Announcement! First of all, thank you guys for sticking with me and reading my articles. I wanted to drop the series after a couple of episodes if it turned out to be not popular (there is no point in writing when no one is reading, right?), but thankfully I get a lot of readers every week. It's the 10th episode already, so it's kinda like a first milestone. I'll try to keep the series up as long as I can.
As you've probably noticed, the name has changed. I've got some complaints about the series being named "TOP" Legend decks, where in reality I wasn't reviewing the "best" decks all the time. It was a slight misunderstanding, because I've never meant "best" when saying "top" - for me "top" could be also "most interesting" or "most innovative". But since some readers disagreed, I've changed the name - thanks for the /u/powelb from /r/CompetitiveHS for the idea! The name is different, but the content stays the same, so you don't have to worry :)
Welcome back for the 10th episode of Weekly Legend Deck Review! Click here if you want to check out the previous episodes.
The point of this series is to analyze the competitive Hearthstone decks both from the community (you!) and pro players. While all the decks are Legend-worthy, I don't necessarily pick the BEST ones each week, but rather the most interesting ones. It means that a lot of my choices won't be your standard meta decks.
Even though it's called "weekly" series, the intervals between episodes might be slightly longer during the holidays or when there will be no new, fun decks worth writing about. After all, if the meta hasn't changed, there is no point in writing about the same stuff over and over again.
At first I was wondering - why is the deck named Omelettadin? Then I've remembered.. you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Eggs. Nerubian Eggs. Okay, I'm probably really slow, but I've realized that only after playing like 10 or 15 games with this deck.
But to the deck itself. Another strong Paladin list, who would have guesses. But have no fear, it's not another "cancer" deck, it's actually pretty fun to play and it's not broken as in dropping a minion that draws and instantly plays 5 cards (yes, I'm talking about you, Mysterious Challenger). If I had to classify the deck, it's a Midrange deck with a very heavy Zoo feeling to it. The deck doesn't win by rushing the enemy down - while it happens that you might get the perfect curve and kill enemy by turn 5-6 (just like with the Zoo), you want to control the board.
The deck runs a lot of tools that help you with trading. Buffs like Seal of Champions and Blessing of Kings allow you to kill something and still have a minion on the board. You can also get free trades by abusing the Aldor Peacekeeper's and Keeper of Uldaman's effects. Sylvanas Windrunner is also a board-based minion that helps you steal opponent's stuff. It's really good in this deck, because of how many Silence target it runs. Small minions like Shielded Minibot or Mad Scientist (they might eat Silence in the early game), spawning-stuff-on-Deathrattle minions like Nerubian Egg or Sludge Belcher, buffed minions (even Avenge often gets Silenced off), ending with Sylvanas and Tirion Fordring. It is very, very unlikely that if enemy has a Silence, he's going to keep it for your Tirion. So those big threats gain even more value in this deck.
An interesting choice is Mad Scientist. I haven't seen it in the Paladin in a long time. If you're not running many Secrets, it's not as strong as in the Hunter/Mage, because he doesn't gain as much early game tempo. And if you're running many Secrets, it's better to play Mysterious Challenger. But this decks runs only Avenge, which is arguably the best Paladin's Secret and also the one fitting this deck most. Buff helps with the trades and it might also activate the Egg. It's almost good enough to run it by itself, so getting it from Scientist is actually decent. And the thing is, even playing a turn 1 Avenge is okay. So the Secret alone is pretty good in the early game, and by the late game you might not even have to play the second copy, because you'll get it from Scientist.
The deck is also quite heavy on the late game, with three different big threats. Sylvanas Windrunner is great in slower matchups, while Dr. Boom and Tirion Fordring are just Dr. 7 and 8, one of the best Legendaries in the game, so you know - no reason to not include them.
I'm a big fan of the deck. I enjoy playing Zoo-esque decks and this is one of them. So if you like this kind of lists, check this one out. I've heard some players are grinding quite high Legend ranks with this list, so that might be another reason to test it!
- Mulligan away the Avenge, because you really prefer to not draw both copies before you get your Mad Scientist. If you do, Scientists become a vanilla 2/2's for 2, so really bad. You obviously mulligan hard for the early game drops, especially Zombie Chow, Shielded Minibot, Mad Scientist and Muster for Battle. That's probably the best 1-2-3 curve. Knife Juggler is also a good keep, especially if you have a Muster follow-up, but he might die too easily. Aldor Peacekeeper is a good keep in matchups that fight hard for the board control with minions - so against other Zoo-like decks, against Druid or slow Warlock lists. It's bad against decks that don't run high attack early game minions and/or fight for the early game board with weapons and spells, like Control Warrior or Freeze Mage. Seal of Champions is also not a good keep, maybe with a 1-drop and a 2-drop, because if you can't guarantee the early game curve, you might have no target to play it on.
