The Witchwood Off-Meta Decks Compilation #2 (June 19th)

Welcome to another off-meta decks compilation from The Witchwood! My usual deck compilations list mostly the meta decks, with maybe a few interesting/off-meta lists. I tend to post those after the new expansion or patch releases. However, further into the meta, there are many other sources that are simply better for finding the currently trending meta decks. However, what those sources do not focus on are maybe not best, but most fun and interesting builds. The decks that aren’t popular enough to be considered “meta”, but some players had success with. And this will be today’s point of focus.

Off-meta decks are much harder to write about, because it’s very difficult to measure their real power. We know that Even Warlock is one of the strongest decks in the game right now, and we know which builds work best, because thousands of people play it every hour, testing and optimizing (or at least providing data for other people to optimize) the lists. Off-meta decks, on the other hand, are mostly one-time experiments from a certain pro, which aren’t adapted by more than a small percentage of the player base. These decks aren’t optimized, aren’t extensively playtested against the entire meta etc. On the other hand, off-meta decks have their own advantage too – I like to call it a “surprise factor”. Not only are your opponents likely to mulligan badly (because they will assume that you play one of the meta decks), but without knowing your deck list, they might make a lot of silly mistakes along the way, ultimately increasing your chance to win if you can capitalize on them.

One more thing that you need to remember is that off-meta decks usually have a very short lifespan, because at their core they are simply worse than most of the meta options. The surprise factor is great at the beginning, but the more people start playing the deck, the worse it gets over time. That’s why I’ve decided to keep things relatively fresh and only cover the decks from the last 10 days or so. However, keep in mind that these decks were usually played by pros on their way to Legend or at Legend – depending on your own skill, the meta you face etc. you might not be able to replicate similar results.

Without further ado, let’s get straight to the second off-meta decks compilation from The Witchwood.

Kingsbane Rogue was never really dominating the Standard meta. Even in the Kobolds & Catacombs, after Kingsbane was released and Coldlight Oracle (a rather key part of the deck) hadn’t rotated out yet, it was merely an off-meta deck. However, the deck’s full potential can be experienced in the Wild format, where all of the weapon buffs and Coldlight Oracle are still available.

Given that Mill was a huge part of the deck’s strategy, and that two major ways to buff the weapon – Southsea Squidface and Naga Corsair – have rotated out, most players didn’t think that Kingsbane Rogue would survive the rotation. But as it turns out, even though it’s not a powerful meta deck, it’s actually playable. In the slow meta we currently have, it actually has some really good matchups, such as different variants of Priests and Warriors.

While it didn’t get anything to replace the mill part with (it runs two Sprints instead now, in order to cycle through the deck), as for the buffs, Cutthroat Buccaneer was released. To be honest, it’s worse than both Naga and Squidface – unlike Squidface, it adds only +1 to the weapon’s Attack, and unlike Naga Corsair, it’s Combo and not Battlecry (which means that you might have problems activating it consistently in the early/mid game). However, between Buccaneers and other buffs (Deadly Poisons and Captain Greenskin), you can still make an 8/4 weapon with Lifesteal (Leeching Poison), and that’s not too shabby. That’s, of course, assuming that you play your buffs before Valeera the Hollow – but since you will play her on curve most of the time, you will be able to double up some of them. 10+ attack weapon is common in the late game scenario, and that’s usually enough to just seal the game against any slow deck. You either put them on a quick clock while healing yourself to full all the time, or just out control them with infinite weapons while never taking fatigue damage.

It’s an interesting deck, but if you’re playing on the lower ranks and face many fast/aggressive decks (such as Odd Paladin or Odd Rogue), it won’t be a great choice. It works best in a very specific meta – like a R5 to R1 meta if you don’t face too many Aggro, or a high Legend meta, with the same assumption. Oh, and of course, it’s a pretty difficult deck to play. I’d actually put it on par with Miracle Rogue when it comes to the amount of small, but important decisions you have to make.

