It feels a bit weird to write it now, given that this compilation usually came mid-expansion. This time around, however, Blizzard has surprised everyone with a very quick balance patch. Two weeks after Rastakhan’s Rumble launch, balanace changes to five cards were announced. Patch went through less than 24 hours after the announcement, which is also unprecedented. I didn’t write a Day 1 compilation, because it felt a bit too early – 48 hours should be enough to give the meta a bit of time to re-develop. I’ll also write another a week after the nerf patch if the meta changes enough.
But here we are! On the one hand, I’m pretty sad that last 2 weeks of my work became pretty much irrelevant, but on the other hand I’m really happy that they acted so quickly, because an early Rastakhan meta wasn’t very exciting to play (since it didn’t change that much). So far, the new changes resulted in quite a shake up. It’s still too early to tell whether it will be a good thing in the end, but changes to Wild Growth and Nourish might also have the long-term benefits if they steer the class in right direction with new cards.
Anyway, I’ll be listing a few decks that stood out for me so far. I’m basing the list on personal ladder experience (usually playing R4-Legend and in Legend itself), early statistics from sources like HSReplay.net and Vicious Syndicate, as well as watching and talking with other high ranked players. This is just an early look at the post-nerf meta and it might not be relevant in long term, keep that in mind.
To no one’s surprise, Hunter is the most dominant force in the early post-nerf meta so far. Since 3 out of 4 decks are basically the same stuff that has been already played before the nerf (or even in the previous expansions), I won’t dig deep into them, just writing a few words, focusing mostly on the fourth, new deck.
Spell Hunter was the most popular deck in Rastakhan’s Rumble by a huge margin, and I think that it just got even more popular with the latest nerf patch. Partially it’s because the deck is good (duh), but it’s also the fact that it’s kind of a “safe pick”, since it was already good and didn’t get nerfed in any way, a lot of players started from it to get the general feeling of the meta.
The lists are basically the same, but I really like the Flare tech right now, just like early after the expansion’s release. While I do think that Hunter’s popularity will drop down a bit in the upcoming days, right now Spell Hunter is by far the most common deck on the ladder (at least before Legend), with Secret Hunter being pretty high up there too.
Deathrattle Hunter is another deck unaffected by the nerfs. It’s been a force to reckon with in Boomsday Project and it has remained as one of the best decks in Rastakhan’s Rumble. The biggest, and most often only, change made to the deck was adding Oondasta as a way to get rid of unwanted big Beasts from your hand (unwanted, as in the ones you’d rather pull out from Kathrena than draw).
Thanks to Oondasta, Stitched Tracker also became a much more common choice. Discovering a big Beast is a much more potent play now with Oondasta in the mix.
Besides that, it’s still the same, old deck – winning the games through early pressure with popped Devilsaur Eggs, tempo swings with Kathrena Winterwisp or Carnivorous Cube, and of course with Deathstalker Rexxar if necessary.
Secret Hunter was one of my favorite Hunter archeytpes ever since Karazhan’s Cloaked Huntress. While it wasn’t in a great spot for the most of that time, it definitely caught up recently when Subject 9 was released in Boomsday Project. Drawing up to 5 Secrets is not only a lot of value, but it also thins your deck by a significant margin and synergizes with other cards like Secretkeeper and most importantly – Lesser Emerald Spellstone.
It has seen two new addition in Rastkahan’s Rumble. One is Masked Contender – sort of a new version of Mad Scientist. Getting it on the curve is nuts – for just 3 mana you put a 2/4 body on the board, draw a 2 mana card and play it immediately. I honestly thought that it might be a bit more difficult to activate it on the curve, but the truth is that opponents often don’t want to trigger your Secrets so early, making it quite consistent. The second one is a new Hero card – Zul'jin, usually acting like a final board refill and a massive tempo play in short. You will most likely get 5 different Secrets up, and a board full of mid-sized minions (3/3 Wolves and Animal Companions). It’s not as good as in Spell Hunter, but still quite powerful.
P.S. A quick rant – I really hate Masked Contender‘s wording. I know that it was made this way to be more simple than “put a Secret from your deck onto the battlefield” like Mad Scientist or Bellringer Sentry, but the new wording specifically says PLAY a Secret from your deck, which implies that it should trigger Secretkeeper and Lesser Emerald Spellstone. But it doesn’t. The old wording was much better, because it was way more clear – you didn’t PLAY a Secret (rather you put it onto the battlefield), so those don’t trigger, simple. I absolutely dislike it, wording being clear is far more important than wording being simple in my opinion.
And finally, the new Hunter deck. Well, not necessarily new, as it was already attempted early in Rastakhan’s Rumble, but it seems to work much, much better now. Multiple players already got to high ranks with similar builds, and stats indicate that it’s a solid deck right now. Maybe it’s not as good as the other Hunter decks above, but if you want something more fresh, then it should be your pick.
The basic premise is very simple. The deck is a classic Midrange Hunter, relying on solid curve and Beast synergies to win the game. Unlike a regular Midrange Hunter, however, it runs only minions with Beast tag. While it means that you need to sacrifice some powerful plays, such as both Houndmasters (Houndmaster and Houndmaster Shaw), it gives you access to a guaranteed 3 cards for 3 mana with Master's Call. It’s an insanely powerful spell as long as you pull out three Beasts, especially in a class like Hunter which lacks real hand refill other than Deathstalker Rexxar.
The deck also plays one copy of Dire Frenzy, although I’ve seen some decks running two of them. Normally +3/+3 buff for 4 mana is a bit underwhelming, and shuffling is too slow. But in this case, you can quite consistently pull out the shuffled, buffed Beasts with Master’s Call, increasing the power level of the draw spell even further.