- You don't really want to keep the Nerubian Egg in your starting hand. Maybe if you have the Coin and Keeper of Uldaman. Without any guaranteed activation, it's a tempo loss and you can't afford that. Not to mention that Egg getting Silenced right away is even bigger tempo loss.
- Don't put all your eggs into one basket. This deck is heavy on buffs, but you don't want to play them all on a single target. Let's say using Keeper of Uldaman on the 1/1 and then buffing it with Blessing of Kings is really dangerous - silencing the 7/7 means that you're left with a 1/1 once again. If you buff the Nerubian Egg, try to pop it right away unless you're sure enemy has no Silence (like he already used it or his deck doesn't run it).
- Eggs and Divine Shields are a good way to play around AoE. If you suspect that enemy is holding one - try to not pop your Shields or Eggs. Your trades might be worse, but you protect your board this way. With Minibot and the Egg on the board, if both are kept intact, even if enemy clears your board with AoE, you're still left with a 4/4 + 2/2, so the initiative is probably on your side. If you pop the Egg and Shield, but keep your other minions alive instead - after AoE you're left with nothing.
- Ironbeak Owl - Silence is good, that's just it. There are A LOT of Silence targets running wild on the ladder right now, at least until the Standard hits and all the sticky Deathrattle minions go away. Right now? I try to play Silence in every deck, especially those that have the potential to go for aggressive game - and this is one of them.
- Coghammer - First weapon I was really missing from that list. It REALLY fits the Zoo-like play style, Divine Shield often gives you a free trade, it's good if you run so many buffs and the 2/3 weapon is also decent - either for the board control for damage pushing.
- Truesilver Champion - And the second weapon I'm missing. One copy of either of them really wouldn't hurt. Truesilver is a very strong card, because it gets you the mid game tempo. If you can clear a minion with the first hit, that's great, it's already 1 for 1. And then you have the second hit ready AND you play something next turn, usually putting you ahead on the board. Plus it would be the only source of healing in the deck, and as we all know even the 4 points of healing might save your life.
Kharan's Control Hunter
Playing the deck was one of the best experiences I had with the Hunter class. Going full face once in a while isn't bad, I enjoy some smashing, but it gets boring really fast. This, however, is really fun. I'll be honest, I needed to play A LOT of games to start winning more than losing. This is not an easy to play deck that you can just jump on and hit Legend in no time. The author constantly scores pretty high on the ladder. And I've actually faced him once or twice if I recall correctly. Or at least a guy having similar name playing the Reno Hunter deck, but I guess there aren't too many of them on the ladder.
So, the deck. Not only it's a Control Hunter, it's a Reno Control Hunter. Hunter as a class actually has quite a lot of tools to play the Control game, especially a lot of strong removals. The problem was always the Hero Power - Steady Shot isn't a good Control Hero Power. Dealing 2 damage to opponent is good when playing Aggro, but not when you win by controlling the board. That's why Sir Finley Mrrgglton is the first and actually one of the most important cards in the deck. You might choose the Hero Power that gains you card draw or affects the board state in slow matchups (Warlock's and Mage's/Druid's are strongest here, Priest being the close third place) or one that affects your own health in Aggro matchups (Priest/Warrior are best here - you just play to survive).
The deck runs A LOT of removal. Weapons - Glaivezooka and Eaglehorn Bow are good for clearing small minions and a very strong tempo tools. Then we have Hunter's Mark, Quick Shot, Deadly Shot and Kill Command as the single target removals and Explosive Trap, Powershot and Explosive Shot as the AoE. With so many removals, it's quite obvious that this is what you'll be doing for a big part of the game. Removing opponent's minions. The deck is really slow and rarely gets the tempo, so it needs to catch up with all the spells. But since it's a Reno deck, I won't go through all the card choices - I'll just explain the more interesting ones.
