Best Duels Starter Decks For All Classes – 12 Wins Deck Lists (Forged in the Barrens, July 2021)

Duels is one of Hearthstone’s game modes, released back in October 2020. For many expansions now players have asked for a new version of Dungeon Run, and we’ve finally got it… sort of. Instead of the usual routine of facing AI bosses, in Duels player will get to experience a Dungeon Run-style gameplay against other players.

In this article, we’ve compiled some of the strongest Duels decks for each class. If you’re looking for a way to get 12 wins in the format – this post should be a great first step. While starter decks aren’t everything, things like draft buckets or Passives / Treasures offered are also very important too, a good starter deck ensures a smooth start and a good foundation to build upon. Since the buckets offered are based on the cards already in your deck, a good starter deck also ensures a better drafting experience.

Keep in mind that Duels is a new game mode and it’s still in being worked on. We’ll try to keep this list up to date after every patch. Additionally, Duels should be updated with a completely new set of Hero Power & Treasures every expansion – so expect major changes after every new set launches.

Table of Content

Click on the class you want to get to the decks more quickly!

And here are out other Duels resources:

Demon Hunter (Star Student Stelina)

When it comes to Demon Hunter, the class has a few distinct possibilities and they’re all playable, but sadly none of them is really great right now.

The first build is Aggro – it used to be one of the best decks in Duels, but both the Hero Power (Outlander) and the Treasure (Mo’arg Outcast) got nerfed. Right now it’s weaker, but still sort of playable. The goal here is to play the aggressive game and try to rush the opponent down. Sadly, with Hero Power costing mana now, you can’t get “free” damage out of nowhere – that’s why it’s often advised to ignore it in the early game and wait until late game to get some extra burst. Even without Hero Power, the deck packs enough punch to clear some early encounters, and later down the line you can afford to go for a slightly longer game and a few burst turns.

Second one is token – it relies on producing lots of small tokens and then “sacrificing” them for some extra effects. When it comes to token generators – the most basic one is your Hero Power. You can summon 2x 1/1 with Rush any time for 2 mana, which isn’t the most efficient way to get them out, but it’s solid way to build up a board and get some trades. Then you have cards such as Coordinated Strike, Command the Illidari and Expendable Performers. As you can see, they scale up quite well. But they would be pretty bad without pay-offs – card like Feast of Souls, Wrathscale Naga or Knife Juggler make you summoning and/or killing off multiple small minions much stronger. Your Treasure is one of your biggest win conditions – you should try to put it into an Outcast position and then keep re-using it. Later in the game you can, for example, play Expendable Performers, kill off 10+ minions in a single turn, and then it becomes a massive burst card. Few hits later your opponent might be dead.

The last build goes to the class’ roots in Duels and relies on pulling big Demons. Summoning Ritual treasure is key – it gets a bit weaker in later matches, but very early, when your pool of Demons is very limited, you’re guaranteed to pull 3 big Demons onto the board with it. Of course, they will remain Dormant for two turns, but after you wake up, unless your opponent has an answer, it’s usually game over in your favor. Alternatively, if you draw those big Demons before you get your Treasure, you can try cheating them out with Shadow Hunter Vol'jin.

Druid (Forest Warden Omu)

Druid has only one truly viable way to play and it’s tokens. Harvest Time! Hero Power is by far the best one, thanks to its flexibility. You can either use it to develop your own board, while possibly triggering Deathrattles at the same time… or to neutralize your opponent’s big threats. When you play this deck, your opponent’s biggest minion will always be 2x 2/2 if you choose to, and that’s way easier to clear than e.g. an 8/8. Other than that, you play it like a regular Token Druid – you want to create a big board presence, then throw in some AoE buffs (e.g. Pride's Fury) and hopefully finish the game with attack boosters, such as Savage Roar or Arbor Up (which is excellent even if you don’t finish your opponent with it). This build in particular runs one extra win condition – Greybough. The card can be really strong if your opponent has no way to neutralize its effect (e.g. through silence or transform).

If Tokens aren’t your thing and you still want to play Druid, I put in a second build – Taunt Druid. The problem with slow Druid decks is that they often die early and can’t get far into the run because they don’t do much for the first X turns. In this case, the deck’s author decided to rely on Taunts in order to survive the aggression. You can have a consistent Taunt curve starting with Turn 2, and then possibly revive a bunch of them with either of N’Zoths. Sadly, if you don’t encounter aggressive decks, you can run into builds that outvalue you or win through other ways, and defensive Taunt minions aren’t best at putting pressure. Still, it’s an option.

