Sinisa Bucan, December 7, 2016

State of the Post-Gadgetzan Meta

So far, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan has had a massive impact on the metagame, which One Night in Karazhan pretty much failed to do. New deck archetypes are cropping up everywhere as the community is testing all the new cards. There’s loads of stuff going on and we can’t go through it all, so we’ll focus on the most promising decks. Keep in mind, though, it’s still very early. The meta is still shifting and just because a deck seems viable now, it doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. Remember N’Zoth Paladin?

Jade Lotus

Jade Druid was perhaps the most hyped deck prior to the release of the expansion. It’s easy to see why. Druid has a natural ability to ramp up very quickly thanks to Wild Growth and Innervate. Now Druid has a new ramp-up tool in the form of Jade Blossom that also summons a Jade Golem. Speaking of Jade Golem, Jade Idol is a fantastic card that pretty much guarantees that you’ll never run out of cards. The trick with this deck is to survive the early game. Right now, the most popular options include Living Roots, Wrath, Feral Rage, and Swipe.

By the time you get to the mid-to-late game (keep in mind, you should get to those 7-8 mana turns very quickly), you’ll be looking to close the enemy down with taunts. If you manage to survive, you should be getting really big Jade Golems, which will make winning easy. It’s still up in the air if this deck is truly viable. The main problem is that the meta seems extremely aggressive right now. If this keeps up, the Jade Golem mechanic might prove to be too slow.

Kabal

Reno Kazakus Mage is another deck that was on everyone’s mind even before the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. I’ve personally played Reno Mage a lot ever since The League of Explorers hit, but this deck archetype has so many more tools now. The first one, obviously, being Kazakus. This is a great card because it’s so flexible. You can choose mana cost (1, 5, 10 mana) and various effects, ranging from board damage, summoning dead minions, armoring up, and so on. You can always adapt your spell to almost any situation you find yourself in.

Manic Soulcaster is an absolutely fantastic addition to this deck. You’ll want to use it on Kazakus to get another spell. It’s even possible to play Brann Bronzebeard, Kazakus, and Manic Soulcaster on the same turn, enabling you to create three spells in total. Other important cards include Emperor Thaurissan, Ice Block, Azure Drake, and Doomsayer. There are multiple versions of this deck. Some are running Inkmaster Solia, others are not. The jury still seems to be out on that one.

As we expected, Priest has been revitalized thanks to this expansion. There are currently two popular Priest decks. Dragon Priest is very similar to the old build, but new additions such as Kabal Talonpriest, Drakonid Operative, and Dragonfire Potion have made it significantly more powerful. Reno Kazakus Priest also uses dragon synergy, but it’s a very different deck. Kazakus is once again the main star, but the supporting cast is great as well. Raza the Chained in particular as it enables the player to just spam their hero power for free.

Warlock is doing relatively well with its own version of Reno Kazakus, but it doesn’t really seem as powerful as the old Renolock or the new Mage and Priest decks that use Reno Jackson and Kazakus.

Land Ahoy!

All hail Pirate Warrior! This is a very simple, very fast, and extremely brutal deck. Some people perhaps didn’t understand why Patches the Pirate was going to be such a big deal. After all, it’s just a 1/1 with charge. What Patches does is it thins out your deck. This is essentially a 29-card deck, which makes all the difference for an aggro deck. All you have to do is play a pirate, Patches comes out, and each turn you’re more likely to draw more and more damage.

If you’re playing on the Coin, you could potentially play N’Zoth First Mate (which makes Patches fly out of your deck), Coin, and Small-Time Buccaneer. It’s turn 1 and you have two 1/1 minions, one 3/2 minion, and a 1/3 weapon. That’s insane in and of itself, but you also have various combo opportunities for the next couple of turns thanks to the likes of Upgrade!, Bloodsail Cultist, Southsea Deckhand, Bloodsail Rider, and Dread Corsair. At this point, this deck seems even more potent than Face Hunter back in its heyday.

Shaman uses this pirate synergy very effectively, too. It pretty much feels like a classic Aggro Shaman deck, with the addition of Small-Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate. The fact that Patches is entirely viable with just two pirate cards in the deck shows how powerful its effect truly is. Elsewhere, Rogue is performing reasonably well with its own version of an Aggro Pirate deck. Some players are also testing the Jade Golem mechanic, but it doesn’t seem like it’s taken off so far.

The Losers

Right now, the biggest losers of the current meta seem to be Hunter and Paladin. The Grimy Goons mechanic just isn’t taking off at this point. Even though Warrior belongs to this gang as well, it has managed to adopt the pirate synergy. There’s also a new version of Control Warrior. Paladin just seems really weak. I don’t think I’ve lost a single game against Paladin so far. Hunter isn’t quite as bad, but I certainly expected more, especially considering that the class got some great new cards such as Rat Pack and Alleycat.

Final Thoughts

It seems as though the meta is currently ruled by extremely fast aggro decks, which are countered by Reno Kazakus decks. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for midrange decks. Pirate Warrior is the clear winner at this point, followed by Reno Kazakus Mage and Priest. Once again, it’s still super early and there is no doubt that the meta will change in the coming days and weeks.

Sinisa Bucan

Siniša is a writer and translator from Croatia, a small European country on the Adriatic coast. Apart from being a passionate Hearthstone player, he enjoys all kinds of video games, including strategy, role-playing, adventure, and action. Other interests include listening to indie rock and travelling. You can follow him @SinisaBucan.