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About Attack the Meta

Attack the Meta is Hearthhead’s new ‘anti-meta’ meta report. Periodically, we’ll look at the state of the game in Hearthstone, and - in consultation with pro players and community feedback - develop a list of decklists that are well positioned to challenge the established top tier archetypes.

Traditional meta reports focus on identifying which decks are some combination of the most popular (frequency) and the most effective (win rates). AtM will certainly look at those variables as well, but focus instead on how - if you’re the type of player who prefers playing something a little off the beaten path - to target the lists you’re seeing the most of every day when you queue up for Ranked in Standard.

We’ll be bringing decklist suggestions based on the following:
  • Giving players an idea what’s likely to ‘come next’ in the meta
  • Identifying the weaknesses in a given ‘style’ of play - knowledge of the relationship between aggro decks, tempo decks, etc.
  • Helping players discover fresh decklists and new ideas in a consolidated, up-to-date fashion that counters some of the things that can be frustrating to play against so frequently!
If you have feedback on the decklists or what you’re seeing on the ladder that could inform future reports, please let us know in the comments.
Welcome to Hearthhead’s new Attack the Meta! Effective with this meta report, we’re trying something new, based on feedback we’ve received since introducing the Midweek Meta Review back in January. Players have been asking us for more decklists that they’re not seeing on the ladder elsewhere, or in a traditional ‘power ranking’ format - instead, they want to know what to play to beat those decks!

In keeping with that theme, here’s how Attack the Meta will work:
  1. We will work with pro players, other power rankings, and community feedback to identify the most prevalent decks on the ladder.
  2. We will identify decklists and tech choices (other than the ones already identified in step 1) that effectively target the most popular ladder choices.
  3. Our report will suggest what you could take to the ladder that will be both effective, as well as maybe surprise your opponents.
For reference, this report is looking at Standard format only at this time.

With the ladder currently comprised heavily of cheap, effective decklists - such as Shaman or Zoo Warlock - our recommendations this week will focus on decks that maximize tempo to prevent your opponent from achieving their snowball effect win condition on the board.

To learn more about the concept of Tempo, check out this short article by Sottle: What is Tempo in Hearthstone?

So, what decks can you take to the ladder right now to steal some victories and upset the popular meta picks? For your consideration, four suggestions:

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Midrange Hunter - Attack the Meta

Hunter is one of the classes that felt like it was being held down prior to Standard, and also looked to be in a difficult position immediately after Old Gods launched. Part of the challenge for Hunter players is that their tech choices are so specific - you want vastly different tools depending on the meta of the day.

Midrange Hunter focuses on strong trades and Beast synergy to get more tempo value out of its plays from as early as turn three or four until a hopefully game-ending play like sticking a Savannah Highmane or unleashing a Call of the Wild. It achieves this with strong removal like Deadly Shot or Kill Command, as well as the value of buffing a Beast with a Houndmaster.

A ton of variations on this style exist, so experiment with the tech choices as you’re climbing the ladder. The first 80% or so of the archetype is quite consistent, but you’ll see Tundra Rhino in some lists, Quick Shot in others, Freezing Trap quite frequently, Flame Juggler a lot, or even highly specialized tech choices like Snipe to try and answer Miracle Rogue. Explosive Trap for Zoo is also an option.
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C'Thun Warrior - Attack the Meta

While traditional Control Warrior struggles with many of the more Midrange decks out there and may lack the tools to respond to N’Zoth Paladin, C’Thun Warrior trades some removal for more minions and a whole host of sustain in the form of Ancient Shieldbearers, Twin Emperor Vek'lor, and the eventuality of not one, but TWO, C'Thun plays with a Doomcaller.

Smart use of Brawl and maximizing the value of key minions will be what decides most matchups for the Warrior. Holding Brann Bronzebeard for an Ancient Shieldbearer can instantly change a game; the lone Doomcaller should almost never be played ahead of C’Thun himself.

Discussed by: Ephemi.

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LiveHigh's [Legend] Illidan TempoRogue

Non-Miracle, non-Malygos Rogue decks tend to catch most players by surprise, although they continue to generally focus on combo-based finishers or may go the N'Zoth, the Corruptor and Deathrattle route. There are well-established decklists and reasons to run them in those spaces, but for our purposes this week, we’re looking exclusively at tempo decks, and LiveHigh recently piloted an exceptionally well-refined Tempo Rogue list.

This Rogue list uses Gadgetzan Auctioneers, but exclusively as a way to refill your hand mid-game efficiently (and the body on the board is important, so it continues to be preferable to Sprint). A mixture of efficient removal, draw, strong minions, and numerous ways to quickly establish or reestablish board presence make this deck very difficult for any but the most tailored, removal-heavy control decks to react to. Plus, it runs Illidan Stormrage, and that’s pretty cool.

Discussed by: LiveHigh.

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Liquid Sjow's Old Gods Tempo Mage

Players like Sjow and Apxvoid have had enormous success with Tempo Mage against the current field, showcasing the strength of tempo decks in today’s meta. There are minor variations from one list to the next - the presence of Polymorph vs. Crazed Alchemist, or who’s using Spellslinger - but the broad concepts and vast majority of the decklist remain consistent.

Tempo Mage can struggle against the current iteration of Zoo, but it does extraordinarily well overall otherwise - splitting the difference almost evenly with any deck it doesn’t have an outright advantage against. It might be a slower climb than some decks if you’re not hitting a lot of pure Aggro or Control decks, but is an overall excellent performer right now.

Discussed by: Sjow and Apxvoid.


Our tech choice spotlight this week is Acidic Swamp Ooze.

All of the strongest classes in the game right now are classes that utilize weapons, and there isn’t a single top tier decklist in any of these classes that doesn’t run at least one weapon. Whether you’re getting an enormous tempo swing from destroying a Gorehowl or 75% of a Doomhammer, or you’re just denying your opponent the efficiency of an extra charge of a Fiery War Axe or Truesilver Champion, this 2-drop minion can be easily teched into almost any current decklist in place of another minion.

For many decks, it’s also safer than Harrison Jones, since the additional card draw can constitute a liability in some archetypes. In the tempo-oriented lists we’ve posted this week, that’s not the case, since you don’t tend to end up with a large hand size, but it’s a consideration if you’re running a control deck and don’t want to end up destroying a key card because you couldn’t get your hand size down enough to safely Harrison that Doomhammer.