State of the metagame
With the nerf to mages and the vaporization of Blood Imp, a sleeping giant has awakened. This deck is characterized by maniac life tapping, huge card advantages and even bigger minions. Win conditions include Jaraxxus and 8/8 minions, though regular beatdowns are not unheard of.
The re-emergence of this deck has led to the following developments in my eyes:
- 1) Hunter trap decks and rushes are blooming and they will eat you alive. With the Hunter buff and the snail's pace of this deck, the hunter-rush will make you sob. Even your own giants might turn on you...
- 2) Acidic swamp ooze might make a comeback. I've even seen Harrison Jones! Jaraxxus is a glass cannon win edition, and these two cards can screw up your play. The Black Knight is also lingering over giants with taunt. Be aware.
- 3) Big game hunter is starting to become an auto-include for many late-game oriented decks. Keep him in mind. He is unavoidable, so better make sure to seize board control.
So far the current (EU) ladder seems to be composed of mainly hunter rush, pally late game, the occasional stray murloc, standard late game druid and rogue rush. This deck downright stomps mages, priests, shamans and warriors. It is slightly favored or on even footing with paladin and druid. It has a disadvantage against big warlock, rogue or hunter rushes.
Main deck: 26 cards
Awesome removal spell or for pushing in the last bits of damage. Note that its description is incorrect. It should read: "Deal 4 damage to target minion or player, discard Argent Commander, Lord Jaraxxus or a random Giant from your hand"
2x Mortal Coil
Early game board control. Ideally your hand should hold 1 by turn 2, in order to counter annoying rushes
2x Ironbreak Owl
Epic little critter. He's able to wreck taunts, make Sylvanas cry and activate your Ancient Watchers
2x Ancient Watcher
The stars of this deck in the early game. A 2 cost Chillwind Yeti? Yes please! Activate it with Ironbeak owl or simply force enemies to attack it by making him a taunt.
2x Sunfury Protector
Decent stats for cost, trades quite well with early minions, but mainly serves to give taunt to your statues and giants to protect you.
2x Earthen Ring Farseer
Decent body with a great effect. Can be used to stay alive vs mage and hunter, to bandage up that Twilight Drake or (most importantly) keep Jaraxxus health in the white.
2x Defender of Argus
Even post nerf, he will make those Giants even Bigger and force some really uncomfortable trades or card wastage. I still think he can be played 'naked' if needs be. Don't be afraid to only make 1 minion a taunt, in order to protect a Giant (Black Knight), although Blizzard kindly offers that feature with the random displacement.
2x Twilight Drake
Nice Shadow Words, too bad they will be sitting in your hand. This minion will give absolute early board control and frequently go 3-1, or even more if you heal him. It's not uncommon to get him out at 4-8 or higher.
Risky board clear, but serves as a great softener or finisher (it damages the hero too).
Set your Inferno ablaze, or melt down Ragnaros with this bad boy. Only 1, because it is to be used only 1) after attacking with a big minion 2) in the most dire of situations. This is a minion-light deck, so dont go around sacrificing them. It can also be used on small minions to push a great trade.
2x Siphon Soul
Instantly gibs enemies and heals you for a noteworthy amount of health. It can (and should) be used on your own minions, should you drop to low amounts of health.
1x Lord Jaraxxus
The star of this deck. Use only when behind taunts or when you are facing lethal. The weapon should be in your opponents face and your infernals will rule the board. The minion power ensures that late game slug-wars will go in your favor, no matter what. They are just big enough to trade 2-1 with most things, but small enough as to not be a liability for mind control. Get on our level, Silverhand Recruit! Not that his max health is 15, and this puts him in range of Mage and Rogue combo's. He must only be played if you are safe and is generally a 'win more' card.
2x Mountain Giant
Ideally, you draw this bad boy early, and he will come out on turn 4 or 5 (depending on what turn you go). Nothing much to say, just a good ol' fatty.
2x Molten Giant
This is a mid-game drop. He absolutely shines when paired with Shadowflame or as a free taunt minion with Sunfury Protector. Note that he scales off you max health (IE: in Jaraxxus form, he costs 10 when you are at 5 life). Therefore it may be worth to delay Jaraxxus until you have had at least 1 of these on the board.
Optional/Sideboard: 4 cards
- Leeroy Jenkins
This bad boy absolutely shines in the mirror and can be Shadowflamed afterwards. Can go for about 14+ points of direct damage for only 4 mana if coupled with Soulfire.
- Bloodmage Thalnos
Synergizes very well with spell heavy variants of this deck. Greatly increases lethality of Shadow Bolts, Shadowflames and even the lowly Mortal Coil. He also sets up a very cheap 14 points nuke in the form of Hellfire and Soulfire.
