Duels is the new Hearthstone game mode. 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.
One of the most common questions we’re getting recently are about the best starter decks for the format. While it’s still a bit too early to give a definite answer, since the Season 1 of Duels has only started with the launch of Darkmoon Faire, the builds presented in this guide should give you some really solid results. Keep in mind that those decks can definitely still be optimized – but they’re great ones to run for now. We’ll be updating this post and adding more starter deck lists as we find more 12 wins builds worth posting.
Table of Content
Click on the class you want to get to the decks more quickly!
- Demon Hunter – Start Student Stelina
- Druid – Forest Warden Omu
- Hunter – Professor Slate
- Mage – Mozaki, Master Duelist
- Paladin – Turalyon, the Tenured
- Priest – Mindrender Illucia
- Rogue – Infiltrator Lilian
- Shaman – Instructor Fireheart
- Warlock – Archwitch Willow
- Warrior – Rattlegore
And here are out other Duels resources:
- List of All Availalable Heroes, Hero Powers & Signature Treasures
- Duels Class Tier List
- Full List of Duels Deck Lists
- Duels Deck Builder
Demon Hunter (Star Student Stelina)
As it turns out, with the right cards, aggressiveness can really pay off in Duels format. This Demon Hunter starter deck wants to go fast. It might seem that you would run out of cards very quickly with such a low curve, and it’s true, but Acrobatics & Voracious Reader are enough to keep you going for the first few rounds. Then, Outlander & Mo’arg Outcast combo has incredible synergy with such a low curve deck. You will be constantly gaining extra Attack from your Hero Power – which, if you add other sources of damage, should be enough to kill your opponent. Mo’arg will also give you some extra value and tempo – e.g. comboing it withMana Burn on T4 is an amazing play, as it makes your opponent skip his entire turn, from which you’re nearly guaranteed to win unless you were far behind at that point.
Just don’t play too slowly – you want as low curve as possible and you want to drop everything onto the board – don’t play around AoEs and other things like that, just go all in and the deck will carry you at least through the first few games. Later you can adjust and pick some slower cards if you get some good ones offered, or you can stay Aggro.
Druid (Forest Warden Omu)
This Druid starter deck starts really slowly, but once you take off, there’s no way to stop you. You have two very powerful plays – Guardian Animals, which puts enough stuff on the board to often just take away an early match, especially if you also manage to drop 6/6 Taunt (Strongman) for free. And then Carnival Clown. The perfect case scenario is playing Survival of the Fittest while Clown is in your hand to Corrupt it, then drop a full board of 8/8’s next turn. Nearly no early game deck can deal with that sort of pressure. Of course, keep in mind that it only comes hand in the slowest matchups – against Aggro, you might just want to drop 3x 4/4 Clown without buffing it first, especially if you’re about to die.
What puts this deck together is your Hero Power. Over half of your deck costs 5 or more, so it will affect a big chunk of your hand. Between that and Lightning Bloom, you might be able to e.g. drop Guardian Animals on Turn 4 or start doing your Clown plays much earlier. Still, first games will be most difficult, because your early game is very slow and you might just die against Aggro. But if you manage to go through them, 12 wins should be easier to get than with many other decks!
Hunter (Professor Slate)
This Hunter starter deck is built around Deathrattle synergies, with some Secrets sparkled in (since Mad Scientist has both Secret & Deathrattle synergy, it ties those two strategies quite well). Since your Hero Power lets you trigger a minion’s Deathrattle, it will work incredibly well with some of those. In particular, Nerubian Egg and Bloated Python make your HP summon a 4/4 minion, which is really powerful for 2 mana (and no card). Those cards are your bread and butter. And what’s great about them is that even if your opponent will clear them, you’ve still got yourself some nice value out of them.
But here’s the thing – while Deathrattle synergies will definitely come handy, during the first games instead of focusing on some interesting plays, tons of value with Hero Power etc. – you usually want to try to kill your opponent as soon as possible. Since he’s only at 20 health in round 1 (and then only 25), burn cards like Kill Command, Eaglehorn Bow (possibly getting some extra durability with Secrets) or a random Huffer from Animal Companion can really put your opponent in a grave danger. So try to be aggressive and use your Hero Power only when it’s really worth it.