Hunter (Professor Slate)

Hunter has only one basic strategy – Deathrattle. Death Games is by far the best Hero Power of the class, for just 2 mana you can get some really crazy Deathrattle effects. Even in the early game, Nerubian Egg, Devilsaur Egg or Bloated Python are great examples of big tempo wins. Triggering them one extra time is already a big deal, and it just gets better as the game goes by. Previously, you played Bonecrusher, but after it got nerfed you run Deathstrider instead, which is also pretty solid, maybe even better in some cases. It’s like your Hero Power on steroids – if you stick a strong Deathrattle and then drop Strider (especially a buffed one, because it starts with 1 trigger, but gets stronger later into the run), you can win your games without them ever getting to late game because of a massive tempo win. The best thing about Deathstrider is that you can trigger the same Deathrattle multiple times, so e.g. coining out Egg on T1 and then dropping Deathstrider on T2 can mean an instant game win later into the run. And that’s your strategy throughout – try to stick Deathrattles and then trigger them with HP and your cards. Opponents will be forced to kill them if possible, often wasting resources, and you will still get their effect anyway. For example – if your opponent is forced to use removal on your 0/2 Egg, then it’s still good for you – they wasted resources and you got a 2 mana 4/4. It makes Hunter a pretty strong contender in the Duels meta.

Mage (Mozaki, Master Duelist)

Right now, the most popular Mage build relies on cheese wins, but it’s actually working quite consistently. The goal here is to run Open the Waygate Quest, finish it, and then drop Embercaster + Time Warp (Quest’s reward). You get an extra turn… and three spells that give you another extra turn in your hand. With so many turns at your disposal, any kind of board presence can easily turn into a game victory. Even the 3/3 Embercaster itself will deal 12 damage by itself over those extra turns, assuming your opponent doesn’t have any way to prevent that. Those 4 extra turns aren’t enough? No worries, you can get another copy of Embercaster with Potion of Illusion and get 3 more turns. In other words, after you get your Embercaster + Time Warp combo, you’re nearly guaranteed to close out the game, with some incredibly rare exceptions. Most of your efforts should be directed towards finishing the Quest – which is actually quite difficult during your first matches, because it’s hard to find enough cards that generate extra spells. But after you take off with the deck and pick the right buckets, it should easily be able to carry you to 12 wins.

Alternatively, you can try a build based on Elementals. We’ve got some new Elemental synergy in the recent expansions – if you combine it with Elementals from Journey to Un’Goro (which is also currently available in Duels), as well as Elemental Learning Treasure, you can get some really nice results. The deck is incredibly synergistic, and if you hit the right curve, you can really run away with the game. The only big issue is that it feels a bit too “fair”. Decks in Duels are often doing lots of crazy stuff and you mostly rely on playing good minions on the curve, which might not be enough at times.

Paladin (Turalyon, the Tenured)

For a brief time, Paladin was the most dominating class in Duels thanks to Humble Blessings, but after it getting nerfed to 4 mana, it’s no longer as powerful. Don’t get me wrong – it’s far from useless, but having it on curve was simply so broken before. The idea behind this build is to take advantage of the fact that every minion you summon is a 3/3. And well, it costs 3 too. So on the one hand, you have expensive cards with strong Battlecries like Alexstrasza the Life-Binder – which will be a 3 mana 3/3, but its Battlecry will remain the same. Or you have cards that summon a lot of Tokens – tokens will also all be 3/3. And so, for example, Onyxia the Broodmother resummons a board full of 3/3’s every turn until death, which is a quite powerful effect just for 3 mana. You also have some Silver Hand Recruit synergies. Lothraxion the Redeemed gives them Divine Shield for the rest of the game, so e.g. after you play both him and your Treasure – Day at the Faire and Stand Against Darkness become really broken. Even your Hero Power will just summon a 3/3 with Divine Shield for 2 mana AND add a 3 mana 3/3 with DS into your hand, which is not great, but it’s free extra value in longer matches. Like I’ve said, it’s no longer as overpowered on 3 mana and with the recent meta changes, but it’s still a great build in Duels.

The second build featured here is mostly built around early game Secret package combined with late game power of Royal Greatsword. Here the idea is to get through the early game thanks to Secrets and some of your early game drops, then play Greatsword and keep summoning big Legendaries. If you get it on curve in your early games, it’s hard to lose – not only it deals 6 damage per turn, but it also “cheats out” 5-9 mana worth of minions from your deck. And it goes for 3 turns. The deck’s biggest downfall comes down to RNG – if you draw your big Legendaries early, it sucks really hard. They are mostly pretty weak when played from your hand, not to mention that they clog it in the early game. You might get some games where you don’t draw your Greatsword and die before you can do anything meaningful.

