Ashes of Outland expansion launches on April 7, but we already know all of the new cards. This is a perfect opportunity to theorycraft, so build new decks “in theory”, without a way to test them out yet. Of course, it means that many of those decks won’t end up working in the end, but at the same time, they should be a great base for your own experimentation when going into the new expansion. Taking them to the ladder on Day 1 is your best bet if you want to test out your favorite strategies. In the end, most of theorycrafted decks turn out to be bad, but some of them (sometimes the least expected ones) might end up the next meta breakers.
We’ll be adding new theorycrafts to this post with time. We’ll start with Demon Hunter + Control decks, and throw in more every day until the new set launches!
Table of Content
- Demon Hunter Theorycrafting (by J_Alexander)
- Control Decks Theorycrafting (by Old Guardian)
- Highlander Decks Theorycrafting (by Yellorambo)
- Spell Decks Theorycrafting (by JimmyRaynor)
- Combo Decks Theorycrafting (by Old Guardian)
- Rogue Decks Theorycrafting (by J_Alexander)
- Libram Paladin Theorycrafting (by Tharid)
- Demon Warlock Theorycrafting (by Tharid)
Those decks are only theorycrafts! There is no way to know whether they will be viable once expansion launches. If you’re a budget player, we do not recommend crafting them. In fact, we don’t even recommend crafting decks you see during the first few days on the ladder! Meta is very volatile early into expansion and there’s no way to tell what will and what won’t be viable.
If you have a lot of Dust or you manage to open the right cards and you like a particular deck, go for it. Otherwise, you can use those as a base for your own builds (with the cards you do own).
This list highlights some of the burst potential of Demon Hunter. The general purpose of the deck is to use the Token generators (Umberwing, Coordinated Strike, and Command the Illidari) to combo off with Feast of Souls and Wrathscale Naga for huge swings turns full of burst damage, board clears, and card draw.
What combos well with burst? More burst. Imprisoned Antaen can be a nightmare to deal with after it wakes up after a big combo turn and burns down the opponent’s face or board again. Follow this up with a Priestess of Fury and/or Metamorphosis for the burst you need to finish the game and you have a deck that can explode into a kill out of almost nowhere.
The bread-and-butter of Hearthstone: playing minions on curve that can gain control of the board and then hit your opponent in the face. This is a fairly-balanced plan between early-, mid-, and late-game. There’s an element of burst, board control, sustain, tempo, and value here. It doesn’t excel at any of these plans, but it can have game against just about any opposing strategy.
Escaped Manasaber is a flex spot, included under the assumption that putting out an early Priestess of Fury or Coilfang Warlord can win games. Altruis the Outcast is certainly a flex spot as well, which can be replaced with other options as the need arises.
This is a rather experimental idea for Demon Hunter focusing around the amount of card draw the class can put out while sustaining life and tempo. The deck’s general game plan is to control the board in the early game through a combination of minions, burn spells, weapons, and Lifesteal options, start heavily cycling their deck in the mid-game while controlling the board with cheap and efficient board clears, and then move into dropping late-game bombs like Coilfang Warlord, now-active Highlander cards like Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, and finish with Chef Nomi in the event the game has hit fatigue.
The deck could be pushed to contain even more card draw with Feast of Souls, Coordinated Strike, Command the Illidari, and Wrathscale Naga combos at the expense of cards like Battlefiend, Sightless Watcher, Spectral Sight, Ashtongue Battlelord, Kayn Sunfury, and Nomi. How to adjust the deck will depend on how aggressive opponents tend to be (whether outlasting aggro will be more important), how much card draw is too much, and how burst focused you want the deck to be. More AoE is available in Altruis the Outcast and Immolation Aura if needed.
If you enjoy large numbers and huge demons, there’s an option for a Big Demon archetype. While the early game of this deck is relatively weak – simply hoping to control the board with efficient weapons, lifesteal, and AoE removal – it can ramp up quickly, cheating mana with Skull of Gul'dan and Raging Felscreamer to slam down huge minions early. Unfortunately the deck cannot play early-game demons, as we don’t want to risk those getting pulled out by a Pit Commander when the time comes to start playing your big things.
I can’t say I have a lot of faith in this archetype, as the ability to cheat mana is relatively limited and it can lose a lot of tempo to having large demons removed by spells. It’s easy to get under the deck or create board swings it will find hard to deal with. However, if you manage to survive past Turn 6, the deck gains a lot of power.
If you enjoy smaller numbers and swarms of aggressive minions that can close games out quickly, there’s an option for a much quicker, zoo-style deck. Get on board early, reliably, and fast.
