Hello /r/competitivehs, Chiron here with my first post on this subreddit. I am a Legend player on NA and average 6 wins in arena when I do decide to step into it. I’m here because I want to discuss the potential of Dragon Tempo Warrior and compare it to the traditional Tempo Warrior we’ve been seeing on ladder. Variations of this deck was played at NA prelims and I’ve been playing it since early on in the season and quickly realized how strong it really is.
- Obligatory Legend Proof
- Even More Obligatory Legend Proof
- The Final Stretch (Rank 2 – Legend)
- Breakdown of Stats
- All 3 Versions of the Deck and Graphs
Anyway, lets talk about the lists:
- v1.0 – This was the first version (obviously) that I played. It was made by Volcan who is currently sitting in Top 50 Legend on NA, mostly playing a deck similar to this. Him and I talked a lot about how to change it and make it better and my final record with it before changing it up was 33-22 (Granted most of those wins came from lower ranks)
- v1.1 – This version I got from Tempostorm’s justsaiyan shortly after he released his own version of it on his twitter –https://twitter.com/TempoSaiyan/status/731024261054406656 . This was the version I played the most and it felt a lot more optimized than the first version, ending with a record of 45 – 30 with it (Roughly the same win rate as the first version).
- v1.2 0 – I changed the deck slightly for the final push from Rank 2, teched in Harrison to deal with the Warriors and Shamans as well as a Fierce Monkey to have a bit faster curve. I cut the Bloodhoof Braves for them because overall they felt extremely clunky especially since the deck already has two Twilight Guardians. Final record with this deck was 7-2 and pushed from Rank 2 to Legend with ease.
Now, let’s talk about how Dragon Tempo Warrior fairs when it’s compared to it’s father, Tempo Warrior (Or Midrange Warrior to please Brian “Please don’t call me Brian ‘Kibler’ Kibler” Kibler) because I feel like it is much better in the current meta. It’s a lot faster and absolutely disgusting when it curves out perfectly.
These decks obviously have a lot of cards in common however feel very different when playing each of them. Mainly because they’re both tempo decks and we’ve quickly come to learn since ShtanUdachi reached Top 10 Legend with Varian Warrior Mid-April they it is a very powerful version of Warrior with lots of potential (https://twitter.com/ANOXShtanUdachi/status/720531453604425728)
Let’s look at the cards these decks share:
- Blood To Ichor: Absolutely fantastic tempo card. It’s basically a Cruel Taskmaster for one less mana that’s better against high health minions, which is pretty much where we’re at when it comes to early drops (Tunnel Trogg, Totem Golem, Flame Imp, Argent Squire, Knife Juggler, Flame Juggler etc.)
- Execute: Fairly obvious inclusion, a 1 mana removal spell offers very efficient removal that results in big tempo swings.
- Battle Rage: Now, this wasn’t in the first version of the Dragon version because it doesn’t run Whirlwind, however it felt very wrong to not have such a strong draw mechanic. Many dragons and dragon related cards have pretty high health for their mana cost and usually end up surviving to the next turn after getting a good trade. Not to mention with Ravaging Ghoul it’s very easy to Battle Rage for 2+ cards which is pretty optimal.
- Fiery War Axe: Not much to say here, easily one of the best weapons in the game by helping you fight for early board with ease. It’s almost always correct to just play it on Turn 2 and not attack with it if you have no other play.
- Fierce Monkey: So I eventually included this is a 1-of in the dragon list because it is a very strong 3 drop and helps a lot against faster decks. It’s fairly difficult for pirate warriors to deal with a long with Shamans and Zoos. I say that very cautiously since there are quite a few ways to kill it within those archetypes but it still serves as a solid 3-drop that’s definitely faster than Bloodhoof Brave in Dragons.
- Frothing Berserker: So 4-health has become quite a nuisance to deal with in standard and this guy is an absolute monster if left alive. Your opponent will almost always go out of his way to remove it which can ruin their game plan and give you more tempo. At this rate, you should have about 105% off your next purchase with the code Tempo and it’s going to just keep coming up more and more as we discuss the archetype.