I'll start with Explorer's Hat, because that's seemingly the weirdest card in the whole deck. It's incredibly slow, but it has potential to have a lot, a lot of value. If not Silenced off, it lasts forever. While it's hard to use it in the early game, in the late game you actually might float a lot of mana. It means that pretty much for the rest of the game one of your minions on the board has +1/+1 all the time. And it's also dynamic - when one dies, you might instantly buff another one. So if you (for example) have two 1/1's on the board and enemy plays a 4/4 minion, you might kill it by playing Hat twice. The card has extra synergy with Wild Pyromancer (while I'm at Wild Pyromancer, he's mostly used for the Pyro + Hunter's Mark combo) and Acolyte of Pain (more health = more draws). It's nearly useless in the fast matchups, but actually great in certain slow matchups.
Next interesting card is Bloodmage Thalnos. I guess it's not that weird to see him in a deck running so many spells, but if someone still doesn't see a reason - spell damage scales really nicely with a) cheap removals b) AoE spells. And this deck has both of them. Having 3 damage Powershot or 6 + 2x 3 damage Explosive Shot might make a big difference later in the game. If you play him alongside Explosive Trap, enemy can't ignore it if he doesn't want to play into 3 damage AoE. And in the end, it cycles itself.
King's Elekk is really strong in this list, because half of your minions are 5+ mana. You have a quite high chance to draw off it, and 3/2 for 2 that's a Beast AND draws you a card is insanely good. Jeweled Scarab is also surprisingly strong in slow Hunter list. Every 3 mana Hunter's spell is good. You might get another Animal Companion/Deadly Shot/Kill Command/Powershot or pick the Unleash the Hounds if situation requires it. Minions are slightly weaker, Dreadscale is probably the only notable one. It's still a nice thing to drop on turn 2 to guarantee the curve + it has a late game scaling, because the spells I've talked about are pretty strong even in the late game.
Dreadscale and Baron Geddon are very similar and both got into the deck. They're removals disguised as minions. Depending on your needs, you can have 1 or 2 damage AoE every turn until enemy kills it. So well, another two AoE removals to the list. They aren't good to play on the empty board, because they're very easy to remove because of aggressive statting (high attack, low health).
Oh, and the Elise Starseeker. Obviously useless in fast matchups, but in slow ones - well, it's a whole different story. You play a game against Control Priest or Warrior? It's bound to go to the fatigue? Sure, then just don't play your small stuff and card draw. Don't play Tracking, Explosive Trap, Bloodmage Thalnos etc. and turn them into random Legendaries. Without Elise, your changes in very slow matchups are pretty slim. But if you run Elise and they don't - well, they better kill you fast.
Not much more to talk about - you really need to test the deck yourself if you want to see if it works. But I warn you, it might not work at the start. Like I've said at the beginning, it took me quite a lot of games to even start winning. The author is ranking high with it, because he plays similar Control styled Hunter deck to Legend every month. Huge experience means being good at the deck means winning more. But I recommend the deck to people that like the Hunter but hate the fast play style. There are sure some players like that, right?
- Remove opponent's board. That's what you'll be doing for like first 4-5 turns a lot of time. In fast matchup, it's really important that enemy won't stick a few minions. Even though you play the Reno deck, Reno Jackson is actually the only healing card in the deck. The deck also runs almost no Taunts, so every point of face damage you take might be a matter of life and death. And since you have SO MANY removals, don't spare them. In fast matchups you should outvalue the enemy easily anyway, so as long as you don't die you win.
- In slower matchups, however, you might take the proactive stance. Playing your own stuff, getting onto the board. If you hit the right curve you might actually kill the enemy in Midrange Hunter style. With a smooth 1-7 curve, your Hero Power and some more burn it's possible to kill the enemy. It might also make the enemy desperate and use the premium removals on smaller stuff. I've seen Control Warriors using Execute/Shield Slam on my small drops, which lead to my victory after they had no way to answer Ysera. But if you're in no position to do that, go for the long route. Pick the value trades, don't lose card advantage to gain the tempo etc. If the game is going to be long, getting enemy down to 10 or something won't likely matter. Most of the slow decks have a way to regain the lost health back.
- If you go for the long game in Control matchups, you also have two options. First one is to draw as much as you can and even use Tracking to find the Elise Starseeker - this way you can get out the Monkey fast and you might win thanks to the ~10 Legends you'll be left with, depending on their quality. The second one is slow-slow option. Then you don't want to use any of your card draws. You don't even drop the Acolyte of Pain or use Tracking. You wait patiently until you draw the Monkey and turn all of those into Legendaries. Both tactics have their pros and cons, it obviously depends on the exact matchup and situation, but you should at least consider those.