Both Priest builds presented here are mostly Control decks and have a pretty similar play style. However, there’s one major difference between them – win conditions. The first one is more basic and will be familiar for Constructed players. It looks to win games through simply outvaluing the opponent. Thanks to its Hero Power, it’s hard to run out of value, so you will usually win the long game. And even if you can’t win in value, you always have C’thun as a back-up. What’s interesting is that there’s Mutanus the Devourer, which works incredibly well in those slow builds. It can disrupt your opponent’s game plan – many of the Duels Signature Treasures come in form of a minion, and eating it gives you a huge advantage. Then, there’s Joras Thuldoom providing an addition win condition, especially against decks with no board clear. It’s similar to the old-school Grim Patron, unless your opponent kills all of them, they will keep multiplying on your turn (it has amazing synergy with Devouring Plague, since the combo fills your entire board).

The second version is a bit different – it leans more into Combo build. Instead of simply outvaluing your opponent, assuming they can’t heal up easily, you just focus on controlling the board and generating more resources, while your Hero Power will do the job in a long run. Each time you play a spell – any spell – you deal 1 damage to the opponent. It’s not very strong in the early game, but later, once you get going, you can start generating a ton of spells and discounting them. The best source of random spells is obviously Lyra the Sunshard, so pick any extra copies of her from buckets. Ideally, you want to set up a Lyra with a few spells previously discounted by Palm Reading. If that’s not enough, you can always try finishing them off by killing a big (7+ health) minion with Shadow Word: Void. Every Voidfiend will steal 1 HP from the opponent – damage their hero and buffs itself. If you kill a big minion and then keep their board clear, those can run out of control and quickly kill them while getting harder to kill themselves each turn.

Rogue (Infiltrator Lilian)

Rogue isn’t the best class in Duels right now. It was nerfed a couple of times, but players have settled on builds that work quite well. Roguish Maneuvers + Green Tortollan Shell seems to be the most popular combo. The latter one is a great tempo tool – in the early game it’s usually a 1 mana Sap (yes, it’s random, but when your opponent plays only a single big minion in their turn it works quite well) and later in the game you can clear out their entire board with just one Shell – it’s incredible how much tempo can you get for just 1 mana.

I’ve listed two builds, which share some similarities, but have a quite different play style. The first one is more “tricky”, it focuses on bouncing your own minions and utilizing their effects multiple times. And so, you can bounce Oil Rig Ambusher or Fogsail Freebooter for extra burst, Jandice Barov to fill your board, Coldlight Oracle to mill your opponent (if you play against a deck that draws a lot it can be incredibly useful) or Mankrik to shuffle multiple 3/7’s with Charge into your deck. Then, as the run goes by, you end up getting more stuff to bounce. If you get lucky and manage to snatch one of the Battlecry passives, you’re set.

The second build is more straightforward and aggressive. In particular, you can win games with a big Edwin VanCleef and you have a consistent burst finisher from Alexstrasza the Life-Binder. Again, picking Battlecry passives is a good idea.

Shaman (Instructor Fireheart)

Shaman is doing quite well in Duels and it has two most popular options right now – Elementals and Murlocs. The first build featured here is an aggressive Murloc build that is meant to catch opponents by surprise. You want to quickly get onto the board and drop Murloc synergies, summoning strong minions, buffing them etc. The latest Forged in the Barrens Murloc additions really made it a viable option. Some strong new cards include Firemancer Flurgl and South Coast Chieftain giving you more burn / board control, Lushwater Murcenary, letting you come back from behind by giving all your Murlocs Rush and buffing them, and – of course – Nofin Can Stop Us, which is a massive, board-wide +2/+2 buff on your Murlocs, meaning that sticking just 3-4 of them can make you run away with the game. If you stick some board, going for a big Gentle Megasaur can mean make over. Picking +Attack or Windfury can close out the game on the spot, while getting Divine Shield can make your board incredibly difficult to get rid of. Murlocs are notorious for having hard time finishing the game, but thanks to the extra damage from Hero Power (especially when combined with Rockbiter Weapon and Stormstrike), it’s now much easier.

The second build is created around Elementals. There has been a lot of solid ones added to the game lately – Wailing Vapor, Arid Stormer, Lilypad Lurker and Gyreworm just to name a few. Then if we add all the ones from Un’Goro, which is also in the rotation, the deck comes together really well. You usually want to start by curving out with your small ones and keeping the board control, then you usually start outtempoing your opponent thanks to your 2 for 1 plays – e.g. Earth Revenant, Lurker or Fire Elemental, which can clear your opponent’s board (or at least a part of it) while putting a body on the board. Thanks to the Hero Power combined with Rockbiter & Stormstrike, the deck also packs a nice punch to finish the matches.

