Decks You Can Try Before Year of the Dragon Standard Rotation – Part 2 (Odd & Even)

Standard rotation is a big deal. While every expansion introduces interesting cards, new mechanics, builds and so on, it’s the Standard rotation that actually takes away the strategies and builds on top of adding new ones. It’s the reason why new cards can be impactful without power creeping them, and it’s always the most interesting period in Hearthstone meta. Usually, players can’t just pick one of the top tier decks from previous expansion and expect it to work – with a lot of the cards gone, everyone has to experiment.

On the other hand, Standard rotation is pretty sad, especially for the fans of a specific deck that will no longer be playable. The decks you’ve used to facing on the ladder or the ones you’ve enjoyed playing yourself might no longer be viable. And this final month (or so) is often the last time you can play them in the current form. While you can still enjoy some of them in the Wild, that format has a completely different meta with different strategies – not every viable Standard strategy will be playable in Wild, or at least not without changing it significantly.

In the second part, I will focus on listing the Odd & Even decks. It’s the first time that two Legendaries from a still legal Standard set were Hall of Famed, so it’s a big deal. Especially since both of them were incredibly impactful, and even right now decks built around those two account for almost 30% of the meta.

Check out the first part, when I showcase regular decks!

Without further ado, let’s start with the list!

Keep in mind that those are only example deck lists, usually used by pro players to hit high Legend – there might be multiple versions of some of those decks!

Deck Import

Let’s start with something that a lot of you might hate, but I personally like. I have to confess that I’ve been playing quite a lot of Face Hunter in the past, and I enjoyed the deck for how simple and yet difficult it was. At the base level, you could give it to a 5 years old and the kid would still win some games with it. Just play anything you can, target your opponent’s face and that is. But at a deeper level, it’s actually not that easy to play it optimally. You absolutely need to think a few turns ahead, do everything you can to maximize your damage, know when you can afford to trade (in order to gain more damage in the long run), when to play minion-based damage cards (like Charge) or weapons and when to play spells etc. Of course, the deck will never be as complicated as Miracle Rogue and such, but those micro-decisions matter A LOT make it quite interesting.

Odd Hunter, while it never got really popular, is like a new version of classic Face Hunter (just like Odd Warrior is a new version of classic Control Warrior). While going Odd removes some decision making (since a lot of the turns are more simple due to your mana cost restrictions and the fact that you really want to press that Hero Power whenever you can), it’s still a cool way to play the game. A honest one, if you get what I mean. You don’t rely on any overpowered cards, you don’t play infinite value DKs, you don’t suddenly revive Prophet Velen + Malygos and finish your opponent with two Mind Blasts, no. You just have a very straightforward game plan which both you and your opponent are perfectly aware of, and you want to execute it as efficiently as you can.

So while Odd Hunter was never as good or as popular as other Baku & Genn decks, if you are a fan of pure aggression, of going face as much as you can, then this is a perfect deck for you. And it works okay, especially at lower ranks, when people don’t exactly know how to defend themselves against this kind of strategy.

Deck Import

After Tempo Mage lost most of its powerful cards (most importantly Secret synergies) and then Mana Wyrm got nerfed, I didn’t believe that a new, aggressive Mage deck will be viable before the rotation. But I was wrong. While not as good as Tempo Mage at its peak, Aggro Odd Mage was still an great choice for Mage players who preferred to burn the opponent down instead of outvaluing them.

I’ve read some theories about using Baku in aggressive Mage build even before the card was released, and it made some sense. 2 damage Hero Power is much better at aggression than 1 damage. It speeds up the clock considerably, and it provides some great early/mid game board control tool in Aggro mirrors. The problem was, however, that A LOT of important Mage cards, including burn spells, were Even. It was hard to imagine playing burn-based Mage deck without Frostbolt and Fireball. But as it turned out, those cards weren’t absolutely necessary. There are still some burn spell left (such as Cinderstorm), but most of it was replaced by minions. But a lot of those minions actually double-up as ways to deal damage to the opponent. For example, Daring Fire-Eater is like 1 mana 1/1 that deals 2 damage (often to the opponent’s face), which is pretty solid. Clockwork Automaton is similar – it usually adds 2 damage, but it has a much greater ceiling (if you play two of them of one with Fire-Eater, it now deals 8, which is quite a lot). Fungalmancer can also deal some immediate damage if you have board presence, and Leeroy Jenkins is self-explanatory.