- In faster matchups you might want to keep the Wild Pyromancer to combo him with some spells. For example, turn 4 Wild Pyro + Quick Shot is basically a Swipe (and a 3/1 on the board too). Pyro + Hunter's Mark instantly kills one minion and deals 1 damage to everything else. Even the turn 3 Pyro + Tracking is a solid way to fight against very fast Aggro openers. Doing the Pyro combos when having Acolyte of Pain on the board might also yield you extra value - card draw.
- Be greedy with your Reno Jackson. It's the only source of healing in the deck, so keep it until you really have to use it. Dropping it to heal for "just" 10 is not good enough. While it might be risky, in Aggro matchups you really want to go for the 20+ damage heal. In Control matchups you don't care about healing that much and you might go for the tempo Reno to get a 4/6 body out. Only against decks that run Alexstrasza I'd usually keep it until Alex is dropped to heal for 15.
- You won't realistically get a card draw from the Quick Shot, so NEVER try to keep it until you run out of cards. It happens really rarely - maybe 1 in 15 games I got to draw out of Quick Shot. You basically treat it like a Darkbomb - 3 damage for 2 mana. Not using it because "you MIGHT draw a card later" is just wrong.
- Even though the deck runs a trap, it runs no Mad Scientist. It's not really worth to run it when you have only a single Secret, because you'll end up drawing it before Scientist too often. If you want to run the Scientist (which is obviously a very strong card), you should consider adding more Secrets. Freezing Trap, which is probably the strongest one, isn't that good, because it gains you the tempo, but no value. In slower matchups you won't win off the tempo from Freezing, because your deck isn't aggressive enough. And in faster matchups, opponents often have a good way to pop it with some 1/1. Snake Trap and Bear Trap are both okay options, with Bear Trap probably being better. The reason is that the deck is really slow, so the opponent is very likely to ignore your minions and go face. Snipe and Misdirection are also okay choices, mainly as a surprise, but both of them might actually affect the board.
- Savannah Highmane - I play Highmane over the Emperor Thaurissan. I just don't really get what Thaurissan is accomplishing in this deck and Highmane is too strong to pass. Turn 6 Highmane is an incredibly strong play, because enemy can't leave it alone (6 damage per turn is very hard to swallow), but he often can't kill it, because it's going to spawn two 2/2's anyway. Hard to deal with without Silence AND a removal.
- Unleash the Hounds - Even though the deck runs no Knife Juggler (for the insane synergy), I still find Unleash the Hounds a great card. While it might be used "just" as the 1 damage AoE, like a Dreadscale, summoning 1/1's is much stronger. The Hounds have synergy with Glaivezooka and Kill Command, they get stronger if you roll Leokk from the Animal Companion, they also might be used to actually push for the face damage. The deck runs a lot of AoE already, so using UTH on top of them would be bad, but subbing one of them for Hounds seems fine.
- Flare - If you face decks running Secrets, why not? Reno decks can afford to run some situational cards. The card might be really strong. Getting rid of Paladin's christmas tree (Mysterious Challenger spawning 5 Secrets) is a great feeling and a lot of value. Against Freeze mage, you can surprise them with unexpected lethal after you clear the Ice Block. But even another Secrets like Mirror Entity or Freezing Trap might give you a headache if you have no good way to proc them - Flare is a GREAT way to do that. And in other matchups you cycle it for 2 mana. It's obviously not good, tempo loss etc. but it might still be worth depending on your matchup statistics.
Cursed’s Reno Paladin
Second Reno deck from today's list. And slightly more standard, although not a common meta deck. Most of the Reno Paladin decks I've seen up to date were more Control lists, not Midrange. This is Midrange. Why play Reno Midrange Paladin? Because of the deck's game plan. Paladin's Hero Power is very good in the long, grindy games. When you play it against let's say Priest or Warrior, you're going to outvalue their Hero Power very fast - you have infinite source of threats, they can just heal themselves if you control the board. With such a deck, it's very easy to re-flood the board after the removal. Even something like a Murloc Knight + Hero Power on an empty board already requires an answer, because it can get out of control. Even just having 3-4 Silver Hand Recruits on the board requires an answer, because they might get Quartermastered for a lot of value.