The curve is kept intentionally very low. This is not only because you want to put your power onto the board so it can get at your opponent’s life, but it also allows you to reliably take advantage of powerful Outcast draw options, like Spectral Sight and Skull of Gul'dan. While there is a little bit of a high end in the deck, it’s there to deliver as much burn as possible for as few cards as possible. We want to keep the limited high end efficient so we aren’t just gassing out and losing to a small number of defensive options.
- 1Consume Magic1
- 1Crimson Sigil Runner1
- 1Twin Slice1
- 2Chaos Strike1
- 2Immolation Aura1
- 2Spectral Sight1
- 3Blade Dance1
- 3Coordinated Strike1
- 3Eye Beam1
- 3Soul Cleave1
- 4Ashtongue Battlelord1
- 4Illidari Felblade1
- 5Chaos Nova1
- 5Command the Illidari1
- 5Glaivebound Adept1
- 5Warglaives of Azzinoth1
- 5Wrathspike Brute1
- 6Skull of Gul’dan1
- 7Priestess of Fury1
- 8Hulking Overfiend1
The first batch of Demon Hunter cards seem to promote two kinds of a playstyle: a very aggressive build and one based around a plethora of mid-sized AoE effects and humongous Demons. The latter will greatly suffer from the lack of a dedicated hard removal option in the late-game, making it a prime candidate for a slower Highlander deck aimed by the flexibility of Zephrys the Great and the value bomb of Dragonqueen Alexstrasza.
Though it lacks a dedicated finisher, this build aims to recreate the Galakrond Warlock deck of the previous expansion, but with a full commitment to the Highlander approach and a higher individual card quality to offer. The small-to-mid-sized AoE effects and the multiple Lifesteal options should get you through the early game against aggressive opponents so you can just close out the game, while the Highlander tools and the big Demon Hunter cards will serve you well against greedier opposition. Though Pit Commander may seem like an odd omission, we preferred Magtheridon instead.
- 2Keeper Stalladris1
- 2Power of the Wild1
- 2Rising Winds1
- 3Archspore Msshi’fn1
- 3Blessing of the Ancients1
- 3Savage Roar1
- 4Soul of the Forest1
- 5Druid of the Claw1
- 5Elise the Enlightened1
- 5Force of Nature1
- 5Glowfly Swarm1
- 5Oasis Surger1
- 8The Forest’s Aid1
We’ve never seen a dedicated Highlander Druid deck in the past (let’s face it, stuffing Zephrys and Elise into Quest Druid didn’t really count) because the class’ viable archetypes across the years have always relied on consistency of draw – either via ramping into big things or generating enough tokens to capitalize on one of the many redundant buff spells to win the game. Elise the Enlightened also primarily works well for a control deck’s value generation (as combo decks also prefer consistency over extra copies at this cost of a deckbuilding restriction), providing a further challenge.
The featured build opts to capitalize on the many different token and Treant synergies added to the class by establishing a similar sort of midrange-y approach seen back in the day of the pre-nerf Force of Nature decks, albeit with a less smooth curve: a faster start and a few big resource-generating fatties serve as the spine of this Highlander Druid deck. Just like with the Highlander Zoo deck, Zephrys the Great can either provide a surprise finisher or an otherwise sorely lacking hard removal, but with Dragonqueen Alexstrasza waiting in the wings whenever your standard gameplan doesn’t work out.
Although the core of the deck is not new (Token Druid), this approach focuses solely on summoning tokens through spells, in order to take advantage of Crystalsong Portal, Glowfly Swarm and the efficient card draw of Fungal Fortunes. The main goal of the deck remains the same; get on the board and keep summoning tokens, eventually overwhelming your opponent when he runs out of AoE. Savage Roar can help you close out a game with a relatively small presence on the board, while Soul of the Forest can make your minions stick to the board, resisting a board clear. The deck does not lack in card draw/generation, using Fungal Fortunes (and occasionally Wrath) for card draw and Crystalsong Portal for card generation. This spell-heavy approach to the archtype helps Glowfly Swarm take full advantage of its effect, which will usually summon a board of 5-7 2/2s.
Despite losing Flobbidinous Floop and Dreampetal Florist, there is still hope for combo Druid, because Malygos is not going anywhere and Druid is getting new tools to replace the losses: Imprisoned Satyr is here to help discount Malygos and Germination can make copies of it. The dream of blowing people up with Moonfire and Swipe is still alive!
