Hearthstone Deck Type FAQ

If you are relatively new to Hearthstone or have just played casually in the past it’s easy to miss certain definitions of deck types that occurred throughout the history of the game. I will attempt to clear some of these up for you, and where the topic is larger we will be looking to produce more information on the subject! If I missed one you are curious about let me know in the comments. Without further ado, check out our Hearthstone Deck Type FAQ!

If some of the terms included in this article are confusing then check out our Hearthstone Card Game Terminology post!

What is an Aggro Deck?

Aggro decks seek to aggressively go after the opponent’s life total. These are slightly different than Face decks because Aggro decks will generally try to maintain control of the board while looking to quickly beatdown the opponent.

What is a Cancer Deck?

Cancer deck is an unfortunate term for aggressive and popular decks that are easy to play and are generally viewed to take less skill than your average deck. More recently the term “cancer deck” is applied to just about any deck (control, midrange, or otherwise) that is overly popular and has a strong winrate. In that case, the deck is considered to be a “cancer” on the meta.

What is a Combo Deck?

Combo decks seek to combine multiple cards together in an effort to initiate a powerful game winning combo. Combo decks will usually contain cards that stall the board or cycle through the deck in an effort to put the pieces of the combo together faster. Some combos that have been used in the past have usually involved Leeroy Jenkins (Miracle Rogue, Handlock), multiple burn spells (Freeze Mage), or combined a large health minion with multiple buffing spells (Silence Priest).

What is a Control Deck?

A control deck looks to establish control of the board with cheap removal spells and taunt or high-health value minions. As the game goes on longer it utilizes high-cost minions and powerful spells to continue board dominance and eventually finish the opponent. Against aggressive decks it will attempt to survive the early game by using AOE and taunt minions to run the opponent out of resources.

What is an Eboladin Deck?

Eboladin is another name for an Aggro Paladin deck list. A lot of aggro decks are looked down upon (“Cancer Decks”) because of the perceived lack of skill they take to play. This deck was termed this way because at the time of it being played the Ebola (virus) was in the news quite a bit. This term is used a lot less frequently due to the lack of popularity of Aggro Paladin.

What is Exodia?

Exodia Mage is a combo deck that uses 2x Molten Reflection to copy 2x Sorcerer's Apprentice so you end up with 4x on the board. You then use the Time Warp that you’ve gained from the Open the Waygate Mage Quest to gain yourself a second turn. You follow this up with Archmage Antonidas and cast any spell which will give you access to unlimited 0-mana Fireballs.

The name Exodia comes from the card game Yu-Gi-Oh and requires you to get 5 pieces of “Exodia” which ends the game the turn it is played.

What is a Face Deck?

A face or rush deck is a style of deck that generally plays only to target the opponent’s Health total or in other words their Hero Portrait which displays a “face” of that particular Hero. The best known Face deck is the Face Hunter version prior to the nerfs to Leper Gnome, Knife Juggler, and Arcane Golem. The deck truly embodied the straight to the face mentality.  Always remember, Face is the Place.

What is a Fatigue Deck?

Believe it or not there’s a difference between Fatigue and Mill Decks. Decks that are labeled Fatigue seek to just outlast their opponent. They usually don’t look to actively draw the opponent cards, instead they just continue to survive while the opponent runs out of cards and options. Warrior has been the most popular class for this style of deck because of their defensive armor gaining Hero Power.

The term fatigue is especially appropriate if you face another fatigue deck because those matches can sometimes go on for 30+ minutes.

What is a Handbuff Deck?

Handbuff is a concept that was introduced in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan where the Grimy Goons Gang (Hunter, Paladin, and Warrior) got access to cards like Grimestreet EnforcerGrimestreet Pawnbroker, and Smuggler's Crate. Most of these cards ended up being pretty ineffectual, but Paladin had enough to work with and got a mid-tier deck called Handbuff Paladin. The idea of the deck is to use the various Mean Streets cards to buff minons in your hand which gives you much more powerful minions for the mana cost.

What is a Highlander Deck?

Highlander decks originally came to be when the card Reno Jackson was released with the League of Explorer’s Adventure. A Highlander deck contains only 1 copy of every card that is included in it. Due to this deck building restriction, you are rewarded with having access to cards that have high power abilities, such as: Reno Jackson, Kazakus, and Raza the Chained.

The term “Highlander” itself refers to the movie Highlander and the phrase “There can be only one.”

What is a Meme Deck?

A meme deck is a less-serious deck that in certain circumstances can pull off crazy victories with unlikely RNG based cards. A good example is a card like Renounce Darkness which when played will convert all of your Warlock cards into a random classes cards. This is an impractical and unreliable card, but there are times when you will hit just the right draws and pull off some spectacular victories.

What is a Midrange Deck?

