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Articles

With great insight Team Metaminds delivers you unique, knowledgeable and amazing guides, decklists, discussion posts and more that you'll certainly determine to be helpful for your Hearthstone experience.

 

S26 Tier 1 Contenders: C'Thun Druid

Darius Matuschak

by Darius

C’Thun Druid, for better or for worse, became exactly the type of deck people expected it to become: Insanely straight forward to play, consistent performance against many decks, probably the best C’Thun archetype for most players right now - partly due to how cheap it is as well.

It’s biggest advantage for beginners and new players, the fact that it is super easy to pilot, since usually you just have to play a good minion on curve and trade efficiently, might also be its biggest downfall: People know what to expect when playing against it, and will probably keep their Shadow Word: Deaths in hand until turn 6. The deck is really strong by providing a consistent curve and high value minions, but it’s insanely easy to play against as well, something that especially competent players will abuse.

As much as C’Thun can be an amazing finisher, when it’s the last card in your deck, you’re quite out of luck. Luckily you win most of your games without him anyway, since the stats on most minions are just that good. I’d probably play a Dark Arakkoa even without the C’Thun buff, the buff itself really just is a nice bonus. And just look at Klaxxi Amber-Weaver’s face: He knows a 4 Mana 4/10 is absurd, and he loves it!


Time will tell whether C’Thun Druid might make its way into the Uberdeck tier, but as of now, it seems a bit unlikely. Players have figured out what gets played on what turn, there is little variety and room for tech. Maybe a list featuring Savage Roar, or one reminiscent of the good old ramp Druid, featuring Ancient of War, Fandral Staghelm and Cenarius? Personally, that’s what I’m hoping for, but the insane lack of removal besides Swipe and Wrath makes it hard for Druid to compete against sticky decks. In a Meta dominated by Zoos and Aggro decks however, this might be the MidRange deck to look out for.

 

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S26 Hidden Gems: Pirate Warrior

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

Yarr! Warrior’s resident Aggro deck, Pirate Warrior uses Warrior’s powerful weapons along with Pirate synergy to aggressively establish a board and burst the opponent down. With the addition of N’zoth’s First Mate along with the success of Sir Finley Mrrgglton, Pirate Warrior is a very real, and a very scary deck to face (pun intended). With Heroic Strike and Upgrade already turning your Fiery War Axe into a death clock, the aggressive use of Pirates only backs up your burst potential. A simple N’zoth’s First Mate -> Bloodsail Raider -> Bloodsail Cultist curve is already scary in tempo terms, the Coin opens a whole other avenue of aggression with Turn 1 Fiery War Axes, coining out a Upgrade!, or a Turn 2 Bloodsail Cultist, just to name a few.

Pirate Warrior has an interesting dynamic in regards to matchups, being able to allocate weapon charges to build tempo and keep initiative versus other Aggro decks, but can get completely blown out of the water when you have an awkward curve, or have no follow-up damage via board or Mrrgglton hero power to back up your cheap burst. Pirate Warrior, albeit strong, is hard to gauge in terms of meta strength due to being one of the most inconsistent Aggro decks a Hearthstone meta has seen (note: hard to compare Pirate Warrior to staple Aggro decks such as Murloc Warlock, Face Hunter, Aggrodin and Aggro Shaman, to be fair).

This isn’t to say Pirate Warrior is an inherently bad deck, but with not always having quality draws due to unmet Pirate conditions, having no solid draw other than rolling Life Tap from Sir Finley and having a fragile board with no refill mechanics, Pirate Warrior does  have inherent flaws that are hard to make-up. Is Pirate Warrior capable of seeing more play and becoming a Contender in the meta? Of course. The only issue with this idea is that Aggro Shaman outclasses Pirate Warrior in most cases on ladder. In a tournament setting, Pirate Warrior can dish out some serious damage to your opponent’s lineup, being able to farm Rogues, Druids and Mages alike, while being just fast enough to possibly outpace Aggro Shaman or be just a turn ahead of a ready-to-heal Reno Jackson. To summarize, will you dominate the ladder with this deck? Maybe. Will you see success in tournament play with Pirate Warrior? If you build your list and lineup right, then I bet you’ll be singing sea shanties as you plunder your opponents wins, and maybe some tournament booty along with it!

My friend Jalexander quickly clinched a Top 15 finish in S25 with this list, which I’ve played as well with relative success. Nostam’s Pirate Warrior list went undefeated during his run in the North American Spring Preliminaries.

 

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S26 Hidden Gems: C'Thun Rogue

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

Taking the Legend ladder by storm, streamer Ryzen played this homebrew to Rank 10 Legend. What makes this homebrew so notable? Before the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, there were two theorycrafts to keep in mind, one being control-style C’thun decks would dominate and the other being the strength of N’zoth Tempo Rogue. Ryzen and any other brewers found a best-of-both worlds situation, mixing Rogue’s strong tempo class cards and C’thun tribal synergy to rock the block with a corrupt cult, coins and of course, C’thun!

The deck plays similar to any Tempo deck, and knowing your tempo swings is key. Blade of C’thun and Sap are your biggest swing cards versus Midrange and Control, while your Disciples of C’thun and SI:7 Agents clean up boards while establishing your own versus Aggro.

The one weakness of this deck is it’s lack of healing, making it weak against Combo and Aggro decks alike. This weakness is only evident for less-experienced players, as playing around your board swings and thinking many turns in advance to properly set-up your own lethal or prevent your opponent’s is the key to properly execute this deck versus volatile Aggro decks and bursty Combo decks. This may seen as a core fundamental of Tempo decks (on par with playing to your opponent’s clears when versus Control) but is a tricky skill to master. You’ll see good results against Midrange and Control decks, especially Druids and Warriors and you may struggle against Shamans.

An unexpected point of interest, C’thun Rogue further makes us question which Old Gods serve as a supporting role or a core tenet of a list, and which of these categories have seen the most success.

 

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S26 Tier 1 Contenders: Miracle Rogue

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

Returning from it’s grave, Miracle Rogue once again shows its prowess in ladder and tournaments alike, with its ability to abuse Auctioneer and burst down an opponent quickly and efficiently. The list I’ve provided was run by my favorite European player, Stancifka, at the European Preliminaries.