In this sample decklist, I have went for the good old Quest Druid shell with the addition of the pieces needed for a Malygos combo. You can discount Malygos down to zero mana with the Imprisoned Satyrs, make two copies of it with Germination, and blow up the opponent with two Moonfires to the face for 32 damage. Alternatively, you can make one copy of Malygos and shoot two Moonfires and a Swipe to the face for 36 damage.
This version goes for the most direct combo and does not worry about armor. The Galakrond’s Awakening version with Dreampetal Florist, Flobbidinous Floop, and Elise the Enlightened was able to go much higher if needed, and it was also more flexible in the ways it could execute the combo. Reach could be increased in this version too with Elise the Enlightened, but that would increase uncertainty and slow down the deck. I believe that keeping it simple is the most likely way for the deck to remain successful.
- 1Dwarven Sharpshooter1
- 1Hunter’s Mark1
- 2Corrosive Breath1
- 2Freezing Trap1
- 2Scavenger’s Ingenuity1
- 3Animal Companion1
- 3Deadly Shot1
- 3Desert Spear1
- 3Kill Command1
- 3Primordial Explorer1
- 3Ramkahen Wildtamer1
- 3Unleash the Hounds1
- 3Zixor, Apex Predator1
- 4Marked Shot1
- 4Scrap Shot1
- 5Rotnest Drake1
- 6Swarm of Locusts1
- 7Dinotamer Brann1
So by the same token, what can you do with Highlander Hunter after the rotation? With the dedicated Dragon archetype not losing any cards except Leeroy Jenkins, it’s tough to see how a singleton build could beat it at its own game. Instead, we opted to explore the possibilities of a highly buffed Zixor Prime with a build which leans into the one-off concept to such an extent that it only runs Zixor, Apex Predator as its only Beast, with a plan to buff it into high heavens as a potential finisher.
Again, just like Mage, the loss of Zilliax hurts against aggressive opponents, which is why we made the ultimate anti-SMOrc decision and added a Khartut Defender to the featured build. The hope is that the sacrifice of other Beast-related initiative options will be counteracted by the reintroduction of Marked Shot and Freezing Trap plus Scrap Shot and Maiev Shadowsong from the new set alongside, of course, the first form of Zixor as well. For anything slower, there’s it’s second form with a lot of buffs.
Seriously? Hunter is not exactly known for its ability to play either control or combo decks, but as a matter of fact, Ashes of Outland is bringing a great new Hunter OTK combo to the game. With a perfect draw, you can OTK people as early as turn seven as Hunter!
The combo is based on the new Hunter Prime minion, Zixor, Apex Predator. In a dream game, you play Licensed Adventurer in the first four turns to get yourself a coin. You draw Zixor, Apex Predator, Tundra Rhino, , and Scavenger's Ingenuity by turn five. On turn five, you Rush Zixor, Apex Predator to its death and immediately tutor the Prime version of it with Scavenger's Ingenuity, making it a 7/7 instead of the usual 4/4. On turn six, you play Scarlet Webweaver to discount either the Prime or Tundra Rhino. On turn seven, you coin out Tundra Rhino and the Prime (four 7/7s with Rush, now also with Charge thanks to the Rhino) and you can deal 30 damage to the face.
The keys to the combo are your ability to tutor for Beasts with Scavenger's Ingenuity and discount Beasts with Scarlet Webweaver. The rest depends on how you can survive in the meta to pull off your combo. I have chosen to go for a Quest core, because it gives more card draw, coins, and the excellent Sky Gen'ral Kragg, but you could also build the deck with Hunter spells and mostly non-Beast minions.
- 1Arcane Breath1
- 1Ray of Frost1
- 2Astromancer Solarian1
- 3Arcane Amplifier1
- 3Arcane Intellect1
- 3Conjurer’s Calling1
- 3Frost Nova1
- 4Azure Explorer1
- 5Malygos, Aspect of Magic1
- 5Rolling Fireball1
- 6Reno the Relicologist1
- 8Power of Creation1
- 10The Amazing Reno1
Without Luna's Pocket Galaxy, Highlander Mage needs a new strategy. The old one was to discount all your minions to one, draw a bunch of cards with Book of Specters and Stargazer Luna (both also rotating out), and just overwhelm the opponent in the late-game with that tempo swing.
One option for a new strategy is to go for more burn. Frostbolt, Fireball, and Pyroblast are always available to Mage, and there are several ways for the class to play spells for free with Dragoncaster, Kalecgos, and Kael'thas Sunstrider. Not going for a pure spell approach allows Mage to use many minions that have great synergy with spells, and I am all giddy just thinking about using Evocation with Kael'thas Sunstrider. The new Mage Prime minion, Astromancer Solarian, is also a perfect fit for a burn strategy, as the random spells cast by its Prime form can potentially finish the job.
