted, to this day I have still never mulliganed away the first copy of Flametongue Totem, but I’d like to think that’s because I have yet to encounter a matchup where it isn’t good in my opening hand and not because the card is an "automatic keep".
      Conclusion
      Line up theory can help us think about our boards, hands, and decks as distinct sets of limited tools. By lining up our tools against our opponent’s problems we can attempt to organize our game plan into the most effective and thorough plan possible. Some matchups are dictated entirely by line up theory, while in other matchups we can use the lessons we've learned from line up theory to gain small edges in efficiency.
      Mulligans are an often overlooked or misunderstood facet of the game, but they are sometimes the most important decision we make in the entire game. By taking the time to carefully consider all the reasons why we should or shouldn’t keep each card in our opener, we are adding one more edge to our game which will help propel us to the next stage of the ladder.
      For the fourth and final installment of Legend in the Making, I will discuss all of the subtle ways that game behavior can inform the exact content of player’s hands. By analyzing the ordering decisions and tiny mistakes our opponents make we can glean much more information about our their game plan than you might think. Please join me in part four as we make the final push towards our ultimate goal of reaching Legend.