So, about that decklist I whipped up for last week’s edition: it got me to top 50 Legend and made quite a few streamers mad! No wonder I also made good progress on the win counter as well. 75% winrate against the top 200, positive winrates against every single class? Let’s dive into why a deck my opponents considered to be “greedy”, “stupid” and some other non-PG choice words performed so well last week. It’s going to be a lot of fun, trust me on that.
- Introduction – 0/1000
- Week 1 – 118/1000
- Week 2 – 147/1000
- Week 3 – 208/1000
- Week 4 – 280/1000
- Week 5 – 388/1000
- Week 6 – 421/1000
- Week 7 – 529/1000
- Week 8 – 597/1000
- Week 9 – 640/1000
- Week 10 – 672/1000
- Week 11 – 704/1000
- Week 12 – 752/1000
I’ve peaked at Legend 43 and I don’t plan on stopping there. It’s good to be back ’round these parts of the world, even if you can’t get away with playing on four hours’ of sleep and four cups of coffee. Guess I’ll have to settle for writing this summary instead…
The Awful Little Deck That Could
It’s always fun to play in high Legend even if you have no special plans to compete in Hearthstone. I always get a kick out of watching the VODs after the fact whenever I run into a streamer, though I must say it’s rarely as illuminating or insightful an experience as I’d like it to be. That said, it’s especially entertaining to do so when you’ve made the climb with some sort of a wacky deck (like I did with Highlander Zoo early in the Saviors of Uldum days), because you will reliably be called lucky, an idiot, or perhaps a combination of the two.
Boy oh boy did I get a lot of that this time around – the sweet salty nectar of streamer rage when they don’t exactly understand what’s going on. If there’s one type of deck I’m actually very good with, it’s the sort of tempo archetype Demon Hunters bring to the table in the current metagame, and it finally showed. However, let’s delay my self-indulgence a paragraph or two to look into the decklist I’ve posted in the previous week’s article. Turns out it’s so good that it only took a single card change to pilot it to the top 50 this weekend, with a pretty nutty winrate throughout:
- 1Blazing Battlemage2
- 1Crimson Sigil Runner2
- 1Mana Burn2
- 1Twin Slice2
- 2Chaos Strike1
- 3Eye Beam2
- 3Frozen Shadoweaver1
- 3Questing Adventurer2
- 3Satyr Overseer1
- 4Altruis the Outcast1
- 4Raging Felscreamer2
- 5Glaivebound Adept2
- 5Warglaives of Azzinoth2
- 6Skull of Gul’dan2
- 7Priestess of Fury2
It’s nice to have these weekly archives of how my thought process developed about the class’ strategies over the course of the expansion. Regular readers will know that I’ve pegged Questing Adventurer as a great card for Demon Hunter in the first week of this column, and what may seem like “let’s just dump them in the Priestess of Fury build” was in fact the result of asking a very specific question about the archetype. Namely: why does it suck so much when you go second, especially in the mirror?
As I’ve outlined last week, it’s almost impossible to make up for the tempo differential in the mirror match, and it also hurts you a lot against the two other main contenders in the metagame, Eggro Warrior and Galakrond Rogue. (Have I mentioned how much I hate playing against a deck that can routinely play five 0-cost cards in a match?) Not only that, but Questing Adventurer also allows you to go tall, something which both Warrior and Demon Hunter has trouble dealing with. It also serves as a great way to leverage The Coin, and my winrate going second has increased by over 15% with this build over the previous high Legend variants I’ve experimented with previously.
We’ve known all this before. The key here is that Questings don’t need any sort of special support to threaten, and you don’t need to overcommit with them either in the deckbuilding process or during the normal course of a match. A must-kill 3 mana 4/4 is just what the doctor ordered for this kind of a deck. The mirror is so degenerate in that sense that I remember a game where a tempo 2/2 Questing was “answered” by a tempo Satyr Overseer. That’s how bad it can get. Just find two slots in the regular build and you have much better chances going second than you normally would, with a bunch of bonus free wins when you can pop off in the early game – not to mention the surprise factor as most opponents don’t expect both “packages” in Demon Hunter at the same time. Again, their loss: I played a lot with the dedicated Questing-focused builds as well, and they just don’t pack enough of a punch, and the added consistency doesn’t make up for the loss of so much late-game potential.
How I Built My Crappy Little Top 50 Legend Deck
So what’s up with the one-off tools and the odd tech cards in this deck? Let’s begin with what I got rid of. Kayn Sunfury is the most notable absentee from the build, and I think it’s a straightforward decision. Your main opponents are fellow Demon Hunters, Eggro Warriors and Galakrond Rogues: the first two hardly have any Taunts to offer and even Valeera is inconsistent when it comes to building a wall, Titanic Lackeys or not. Its inclusion also makes no sense when you consider how much burn you’ve got to work with: the one extra hit by the added early-game threat means you get there so much more often off the back of Glaivebound Adept, Metamorphosis, Warglaives of Azzinoth or Priestess of Fury. It just gets in the way, doesn’t do enough damage for the mana cost and seriously clogs up your hand for Outcast purposes. It also gets value-traded way too often for my liking.
But what about Priests and Mages I hear you cry? I’ll take 10-7 and 15-4 against them over the course of 160 games played last week.