However, probably the main reason why the deck works so well is Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk. Basically, in this deck it’s a 7 mana 4/4 that summons Ragnaros the Firelord. Majority of time, you have it active on the curve, because the condition is so easy to meet. And that card is obviously amazing – old times Tempo Mages were running regular Ragnaros as a curve-topper and a finisher, and Jan’alai is so much better (assuming it’s active on the curve). Even Control decks might have a hard time dealing with it (after using all their removals on previous turns) and it straight up destroys Aggro/Midrange decks that don’t run removals if you aren’t far behind when you drop it (by either putting them on a quick clock or removing one of their minions every turn).

All in all, Aggro Odd Mage is a good deck choice for players who prefer the Tempo Mage style of game play, but don’t mind going for a slightly more minion-based (and, obviously, Hero Power-based) strategy.

Deck Import

Regular Odd Mage is a bit like a mix between Aggro Odd Mage and Big Spell Mage. It leans more towards Control, just like Big Spell, but at the same time, it still maintains its more minion-heavy and aggressive nature of Aggro Odd Mage. I’ve seen a lot of players underestimating how much pressure can Odd Mage put, and losing because they didn’t care enough about their life total or thought that they can leave their board for a while without attending it. Of course, it won’t close out the games very quickly, but Turn 7-8 finishes are rather common.

A big upside of Odd Mage compared to Big Spell Mage is the fact that it has a solid early-mid game board control without having to use any cards thanks to the Hero Power, and that it can activate Jan’alai very easily. Plus the fact that it can actually put some pressure before the very late game. As for the downsides – the deck has less removal spells, both single target and AoE, which means that it’s much easier to miss one and be rushed down by a flooded board, or even run out of them completely in a longer game vs decks Zoo Warlock or Odd Paladin. Also, after playing Frost Lich Jaina, the biggest upside of going Odd (better Hero Power) disappears, while the downsides of not being able to run multiple good cards (such as Fireball or Blizzard) remains.

Still, I like Odd Mage for the fact that it doesn’t have to play so passively. A good minion curve means that you can defend yourself against faster decks without relying on spells completely, and you can play a more Midrange role vs slow decks, while still having a late game powerhouse of Mage DK Hero. If you want a deck that can adjust its play style like that, then Odd Mage should be a good choice. Just keep in mind that you will never be a truly aggressive deck, just like you will never be a truly Control deck.

Deck Import

Odd Paladin. A deck hated by the many, but mostly because of how little it did change during its entire run in Standard. While players have tried some weird versions with Mechs and such, the good old list from The Witchwood was always the best. Even after the deck got nerfed (Level Up! from 5 to 6 mana) ~2 months ago, it wasn’t enough to keep it down, and it’s still considered a Tier 1 deck… running even more Basic/Classic cards that for a very long time were thought to be good only in budget decks (Raid LeaderFrostwolf WarlordStormwind Champion).

Odd Paladin is a classic board flood deck. The goal is to have as many small minions as possible, and then take advantage of that, usually by buffing them or playing cards that get stronger on bigger boards. Or even taking advantage of that fact that when you play lots of minions, lots of them also die, and you can easily drop a 0 mana 2/5 (Corridor Creeper). Just imagine how good the pre-nerf Creeper would be in this deck.

The deck is pretty simple and straightforward, but I guess that this kind of play style appeals to a lot of players. I actually kind of like it too, mostly because of the Hero Power. I remember LOVING to play Midrange Paladin with Justicar Trueheart back in the day, getting those two 1/1’s every turn and forcing your opponent to deal with them or get flooded feels very good. So yeah, if you also enjoy pressing that button every turn, try out Odd Paladin. And if you don’t like Aggro decks, then you can build it a little bit slower, possibly with Mech synergies and Kangor's Endless Army.

Deck Import

Even Paladin was a massive force early in The Witchwood. It completely dominated the meta and was a go-to deck for ladder climbing. But after Call to Arms (which was clearly the strongest card in the deck) got nerfed to 5 mana, it quickly disappeared from the ladder and became an off-meta deck. And to be honest, for the most time, for some reason, it was heavily underplayed. During nearly entire Year of the Raven, it was a solid, ~Tier 2 deck, and yet its play rate sat at 1-2% most of the time. I guess it’s the “nerfed deck mentality” – people often stay away from nerfed decks even if they’re still perfectly viable. Or maybe something else? Because I remember the same thing happening to Even Shaman – the deck was really good at times, and yet its play rate was really low (I’ll talk about it more later). Even right now, despite actually being a Tier 1 deck, Even Paladin’s play rate is at ~2%. It was slightly higher before the Equality nerf, but to be honest, the nerf didn’t affect Even build nearly as much as it did the Combo ones. Even Paladin did run Equality, but it wasn’t an absolutely necessary card – it can do almost just as well without it.

