Best Festival of Legends Decks From Day 1

Festival of Legends, the first expansion of the Year of the Wolf (2023), was released yesterday. It also came with a massive Standard rotation – nearly 600 cards are now gone from Standard, and while not all of them were playable, losing them affected many different archetypes. Between rotation and new cards, the meta has changed quite considerably. Just after Day 1, we’ve already seen a bunch of new, interesting builds. But are they any good? Did we already see any huge surprises, or maybe the new Tier 1 decks are yet to be discovered?

Check out our Festival of Legends early meta decks for every class!

I’ve spent most of the first 24h of expansion watching pro player streams and social media, adding their decks to the site (as well as playing some matches with the most promising builds myself), so I have a quite good idea of what’s commonly played, which decks get solid results and which builds have a chance to become a part of the meta. Below, I’ll list some of the decks that caught my attention. Just like every new expansion, remember that the early meta is very chaotic and it might look completely different in a few days. Decks are chosen based on my ladder experience, watching the steamers & pros, talking with other high-ranked players, and early statistics from websites like

These decks are only example lists – meta is adjusting very quickly and more optimized builds might be out at the time you’re reading it! The order of decks below is not indicative of their strength.

Death Knight. All Runes.

Death Knight is a perfect class for people with no cards from the new expansion. Especially Frost & Unholy – those builds run exactly two cards from Festival of Legends, 2x Hardcore Cultist for Frost and 2x Death Growl for Unholy. But you can play them without any at all and they will still perform well. XL Blood Death Knight runs a few more new cards – this specific build has 2x Arcanite Ripper, 2x Screaming Banshee and 1x Photographer Fizzle. Fizzle is only being playtested, I see people running E.T.C., Band Manager in the same slot successfully (and that’s free). Arcanite Ripper and Banshee are good cards, but again, not necessary.

There’s honestly not much point discussing those decks in detail because everyone who played in the last expansion knows what they do. Frost Death Knight has early tempo into mid/late game burn damage and some board freezes for good measure. Unholy Death Knight is more board-focused with lots of tokens and AoE buff to finish the games. Blood Death Knight has a lot of removal and life gain to slowly grind down the opponent. And that’s about it.

Frost DK was already one of the best decks last expansion and since the class didn’t lose any cards in the rotation, it was no surprise it remained on the top. Unholy was somewhere in the middle, it wasn’t an AMAZING deck a few weeks ago, but it was still a good meta pick. And even though Blood Death Knight was a bit lower in the ranking, it turns out that it’s a pretty good counter to some of the new decks that popped out early in the meta. It’s not a surprise, many players have predicted it. Already established, viable meta decks that didn’t lose almost any cards in the rotation. They had to be good, doubly so in the early, more shaky meta. Death Knight builds are already optimized and just slapping a few new cards came in easy. Optimizing other, brand new decks will be a much longer process.

So again, if you want to play without new cards – Death Knight is a perfect class for you. Let’s move on.

Outcast Rush Demon Hunter

One of the strongest decks so far in the expansion is Outcast Rush Demon Hunter. And – interestingly enough – unlike the other two clearly Tier 1 builds (Death Knights, Pure Paladin), the deck is actually quite difficult to play optimally. It’s not as straightforward as “play on curve, win the game”, you have a lot of decisions to make each turn. But if everything lines up, then the deck crushes the whole opposition.

I didn’t think that Halveria Darkraven is going to be so good, but she turned out to be one of the best win conditions. All you need is a few minions, even 1/1’s, staying alive in the mid-late game and then you can just kill your opponent. The idea is that you play Halveria (often discounted) and a bunch of Rush cards. Then you attack enemy minions with all of your Rush minions, buff your whole board by A LOT, and then hit them in the face with what you already had on board. Those 1/1’s can often turn into 8/1’s, for example, and that’s absolutely deadly. Alternative win condition is Lady S'theno – combine her with a bunch of cheap/free spells (Dispose of Evidence, Predation) and you can burn your opponent down from 20+ health assuming they have no board. Lady S’theno also has insane synergy with Rowdy Fan, pushing her up to 6 attack. This combo can lead to some Turn 6 kills. That way just two Predations / Disposes is 18 damage. Alternatively, Lady can be played during your Halveria turn to catch a lot of buffs, but that is usually a late-game combo + you need to plan carefully, because casting spells when she’s on board might get rid of your opponent’s minions which you need to pump your attack with Halveria.

The deck also has a lot of early/mid game tempo and some insane card draw. The new Glaivetar can easily draw 4+ cards while doubling up as some mid-game removal or face damage. Wretched Exile can also provide some insane value in the mid/late game – most of the Outcast cards are cheap, so you can just cycle them through and gain a lot of extra cards (many of which then draw more cards from your own deck).

Overall, early stats suggest that it’s one of the strongest decks in the game right now – and after playing around with it for a bit, I have to agree. I lost a few games I could have won if I played it better, but I still had nearly 70% win rate with the deck. Unless the meta shifts a lot, I expect it to be one of the best decks this expansion.

Pure Paladin

Aggro/Midrange Paladins are always one of the most “honest” decks. They rarely mana cheat, they don’t have any crazy combos, they don’t have much RNG, they just play efficiently on curve and win games like that. Pure Paladin was consistently one of the strongest decks last expansion, but it was rarely complained about and it was honestly even underplayed in higher ranks (maybe because it’s quite boring after you play it for a while).