Miracle Rogue is one of the most interesting Combo decks to look at and even write about due to it’s nuance in players’ card choices, exemplified by my good friend Spivey’s table on competitive Miracle Rogue decklists. Running only one Conceal in favor of another spell can completely change the dynamic of your Miracle Rogue list, eliminating an alternate win condition of concealing a bloated Edwin, for example.

Opting out of Xaril can possibly streamline your list a tad more, or can block you out of useful utility from two toxins. Albeit Xaril’s toxins being an uncontrollable RNG factor, all of the toxins have a use in Miracle Rogue either by furthering cycle chains, providing small removal with a Firebloom Toxin, or furthering your reach with a Bloodthistle and/or a Briarthorn Toxin in conjunction with your Leeroy Jenkins. Combo decks have the most sensitive lists, with a simple swap or cut can drastically change how your deck plays.

Metagame-wise, Miracle Rogue tends to suffer due to the double-edged sword that is cycle mechanics. Cycle begets cycle, and you can either draw and draw until the game is well over, or have abrupt cycle chains only to draw duds. This can make Miracle Rogue an unsavoury ladder deck, due to its natural inconsistency with its heavy reliance on the Auctioneer draw engine. Although the hit-or-miss tendency of cycle in Miracle Rogue, Miracle Rogue’s weak matchups are fairly scarce on ladder, being Control Warrior and N’zoth Paladin.

Although going even with most other decks, Midrange Hunter and Tempo Warrior can be your bane, with both decks being able to apply heavy pressure and forcing a Sap on Turn 6 (Savannah Highmane and Cairne/Sylvanas respectively). Midrange Hunters can leave you on a clock, and Tempo Warriors can simply stack armor and Brawl out your board, which is not to say these matchups are unwinnable or even unfavored, but tricky to learn, deal with, and master.

Miracle Rogue has seen some interesting variants, with Malygos Rogue and N’zoth Miracle Rogue seeing success providing alternate win conditions to a Leeroy burst.

 

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S26 Hidden Gems: Malygos Reno Freeze Mage

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

An interesting take on the infamous combo deck known as Freeze Mage, MalyReno Freeze (we really need to start giving these decks catchier names) adds a second 9-mana dragon by the name of Malygos to enable an OTK win condition in the form of Malygos -> Frostbolt x2 -> Ice Lance x2 (Thaurissan required), while also having an alternate win condition in the form of Reno Jackson. It is important to note that although this Freeze Mage variant is designed for tournament play, not only due to its high skillcap, but having a Reno win condition against standard Freeze Mage and the Malygos win condition in the mirror and providing the OTK necessary to take down N’zoth Paladin or Tempo Warrior.

With the rotation of Antique Healbot and Mad Scientist, pulling a needed Ice Block or drawing into an extra 8 points of health isn’t an option for Freeze Mage anymore. Opening more room for tech, Reno variants of Malygos Freeze are able to run cards like Cone of Cold, Harrison Jones, Coldlight Oracle, and opt in for a Pyroblast even.

My friend Fibonacci was one of the few players to bring RenoMalyFreeze to the North American Spring Preliminaries a few weeks ago, sporting this list. Opting to run Harrison and Coldlight Oracle, Fibonacci targeted his weaker matchups he expected to see, namely Warrior, Aggro Shaman and Renolock. Another player, vcT, ran a more straight-forward list focusing more on an overall approach to matchups, swapping a Blizzard for a Pyroblast.

With solid foundations for tournament success, can Malygos and Reno Jackson successfully team up to take on the Hearthstone ladder? In theory, yes. If played well, your favourable matchups are N’zoth Paladin, Aggro Shaman, Miracle Rogue, Renolock and Beast Druid. While still suffering against Midrange decks and Warrior, they’re not 100% un-winnable. While Tempo Warrior, Midrange Hunter and Midrange Shaman are all oppressive forces on the ladder, forcing these opponents to exhaust their board refills (Varian Wrynn, Thunderbluff Valiant and Call of the Wild respectively) only to have them cleared away helps greatly. In conclusion, Freeze Mage isn’t in the greatest spot right now, but a couple of tweaks and some practice could turn it into a Contender yet again.

 

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S26 Tier 1 Contenders: Zoolock

Darius Matuschak

by Darius

Sometimes you’re wrong. It happens. Like when many professional players and analysts completely underestimated Dr. Booms impact on the Meta game, I was wrong when it came to my WoToG Zoolock predictions: As an avid Zoolock player before the expansion dropped, I was devastated when I found out that essential cards like Implosion, Voidcaller and Mal’Ganis (One of my favourite cards in existence) would be dropped from Standard play. I was so devastated, I considered the deck to be dead.

Dead I was. Dead wrong that is. Zoolock just barely missed out on making it into the Uberdecks list. Due to its very unfavourable matchup with Tempo Warrior, and its struggles against MidRange Hunter and Shaman, it only made the number one spot of the Tier 1 Contenders.

With great consistency, easily played gigantic minions in the form of Sea Giants and Darkshire Councilmen that put buff reliant-minions like Mana Wyrms and Tunnel Troggs to shame, Zoolock is currently the best Warlock option out there. Oh, and Forbidden Ritual + Knife Juggler probably is just as bad as Knife Juggler + Implosion, if not worse. It’s a nightmare to deal with, unless you’re playing with a Pyromancer or as an already mentioned Warrior.


All in all, Zoolock is just as strong as it was before the new expansion dropped: Despite losing a few very important cards, and Knife Juggler getting nerfed, it’s just as much a nuisance to clear those Imp Gang Bosses and Possessed Villagers.

 

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S26 Tier 1 Contenders: Patron Warrior

Darius Matuschak

by Darius

I hate Patron Warrior. I really do. I couldn’t stand it when it was the undisputed Tier 1 deck, and I still cant: The fact that I have to listen to “EVERYONE! GET IN HERE” about twenty times each time I queue into this deck is driving me mad.

