Latest Hearthstone expansion – Journey to Un’Goro – was just released. Every pro, streamer and most of the players are already in, trying multiple new decks and archetypes. Majority of them were unsuccessful, experiments that fell short because the tested deck either isn’t strong enough, it doesn’t fit the current early meta or maybe it just needs more optimization. However, some of them really stood out. There were some Day 1 lists that turned out to be very powerful. I’d like to pick a few and talk about each of them – why they’re strong, how to play them correctly etc.
I will include only the new decks or the decks that changed significantly. Yes, there are a lot of Pirate Warriors on the ladder, but it’s basically the same deck we’ve seen before, so nothing new to talk about.
Best Un’Goro Decks – Day One
Rogue Quest was widely considered to be the worst one, both among the pros and the community. However, as it turned out, Dog has built a very powerful Quest Rogue and he just hit Rank 1 Legend with it. The main concern was not being able to finish it consistently in a timely manner. And as it turns out, that concern was invalid. Dog is getting the Quest done nearly every game as soon as turn 4-5. And then he proceeds to flood the whole board with 5/5 minions that no deck can easily answer at that point in the game.
Besides being very powerful, the deck also is very fun to play. It’s like a mix between Combo and Aggro, which rarely happens – most of the Combo decks are inherently Control, because it takes a long time to cycle through the deck to find the combo pieces. In case of this deck, almost any card can be a “combo piece”. All you need to do is draw a low cost minion and start bouncing it (1-drops are obviously best). With 2 copies of the card itself and 6 cards to bounce it, it’s actually really easy to play something 4 times. Then, the extra card draws adds even further to the deck’s consistency.
After finishing your Quest, every minion becomes a 5/5. It means that Patches the Pirate, Stonetusk Boar and Southsea Deckhand are basically 1 mana 5/5 Chargers, Moroes produces a 5/5 every turn and Violet Teacher summons a 5/5 for every spell. Even though your deck is filled with small minions, as soon as you finish the Quest, those all become serious threats.
Right now the only problem with the deck is that it sometimes runs out of cards. It usually has nearly empty hand at the time it finishes the Quest, which means that if the opponent deals with the current board there sometimes might be a problem with refilling. Dog said that he will adjust that later and try to optimize it after playing it more, but he wants to try other things right now. For example, Preparation is a great card with a perfect hand, but drawing it later makes it a dead card most of the time (unless you have Violet Teacher in play to at least spawn a single 5/5).
I was actually surprised how well the deck worked. Yes, I know, he played it in lower ranks, but it’s still quite early in the season, so people at rank 10 usually know what they’re doing. I also heard from people playing it at slightly higher ranks and having a lot of success. The only new card that’s really necessary in the deck is Humongous Razorleaf. Yes, Trump also runs Elise the Trailblazer, but it’s more like a filler card.
The deck’s game plan is pretty similar to the old Handlock, but even more concentrated on the big bodies & Taunting up. The deck runs 8 big minions that can get onto the board really fast – 2 copies of Ancient Watcher, Humongous Razorleaf, Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant. And while Drake & Giant are big threats by themselves (even if you didn’t play against the old Handlock, you’ve seen them in the recent RenoLock lists), the first two require “activation” to work. Since they can’t attack, there are two ways to go about them – you can either Silence them or Taunt them up. This deck is all about Taunting, but I’ll definitely try running Spellbreaker too! The activators in this deck are: Sunfury Protector, Defender of Argus and Faceless Shambler. As you can see, it’s not really hard to have a huge (or well, HUMONGOUS) Taunt in the early game.
And so, a pretty common scenario might be turn 2 Ancient Watcher -> turn 3 Humongous Razorleaf -> turn 4 Defender of Argus. Now you have an incredibly huge wall that pretty much no deck can pass so early. With 5/6 Taunt and 5/9 Taunt on turn 4, even the fastest decks will have a hard time going through. But those Taunts can’t attack, so what’s the plan to win the game? Well, you have other minions that can attack from behind those Taunts. Even not the biggies – your 2 or 3 Attack guys are really safe, behind a huge wall, and can safely hit the face for 4 or 5 every turn while your opponent can’t do anything about the Taunts. As a backup plan, in case all the big Taunts get answered, the deck plays a lot of AoEs. To be fair, it might even be too much, as most of those AoEs hurt the player. The deck runs 17 self-damage in total, that’s pretty crazy! Then, for the slower matchup (and acting like an emergency healing), there is Lord Jaraxxus, which can turn most of the value games in your favor.
One thing is sure – the deck is really hard to play correctly. Between some early chip damage from the opponent, Life Tapping and all the self-damage AoEs, you need to be really careful about your health. Without Reno Jackson, you have no “reset” button that can heal you back to full. You need to know how much you can tap to not die in different matchups and you need to know how risky you can play depending on your hand, board state and the deck you’re playing against. It needs a lot of expertise to play perfectly and I think that the deck will still be adjusted, optimized and we might actually see it in the meta from time to time.
By the way, I think that if Molten Giant wasn’t nerfed, the deck could seriously dominate the meta.