Dust off your Solo Adventures button, Blackrock Mountain is finally here! Well the first wing, Blackrock Depths, is anyway. With it came came six new cards: the Grim Patron (from defeating Coren Direbrew), the Rogue card Gang Up (from defeating The Dark Iron Arena), Priest’s Resurrect and our first BRM Legendary Emperor Thaurissan (from defeating.... well the Emperor himself), and the Mage’s Dragon's Breath and Quick Shot for Hunter (from the two class challenges).

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Grim Patron, Gang Up, and Emperor Thaurissan are seeing heavy play in Ranked at the moment. Emperor Thaurissan is probably the most widely used across many different decks and classes. The Emperor’s ability is one of the strongest we have ever seen in Hearthstone. Even if Thaurissan is removed before getting a swing in, he still discounts your entire hand and soaks up a minion or removal spell in the process. The Grim Patron has turned Hearthstone into a scene from Road House even if he isn’t as dreamy as the late, great Swayze. Gang Up, while only available for Rogues, has had a profound effect on the class and the rest of us unlucky enough to come up against a Mill Rogue.

Now lets take a quick look at some of the most popular decks that have popped up as a result of the new Blackrock Mountain cards.

Mill Rogue

I feel this deck warrants the deepest explanation. If you are unfamiliar with Mill decks, they’re whole schtick is to fill up their opponent’s hand to the maximum 10 cards and then force them to either: A.) draw more cards thus burning those cards, or B.) utilize a bounce spell (like Sap) to return a minion that is already in play back to a now full hand, thus destroying said minion. For a deeper history on Mill decks and where the term “Mill” comes from I highly recommend ”Understanding Fel Reaver” by Brian Kibler.

Mill Rogues are a fairly common sight on ladder now, thanks to popular streamers like Savjz and Kripp playing it. I’ll admit I’ve had a hard time playing this deck. It probably didn’t help that I just jumped in without researching how to play it, so lets talk about how it’s played.

Mulligans

Coldlight Oracle is the backbone of Mill Rogue. These plucky murlocs are the best way to fill up your opponent’s hand. They are so important to the deck that it’s not a bad thing to have both in your starting hand. Be patient with them though. Playing an Oracle on curve, with no plan, will yield some pretty sore results. Shadowstep and Gang Up are an Oracle’s best friends; so you either want to have enough mana to play an Oracle and immediately hit it with one of these two spells (Shadowstep being 0 Mana means go for it on 3 Mana, but maybe wait until 5 Mana for Gang Up), or be very certain the Oracle will survive a turn.

Gameplay

The name of the Mill Rogue game is survive. Milling an opponent down to fatigue takes time, and they always have a full hand with which to torment you. Luckily Rogues have no shortage of cheap removal to help keep themselves afloat. Spell Power minions like Azure Drake and Bloodmage Thalnos help give these spells a little more reach. Outside of the normal removal like Backstab and Eviscerate, bounce spells like Sap and Vanish become removal spells against an opponent with 10 cards in hand. There’s a chance for the perfect scenario of using Vanish to bounce your own Oracle back into your hand while simultaneously destroying a minion of your opponent’s. It’s a rare occurrence but one that will make even the most stalwart player consider conceding.

If you have King Mukla his Bananas are another great source of filling up the opponent’s hand (and also potassium!). Mechanical Yeti, and his Spare Part cards, are a good substitution if Mukla’s Legendary status is too rich for your blood. Plus the robot Yeti has the chance to yield Time Rewinder which is just insane for a Mill Rogue that wants to bounce back Oracles as much as possible.

If a Mill Rogue makes it to late game then they’re in the winning position. If Gang Up was used on a Coldlight Oracle every fatigue card drawn for the opponent becomes a rapidly accelerating death timer. The big thing to be mindful of is your own health. Antique Healbot is your only source of healing, so don’t be afraid to use your second Gang Up on a Healbot to give you the hitpoints to outlive your opponent.

Bar Fight Warrior

There are many variants to Patron-Warrior decks, Kripparian’s version being one of the most popular. I also want to point you to Hearthstone’s Senior Producer, Yong Woo’s Warrior deck list because I love it to pieces. It has changed a bit, with Yong bringing it more in line with Kripp’s deck. He took out the Mad Bombers to include the Wild Pyromancers. Though I’d argue if you’re feeling like you just have to stand out in a crowd, and love some absurd RNG, keep the Bombers in and live dangerously.

We talked a lot about how the Warrior-specific cards coming in Blackrock Mountain weren’t really getting us excited on last week’s Angry Chicken podcast. We also mentioned that the Warsong Commander fix was like getting a new, very exciting, card. Now any minions that enter the board (and are 3 Attack or under) gain charge. Previously it only worked on cards played from your hand which wasn’t how the Commander was supposed to work.

Enter the king of 3 Attack minions. The rowdy, perpetually-wasted, social butterfly, Grim Patron. A 3/3 for 3 Mana that spawns an additional, full-health copy of itself anytime it takes non-fatal damage. This Dwarf found an instant home in Warrior, the class with the most ways to damage their own minions and benefit from it.

Mulligans

Weapons are very important, as is usually the case with Warrior. Fiery War Axe has always been a stellar opening and it’s no different here. Also look for low-drop minions. Armorsmith is a good keep, as is Harvest Golem or Mad Bomber if you’re running them. Cruel Taskmaster, while it can enable some early trades, is better saved for later so that it can be used on a Grim Patron for additional value. Consider keeping Emperor Thaurissan if you get The Coin, as a lot of the combos in this deck are high-cost and he can start discounting them a turn earlier with the coin.

Gameplay

This deck takes awhile to gain steam since the real fun starts when a Warsong Commander is in play and a Grim Patron enters the board. That particular combo is 8 mana if you want to play it on the same turn. Emperor Thaurissan can make it happen on Turn 7 if played on curve, or Turn 6 if the Emperor gets coined out on Turn 5. The big decision to make is what to do with your Patron once he and the Warsong Commander are in play. The best course of action is to remove a minion the Patron will survive the engagement with thus producing another minion, and then either removing another minion with the final charge of Death's Bite to get even more Patrons from it’s Deathrattle effect or simply use a Whirlwind to produce more 3/3 dwarves. Bonus (Armor) points if an Armorsmith is in play for any of this.

Other BRM Decks

There are many other decks out there making waves with the new Blackrock Mountain cards. The Fast Druid decks haven’t changed a lot, but they all seem to have slotted in Emperor Thaurissan to speed up their already quick Mana base. Lifecoach is running a version with a single Nourish. You can see him playing it in a past broadcast from his stream last week.

Priests are still a niche class but every one I have encountered this past week has played Resurrect. The decklists themselves don’t look too different from GvG Priests. But being able to bring back a Wild Pyromancer, Dark Cultist, or Injured Blademaster (at a full 7 health since it’s not played from your hand) that previously died for 2 Mana is very strong. Resurrect is also an insane follow up to Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing combo if your opponent finishes off your Soulpriest.

Blackrock Mountain is off to a great start. I think Emperor Thaurissan will be a very hard card to top in terms of it's effect on the game. What do you think is the strongest card added in BRM? Also, check out Hearthhead's preview of this week's upcoming wing, Molten Core!