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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.

 

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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: 

Discovery – A Philosophy in Duality

Darius Matuschak

by NeonPix

With League of Explorers, Hearthstone players were introduced to a new mechanic in Discover. This mechanic may not seem all too game-breaking, even a novelty at best, but in Hearthstone having more options than your opponent will inevitably put you in a better position thanks to the information gathered throughout the earlier stages of the game. Whereas the traditional “Draw one” mechanic is a great way to net advantage, the Discover mechanic provides you with the chance to “Create a copy” one of three cards to answer the early plays made by your opponent whilst not pushing you one card closer to fatigue.

Filtration is an idea across all card games that provides the pilot of any specific deck to “filter through” the cards irrelevant to the match-up at hand to find the key cards that inherently combat the opponent's strategy. This recently became an idea in Hearthstone through the aforementioned “Discover” mechanic. With this mechanic at your disposal (in theory) you can wander into any match-up and discover the cards that undo all of the work that that player is putting a slow down (and in some cases a complete stop) to their strategy.

What the Discover mechanic offers players is the opportunity to tech-out lists without sacrificing efficiency. Granted, you won't always discover the Foe-Reaper that outright stomps a board of tiny minions, or even the Power Overwhelming that could unlock that Arcane Golem. It's merely a window to counter-pick, and counter-picking and counteracting strategies is what makes a compeitive card game tick. Putting a tool in the hands of a skilled player that gives you the key to an answer for any situation is something that can really separate players on the ladder, as forward planning is needed when discovering the cards. From curving out efficiently to predicting the threats incoming from the adversary and seeing how this fits into the hand you've been dealt is where the skill lies. It's this ability in particular from a plethora of other reasons that I believe Discover is one of the greatest mechanics ever introduced to Hearthsone.

We begin our journey of discovery with Sir Finley Mrrgglton. Finley is a one mana One/Three which offers you the option of picking a new hero power. This in-turn gives you the ability to counter-pick the opponent's class in the ladder setting. For example; Shape-Shift or Fireblast would be efficient against the Paladin class, dealing with the infinite One/Ones whilst using a matched outlay in a two-mana hero power. The shining examples here though are the effects that Finley can have on Aggro matches. Versus the aggro match-up, you may have the option to discover either the Priest or Warrior hero power, mitigating some of the heavy damage coming in early and often, whilst on the flip-side Finley has created the option to push Burst Shaman forward through giving Shaman a more aggressive hero power in either the Hunter's hero power or something a little less face oriented in Mage or Druid. Also, Finley reads “BASIC hero power”. As a result, the hero power discovered by Finley can later be upgraded by Justicar Truehart. This further extends the advantage generated by Finley in the above mentioned scenarios.

Next up, Druid got a new toy in the form of Raven Idol, which for One mana offers the player the choice of either “Discover a Minion” or “Discover a Spell”. This card in itself allows the player to clamber away from a terrible mulligan by providing them with options to play early game dependant on the matchup they have wandered into, or can improve an already stellar mulligan by filling the cracks in a dreamy curve. Late game, this card can be used to fill out awkward curves or to find combo-enablers. Reynad has initially found success on ladder by pairing this card with Malygos, bumping the amount of burst that can be played in a turn by discovering any spell that does damage from an option of three cards.

Druids aren't the only decks out there foraging in the undergrowth for more efficiency, as Mage were presented with the Ethereal Conjurer. This is a Five mana Six/Three that discovers a spell.

Whilst aggressively costed at Five mana, this enables the player to play Conjurer and almost certainly play the spell found on their following turn. The options that the Mage encounters can help on many fronts including bridging the gap between Five and Seven mana, which isn't a notoriously huge turn for the Mage class or can offer low-cost spells as fodder for Archmage Antoniodas.

Priests were given the Museum Curator which for Two mana offers a One/Two body which discovers a deathrattle minion. Whilst this has less of an impact on match-ups as the cards discussed above the impact it does have is in the consistency generated by the Discover mechanic. The deathrattles available covers cards such as Sylvanas Windrunner and each of the Shredders. This gives the priest a host of sticky options to slow the game down to their pace to enable the late game combo-oriented plays that Priests love to do. Alongside those higher-curved cards, there is also a chance to discover some lower-cost minions such as Harvest Golem, Haunted Creeper and Leper Gnome among other diamonds. Museum Curator is definitely one of the cards with a massive scope for playability that we can take away from this expansion.

