Every new expansion means a lot of experimenting. After the pack-opening session, every pro player and streamer started looking for the best (and sometimes most fun) deck lists to take them to the ladder. Out of hundreds of the new decks, we've picked five that we feel had the best performance on the first day of the expansion. All of those decks are very strong right now, however, given the experimental nature of the meta, it doesn't mean that they will remain the strongest decks. That's why we still don't recommend crafting all the cards required to play those decks if you're short on Dust. If you want to get as much from your Dust as possible, it will be safe to wait at least few more days before crafting things. But if you really need a Legendary to craft, The Lich King is most likely the safest choice right now.
But, without further introduction, we'll get straight to the point and talk a bit about the best decks from Day 1.
Deck's Code: AAECAZICAq6rApS9Ag5AX/4BxAbkCL6rArS7Asu8As+8At2+AvnAAsnHAqDNAofOAgA=
Druid seems to be the strongest class of the Day 1 in general, and Jade Druid is one of the most stand-out decks. It might be partially because the early expansion meta tends to be slower than usual, and Jade Druid is great in those slow-grindy matchups. Most of the players are testing the new Death Knight Heroes, and those are relatively slow cards. But, never mind the reason, if you like to play the Jade Druid, it might be your best opportunity. Zalae has went on the 18 games win streak with his list, while I got a pretty solid 10 games win streak too.
Two new additions to the list are Spreading Plague and Ultimate Infestation. Both of them are huge. Spreading Plague aids the Druid at coming back from the situations when he's behind on the board. Putting a 1/5 Taunt for every minion on the opponent's deck (assuming that you have no board yourself) is an incredible effect in every faster matchups. The card can just win matchups like Pirate Warrior, Token Druid or Token/Evolve Shaman. While it's not that powerful versus slower decks, it's not that big of a deal - the new lists are so cycle-heavy in the late game that a dead card or two is not the end of the world. But the MVP of the new Druid decks is definitely Ultimate Infestation. The card replaced Gadgetzan Auctioneer, which pales in comparison to it. The card simply does everything - draws a lot of cards, gives Armor, deals damage and gives some board presence. With three different ramp cards, it's very easy to get to 10 mana, where Ultimate Infestation can be used to come back on the board and refill the hand. One of the best things about this card is that you no longer have to use Nourish to draw cards. Nourish to draw on 5 mana was a very common play before, because in case you ramped, you would run out of cards very quickly. It's no longer the case if you're also holding this card. Before, I was using Nourish to draw probably 8 out of 10 times, now it's much closer to 3 out of 10 (which means that I'm usually ramping), and being 2 extra mana ahead of the opponent is a huge deal.
Some people have also tried using the Druid's Death Knight Hero in the Jade Druid - Malfurion the Pestilent. I am, however, not a big fan of it. I think it's unnecessarily slow in the Jade Druid - after ramping up, I prefer to start the Jade train instead of upgrading my Hero Power. More damage is rarely necessary in the late game (because you mostly win with big Jades anyway), and more Armor is also unnecessary with 2x Feral Rage and 2x Earthen Scales. I'll still have to test it more carefully, but so far the Zalae's list seems to be the best one.
As for the deck's strategy, it's not that much different than it was before Frozen Throne. The general idea is to ramp early, then start the Jade chain, draw cards, continue the Jade train, draw more cards etc. If you don't die, you probably win the late game with huge Jade minions.
Deck's Code: AAECAf0GAsLOApfTAg4wkge2B/sHxAjMCPMM3bwC3sQC58sCos0C980Cn84Cl+gCAA==
Here is the thing. I actually think that Warlock will still be one of the weaker classes this expansion when the meta settles down. But I have to admit that so far, when you consider that the class was completely unplayable in the last expansion, the current state is a huge step in the right direction. Warlock is one of the most popular classes on the ladder right now and everyone's trying to make it work. J4CKIECHAN has went on a 23 games (!) win streak with the Control Warlock deck and for a while, every second game on the ladder was against that deck. Admittedly, the huge win streak happened in the lower ranks (between 20 and 10), but it's still a solid result. I've seen people playing the same, or similar, decks in Legend and some of them also had a nice score.
