"Armor Up!" Advanced Decktech - Masters 3
Hello! Lotus here, I've been streaming almost every night since I obtained my beta key on my twitch.tv channel over at http://twitch.tv/lotuscobra
As a quick warning, this is going to be rather long. If you're interested in learning a thing or two about advanced deckbuilding, I suggest reading. There won't be a tl;dr.
Unfortunately the Hearthstone forums don't allow links, so this version on reddit might be a little easier to read: http://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/1l5vij/armor_up_advanced_decktech_75_winrate_masters_3/
Most streamers right now focus on Arena because of the more tangible rewards, but I am more focused on determining the metagame of Constructed and being a forerunner in melding the competitive decks. My first project, the initial idea of which was actually suggested to my by one of my viewers, /u/Maxadon on reddit, is a Warrior deck focused on the synergy of two cards in particular:
Whirlwind + Battle Rage
At first glance, it might not seem that great. And if it weren't for the rest of the cards in the deck, it probably wouldn't be. But thankfully, there are *so* many ways to abuse Whirlwind that after playing almost 100 games with this deck I'm convinced that it's the best Warrior card and I don't see a way to build a good Warrior deck that is not centered around it.
We'll start off with a quick summary of the deck. We're going to abuse Whirlwind along with our other cards to grind out our opponent and bury them in card advantage before going in for the kill. Taking profitable trades will always prioritize doing damage to the opponent. We want to 2-for-1 whenever possible. The longer the game lasts, the more the odds turn in our favor.
So while I'm on the subject, I'll go ahead and post the full list before diving into the grimy details of it:
"ARMOR UP!" Decklist (In-Game Format): http://i.imgur.com/KhzZEYd.png
Wowhead Deckbuilder Link: http://goo.gl/g1jh0n
(This will likely be easier to keep up with if you keep the Wowhead link open in another tab if you don't have most of the cards memorized - I had every mention of a card associated with a link, but Hearthstone forums don't let me do that! Sorry!)
All right, so now that you've seen the list, we can start talking about the details. The focus of the deck should be fairly obvious - utilize Whirlwind and similar cards (We call this redundancy) along with creatures that enjoy taking damage to generate value. What is value? Value can be one of three things, all good and situationally better than each other, but typically there are certain types of value we favor over others:
1.) Card Advantage
This is the greatest form of value. Card advantage is when one card effectively puts you two or more cards ahead of your opponent. One of the most important things to understand in a TCG is that every single card is a resource, and you want to utilize those resources to their maximum potential.
Some cards inherently generate insane card advantage - Cenarius, for example. Others are inherently extremely inefficient - Silence, for example.
Now these are extremely different cards and are both very extreme examples on both end of the scale. Silence costs 0 and does almost nothing, while Cenarius gives you three creatures and a total of 9 power and 12 health on the board for only 8 Mana. (And as icing on the cake, if you're already winning he functions as a permanent Bloodlust instead). Cenarius gives you the value of 3 cards, while Silence is approximately half a card.
Our deck has many ways of generating card advantage. Battle Rage with at least 2 damaged creatures on the board is the prime example - it is not difficult at all for the deck to draw at least 3 cards with it, however!
An easy way to generate card advantage in Hearthstone is with profitable trades. A profitable trade is when minions attack each other and you come out on top. Loot Hoarder is the perfect example of this. As a 2 mana minion with 2 power, he kills a lot of relevant things - and when he does, he will almost certainly die as well because he only has 1 toughness - but that's okay, because he draws you a card! You killed their minion, and you draw a card! :)
Another profitable trade is simply attacking into a minion and yours surviving. Killing a 2/1 with your 3/3 doesn't kill your 3/3, so you're ahead.
(As a quick aside, do not fall into the trap of thinking any card that says "draw a card" on it is good. The biggest mistake I often see is Hunters playing Flare. This card is awful. You accomplish nothing 99% of the time, and all it does it replace itself. You spend a mana and a card to gain a completely random card from your deck. This does nothing that simply not having Flare in your deck wouldn't accomplish for less mana.)
Tempo is the second form of value, and the second most sought after. It is also somewhat difficult to explain, as it doesn't really have a strict definition. Our deck is unfortunately light on tempo, but makes up for it in the other categories. As a general guideline, Aggro Decks are heavy on tempo while Control Decks are heavy on card advantage.
Tempo is why going first is typically good. Tempo is being the one making plays that your opponent has to respond to, rather than the other way around. (However, in Hearthstone The Coin basically completely negates this by allowing the second player to play his 2 Mana card on turn 1, among other broken interactions. It is no secret that going second is rather broken at the moment.)
Tempo is being ahead on the board, despite how many cards are in each players hand. If you're far enough ahead, it doesn't matter that you're out of gas while the opponent has six cards in hand - they won't be able to play all of them before they lose.
Cards that are heavy in tempo typically give an effect that is very valuable in the short term, but worse in the long term than a more expensive card that would give a better version of the same effect. The best example I can think of for this is Sap versus Assassinate.