Similarly, Spectral Sight just doesn’t do enough and the redraw is a lot less relevant when you finish off your games as quickly as this build does. Looking at the 160-game sample from last week, the average match lasts 8 turns. You don’t need the finicky bonus card that also makes Altruis the Outcast a lot less consistent. That’s basically all you need to make enough room for the Questing Adventurers, and simply inserting them into your curve whenever it’s convenient alongside your normal strategy is good enough in a regular match, with the occasional monster highrolls or Skull of Gul'dan redraw comeback opportunities making up the rest of the experience.
I’m also convinced Mana Burn is a core card because of how efficient it is across most of the different matchups. Mage simply dies if you disrupt its turn six, and most other classes also fail to handle a Questing Adventurer turn when it’s capped off with the spell. Even if you aren’t looking to cheese your opponents, there are key turns in the most popular matchups where the card is worth its weight in gold. Delaying Warrior’s turn 2 Serpent Egg or Corsair Cache is often enough to generate the tempo edge required for a win (and I boast a positive winrate against the supposed counter-deck with this build). In the mirror match, it’s turn 3 (the Satyr Overseer setup), turn 5 (the Warglaives of Azzinoth/Glaivebound Adept play) and turn 7 that can be completely broken down by the spell. However, it also works great as a one-mana-and-a-card-for-two-mana move in most turns where you have the resource to spare: since your average match lasts around eight turns with this deck, it’s a good trade to make under most circumstances.
Since most of your main opponents are weapon classes, Frozen Shadoweaver is wonderful to have. (Mana Burn followed by this little fella pretty much locks a Warrior out of the game.) The only change I made from the build in last week’s article was cutting Sightless Watcher for a single Satyr Overseer, further highlighting the fact that you don’t need anything specific to support Questing Adventurers in this build. The card performs awfully against Warriors and is almost always threat-checked anyway, but I found it useful enough in the mirrors to include one copy. Similarly, three one-drops feel like the ideal amount, since it’s the consistency of the curve and the occasional surprise tall minion that makes this build work, and too many cheap minions are not a good idea when most of your opponents can efficiently clear your early board. The beauty of this setup is that you can deal just a sliver more damage in the early game, which means you can more reliably transition to the burn plan later on.
I’m convinced this approach (running the Raging Felscreamer/Priestess of Fury package alongside Questing Adventurers) is the best way to build the deck right now, though it’s quite possible you can tinker the composition of the one-drops and the three-drops. The stats don’t lie: even my worst matchup is positive after playing six days in top 250 Legend (spiking to top 50 with a 75% winrate last night). I’m 28-15 in the mirror, 25-18 against Warriors, 9-9 against Rogues, and, to my surprise, basically performing the same no matter whether I go first or second (63% and 62% winrates respectively). If you haven’t done so yet after my Monday addendum last week, give it a spin. I’m convinced it will serve you well.
So what’s the plan for next week? No doubt I’ll keep running into the same players more often, and I’m curious how much of the deck’s success is due to the surprise factor. The specific list is a meta call, but I’m fairly certain the smooth curve and the consistent pressure goes a long way even if you know that a Priestess of Fury is just around the corner once you’ve dealt with the Questing Adventurer.
Okay, time for the boasting I promised. Mostly to myself, but hey, you’re invited along for the ride!
A Bit of Incessant Self-Praise
Looking back at my Hearthstone career, a fairly evident pattern emerges once you look at the decks I’ve performed well with (reaching top 100 Legend and finishing there or thereabouts) over the years. Undertaker Hunter, WotOG’s Dragon Warrior, Pirate Warrior (notably in the Karazhan meta, not MSoG), Evenlock and now Demon Hunter. I was only two games away from the final European HCT event with a lineup of Odd Rogue, Secret Hunter and Evenlock. What do they all have in common? They’re pure tempo decks. Notably, I also found a way to boost my winrates in the mirror for most of these archetypes: Nerubian Egg and Feign Death for Undertaker Hunter, The Black Knight for Evenlock, and this particular build for Demon Hunter and all the decks that are trying to take it down.
I used to love Control decks in Hearthstone but I can hardly play them anymore nowadays. To my mind, ‘created by’ is a swear – and all too often, your goal is to drown your opponent in excess resources rather than to exhaust what they have to offer. Also, I think the reason I’ve grown to enjoy tempo decks so much more is their ability to control the game state over the course of the match. Even if my strategy fails, at least I had an opportunity to execute it. It’s not solitaire and the minor early-game decisions matter so much more. Keeping half of an Umberwing so I can play Glaivebound Adept on curve: how much board presence can I sacrifice for that? When can I start going for the burn plan and when do I need to just draw all the cards and hope for an Altruis the Outcast comeback, completely falling behind on the board? What should I do with my finite resources? Demon Hunters feed on VENGEANCE, not randomly generated cards. I like them for that.
Why “only” top 50? I ran out of days in the week! How far can we push this? We’ll see in the next edition of this column. As you can see, the tryhard mode actually had a positive effect on my win count: I had fewer but longer sessions, much more satisfying ones due to all the #winning. It’s the most fun I had with Hearthstone in almost two years.
My Predictions, for What They’re Worth
Looking back at last week’s predictions, Questing Adventurer hasn’t cycled back yet but it really should, and I hope I can play a small part in that. Highlander Hunter still remains a big fat nope. I’m actually not sure where the meta will develop – I feel like we’re at a stable point at the moment. May we stay here for a while!
As a cop-out, I’ll go with a few lofty predictions about my own wins. Can’t wait to fail each and every one of them!
- Golden Demon Hunter hype
- Hit top 10 Legend
- Maintain a positive winrate against Warrior
- Generate 3 annoyed streamer clips