- Ravaging Ghoul: MVP in the Zoo match up. Not a card I would keep in the mulligan if your hand is bad, but it absolutely ruins their day. I’m not even going to talk about the double Ravaging Ghoul combo for Turn 6 to clear them because at that point you just win the game. Even outside of Zoo it’s a fantastic execute activator since it comes with a great body, buffs your Frothing for huge amounts, and can just give you that extra 1-damage you may need to finish off a minion with a War Axe.
- Kor'kron Elite: Absolutely insane 4-drop. This card eats Imp Gang Boss for breakfast and gives your Frothing Berserker +2 attack in the process. Not to mention he’s great to top deck for lethal or just trade into an Azure Drake to protect the rest of your board.
- Harrison Jones: More of a tech choice for both decks but I think it’s too good to pass up right now with the amount of Warriors and Shamans on ladder. I did consider an Acidic Swamp Ooze instead just for the better early game and tempo but opted for Harrison in the end for the bonus card draw.
- Grommash Hellscream: Another obvious inclusion, amazing finisher as well as a great tempo play to take out a 4 or less health minion on Turn 8 or later. I don’t ever see a tempo warrior list being successful without him.
So that’s really all the decks have in common which are basically just the core tempo cards of the archetype itself. So how does Dragon Tempo Warrior differ? Well, it has dragons in it and dragon synergy cards (when activated) provide some of the best tempo I’ve ever seen in this game. I mean, Blackwing Corruptor on 5 if you already have 1 or 2 minions out is an insane swing and Alexstrasza's Champion is the craziest 2-drop ever printed. Let’s take a look at each of the cards that are included in Dragon Tempo Warrior that are not included in the regular Tempo Warrior.
- Sir Finley Mrrgglton: I think this card is fantastic in tempo warrior since armor up is pretty useless in most games. Hero powers like Fireblast, Shapeshift, and Lifetap are just infinitely better. Even the lesser options like Dagger Mastery, Totemic Call, and Lesser Heal are pretty decent. I won a lot of control match ups due to Lifetap alone as well as Fireblast for sneaky Grommash Hellscream lethal.
- Alexstrasza's Champion: Like I said above, this card is the craziest 2-drop in the game. If you think it feels good hitting a Tunnel Trogg with a Fiery War Axe on turn 1, try coining one of these bitches into it. It easily sticks for 2-3 turns to push 6-9 damage face, trade efficiently with minions, and help dominate the board overall early in the game. Drop this on two and a Frothing on three you’ve got an insanely strong board for your opponent to deal with.
- Faerie Dragon: Just another fantastic two drop, this little guy makes Mages, Priests, and Rogues cry. Sometimes you don’t even have to play him because it just acts as a dragon activator when it sits in your hand. You can still curve out with Alexstrasza's Champion into Frothing into Twilight Guardian into Blackwing Corruptor just because this cute Faerie just wants to be your companion.
- Twilight Guardian: The dragon version of Bloodhoof Brave but without the awesome enrage effect. But hey, even without the enrage effect it’s a fantastic 4-drop that can trade for a lot of 1-2-3 drops that were probably dropped before it. It makes for a great way to protect a Frothing as well and continuously pressure your opponent.
- Azure Drake: Great card draw and the spell damage is a great bonus for Blood To Ichor in a lot of situations. Plus, it’s a dragon for even more dragon synergy. It’s great for trading as well, I’ve been in a lot of situations where I throw this and a Kor’kron into a Sea Giant to stabilize against Zoo. Overall great card and usually an auto include when it comes to dragon decks.
- Blackwing Corruptor: Have you ever wanted your very own Fire Elemental? Well now you can have one for even cheaper. I talked a little bit about this above but getting this out on curve to kill something while keeping your board healthy is insane in terms of tempo. Not to mention the 5/4 body that comes with it, now your opponent has to start playing pretty defensively to come out ahead again. Another auto include in dragon decks for the most part and serves it’s purpose well in the warrior version.