Warlock (Archwitch Willow)

Warlock used to dominate the meta with Discard decks, but after getting nerfed at least 3 times it settled for different builds and is now in the middle of the pack. This Duels Warlock deck is built around Soul Fragments – the Hero Power makes this option quite compelling. Whenever you play a card shuffling Soul Fragments into your deck, you also summon a 3/2 Imp. Normally, Soul Fragment payoff is rather slow. You first need to shuffle it, then you need to find a card that takes advantage of it and play it too. But with this Hero Power – pay-off is immediate. For example, Spirit Jailer now becomes a 1 mana 1/3 that summons a 3/2 AND shuffles Fragments into your deck. Soul Shear can clear something and still generate a minion on the board. With the right curve, you should be able to nicely outtempo your opponent. Of course, the great news is that you still have all the Fragment pay-offs unaffected, so now both your generators and pay-offs create powerful turns. The basic idea is to pick as many Soul Fragment-related buckets as possible now.

Warrior (Rattlegore)

With Warrior, it comes to two best options. First one is Legendary-heavy build, which tries to get Disks of Legend passive. If you find it – you can easily cruise to 12 wins, really. If you don’t – well, it’s harder, but the deck is still playable. Some cool combos that can help you winning games utilize your Hero Power. Because of it, you can play a minion and attack with it instantly – even twice if it has Rush (first attack and then Hero Power). This one comes really handy for multiple minions. For example – Rokara. If your opponent has two small minions, you can run her into one, get a buff, then Hero Power to kill a second and get buffed again. You can play Lord Barov and instantly clear the board (assuming you hit something with 2+ attack). You can drop Kresh, Lord of Turtling and get 8 Armor from Frenzy effect. You can use Overlord Runthak for double handbuff. As you can see, it comes pretty handy. Of course, like I’ve said, the deck is MUCH better if you manage to get the passive that doubles your Legendaries – I probably don’t have to explain how crazy is that.

The second deck is your Duels version of Bomb Warrior. Your passive Hero Power shuffles a bomb whenever you finish a turn with Armor. And so, of course, you run a lot of Armor-generating cards. If you get some Armor and protect it – e.g. remove / trade off all your opponent’s minions, it can become really hard for them to come back, because now they will have an increasing amount of bombs in their deck. Then there’s Scrapmetal Demolitionist, which not only shuffles an extra bomb (or bombs later in the run), but also gives you Armor, meaning that your passive is guaranteed to get another one in. The deck is especially powerful during early games, when it’s easy to find Bombs and life pools are low. However, even later in the game, it thrives during long, drawn-out games, especially against decks that can’t heal a lot. You just have to pick as much Armor generation as you can to keep shuffling Bombs. If you do it every turn, unless your play are incredibly weak, your opponent will end up with so many Bombs in their deck that you don’t need to do anything else. All you can do is defend yourself and try to stay alive and they will eventually die.

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

32 Comments

  1. Sbud78
    July 16, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    Why would Kazakus be a good fit for the warlock deck? it already gets deactivated by Demonizer and will definitely get killed by a subsequent 4 drop getting picked up later

  2. Foom
    May 26, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Trying to paste the deckcode for the second warlock deck into the client on iPhone and it’s not working. Anyone else having this issue?

    AAEBAYkGD6zLA7jOA//OA+zRA8zSA83SA87SA8/SA4vVA5PeA5XeA/XjA+/tA+fwA4WgBAAA

  3. Gsofficial
    May 21, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Brilliant, only the most obvious possible decks for each class.

  4. Roadgame
    May 20, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    You should change the warrior deckd, because people do actually craft missing cards… like senseless legendaries. Great dislike!

  5. HewaT
    May 19, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    The Duels meta with any deck full of legends with low atk and high def is awful.

  6. Nerose
    May 3, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Can’t wait for the update!

  7. Coldwhiskeyman
    April 28, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Will there be a barrens update?

  8. JoyDivision
    February 17, 2021 at 4:29 am

    Regarding Priest:

    ‘…you have no way to deal with bigger boards of 3+ health minions (other than stalling with Wave of Apathy)…’

    Shadow Word: Ruin is in the 2nd Priest deck!?

    ‘… Sometimes you can also revive it [Joras Thuldoom] with Rally!…’

    I don’t understand … Joras costs 4?