Control, remove, delay, burn. I can see this strategy working out for Mage is Ashes of Outland. As for the exact list, that will, of course, need a lot of playtesting. For example, should some Secrets be included in the list? Ancient Mysteries and Flame Ward, perhaps? Time will tell.
- 1Arcane Breath1
- 1Ray of Frost1
- 2Astromancer Solarian1
- 2Incanter’s Flow1
- 3Arcane Intellect1
- 3Conjurer’s Calling1
- 3Flame Ward1
- 3Frost Nova1
- 3Imprisoned Observer1
- 5Malygos, Aspect of Magic1
- 6Reno the Relicologist1
- 8Deep Freeze1
- 8Power of Creation1
- 8Tortollan Pilgrim1
- 10Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron1
- 10The Amazing Reno1
Though Highlander Mage was already a viable meta deck, the rotation forces quite a few deckbuilding changes for the archetype. Gone is Mountain Giant and Book of Specters, the Mech synergy of SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax, so is Stargazer Luna and Luna's Pocket Galaxy. The loss of Firetree Witchdoctor also weakens the Dragon synergy a bit. So, what can you use to replace them in the new expansion? Spell tools, mostly (Incanter's Flow, Starscryer) plus some added value (Evocation, Imprisoned Observer, Maiev Shadowsong). We’ve also added Deep Freeze for flexibility, but Ethereal Augmerchant is worth highlighting as a potential replacement: you very rarely get to add +1 Spell Damage for just a single mana – though admittedly you do need to have a minion on the board – still serves as a nice tool in a slower deck, and definitely worthy of experimentation.
This is a list built around using the Mage Quest, Raid the Sky Temple, in order to take full advantage of the “restriction”, requiring that the deck contain only spells. Casting 10 spells should be relatively easy with this list, that focuses on a mix of cheap, efficient spells, some good secrets and big AoE or single-target removals. If the meta is too slow, or is dominated by big, deathrattle minions, you could substitute Raid the Sky Temple for The Amazing Reno, as a Hail Mary board clear with a similar Hero Power. Other than that, the list contains the package of Incanter's Flow, Font of Power and Apexis Blast that makes the arcehtype possible, along with possibly the best Mage card ever printed in Evocation. The goal of the deck will be to simply outvalue your opponent through constant removals, along with card generation and minion summoning through spells, like Learn Draconic.
Kael'thas Sunstrider is just begging to be used in a combo Mage deck with Pyroblast, but a full one-turn-kill may prove to be elusive because of the sheer number of cards you need to go through in order to have enough damage. But how about a Freeze Mage?
Freeze Mage was never really a one-turn-kill deck. In its most traditional form, it often used Alexstrasza first and then proceeded to burn through the rest of the opponent’s health on the following turn. In the current meta, I am doubtful whether there is enough time to use Alexstrasza and live, so I’ve just gone for direct burn instead.
The deck has several ways to get Pyroblast out early with Dragoncasters and Kael'thas Sunstrider and it can also discover several spells with Arcane Breath, Malygos, Aspect of Magic, and Kalecgos. Bonus points for playing Evocation with Kael'thas Sunstrider for some random spells all over the place.
Highlander Paladin will most likely turn into the most used archetype in terms of Libram synergy.
Yes, Aldor Attendant and Aldor Truthseeker will only discount a total of three cards – but they’re also just using two card slots themselves. Libram cards fit well into the tempo-driven style of Highlander Paladin, who tries to take over control with the usual extended Dragon package.
Tribe cards in Hearthstone often get taxed in favor of tribe membership – and Libram of Wisdom could change that. A simple +1/+1 for 2, 1 or even 0 mana can not only fill out Highlander Paladin’s curve, but also turn high-value minions like Bronze Explorer or Frizz Kindleroost into more tempo-oriented plays.
And while Ashes of Outland won’t offer that many new opportunities for the archetype, cards like Overconfident Orc – the new Tar Creeper as some may call it – and Dragonmaw Sky Stalker add even more flexibility.
The combination of Libram and Dragon synergy may get Dragon Highlander Paladin the recognition it deserves – not last because of special tech additions like Waste Warden!
Similar to the other theorycraft Paladin decks in this article, Pure Libram Paladin tries to fit in Libram-related cards while keeping the core values of the given archetype.
The criminally underrated archetype in this case is Pure Paladin. The combination of mech-driven tempo and high-value class cards could synergize very well with the new Libram cards.