- Ragnaros/Black Knight/Cairne/Ysera/Argent Commander
Secondary win conditions and simply great late game units. I think they should not be added because they can slow down your play and lead to risky situations (see Soulfire). Your plays are to get out Jaraxxus and stabilize. Ysera may be too slow.
- Shadow Bolt
Overpriced but decent minion removal. 4 is a sweet spot for many units, so it will almost always go 1-1. It's worth including Thalnos if you use this.
- Drain Life
Overpriced crappy spell...except in this deck. 2 damage can be great to follow up on a hellfire and can put you outside of lethal-range. It is also great to draw in Jaraxxus form, because his health needs to be topped off at every instant in order to prevent humiliating defeats. You don't want to be forced to use your soul siphon on your own Ragnaros in order to survive next round, right?
- Voodoo doctor
Decent 2/1 body with late game utility in the form of healing. Enables tanky minions to trade even better.
- Nat Pagle
Can supplement your card draw. I do not like his RNG, but he can be protected quite well and provides a passive taunt.
- Acidic Swamp Ooze
Mirror match? No problem. Hold onto this! Can also save you from Ashbringer.
In case you are curious, I found that enemies will rush you down as soon as possible. Therefore I picked 2x Drain Life and 2x Voodoo doctor. It is also the most safe and cheap form of this deck (about 4000 in dust).
Well, getting there might be tricky. The general concept is to stay defensive, remove enemy minions and life tap till you get Jaraxxus. Drop huge things on turn 4 (Drake), turn 7 (Giants), make taunts on turn 8 (Argus) and set up for the win at turn 9 (Jaraxxus). The deck will then snowball fast. Secondary win conditions are, of course, rushing out giants, attacking with ancient watchers and burning face.
Be very wary during turns 6-8, because enemies will adapt to this deck and will punish greedy plays or overextentions. Nothing feels worse than having your blood fury whipped out of your hands (claws?) by Mr. Jones.
Class specific advice
Hunter: your bane. You will lose if you do not draw mortal coil, twilight drakes, any taunt combo or other forms of removal in the first 2 turns. Mulligan aggresively and do not be afraid to soulfire his minions. He has little draw, so if he overextends, he's dead. Do NOT attack with giants when a secret is out. First set up taunts and smaller minions (Misdirection).
Mage: do these still exist? In theory you can get fragged in one round as Jaraxxus or be whittled down by turn 7 in order to set you up for a turn 8.... oh wait. Nonetheless, mage rushes may occur and you should be conservative on the tap. You will have enough healing to provoke him, after which Jaraxxus can come out safely.
Paladin: never leave out more than 1 giant at the same time because of equality. Save Ironbeak for Tirion. Pick off small minions in order to avoid equality. Bait it out with Twilight Drakes. His healing can stall the game, but your late game is way bigger (by a factor 6, really).
Shaman: clear his board, no matter what. Going for face is not adviced because Shaman has huge potential for burst damage. Focus on baiting out the initial hexes with buffed up critters and always account for the possibility of bloodlust. He has no healing whatsoever, so slowrolling is an option.
Druid: my favorite matchup. This generally goes methodically, with the eye on card advantage. Druids generally run 1 Ancient of War, 2 Lores, Ragnaros, Ysera, Sylvanas, Cenarius. Try to keep 0 giants out or 2. Be aware of the Malygos deck and never let your health sink beneath 12 to avoid OTKs. Use Siphon Soul and Owl wisely. Tinkmaster may be added in if this match up frustrates you.
Warlock: will stomp early aggression witht he right hand. In the mirror you must hold onto direct damage spells and keep the board clear, in order to deter the opponent from playing Jaraxxus. You may want an Ooze for this purpose. In general, your health should be around 15 to keep the giants playable, while staying outside of Leeroy/soulfire range. Pick the Black Knight to punish greedy plays. Add in Big Game hunter for tempo swings.
Rogue: the latest rogue aggro focuses on stomping your face in. Beware of direct damage. If a rogue has a full hand, assume Leeroy/cold blood or eviscerate. Keep taunts up no matter what and go Jaraxxus asap. Speaking of which: Sap and Assassinate ruin your day. Focus on board quantity to exploit his lack of AoE.
Priest: Drakes and Ancient Watchers absolutely shine in this match up. Play around shadow words with big threats, but never rely on them. In the late game, go Jaraxxus instead of giants, even if this means keeping Molten giants in hand. Infernals are big enough to be scray, but are not good mind control targets. Exactly for this reason should you not always Taunt your units. Priest has very little scary immediate damage. Keep an eye on potential buff-plays and nip it with Soulfire.
Warrior: If you need advice in this match up, I've got bad news...