I don’t know who first put Malygos into Togwaggle/Mill Druid, but it was a really solid idea. I used the version StrifeCro took to Legend with an AMAZING 17-0 score a few days ago. After all, those decks (Mill & Malygos Druid) are very similar at their core, only with a few small differences. By changing just 3-4 cards you can make a mix between the two and basically double your win conditions. Unlike the full Malygos Druid, this one does not run Faceless Manipulators and such, but Malygos alone can be devastating, especially when you’re working at full mana.

The idea behind this deck is to pick the right win condition depending on the matchup, or even play both of them if you can. Twig of the World Tree decks were pretty dominating for a while after the nerf patch, but between them, and Cubelock coming back into the meta, players have adapted and started running weapon destruction again. So you can’t necessarily rely on it, that’s why Azalina Soulthief often doesn’t work. Malygos, on the other hand, is 12 damage even in the worst case scenario, without Twig. On top of that, the 4/12 body might be harder to remove and actually stick after Twig is down.

So, the deck’s first win condition is Togwaggle. You have two ways to utilize him. First, just switching the deck with your opponent – of course after you’re already nearly out of resources. Since you can’t Azalina, you’re back to the good old “mill” plan – you first play Naturalize (or two) to make your opponent’s hand full and then drop Togwaggle. Since there is no space in the hand, the ransom card is burned and your opponent can no longer switch the decks. Alternatively, you can actually use Togwaggle as a burst tool. Assuming you’re already into the fatigue, you drop Togwaggle to give an empty deck to your opponent, and then play 2x Naturalize. With the draw at the start of their turn, they will draw 5 cards, so take 5 ticks of fatigue – 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15 damage in total. While that’s not enough to kill them, it can still be used as a finisher in some games.

And of course, Malygos is the second win condition. Assuming the perfect case scenario, if you play Malygos, hit your opponent with Twig, play Bloodmage Thalnos, 2x Swipe and 2x Moonfire, you will be able to do up to 34 damage. However, given that you will most likely deal some damage on the way, sometimes Swipe + 2x Moonfire (21 damage), or 2x Swipe + Moonfire (24 damage) or even Thalnos + 2x Swipe (20 damage) might be enough. Of course, that’s assuming your Twig wasn’t destroyed. In case it was, you can only drop 2x Moonfire, reducing the total damage to 12. Of course, if your Malygos survives, you can drop your Swipes next turn, potentially closing out the game. But if it dies, you might still be able to go for the Togwaggle burst I’ve mentioned before.

As you can see, the deck has surprisingly many ways to close out the slow games. And well, against Aggro you don’t really need any of them – just surviving is usually enough to beat them. I’ve played the deck for a bit and it’s definitely less straightforward than something like Taunt Druid, because your way to win the game is often improvised depending on the matchup and the situation. Sometimes you might even win with tempo e.g. The Lich King into final Twig hit into UI + Arcane Tyrant, while completely ignoring your combo win conditions, funnily enough.

Some players had serious hopes for the Rush Warrior to be a thing after The Witchwood has launched. I’d say that it already has a really solid tempo shell, but it just needs some good win conditions right now. Because while it’s relatively easy to beat a faster deck with all that tempo from Rush cards, Rush isn’t Charge, so they aren’t great at putting on enough pressure. So Rush Warrior had positive matchups against faster decks, but lost most of the slow games. What you can do about it? Well, add more burn and tempo to your deck.

And that’s exactly what hint24s did on his way to Legend. Besides the basic Rush cards, he also runs the “damage” synergies, with Rampage probably being the most interesting one. It might not seem like a great card, but if you can actually make it work, it’s a +3/+3 buff for 2 mana, that’s a MASSIVE tempo gain. If you run enough ways to damage your own minions, it works quite well. And you know what, you can damage Rush minions on the turn you play them, so activating Rampage is not that hard. If you drop it on anything in the early game, you can put on lots of pressure. I actually won my first game with this deck by dropping Frothing Berserker on T3, then playing Cruel TaskmasterRampage on Turn 4. I had an 8/6 minion that my opponent could not answer, and that grew even more each passing turn. Using it on Val'kyr Soulclaimer can also snowball the game simply by producing tons of 2/2’s for free.