The problem with Midrange Paladin wasn't losing in long matchups. You lost most of the games by enemy simply killing you before you could outvalue them. Losing the board tempo with this kind of Paladin often means losing the game. But, Reno Jackson allows to win the games that you shouldn't have won. It's a very strong card, especially against Aggro decks. Healing for 20+ with Reno usually means game over. It also gives you a chance in Freeze Mage matchup, because without Reno you usually can't outheal all the burn they have. And in the slower matchups, well, you're pretty much bound to take some damage when you hit with your weapons. So Reno is usually a 4/6 for 6 with like 10 points of healing. It might also give you edge if you're going into the fatigue game against let's say Priest. Buying you 3 or 4 turns into the fatigue is a really big deal.
One thing that really strikes is... running duplicate cards in Reno deck. Why? There are a few reasons, actually. First of all - both of those cards are really high quality and they are THE CARDS that let Paladin control the board so well in the early game. So you want to have as high chance to draw them as you can. This means that you mulligan hard for them, so you actually have a pretty high chance to get them in the early game. Like, how often does enemy Paladin you play against open with Minibot and Muster? Quite often I'd say. If you ran only 1 copy of each, those openings would be much more rare. The cards are just too high quality to pass running two copies. Can they ruin your Reno turn? Yes, they can. There is obviously a chance that you don't draw them before you want to play Reno. It especially hurts in Aggro matchups, where you often just NEED to play turn 6 Reno.
The good thing about the deck, however, is that it doesn't go all-in into Reno as the survival tool. It runs a lot of other survival tools - two healing cards (Antique Healbot and Lay on Hands) and 4 Taunts/Taunt givers - Coghammer, Defender of Argus, Sludge Belcher, Tirion Fordring. So even in case of Reno being not active or not drawing Reno at all, all those cards might still win you the Aggro matchup.
Most of the cards are standard Paladin cards. I've seen most of them played in Midrange Paladin decks already. The only one that seems really out of place is Avenging Wrath. It might be used as the second Equality activator later in the game and that's probably the only reason I see of running it. 8 random damage for 6 mana is quite a lot, it's good if enemy has a lot of low health minions on the board, but if you play against Aggro that has a lot of small minions on the board on turn 6, you're probably dead anyway. And if you play against slow decks, they won't likely have a lot of small minions. If you play it against two mid range minions (e.g. 4/6 and 5/5) Avenging Wrath is very likely to do... nothing. Well, it might be used as some kind of reach if enemy has empty board - with Truesilver Champion you can do 12 surprise damage from your hand, which is quite a lot for Paladin, but I still don't really like it.
Midrange Paladin is one of my favorite decks and I really enjoyed playing the Reno version too. It's really hard to tell if it's better or worse than the standard Midrange list - I found Reno effect really strong in certain matchups that were previously very hard, but on the other hand, running only a single copy of some cards like Aldor Peacekeeper, Consecration or Keeper of Uldaman means that your board control "from hand" becomes much less consistent and you mostly rely on what you already have on the board to deal with opponent's minions. Making this list probably worse in matchups that require you to clear a lot of big minions through the whole game, like against Handlock. All in all, I guess it depends on the meta, but both versions work fine.
- Don't lose the board. This deck is pretty low on the removals from the hand, meaning that if you don't have minions on the board it might be actually very hard to remove high priority targets. For example, if enemy plays Emperor Thaurissan on an empty board, you might just have to leave it be, because it's incredibly hard to kill it. So don't play into obvious AoE clears and try to keep your minions healthy. Sometimes it's better to run the two 1/1's in instead of popping the Minibot's Divine Shield for example - this way you aren't left with nothing even after the AoE clear.
- You want to recognize tempo-oriented vs value-oriented matchups. In the early game you pretty much always play for the tempo. Try to play on the curve, play the cards instead of Hero Powering. Paladin's Hero Power is too slow in a lot of games. In the faster matchups, where you REALLY need to be on the board all the time and can't afford to take it slow, like Midrange Druid, Zoo Warlock, Aggro decks etc. you still want to do high tempo plays in the mid game. In the slower matchups, however, you want to start utilizing your Hero Power. It's slow, but in the long run it gives you board advantage withotu using any cards at all. You want to press it every turn you can, so let's say a turn 5 might not be a 5-drop - it might be your Hero Power + a 3-drop. Then turn 6 might be 4-drop + Hero Power. This way you squeeze the most value out of your turns, which will be relevant in the long run.
