Meta Solutions are a combination of analysis and creative deck solutions. We find the decks that have been dominating the ladder and collectively analyze them. We share this analysis with you and then we take it a step further to give you the decks we think will be effective counters.
A narrow ladder meta in Hearthstone is boring and frustrating. Our goal is to add more viable decks to it each week, giving you a fresh perspective on decks you can climb with and to create a more varied and fun ladder experience.
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Meta Analysis – November 23rd 2015
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Reno Jackson has entered the ring! Reno Jackson is the heavy weight boxing champion of Hearthstone and we all must submit to the rule of our new overlord. The meta-game was already slowing down coming into the first wing of the expansion, and has now come to a complete halt thanks to Reno Jackson. The ranked ladder has become a savage place for any aggressive archetype, particularly any hyper-aggressive decks. Face Hunter is less prevalent and more punished now than it ever was during a Patron Warrior meta-game.
Secret Paladin and Aggro Druid are still common choices this week, due to the release of new cards (Keeper of Uldaman, Mounted Raptor) and an unwillingness to adapt by some members of the community. That said, these decks hardly feel like they’re in the place they were a couple weeks ago, certainly not a month ago. The rise of Control Archetypes like Control Warrior, Patron Warrior and Freeze Mage and the prevalence of Reno Jackson Warlock has proved difficult to manage for even these consistent aggressive decks.
A lot has been said in recent Meta Solutions and the community in general about the prevalence of both aggressive and control archetypes in the meta-game. This week, it’s time for the Midrange and Tempo decks to take their throne. Decks like Combo Druid and Midrange Paladin are going to be extremely popular this week – and with good reason. Combo Druid particularly has great match ups into all of the slower archetypes on ladder currently, and with the decline of the aggressive decks holding it back on ladder is my pick for the most consistent archetype this week.
Shaman (whilst still hardly considered Tier 1 by most) is likely to be a very popular pick this week, with strong new cards (Tunnel Trogg, Rumbling Elemental). Midrange Battlecry Shaman variants as well as Midrange Overload Shamans are going to be popular and will likely perform quite well against most of the control archetypes currently on ladder.
Community Tier 1: Combo Druid, Control Warrior, Handlock (Reno or otherwise), Midrange Paladin, Freeze Mage, Secret Paladin, Aggro Druid
Countering this Meta
Even more so than last week, midrange decks are going to be fantastic performers this week. Most midrange archetypes have the capacity to survive and contest the remnants of an aggressive meta-game (a time that seems long past) and be able to generate too much pressure for a lot of these control decks to deal with. A lot of Midrange decks can be particularly efficient against Reno Jackson list as they have the potential to win the early game, build up large board states in the mid-game and burst them from 20+ health in the late game.
Unlike last week, a deck just doing well against both Control Warrior and Combo Druid isn’t enough anymore (though it certainly helps). With a large amount of Reno Jackson decks and Freeze Mages on ladder it is important that your deck has more than mindless aggression and is able to perform and use their mana efficiently all the way into the late-game.
Decks like Midrange Hunter, Oil Rogue and Midrange Demon Zoo are all great examples of aggressive archetypes that have enough early game minions, reach and card density to contest their opponents well at all stages of the game. A relatively aggressive archetype that also has a lot of reach is the name of the game this week and is critical to success on ladder.
Last week with the decline of aggressive archetypes we saw a lot of decks forego Board Clear options for more reach. Whilst this is a good thing it should be said that in some cases Board Clear is more important this week than it was last week – if it performs well against Midrange Archetypes. Cards like Fan of Knives in Rogue (for Midrange Paladin) or Shadowflame in Warlock are great board clear options this week.
As the meta-game continues to slow down we begin to have more flexibility in our Tech Card options. Previously because of the prevalence of aggressive archetypes we were unable to run too many tech cards as it would risk impeding our early game. A lot of tech cards are becoming a lot more viable now though especially Ironbeak Owl and Harrison Jones.
I’ve talked down a lot to Ironbeak Owl in previous weeks, particularly because of how weak it was against Secret Paladin and Aggro Druid – which were the two most popular decks in the meta game. With the inclusion of a lot of slower archetypes Ironbeak Owl has become a lot more viable this week and is a great answer to cards like Doomsayer, Sylvanas and Twilight Drake.
