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 a few that we feel had the best performance after the first few days 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.
We've already rounded up the Best Decks from Day 1, but the meta has changed a bit since then. Some trends continue, but new decks have been discovered and turned out to be powerful. That's why we've decided to make another compilation - this time we present the best decks created until Day 5:
I simply have to start with this deck, because it's all over the ladder right now. Druid remains strong, and the Midrange archetype turned out to be the best one so far, with multiple players having success at high Legend. As I'm writing this, Druid's popularity near Legend (which is the most competitive rank, because people want to hit the Legend before they start experimenting) peaks at over 40% (according to vS Data Reaper LIVE), with variations of this list (and Jade lists) being the most popular decks.
Midrange Token lists didn't change much since the Day 1. Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague are still auto-include in any slower Druid deck, both are very powerful tools (UI beats Control decks, while SP beats Aggro). The biggest surprise when it comes to Midrange decks was definitely Strongshell Scavenger. The card wasn't rated very highly before the expansion, getting average/below average scores in most of the polls and discussions (I've rated it as an average card myself - I saw the potential, but I didn't think that it will be consistent enough). However, after playing the deck for a while, I can clearly see that it's often the MVP of this deck. Even a simple curve like Druid of the Swarm -> Crypt Lord -> Strongshell Scavenger is often good enough to carry the game, not to mention the late game shenanigans with Spreading Plague. Another surprise was probably Bonemare, which is played in most of the Midrange decks right now - as long as there is something on the board to buff, this card can lead to some insane tempo swings (especially if the buff activates a good trade).
Right now this is THE deck to beat at the higher ranks, or a great deck choice if you're looking to grind the Legend rank yourself.
Variations of Highlander Priest are very common on the ladder, basically on every rank. Another version of this deck was also the one I hit Legend with this season (having over 70% win rate from rank 5 to Legend). With so many deck building options, we see new Highlander Priest builds every day, but they're all based around two cards - Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin. The combo, just like many have anticipated before the expansion, is simply insane. Once you play those two cards, you not only have free 2 points of damage every turn, but you get 2 extra damage per card you play. That's the reason why those decks tend to have relatively low curve - it helps a lot when facing faster decks, while the low cost cards are still very useful in slower matchups after you turn into DK.
Monsanto's deck list is pretty specific, it's different than most of the ones I've seen on the ladder so far (including the one I've been playing). It pretty much drops the whole late game - it runs no N'Zoth, the Corruptor, no Medivh, the Guardian, no Free From Amber, not even The Lich King or Obsidian Statue, which seem to be staples in a lot of the lists. Instead, it opts to go for much heavier, anti-Aggro early game and more card draw. Cards like Holy Smite or Spirit Lash will make winning the fast matchups much easier, while the extra card draw will make drawing Anduin (and Raza) more consistent in slower matchups.
While it's still hard to tell which lists will be better, I have to applaud Monsanto for taking a whole different approach. Most of the players just put Shadowreaper Anduin into a Highlander Priest deck, Monsanto has built a whole deck around that card. And it worked really well.
It's pretty interesting, because the deck runs only one new card - Bone Baron - which didn't even seem like the best one. I can see it being quite strong in Tempo Rogue, because it tops the curve with a solid body + gives a bit more steam and more activators once it dies. However, I didn't think that it will make Tempo Rogue so strong... Wait, no. Bone Baron isn't really the reason why Rogue is so strong - it's most likely the meta. The meta is still pretty greedy, with multiple players running end-heavy deck lists. And this deck can really shine in such a meta, especially thanks to the Vilespine Slayer from the previous expansion, which lets Rogue make some insane tempo swings.
I think that once the meta adjusts to play vs faster decks, Tempo Rogue might not be a great choice. However, right now, it might be a good deck to play if you're looking to grind some greedy decks, especially in the lower ranks, when the greed reaches insane levels.
Last time we've featured the early Control Warlock version by J4CKIECHAN, which was all over the ladder for the first two days. However, the deck has quickly died out, once people have learned how to play against it. But it turns out that Warlock might not be dead yet, as many other players have experiemented with a more Handlock-y variant of the deck. Some of them, like Urana, had some great runs in high Legend. The main difference between the Jackie's deck and the new Handlocks are less focus on the Demons and healing. Jackie has played Dread Infernal, which is a pretty mediocre card by itself, just to make the swing from DK Gul'dan stronger. He also played more healing (e.g. Mistress of Mixtures) and healing synergy (Happy Ghoul).
Urana's Handlock, and the other variants, have gone back to the classic Mountain Giant + Twilight Drake package (plus the Faceless Shambler to get another big body with a Taunt), which puts an alternative win condition to the deck. It no longer relies only on the Bloodreaver Gul'dan to win the slower matchups, but has multiple other big threats. The deck also is more tech-heavy, running cards like Acidic Swamp Ooze, Spellbreaker and The Black Knight to improve some of the bad matchups. But that's exactly what should be expected once the decks get refined a bit. Another big difference is using Doomsayers, which are obviously great anti-Aggro tools, but they're also a good Turn 3 play vs some Midrange/Control decks to set up a big Turn 4 play.
Since the deck doesn't run as many Demons and Gul'dan is not the only win condition, it can play the card much earlier without feeling bad. Playing Gul'dan on curve is great even after reviving 2-3 Demons, because you get a better Hero Power and you still have a bunch of big minions your opponent will have to answer later.
Handlock, and later RenoLock, were my favorite decks in Hearthstone, so I'm really glad that people are trying to bring them back. It's still hard to say whether those decks will stay in the meta once it gets faster, but right now it should be a solid choice to ladder with.