- Don't use your Consecration unless it's really good, because that's the ONLY AoE spell in your deck. With two copies you often end up using it on a single minion or pretty small boards in general. But here Consecration is pretty much your only guaranteed Equality activator - that's the deck's only "emergency button" that resets the board if you start losing. Avenging Wrath is the second one, but in case enemy has the full board it might actually not clear everything. I had a few situations where Equality + Avenging Wrath left enemy with 1 or 2 minions, which might be the difference between life and death.
- Murloc Knight is not a 4-drop most of the time. If you already have board tempo and enemy won't likely have a way to kill it, you might drop it on turn 4. But you usually want to Hero Power the same turn you drop it - this way you guarantee at least some value and produce a pretty nice board swing. Since it's a high value target, you also don't really want enemy to kill it just on the board. Dropping Murloc Knight into their 5/5 is good only if you really have nothing else to do, it's a desperate move. You prefer to drop it when enemy has no way to kill it on the board. Murloc Knight sticking to the board for a few turns produces A LOT of value, I actually had some early concedes after enemy couldn't answer Murloc Knight 2 turns in a row.
- Since you're running only a single Quartermaster, you want to be pretty greedy with it. While it's okay to throw it on 1 or 2 minions in fast matchups (especially if you get some good trades right away), in slower matchups you are in no hurry. Enemy will try to deal with all your 1/1's, but he won't have a way to do that at some point. Then you drop Quartermaster on 3+ Recruits. What is important is that you want to cash in Quartermaster value instantly in case of board clears. Yes, you can spawn five 3/3's, but they are no better than 1/1's if enemy has Hellfire for example. So drop Quartermaster when you hit 3+ targets AND you get some instant trades. This way, even in case of AoE you already got value out of your card and you don't mind getting 1 or 2 3/3's killed as much as 4 or 5.
- Consider using Lay on Hands on your minions instead of your Hero, especially if you already have the active Reno Jackson in your hand. In the matchups where healing isn't really necessary, I sometimes prefer to heal my minion for 1-2 health than myself for 8. Reno will heal me to 30 anyway and the few additional health on the minion might matter - e.g. give you a better trade.
- Justicar Trueheart - I'm a big fan of Justicar in Paladin (well, actually big fan of Justicar in general) and I can't see playing Midrange Paladin without it. It's a value factory. In slower matchups you want to press the Hero Power as often as you can anyway. With Justicar, your Hero Power becomes twice as good. Knife Juggler synergy, Quartermaster synergy, Defender of Argus synergy (you are guaranteed to have two targets to buff even if you topdeck it with nothing else on the board). with 2x 1/1 per turn I actually find the Control Priest matchup much easier too - if you can flood the board every second turn, they are going to run out of ways to clear it sooner or later. I also love it against slower Warlock lists, because you can often bait the AoE with just 4 or 5 1/1's on the board - they're too afraid of potential Quartermaster burst lethal that they need to clear your 1/1's constantly.
- Tuskarr Jouster - Even though the card doesn't fit the Midrange Paladin that much, because of the relatively low curve, it still might be decent. The reason is that you run Reno. So even if the healing fails, you are still pretty likely to have another out (healing yourself to full). The 5/5 body is much better than 3/3 from Healbot, so that's a reason to run it if you play in a lot of slower matchups. Also, in fast matchups the chance to get healed is much higher. It's still probably like 60%, so far away from guaranteed, but pretty good.
Fibonacci’s Malygos Freeze Mage
Very interesting take on Freeze Mage. Even though most cards are the same as in the standard list (it just runs different sources of card draw), the win condition is SO DIFFERENT. It relies more on the "OTK" than the "I get enough burn and kill enemy over few turns".
The first and biggest difference is running Malygos instead of the Archmage Antonidas. It seems really weird, right? Running Freeze Mage without Antonidas. But actually both of them are very similar. They both generate additional burn. Antonidas gets you Fireballs and Malygos boosts your spells a lot. What's the difference when running one over the other? Antonidas can get you more potential damage over the long run. If you get 5 Fireballs, that's 30 points of damage. But you can't use it instantly - you have to play them over 3 next turns. So by the time you kill the enemy, he might have time to heal (e.g. Reno Jackson can ruin everything), he might play Brann + Loatheb to buy a turn and he well, might actually kill you. If he has strong board and you can't afford to get your Ice Block popped, you might have to freeze/clear the board on top of burning the enemy... More damage potential, but also harder to pull off.