Harrison Jones has become very viable largely to answer the rise of Midrange Archetypes. A lot of Midrange decks like Rogue, Shaman and Paladin have a large reliance on weapon damage to beat slower decks (particularly Rogue). This card outperforms the other weapon removal option Acidic Swamp Ooze in most decks currently because of the larger emphasis on card advantage in this meta-game.
With the prevalence of Freeze Mage – especially after the inclusion of Forgotten Torch – Kezan Mystic should be considered a viable option in most Midrange – Control deck lists.
For all of the solutions this week I will be including a ‘Favored VS’ line stating what Community Tier 1 decks the solution is favored against. Hopefully this will provide more clarity as to why each deck was selected.
#1 ShamonaHe Dark Peddler Midrange Demon Zoo
Video play through! (High-legend) As announced ShamonaHe will be contributing to The Irronsmith, starting with a great Warlock deck he’s fine tuned.
Favored VS: Combo Druid, Aggro Druid, Control Warrior, Reno Warlock
This is a deck made by the newest contributor to TheIrronSmith, our video content producer ShamonaHE!
This is a deck ShamonaHe has been having a lot of success with in High Legend ranks and recent community tournaments. This deck is very strong at the moment and can perform well against most of what you’re likely to see on ladder (albeit can struggle against Freeze Mage).
We recommend you replace a Bane of Doom or a Voidwalker with an Iron Beak Owl if struggling against Freeze Mage or Handlock.
This Midrange Demon Zoo has pushed the previously featured Aggressive Zoo variant out of meta solutions for its ability to contest Reno Jackson decks – particularly Reno Jackson Warlock. This deck is less reliant on massive burst damage as a win condition and instead prefers to establish large board states in the mid-late game.
This combined with its early game pressure can enable it to kill its opponent from a large life total and seriously mitigate the impact of the Reno Jackson heal.
Big Game Hunter is run in this deck because it is still a very powerful tech option for the meta-game. Whilst Secret Paladin and Aggro Druid are on a relative decline they are still fairly common and Handlock variants are becoming incredibly popular.
Dark Peddler is something that really excels in these relatively aggressive Midrange Zoo variants. The established weight on class 1-drops really makes it shine and when you can pull something like a Power Overwhelming or a Soulfire is great at augmenting your late game lethal push.
Note: This deck is also a consistent performer against most of the Midrange Shaman decks on ladder currently.
#2 Oil Rogue
This is my take for the best Oil Rogue variant on ladder currently.
Oil Rogue is an archetype that I love to feature on Meta Solutions (appearing for the 4th time out of 4 articles). I think Oil Rogue is a relatively adaptive archetype and can be built in a way to contest a large range of deck lists.
This week’s build of Oil Rogue most closely resembles our week 2 Deck list. Last week’s Oil Rogue variant cut board clear options (Fan of Knives) for a lot more reach (Double Assassin’s Blade, Sharpsword Oil) and Dr. Boom for a Southsea Deckhand.
This week Fan of Knives and Dr. Boom returns as a result of the prevalence of Midrange Archetypes like Combo Druid, Midrange Shaman, Midrange Paladin and even the mirror match. Dr. Boom is also a great option against Freeze Mage.
Oil Rogue is something we’ve been pushing very hard on Meta Solutions and the community is really beginning to accept the strength of this archetype again. A lot more players have been playing this archetype to great success recently (a couple even hitting rank 1 legend).
This deck does still run 1 Assassin’s Blade as the card is critical to answer a lot of decks in this meta-game. Assassin’s Blade is your single best win condition against Control Warrior and Freeze Mage and performs really well against all Handlock variants.
1 Assassin’s Blade is often enough against these decks as you will get a lot of time to draw into it. This said, swapping a Fan of Knives for a second Assassin’s Blade is definitely a viable option if struggling against Control Warrior or Freeze Mage.
Healbot is run over Sludge Belcher to reflect the amount of Druids on ladder currently. Sludge Belcher will often get silence and Antique Heal bot is a more consistent performer in this match up specifically.
Note: This deck is also a great performer against all of the Midrange Shaman decks on ladder currently.
Note #2: Whilst Control Warrior, Combo Druid and Freeze Mage are slightly unfavored match ups they are definitely winnable. (Especially if you add a second Assassin’s Blade for Control Warrior and Freeze Mage).
#3 Midrange Hunter
Midrange Hunter returns! The drop of two places from last week’s Meta Solutions is to reflect the rise in both Midrange Paladin and Midrange Shaman.