Sap temporarily removes a creature from the board, while Assassinate does the job permanently for more than double the mana cost. Sap is a tempo card, because for the cost its effect is extremely valuable. Both cards are good in the right context/deck.
Bombs are the simplest way to gain value, but also potentially risky if they don't also generate card advantage. Simply play something that your opponent has to respond to. These are cards that can carry a game completely by themselves if they aren't dealt with. Contrary to popular belief, these cards don't have to be giant fat creatures like Gruul. Pint-Sized Summoner is a bomb. If it isn't dealt with instantly, it can cause a game to completely swing in your favor.
While Gruul is totally a bomb, he is very easy to deal with. So is Pint-Sized Summoner. That property is typically what causes a card to fall into this category exclusively. These cards are basically a gamble - if you can get them to stick, you will probably win. If not, you set up a situation for your opponent to easily tempo you out, especially if you spent your entire turn casting an 8 mana bomb like Gruul.
Phew! So now that's out of the way, let's start by categorizing our deck. Each and every card needs to accomplish one of these three things, and accomplish it well. Some cards fit into more than one category, and that is totally cool - we want that.
1.) Card Advantage
Acolyte of Pain
Hopefully, based on my previous explanations you can understand why each card is where it is.
Now, it's finally time to go over each and every card in detail!
*Armor Up!* - Warrior Passive
What, you thought I'd go through the whole article without mentioning the Warrior's passive? ;) A lot of people don't like it, because it seems like a worse version of the Priest passive which isn't very good to begin with.
The difference is that Armor stacks above 30 life. I love this passive ability. My turn 2 play is often Armor Up. Your plays will almost always leave 2 mana open for an Armor Up. If you reach the late game (Which is the deck's goal), Armor Up will prevent your opponent from ever catching up in the life total race. I think it is one the strongest, if not the strongest in the game.
Because every minion in this game is unblockable (In Magic terms), it is very difficult for a slow control deck to stabilize at a low life total. Armor Up lets you do exactly that. I have won many, many games with under 10 life and a boatload of armor. It's the perfect passive for the deck, and I wouldn't trade it for any other.
Execute is simple. It's a 1 mana spell that can kill any creature, given the simple condition of it having at least 1 damage on it. This is an extremely simple feat, especially when you don't mind throwing some of your creatures at something big to enable it.
I've already touched on this card. It is the core of the deck. Every card choice revolves around it. When used properly, it generates massive value.
The easiest way of gaining value from Whirlwind. Very often it's just a way better than Arcane Intellect, drawing you 2 - 4 cards for a measly 2 mana.
I sorted this under card advantage, but it isn't in the strictest sense. Gaining enough value of something ephemeral like Life or Armor can make it worth a card. There is no strict rule to this, and it is debatable. In our deck Armorsmith is capable of gaining you at least 4 Armor on average, unless your opponent deals with it immediately, which is difficult to do if you drop it on turn 2 because of its 4 toughness. You are very happy if your opponent decides to spend a removal spell on this card, because that's one less removal spell for your bombs to have to eat.
This guy was a late addition to the deck, and boy do I wish I was playing him sooner. I don't know how I passed him up initially - he does *everything*. He kills 1 toughness creatures. He enables Execute. He enables Battle Rage. He enables Enrage. He pings your Acolyte of Pain or Armorsmith and turns them into 3 power minions. On top all of that, he will likely trade with an opponents 2 power creature. This guy is an absolute powerhouse.
This rather innocent looking Gnome does one very important job - he trades with 2 toughness creatures profitably. His sole purpose in life is to throw himself at anything he can kill, and die. He is very good at his job.
This guy is your 3rd and sometimes 4th Whirlwind, if you're a little lucky. As a 3/2 for 2, he's respectable even if you don't have a Spell to play. We only run one because unfortunately he's not extremely reliable and doesn't play well with himself.
Acolyte of Pain
This guy is a card advantage *engine*. I find myself drawing at least 2 cards off of him very often. Worst case scenario, he's a Loot Hoarder. Best cast scenario he draws you 2 or 3 cards and kills a minion.
At first glance, he isn't very exciting. A 1/4 for 3? But then you read his ability again, and realize that it is *not* Enrage. Not only is it permanent, it triggers whenever *any* minion takes damage, not just himself. Throw your Loot Hoarder at something? He gets +2 attack. Hit something with your weapon? He gets an attack. Whirlwind!? He gets like 6 attack. This guy needs to be answered or he wins the game.
The newest addition to the deck, this guy used to be a playset of [Warsong Commander](http://www.wowhead.com/hearthstone/card=1009). The Commander was nice, but wasn't quite pulling her weight. With an additional power, the Worgen makes better trades, and is also very scary for your opponent. They will typically try to answer it right away, and if they don't he will likely kill two minions. Pissing him off with a Cruel Taskmaster also makes for theatrical plays. ;)
This card is not very exciting, to be honest, but as a Warrior it's what we have available to us as general purpose removal. It kills most things, and occasionally you will win a game off of throwing it at your opponents face. If we could play [Fireball](http://www.wowhead.com/npc=54251) instead we would.