And of course, the final burst in form of Grommash Hellscream. You can either activate it with Taskmaster for 12 damage burst, or activate it with second hit of Blood Razor (12 damage assuming you hit face with the weapon). You can also add Rampage to the second combo, for up to 15 damage.

While this build sacrifices some of its power vs Aggro, matchups like Odd Paladin should still be okay, while it has a higher win rate vs slow decks. Rush Warrior is still far from a powerful deck, but this build shows that it’s possible to ladder with it.

Aaand back to Rogue. I apologize for the comparison, but Quest Rogue is like a cockroach. No matter what you do to it, it will survive and keep coming back. The deck was nerfed TWICE, both nerfs were quite severe and it still can be viable ladder option.

Well, technically, it’s not that surprising. The last nerf – reducing the stats of buff you get from Quest reward from 5/5 to 4/4 – reduced the immediate power of the deck after it finishes the Quest, as well as its burst potential. But it can still flood the board with 4/4’s every turn, no matter how many times you clear it. And it can still go infinite thanks to the Zola the Gorgon and/or Sonya Shadowdancer. So what that the minions are 4/4 instead of 5/5? If you can pump out more than your opponent can clear, you still win. Or if you finish the Quest quickly and flood the board before your opponent can clear it, you win anyway. The only real big difference are Druid matchups – against Taunt Druid it’s not possible to clear Primordial Drake and Sleepy Dragon without sacrificing minions, while against other Druids, Spreading Plague is harder to get through (that said, it’s still rarely enough to stop you after you finish the Quest).

All in all, the deck got weaker, the matchups that were great got slightly worse… but they’re still positive. The meta is very slow. If you end up facing those Big Spell Mages, Control Priests, Quest Warriors and such all the time, then Quest Rogue might still be a solid choice – similarly to the Kingsbane Rogue I’ve also featured.

Any aspiring Control Warrior player simply has to know his name. He’s the mysterious Warrior God. While staying in the shadows (he generally does not participate in tournaments or stream), he ends up in Top 100 Legend very often, mostly sticking to one class – Warrior. Even if Control Warrior is considered dead by the general playerbase, he still somehow manages to make it work. Right now, it’s hard to say that Warrior is “dead” – Quest (Taunt) Warrior is a strong meta deck. Other Warrior decks, however, aren’t doing that well. At least if you aren’t named Fibonacci.

This deck is one of his latest creations. It’s a mix between the classic Control Warrior and Recruit Warrior. One of the main problems with Recruit Warrior is that it’s incredibly slow. At the earliest, you will drop your first minions on Turn 6 – and that’s only if you get your Gather Your Party. This deck does not run Gather your Party, and runs smaller minions. It wouldn’t make much sense to spend 6 mana on Gather your Party just to get Acolyte of Pain. However, it does run Woecleaver with some bigger minions. While you still might recruit one of your smaller minions (less likely, since you have two more turns to draw them), it has 3 charges, so you should be able to get out your big guns too.

The deck also leans towards a combo build, since recruiting (or well, playing) Grommash Hellscream and activating it with Inner Rage is one of the best win conditions. Then again, Rotface and Geosculptor Yip are also great, as you’re usually getting two big bodies that your opponent might have troubles answering.

If you end up drawing your big guys, you can always play Dead Man's Hand and shuffle extra copies of them.

Yes, this deck looks like something that has no chance of working. However, I really trust Fibonacci when it comes to Warrior lists, and to quote the man himself, this deck “looks janky, but works”. Well, you can always try it yourself!

Playing Big Druid was one of my guilty pleasures. On the one hand, the deck was very easy to pilot and wasn’t even that interesting. On the other, cheesing out The Lich King or something when your opponent was on 4 mana was always fun. However, the deck has lost a lot of cards after the rotation. Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound in particular was an incredibly powerful one, especially if you could cheese it out with Barnes. Alternatively, losing an amazing ramp tool in form of Mire Keeper hurts, not to mention that Jade Blossom was better ramp than Greedy Sprite (even if you didn’t run other Jade cards, the fact that Greedy Sprite is delayed and can be Silenced makes it worse).