Warlocks were given the Dark Peddler, a Two mana Two/Two which Discovers a One mana cost card. This fits perfectly into the low-cost efficiency of the Zoo mentality whilst providing options on top with which to trade effectively and round out any odd-mana turns the Warlock may have whilst still providing a solid turn Two Two/Two body. Options include Mortal Coil, Power Overwhelming, Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Leper Gnome and Zombie Chow. These paired with an already sturdy Two/Two body on the board can create a snowball effect heading further into the game.

Discovery isn't limited to class specifics however! There are a few gems worth discovering also! (See what I did there?)

We first take a look at Jewelled Scarab. A Two mana One-One which discovers a Three mana cost card. This smoothes the curve for any deck flowing from turn Two Scarab into something that either counter-acts early aggression or pushes on from the momentum gained in the early turns. From the combo-oriented Savage Roar to control based Mage Secrets to the hyper-aggressive Unleash the Hounds, this discover minion has the widest scope for finding cards that enable your plays or disable (if not only slow down) your opponents.

Tomb Spider is another Arachnid that generates efficiently relevant advantage through the discover mechanic. This time, we discover a Beast. This opens the door for Beast Druid to finally become relevant after months of “almost there” and “it needs one more card” encounters, alongside the obvious hunter synergy with Ram Wrangler and Houndmaster. The Beasts found here range from Haunted Creeper to Savannah Highmane all the way up to the ridiculous King Krush.

Gorillabot A-3 is a neutral card with massive potential. Offering a Three/Four body for Four mana, discovering a Mech whilst you control another can generate cards within Mech Mage which usually runs out of steam quickly, whilst offering the toolbox utility that the Discover mechanic provides. Options here include Mechwarper to accelerate your plays later on, Blingtron enabling the player to start the engine on the RNG train to big value all the way via Fel Reaver and Foe Reaper 4000.

Arch-Thief Rafaam is the final card we will be looking at, and it's one i'm still on the fence about. Whilst it boasts a stat line that would make any Big Game Hunter salivate (A whopping Nine mana Seven/Eight) this nemesis turned collection filler discovers a “Powerful Artifact”. These artifacts come in the form of Three different Ten mana cost spells which perform different tasks. The “Lantern of Power” provides a minion +Ten/+Ten, the “Mirror of Doom” fills your board with 3/3 Mummies and finally the Timepiece of Horror which deals Ten damage randomly split between all enemies, a souped-up Avenging Wrath if you will.

The major flaw in the card is the cost of the card itself, setting you back a meaty Nine mana, and returning a turn Ten play through the use of the Artifact discovered. Even to that point, it's a massive outlay of Nineteen mana across two turns for only Two cards, and there are far better options available for the cost laid out by this thief and his discoveries.

We finish with the cherry atop this already value-packed list of cards by looking at the Discover mechanic's interaction with Brann Bronzebeard. Every discover minion triggers with a Battlecry. Which Brann doubles. This enables the pilot of the deck to generate massive plusses through repeat discoveries being doubled by Brann and giving them the opportunity to just throw cards at the opponent that were “generated” without losing any advantage and simply wait for one to stick.

In this example play, we open Finley into a Dagger Mastery after the opponent's opening play of Living Roots into two 1/1 saplings. This decision was made based on a read vs Aggro Druid, offering a better mana outlay than Shape Shift to deal with 1 health minions. Then Raven Idol offered us this;

Considering the hand available to me at the time, Rend was an insta-pass based on there being no Dragons in the list I queued up with. That left Toshley and Baron Riverdare. Whilst Toshley would offer some unique tricks later on with Druid of the Claw, I felt that the curve available to me would have given the best value to Baron Riverdare, as even one resolution of the effect would put me so far ahead vs the aggro match up, that it would be a climb from there. Riverdare was the chosen one, and a few turns later, it provided the desired effect;

In essence, the discover mechanic is a pseudo-control on the RNG running rampant in this game. Offering you the opportunity at a card from a selection of three opens doors for punishment both ways, when the pick is made correctly the resulting plays will put you in great stead for oncoming turns, however the wrong call could undo the work you have put in.

All in all, I feel the discover mechanic is the toolbox that has been missing from Hearthstone for a long time now, and I hope that Blizzard continue to create Discover cards, diversifying the flow of a game and creating scenarios where the player's ability to correctly analyse a situation and pick the adequate answers becomes more of a prevalent process rather than a coin-flip card game.

Burgle – Living the Dream or a Walking Nightmare?

Darius Matuschak

Before the release of TGT, Burgle seemed to be one of the most anticipated cards at least going by the judgement of some players. The amazing potential and hopefully endless value it could bring was wildly discussed. So NeonPix decided to try out Burgle against every possible matchup, in every possible situation and analyzed its potential in-depth to make sure that you definitely know when to Burgle and when to leave it for a different matchup.

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