This expansion we’ve already seen multiple Pure Paladin variants, but I’m posting the two that look most promising so far – Divine Shield and Dude. DS version runs the new Funkfin and Jitterbug, which are really strong cards. The former lets you trade up or push a lot more damage with your Divine Shield minions, while the latter is a very good card draw engine. While it’s not a guarantee, it usually draws 1 card at a minimum (when something pops its Divine Shield), but you tend to drop it just before trading some of your bubbles away, so you usually get closer to 2-3 cards from it. But I have to say that Disco Maul is probably the best new Paladin card. It’s just so insane. With how many low-cost minions you have (especially Sinful Sous Chef), you can easily get it up to +6/+6 or more around Turn 5 if you play it on curve. And paying 2 mana for a 2/2 weapon with that massive of a buff is great. If your opponent has no single target removal, you can just wait until you get to +10/+10 or more, try to hit some minion you can attack with right away, and seal the game that way.

The other version is Dude Paladin. It technically doesn’t even run any cards from the new expansion, but it does run some cards that rotated into the Core Set – Muster for Battle, Stand Against Darkness and Lothraxion the Redeemed. Dude Paladin was already decent last year, but it really missed some Dude synergies and ways to summon them. Muster and Stand Against make your Jury Duty and Warhorse Trainer much more powerful, for example. And Lothraxion means that. What we’re missing is some stronger AoE dude buff, like Level Up!, but maybe they plan to release something in the upcoming mini-set or the next expansion. However, truth to be told, I would probably still add Disco Maul to this list because of how good the card is.

Naga Face Hunter

While the performance of Big Beast Hunter, one of the more hyped decks before expansion’s launch, is a bit underwhelming, there’s another Hunter archetype that looks pretty promising. Because Big Beast synergies weren’t the only ones Hunter got this expansion – they also got some really powerful, early game tempo tools. And a more aggressive, Face Hunter-esque archetype is always ready to play those.

Let’s start with Thornmantle Musician. A 1 mana 1/3 with a strong upside – you can’t go wrong with that. It’s very easy to trigger the Finale for a low-curve deck like that. Follow it up with Barrel of Monkeys and you get a 2 mana 2/5 Taunt. And then still have two more 1/4 Taunts ready to play for 2 mana each. Or maybe you want to buff your board? No problem, Bunch of Bananas is a really efficient way to do so. While +1/+1 for 1 mana is not the best tempo play, you get three spells in one. And who’s better at spell synergies than Nagas.

The new Arrow Smith turns those cheap spells into a machine gun, clearing the board or dealing extra face damage like there was no tomorrow. Drop two of those, or one + Raj Naz'jan and you can burn the heck out of your opponent in the mid/late game. Ancient Krakenbane, a great burn tool (5 damage for 3 mana with a 3/3 body? Sign me in!) was never easier to trigger thanks to those spells you can cast 3 times. The same can be said about another new card – Jungle Jammer. Just dealing 8 face damage for 4 mana is already strong, but if your hand lines up, you can also summon a pretty big Beast on top of that. Just a Jammer on T4 into Monkey + 3x Bananas on Turn 5 means that over the course of those two turns you got a 4/2 weapon, a 4/7 Taunt and a random 5-drop Beast.

The deck also runs Pozzik, Audio Engineer – which is perfect for this kind of aggressive archetype. While a 4 mana 5/4 is not really menacing, the fact that it will spawn two 3/3’s on death is crazy good. Yes, your opponent can prevent that, but in order to do so, they have to play vanilla 3 mana 3/3’s. And that’s… difficult to say the least. If they do it, they stay behind on the tempo. If they don’t and try to ignore it, you hit them for 5 per turn. It’s a really solid card overall.

And – of course – Wildseeds. The package has been a Hunter mainstay ever since its release, and even after a couple of nerfs, they are still very strong.

Yes, the deck is not perfect and it’s probably quite a bit weaker than those listed above. But all thing considered, it’s performing really well so far and it might be a top meta contender after some balance sweeps.

Totem/Menagerie Shaman

I’m lumping those two together because they have a quite similar playstyle and gameplan – it’s too early to tell which version is better, but it’s clear that there’s some potential here.

While I kind of expected the first three decks to be powerful (Frost DK didn’t really lose any cards and the other two have performed really well during theorycraftings), and I’m not surprised about Naga Face Hunter (because it has a really strong backbone from previous sets and it got some really nice cards this expansion), I absolutely didn’t expect Totem or Menagerie Shaman to look so good early in the meta. Of course, it’s still too early to tell whether it stays in the meta, but the early performance is better than expected.

And the best part is that Totem Shaman in particular didn’t even get any new, outstanding cards this expansion. It’s playable because of the Core Set rotation, which just shows how important it is. Grand Totem Eys'or is a perfect Totem Shaman card, but for most of its time in Standard, it was ignored and the class didn’t get anything to push it into the viable territory. Thing from Below making a comeback is also a big deal – it gives Shaman the necessary mid-game tempo, especially helpful in games where you don’t draw The Stonewright. Yes, the deck already had Gigantotem, but Thing From Below comes a turn or two earlier, and that makes a big deal. You can reasonably expect Thing from Below to become cheap (or even free) around T4-T5, and the extra tempo push buys you enough time to get to the Gigantotem phase of the deck.

Menagerie Shaman, on the other hand, got a few new tools. In fact, it’s the first time the deck is playable at all, even though the class doesn’t have any specific Menagerie synergies. The deck is built on a similar shell – you still run more Token synergies, but they are supplemented with other minion types. Party Animal is just an insane 2-drop in a deck full of different archetypes, and it’s super efficient on Brass Elemental. The One-Amalgam Band is also a really solid 7-drop if you played . Yes, it’s a bit random, but with so many minion types you generally get 3-4 good keywords like Rush or Divine Shield. Getting something like Stealth and Windfury also makes it really deadly. Not to mention that it being “All” type means that Eys’or and Party Animal will always buff it.

It’s too early to tell whether either of those versions will be competitively viable, but so far they are the biggest surprise for me this expansion. And they seem to be performing better than many archetypes I thought will do really good, so that’s that.


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