But yes, you’ve heard that right – Tier 1. Even Paladin is very powerful in the current meta, it just works well against the overall lineup of the opponents. It has positive win rate against all kinds of Hunters, with close to 50/50 matchups against other popular decks like Odd Paladin (slightly under 50%) or Wall Priest (slightly over 50%). Given that Hunter is by far the most popular class on the ladder, being good against it while doing okay against other decks makes Even Paladin a great pick.

It’s also a fun deck for people who like to summon dudes every turn – but instead of getting two, you get one at half the price. It means that you can easily weave in Hero Power every second turn, or maybe even every turn depending on your curve. The extra 1/1’s might not seem menacing, but they do add up very quickly, so while your opponent is busy answering your actual plays, you can often beat them down with unattended 1/1’s. The deck leans towards Midrange instead of Aggro, and it has big advantages of being able to run some of the best Paladin cards, such as Blessing of Kings, Sunkeeper Tarim or Spikeridged Steed. It’s closest we have right now to a more classic Midrange Paladin, so if you were a fan of that deck and still haven’t tried Even Paladin, I would really recommend doing that!

Deck Import

I’ve decided to add an Elemental build instead of a regular one for two reasons. First – it’s less popular, so there’s a higher chance that you haven’t played it yet. And second – from my experience, it’s performing slightly better than a regular one. But the difference isn’t major and the play style is similar, so it’s really up to you.

Odd Rogue has been a go-to Rogue build for the most of Year of the Raven. Only recently, after nerf to Cold Blood, as well as the general meta not favoring the deck, it was finally overtaken by other builds (such as Miracle or different variants of Tempo). But it’s still a capable and solid deck, really scary one if you get the right draws. For me, Hench-Clan Thug was always a deck-defining card for Odd Rogue. A 3 mana 4/4 that snowballs even further every turn is just amazing, and the fact that your Turn 2 is nearly always Hero Power anyway makes it even better on the curve. If you don’t answer it right away, you often lose the game. I can still hear the “Halt! Who goes there?!” line into a sound of weapon punch to the face in my head.

Elemental package is mostly played to activate Blazecaller, which is an insane top-end card in such a deck. It can either be used as a high tempo play – drop a 6/6 minion while removing your opponent’s (let’s say) 4/4 or 5/5, or as a reach card. By turn 7-8, you really want to be closing out the game, and 5 extra damage to the face goes a long way. It kind of makes up for the fact that Cold Blood is gone. While it’s not as good of a tempo tool and it costs a lot, the total damage in your deck remains roughly unchanged, and that’s good.

For quite a while, Odd Rogue was the most aggressive deck in the meta, mostly thanks to its Hero Power. 2 damage per turn is good for aggression, which has been proven already by Hunter’s Hero Power, as well as the upgraded Mage’s Hero Power. However, what makes Rogue’s one stand out is the fact that you don’t have to press it every single turn. You can Hero Power one turn, and then skip playing it next turn just to spend all of your available mana. It increases the damage per mana spent ratio twice – instead of paying 2 mana for 2 damage, you pay 2 mana for 4 damage, just over two turns. Hero Power also made the deck capable of facing against board-oriented decks and coming out ahead. Hero Power was always an important part of Rogue’s identity, and if you want to play a deck that makes that even more obvious, then Odd Rogue should be a good deck for you.

Deck Import

Unlike most of the other decks on this list, Even Rogue never really took off in a way that some people expected it too. It was really hyped early in Rastakhan’s Rumble after getting some interesting cards, mainly the Pirate package. Sharkfin Fan and Even Rogue is like a match made in heaven – you always want to Hero Power on T1, and on T2 you get a 2/2 + 1/1 that will snowball further if left alive. If your opponent has no early answer for it, you might win a game on the back of an early Sharkfin Fan (sadly you can’t follow it up with Hench-Clan Thug, because that would be seriously broken). The fact that you can also run Captain Hooktusk as well as other Even Pirates (e.g. Bloodsail CorsairDread CorsairTicket Scalper and Cursed Castaway) adds an amazing late game tempo swing. Or actually, if your board survives, you can even finish the game on the following turn using Cannon Barrage. With four Pirates on the board, this puppy deals 15 damage in total – if all of that goes face and you add the minion damage from Pirates, that’s a nearly guaranteed win (unless you face one of those Odd Warriors).