But the deck is still kicking as it seems. Thijs has been playing it a lot in the past week or so, and he was doing fairly well in Legend. Master Oakheart in particular is a huge MVP of the deck – pulling Dragonhatcher + Drakkari Enchanter puts so much power onto the board, more than your opponent can usually answer. While it has the lower late game power than Taunt Druid (since it can’t revive Hadronox multiple times), it has a higher mid/late game impact. It can drop a big minion after big minion multiple times in a row, and since it does not run any small Taunts, the eventual Hadronox + Naturalize refill is just massive. It demands a massive AoE clear, because regular AoE can’t answer the flood of 8-12 health minions.

Of course, Hadronox gets weaker when you play Spreading Plague or Malfurion the Pestilent for the Taunts, but you just don’t play those in slower matchups until after Hadronox, unless you absolutely have to. And against Aggro? If you revive a few 1/5 Taunts, it doesn’t really matter, because you should also get some big boys.

And just like always, Big Druid has massive beatdown potential. If you ramp quickly, you don’t play like a control deck at all – you drop huge minions every turn and try to rush your opponent down. And it works quite consistently! It works a bit like Even Warlock with its early Giants & Drakes. The downside here is, however, that it’s SO BAD if you don’t ramp. You pretty much have nothing to do for the first few turns, and if you miss on your Bright-Eyed Scout, it’s even worse (that said, if you draw Master Oakheart and play it on the curve, you win the game unless you disconnect).

I’ve played against this deck a few times lately and at first I didn’t even know what the hell it is. I thought that I’m playing against some Control Priest with a bad start, until they’ve dropped Shadow Essence. There are few versions of this list, but they share lots of similarities. Each one of them runs Prophet Velen + either Vivid Nightmare (this version requires Radiant Elemental) or Malygos (this version does not require Radiant Elemental), and up to 4 different minions in total. That’s because of the limitations of Greater Diamond Spellstone – you can revive up to 4 minions and you ALWAYS want to get your Malygos and Velen.

The combo is actually very simple. All you need is your Malygos and Velen dying at some point, so you can revive them. Then you upgrade your Spellstone to full, play it, and get +5 Spell Damage AND double damage from your spells. It basically means that your Mind Blast deals 20 damage, while your Holy Smite deals 14 damage. As you can easily calculate, that’s 34 damage – enough to kill most of your opponents. But that’s not everything – you can play the same combo second time for another 34 damage if you let’s say face a Druid or Warrior who have armored up a lot.

That’s the main combo, but there is also a “smaller” combo that involves Eternal Servitude. There are lots of ways in which you can do that one. For example, if you manage to revive both Malygos and Velen for 8 mana, you can drop a 20 damage Mind Blast, or 28 damage 2x Holy Smite. Reviving 2x Malygos or 2x Velen also works, although not as well (you can sub the second revive with Vivid Nightmare too). Or you can even revive Malygos once and then use your remaining mana to play a bunch of spells – 10 damage Mind Blasts and 7 mana Holy Smites. As you can see, there are many ways to kill your opponent.

The deck also runs quite a lot of tools that let you survive long enough. Its limited by the fact that it can’t run lots of minions, but the Wild Pyromancer and Acolyte of Pain in this list are good enough – Pyro is another way to deal AoE damage, while Acolyte lets you draw your combo faster. Radiant Elemental is also a common choice, as it makes the combos more flexible and easier to pull off, but it’s technically not necessary if you run Malygos – it’s key if you run only the Velen + Vivid Nightmare list.

All in all, the deck can snatch some unexpected wins, and the combo can be played more consistently than you’d imagine. The biggest issue I have is the Spellstone itself – the later you draw it, the harder it is to pull off the combo, because you need to play EIGHT spells first to upgrade it, which means that if Spellstones are on the bottom of your deck, you will still need to spend at least 2-3 more turns upgrading them before you can combo. Besides that, the deck has the oldschool Velen Priest vibes, and I really liked that one, so I can’t help liking this one too.


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


  1. SlapLaB
    June 19, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    These are my favourite articles – love a bit of off-meta!