Mage (Mozaki, Master Duelist)
This Mage build combines the early game tempo with massive late game power of the Old Gods. And of course – Hero Power. Wyrm Bolt is one of the main reasons why Mage is pretty good in Duels right now. Since many early decks run some 1 health minions, killing them while summoning a Mana Wyrm at the same time is a big deal. Those Mana Wyrms can really carry you in many cases, often winning before you even get to the late game by gaining a few extra attack and carrying the game. If those don’t work out, you have your mid-game plan with Jandice Barov and Ras Frostwhisper, both of which are very powerful Legendaries. And – again – if that doesn’t work, you still have your super-late game Old Gods plan.
If the deck is too expensive or too top-heavy, you can cut either Yogg or C’Thun. The thing is – C’Thun might be better during the first few rounds, because it adds extra cards to your deck (the early decks are so small that you might get to fatigue in certain matchups) and it’s quite easy to assemble, but Yogg has some insane scaling as the run goes. The problem with Yogg, however, is that it’s basically inactive during the first game (or maybe even first few games depending on cards offered), because it’s hard to get out the 10 spells, so you play a dead weight until you get a few more spells in your deck.
Paladin (Turalyon, the Tenured)
This Paladin starter deck is built around Silver Hand Recruit synergies. The deck is like a snowball – it starts quite weak, but as you keep rolling and adding extra synergies, it becomes incredibly powerful in the mid/late game. You have two global buffs for your Recruits – Lothraxion the Redeemed and Men at Arms Treasure. With both of those active, your Silver Hand Recruits are 3/3’s with Divine Shield. So your Hero Power is virtually 3 mana, summon 2x 3/3 with DS – as you can imagine, that wrecks havoc in the longer run, with basically no deck being able to match that. Now imagine a Corrupted Day at the Faire – 5x 3/3 with Divine Shield is more than enough to kill an opponent who has no AoE clear (or two if you count Shields).
However, since getting them both active is not that easy, you still need some alternative game plan. Your early game is still more or less based around Silver Hand Recruits, but not only. For example, you run Knife Juggler, which also combos well with cards like Haunted Creeper and Tour Guide. Both of those also have solid synergy with Carnival Barker and Steward of Darkshire – e.g. playing Haunted Creeper on 2, then playing one of those and running it into something is a good play, since the summoned 1/1’s will get either buff or a Divine Shield. Still, the deck is quite slow in the early game, so it can fall behind and die to Aggro. It has some tools to stop the aggression like Consecration and Hammer of the Naaru, but they don’t always work perfectly.
Priest (Mindrender Illucia)
Priest in Duels plays a strategy quite similar to Priest in Standard. While your curve might seem quite low, in fact you’re playing a full-fledged Control build. You have everything you need – value generation, removal, stall, healing and – of course – a massive win condition in a form of C'thun, the Shattered. The deck is quite flexible, since it has both the late game plays and staying power vs Control, and lots of tools that help you vs the early aggression. After you stabilize against a faster deck, Hero Power should be enough to save your skin.
And while a bit random, Droplet of Insanity is an insane mid/late game play. If you get even tiny bit lucky and see some 5+ Cost Corrupted cards, you get lots of value AND tempo (sadly delayed until you play those Corrupted cards, but still).
But just like Standard Priest, the deck is definitely not for everyone – you definitely need to lean towards a slow, Control play style, because you really have no viable alternatives. You could try a more tempo-oriented build, but it will rarely work well. Love it or hate it, that’s the way Priest works.
Rogue (Infiltrator Lilian)
Despite having C’Thun as a backup plan (like, as you can see, many decks do), this Rogue build mostly wins through the early game tempo and bounce shenanigans. An absolutely best win condition and honestly the one you will find quite often is an early game big Edwin VanCleef. In this build, there bunch of ways to really make it big. It combos very well with all the 0-1 mana cards and – of course – Foxy Fraud, which simply takes it to the next level. Another card that works really well during the first few matches is Ticket Master.
