Hey guys, happy new year! Curemew here again to welcome you to our NEL Deck Guide #7. As my first guide of the year, today I’m going to be covering a very very unique deck: Chiang’s Absolute Defense Mage.
Chiang is an experienced Hearthstone player who has reached a 10-6 overall record in last season NEL. He has contributed the Miracle Warrior deck guide last year before GvG came out. During the holidays, he has come up with a fully defensive deck because he was sick of the enormous amount of aggro on ladder. After hundreds of high rank games and modifications, this is now his final version which he calls Absolute Defense Mage.
Now this deck is not just the aggro counter. It has a decent win rate against Midrange and Control decks as well. This deck is gaining popularity on CN ladder so make sure you don’t miss it!
I know many of you may have your doubts after taking a quick look at this deck. It happened when Chiang first showed it to the Chinese community as well. I assure you, however, that this deck is viable on ladder and it has been proved by other popular Chinese streamers. Before getting too far into the deck, I would like to talk about how Chiang understands construction in Hearthstone.
Chiang feels that all the constructed level cards can be described by one -- or more -- of the following four groups.
Undertaker, Mechwarper, and Low Curve MinionsThese low-cost cards that can be used on early turns to fill the board more quickly and efficiently than your opponent. Once you take the board control, these enable better trades and rush to the face.
AnswersSince low curve minions and aggro decks exert the most pressure early, we need to have the most answers for them. Frostbolt is one of the key cards to early game against Undertaker and Mechwarper. Frostbolt kills both of those snowball minions and keeps us alive until our later board control spells. Mind Control Tech, Flamestrike, and Blizzard are the three cards which really clean up the mid game. If you have slowed down the aggro deck's opening, any of these should really close out the game. Finally there are Illuminator and Ice Block. These cards are important to keep us alive through burst after we have stabilized.
Deathrattles and Battlecry MinionsCost-efficient cards that have multiple functions and can out-tempo your opponent.
AnswersWhile some of the cards from the first group carry over to help here, Lil' Exorcist is the main card here. This gnome fills two roles, it outpaces an Undertaker we didn't answer right away and Lil' Exorcist stops all the leftover Deathrattle minions after the Undertaker is gone. Finally, a Lil' Exorcist coming down on turn three or four can go a long way to stalling for a Flamestrike.
Burn Spells and Combo EnablersCards that can deal tons of damage right to the face in one turn, to burst your opponent to death.
AnswersWhen we are worrying about burn spells, our concern is that we can be killed even after stabilizing with a board clear. In order to avoid that, we can either heal out of burn range or prevent it. Illuminator is the worst of these three options because it requires a secret; that said, if you already have an Ice Block waiting then Illuminator can do quite a bit of healing. Antique Healbot, on the other hand, is the better healing card because it just heals you no questions asked. Ice Block is the card that shines against combos. Some Druid combos or OTK Warrior decks are very hard to heal through. Ice Block is invaluable here because it is a guaranteed safety net.
Legendaries and Late Game MinionsExpensive cards that have strong stats and are hard to removed.
AnswersAnswers for late game minions are narrow but sometimes mandatory: Big Game Hunter is awkward right up until you need to kill a Ragnaros. Continuing on Big Game Hunter, he is at a premium right now -- hence the two copies in this deck -- because Handlock is very popular and Dr. Boom is essentially everywhere. The Black Knight was and still is a solid value minion. Many decks run Taunts in some form and Sludge Belcher remains very popular.
Now for Hemet Nesingwary, perhaps the most controversial inclusion. While Hemet could easily be a Polymorph, he can usually find some targets or provide a clock against control decks. Hemet really shines if Hunter and Druid are popular, but he is also live against Zoo with targets such as Haunted Creeper, Dire Wolf Alpha, or even a poor Ironbeak Owl.
Since the deck aims to cover all of its bases, there aren't many substitutions that can be made. That said, there are three cards which can patch up some weaknesses.
Polymorph: With Nesingwary, The Black Knight, Big Game Hunter and Flamestrike this deck does not usually need Polymorph that bad. Polymorph can, however, help if you find yourself running up against Ysera, Sneed’s Old Shredder, or Kel’Thuzad. Since Nesingwary and The Black Knight are legendaries, you can also sub in Polymorph if you are missing one or both.
Sylvanas and an extra Blizzard are both cards you can add to the deck to fix different matchups. Sylvanas, as she has always done in the past, can serve as a hard to deal with minion and a fast clock. She will shine if control matchups are giving you trouble. Blizzard, on the other hand, does its best work against aggro decks. If you find yourself needing an extra card to help stabilize then Blizzard should be your go to option.
70/30: Freeze Mage(no Giants), Zoolock, Hunter and all Mech-heavy Aggros
65/35: Tempo Rogue, Secret Mage and other kinds of minion-heavy tempo/midrange deck
60/40: Control Warrior, Priest (without Ysera, Sneed’s Old Shredder or Kel’Thuzad)
55/45: Roar Druid, Giants Mage
50/50: Doomhammer Shaman
45/55: Bloodlust Shaman
40/60: Handlock, Quartermaster Paladin, Miracle Rogue
30/70: Control decks that run Ysera, Sneed’s Old Shredder or Kel’Thuzad
Here I have collected Death-Mech Priest, Chiang’s Miracle Warrior post-GvG, and Hob-Giant Warlock in one pack.
Bonus Chiang Decks
These decks have been proved viable through tournaments and high level ladder games by different Chinese pros or streamers. It takes time for me to ask for an article or guide and to translate afterwards, but I can try to contact him to get a quick response if you have any questions or thoughts.
Death-Mech Priest completely abandons Circle of Healing, Auchenai Soulpriest, Thoughtsteal, and both Shadow Words. Instead, it has an army of powerful minions which can rush your opponent down very quickly.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer is no longer playable for Miracle Warrior. Now, Battle Rage is our go to draw engine. Two mana to draw two cards is fine but Battle Rage can usually go over the top of that. Death’s Bite-Acolyte of Pain-Battle Rage to draw four or more cards is sick. The second Brawl is a happy surprise: literally no one would play around that and it could be game winning. Warrior itself is already a good class against aggro -- let alone the buff from Shieldmaiden -- and against control, your burst damage is even higher than Savage Roar.
In the Warlock deck, it is better to play Hobgoblin on the same turn as Annoy-o-Tron, Voildwalker, Ooze, or Ghoul. Some of these cards can also be played to protect you on early turns when facing aggro. Bloodmage and Soulfire can give you some burst damage to face if you need a little extra reach.