The Witchwood is out! Another Standard year has come, and it has brought some very interesting strategies. But how much has really changed? Do we still see same old decks? Or maybe the meta is completely fresh? Well, to be fair, I’d say that it’s somewhere in between. Some new and fun decks are being playtested, but the most dominating archetypes are the ones we’ve already seen in the past, sometimes with a small twist.
Check out our Best Witchwood Decks for Every Class!
I’ve been playing the game for 5 or 6 hours and watching streams on the lookout for the best decks. If I had to name one thing that surprised me most so far is that Odd & Even decks seem to be working quite well. Of course, not every class has a viable Odd/Even deck, but some of them have two (*cough* Paladin *cough*).
Below, I’ll list some of the decks that already 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 (going from R3 to Legend), watching the steamers & pros, talking with other high ranked players and early statistics from sites like HSReplay.net or Vicious Syndicate.
These decks are only example lists – meta is adjusting very quickly and there might already be more optimized builds.
But as it turned out, the deck works and it works really well. It’s like an epitome of board flood decks – every single turn you’re putting at least 3-4 bodies down on the board and you put your opponent in a very awkward spot, because clearing so many minions is not easy. Does he trade into your minions? Well, it’s too slow, because you’re putting much more bodies than he can handle. Does he AoE your board? Most of the time you can reflood it back very easily. Or maybe he ignores it completely? Well, then you punish him with board-wide buffs. Talking about the buffs, this is the first competitive deck I’ve ever seen running Stormwind Champion – how crazy it is?
It’s still up in the air how the final build will look like, as there are lots of things you could change. E.g. how many 1-drops you run, do you go for a more aggressive route or maybe you build it in a more Midrange way, and finally what kinds of buffs you play. For example, some builds are even trying out a Raid Leader – yes, you’ve read that right. For example, this build runs Witch's Cauldron, which I don’t necessarily agree with (feel free to make your own adjustments).
One more thing that I want to mention is that Odd/Even decks will only get stronger throughout the year. Lists with strict deck building restrictions heavily benefit from redundancy, from having more card available. So if anything, they should only get stronger with the second and third expansion of this Standard year.
In the mid/late game, with the 1 mana version of HP, it’s much easier to squeeze it into your turns, including Tarim turn – HP + Tarim can not be done on Turn 7 instead of Turn 8. While I’d say that 1 mana Hero Power is worse than upgraded Hero Power in this case, Even Paladin still has access to some of the class’ most powerful tools, such as Call to Arms and Sunkeeper Tarim.
Only other new card (besides Genn Greymane) is actually Silver Sword – this build can’t run Vinecleaver, which would probably be better, but Silver Sword is also solid. If you get that far with even just a few minions on the board, it can really snowball the game by dealing lots of damage and putting your board out of AoE range (I won a few games vs CubeLock already by putting my minions out of the Defile / Lord Godfrey range with Silver Sword).
In the end, you could say that the Kobolds & Catacombs’ Dude Paladin has now split into two decks, each taking a part of it. Odd Paladin has the Silver Hand Recruit board flood and Level Up!, while this build has the rest of synergies.
This build doesn’t even run lots of them – a single copy of Voodoo Doll is the only new card. And yet Meati has already hit #1 Legend using this build.
There isn’t really much to say about the deck for obvious reasons. The fact that Aggro/Midrange Paladin builds are very popular right now makes it an even better choice. On the other hand, decks like the new Odd Face Hunter or even Spiteful Priest seem to have a good matchup against it, so at least it doesn’t completely dominate the meta.
Spiteful Priest has survived the K&C nerfs (despite being hit pretty hard) and now it survived the rotation again. It’s all simply because the deck’s core is intact – Spiteful Summoner and Grand Archivist aren’t going anywhere (yet), same goes for the Free From Amber and Mind Control.
Despite losing a big value generator / mid game threat in a form of Drakonid Operative, the deck didn’t drop a Dragon package. It’s hard to say whether Duskbreaker alone would be worth the hassle, but other Dragon-related cards like Scaleworm or Wyrmguard turned out to be above average. I’m really happy with Scaleworm in particular – the card nearly always gets 2 for 1 in this deck and it’s really good to have a mid game removal in the deck that can’t run cheaper spells. Twilight Acolyte is great when dealing with bigger minions, but if your opponent drops e.g. a Tar Creeper, Acolyte is pretty useless, while Scaleworm is a Tar Creeper destroyer.