Midrange decks are a middle ground between aggro and control decks. It’s fast enough to beatdown a control deck, but runs enough early game to deal with and out resource an aggro deck. The meat of a midrange deck usually falls between 4 – 6 mana and can be different depending on the list. The more classic Midrange Hunter decks usually topped out at 6-mana with Savannah Highmane, but slower midrange decks like classic Midrange Paladin topped out at 8-mana with Tirion Fordring.

What is a Mill Deck?

Unlike a Fatigue Deck, a Mill Deck actively looks to force your opponent to draw and burn cards. You eventually win by forcing them to continue to draw cards once their deck is empty which does an increased amount of damage for each card drawn. Rogue has been the most popular class destination for this style of deck, however, it has never been overly popular and tends to be a fringe deck.

What is a Miracle Deck?

The term “Miracle” comes from the popular “Miracle Gro” deck that featured a card that was similar to Questing Adventurer. Learn more via this Reddit post.

In Hearthstone, a Miracle deck refers to any deck that contains Gadgetzan Auctioneer and can draw a bunch of cards using cheap spells. This has generally been only used by the Rogue class, but a Druid variant saw some play in the past.

What is a Patron Deck?

A patron deck is almost always in reference to Patron Warrior, which was a once powerful and popular deck in Hearthstone. The deck takes advantage of the card Grim Patron, which replicates itself when it takes damage. When you combined a pre-nerf Warsong Commander (it read: “Whenever you summon a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge.”), Patron, and Frothing Berserker it enabled an OTK combo. The deck lived on as a more midrange less combo-driven variant after the nerf, and continues to see minor play in the Wild format.

What is a Ramp Deck?

Ramp decks seek to use cards that either temporarily or permanently increase their mana pool. This allows them to play higher cost cards earlier in the game. The best class example for this is Druid. Druid has Wild Growth, Jade Blossom, and the recently nerfed Innervate.

What is a Tempo Deck?

A tempo deck seeks to answer your opponent’s board while increasing your own board presence. Rogue is a great example of a tempo class, because of cards like Backstab that allow it to continue to play minions while dispatching others.

Tempo can be a complicated subject, I recommend checking out our guide: Beginner’s Guide to Tempo.

What is a Token Deck?

When a card generates another card that CANNOT be collected it is considered a Token. Here are a few good examples of token generating cards: Violet Teacher, Living Mana, and Imp Gang Boss.

Decks that take advantage of these type of cards are considered token decks. The deck will usually attempt to generate a bunch of these small minions and then use board buffs to finish the opponent, e.g., Bloodlust or Savage Roar.

What is a Zoo Deck?

Like a lot of things that have come into Hearthstone the term “Zoo” is from Magic: the Gathering. Zoo referred to a deck that packaged a lot of different animal styled cards into an aggressive list. Zoo in Hearthstone refers to any aggressive, but board controlling Warlock deck that contains low cost minions. The term rarely extends outside of Warlock, and is mostly slapped on any deck that has Flame Imp and Doomguard in it.

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  1. Infinight
    July 24, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    This is a great article that deserves to be kept up to date as a reference. I couldn’t find much that was this thorough anywhere else.

    I would suggest that aggro, midrange, and control (and maybe tempo) be kept separate as a lot of these other deck types fall into those categories. Some think of the rest as just sub archetypes of those 3.

    I hope you keep updating this as the new expansions roll out and the meta changes. It’s missing a few new archetypes as is (spiteful, cube, and burgle to name a few)

  2. werty
    October 9, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    No Handbuff?

  3. Keeper
    October 9, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Nice article 🙂

  4. Pelat
    October 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Miracle doesn’t come from MtG, since the Miracle deck in magic was a slow control deck (almost slow as fatigue warrior).
    Miracle is referred to the beta version of rogue, where you usually passed the turn 1-5 to deal with the board and then procede to “doing the miracle”, which was gadgetzan into every solution (especially preparation blade flurry)

  5. DasPascal
    October 8, 2017 at 3:55 am

    Doesnt there also exist an Exodia Paladin with the new DK Paladin and his Hero Power mixed with Auctionmaster Beardo and Burgly Bully?
    Except this awesome FAQ, never heard of Eboladin and was really nice to read.

    • Evident - Author
      October 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I remember it being called OTK Paladin, but you might be right in that it was referred to as Exodia.

  6. Booga
    October 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    A fun read…

    Hadn’t heard of Eboladin before but seems appropriate.

    Where is Ramp?

    • Evident - Author
      October 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I honestly had forgotten about Eboladin, but came across it when researching what to cover. Good point, I will add Ramp!

  7. TAbril
    October 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Great FAQ!

    You can also say/add (to break some typical confusion) that Tempo decks are Aggro-Control decks, being controlling aggressive decsk, differing from a Midrange Control decks, which are aggressive controlling decks.

    Briefly, a Tempo deck seeks to aggressively attack the opponent while disrupting their game plan for long enough to win, and a Midrange Control deck seeks to begin by disrupting the opponent’s game plan and then deploys powerful 4-6 drops.