But what's so special about this deck? Well, first of all, the deck is built in a very unique way. The main idea behind it is... to survive. The Warlock's biggest problem in Standard is lack of healing cards. And on top of not having healing, the class is centered around dealing self-damage. Even though most of the cards don't deal a lot of damage, if you put few of them into the deck, the damage stacks so much that even Control decks can rush Warlock down. That's why pretty much the only way to build a slower Warlock right now is to run healing. A lot of it.
Jackie has really took this to his heart and put pretty much every decent healing card available to Warlock (Mistress of Mixtures, Drain Soul, Earthen Ring Farseer, Siphon Soul) and even put 2 copies of Happy Ghoul on top of that. I guess it makes sense - with 8 cards that heal you (and later the DK Hero too), it's very easy to get some free tempo with a 0 mana 3/3.
However, the two biggest reasons why the Control Warlock even works in the first place are new cards - Defile and Bloodreaver Gul'dan. Defile is a very powerful AoE spell, great at shutting down Aggro decks, but also very solid in the slower matchups. Jackie's deck also runs 2 copies of Tainted Zealot to combo with Defile. Thanks to the Divine Shield on the Spell Damage minion, as long as there is a 2 or less health minion on the board to start things with, this combo deals AT LEAST 5 AoE damage for 4 mana. It's not Wild Pyromancer + Equality, but it's still very strong. And most importantly - it comes early. It can often clear a board on Turn 2 or Turn 3, while normally you would have to take a lot of extra damage vs the early aggression. Second card is the late game finisher. By running multiple Demons (inculding new Despicable Dreadlord, which is also a solid minion), you can assure that it will have some immediate board impact. Plus it heals you for 5, which doesn't seem like much, but it's a lifesaver in the late game. And then, you get an upgraded version of your Hero Power - one of the best (if not THE best) DK Hero Power. With every use, you deal 3 damage to anything and then you heal for 3. It helps with the board control or pushing for the final points of damage AND heals you at the same time. At this point, if you've stabilized with the new Hero Power, it's really hard to kill you and you can finally enjoy playing Warlock.
Like I've mentioned at the beginning - I don't think that Warlock will be great later in the expansion. This deck will still have hard time vs heavy aggression of decks like Pirate Warrior or burst damage of Token decks, it won't always find the right board clear or enough healing to deal with them, and surviving to Turn 10 vs those decks is pretty much impossible. While the Frozen Throne meta might indeed be a bit slower (because Control decks have got more tools than Aggro), I believe that Aggro/fast Midrange decks will still be very popular on the ladder, making Control Warlock a very questionable choice. But right now Warlock fans can enjoy the fact that their favorite class is playable.
Deck's Code: AAECAa0GHggJigGXAqEE5QTtBckG9gfTCtcK8gz7DJK0AoO7ArW7Are7Ati7AvC7AuG/Auq/AtHBAtjBAtnBAtzBAsnHAr7IAvDPApDTApfoAgAA
While I thought that Highlander Priest with Shadowreaper Anduin is going to be pretty good, I didn't think about a very easy combo you can include in the deck. But others have figured it out very quickly and started running similar decks on the ladder. If you haven't figured out the combo yourself, here's how it goes:
At 10 mana, you've already played both Raza the Chained and Death Knight.
- You play Hero Power for 2 damage (2 damage total)
- You drop Prophet Velen and play Hero Power for 4 damage (6 total)
- You play Holy Smite for 4 damage (10 total) and Hero Power for 4 damage (14 total).
- You play Mind Blast for 10 damage (24 total) and Hero Power for 4 damage (28 total).
