Welcome to Un'Goro: An Opening Day Primer
Hello, it's been awhile. It has been some time since we last had regular articles, the Liquidhearth team has been reestablished and we're diving in on Journey to Un'Goro! In an effort to return to our previous levels of consistency we've recruited a new team of writers and are ready to go. So let's take a look at some new decks.
Day one of any expansion is always a deckbuilder's paradise. Pirates were public enemy number one coming in to Un'Goro and many of the theorycrafted decks were built to fend off aggro. Our group figured that Elemental Shaman and Midrange-Quest Warrior would be two early forerunners. In addition to those lists Jade Druid — to capitalize on a slowing meta — and Discolock were on our radar.
We soon discovered that Quests were easier to activate than we anticipated. As such, going late with a deck like Jade Druid or Elemental Shaman was quite a task. Pirate Warrior also proved to still be very strong and Hunter outperformed expectations. So here are some of our stand outs.
This list gets top billing because it was the most surprising of the day. I first faced this deck as a Jade Druid and then found the list on Dog's stream. Needless to say, the +16 armor from Feral Rage was not enough to save me.
The combo here is to get four Sorcerer's Apprentices out with Molten Reflection, play your Time Warp, and then Antonidas and chain Fireballs on your free turn. Completing your quest, as it turns out, is fairly incidental as you will likely need some of your generated cards to stay alive. If you want to go off early, Cabalist's Tome with your Apprentices should get you the required spells.
The downside, however, is that this deck is less well equipped when it comes to managing boards. Your randomly generated cards are inherently clunkier than what a Freeze Mage would run in those slots. As such, very fast aggro decks will likely run you over.
On the other hand, the infinite nature of this combo really puts your opponent under pressure. Gone are the days of Freeze Mage where a Warrior or Priest can outlast your damage. In our games so far, Priests, Midrange Warriors, and Paladins all lacked the pressure to race the combo and were essentially free wins. Zoolock was also fairly manageable as they are now teched to beat Pirate Warrior.
One thing to watch out for when playing this deck is your hand size. Most of your clunkier spells tend to clog up your hand and this is not a deck which can afford to burn key combo pieces. This is especially important to note when it comes to the mirror. Ice Block prevents any OTK shenanigans so the best plan I can think of currently is to bait card draw from your opponent and try to burn them with your Coldlight Oracles.
Quest Hunter was a deck not initially on our radar as a contender. Once the day of testing began, however, it became clear that this was a popular and valid archetype so we got in to it. We initially tried a deck which was more all in on beast synergies and running a flood small minions. Scavenging Hyena and Timber Wolf were some of the minions we tested in addition to the Tundra Rhino.
Later on we came to the list linked here. It left the beast angle alone and moved towards getting more Quest activations out of fewer cards. This list presented better a lategame and was able to more consistently complete our quest so it's a win-win.
Moving forward we'll be testing with a second Tundra Rhino over Tol'Vir Warden. While appearing to be powerful, the Warden was less impactful than desired simply because one-mana cards are less useful on turn six: even if there are two of them. Furthermore, the five-drop slot will be Queen Carnassa in an ideal scenario.
We will also not that this deck struggled against Pirate Warrior — surprising we know — so it could use some tuning in that direction.
Zoo is a deck older than Hearthstone itself (if you count the game as starting after Beta..). Even before Un'Goro's release Zoo/Discolock was coming back into the meta as a way to combat Pirate Warrior while being able to pressure the Reno decks. Those versions of the deck were not even running Power Overwhelming so the rotation was less impactful.
That said, Zoo did lose some key players as we entered the Year of the Mammoth. Dark Peddler and Imp Gang Boss are both gone and Darkshire Councilman loses some shine without them. The new players, however, are pretty impressive replacements.
Lakkari Felhound fits right in to what Zoo was trying to accomplish at the end of last Standard. Not only is he an added and reliable Discard outlet, he is a giant body which can eat Pirates and create problems for damage-based removal. Helping him out is Clutchmother Zavas who provides and added payoff for the discard synergies in addition to the Malchezaar's Imps. Replacing Dark Peddler in the two-drop slot is the Ravasaur Runt who can be just as adaptable as the Discover two-drop.
We settled on this list because it was closest to the deck in previous Standard and was tuned for beating Pirates. There are some other versions of the deck around if you are interested in alternatives. Some people swapped out the Patches package for Fire Flies and Argent Squires. Others are taking a slightly slower approach with Devilsaur Egg and Ravenous Pterrordax.
This deck is being highlighted but it turned out to be somewhat of a dud. The list here was the more successful one but we also played a list without Jades or Pirates that was more in on Elementals and played the bigger ones such as Fire Elemental and Blazecaller.
To the deck's credit it was successful against Pirate Warrior but that was to be expected with the amount of AOE and Taunts it boasts. Where it ran in to trouble was against the Quest-based decks. As it turns out, the Quest mid-late game was simply more powerful than anything the Elementals could muster.
In addition to not scaling as well into the late game, Elemental Shaman topdecks rather poorly. The synergies were easy enough during the curve-out stages of the game but in the absence of multiple 1/2s the late game was awkward. A couple topdecked removal spells could bring your Elemental chain to a halt when you need your draws the most.
Going forward this deck maybe shouldn't be ruled out. With proper tuning it could be built to beat aggro and scale better. The topdecking issue is a slightly more troubling point but the cards are certainly powerful. This deck could be great, but our builds were not.
Here are some additional decks we played but didn't have conclusive thoughts on. Jade Druid was found to be in a pretty awkward spot once Quests proved to be better than expected. The Quest Warrior deck did it's thing in generally stopping aggro but could still lose to ultra-aggressive curves.
The Pirate Warrior is a Pirate Warrior deck. Mortal Strike is still good but we tried out the Ravasaur to help support the two-drop slot.
The Rogue Deck is fun and very powerful in the midgame. It does, however, lose pretty hard to aggro. Unfortunately it looks like Rogue may just be a worse version of OTK Quest Mage as they both lose to aggro but Mage's late game is better. It is, however, a fun puzzle to try and solve.