Malygos, on the other hand, gets the things done really quickly. You just need to have proper cards, Emperor Thaurissan discount and bam, you drop all of them, burn opponent's face and win the game. The hard part? You actually need to have the specific cards AND you can't afford to use Frostbolts and Ice Lances earlier to clear the board if you want to get the OTK. And what's exactly the OTK here? Malygos + 2x Frostbolt + 2x Ice Lance is 34 damage. So it basically kills anything besides the Warrior.
Obviously, with Alex you don't need the whole combo to kill the enemy. For example, Malygos + Frostbolt + Ice Lance is enough after you bring enemy down to 15. Still, the possibility to do the OTK is great in a lot of matchups. One of the biggest advantages of this list over the standard one are Reno matchups. Reno is the one matchup where you need burst - you can't just slowly burn enemy down, because he can get back to 30 whenever he wants to. They can't, however, play around the OTK. They can stall it for one turn with Loatheb, but that's pretty much it.
Control Warrior is still a terrible matchup. I'd actually say that it's even harder than with the standard one. Insane Antonidas value is usually the only way to win against Control Warrior. This deck, however, has only about 55 points of burn in total (15 from Alex, 6 from Fireball and 34 from Malygos combo). That's not enough to kill the Warrior - unless he runs a really weird list without Armor gain or all his Armor gain cards are on the bottom of the deck. You can still play through this matchup, but the chances to win are probably lower than 10%.
Two interesting things - first is running Novice Engineers over Loot Hoarders. They are worse in the early game, because 2/1 contests the board better. But they are probably better later in the game, where the bodies from Freeze Mage don't really matter, but the instant card draw is great, because whatever you draw might be instantly played. Like, if you're fishing for Frost Nova, you don't have to ping your own Loot Hoarder to do that.
And the second interesting choice is actually Coldlight Oracle. It's played instead of the Acolyte of Pain. I've seen some Freeze Mage lists running it, but that was really, really long time ago. What's the point of this card? To cycle through your deck much faster. You are rarely winning games by outvaluing the enemy. The card advantage pretty much means nothing. It might be bad in standard Freeze Mage list, because it brings enemy closer to their healing and other answers (like a way to kill Antonidas). It's not a problem with this deck, however, because you don't have Antonidas anyway and healing doesn't matter if you're going for the Malygos combo. The only really bad cards you can get enemy to are Kezan Mystic and Loatheb. Yes, you might help them curve out, you might get them the cards they need to play stuff on the board, but at the same time you're getting yourself more answers and more ways to stall the game. So what if enemy floods the whole board if you then play Doomsayer + Frost Nova or something. And why play it over the Acolyte of Pain? Because it's also much faster. It gets you the cards instantly. If you play Acolyte early, it often just cycles itself. To guarantee more than 1 draw you need to play it and ping it, but that's very slow. Oh, and unlike Acolyte, Coldlight can't be Silenced. So I guess this decks prefer faster draw mechanics that are better in the late game, not the slower ones that are better in the early game.
Oh, and yet another curious thing is double Antique Healbot. I guess since you really need to survive until you pretty much draw your whole deck, having two Healbots might be helpful.
I'm not a Freeze Mage expert, but I had quite a good score with the deck. It's pretty similar in the standard list in the final effect, but a) better if you face a lot of Reno decks and b) Malygos OTK might be a big surprise factor - people rarely are playing around that.
- In the matchups where you need the whole combo, so let's say against the Priest or Reno decks, don't use your Frostbolts and Ice Lances until you drop Malygos. Even one Frostbolt used might mean that you won't have enough burn if they heal up after the Alex.
- Once again, in those matchups - don't drop Emperor Thaurissan until you have ALL the combo pieces in your hand already. You can't expect Emperor to survive more than one turn and without everything in your hand, you won't be able to perform the full combo. If you have a Coin you might drop it without a single combo piece (no matter which one).
- If you face Warrior, consider giving up right away. The matchup is pretty much unwinnable if enemy knows what to do and doesn't play really badly. It's your choice, but you might want to save yourself some time and trouble.
- Besides that, the general game plan is pretty much the same as in the standard Freeze Mage. So you should probably look up for one of the guides on the Freeze Mage, no need to repeat what's alredy been written so many times! :)
I won't even try to think of anything to not ruin the deck. If you want alternative version, try the standard Freeze Mage with Loot Hoarder, Acolyte of Pain and Archmage Antonidas.
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