Since your deck is so small, you will draw your 3/3’s much quicker and get the extra tempo. Both Ticket Master & C’Thun have great synergy with Malevolent Strike, which you might even get down to 0 mana at times (although it’s still great at 2-3 mana). Then, there are your mid game plays – Infiltrator Lilian (very aggressive, it will quite often deal 8 face damage, which is 40% of your opponent’s starting health!) and Jandice Barov. And finally, if the game lasts long enough, you always have a C’Thun backup – but from my experience, it’s usually not necessary to win the first few games. It, however, scales quite well with what the deck can do. You see – after dropping C’Thun, you don’t really care about the 6/6 body THAT much, so you can easily Shadowstep it back and drop it again next turn. If that’s still not enough, you can always use Tenwu of the Red Smoke to bounce it back again. And if three C’Thuns in a row are not enough, then I don’t know who you’re playing against…
Shaman (Instructor Fireheart)
This aggressive Shaman deck is built around the Hero Power, which lets you attack twice while gaining +1 Attack (so at the very base level, it’s 2 damage for 2 mana). 2 damage Hero Power is already quite good during the early stages of Duels, since your opponent’s life total is low. And it gets even better with some weapons or attack buffs. For example, Stormstrike + Hero Power is 3 minion damage + 8 face damage. Same thing for your 3/2 weapon, but instead of 3 minion damage you’re giving +2/+2 buff. And – of course – your Treasure, Tempest's Fury. Ideally you want to use it on an empty board to push 6 + 6 = 12 damage in total. Yeah, it just SHREDS through the opponents in the early matches. Since the deck is really fast and those combos aren’t the cheapest, that’s where Tour Guide comes handy. Prepping your Hero Power without using it and then dropping it with one of your 3 mana plays it often a win because of how much tempo / damage you’re getting. And if that’s not enough, how about a 4 mana 7/7…
You don’t want the game to go for too long, and frankly, most of the time it won’t. Between all the weapon damage, some extra minion hits and burn, you will finish things off quite quickly. But in case you do need some bigger removal – Devolving Missiles and Hex should get the job done. They’re especially handy against those pesky Taunts that would get in your way otherwise.
Warlock (Archwitch Willow)
While the first version of Dark Arts at 2 mana was weak, it got way more powerful after getting buffed to 1. And now you also get a Treasure to combo it with. And frankly, the combo is REALLY SCARY. You have a card that you can always discard without losing it from your hand, and it gets bigger and bigger as the game goes. Well, but big stats aren’t everything – you can have a 20/20 and lose after dropping it, because it did nothing. Killmox isn’t like that, though. Not only it has Rush, so immediate impact on the board, but also Lifesteal. With the numbers you end up with before Turn 6, you can often drop it as a let’s say 11/11, which is often enough to heal you back to full at the early stages. The card is insane and it’s the main point of focus of your deck – plus it’s so easy to find given how much you draw (so you don’t even need to keep it in your starting hand, focus on other good Discard targets like Boneweb Egg and Silverware Golem).
Your early games are basically based around those Discard synergies. You also do run C’Thun, which is actually quite easy to activate in this deck given how much it draws, but sometimes it will be better to discard one of the pieces to look for something better (in faster matchups where you can’t afford to wait until Turn 10 anyway). As you get more cards, you can try to branch out and add some Demon synergies, or maybe more Soul Fragment stuff, but Discard will still be your #1 priority.
And finally, Warrior. Despite getting some other, interesting Hero Powers and Treasures, a lot of players still default to the ones available in early access. The reason is that those two have a really good synergy, and the Hero Power in particular has great synergy with many of the cards available in the format (plus, having an ability to destroy 1 health minions is always good).
The deck is also quite weapon heavy, because frankly, weapons can carry you through the first few rounds, since they just deal so much damage. Sword Eater is one of the deck’s MVPs, as it both creates some nice board presence (and with Taunt in case you face Aggro) AND you get a 3/2 weapon for your trouble, either helping you with board control or dealing lots of damage to the opponent.
While the E.T.C., God of Metal pick might seem weird, it’s mainly there for some extra burst damage. If you combo it with Bumper Car, you can deal 6 damage out of nowhere. Now get some weapon hit in and you basically put your opponent in the Grommash Hellscream + HP range. However, ETC gets a lot less value as the game goes by and the 6 burst damage becomes less valuable, so you can simply replace it with something else if you don’t own it.
And if the damge plan fails, you always have Rattlegore to fall back on. While some decks run ways to deal with it (and I frankly just wouldn’t play it against Priests unless they’ve already used their cards that can steal it), against some builds it just seals the game, because they can’t kill it and you either clear their board over and over again while damaging them with something else, or simply go face a couple of times to win.