I was hoping, with Death’s Bite being gone and all, that this deck would be dead for good. No Warsong Commander. No Death’s Bite. No Unstable Ghould to hide the emerging masses of Patrons behind. Surely this would be the nail in the coffin.

But no, Blizzard had to release Blood to Ichor and Ravaging Ghoul. They had to take Unstable Ghoul and improve it, by giving it a stronger body and the player the ability to trigger his 4th Whirlwind whenever /he/ wants to. Blood to Ichor, a 1 Mana Spell that summons a 2/2 /and/ enables more Patrons or at least the removal of any creature for /two/ Mana when played together with Execute.

Patron players don't even need to care for the loss of Sludge Belcher, as they now have Bloodhoof the Brave to viciously protect their Frothings and Patrons. Available tech choices come in form of Tentacles of N'Zoth and Malkorok. As of now, Tempo Warrior is the prevailing Warrior archetype, however with a shifting Metas I'm sadly certain we won't have seen the last of Patron Warrior.

 

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S26 Hidden Gems: Murloc Flood Paladin

Darius Matuschak

Due to Aggro Divine Shield Paladin being very popular on the ladder at the moment, players automatically seem to assume that they're facing this particular deck when in reality there's a fantastic Aggro Murloc Paladin deck hiding in the shadows!

Popularized by one of the best Hearthstone players in the game, TwoBiers, taking the game to from Legend Rank 3000 to 50 within a few hours, other streamers like Kripp quickly took liking to this hidden Gem. The deck works similarly to its Divine Shield counterpart, as it focuses on flooding the board with small minions, making them stick with buffs and going face.

The best tip I can give you for playing this deck is to, if you can, play the Steward of Darkshire before playing the Murloc Warleader. Playing them the other way around will cause all Murlocs, including the ones given to you by your Hero Power, to receive the Murloc Warleader buff, meaning they won't have 1 Health anymore and they won't receive the crucial Divine Shield.

 


Also, heavily consider when playing Murloc Warleader, as you dont want to see it removed by a Weapon charge. Try to set up a Taunt, preferably with divine shield, beforehand if possible.

In comparison to Divine Shield Aggro Paladin, its main differences are:

  • Better Flood potential
  • More consistent but also high risk buff potential, as Murloc Warleader is your main buff source and once it dies you might run into trouble
  • Bigger threats in the form of Sea Giants and Frostwolf Warlords
  • Much bigger potential to be wiped by board clears of any kind

However, in a Meta where Tempo Warriors and Wild Pyromancers are pretty damn dominant, it shows ist weaknesses: Whereas Divine Shield Aggro Paladin still has a chance to pull through an unfavourable matchup or two, the unfavourable matchups for Flood Murloc Paladin are pretty much unwinnable. Apart from this, I rate the deck higher than the similar Divine Shield Aggro Paladin, and depending on how the Meta shapes itself, it can definitely be a deck worth looking at to climb the ladder.

 

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S26 Tier 1 Contenders: Beast Druid

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

High-Legend-Beast-Druid-Guukboii.jpg

Employing a deadly mix of strong early game plays and bestial synergy, Beast Druid aims to quickly establish a board and push forward to a quick finish. Taken to Top 20 Legend, Guukboii of Sector One eSports has shown that this hard-hitting Druid can definitely hold it’s own on the ladder.

While not being a widely popular deck, it is hard to gauge from ladder presence alone whether this deck statistically stands up against the top echelons of the meta. Quickly able to establish a large, and potentially sticky board, Miracle Rogue naturally has a tough time against this deck, not always being able to line up all the removal or having no chance to safely set up an Auctioneer.

Whilst being able to go toe-to-toe with Aggro Shaman and Tempo Warrior due to being able to dictate the pace of your game yourself, N’zoth Paladin and Midrange Shaman have the clears and respective board presence to match and/or outlast the Beast Druid, leaving them forced to either overextend into a clear or simply run out of steam.


Guukboii’s list is a fast, savage list, which also means it can quickly run out of steam. Changes can be made to push the list into a more token-oriented or midrange-oriented direction.


While being relatively quiet on ladder, Beast Druid has the chops to be a top contender, but does require a skilled pilot to use to it’s maximum potential. Roar with caution.

 

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S26 Tier 1 Contenders: Control Warrior

Darius Matuschak

by Aidan

Axes, Bashes, Slams, and Blocks, Warrior has it all! Well, Control Warrior does, utilizing a variety of spells and Legendary minions to amass huge amounts of armor and keep the board clear of any threats. With widespread success of Chakki’s adapted Dreamhack list, Control Warrior isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Always fitting the role of an anti-meta deck, Control Warrior has seen its peaks and drops in the metagame, either around to quell Aggro, outrange Combo, or even both. 

With weapons, board clears, and hard removal, Control Warrior can almost always answer a threat (or three) and provide threats of their own, with impending game swings such as Justicar or Elise Starseeker, or immediate answers in the form of Baron Geddon’s AOE, or a single-target burst from Grommash Hellscream. 

In the current meta, Control Warrior shines against Miracle Rogue and Aggro Shaman, but has difficulty against N’zoth Paladin and Midrange Shaman due to their never-ending board presence. Control Warrior, due to the nature of the deck, will rarely see a spot, let alone hold a place in Tier 1. Although its reactive nature, Control Warrior has been around since the early days of Hearthstone, and is here to stay.

Seeing multiple variants, from Dragon to Fatigue, Control Warrior has never failed to been stylized with new expansions, with Whispers of the Old Gods seeing the inception of C’thun Warrior, piloted to Rank 1 Legend.

Welcome to the Grand Tourn- ResidentSleeper

 

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Why Aggro Isn't Going Anywhere

Darius Matuschak

by Darius

As new expansions are released, people consistently insist on the fact that the Meta is going to "slow down". That 10 Drops will be found in all sorts of decks, that Aggro will not stand a chance anymore. It's what people said after the reveal of TGT cards like Flash Heal, Power Word: Heal or even Bolf Rammshield. But time and time again, Aggro doesn't care. Aggro decks won't die off. They still consistently manage to hit the face. 