- Drakonid Crusher: What’s worse than being at 15 HP on Turn 6? Seeing your opponent slam a 9/9 on Turn 6. Seriously, it’s not hard to get this activated on Turn 6 if you curve out. Now they have to deal with your current board as well as a 9/9 threatening 2-turn lethal. There’s not even a downside to playing it, and at worse it’s a 6 mana 6/6 which is just a slightly worse Boulderfist Ogre with a dragon tag.
Notable Exclusions from Dragon Tempo Warrior:
- Whirlwind: This is a card I’ve considered running instead of Finley but I just love the alternate hero powers too much. Whirlwind would be very nice but I feel like Ravaging Ghouls serve they’re purpose well enough. Sure, Whirlwind makes for better Battle Rage turns and can activate Grommash but overall it doesn’t feel very good in the dragon version. Not to mention a lot of the meta now isn’t 1-health minions so running too many Whirlwinds can hinder you at a certain point.
- Armorsmith: I feel like this card is too weak when it comes to tempo and dragon tempo needs to have a very strong early game. Especially since the deck isn’t running Whirlwind there’s no point Armorsmiths would manage to get you insane value anyway. They’re nice against hyper aggressive decks (I’m looking at you Nostam) but other than that they feel very poor in this version of tempo warrior.
- Slam: It feels too slow. It’s good removal, good card draw, and a good execute activator but overall it’s pretty much doing the same thing that Alexstrasza’s Champion can do while leaving behind a body (minus the card draw of course).
- Acolyte of Pain: This was a 1-of in the first version but ultimately ended up being too slow. It won’t draw you any more cards that Battle Rage and Azure Drake will anyway and it’s better to curve out on much stronger minions such as Frothing Berserker or Fierce Monkey.
So what about all the big minions late game? What about slamming a Varian Wrynn to Wrynn the game? (God I love Dad jokes) Well, this is where the trade-off happens when you’re looking at Dragon Tempo Warrior. You’re essentially trading your very powerful late game for an insanely strong early-mid game. The deck almost feels like full aggro when you curve out perfectly because of how much damage you can push face by Turn 6. Almost all of the minions are extremely high quality and difficult to deal with which can lead to a massive advantage and snowball the game out of control. So what are the pros and cons of Dragon Tempo Warrior?
Tempo Dragon Warrior Pros
- Absolutely insane curve potential from Turn 1 to Turn 6. It’s very easy to maintain board control with Fiery War Axe as well as make efficient trades with your high quality minions to overwhelm your opponent until they just concede.
- Much faster compared to regular Tempo Warrior. My average game length with this deck was somewhere around 5-6 minutes (5.4 minutes and 9.4 turns to be exact) which made my push to Legend this season take only 12.6 hours of calculated game play from Rank 9. It makes for very efficient and quick ladder climbing.
- Favored against pretty much every deck I played against except for Midrange Hunter. I found the Hunter match up to be very challenging just because if you can’t kill them before Turn 8 you have no way to beat Call of the Wild. Not to mention they can curve better than you and seize board control quite easily with Freezing Trap, Deadly Shot, Unleash the Hounds, and Eaglehorn Bow.
- Can easily put someone on a 2-turn clock. I can’t tell you how many Face Shaman’s I beat with this deck while ending the game above 20 HP. You force them to play re-actively to your extremely threatening board and just kill them as a result. The amount of power this deck can put on the board in one turn is absolutely crazy.
Tempo Dragon Warrior Cons
- If it gets a bad mulligan the game is extremely difficult to win. By nature tempo decks need to get on the board by turn 2 or 3 at the very latest, and if your curve ends up starting on 4 then it’s nearly impossible to come back and win unless your opponent is bricking on all his draws as well.
- If you lose board it can be very hard to get it back. Sometimes an Alexstrasza's Champion or Blackwing Corruptor aren’t enough if Zoo or Shaman already has a huge board, but they definitely help. The deck pretty much needs to have the initiative every turn in order to win easily.