As you can see, it's very easy. Since the idea behind Highlander Priest is to play both Raza and Death Knight anyway, adding such a combo doesn't take a lot of slots, but it makes the deck much stronger in some matchups. Actually, the only strictly combo piece is Mind Blast, which is a terrible card outside of the combo. Both Holy Smite and Velen can be helpful even if you aren't going for the OTK.
The best thing about this combo is that it's pretty flexible. You don't need to play the full 24 damage combo. Even with Mind Blast alone you can deal 9 damage from your hand just like that (and you don't need to have Raza discount). Since people generally don't expect a lot of burst damage from the Priest, it can catch them off-guard. The combo works great in most of the slow matchups, where the game goes long enough that you can gather all the pieces.
On top of that, the deck runs a lot of low cost cards, which make the Anduin DK amazing. Normally, all those 1-2 cost cards are pretty bad in the late game, because their impact isn't high enough. But now, every card gives you an extra 2 points of damage, which adds extra value AND tempo to a lot of cards. The Holy Smite I was talking about is now 2x 2 damage for just one point of mana, and you can choose two targets separately.
Another interesting way to utilize the cheap spells (and free Hero Powers) is Lyra the Sunshard. Even though the latest expansion has introduced quite a lot of expensive spells, which makes the long Lyra chains more unlikely, it's still common to get 3 or 4 cards from it, and for every card you also deal 2 damage with your Hero Power.
While I'm pretty sure that the deck will still need some optimization, because well, it's only Day 1, I love the concept and I will definitely follow it closely and see how it develops.
Deck's Code: AAECAQcE0gKkA4bNAvbPAg0ckAORA9QEjgWRBrII+wyCrQLSrgKGsALMzQKmzgIA
Knights of the Frozen Throne revived the Tempo Warrior, which was last seen around Whispers of the Old Gods. If you aren't familiar with the archetype, Tempo Warrior is generally known for its Whirlwind effects and cards that synergize with them. Whirlwind effects are great at dealing with small boards, but also at activating effects of the other cards - Armorsmith, Battle Rage, Execute, Acolyte of Pain, Frothing Berserker, Bloodhoof Brave, Grommash Hellscream and the new Rotface. The deck excels at cycling, making it a really though opponent if it hits the right curve. It can throw the whole hand to the board, then draw 5 more cards, play them again and draw even more.
I'll mostly focus on the new additions to the deck. The most common and absolutely best new card is Blood Razor. You've probably already noticed that Whirlwind effects combo really well with the deck, and this card has two of them combined in one. It curves out right after Acolyte of Pain (or Frothing Berserker), which is great, and you can keep the second charge for whenever you need it as an immediate Whirlwind on demand, for free! It's great if you want to set up a big Battle Rage turn or get an immediate Legendary from Rotface.
And that's pretty much where the similarities between different builds end. Since it's a pretty experimental deck and it's still very early in the expansion, it will probably take a while to find the most optimal deck. I had most luck with the Mitsuhide's version, and that's why I'm highlighting it.
The deck runs one copy of Forge of Souls (which feels like enough with 4 weapons in the deck, two copies might be a bit too clunky) and two copies of Bonemare. While Forge of Souls is a pretty obvious choice (the deck wants to cycle, it's 2 mana to draw 2, it wants to get Blood Razor), Bonemare is more interesting. While the card might not seem like a lot (I mean.. it's Neutral Common), it's actually a very high tempo play as long as you have a minion on the board to play it on. Given that Blessing of Kings costs 4 mana, it's like combining a 3 mana 5/5 body with BoK into one card. It's great, the only downside is that it's less flexible than just BoK (because it costs more). The deck also runs Cairne Bloodhoof which is great target for the Bonemare - it is very likely to stick (even if not the first body) and making it a 8/9 Taunt is huge.
But the coolest card of them all is Rotface. You shouldn't expect it to win you the game on the spot - from my experience, you will get between 1 and 3 Legendaries (so let's say 2 on average) and the quality of random Legendary might not be THAT high. But getting two high rolls is just crazy. You can quickly build a board your opponent simply has to answer, or else he dies. It's a great finisher and nice late game option, since you don't have to build your whole deck around it for it to work.