Admittedly, on paper Aggro might have a problem. Leper Gnome, Arcane Golem, Knife Juggler and Ironbeak Owl were all very important tools for all sorts of Aggro decks, and all of these cards got thrown under the Nerfhammer. Additionally, cards like Haunted Creeper, Mad Scientist, Shielded Minibot, Glaivezooka, Implosion and Nerubian Egg are leaving Standard rotation amongst others.  

So after hearing the compelling argument of many Aggro cards being nerfed or simply rotated out, you might even consider that Aggro was actually hit the hardest by the recent Nerf/rotation changes. That however isn't the case. In fact, the decks that got hit the most by the rotation changes were Heavy Control decks, such as Control Priest, Control Warrior or even Freeze Mage.  

Control Priest is one of my favourite decks to play right now, and I highly recommend playing this list by Kolento. But if you look at it closely you'll notice that a whopping eight (!) cards are leaving the deck, and it doesn't even run the popular Shrinkmeister duo. But not only is the sheer number concerning, but the importance of these cards themselves: Zombie Chow, Deathlord and Velen's Chosen are vital in order to stop anything Aggro-related bashing in your face. In fact against Aggro, these cards together with Wild Pyromancer are probably the most important tools Control Priest has in order to deal with Aggro at all. Yes, Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing is an amazing Turn 4 Board clear, but not only do you need to draw it until then, but if you can do nothing but Hero Power against an Aggro deck until Turn 4, you'll probably still end up losing even with a complete board wipe. Talking about board wipes, Lightbomb also leaves the rotation, which makes the Demon Zoo and Patron Warrior matchup so painfully unfair it's not even funny. And since you have no Velen's Chosen in order for your Holy Nova to do 3 damage, you really aren't in the best position. 

Now other Control and Midrange decks don't look in the best of shapes either: Rogue loses its old Blade Flurry, and even though the new one still works as a board clear, it's a lot harder to fence off early aggression due to the 4 Mana cost. Warrior loses Death's Bite, a vital card to keep charging minions at bay in particular due to its Deathrattle, Shieldmaiden and Unstable Ghoul will be gone as well. Druid's Keeper of the Grove was so heavily nerfed that I can't see it being played anymore, and Freeze Mage now needs to play Secrets from Hand, additionally to being unable to fish for specific Secrets by playing say an Ice Block and then kill off Mad Scientist in order to get that guaranteed Ice Barrier. With Sludge Belcher, Loatheb and Antique Healbot we lose essential Neutral cards that can buy important time against all sorts of Aggro decks.  

The biggest issue with all these changes, for Control players in particular, is that there are practically no replacements. Yes, Shaman gets a Legendary that can heal absurd amounts of health, and C'Thun Warriors will have a an upgraded Shieldmaiden by Turn 7, but there simply are no proper replacements for Zombie Chows, Sludge Belchers, Healbots and Deathlords.  

 

Aggro Decks however got new toys to play with: Face Hunter's get a 2/1 Beast with a Deathrattle that deals 1 random damage, which is fantastic value in addition to its ability to trigger Kill Command, a 3/1 Stealth Worgen for 2 Mana, which basically is a 2 Mana charge, in Aggro Paladin it might even do more due to potential buffs, and Aggro Shamans are having a field day with Flamewreathed Faceless not only being a 4 Mana 7/7 (!!) but potentially buffing their Tunnel Troggs too. 

Additionally, many of the "nerfed" Aggro cards were not heavily nerfed but rather tweaked: Leper Gnome turned from the best Neutral 1 Drop in the game into a reasonable Aggro card, and Knife Juggler will still be an absolute nuisance, that your opponent will abuse, but you'll get neverlucky with. Yes, Arcane Golem is basically on Warsong Commanders level of unplayability now, but you can just replace it with more Argent Horseriders/Wolfriders, Twisted Worgens or good old Leeroy.  

Lastly, we technically already have the number one killer of Aggro: Reno Jackson. You'd think in a format where he's decently popular people would completely stop running Aggro, since once he's healed you back to full health, there is practically no way for most Aggro decks to burst down another 30 damage, right? But nonetheless, people still run Face Hunter, still run Aggro Shaman, Aggro Druid, Aggro Paladin, you name it. Because as long as there are non-hard Control decks around that have a tough time against Aggro, Aggro will prevail. 

So don't rejoice too quickly when claiming that Aggro is dead, this time for sure. Because people like me have already been brewing Aggro decks that will be the next "cancer" infesting the ladder and giving you a hard time. To save us all some time, not playing matches that go for 20+ minutes, and, very simply, to win. In fact, have two suggestions for WoToG Aggro decks already: 

The 5 Most Breathtaking Artworks found in Hearthstone

Darius Matuschak

by Darius

Hearthstone is a fun and interactive card game, served with the occasional pinch of salt. But more often than not, we fail to take a step back and acknowledge the beauty of Hearthstone, its artworks in particular. Some of them are so amazing, that they clearly deserve more recognition on their own.

So I hereby present you the five most breathtaking artworks of Hearthstone!

Only one rule: No artist is featured twice! Meaning that even though some artists have put out several fantastic works for Hearthstone, we're only going to look at their best work.

5) Wilfred Fizzlebang

Artist: Tooth Wu, Website: https://qinghaowu.artstation.com/

Overall, the composition of this piece is very appealing. The fore- and background are clearly defined, there is no unnecessary detail, all the focus is placed on the two defining characters telling their own little story by themselves.

The details on the characters is nice, the overall artistic style fits the hybris of the little gnome perfectly, and Jaraxxus looming under the full moon is presented beautifully. The look in the eyes of Wilfred is particularly noteworthy: Seemingly satisfied he's simply not aware of what lurks behind him.

4) Shield Block 

 Artist: Michal Kormack, Website: http://komarckart.com/

Shield Block's artwork is quite the opposite of Wilfred Fizzlebang: An Action-shot focused on conveying the motion rather than the mimics. Despite the Dwarf showing lots of emotion, they're merely a tool to underline the severity of the situation - him being under heavy fire. The specific focus on the flying arrows frozen mid-air make this an absolutely stunning piece. 