Both Aldor Attendant and Aldor Truthseeker are, while not mechs, decent board plays. Libram of Wisdom further increases value from mechs and Reborn minions in particular. Libram of Justice can enable big value plays against control opponents, and Libram of Hope may pose a threat comparable to Tirion Fordring while offering additional survivability.
But in the end Lightforged Crusader is the main reason that Libram cards in this archetype most certainly will work well. A total of 10 random Paladin cards created in a game should include Libram cards quite often on average – which increases our chances to get even more Libram synergy going.
Yes, there will be better performing Paladin decks -but Libram Pure Paladin could offer new and exciting gameplay with a decent win rate!
For Resurrect Priest, things will not change that much. Mass Hysteria will be gone, but the improved Holy Nova and the new Shadow Word: Ruin should be able to fill the gap. Most of the new cards are not meant for this archetype, but I could see Renew and Psyche Split used here.
Renew can patch you up a bit and find additional copies of removal or resurrect spells, whatever you happen to need in the matchup. I have high expectations for this card, but we’ll see how strong Discovered Priest spells are once we can actually play with it.
- 0Forbidden Words1
- 1Disciple of Galakrond1
- 1Reliquary of Souls1
- 1Scarlet Subjugator1
- 2Shadow Word: Death1
- 2Shadow Word: Pain1
- 3Breath of the Infinite1
- 3Mindflayer Kaahrj1
- 3Shadow Madness1
- 4Holy Nova1
- 4Mass Dispel1
- 4Shadow Word: Ruin1
- 5Convincing Infiltrator1
- 5Sandhoof Waterbearer1
- 5Time Rip1
- 6Cabal Shadow Priest1
- 7Galakrond, the Unspeakable1
- 7Soul Mirror1
- 8Murozond the Infinite1
- 8Natalie Seline1
- 9Plague of Death1
There are a couple of ways to build Highlander Priest. Dragons are an option with Ashes of Outland adding Dragonmaw Sentinel and Skeletal Dragon to the synergy card pool, but I prefer to use more space for removal and get value mainly from Galakrond, the Unspeakable.
This theorycraft is based on my current Highlander Priest, which is not a Dragon build. Removal, stealing, and value from Galakrond are its main themes. Ashes of Outland adds Reliquary of Souls, Renew, and Soul Mirror to the deck. I have really look forward to playing with Soul Mirror: it looks like a great removal tool that does not affect your existing minions and that has been designed to not be good in Resurrect Priest, thereby giving other Priest archetypes something special.
Rogue is one of the best classes for anything other than control, and it is also one of the best classes to combo with in Ashes of Outland.
Malygos Rogue does not lose any key pieces in the rotation. Malygos + Preparation + Eviscerate + three Coins from Umbral Skulker + Eviscerate + two copies of Sinister Strike = 34 damage to the face. That is the full guaranteed combo, and the deck is insanely flexible.
Draw a free Malygos with your Heistbaron Togwaggle wand or Galakrond, the Nightmare? Cool, now you can kill people right away without any coins or Preparation! With Leeroy Jenkins in the Hall of Fame, Malygos Rogue is the most explosive Galakrond Rogue deck. It might not be the best one, because it sacrifices defensive abilities to include combo pieces, but it can blow stuff up out of nowhere.
I feel confident that Galakrond Rogue will still be good (and that will end up surprising very few people). The deck I want to try undergoes a series of changes from last meta’s lists, however. With the loss of Leeroy Jenkins to the Hall of Fame, I feel less inclined to run Shadowstep. It was already a weaker performer in the deck, and losing some of its premium synergy doesn’t help. SN1P-SN4P and Zilliax both rotate out, and I also removed the Boompistol Bully (tech choice) and Faceless Corruptor. This leaves a lot of room for new cards.
In their place I added a Stealth package, including the new (and very powerful) Spymistress, Skyvateer, Akama, and Escaped Manasaber. What’s nice about these minions is that they can all be dropped on curve without any combo activation without giving your opponent a chance to interact with them. This cuts down on clunky draws and gives you a more consistent early game. These six stealth minions will hopefully provide enough activators for the Greyheart Sage, which provide even more cycle with tempo to help find your best cards that end the game. At the same time, we are managing to lower our mana curve a bit to help make up for additional card draw the deck now has access to, as having too many cards in hand can become an issue in some games for the deck.
Increases in early-game consistency and board control should help make up for the loss of burst damage and healing rotation hits the deck with. It’s not clear yet whether the deck will want another Manasaber, Sap, or Eviscerate, but those are our flex spots.
This list is a less-tested option, and it doesn’t contain Galakrond, so its success is by no means guaranteed. Nevertheless, it does represent another in the long-line of time-tested strategies that involve hitting your opponent in the face fast and hard.