One thing I was curious about is why Mitsuhide decided to not run Scourgelord Garrosh. The card fits this kind of deck quite a lot, and it's not even that low tempo, given that you get a 4/3 weapon immediately. I guess that the idea is to finish the games sooner, around Turn 9-10, where Death Knight wouldn't get enough value to justify running it yet. Other people experiment with it, but since I haven't opened it yet, I can't tell which version is better.
Deck's Code: AAECAZICAq6rApnTAg5AX/4B9wPEBuQIgrQCzbsCm80CoM0Ch84Cps4CjtACkdACAA==
And Druid again. Like I've mentioned when discussing Jade Druid, the class shapes up to be really strong this expansion. It has got some really powerful cards, interesting combos and Ultimate Infestation is simply broken in slower matchups. And thanks to the Spreading Plague, the decks can't even get forced out of the meta by Aggro so easily.
The second Druid deck I want to talk about is the Feno's Midrange Druid. We haven't really seen something like that before - it feels like a mix of Token, Ramp and Combo versions of the deck, it has some weird card choices, but it works unexpectedly well. The deck's main game plan is to simply curve out as well as possible, get a lot of the mid game tempo and then refill the hand with Ultimate Infestation. Simple, right? It's probably the deck running most of the new cards, so I'll start by going through them.
The deck runs Druid of the Swarm and Crypt Lord, which are solid early game Taunts. However, given their stat-line, they also synergize very well with the buffs, and the deck runs both Mark of the Lotus and Power of the Wild. But that's not all - it also uses Strongshell Scavenger, which is like a Bolster with on a stick. Something that didn't work in Warrior can work in Druid, because the class now has easy way summoning a lots of Taunts. Swarm -> Crypt Lord -> Scavenger curve created a really solid board - 3/7 Taunt, 3/9 Taunt (which will get more health the more minions you play) and 2/3. That's a pretty solid board for Turn 4, right? Strongshell Scavenger also combos with another card - Spreading Plague. It's a 9 mana combo (which is not that hard to get to, considering that the deck runs some mana ramp) that puts a 3/7 Taunt for every minion your opponent has on the board. Spreading Plague alone often blocks the opponent and makes things awkward for them, if you combo it with Scavenger, the chances are that you've created a board significantly stronger than your opponent's.
The deck runs the Druid's Hero - Malfurion the Pestilent. Malfurion is actually solid in such a deck, because two 1/5 Taunts (or Scarabs if necessary) give some immediate board impact, and the +3 damage per turn makes finishing the game much easier. If you play the Taunts on the empty board, you can follow it with another Taunt and Scavenger next turn too.
It's also another deck using Bonemare, which is a great tempo play in the midrange decks. Given the very high average health of the minions in this deck, it's not that hard to stick something for Turn 7 to get immediate impact of the +4/+4 buff.
And last, but not least, Ultimate Infestation. So far this card seems pretty broken. Even though the deck is faster than Jade or Ramp Druid, it still runs two copies. Getting to 10 mana is easy now that you can ramp up with Nourish without worrying about running out of cards. And the card is like Firelands Portal that draws 5 cards and adds 5 armor, sick.
Given a pretty high density of spells, the deck runs Arcane Giants as the other win condition. Since it can cycle quite easily with the Infestations, getting to them is not a hard task. In the late game, you can drop them for 2-3, or maybe even 0 mana, and you can make it even harder for the opponent to clear them if you hide them behind a Taunt like Crypt Lord.
I haven't played this deck a lot yet, but it felt like one of the most powerful decks in the meta so far. I didn't feel like I have any bad matchups and the games I've lost were because of the bad draws. Even a game where I drew Ultimate Infestation and Arcane Giant in my opening hand without any ramp felt like a close one in the end.
See also: Kolento's Frozen Throne Midrange Druid