  2. Tweeg
    June 19, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Stonekeep, I would like to submit my minion-based skelemancer zoo, in which runs no burn spells or doomguards for discard, only leeroy for that extra extension, Focuses on strong minions that are sticky to the board and resistant to AoE and the power of sea giants and black knight. I’ve piloted it to top 50 legend before this season and I still dabble in it now.

    • Socrates92
      June 20, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Let me see that list! O.o Sounds very interesting and promising!

      • Tweeg
        June 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Gladly. Here’s the code. You can take out 1x sea giant for another veteran if you wish.

        ### Paul Coffey
        # Class: Warlock
        # Format: Standard
        # Year of the Raven
        # 1x (1) Acherus Veteran
        # 2x (1) Fire Fly
        # 2x (1) Flame Imp
        # 2x (1) Kobold Librarian
        # 2x (1) Voidwalker
        # 2x (2) Dire Wolf Alpha
        # 2x (2) Vulgar Homunculus
        # 2x (3) Devilsaur Egg
        # 2x (3) Vicious Fledgling
        # 2x (4) Defender of Argus
        # 2x (4) Ravenous Pterrordax
        # 1x (4) Spellbreaker
        # 2x (5) Despicable Dreadlord
        # 1x (5) Fungalmancer
        # 1x (5) Leeroy Jenkins
        # 2x (5) Skelemancer
        # 2x (10) Sea Giant
        # To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone

        • Tweeg
          June 20, 2018 at 2:11 pm

          You can also go the keleseth route and take out the vulgar and direwolves, but that’s out of preference.

  3. A Hearthstone player
    June 19, 2018 at 9:55 am

    As I remember, King Towaggle doesn’t transfer fatigue damage.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      June 19, 2018 at 10:02 am

      You’re right, for some reason I remembered dealing more damage with that combo, but I’ve checked it and it’s not the case. Fixed it.

  4. ZEeoN
    June 19, 2018 at 9:20 am

    I do not agree to the Kingsbane part at all – I took this deck from rank 20 to rank 11 over the course of the last two weeks after not having played ladder in a while, using the following two subs:
    – Faldorei
    – Vilespine
    + 2 Assassinate
    -Gluttonous Ooze
    +Witchwood Piper

    I regularly end up with a Kingsbane that has 12/6 Lifesteal and I feel that outside of RNG (good cards from Lich King for a lot of burst) and Skulking Geist there’s only heavy, heavy aggro to stop you. Even those decks can be countered if their draw is off slightly or yours is on point.
    I have not once lost to priest and warrior and only twice against Taunt Druid, in both cases only due to the Lich King (One player had 4 mortal coils from 4 ticks… the odds are somewhere near 0.0014%) and the other player had the weapon, milled a pirate with naturalize and had branching paths. Not something you can rely on. I have also not lost against Midrange Paladin, Miracle Rogue or Mage yet.
    The only real enemies of this deck are Malygos OTK Druid, early Jaina Mage, Odd Paladin and Odd Rogue.
    Even Warlock and Shaman can only beat you with way better draw than you, if both are on point, you still win. So yes, it’s off-meta, yes, it has a counter; but it does not have “a few good match ups in Warrior and priest” because that would be horrible. It straight out beats all decks that are about control or value.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      June 19, 2018 at 10:04 am

      “In the slow meta we currently have, it actually has some really good matchups, such as different variants of Priests and Warriors.”

      Key words are “such as”. Those are only examples of good matchups, I didn’t say that those are the only good matchups.

      So I’m really not sure what you disagree with.

      • ZEeoN
        June 19, 2018 at 11:13 am

        Don’t get me wrong, it might be due to the fact that the culture around hearthstone is often hyped by decks fairly quickly. Seeing all new decks that get the occasional win are „meta-breaking“ according to Youtube and so on, the description just sounds like it’s a deck that „might sometimes get an 8/3 Kingsbane“ (but actually lets you die with your pitiful 2/3 in hand 90% of the times). I agree that rereading the article it’s not like you said that anywhere but I think I was influenced by the overall „omg it’s OP!“ tonality, making the contrast sound flat out bad, if you know what I mean. So no offense either way! It’s probably for the better to read the occasional objective opinion about hearthstone than the OP cries eventually…