Just like Odd Rogue, Even Rogue also brings the class’ focus on the weapon to the next level, but in a another way. Instead of having a stronger weapon, you have a more accessible one. Paying just 1 mana for it means that a) you always have it up on Turn 1 and b) you can squeeze it during other Odd turns without losing any tempo, and since you have to re-dagger only once per 2 turns, that’s like always having a 1 damage weapon up.

Despite being probably the weakest deck on the list, it’s far from unplayable. I’ve tested it on the ladder a few weeks ago and it was doing okay. I didn’t start ranking up with it like a madman, mostly maintained a ~50% win rate, but it was a pretty fun experience overall. If you have all of the necessary cards to play it, I would greatly recommend trying it out!

Deck Import

Even Shaman… believe it or not, but it was one of the strongest decks throughout the Year of the Raven. And I’m not talking about Wild – it was obviously overpowered in the Wild, but even in Standard, it was Tier 1/2 deck throughout the majority of the year. Only the recent nerf to Flametongue Totem actually forced it to drop down on the tier lists.. but it’s hard to say by how much, because those already didn’t have a huge sample size regarding Shaman before, let alone after the nerf, when nearly no one touches it. But after seeing a few Legend climbs with a NERFED version, I can definitely say that it’s still okay-ish (as in you can probably play it on the ladder without hitting a huge lose streak). Just like Even Paladin, Even Shaman was underplayed throughout majority of its time in Standard (unlike in Wild, where it was one of the most popular decks) for some reason. And just like in case of Even Paladin, I find it difficult to pin-point the exact reason why. Ultimately, it might just be about players not enjoying the deck’s play style, or the fact that despite having a high win rate, it didn’t really “feel” that powerful.

Either way, despite two of its currently top archetypes rotating out (Elemental & Even), Shaman class actually looks promising in Year of the Dragon. Year of the Mammoth was absolutely terrible for the class. It had three underwhelming sets, with only a handful of great cards throughout the entire year (for example, Warlock had more viable cards in Kobolds & Catacombs than Shaman had throughout the entire year), and it won’t be missed by Shaman players. It has been one of the least popular classes for a long time already, but it actually did get some really solid cards over the last 3 expansions. They just didn’t have time to shine, because the entire class was overwhelmed by strong Year of the Mammoth cards from the other classes, which will be gone. It just needs a single strong expansion to really be viable again.

But for now, Elemental & Even Shaman are your best bet if you’re looking for a Shaman build to play before next expansion. And while this one is rather expensive, if you already own most of the cards and you enjoy that kind of board-oriented Midrange Shaman play style, then it should be a good pick.

Deck Import

Even Warlock is kind of a spiritual successor of the old Handlock decks. It shares a similar play style that relies heavily on Hero Power and keeping a high number of cards in the hand, and it’s also a “Big” Midrange deck with some Control potential if necessary. There are a few advantages of going Even in Warlock. First of all – Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake get so much better. Since you can draw 2 cards per turn so easily, cheap Giants or 8-10 health Drakes are rather common, and that’s great! Second of all, you basically never run out of cards (and so out of steam) in slower matchups, and since you don’t really care about your health vs Control decks, you have some solid matchups against those decks. And finally, damaging yourself is actually beneficial in some cases – you run Hooked Reaver, so getting down to 15 health quickly and then dropping 4 mana 7/7 Taunts can be great.

Ideally, you want to tap for the first few turns and then drop a big threat after big threat. You need to adjust this strategy against Aggro, where you win most of your games by either playing a slow game and clearing everything they play, or actually racing them. Dropping a T3/T4 Giant and then protecting it can be one of the ways to win an Aggro matchup. Either way, given how much self damage you take between all of those Hero Powers and other cards (Vulgar HomunculusHellfire), you also play some defensive measures. Other than Hooked Reaver I’ve already mentioned, Lesser Amethyst Spellstone can be a great removal + heal in one, while Plated Beetle and Shroom Brewer provide some healing on top of an okay body. Then, you can also Taunt one of your big minions up with either Sunfury Protector or Bonemare. And finally, once you drop Bloodreaver Gul'dan, it’s pretty hard to die while gaining 3 life per turn (+probably killing something on the board if it’s against Aggro).