- Not nearly as much late game as regular Tempo Warrior. By nature this makes the control match up a lot harder, however on ladder right now there are so few control warriors and priests it doesn’t matter too much. Like I said above, the trade off with this deck is getting insane early-mid game for big late game threats like Sylvanas Windrunner, Malkorok, Ragnaros the Firelord, and Varian Wrynn/Arch-Thief Rafaam.
- A lot harder to stabilize against hyper aggressive decks since there are no Armorsmith or Whirlwind. The most stabilization you can get is usually just dropping a taunt minion and taking some trades you’re forced into. Most of the time taunt is enough against stuff like Pirate Warrior but not enough against things like Aggro Shaman who just have burn spells.
Well, with that wall of text I’ll leave it to the rest of you to discuss the potential of Dragon Tempo Warrior versus it’s counterpart. I believe that dragons make the deck so much stronger to the point that the late game you miss out on is irrelevant.
Thank you all for reading if you have made it this far and I look forward to discussing the deck with many of you. Please post comments and questions that you have as well as further suggestions/improvements to the lists and play styles. I can post a full on guide to the deck if this gets enough attention and update it based on how far I can climb in Legend with it.
Edit: Wow this got a lot of attention. I went to sleep shortly after posting it so thank you everyone for the support! I’m going to do my best today to sort through the comments and answer all your questions and discuss possible card substitutions since I’ve liked a lot of the suggestions I’ve skimmed over.
Edit 2: Thanks for all the great discussion and suggestions, I’m going to try x2 Slam over x2 Battle Rage today as well as a Blackwing Technician instead of the Fierce Monkey. Seems like it could be better, thanks to /u/INaenia ,/u/spacian , and /u/Jabari11 . (Sorry if I missed you if I did, there were a lot of suggestions but I gave credit to those I talked to on the thread)
MULLIGAN GUIDE AND GENERAL STRATEGY
Overall, you want to hard mulligan for your 2-drops in every match up. Things like Fiery War Axe, Faerie Dragon, and Alexstrasza's Champion give you the most insane openers and help you establish a board super early.
Only keep Frothing Berserker, Blackwing Technician, and Twilight Guardian if your hand is good (i.e. curves out) This may sound a little weird because I know a lot of people want to keep a Twilight Guardian as a dragon activator. Truth is, you’re going to draw into a dragon activator 98 times out of a hundred by the times you need one. It’s much better to aggressively mulligan for your 1 and 2 drops. It’s not a bad keep if you’re on the coin and already have a 2 drop on hand, but in general it does end up being too slow.
The only match ups I keep Frothing in are Warriors and Priests because it’s generally very difficult for them to deal with that early. If a Warrior executes a Frothing on turn 3 you’re happy, if a Priest Shadow Word: Pains it you slam a Twilight Guardian and laugh. Priest is also the only match up I keep Azure Drake in.
Only if your hand is good otherwise they’re too slow. It’s wrong to keep it if you have to toss the rest, you don’t really win against Zoo with an early Ravaging Ghoul or Slam so it’s much better to establish board presence with Strasza’s Champion and Fiery War Axe. Same goes for Shaman, but you shouldn’t be keeping Ravaging Ghoul against Shaman anyway as they have so few 1 health minions. One thing I like to do against Zoo is keep Kor'kron Elite only if I’m on coin with an insane hand. Kor’kron is probably the easiest way to deal with Imp Gang Boss which Zoo will keep every single time against a Warrior, as well as run it into a Knife Juggler or even Darkshire Councilman so you can finish it off with a Rusty Hook or Fiery War Axe.
What is the general strategy of this deck/What should I be trying to do all game?
Always go for the play that will put the most stats on board and leave your opponent with the smallest board at the same time. Tempo is the name of the game, control it. This may mean making weird plays like Executing a Tunnel Trogg to protect a Faerie Dragon, or using Blood To Ichor on a 2/3, but it establishes you a board to contest your opponents. You’ll notice when this deck loses it’s because it falls too behind on board, if you keep board you win easily because your minion quality is so high.
