Stonekeep examines how-to counter and beat the very popular Aggro Pirate Warrior.
It’s not hard to notice that Pirate Warrior has taken over the ladder. Not necessarily in terms of the strength ceiling – Reno decks seem to be performing better in the hands of best players. However, it’s definitely the uncontested number one when it comes to numbers. With the introduction of two new cards – Patches the Pirate and Small-Time Buccaneer, an already solid deck has become one of the best in the current meta.
Just to give you an example if you haven’t played that much yourself: I’ve played 278 games since the expansion launch and 99 of my opponents were Warriors. I’d say around 95% of them were either pure Pirate or Dragon Pirate decks. So that’s about 94 out of 278 games against some sort of Pirate Warrior – almost exactly 1/3 of my games. The numbers shape up to be very similar to the pre-Gadgetzan Midrange Shaman, which clearly dominated the ladder.
Sadly, for most of the players, Pirate Warrior is not a fun deck to play against. It’s very fast, a lot of games end by turn 5. It means that most of the people wanting to play slow decks have a hard time, because instead of focusing on their own game plan and having fun, they have to focus on not dying and ignore whatever their deck wants to do.
Pirate Warrior is a force to reckon with, but it’s not unstoppable. There are actually a lot of ways to stop it – not necessarily completely a counter, but to make your life against them much easier.
Pirates, Pirates Everywhere
(If you don’t care about the math and reasons why Aggro is so popular, proceed to the next section)
We know that Pirate Warrior is all over the ladder. But before proceeding to the counters, I want to talk a bit about why the deck is so popular. Because I’m absolutely convinced that it’s not the players who you should fault for playing the deck, it’s the system (however silly it sounds).
Pirate Warriors are most popular around the ranks 10-1. It’s the most common deck by far between ranks 5-1. But they are less popular in the lower parts of the ladder (rank 15 or so) AND they are also less popular on the Legend ladder. I’m not saying that no one plays Pirate Warrior there – the deck is just less common. That is really easy to explain if you understand that ranks 5-1 (and 10-5 to some extent for people aspiring to hit rank 5, not Legend) are the most grindy ranks in the game. There are no win streaks any more. You need to win 25 more games than you lose in order to get Legend. Sounds simple, but in reality it’s not since you’re matched with people of about the same skill (unless you’re a pro player, that is). It’s a huge time commitment and in the end, your win rate doesn’t matter. But Stone, what are you talking about? How can it not matter? It’s quite simple – what matters is how many more games can you win than you lose in a given time period. For example, if you want to hit Legend from rank 5 in 15 hours, it means that – on average – you need to win 1 and 2/3 games more than you lose per hour.
Now, if your average game lasts about 10 minutes, you can only play roughly 6 games per hour – so only about 90 games in 15 hours. In those ~90 games, you need to win 25 more games than you lose – so if you want to hit Legend in 15 hours, playing 10 minutes per game on average, you need to end up with a 58-33 or similar score. It means that your win rate needs to be roughly 64%. And that’s quite a lot considering that you face formidable opponents.
Then, let’s cut the average time per game in half. If you can play ~12 games per hour instead of the ~6, you now have double the games to hit Legend in – about 180 instead of 90. Since, once again, all you need is 25 more wins than losses, your final score can be let’s say 103-78. Which is about 57% win-rate.
So what does it mean in the end? Quite simply, if both Aggro player and Control player want to hit Legend from rank 5 in 15 hours, the Aggro player will need only 57% win-rate to achieve that, while Control player will need about 64% win rate. That’s 7% win-rate difference and that’s actually huge in a game where every % of win rate really matters. It means that if you have less time or you want to hit Legend as quickly as possible, it’s much more beneficial to play an Aggro deck, even with slightly lower win rate, than a Control deck.
- Aggro decks cost about 1/3 of the average price of a Control deck.
- Aggro decks are easier to play in order to achieve the same results as Control decks.
- Faster games mean that you can much more easily play on mobile while commuting/doing something else.
- Punching your opponent in the face and watching his health go down might be fun.
In the end I really understand why people play Aggro decks. The game pretty much forces you to play Aggro if you want to be most efficient. And as long as the ladder system won’t change, people will play fast decks. So please, don’t call those decks “cancer”. Don’t call players who play them “braindead”. It’s not fair.
But by all means, go ahead and try to counter them!