Introduction by Hayl
Xixo has always been known as a force of nature on the ladder. This week, however, he accomplished something never before done in Hearthstone's history. Xixo reached rank one Legend on three servers. This was such a cool accomplishment that we felt the need to cover the deck that crushed the NA, EU, and Asian servers.
Xixo goes three for three.
1x Power Overwhelming
While this card isn't as strong as it used to be -- without Soulfire burst and Void Terror combos -- you will still find yourself in a position where you get great value from it quite often. Usually use it to clear your opponent's board but it can also steal wins.
2x Abusive Sergeant
The value this card provides is insane. Enabling really efficient trades and activating Deathrattles with this card wins you a lot of games.
2x Flame Imp
Without support, this card is your best one drop. If you don't have the synergies of Undertaker-Deathrattle or Void Walker-Abusive Sergeant you always want to play Flame Imp on turn one.
2x Leper Gnome
With less burst damage, this card is not as important anymore. That said, you still want to keep your curve low and have Deathrattle minions for Undertaker. You should either run two Leper Gnomes or Clockwork Gnome. Personally, I prefer using Hero Power over the Spare Parts with my extra mana so Leper Gnome gets the edge over Clockwork.
Easily the most threatening one drop in the game, this card can win you games on its own and certainly belongs in the deck.
Against aggro, you want Voidwalker early to keep you safe from one health minions. Against control it can save you from Weapons, you usually don't keep it on your opening hand here though.
2x Dire Wolf Alpha
Use this to enable your Nerubian Eggs and trade more efficient with all the Deathrattle tokens + Imp-losion. Don't keep it on your opening hands.
1x Echoing Ooze
People seem to not agree with this choice but it provides the deck more consistency. It also synergizes well with Defender of Argus. If you don't like it, replace it with a Clockwork Gnome or Ironbeak Owl.
2x Haunted Creeper
Haunted Creeper almost guarantees you will have a minion to use your buffs on the next turn. Beyond that, this card provides great value and even helps out your Undertaker.
2x Knife Juggler
This is the two drop you don't want to play on turn two. Instead, use it the turn before -- or the same turn -- as Implosion or combo it with Deathrattles from Haunted Creeper, Harvest Golem and Nerubian Egg. Knife Juggler works nice with Echoing Ooze.
2x Nerubian Egg
This card doesn't do anything by itself but the value it provides in combination with the likes of Abusive Sergeant or Defender of Argus wins you a lot of games that might have been close otherwise.
2x Harvest Golem
Just a resilient minion that still puts up pressure. Harvest Golem is a great card to draw later on with Life Tap. Harvest Golem and another one or two drop helps make good use of your mana even later on.
1x Tinkmaster Overspark
Use this beta-all star as a tempo play. Making your 1/2 a 1/1 and playing a 3/3 for three mana isn't great but still not a game-losing turn. Making your own minion a 5/5, however, often just makes your opponent concede. Most of times even making your opponent's minion a 5/5 makes it easier for you to deal with it than what it was before. Using a Power Overwhelming on a minion, trading with it and then transforming it with Tinkmaster makes it survive!
This card isn't great when you're ahead as it's weak to board clears. Where it does shine occurs when it's sniping a minion and developing a board: it can even let you come back in games that looked bad before. For example it's a great play to finish off a 3/1 Auchenai Soulpriest after Circle of Healing.
1x Dark Iron Dwarf
Strong tempo boost while still providing a 4/4 body. There isn't much more to say about this great card. We only can afford one, however, due to curve considerations.
1x Defender of Argus
Defender of Argus forces your opponent to trade into Haunted Creepers and Nerubian Eggs while also getting your minion out of range of sweeper effects.
Most of the time, you will discard either zero or one card when playing this. Even when it costs you two additional cards, the tempo and value it provides you often justifies the play. That said, you should avoid throwing away too many cards in a couple spots. If you already have enough pressure on the board to force an AoE the following turn, keep Doomguard in your hand and use your Hero Power to restock. If you are racing or have double Doomguard, on the other hand, feel free to run one out on turn five.
1x Sea Giant
Imp-losion is the new addition which really pushed Sea Giant into the spotlight. The main benefit of this card -- beyond being an 8/8 -- is that he punishes opponents who overextend onto the board. That said, there are two things to watch out for before playing this giant:
- You can only have seven minions on board at a time so be careful before trading that Haunted Creeper;
- If you have a full board against an empty one, consider if you really need the extra 8/8. Often it is better to hold the giant and play around sweeper effects.
These are the slight variations of the deck for each server.
WarlockUnless you know your opponent is playing Handlock, I would always assume Zoo.
Against Zoo, you want any one drop (Undertaker > Flame Imp > Leper Gnome) and a value two drop (Haunted Creeper > Echoing Ooze). While the mirror is mainly about board control, it is important to sneak in face damage where you can. The best way to do this is let your opponent do the trade for you anyway. While this strategy works in the early game, you must be more careful late. In the late game, there are many ways for your opponent to trade up: Power Overwhelming, Abusive Sergeant, Voidwalker, Dire Wolf Alpha, Knife Juggler, Implosion, Defender of Argus, and Sea Giant are all quite punishing. If you have a key minion to protect, therefore, don't be greedy and trade on your turn.