With six one-cost minions, it’s hard for this deck to miss getting on board early. From there you want to aggressively push tempo and damage with the Ashtongue Slayer, 0-cost Frenzied Felwing, burn, and weapons. You’ll need to get your opponent dead quickly, as you cannot go toe-to-toe with many late-game strategies.
The deck runs a package of seven Stealth minions to activate Ashtongue Slayer consistently and use Greyheart Sage as refill. You’ll need many as attacking takes them out of stealth and turns off the synergies. Shadowstep can be used flexibly for more burst with the Ashtongue Slayers, more resources with EVIL Miscreant or Sage, additional removal with Maiev Shadowsong, or re-stealthing minions to avoid opponent interaction or activate inactive synergy cards. Waggle Pick has a similar set of roles, but it pushes more face damage in the process.
The flex spots in this list are SI:7 Agent, Shadowstep, and – believe it or not – Edwin VanCleef. While many people think Edwin is the nuts, a lot of his current power has been tied to Galakrond and King Togwaggle. Access to mountains of cheap resources lower the risk of going in on an Edwin and getting it removed, and things look worse for him in this deck when you aren’t passively generating tons of resources. I’d keep my eye on all these cards to help refine the list. The Steps can be nice, but are conditional. SI:7s are just burn/tempo tools, but aren’t a necessity by any means.
This list is nominally similar to the aggressive list above, but it swaps out a full 11 cards to try and run a different (and full) Secret package. You lose the value of Pharaoh Cat for the early tempo snowball of Secretkeeper. The one drops can push initial damage and, when backed up with a Bamboozle, possibly snowball an advantage into a win. For that reason, it’s probably going to be your best early-game secret, while Dirty Tricks is more for reload later in the game and Ambush can help you stay ahead on a board you’re already winning in the later turns (though it can be OK against certain aggressive opponents).
If you can establish threats on board, the Blackjack Stunner can be backbreaking for many opponents who rely on minions to come back. Shadowjeweler Hanar can add some value in the late game, though he doesn’t pose much of a threat in the early stages (since you want to spend mana on minions and not secrets). Crucially, both of these secret-synergy minions require that you have secrets around and, since they can be easily triggered by the opponents whether they are trying to or not once you play them, it’s sometimes going to be best to hold a secret back in the hand until later turns when you can get the payoff with Stunner. Play all your secrets too quickly and you turn your Stunners into 1/2s that don’t do anything. That’s a problem for a deck that risks running out of value before it closes out games.
Make sure you establish a board before you start playing Secrets if you can. If you don’t already have a lead, the secrets will be less liable to prove useful.
- 1Invocation of Frost1
- 1Sludge Slurper1
- 2Sandstorm Elemental1
- 2Witch’s Brew1
- 3Lady Vashj1
- 3Lightning Storm1
- 3Plague of Murlocs1
- 3Serpentshrine Portal1
- 4The Fist of Ra-Den1
- 5Corrupt Elementalist1
- 5Dragon’s Pack1
- 5Hagatha’s Scheme1
- 5Shattered Rumbler1
- 6The Lurker Below1
- 7Galakrond, the Tempest1
- 8Walking Fountain1
- 10Eye of the Storm1
Highlander Shaman has some minor success because those big turns do not come in every game, but the core problem is that Shaman’s removal package does not line up well against the opposition: Hagatha's Scheme is great if you draw it at the start of the game, but miserable if you find it late, and Earthquake‘s seven damage is not enough to kill the big meta threats.
This is what I’m able to come up with for Shaman. There is a fair bit of removal in the deck with a number of new cards giving Shaman additional ways to clear the board: Shattered Rumbler, The Lurker Below, and Torrent are welcome additions, but they either deal a minor amount of damage to the entire board or a good chunk of damage to a single minion, and I am not confident that those will be good things in the upcoming meta. You will still try to draw your Hagatha's Scheme early, which is not a fun mechanic.
The deck attempts to use the most powerful tools available. Being a Highlander deck is good for Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, and having a more powerful Hero in Galakrond, the Tempest is important for a control deck. Still, I cannot help but feel that Shaman’s control toolkit is inadequate.
With the introduction of Kanrethad Ebonlocke, Warlock has a choice to make: go with Galakrond and the Imp army and enable Plague of Flames, or go with Kanrethad Ebonlocke and BIG Demons for some sweet swing action with Kanrethad’s Prime form that summons three friendly Demons that died this game. (Magtheridon, unfortunately, is a poor target because it is dormant.)
