The Rungs of the Ladder
The ladder is a long grind, and can be difficult to navigate with the right decks. Yes, that is a plural decks. While the idea of setting out to master one deck has merit, the fact of the matter is that the ladder metagame swings as you progress. Vicious Syndicate provides outstanding data reports on the metagame and having an understanding of what you are going to play against at each stage of the ladder is important for deck and card selection. Based on this information, here are some of my recommendations.
Strapping on the Climbing Shoes (Rank 25-10)
The start of the grind is always the easiest but you still need to accrue quite a few gold stars. For this stage, Pirate Warrior is a consistent enough to pull together win streaks and fast enough to get through it quickly. You will play against a large variety of decks: you might even play against Shaman!
The biggest difference about the version above is that is relies less on the Pirate package. This allows for targeted cards like Golakka Crawler and Vicious Fledgling to come in and attack from a different angle. Golokka Crawler will (obviously) help you against the mirror matches you will inevitably face. Southsea Captain is your main target as swinging that much Attack power can really steal a game.
Vicious Fledgling on the other hand, is not at its best in the aggressive mirrors. It really shines, however, against the clunkier decks you will face. Your opponent's removal is already heavily taxed and is forced out on your early drops. This allows Fledgling to get an opening and either defend itself, become a larger threat, or both if you roll Windfury.
Somewhere between Ranks 15 and 10 I've found myself switching over to Hunter. Either for a more resilient aggressive strategy, or just because there are too many Golakka Crawlers swimming around.
Don't Look Down! (Rank 10-5)
Hunter is personal favorite of mine and I'm happy that its power level is back. It has a cost efficient arrangement of aggressive beasts that transition well from early to mid game. The biggest difference between the first and second stages of the ladder is that you will be facing better/meta decks. Most of the popular decks here, however, have a difficult time managing Hunter's wide angle of attack and fall behind on board. This enables your threats with a high kill potential quickly force your opponent into an ultimatum, have the removal or lose.
Pirate Warrior and Token Druid are the few matchups where you will be forced to play the board control game. Knowing when you can turn the corner is huge, make sure that you can race a Savage Roar or Arcanite Reaper. Against most other decks you will be the aggressor from turn one. Just make sure you are using your mana efficiently and playing around the sweepers when possible.
The card that has surprised me the most is Spellbreaker, it has been key in turning around awkward matchups. Being able to easily deal with Spikeridge Steed, Acolyte of Pain, any of Warrior's big taunts, or unfreezing a big threat against Rogue has been invaluable. Silence effects are few and far between but Spellbreaker gives you that effect while providing a good enough body for the cost. Yes, Ironbeak Owl is a beast but I won't be paying 3 mana for a 2/1 anytime soon. Last season, I played a similar list down to rank 1 but I could feel its favorables dropping off.
Almost There! (5-Legend)
The noticeable changes in the metagame here is the drop off of Hunter. Rank 5 also sees an uptick of Paladin and Mage: both of which I would consider positive matchups. The lack of available interaction with the quest is powerful so as long as you sequence your plays correctly you can win most games. This is the hardest of the three decks to play well but the pay off is well worth it once you have the ins and outs.
The elemental package really pays off against the aggressive decks and Glacial Shard is your best enabler and Tol'Vir Stoneshaper. The tech against aggressive strategies occurs because the deck is already so good against anything too slow.
The last stars are the hardest to put together for most players. With a large pool of players and decks at this rank I decided the best strategy was to play something that didn't care what my opponent was doing. The success of this list has continued its way into legend. Token Druid has recently become rampant in legend and is not the greatest matchup without a timely vanish (nice Living Mana).
The common factors in all of these decks is that they are aggressive and pretty cheap to make, two things that I am happy our Blizzard overlords are embracing. The grind goes a lot faster when you are going face. Thanks for reading this weeks article and I hope this helps you climb up the ladder.