Against Handlock, you try to get a really aggressive start - with Flame Imp, Knife Juggler -- and then follow up with Deathrattle minions.
The biggest mistake I see people make is playing around too much. You can often deal with one taunted Molten Giant, but you can't just not attack face to play around double Molten-Sunfury-Shadowflame or similar things. You have to race them and only trade if you get a really efficient one.
PriestYou need an answer to Northshire Cleric on your starting hand: mulligan for Flame Imps, Undertaker, Knife Juggler and Abusive Sergeant. Do not play around Pyromancer and two spells early on. It is both unlikely they have it, and if they do, your chances to win are really slim anyway. Go for an aggressive start and play around Auchenai-Circle: usually you can do this with a Haunted Creeper or Egg. If your opponent doesn't have a clear -- or is forced to use them for little value -- Cabal is usually too slow.
ShamanResilient minions and ways to buff them are what you're looking for in this matchup. If they use their Hero Power early on you need to play around their incoming Lightning Storm. The best way to do this by either Life Tapping or by playing Deathrattle minions. Once the Shaman is Overloaded, take the opening to build out your board.
HunterIn order to win this match up you need to gain board control early on. Nerubian Egg is usually too slow, so mulligan for your one drops and Haunted Creeper. If you have board control but they have a secret out, consider if it's worth attacking into it. If Explosive Trap would clear your board, it's often better to wait a turn to play Sea Giant, Nerubian Eggs, or other minions that survive the two damage.
MageWith most Mages playing Mech right now, you really want an answer to an early Clockwork Gnome and Mech Warper. You should be looking for Flame Imp, Undertaker, and Haunted Creeper. If you have some of these you can also keep Abusive Sergeant. Your early game minions trade better than theirs so you usually gain board control. If possible, kill all their mechs so Blastmage doesn't ruin you.
PaladinThis is a really tough match up. You often can't play around Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle, or Consecration. So you should just look at your hand, consider the first few turns, and see which of those cards you simply can't answer. Then you just play as if he doesn't have those cards since if he does you lose anyways.
WarriorCard you are most scared of early on when playing Warrior is Cruel Taskmaster. If they Coin + Fiery War Axe your one drop you are still in a fine position. Playing Taskmaster on your Leper Gnome, on the other hand, is devastating. Only keep Leper Gnome if you already have an Undertaker: without Undertaker, look for that, Flame Imp, Echoing Ooze and Haunted Creeper.
After turn two, the next thread is usually Death's Bite. Taunting low Health minions is, therefore, a good idea. Keep in mind Deathrattles proc in the order the cards got played! So playing Haunted Creeper or Harvest Golem before their Death's Bite turn means the Deathrattle token die if he uses his second hit to kill the main minion. If you play those after his Death's Bite they are way more threatening for the Warrior.
After Death's Bite play around Brawl. If you feel like your opponent has to Brawl next turn no matter what, just use your Hero Power and play Deathrattle minion's. Attack his face when you suspect a Brawl is correct as his minion will most likely die to the Brawl anyway. After turn five or six, keep Baron Geddon in mind but start getting damage in.
RogueThere are not many Rogues going around right now, but those that are around run completely different decks. Mulligan for a Undertaker or Flame Imp turn one. If they play an answer, follow up with an aggressive two drop; if not, play a defensive one like Haunted Creeper, Echoing Ooze, Voidwalker or Nerubian Egg.
DruidMulligan for your one drops. Innervate-Keeper is always threatening but don't play around it. Once your opponent gets access to four mana, consider if your board is weaker to Swipe or to Keeper. It's usually more important to play around Keeper since that also gives your opponent a minion in play. If he Swipes, you might still have a small board left and can just refill and go for the face. Since Druid doesn't have a high damage board clears, you can usually snowball off of an aggressive start.
In general you want to mulligan for Undertaker, Flame Imp, and Haunted Creeper. A turn one Leper Gnome or Voidwalker is usually weaker but worth hanging on to if you are pitching the rest: you don't want to risk not having a one drop. If you have a minion to play already, you also want to keep Abusive Sergeant. Only keep Knife Juggler if you have other plays for turn one and two since you want to save him to play with other minions. If you already have an Undertaker or an Abusive Sergeant you also want to keep a Nerubian Egg. As a rule, try to plan your first few turns and mulligan accordingly.
A Note on Positioning
You want the minions likely to trade off first together in the middle. Those are usually are minions without Deathrattle and low Health. Your most resilient minion should be on the very left: usually Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg or Harvest Golem. We do this so that their Deathrattles will block the left side of Dire Wolf Alpha. If you play a second of these sticky minions, you first need to consider your next plays and which will trade first. The final note on Dire Wolf Alpha is to try and keep the right of it clear in preparation for an Imp-losion.