In addition to Kanrethad, the deck includes the new The Dark Portal that can be used to discount your big Demons, Keli'dan the Breaker that can be used as single-target removal or as a full board clear when drawn, Enhanced Dreadlord as a big Deathrattle Demon, and Maiev Shadowsong to buy some time against big threats.
- 1Abusive Sergeant1
- 1Argent Squire1
- 1Beaming Sidekick1
- 1Blazing Battlemage1
- 1Guardian Augmerchant1
- 1Rocket Augmerchant1
- 1Soulbound Ashtongue1
- 2Acidic Swamp Ooze1
- 2Dire Wolf Alpha1
- 2EVIL Cable Rat1
- 2Hench-Clan Hogsteed1
- 2Knife Juggler1
- 2Serpent Egg1
- 2Zephrys the Great1
- 3History Buff1
- 3Magic Carpet1
- 4Rustsworn Cultist1
- 10Sea Giant1
Though this may seem like a pure meme deck, I actually reached double-digit Legend with it in the early days of the SoU meta purely off of the surprise factor, and it’s quite possible that you, dear reader, could pull off a similar feat at the start of Ashes of Outland. The idea is to cap off the general Zoo gameplan of early board control and favorable trades with a surprise finisher in the form of Savage Roar or Bloodlust generated by everyone’s favorite djinn, or to conjure a hard removal option out of thin air that you would usually lack in this kind of an archetype. We’ve also included Twisted Knowledge for flexibility but Faceless Corruptor is definitely a safe alternative.
Guardian Augmerchant and Rocket Augmerchant will serve as fantastic tools for the board combat portion of the exercise, and though the loss of Sandbinder as a tutor is pretty huge for this kind of a deck, there’s enough juice in this kind of a gameplan to give it a spin in the early days of the meta. Sacrificial Pact is there as a tool against what I expect to be a massive influx of Demon Hunters early on, but realistically speaking, Maiev Shadowsong is likely a stronger choice if you have the dust to spare. Yes, you can greed out to your heart’s content with Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, but why would you do that with Zoo? Shadow Council, unlike Arch-Thief Rafaam, is cheap to play and confers a massive stat boost with potential synergies (compare and contrast with Embiggen), making it worth a try for sure.
On first sight, this may look like your average Galakrond Control Warlock deck. The Galakrond package combined with Dragon synergy creates massive amounts of board pressure as well as insane tempo swings thanks to cards like Crazed Netherwing.
As for the Demon part of this well-known archetype, we try to incorporate new cards that synergize with the existing mechanics while hoping to get a fresh and new playstyle in return.
First there is Imprisoned Scrap Imp, a dormant 2-cost 3/3. Do I want to pay 2 mana for a 3/3 that activates on turn 4? Certainly not. Do I want to have a minion-heavy hand buffed for a mere 2 mana that also leave behind a 3/3 body? We should be conservative with absolutes in this position, but this little imp offers a ton of flexibility, reliability and – much more importantly – plannable tempo as well as decent board presence.
Next in our new Demon line-up is Darkglare. 3-cost 3/4s with high-impact active effects have a history in Hearthstone, and this one has potential to become history in the best possible way as well. The release of Escaped Manasaber just recently showed that the impact of mana-cheating is still more than relevant, and Darkglare offers more than enough synergy in addition to that.
And not only that: Elven Archer brings its new favorite Demon friend to Galakrond Warlock, Terrorguard Escapee. A 3 mana 3/7 that spawns three 1/1 tokens are a dream come true for Elven Archer’s battlecry as well as Mortal Coil.
All that is topped of by Unstable Felbolt – a great removal tool for every Warlock archetype that doesn’t rely on very early board presence.
We all know that Zoo Warlock is one of the most popular archetypes right after a Standard year rotation, and that has multiple reasons: Returning players can afford the deck and are most likely familiar with playing it, and the aggressive playstyle often punishes deck experiments due to a new expansion release in combination with key removal cards rotating out of the format.
That doesn’t change with Ashes of Outland. One of the main reasons is Kanrethad Ebonlocke. Thanks to the Demon mana discount, the 2 mana 3/2 enables insane early board plays. And not only that: Kanrethad Prime and its battlecry plays out like a light version of Bloodreaver Gul'dan which can provide a needed tempo swing in the later stages of the game.
Another mana-cheating minion in this list is Darkglare. Similar to the first deck of this article, the 3-cost minion basically provides a free Hero power if you can afford the 2 mana on the same turn. In our first deck we used a certain archer as an activator; but there are even better fighting buddies in Zoo Warlock:
First there is Neferset Thrasher. A turn 3 into coin play involving this minion and a Darkglare on top in the next round can start the beginning of the end of the game – not last because Zoo Warlock never really cared about self-harm in the first place.
