Hello, my name is Marios. I go by Kratos in-game and this is my first article for Team Genji!
The meta has started to settle after the recent balance changes in Hearthstone. New decks have each emerged to take a spot in the top tiers. Taunt Druid, Quest Warrior, Token Druid and lots of other decks have seen rise in play, though one thing seems to be slightly missing: aggressive strategies.
The absence of aggro in this standard metagame is not total, though numbers have declined since the latest balance changes. From the release of Witchwood onward, aggro decks have had a strong presence, with Even Paladin in particular being top tier (not a pure aggro deck but one that could pack a punch in the early and late game too). Murloc Paladin, Tempo Mage and Odd Rogue were strong decks and Odd Paladin, Odd Hunter, and Spell Hunter were also viable archetypes used in both ladder and tournament play. So, what changed after the nerfs?
Apart from the obvious fact that the “Call to Arms” nerf bottlenecked Even Paladin and other aggressive paladin strategies in general (which has been the best aggressive class for some time now), a chain of events occurred that gave aggressive decks somewhat of an awkward spot in the metagame. The nerfs to Cubelock in particular gave midrange strategies some breathing room, so they started to emerge. Additionally, control strategies, that just lost to the immense value warlock produced in the mid game, saw a rise in play. Token Druid and Quest Warrior are both representatives of that effect.
What does that have to do with aggressive strategies, you say? Well, such decks have a good matchup against them! Druid packs a ton of armor and spreads a plague that almost wins the game on its own! Warrior has a lot of AoE effects and taunts. That, combined with the fact that aggro decks weren’t that high on power level anyway after the rotation that came along with Witchwood.
Let’s look at specific examples of archetypes that saw a lot of, or some play, yet have decreased in power:
- Tempo Mage:
This deck was declared dead after the rotation, though it was able to survive due to Cinderstorm and the fact that Mana Wyrm on 1 and Aluneth on 6 is still as broken as ever. After the nerfs, people predicted this deck to be tier 1. But, Druids had a different opinion…All Druid archetypes steamroll Tempo Mage with armor and taunts and there’s basically nothing a mage can do in return. Quest Warrior is a bad match up and it even loses vs Even Shaman, which is also seeing a rise in use.
- Even Paladin:
There’s not much to say apart from the fact that Even Paladin lost its power play on 4 and there’s not that many reasons to play the deck anymore. Equality-Consecration-Avenging Wrath were good in the previous meta but not that great in this one.
- Odd Rogue:In my mind, this is still a solid deck, and maybe better than before the nerfs actually. But, the rise in control decks and slow midrange decks favors Miracle Rogue, that takes the exact same spot in the meta. The decks utilize the same powerful cards but Odd Rogue does not have Fal’dorei and Elven Minstrel, which are key cards in most matchups.
- Tempo Mage:
Now let’s talk a bit about aggressive strategies that show some potential, though in my opinion, they’re far away from being tier 1 (it’s two decks really, and one of them is not even aggro):
- Even Shaman:
Though not a purely aggressive deck, the version that Amnesiac popularized packs an early game punch. After his victory, this deck’s presence has dramatically increased in the ladder. Even Shaman’s good match-ups include Taunt Druid and Shudderwock Shaman, but it still loses to control decks. Hagatha can sometimes get you there, but control decks have more powerful tools to salvage a comeback in the game and attain the win in the end. Frost Lich Jaina, Quest Warrior’s hero power, and Bloodreaver Gul’dan all trump you in most cases. That said, this deck might still cut through the meta and rise to tier 1. A lot of pros chose this deck for their lineup in Dreamhack Summer this weekend.
- Odd Paladin:
Aka, Even Paladin’s not so powerful brother. This deck preys on Miracle Rogues and Even Shamans, so I expect a rise in play in the following days. Plus the warlock matchup is not that bad after the nerfs, be it Evenlock or Cubelock. That being said, Token Druid eats you for breakfast, and so does Quest Warrior and Big Spell Mage. Theoretically, this could be a good ladder deck because its bad match ups are seeing a decline in play.
This Hearthstone meta is pretty balanced overall, we are seeing a healthy amount of all archetypes. Aggressive decks might be seeing a downfall in numbers, but this doesn’t affect the overall balance of other decks. Control decks are kept in check by other strategies, such as even warlock and token druid. Basically, every strategy in this meta is kept in check by another one, making quite the balanced meta.
That’s all from me this week, see you next time!