The snowy mountain setting fits this perfectly: It's truly frozen in time.

3) Demonwrath

Artist: Raymond Swanland, Website: http://www.raymondswanland.com/

This one was quite a hard one to chose. Raymond Swanland has also created the fantastic artworks found on Al'Akir, Alexstrasza, Lay on Hands and Bane of Doom, but Demonwrath, to me at least, is his most elaborate work.

First off we have the focus on the clashing ground being smashed to pieces by the mighty demon. Fantastic detail and frozen motion make this an astonishing action-shot. The focus on the point of impact is nicely done, and the colouring of the everlasting flames fueling the demon are staggering. The reason as to why I chose this over Shield Block are the mesmerizing, vibrant colours.

2) Garrosh Hellscream

Artist: Wei Wangm, Website: https://www.behance.net/gallery/2971691/wei-wang-art-gallery

This artwork, albeit originally used for WoW, is the definition of breathtaking. It's so amazing that as a non-painter I simply can't comprehend how much effort this must've taken to produce. The level of detail is genuinely absurd: Every little splatter of blood, every inch that is covered by light, the smallest vibrant of shading, everything seems to be done to perfection. I've seen many renditions of the horrid former leader of the Horde, but it is only this one that I deem worthy to represent the Warlord Garrosh. When looking at this painting I can smell the dried blood hanging in the air. The smell of death. Breathtaking.

 

1) League of Explorers Announcement Art

Artist: Laurel Austin, Website: http://www.laureldaustinart.com/

Now, this piece by Laurel Austin is simply stunning. On one hand it perfectly resembles all the things Hearthstone stands for: The mummies are not scary but due to their comical expressions look rather silly, the mimics and gestures from all the characters in fact create a light-hearted mood. A sense of adventure. A sense of fun.

The Lighting too is phenomenal. However, what I like most about this piece in particular is the detail: If you look closely you can find three cards spread across the piece. Two Murlocs, a Tidecaller and Old-Murk-Eye to be exact, are falling out of Sir Finley's pockets, whereas the mummy hides a copy of Lord Jaraxxus within its bandages. They're minor details, but they round up the overall piece stunningly. If you look closely, you can find a Zombie Chow and an Unstable Ghoul hanging in the spiderwebs as well.

Reno's golden tooth, his pirate card back, some Arcane Dust - there is a lot to Discover when observing this painting.

 

Personal Pick: Windspeaker

Artist: Vance Kovac, Website: http://www.vancekovacs.com/

Windspeaker was essentially the first card artwork that really caught my eye. It was the first Hearthstone artwork I've seen that didn't remind me of a cheesy 80's Dungeons and Dragons artwork and didn't feature a weird Western Cartoon style either. Due to the artwork being painted with oil, its whole feel seems a lot more "grown-up". The Draenai is perfectly presented in focus, the surrounding landscapes have a wonderous feel to them.

Sadly, the card doesnt quite live up to its artwork.

N'Zoth the Corruptor - Minions Die Another Day

Darius Matuschak

by NeonPix

The latest offering from Blizzard is another tentacle-thrashing Legendary in the form of N'Zoth the Corruptor (Or N'Zoth for short). N'Zoth reads; “Battlecry: Summon your Deathrattle Minions that died this game”.

            Now, I saw this and got over-excited (As I am prone to doing, spoiler season does some straaange things to me). Cogs began whirring until I realised that a LOT of the good Deathrattle minions go out of rotation as Whispers of the Old Gods hits in the Spring. Piloted Shredder, Boom Bots, and Sludge Belcher all go bye bye as WOTOG is ushered in. As we do here at Team MetaMinds, let's see what kind of impact N'Zoth will have on the new standard format, and what it's interactions are.

            Looking at the card in a purely one-dimensional fashion, he's (It's?) a Kel'Thuzad with tentacles. A ten-mana 5/7. Nothing spectacular, right? It's not until you take him out of his perspex box and look at it in rose-tinted spectacles that you realise it's a pseudo Mysterious Challenger. Before you don your helmet and destroy your Caps Lock, give me a chance to explain. N'Zoth can resurrect problems, and big ones at that. It's possible to create a stupendously sticky board that is practically impossible to deal with.

            Imagine the scene; It's late game, and you top N'Zoth. Let's draw upon those Challenger comparisons. You play Mysterious N'Zoth. And rather than spawn either nothing (After opening relevant secrets) or a slew of secrets that shut the game out, you spawn something like this;

            A 5/5 body that steals an opponent's minion upon being destroyed, a 4/5 body that spawns another 4/5 body when destroyed, a 4/4 Body that gives another “Secret” +3/+3 upon destruction, a 2/3 body that summons a 2/1, a 2/1 that draws a card, a 2/2 that gives everything +1/+1 upon death, or a 1/1 that hits everything for 1 damage when he gets smushed. And that's not even covering the class specifics.

 

            So Challenger gives you a 6/6 turn 6 with a plethora of options, but as a trade-off you have to play seven 1-mana spells that are dead draws effectively, rather than pro-active minions that can fight for the board independently. Yes, the argument could be made that Secret Paladin is amazing because of the curve available to Paladins, but we are in spoiler season, let a man dream!!

            The neutral minions listed above come together to form a board with multiple layers that are hard to undo. Not impossible, but super sticky. N'Zoth as a card can generate some serious card advantage through nothing but a battlecry and forces huge expenditure from the opponent to clear or poses an option to throw caution to the wind and get face damage in or clear favourably on their end what is effectively a 3-layered wall which regenerates advantage through Loot Hoarders, Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof.

            Popping a pin in the neutrals for a moment, let's consider the impact of class specific minions that could add to this line of play. The first card that jumps to mind is Tirion Fordring. N'Zoth can summon all of the above, including a Tirion Fordring offering an extra layer of protection and perhaps filling the void left by Belcher in N'Zoth's arsenal. A 6/6 Divine Shield Taunt that gives you a 5/3 Ashbringer upon death? Sign me up!

 

            Rhonin is a Mage Specific rattler that provides a 7/7 body and 3 Arcane Missiles upon death. Which potentially opens the door to Malygos plays.