  9. Gondanu
    February 16, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    that rogue deck fells like garbage

  10. Doyler29
    February 12, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Any plans to update this? It’s kind of irrelevant after the last update.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      February 17, 2021 at 12:54 am

      Sorry it took so long. With so many things constantly coming to Hearthstone over the last few months we’ve been really busy. New game modes, new formats, regular expansions, mini-sets, progression system update, now the core set etc. There are so many things to constantly update that I don’t know where to start so I have to delay/ignore some stuff and take care of the others first.

    • Goblinta
      May 20, 2021 at 5:22 am

      Give Stonehill a break here.

      Blizzard has given him lots and lots of more Hearthstone variants to cover plus ever more frequent updated changes.

      The work has quadrupled or quintupled.

      The size of the Hearthstone Top Deck staff has not quadrupled or quintupled.

      Those poor guys are dying from overwork.

      Be grateful Stonekeep stays in this business

      Or we all would be screwed.

  11. Manfredman
    December 23, 2020 at 12:12 am

    It would be nice to be able to play casual and heroic separatedly from another. There would be more experimenting going on if this were possible.

  12. Rickert von F
    December 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    I decided to use a pass for a free heroic run. I had literally never played a game with Killmox before (it still said “New” on the selection screen from when I unlocked it), but I’m already 8-1 with this Warlock decklist. The one game I lost was the only game where I didn’t draw Killmox. There was another game where I was in trouble, but then my opponent played something that made us both draw cards, and then I drew Killmox, so I ended up winning after all. It’s completely broken when you have it with that hero power.

    • Joris
      December 28, 2020 at 1:44 pm

      You are right, I think they should further nerf the combo. It would help to have the hero power “look at 3 cards” instead of 4, which increases the risk of discarding something usefull.

      Though I would be very interested to look at win rate statistics per class + deck + HP + treasure. I hope hsreplay adds it soon, even only to know that warlock is as overpowered as it seems.

  13. DemianHS
    December 21, 2020 at 4:45 am

    This is so good. Thanks for your work guys!! Now i’m excited to play Duels! *-*

  14. NototoHoshi
    November 23, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    When it comes to Rogue using the Nerubian treasure… isnt Secret Passage a no-brainer include? The combo of these two cards basically gives you -2 discount on your entire hand (it doesnt work on the cards you draw, but rather it applies on the cards that return to your hand at the end of the turn).

    • NototoHoshi
      November 23, 2020 at 11:15 pm

      Oh and also (too bad its not possible to edit posts, have to write another one):
      In my experience, the deathrattle hunter deck is really really good with a Tour Guide in it. Usually what you want to do is to play deathrattle minion and immediately trigger it. Tour Guide allows you to set up for some sick turns (like turn 1 Tour Guide, turn 2 Nerubian Egg + hero power).

      • Joris
        December 28, 2020 at 2:11 pm

        The only disadvantage of tour guide is that it is a 1-health minion. There are several hero powers that benefit from killing it (mage, warrior, demon hunter).

  15. Skoma
    November 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    anything i can replace grommash with?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 22, 2020 at 7:32 am

      Eh, it’s hard to replace, because the card is AMAZING in the early games with this HP (late game burst for over half of your opponent’s health). But I would probably run something like Kor’kron Elite instead.

  16. Jed
    October 31, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Lets be honest, biggest disappointment with duels is that there isnt a RAAAAAAATTLEGOORRRREEEE emote for warrior

  17. Akyoni1
    October 31, 2020 at 12:25 am

    Warrior says razorgore instead of rattlegore

    • Tharid
      November 2, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Oh, thanks! My WoW Classic inner self got ahead of himself 🙂

  18. Votum
    October 27, 2020 at 5:14 am

    Mistake in Daemon Hunter desk!
    Kayn Sunfury is not available in duels mode.

  19. Aiafa
    October 26, 2020 at 3:25 am

    Devolving missiles works very well with Mozaki’s hero power, especially in the early and mid game.

    • Tharid
      October 26, 2020 at 8:54 am

      It’s a great card to add to the list with early- to mid-run buckets, but I think it’s just not good enough in a 15-card deck!

  20. Zombie69
    October 25, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    A bunch of Hunter secrets and no Mad Scientist? That’s got to be a mistake!

    • Tharid
      October 26, 2020 at 1:48 am

      Nope! I actually think that in this Aggro/Tempo version of a deck, Mad Scientist is kinda too slow for the first few rounds of Duels. And in two of my three rounds with Hunter, I took it in the second or third bucket once my deck was bigger and Tempo/damage didn’t matter that much anymore.