This lady gets a lot of work done. At 3/3, she's respectable, and she throws a 2/2 weapon for free. A big mistake I see a lot of players doing with weapons is just blindly attacking your opponents face with them. This is almost always incorrect. Weapons are removal. The Weaponsmith is often worth three whole cards because her Axe can kill two minions, and then she is also a 3/3 minion for you!
Somehow, this guy found his way to the initial version of the deck and has managed to stick around. He doesn't look very exciting, but he does a surprising amount of work. Silence gets rid of anything and everything you can think of, from those 20/20 Priest creatures to that ever obnoxious Sen'jin Shieldmasta's taunt, and leaves you with a 4/3 body to boot. I haven't been able to find a replacement for him, and I don't think I need to.
Frothing Berserk's big brother. Unfortunately, he doesn't share the same quality of his little brother's trigger activating off of *any* damage, but he still does his job very well. With an amazing 7 toughness, he can throw himself at several minions and get bigger each time. Whirlwind makes him bigger and he really doesn't mind taking 1 damage.
Another recent addition to the deck, and I can't figure out why. He should have been an auto-include. The only thing that stops this guy is Silence. He's extremely difficult to get rid of without costing your opponent multiple cards in the process.
I love this card. Since the deck is slow, it often winds up being a 7 mana Fireball to the opponents face to seal a game, but while theatrical, that is its weakest use. Between Armorsmith and your passive, you can afford to take some extra damage. Every minion past the first you can kill with Gorehowl, you're ahead a card. And potentially, it can kill *seven*.
I always wanted him to be in the deck but it took me awhile to both have enough dust to craft him and convince myself that he was worth it. I have no regrets. He seems kind of mediocre because when you look at him, the initial thought process gravitates toward the worst case scenario - he's just a 4 power Charge for 8. Why not just play Kor'kron Elite? The difference is that Grommash can kill something and live. Not only does he live, he gets enormous. If you have him and a Whirlwind or Taskmaster in hand to piss him off immediately? The game is probably over.
And that's the deck! I hope you enjoyed reading and that you learned a thing or two in the process! If I've inspired you to build this deck, great! If I've inspired you to try to create an even better deck, even better! We need to get more people out of the Arena and into the constructed metagame, in my opinion! :)
Edited by Lotus on 8/27/2013 6:40 PM PDT
Great write up, great looking deck. From a former MTG player, this is a great article. I'm going to make this deck because it's sound.
When i stream so my buddy can watch me play, he gets tired of me saying, "Card Economy" when this or that happens, but it's true.
Drawing cards is the #1 economical thing a card gamer can do. (Jaymdae Tome)
Destroying your opponents hand is the second (Remember hypnotic spectre?)
Minion/Board control is the third. (Moat, Wrath of God)
These are old school cards that aren't playable anymore but the strategy is sound. It's why I love my rogue deck. The card economy is through the roof, not only drawing cards, but getting some of them back after casting is just sick.
Really great deck. It looks like a lot of fun and I am excited to try it out.
One useful thing to point out, I have found card advantage is not nearly as much king in this game as it is in MTG. It is still quite important, but because our creatures can't "block" its amazing how much tempo matters so much. It is really an amazing release. It took a while to feel okay including cheap "Half-Cards" (Cards that naturally tend to not take a card out), but found out how powerful they are in Hearthstone. I lost too many games with 6 cards in hand. Once I started using them I loved being able to value cards differently and being able to use them.
Gotta love Grommash.. I haven't even considered adding a spellbreaker into my warrior control deck, i seem to be stuck at around rank 10 at the moment. Maybe I'll remove something and throw one of those fellas in.
Great write up, looks like you put in a lot of effort!
The con is that I find this deck really weak to up-front rushes. - Unless I get the perfect starting hand. And Shamans seem to be my tough customers with it. Pretty much boiling down to whoever gets, and then keeps control early on.
I just shot from 20 to 15 in the span of like 45 minutes though, so despite a few losses it's doing something right - and while I suspect that will change shortly for me here.
More importantly to me though, this deck is FUN.
I swapped out Grom, Cairne, and Pyro since I just don't have them right now. Threw in a Commanding shout, Amani Berserker and a Kor'kron to try to bridge that gap.
But with the right bit of set-up. Whirlwind turns into a monstrous trigger of 2 or even a ton more effects.
Acolyte Draws a card, Enrages go off, Armorsmith racks up quickly. And the berserkers. Good god. Pushed him up to 14 in one turn with a Taskmaster and Whirlwind going off. And enough silence/removal to make it count.
Really fun deck all around, thanks for posting!
And does anyone else keep drawing Gorehowl in their first or second draws? Went six matches in a row where it either has to be nixed, or I draw it first thing. /ffffffff
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