 

            From here we look at Savannah Highmane. A 6/5 that summons 2 2/2s upon death. This isn't a legendary minion, so N'Zoth can summon TWO of these guys.

 

            Rogue can spawn us two Tomb Pillager, a 5/4 body that gives us a coin upon death.

 

            Mentioning Rogue, it has one of the more intricate plays N'Zoth offers. One would come to the conclusion that if a Deathrattle minion died more than once in a game, N'Zoth would summon more than one copy. This opens the floodgates to a potential board full of Anub'Arak, which summons a board full of Nerubians and an infinite supply of the creepy spider dude.

 

            Finally, we look at Dreadsteed. Arguably easier to execute, N'Zoth could fill your board with six 1/1 minions offering infinite trades each turn whilst getting digs in with the body of N'Zoth.

 

            In conclusion, N'Zoth is perhaps a bridge too far for even the most ardent innovators out there. The tools are there, by all means, but the process that the deck has to go through to get to a point where N'Zoth is a game-ender is a long one, and the game may be lost more often than won on the way to successfully casting this ten-mana win condition.

Call of C'Thun - An in-depth analysis of the upcoming archetype

Darius Matuschak

by NeonPix, feat. Darius

Picture the scene; 80,000 Hearthstone fans (MrDestructoid) are sitting in chat, proclaiming Naxx is out and spamming trumpWhat and forsenW eagerly awaiting the Americas Winter Championships to begin. After a ten minute countdown and a gratuitous helping of Reynad roasting, we are thrown to the desk with Ben Brode and Wong Yoo and all is well. Until Mr Brode dons a cape that wouldn't be out of place in a showing of “Hot Fuzz” (Ten points for Gryffindor if you get the reference). The lights dim, and Brode's already booming voice becomes even more sinister to a point where you would believe you were listening to Brian Blessed (That's my last British culture reference, I promise). 

We are then shown the cinematic for Whispers of the Old Gods (Herein abbreviated to WOGS). From this cinematic, we learn that Hearthstone is about to become very dark. We are shown some (let's go with questionable) cards from the upcoming set in Polluted Hoarder, Corrupted Healbot and Validated Doomsayer. From there we are introduced to the first of the “Old Gods” in C'Thun.

C'Thun reads “Play this minion, cast Avenging Wrath for 0 mana”. And that's all well and good, Until we were introduced to the concept of the cultists that are trying to awaken this Old God.

These two Cultists are only the beginning for the C'thun (I want to say) archetype, and with two copies of these cards alone, pushes C'thun to 12/12. Not bad, but you know me by now, any greasy looking archetype can be expanded on. With the information available to us at the minute let's look at what we can do with each class to maximise the impact of C'thun! 

Let's assume that we only have this five card line to be going on with, this gives us 25 cards worth of wriggle room for each class to base around a deck dedicated to the big squid god of tentacles, and for the purpose of this article we will assume that we are looking towards the standard format. 

 

Neutral 

To build a base for these lists, we need to first look at the pool of cards available to us in the neutral setting. Those guys who sit on the fence between Gul'dan and Thrall whilst they have their lovers spats, rather than getting involved and sorting out the problems they chip in from the sidelines. Mercenaries for hire if you will. Or snakes. I prefer snakes. 

Abusive Sergeant 

Abusive_Sergeant(577).png


The stats on the cultists above are impressive. Aggressively costed if you will. These minions are admissible floaters once used, but these base stat lines offer the opportunity to trade, and trade well. To capitalise on these already sturdy stats, Abusive Sergeant can buff them further to trade in a more favourable manner. 

 

Youthful Brewmaster and Ancient Brewmaster 


Show me a card with a battlecry that triggers and is integral to your strategy, and i'll show you a Pandaren ready to take advantage of that effect. The ability to re-use the battlecry of Beckoner of Evil will add both two attack and toughness to the eventual C'Thun and two damage to the Battlecry. Which can be reused by this duo of Pandaren bouncers. 

 

Faceless Manipulator 


Following on with the theme of taking advantage of triggers, Faceless Manipulator can be used in many ways too, the first being granting a third and fourth copy of Twilight Elder. That and the manipulator offers synergies with a certain ginger explorer that i'll get to eventually. 

 

Emperor Thaurissan 


Thaurissan will help cut the cost of a one-turn blitz of effects that reign down an inordinate amount of buffs for C'thun. Be it cutting the cost of Beckoners, or the cost of that red-headed explorer, it's possible to combo out buffs for days, thanks to Thaurissan's discounts. 

 

Brann Bronzebeard 

Brann has had a colossal impact on the game since release (Don't say I didn't warn you) and it looks to continue the trend with the advent of WOGS. Brann allows you to trigger Beckoner twice in one summon. That's a +4/+4 buff to C'Thun, that's without Brewmasters and Thaurissan discounts. Dependant on the board state and stability, the discounts from Thaurissan when combined with Brann could leave you with a truly massive one-eyed squid god that could cheese you a game in a one turn swing. 

 

Neutral Impact 

Hypothetically speaking, Thaurissan could stay on the board and trigger twice. From there, this line of play is available turn ten; 

Brann Bronzebeard (One Mana) Nine mana remaining 

Faceless Manipulator > Brann Bronzebeard (Three Mana) Six mana remaining 

Beckoner (Zero Mana) +8/+8 

Beckoner (Zero Mana) +16/+16 

Youthful Brewmaster (Zero Mana) Beckoner returned to hand 

Youthful Brewmaster (Zero Mana) Beckoner returned to hand 

Beckoner (Two Mana) +24/+24 Four mana remaining 

Beckoner (Two Mana) +32/+32 Two mana remaining 

As we are living in magical christmas land, I feel that this play (whilst unlikely) has the greatest potential impact using only neutral cards, and is possible with ten mana leaving C'Thun with a massive 38/38 body and an Avenging Wrath for 38 total. Assuming that the life total and total toughness on the opponent's board doesn't top 38, you win the game. 