This one isn't really surprising. Murloc Paladin was a deck that already worked very well back in the Un'Goro. It had no real reason to get weaker, and it had got a few new tools. It's only obvious that it will continue to be strong. I think that Paladin is very underplayed right now, people were probably bored of it after seeing it all the time in Un'Goro and decided to experiment a lot. But Ender, and some other pros, have proven that it's still an amazing competitive deck and that hitting high ranks with it is not a problem. According to the stats, Paladin has the highest win rate after Druid right now, and it starts to pick up in popularity too in the last 24 hours - around 20% of the Rank 5-1 meta are Paladins.
Murloc's Paladin play style didn't change much, but it puts even more focus on the buffs right now. Basically, the idea is to snowball the early board with the Murlocs and then start buffing them out of control. Most of the decks in the meta right now have very limited answers to the heavy early game Murloc pushes, which makes the buff cards very powerful. Buffs are very strong if you have a target you can buff and attack with immediately - then the extra stats gain sort of "Charge". While it means that they can get clunky if you have no board, that's not really a problem when playing this deck.
When it comes to the new additions, there are three. Righteous Protector, which is a better version of Annoy-o-Tron and does exactly the same thing - it's annoying. It protects the rest of the board, it often has to tank two big hits, and it has insane synergy with buffs (because it's both cheap and has the DS/Taunt combo). Then, Corpsetaker, which like a bigger version of Righteous Protector. Sometimes it also has Lifesteal (if you didn't draw Wickerflame Burnbristle yet), but it's not even that important - the fact that it's another DS & Taunt combination makes it another great minion to buff. Then, Bonemare turned out to be very powerful in every Midrange deck (like I've mentioned before), because of all the extra tempo it brings to the table, but it's even better in this deck, given that it runs multiple Divine Shield minions.
I've already covered the Zalae's Jade Druid in the first list, but he made some changes to the list + it's still staying strong. What's interesting is that some people have predicted that Skulking Geist will be an auto-win against Jade Druid, which is far from being true. Who knew, stacking them up to 9/9 combined with Ultimate Infestation is still enough most of the time.
I don't have to talk about this archetype, because everyone knows it well. I've also covered the KFT additions in the last list. So this time I'll focus on the tech cards Zalae has put into his list. There are three. Spellbreaker - because Silence is pretty powerful in the current meta (there are a lot of buffs, Deathrattles etc.). The Black Knight - because Taunts are also very common - every Druid and Paladin lists run some, while tons of other decks also play Primordial Drake and The Lich King. But the third one is most interesting - Big Game Hunter. It's something I haven't seen in a long while. It used to be a staple in multiple decks when it was at 3 mana, after being nerfed to 5 it has only seen occassional play. Druid was always the class that wanted to play BGH most, because it has no good single target removal. In this specific meta, BGH also finds a lot of targets. The Lich King, Mountain Giants against Handlock, big Jades vs other Jade decks, Medivh, the Guardian, minions buffed by Bonemare etc. It's a very bad tech in a faster meta, but the meta seems to still remain pretty slow, making BGH a solid choice in such a deck.
Tempo Mage, also known as Secret Mage after the previous expansion (Un'Goro), is a very old archetype. While it was changing a lot over time, and now puts a bigger focus on the Secrets (thus the Secret Mage name), they always share the same basic game-plan - outtempo the opponent in the early/mid game and then burn them down with spells. Funnily enough, it's another deck that runs almost no new cards - the only one in this case is Ghastly Conjurer. Whie the initial body is quite weak (2/6 for 4 is not the best), adding a 1 mana cost protective spell to the hand is pretty solid. Not only you can play it for free with Sorcerer's Apprentice, hide Mana Wyrm behind it while giving it +1 Attack, but also it's a cheap spell for the sake of Archmage Antonidas. And yeah, it's one of the win conditions of the deck - combine it with few cheap spells (including the Mirror Image from Conjurer and Coins from Burgly Bully) and get a lot more burn to work with.
Not much more to say. You want to play your early game minions, get out the Secrets for free, then play some cheap/free Kabal Crystal Runners, then get even more tempo with Firelands Portal and finally either burn the opponent down or first get more Fireballs from Antonidas and THEN burn the opponent down. Yes, it's nothing new. But it works, so can't complain!
And last, but not least, one of the biggest phenomenons of the Un'Goro - Token/Evolve Shaman. It was discovered quite late in the meta, but after people learned about it, it was all over the ladder. The Shaman's DK Hero - Thrall, Deathseer - is also about Evolving. While a lot of people have tried to find a new deck list to put it in, others have just taken the old Token Shaman lists, slammed the new DK and called it a day. And so far, the second approach have turned out to be more successful.
This deck is exactly like that. It runs two new cards - one is Thrall the DK and another one is Rattling Rascal, which is something like a mini-Doppelgangster for the Evolve. I've seen other people running Saronite Chain Gang in the same slot too - Rascal has a better Evolve potential (the 5/5 it summons Evolves into a 6-drop) and works better with the upgraded Hero Power, but Chain Gang is safer, because two Taunts can be helpful against Aggro (great vs Pirate Warrior) and it definitely won't summon a 5/5 for the opponent if you can't Evolve it.
All in all, it's another one of those cases where you take the Un'Goro list, maybe add 1 or 2 new cards, and it works fine. While I don't believe that those are optimal list, they were already optimized in the last expansion, so they take a great base, while a lot of the new decks, even if they have a higher power potential because of all the new cards, are simply not yet optimized.
A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. He's achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs. You can follow him on Twitter @StonekeepHS.