Life After the Nerfs
The metagame has started to settle down post-nerfs and we're getting to the point where we can start to make reads. With that in mind, let's look at the most efficient decks to climb with and what you can play if you want to challenge yourself to improve your gameplay.
The best place to start when discussing the current state of the metagame is to take a look at the up to date meta snapshots provided by both Tempo Storm and Vicious Synidicate.
These snapshots vary in their tier lists dramatically compared to previous metagames where there have been unanimously best decks. The VS report is data driven whereas the Tempo Storm report is curated by pro players. This means the Tempo Storm snapshot is more easily influenced by level of skill when determining a decks strength. The VS data report will show decks that are truly broken as tier 1 no matter what, but the fact that aggro decks are tier one here means a couple of things.
The first thing I interpret from this is that there are no truly “broken” decks in the metagame. If there were a “broken” deck it would show in the stats and be pointed out by the pro players and community. People had Warlock pegged as a broken deck when nothing from it’s core strategy got hit by the nerfs. While it is strong, I don’t think that it has been oppressive and potent counter play exists. This is a sign of a healthy metagame that can still be explored more before it stagnates.
Secondly, if the stats are favoring aggressive decks it is favoring lower skill cap decks. This makes sense, most people who play are not the same caliber as pro players. Most players will pilot decks like Control Warlock worse than a pro player. The aggressive decks like these Paladin variants tend to “play themselves” a lot of the time. It’s not a bad thing that lower skill-based decks have the overall highest win rate statistically whereas pros feel differently because it means that you can challenge yourself by learning to play new archetypes that have a higher skill cap. The aggressive decks are not so strong that they feel oppressive either which is a nice balance that we likely haven’t seen in a while. Of course, you’re going to have your Salty Sally’s that complain about getting curve stomped out of a game but if they want to they can prevent that by playing an anti-aggro Control Warlock. Or, if you’re me, you can get a little different and try Control Mage.
Bounced around 100-300 on stream with this tonight. It was a lot of fun to play ^_^ Definitely strong against this new dudeadin going around and wasn't hitting any Control Warlock. pic.twitter.com/1bwBNzXLx2— rayC (@PG_rayC) February 16, 2018
What to play!
If you are an average Hearthstone player, it might be hard to interpret the deviation in these meta reports and figure out what to play. At the most basic level, if you are climbing to legend, the most efficient deck to play to climb would be any of the Paladin variants that are listed on the Vicious Syndicate meta report. This is simply because of how fast you would be able to complete games and the margin for error is smaller. Recently, Dude Paladin has been the new hotness which means people are going to be playing Hungry Crab less often. This means it’s the perfect time to que up some Murloc Paladin and hit the face!
At certain rank floors, and with the ebb and flow that happens naturally with the day to day metagame of Hearthstone, you might notice more people playing anti-aggro decks or whatever soupe du jour deck is popular. If you see a common trend occurring at whatever rank you are in each session, and you plan on playing longer, seize the moment! Counter the local metagame you are experiencing for an even quicker climb. If you are only facing Control Warlocks, it might be time to take advantage of that by adding more tech cards. A good example of this: the other day I was playing Secret Mage and ran into a string of different Warlock opponents. I noticed this trend and decided to cut a Counter Spell and an Explosive Runes to add double Potion of Polymorph. This might seem extreme but if you’re only queuing into control decks it’s a solid idea. Sometimes you will immediately que into an aggro mirror and hate yourself and question if you are in fact the unluckiest Hearthstone player in the world, but I assure you that learning how to appropriately tech for a metagame will be a skill that pays off dividends in the long run.
The other strategy aside from teching for a specific metagame that you can do is to just play a counter deck. This is riskier than playing extreme tech cards since it will likely mean if you hit the wrong matchups you just lose. Example: on a given day your que into 70% control decks so you decide to play Quest Rogue. After queuing up Quest Rogue you run into a string of Dude Paladin decks and get demolished. I don’t advise to play counter decks like Quest Rogue outside of legend rank since they are difficult decks to play and you are less likely to play against the same opponents. At legend rank countering the metagame with polarizing decks is more potent because the pool of people you can play against is infinitely smaller.
If you want to challenge yourself, learning how to play any of the top tier control decks in the metagame will help you improve overall as a player. The decks that are strong and intricate right now are Control Warlock, Cube Lock, Control Mages, and Control Priest. Each of these decks will force you to learn master new elements of the game that most aggressive decks lack which is resource management and timing of AOE cards. Playing a reactive deck means that there is a lot more room for error.
Learning techniques such as hand tracking are also going to be easier when playing a control deck because the games go longer so it feels more relevant. If you are in a control mirror match you will notice that your opponent has been holding a card for many turns. Each turn that card isn’t played you can get another clue to what card X is. It isn’t going to be Y because they would have played it this turn so the options narrow down each turn. There are so many games within the game so to speak that must be mastered like this to attain that next level of play. Being aware that you need to play these games and practicing is the first step to getting to that next level. There are tools that assist you with this, various deck trackers, but it’s better to do it manually and start to have it become second nature.
So, to summarize: Murloc Paladin is the best deck to climb with at non-legend ranks unless you see a trend at your rank; then you can try to counter the metagame and develop that skill. Control Warlock is the best deck to play to learn new skills in the game along with the other control decks I mentioned earlier if you get bored of Warlock.
This metagame not fully “solved” yet especially in the tournament atmosphere and I expect to see diversity in both areas for the next month. I am excited to see which decks the community discovers next that will become part of the metagame because I believe there are more out there! Discovering new decks in a new metagame is one of the most fun and exciting things about card games so don’t be afraid to experiment. Thank you all for reading! I hope you enjoy the meta until the next set comes out.