Disclaimer: All of the following lists will at least include two Youthful Brewmasters, two Beckoners and a C'Thun, hence they're not lists that feature 30 cards.

 

Warrior

Steven: Warrior doesn't offer much to the archetype. The main thought behind this list is along the same vein as the standard tank Warrior list, armouring up to a point where you are effectively untouchable outside of incredible burst. 

The synergy whirlwind provides with Acolyte and Armorsmith allows extra draws and further tanking along some tiny area of effect damage for those pesky 1/1 minions that can soak up the damage of the eventual C'Thun. 

The only out of the norm pick here is the double Brawl. The idea behind double Brawl is there to reset the board somewhat (Something that is a theme throughout these lists) and wipe potential targets for the following turn's C'Thun play. 

With the amount of armour the deck will accumulate throughout the game, I feel that this list has strong potential to see turn Ten through this mechanic and double Brawl. 

 

Darius: Personally, I think C'Thun Warrior could be fantastic. With the release of C'Thun, we might be able to see a comeback of the elusive, yet never quite popular MidRange Warrior. The list I brewed is actually decently versatile: If you get ahead on board using the C'Thun minions amongst others to trade efficiently, you can capitalise on it further similarly to a Mech deck does nowadays. Since you're running sticky minions, it's hard for opponents to get rid of them, except for the occasional Brawl or Twisting Nether. 

In case you do fall behind however, you have a nice array of removal to save your buttocks. Running two Taskmasters you are bound to Execute a threat, and with Double Bash/Shield Block a Shield Slam will do plenty. 

In case it goes to the late game, and you need to remove an immediate threat like say Chromaggus, a combination of Ancient Shieldbearer + Shield Slam will provide similarly to a Shieldmaiden + Shield Slam does nowadays. The new Warrior card also allows you to stall until the mighty C'Thun hits the board. There is plenty of draw potential as well, with Acolyte teaming up with Taskmaster, potentially achieving a double draw thanks to Brann. 

Varian is a personal piece of flavouring that I think could be amazing however: The only card you wouldn't really want to pull would be C'Thun himself, since you'd miss his Battlecry, but it'll still be another massive minion. Varian could easily turn a lost board into a huge comeback with style.

 

Shaman 

Shaman does not have the luxury of an inherently good hero power, and as a result, needs to run Sir Finley Mrrgglton. The hero powers you endeavour to find here are Armour Up, Lesser Heal and to a certain extent Shape-Shift. This is all in an attempt to make it to that turn ten where the combos become available. 

From here, we play standard Shaman shenanigans, without the primal desire to Smorc, rather control the board and keep health and toughness to a minimum. 

Healing wave can hit one of two desirable targets in C'Thun and Alexstraza which is incidentally included to improve the effectiveness of C'Thun. 

Cards like Lightning Storm and Hex are to be used to sweep health from the board with the choice to play C'Thun the following turn. The standard Brann/Thaurissan link-up is also included to fly us away to magical christmas land and deliver us those dream scenarios as detailed above. 

The Fire Elementals allow us to curve out into a more aggressive Mid/Late game whilst not affecting the end game target.

 

Rogue 

Rogue, I feel has massive potential for a C'Thun list. Between spells such as Gang Up and Shadowstep, the possibility to make a C'Thun with a possible 50/50 stat line. That is frankly insane, should it get to that point. 

A 50/50 stat line allows you to kill a Warrior with full health and 20 armour, A handlock player at full health with double Molten Giant and Sunfury Protector, and practically anything maining Reno Jackson. 

Preparation/Sprint is available to plough through cards (Whilst hopefully not drawing C'thun) whilst the other Rogue spells such as Backstab, Betrayal, Sap and Vanish clear the way to face for our squid based overlord C'Thun. 

Dark Iron Skulker is something of whimsy perhaps, but it's another area of effect card that can put in work sweeping before the C'Thun is played.

 

Paladin 

Paladin as a class has cards in it's arsenal that really appeal to the squid deck, the most apparent of these being their area of effect spells and combos. Equality plus Wild Pyromancer or Consecration offers board wipes to set up for a full-face C'thun. 

From this the deck can curve out into a more control-oriented deck through use of cards like Keeper of Uldaman and Tirion Fordring. With Dr.7 being lost to the wild format, Dr.8 is still a very viable option that can stave off aggro decks, should you reach that point in the game, and the ashbringer can also be used to clear the way for C'thun's stare. 

Truesilver Champion is also a great option at the paladin's disposal, clearing the board of a potential 16 points worth of health whilst clawing back health through use of the sword itself. 

Outside of those points, the Paladin hero power is a great way of maximising the impact of the damage output of C'thun. Whilst keeping 1/1s on the board there is an always the option of trading those in to bigger minions to ensure some of the eyeball blasts make their way to their desiredlocation, and everybody knows face is the place. 

 

Hunter 

While we all know Hunters LOVE to go face, they are also very efficient at keeping a board quiet through a combination of spells. Spells such as Powershot, Multi-Shot and Explosive shot are (some say over-costed) spells that deal damage across several minions in one activation. 

Hunter's Mark and Unleash the hounds are also stellar ways to keep the board quiet whilst buffing the living tar out of C'thun. When you add the Hunter hero power to the mix, the effort put into getting the opponent within range of the C'Thun eye blast is made very easy. 

Dreadscale is a mini Baron Geddon, dealing area of effect damage to everything on the board, whilst Hunter's Mark deals with high priority targets. 

 

 

Ball of Spiders and Savannah Highmane are at the top of our curve, both serving different purposes. The Ball of Spiders keep your hand stocked with options generated by the game, and as a result are admissible throw-away bodies that can be used for efficient trades whilst Savannah Highmane presents the opponent with a problem that requires an instant answer, and forces silences or hard removal in the later portions of the game.

 

Warlock 

Warlock could play C'Thun in one of two ways. It could adopt the Zoo philosophy of play, or the handlock ideology. The Zoo philosophy would be better served in a deck that is Zoo and nothing else, in my opinion. You're just adding fluff and frills when mixing C'Thun into the Zoo list. 

As a result, the optimal C'Thun list would look something like a Handlock list had thrown-up on a Zoo list and neglected to clean it up. 

