This guide first appeared here.
Hey guys! For those who don't know me I'm Rosty both on Hearthstone and in real life. I finished second at the Hearthstone Spring Championships and this past weekend I was trying to get back to the championships in the Summer Preliminaries tournament. Unfortunately I would end up taking a second round loss (For those of you who are familiar with a double elimination style bracket you know just how devastating this is, since if I want a chance at top 8 I'm gonna have to go like 8-0 or something from this point on).
For those of you who watched the HCT stream on Sunday you already know my result and that I won more matches than anyone else in the tournament; 7-0 is close but not enough! (Or whatever amount I had to win to get to the final round). But before we get there and make this an extremely dull post, let's backtrack; a lot. Let's first figure out my reasoning for the decks and how I came to the conclusion I wanted these decks.
So luckily for this event the first wing of Karazhan was going to be legal (unlike for EU) so what I was hoping this would mean would be an unsolved meta and thus it would reward better players, unfortunately that wasn't the case as the cards we got were pretty subpar. (Or so I thought). The moment the came out I immediately began testing decks because I would only have 4 days before I needed to submit my lists. And then I stumbled upon a deck that actually worked really really well - Beast Druid! The only reason I gave this deck a chance was because of Enchanted Raven and I was very happy that I gave it a chance! I would end up going from rank 12 to legend in less than a day with it, long story short it definitely has potential and was one of my best performing decks at the Prelims.
Zoo, Renolock, Tempo Mage, Dragon Warrior, Token Druid
Matchups I'm unsure about (all are between 40 and 60% win rate)
Freeze Mage, Shaman
Any control deck
If there are any questions about particular cards in the deck feel free to ask me them in my stream
So at this point in my testing I've concluded that every other card in Karazhan is subpar and thus the meta will probably remain the same and everyone will be bringing almost the same exact decks (Dragon Warrior/ Cycle Cthun, Token Druid, Aggro Shaymin, Zoo, or Freeze Mage). .
Deck Strategies and Topping Prelims
So at this point I have a few options when it comes to what decks I can bring. I could just bring Dragon Warrior, Druid, Freeze and Shaman. The problem with bringing this lineup is basically everyone else has this lineup too, so that means I'm basically going to be 50/50’ing every match, and if you 50/50 every match you're pretty unlikely to go 6-0 (not to mention you're probably screwed if you end up losing before like round 5 since you're just 50.50’ing every matchup).
So we’ve just established that bringing the 4 most popular decks is wrong.
An alternative to bringing the 4 most popular decks seems pretty simple right? You just bring 4 decks that counter the most popular decks, now most people think that the counters to these decks are control style decks such as Paladin, BogChamp Shaman (Ancestral Spirit Shaman whatever you wanna call it), etc. Now in theory these decks will probably do well vs the decks you wanna beat, however control decks in Hearthstone have a huge problem that almost every player overlooks; they don't do what they're supposed to do consistently enough.
Let me elaborate a bit. So in my mind an ideal game of Hearthstone is one where both decks do what they're supposed to do. So every deck in Hearthstone has a certain goal in mind, for example Zoo tries to control the board and make efficient trades then overwhelm you because it draws 2 cards a turn, now let's ask ourselves how consistently does Zoo do that? Pretty consistently right. Aggro Shaman tries to play for board early on then after getting in enough repetitive damage early they play cards like Doomhammer and Lava Burst and just kill you. How consistently does Aggro Shaman do that? Pretty consistently.
Now let's look at how control decks try to function against these decks. Decks like Murloc Paladin try to stall the game until they can OTK you with Anyfin Can Happen, now the way they do this is by playing a bunch of cards that heal themselves and playing the card Equality with something else, the biggest problem with this deck is that it's trying to do too much at once, it's trying to heal, it's trying to wipe the board, then it's also trying to draw a good amount of cards. The biggest problem I have with the deck however is that it can only really play 2 Equalitys which lowers its consistency vs Aggro decks, so I guess the question becomes can decks like Paladin do what it's supposed to do more than aggressive decks can? The answer I came up with after looking at the current lists of these decks is no it cannot. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying Paladin and decks like it will never do what they're supposed to do, I'm just saying I don't think they can do it consistently enough over the course of the whole tournament.
An argument for bringing Paladin and other control decks is that they're very powerful, what they give up in consistency they make up for in power level. However you need to keep in mind if you lose early on you will have to play a lot more matches because it's a double elimination bracket, so I believe you should be bringing consistent decks rather than powerful decks.
So I just confirmed that it probably wouldn't be a very good idea to bring control decks as a counter to the aggro decks, however I also confirmed I shouldn't bring the aggro decks themselves. So I decided I would bring aggro decks that beat Zoo, Shaman, and Token Druid because they just do what they're supposed to do better. The lineup I would end up bringing was on the ban Warrior plan (Unless I knew my opponent would think that then I may have banned something else but yeah not the point).
I brought Freeze mage (Very strong deck if played well, I definitely don't play it perfectly however I think I play it well enough that it's good to bring, but most importantly it does well vs zoo, Druid, contrary to popular belief it goes about 50/50 vs aggro shaman),
Dragon Warrior (don't think this needs any explanation, beats the other 3 decks)
Beast Druid (explained earlier)
And the last deck I brought was somewhat of *a mix between all 3 Shaman variants* at the moment. My buddy RobertM basically theory crafted this deck so major props to him. This deck I think had the highest win rate out of any of my Prelims decks. The basic idea of the deck is simple, in the early game you just play aggro Shaman, but you have Hexes for your opponents 7/7’s and Sea Giant, and you have double Lightning Storm for Zoo and Aggro Shaman. Then when the game state is simplified thanks to these cards you drop Earth Elemental and you just win because they won't be able to out it. Druid has a hard time dealing with big minions so Earth Elemental is really good vs them, Storm is good vs Teacher, and Hex is good vs Druid as well. So the deck was very well made in my opinion.
Just like with the Druid deck if there are any questions about particular cards in the deck or just general questions feel free to ask me them in my stream.
Post Tournament Thoughts
I would end up winning more matches than anybody else in the tournament so I'm pretty sure that deck wise I brought the best lineup. Like I said earlier having consistent decks is extremely important because even if you take an early loss your decks still do what they're supposed to do more often than control decks, and just do what they're trying to do better than other aggro decks.
Was a bit unfortunate that my last opponent was the only one left who had an all control lineup and I had to play him of all people but that's how the game works sometimes!
"Theory > everything." - Johnny Li and he couldn't be more right!
I do have a stream schedule on Twitch so if you guys want to ask me any questions, watch me go for Rank 1 legend, or just want to watch me lose some coin flips, you're more than welcome there! www.twitch.tv/rostyhs
I'll usually stream at around 3 pm PST time (6 pm Est).
I do have a Twitter, so you guys can follow me on there! RostyHS
You can contact me on Twitter, through Twitch, or you can add me on Hearthstone: Rosty#11756
Thanks for reading! Now to hopefully get an invite to another tournament and do well there!