Since another Dragon-related 2-drop (Netherspite Historian is also gone, lots of the builds have decided to go with the Prince Keleseth. There are some alternatives like Shadow Ascendant and Faerie Dragon, but I don’t believe they’re good enough to drop Keleseth. Hitting him on Turn 2 turns an already high tempo mid game into something next level.
Nightmare Amalgam is… okay. It performs its job. A vanilla 3 mana 3/4 isn’t great, but having extra ways to activate synergies isn’t bad. So far no Crabs and such are in the meta, so you shouldn’t really be afraid about getting punished (outside of some random effects).
So far it feels like one of the more powerful decks in the meta, we’ll see how it develops.
P.S. I don’t know whose deck it is – it was taken from the HSReplay a few hours ago. I’ve playtested this exact build on the ladder too and it worked out really well for me.
I’ve even outraced some Baku Odd Warriors who had 4 Armor per turn just because they couldn’t answer my early board. The deck is crazy when it works. It also punishes Cube Warlocks – unless they get a perfect opening, they will just crumble under all the damage.
The deck isn’t flawless, though. It has a pretty poor matchup against Paladins – with a solid hand they can quickly take the board control from you, and then put you on a pretty fast clock. You might want to tech in Unleash the Hounds or two if you face lots of Paladins, especially the Odd builds (UTH can punish the flood quite nicely).
The best thing about it, though, is that it can be built on the budget quite nicely. The only Legendary you need is Baku. Leeroy Jenkins is nice, but not absolutely necessary to play the deck. And the rest of your deck is full of Basics and Commons with a few Rares here and there.
The deck plays very similarly to the older Tempo Rogue builds. You want to get onto the board, keep the board clear as efficiently as possible while you sneak some face damage here and there, and then close out the game with a mix of Charge minions, Cold Bloods, Eviscerates etc.
I’m not sure if Tess Greymane build is the best one – probably it’s more “fun” than “good” card. The main problem with Tess is the lack of consistency. I’m telling you, she won me some games by herself. Like, I’ve got Doomhammer, Mana Tide Totem and Fire Elemental against Shaman from my burgle cards. Tess was a 6/6 + 6/5 + Mana Tide + Doomhammer – crazy good turn that basically won me the game. On the other hand, if you don’t draw your burgle cards, or you get something weak, Tess is nearly unplayable.
I’ve also seen Prince Keleseth builds back in action, both with and without Tess. Hard to say which one is better. On the one hand, the deck doesn’t really have a 2-drop anyway, so putting Prince Keleseth wouldn’t impact your early game negatively. On the other hand, you need to drop Sap, which is really crucial in some matchups like CubeLock. I’m leaning towards a Keleseth build, but it will probably be a meta call.
While Spiteful in Priest also got improved, the change is even bigger for Druid, since the build runs only a 10 mana spell – Ultimate Infestation. Which means that in the worst case scenario you’re getting a 6 mana 4/4 + 8/8, and just as often you get a 12/12 instead.
Both builds have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the Priest, the fact that it has lots of good Dragon synergies makes it pretty good even if you don’t hit Spiteful. At the same time, Druid can get Spiteful one turn earlier if he gets Greedy Sprite, and Spiteful itself is stronger, because it always hits 10 mana card.
No matter which Spiteful build is better, I feel like both of them will stay in the meta in some way, as the card’s power level is even higher than it was before the rotation.
While some players had enough skill, luck or both to get this build to higher ranks, neither stats of my experience so far suggest that it will be meta-defining. However, it has some really good matchups and the combo has lots of potential. That’s why I feel like Exodia Mage comparison might be even better.
While the deck definitely requires lots of optimization, I don’t think it will catch up. One could say that the low win rate is related to the deck’s difficulty, and generally you might be right, but the thing is, this deck shows an even lower win rate at higher ranks than at lower ranks.
I believe that after optimization, it will become a sort of “off-meta combo deck” of this expansion. A somehow viable build played mostly to target specific matchups.
Also, Blizzard pls. Do something about the animation of Shudderwock. Maybe have some way to skip the animations, because right now some of the turns take literally a few extra minutes – mirror matchups are insane!