Argent Horserider Midrange Hunter is a deck list relatively common in the Hearthstone community and one I used to climb to rank 10 legend in the September 2015 season and top 40 this season.
This deck list has made two notable changes from last week’s version to reflect the change in the meta-game. Firstly, an explosive trap was swapped for an Ironbeak Owl.
There is a relative decline of aggressive archetypes on ladder this week which can lead to Explosive Trap underperforming – especially against Combo Druid, Handlock, Freeze Mage and Control Warrior. Ironbeak Owl has been added to answer cards like Doomsayer, Twilight Drake, Sylvanas and even Mad Scientist.
Freeze Mage (and Oil Rogue to an extent) are the decks giving midrange Hunter the most trouble on ladder currently. To reflect this Piloted Shredder has been substituted for a Ragnaros the Firelord. Ragnaros also can perform very well against Handlock and Control Warrior.
Midrange Hunter was an archetype initially pushed out of the meta-game by a surge of aggressive archetypes but has become a lot more viable over recent weeks as their population receded.
Midrange Hunter will struggle again if decks like Face Hunter and Secret Paladin become a lot more popular, but currently, largely due to Reno Jackson, that seems unlikely.
If the Meta-Game slows down even further you can look to substitute Argent Horseriders for Stranglethorn Tigers.
#4 Tempo Mage
Tempo Mage is an incredibly strong archetype in the current meta-game and was the first deck we wrote a Mastery guide for.
This deck wasn’t featured over the last 2 weeks simply because of it being rated as a Tier 1 deck by the community. I feel like the Tempo Mage population and public awareness of the archetype has dropped off significantly and for no good reason. The deck remains very strong against all Paladin and Druid archetypes (and that alone makes it worth consideration currently).
Tempo Mage, due to Archmage Antonidas, can also perform really well against Reno Jackson decks. Archmage especially if it survives for a turn can prove to be unmanageable for slower archetypes and is a fantastic win condition against a lot of control decks.
This deck is a very slight variation of the Community Standard Tempo Mage variant featured in my deck mastery article. This deck opts to swap an Arcane Blast for a Ragnaros to reflect the increase of Freeze Mage, Oil Rogue and control archetypes in general.
This deck opts for a secret package as opposed to the Irron Mage variant featured in our first Meta Solutions article. The Irron Mage variant was built to combat an aggressive meta-game and the secret package performs too well against slower archetypes to justify cutting. – Mirror Entity can result in a sudden Baby Rage outbreak against Freeze Mage though.
If the meta-game becomes more aggressive look to swap Ragnaros for the second Arcane Blast or even a Mirror Image.
#5 Reynad’s Overload Midrange Shaman
Favored VS: Combo Druid, Control Warrior, Aggro Druid, Handlock (Reno or Otherwise)
This is a deck built by Reynad this season and uses a new Shaman Card, Tunnel Trogg.
Tunnel Trogg is a card rated very highly by a lot of people and particularly shines in this list running so many overload cards. Unbound Elemental is also run for a similar reason.
Shaman is a class that I think we are going to see shine in coming weeks. It has a lot of positive match ups against the field of Tier 1 decks we’re seeing currently and has a lot of potential builds and archetypes with the new LOE cards.
Shaman is a deck that can contest aggressive decks fairly well in the early game and has the capacity to really threaten control archetypes in the mid-late game.
Doomhammer is run in this deck list as well as Al’Akir to reflect the importance of reach in the current meta-game. Doomhammer performs really well against Handlock, Control Warrior and Freeze Mage (it’s easily your best win condition in the Freeze Mage match up).
Look to swap a Stormforged Axe for a Kezan Mystic if struggling against Freeze Mage.
This deck runs a lot of burn compared to conventional midrange Shaman builds and is able to consistently find lethal against Handlocks past late-game taunt walls.
This Shaman Deck has the potential for insane early game openings. Tunnel Trogg and Unbound Elemental allow you to create dominant board states in the early-mid game if drawn with Totem Golem or Feral Spirit.
Stormforged Axe a card slept on for the longest time has become much more standard in midrange Shaman builds over recent weeks. The card is a great answer to a lot of in-meta early game minions (particularly Knife Juggler) and has great synergy with Tunnel Trogg and Unbound Elemental in this deck list.
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