What hero power do I want from Finley?
Tier 1 Hero Powers:
Tier 2 Hero Powers:
Tier 3 Hero Powers:
So Mage hero power is obviously the best because of the utility it offers. It’s an execute activator, a Gromm activator, and it can bypass taunt (Unlike Shapeshift). The only time I will choose Lifetap over Fireblast is when I know I’m playing against control (or mirror) and need to stay ahead on resources. Lifetap should always be chosen over Shapeshift however even if you’re playing against Zoo or Shaman. I know, taking 2 damage feels bad, but one of the ways you lose against Zoo is when it becomes a top deck game and they are drawing 2 cards to your 1. If you keep on pace with them with your own Lifetap you have a much higher chance of winning the game.
Dagger Mastery is okay, it’s an extra 1 damage that you can hold for 2 turns but it usually interferes with your other weapons like FWA and Malkorok. Steady Shot is great for extra damage output but I only usually take it if I don’t have a choice for the Tier 1 hero powers. It’s also great to get later in the game when you need to push for lethal. Totem Call I actually put as Tier 2 because most of the totems are pretty useful and it gets you on board. Spell Power helps stuff like Slam and Blood to Ichor, Taunt helps protect high value minions, Healing totem helps you get some good value trades or Blood to Ichor your own minion for free, and the totem nobody wants (1/1) is still decent to have.
Lesser Heal and Reinforce are terrible choices most of the time, you don’t ever really need to heal your minions and a 1/1 dude every turn is pretty worthless for a warrior.
What is a ‘Tempo War Axe?’
So this is something I mentioned a lot discussing the deck above so I want to clarify what it means for people who have never heard the term before. Tempo War Axe means playing out a Fiery War Axe on Turn 2 against an empty board and not attacking with it to keep the durability at 2. Why would you do this instead of play a minion? Well, in some cases against warriors you know that any 2 drop you play just dies to their FWA so putting yours on prepares you for whatever they play. Plus you can go Frothing on turn 3 + attack a minion with FWA to develop a 3/4 and remove whatever they played. Most of the time, this is the second best play (Only preceded by Alexstrasza's Champion) to get on board. Look at it like you just played a 3/30 minion that is destroyed after it attacks twice. The only thing that really hard counters it is Acidic Swamp Ooze which is only run in very select decks at the moment. Plus with this on it’s very easy to deal with 4 health minions if you have Blood To Ichor on hand so stuff like Imp Gang Boss, Frothing Berserker, and Dark Iron Dwarf become that much easier to deal with.
Why is Grommash in the deck if there are only two Activators for Him?
Well, three if you include Mage hero power from Finley. But the main reason I like Grommash in the deck is because he wins games against Zoo if you play him out on turn 8. Zoo literally has no answer to him besides a Corruption of Dark Peddler which isn’t good enough anyway. It’s a 4/9 with charge to just kill anything they have on the board to give you a huge tempo swing. Not to mention he is of course a fantastic finisher in most situations, but as many have suggested Ragnaros can pretty much offer the same thing in terms of threats and finishes. We all know Rag sucks against Zoo, but it is something I will try out if I don’t see a lot of Zoo on ladder. Otherwise I think Grommash is the way to go every time.
For the obvious reason that Twilight Guardians offer Dragon Synergy as well as having 3 damage up front. This is something I found to be a big deal because it trades for a lot of 1-2-3 drops that will be on the board. Not to mention it will eat removal the same way Bloodhoof will like Fireball, Execute, Sap, and Deadly Shot. Bloodhoof Brave is really hard to activate in this deck since it lacks Whirlwinds and only has Blood to Ichor which most of the time you would rather be using on your opponent’s minions for an extra 1 damage to clear off a big threat. I know Bloodhoof Brave is more awkward for your opponent to deal with but it’s not awkward enough for me to include him over Twilight Guardian since in comparision to Sen’jin it’s 1 extra health and a dragon.