Next is Soulbound Ashtongue, a 1 mana 1/4. Together with Darkglare this minion can produce mass amounts of mana if unchecked; beside that, one can argue that it’s a pretty decent Zoo Warlock minion on its own.
In terms of new cards, this list has another new addition that could revolutionize Zoo Warlock gameplay: Infectious Sporeling. Together with the usual Lackey generation, this little plant creature provides excellent board manipulation with a decent body even playable on turn 1.
Yes, Zoo Warlock will lose some of its most powerful tools in the form of Grim Rally and Scarab Egg. However, the mana-cheating mechanic of Darkglare should make cards like Defender of Argus and Serpent Egg more playable and thus viable for the archetype, and this list could turn into a real meta buster in the first weeks of Ashes of Outland!
Last but not least, we’re taking a closer look at a new twist (hehe) on Plot Twist Warlock. First of all, the loss of Augmented Elekk and Dollmaster Dorian hits the archetype very hard – but the base combo of it still stands!
One of the new key pieces of this deck could be The Dark Portal, a card that provides a combination of minion card draw and mana cheating. The incredibly expensive curve of Plot Twist Warlock loves mana discounts – and could end a game in the mid-game already if it hits Fel Lord Betrug or basically any other expensive minion. Again – this archetype relies on combos, and drawing combo pieces early increases your chance to win not only earlier but also more reliably in the long run.
One of the new expensive demons is Supreme Abyssal. Plot Twist Warlock doesn’t rely on face damage, and this value-trading beast of a demon adds a ton of defensive capabilities, just because it can contest basically any bigger board state of multiple turns. Another special addition is Magtheridon. The former Lord of Outland not only provides a very special way of clearing the board, but can also lead up to ridicuolous mid-game uncontested board states.
Overconfident Orc tries to protect Plot Twist Warlock most vulnerable spot – the early to mid game transition. Together with Unstable Felbolt, this new version of Tar Creeper should guarantee easier times in terms of survivability.
Last but not least there is Enhanced Dreadlord, or as we should call it: A big demon with an insane Deathrattle effect. This has to be Fel Lord Betrug‘s most wanted minion target, and with the limited sources of silence in the upcoming meta, Enhanced Dreadlord becomes incredibly valuable – not last because of Kanrethad Ebonlocke and its ability to revive it.
Demon Plot Twist Warlock tries to cover its wounds with new highroll mechanics – that may mean more clear losses, but also much clearer wins in the future of the archetype. But one thing is for certain: This archetype will survive the rotation with ease, mainly because of its unique playstyle, but also because of the new opportunities given thanks to Ashes of Outland.
- 1Boom Squad1
- 1Imprisoned Gan’arg1
- 1Shield Slam1
- 2Frightened Flunky1
- 3Bomb Wrangler1
- 3EVIL Quartermaster1
- 3Livewire Lance1
- 3Ramming Speed1
- 3Shield Block1
- 4Kargath Bladefist1
- 4Molten Breath1
- 4Omega Devastator1
- 4Restless Mummy1
- 5Plague of Wrath1
- 5Scrap Golem1
- 8Deathwing, Mad Aspect1
- 8Tomb Warden1
Is there a future for Control Warrior without Dr. Boom, Mad Genius? This is the first time in years, maybe ever, that Control Warrior does not have a clear toolkit. The best chance is probably to build a Highlander deck to access Zephrys the Great and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, but a fatigue path with Archivist Elysiana seems unlikely to succeed. Warrior’s Galakrond is an aggressive Hero, so there is no Hero card for Control Warrior now.
Here’s my take on what Control Warrior could look like in Ashes of Outland.
The expansion does provide the archetype with some new tools:
- Imprisoned Gan'arg is a great one-drop, although it becomes weaker as the game goes on.
- Bladestorm is a new take on the Whirlwind mechanic, this time one that repeats itself until a minion dies.
- Kargath Bladefist is a nice Rush minion that then becomes a really nice Rush minion in its Prime form.
- Scrap Golem has Taunt and gives you armor, so what’s there not to like.
- Maiev Shadowsong makes your biggest worry go away for two turns.
With most Mechs gone, the deck focuses on two themes: Dragons and Taunt minions. Armagedillo is still here to buff up your Taunt minions. The deck has armor gain, removal, resource generation and a bunch of Taunt minions and Dragons. Is that going to be enough? Warrior’s removal package is still unparalleled with Brawl and Plague of Wrath, so maybe that is enough. It is nonetheless a strange Boomless world that Control Warrior must now enter.