The standard Zoo baseline of Mortal Coils and Power Overwhelming roll through Dark Peddler and onto the more Handlock choices of Sylvanas and Molten Giant up top, with plenty of area of effect spells through the middle in Hellfire, Demonwrath, Shadowflame and finally curving out at Twisting Nether for a total board wipe come turn eight or sooner when used in conjunction with Emperor Thaurissan. The Power Overwhelmings can be used in conjunction with the early game C'Thun buffs to keep you out of trouble until you get into the realms of dropping C'Thun. 

Alexstraza can also be used to either bail yourself out of trouble from over-zealous tapping or it can be used to land the opponent within that sweet spot of around 15 health for the squid blast to provide the desired effect.

 

Mage 

Steven: Mage generally doesn't have the best set-up to accommodate C'Thun (I'm expecting tweets in two months time telling me how wrong I am when C'Thun Mage is tier zero and i'm hiding away in a cave on Dagobah) *More points for gryffindor if you get that one.* 

I worked with the tools available to me, and the Mage list I came up with is an odd take on Freeze Mage, which offers the security of the Ice Block/ Ice Barrier secrets and eventually bursting out on turn 9 with Alexstrasza and either Archmage Antonidas or C'Thun itself. 

The list is teched out with the standard Thaurissan/ Brann/ Manipulator/ Brewmaster line that is the backbone of any C'Thun list that we have built up to now. 

This list in my opinion is the worst one I have built from the nine classes, but we here at Team MetaMinds are all for equality, and Mage has to make a showing when mentioning all other classes.

 

Darius: When I first saw C'Thun, the first cards that sprung to my mind were Duplicate and Echo of Medivh. And then it hit me: Both of them are going to go out of rotation as soon as Whispers of the Old Gods hits!

So with the cards we have left, I agree that C'Thun Mage is probably not going to have a major impact. However, this nifty little Echo Mage variant, using C'Thun minions instead of Giants, could be a decent deck to play in Wild! 

People are going to play Wild... Right?

 

 

 

Priest 

Stephen Priest.png

Steven: Finally, we look at Priest. Priest as a class supports the idea of colossal area of effect damage through liberal use of the Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing combo, alongside Holy Nova. 

While the deck has lost Lightbomb, it still has a lot of cards that affect the board state, such as Entomb and Cabal Shadow Priest, whilst keeping yourself just out of reach of the damage your opponent can inflict. 

Alongside these combos, the deck mains one copy of Confessor Paletress. The deck can re-stabilise and throw legendary minions at the opponent while healing in the process, which forces hard removal that could otherwise be used on the C'Thun that is coming later on in the game. 

 

 

Darius: I took a different approach towards a potential C'Thun Priest. Now a minion-based Priest, similar to Dragon Priest, sadly falls out of question due to vital cards like Velen's Chosen and Dark Cultist are passing away. While a Control list seems to be the more obvious one, I feel like it wouldn't keep up to say an Elise list.

So hereby I present to you: C'Thun-Velen-Combo Priest!
Since C'Thun is a Combo in itself already, and the minions provide decent bodies, we need card draw and a second potential win condition. This is Velen + Double Mindblast. If you feel spicy, you can add a Malygos to this list too. It will be pretty hard to pull off, and the lack of Lightbombs is infuriating, but I have a dream. A dream that this Combo will prevail.

The new Priest Legendary could potentially come in handy as well, reproducing a Velen, Thaurissan or Malygos (If they survive one turn, hint: They usually don't.)

 

Druid 

Darius: With the already announced Druid nerfs, it can be a bit difficult to look at Druid as a potential class for C'Thun fans. The newly announced Druid card that synergizes with C'Thun is neither horrible nor spectacular in my book: Yes, a 4/10 for 4 Mana is extraordinary, and even when played at 4/5 it's alright, but the effect most likely won't be triggered on curve, and "alright" usually does not make the cut.  

Due to the good stat lines on C'Thun minions so far though, they lend themselves to a feature of the Druid class that is frequently overlooked: A nice array of buffs! With card like Mark of the Wild, Power of the Wild or even Cenarius, you should be able to keep your Templer in particular alive and well! Strong taunts like Druid of the Claw or Ancient of War will make sure to protect them as well. 

In general the archetype lacks something that make it stand out, like say C'Thun Rogue. Due to cards like Innervate and even a nerfed Savage Roar, Druid is a versatile class that can take all the toys from other classes and make them work anyway. C'Thun Druid will work, similarly to the way Mech Druid works: It "works", but really you're better off playing a different class to fulfill your C'Thun needs. 

 

Summary 

Steven: In summary, I am far more excited for C'Thun after writing this article than I was before writing it, and I was the equivalent of a toddler at christmas back then. The lists I have put together above are to serve merely as a guide, a template, building blocks. 

While I am sure that C'Thun will have an earth-shattering effect on the landscape of Hearthstone (although it may take a while for people to agree with that statement) Blizzard appear to be embracing the idea of Archetypes. It's the beginning of a revolution in this card game. A revolution that doesn't generally tie to any specific class. A set of nine or so cards that follow one theme that can be splashed into any class and still create the desired effect is the very definition of an archetype, something I am very excited to see become a regular thing in Hearthstone. The process of applying these “Nine or so” cards to each class promotes the idea of creativity in the community. Granted, this creativity will all but evaporate when the cards hit twitch and the streamers have screenshots of their list plastered under gratuitous adverts.

Darius: Okay, okay, I'll bite. The C'Thun archetype looks pretty cool, and with upcoming cards that support it further, it could turn out to be the next Dragon archetype: Not Tier 1 but certainly Tier 2/3. I'm not sold yet on the Pandaren Brewmasters and using 5 Mana to reproduce a 3 Mana minion, but I've been wrong before.

From the lists we've brewed so far, I'm probably most excited for C'Thun Warrior, Rogue and Paladin. Depending on how hard Blizzard hits the Nerf hammer upon Druid, it might be relevant too, but only time will tell. And that C'Thun Mage list? Definitely going to try it out as soon as I can!