Even Warlock was one of my favorite decks this year, and I do recommend playing it if you still haven’t tried it out!

Deck Import

And finally. The last, but not least (especially not in the current meta), the ultimate ResidentSleeper deck, Odd Warrior. It’s an ultimate Control deck, and one of the only “true” Control decks we had in the last few expansions – one without any kind of combo finisher, one that doesn’t suddenly win out of nowhere, but slowly grinds the opponent out in terms of value. With “slowly” being a key word. You will rarely win any games before Turn 10 (unless Aggro opponent concedes early after seeing that he has no chance), and a significant part of slower matchups go to fatigue. Fatigue is also the reason why this deck runs some cards that aren’t exactly great in a shorter games. Omega Assembly is a bad card until Turn 10, where it starts being one of the better value cards in the game while not costing almost anything. Direhorn Hatchling is also a bad card on curve – you could as well play Fen Creeper in your deck, which you obviously don’t. But the fact that you get an extra 6/9 Taunt in your deck, and that that extra card moves you further from fatigue is exactly what you want in Control matchups (which is also why ideally you want to copy it a few times with Zola the GorgonFaceless Manipulator or Carnivorous Cube – each extra card in your deck gives you a massive edge in mirrors for example).

There’s also a different Odd Warrior build, which revolves around Dragons. It’s a little bit more proactive (although not much), but its main advantage is that its better in Aggro matchups. If Dragon build would face off against this Odd Warrior build, the Dragon one would lose 9 out of 10 times. But it gains a slight edge against decks like Odd Paladin or Zoo Warlock, which are quite common on the ladder, and that’s why it’s probably more popular. Which one you want to play really depends on what matchups you face more commonly. If you play against lots of slower decks, especially mirrors, then this is better. If you face Aggro – Dragon is better.

Long story short, if you’re looking for an ultimate Control deck, the one that looks to play long games and slowly, but surely grind your opponent out of the game, either by outvaluing him or by outarmoring him, then Odd Warrior will be a perfect deck for you. But if you prefer playing faster games and like making high tempo plays, just stay away from Odd Warrior, because you will fall asleep while playing it.

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

14 Comments

  1. BalkanyeWest
    March 25, 2019 at 6:25 am

    I have to admit, I was really hoping that the follow-up to the “regular decks you can try before year of the dragon” was going to be “meme decks you can try before year of the dragon”… But I will gladly give even rogue a go !

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      March 25, 2019 at 8:32 am

      I was really thinking about doing one for off-meta decks, but the problem is that players are much less likely to have cards for those and they won’t craft them just before the rotation. Plus our schedule was really, really busy anyway. But I might do one next time!

  2. Girondin
    March 22, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    “But if you prefer playing faster games and like making high tempo plays, just stay away from Odd Warrior, because you will fall asleep while playing it.” Hahahaha so true.

  3. Nonagon4
    March 22, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Aggghhhh while I had real problems with how some Genn and Baku decks were (*cough* Paladin *cough*) I’m going to miss so many of these decks. Odd Rogue, Even Warlock, and Even Shaman were/are some of my favorite decks. I’m gonna miss them.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      March 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

      I agree, I will also miss some of them. Mainly Odd Mage (slower version), Even Warlock and Odd Warrior. Those three were my favorite Odd/Even decks. But the change is healthy for the Standard, so I will get over them quickly. It will open so many possibilities. At this point I don’t even care that much about the new expansion – rotation alone will change THAT much.

      • TheMessenJah
        March 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

        I share your opinion. Just the fact that i wont see odd paladin, the OP Hunter or the “anoying priest” in 90% of my ladder matchs keeps me satisfied!
        Let the rotation begin :p

        • Nonagon4
          March 22, 2019 at 3:21 pm

          Yeah the day where I don’t have to run into gallery priest and odd paladin again will be the day I cry with joy.

          Until I decide to get into Wild that is.

      • Dark
        March 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm

        I am with you on this. My favorites are in this order:
        1. Even Warlock
        2. Odd Mage
        3. Quest Odd Warrior (the non-mech)

  4. Meisender
    March 22, 2019 at 7:18 am

    how about some Odd Priest and/or Odd Druid, since everyone is crafting the shit-cards now to reap in the dust during rotation? 😀

  5. […] Check out the second part, where I showcase Odd & Even decks! […]