It’s an interesting, new approach to the Hunter’s Beast synergies, which were always rather common. I actually think that the regular Midrange Hunter version with Houndmaster and such might turn out to be better (we need a bigger sample size to really tell), but I wanted to feature this one, since it’s more fresh.
Exodia Paladin’s popularity and power was one of the biggest surprises of the Rastakhan’s Rumble. Sure, it got a few new, strong cards, but given that it was an off-meta deck at best in Boomsday Project, I don’t think that many have expected it to be so good. I’m posting the most popular deck list, which was already played before the nerfs – most of you are probably familiar with it.
Rastakhan Rumble actually didn’t make the combo itself more reliable, it didn’t add any pieces or ways to pull it out more easily. What it did add are extra ways to survive, including a way to become immune for an entire turn with Time Out!. High Priest Thekal, while optional (some builds replace it with a second Time Out), gives Paladin a way to heal himself past 30, which means that extra healing cards don’t go to waste. Flash of Light is a perfect mix of survivability and cycling, two things that this kind of deck wants most. And finally, Shirvallah, the Tiger is better than I’ve initially expected – while it takes quite long to get it into the playable mana range, it will eventually happen, and then it’s an amazing card to have.
The deck was already quite strong before the nerfs, but the current shifts in the meta made it even better. Druids weren’t great matchups – especially Taunt and Token Druids, but Malygos or Togwaggle were also not great. Odd Paladin was also a rather poor matchup. On the other hand, the deck is absolutely amazing against Odd Warrior, which became more popular after the nerf patch. It’s hard to say how long will it stay that way, but right now Exodia Paladin is one of the highest win rate decks on the ladder – can you imagine that?
Funnily enough, Even Paladin was the dominating build early in The Witchwood meta. Odd Paladin wasn’t nearly as popular or powerful for the first two months, it only became a high tier meta deck after the nerf patch, taking Even Paladin’s place. Now, with the latest patch, it seems that the tables might have turned again, in Even Paladin’s favor. Or well, I actually think that the current version of Even Paladin won’t be as popular as Odd Paladin ever was, simply because it’s so expensive. The featured deck list is really Dust-heavy, and while you can cut some of the cards, it won’t ever become as F2P friendly as Odd Paladin.
Still, the deck works quite well right now. To be perfectly honest, it already did before the nerfs, which didn’t change much, expect the fact that Odd Paladin is no longer as viable of an option as it was. This Even Paladin list is exactly the pre-nerf version. It even runs Saronite Chain Gang, which was also nerfed. While the nerf mostly targeted Shudderwock, it’s also pretty relevant in this deck, since it runs hanfbuff in a form of Val'anyr. Of course, it landing on Saronite Chain Gang was never a big part of its strategy, but it has won me a few games. Now it will just summon a 2/3 no matter if it’s been buffed or not.
Some lists are already cutting Chain Gang for cards like Spellbreaker, Lightfused Stegodon or Argent Commander. I was running a list with one Chain Gang and one Spellbreaker and I think that’s pretty optimal – there aren’t that many good 4-drop options, and Turn 4 is quite important in the deck. If you don’t get your Corpsetaker, you really want another proactive Turn 4 play
I’ve even seen a Level Up! version of Even Paladin, but I wholeheartedly disagree with it. Not only the card is much weaker at 6 mana, but Even Paladin doesn’t have enough ways to summon multiple Silver Hand Recruits. After facing one, the best he could do was Level Up on two minions, which is a +4/+4 buff for 6 mana. I do think that some optimizations might be made, but that’s definitely not it.
Even though Odd Warrior got some new, interesting cards in Rastakhan’s Rumble, it has seen basically zero play in the latest expansion. While it was one of the more impactful decks in Boomsday Project, the new meta just countered it so hard. Odd Warrior had bad matchups against a bunch of Druid decks, especially Taunt and Undatakah variants. Shudderwock Shaman was similar – beatable mostly if their combo has failed by triggering Grumble, Worldshaker and Zola the Gorgon before Saronite Chain Gang. It also had terrible, nearly unwinnable matchup vs Kingsbane Rogue (it was one of the most miserable matchups in the entire meta from the Warrior’s perspective). While Odd Paladin was an okay matchup, both Even Paladin and Odd Rogue which got more popular after the patch are even better.
Hunter’s popularity is not something that Warrior likes very much, but to be honest, only Deathrattle Hunter is a bad matchup. Spell Hunter is close to 50/50, but Secret and Midrange Hunter are actually good for the Warrior. You see, it’s true that an on-curve Deathstalker Rexxar is basically a death sentence for Warrior (assuming Hunter knows what he’s doing and doesn’t get unlucky with his picks), but more often than not Rexxar is stuck somewhere around the middle of the deck, giving Warrior enough time to either run those decks out of steam, or forcing them to use cards like Tracking, which will ultimately let Warrior win the fatigue game.
Right now, the deck has only one awful matchup – Exodia Paladin. Since it can’t put enough pressure to kill them quickly, Odd Warrior usually just loses to the combo. But that’s one matchup – before the patch, there were 4 matchups like that (Taunt/Undatakah Druid, Shudderwock Shaman, Kingsbane Rogue and Exodia), which is a massive, MASSIVE progress.
Right now, Odd Warrior is basically in it early Boomsday state of being the king of Control, jumping to that position straight from being a nearly unplayable deck countered from every side. It’s a huge progress, and I have to say that Odd Warrior might be the biggest winner of the latest nerf patch.
While Odd Warrior’s resurgence was somewhat to be expected, this is a deck I didn’t really think about. While Odd Warrior is basically your classic Control deck, so it CLEARLY benefits from Combo decks getting nerfed, Quest Warrior is not as straightforward. On the one hand, it didn’t have as bad matchups against decks like Kingsbane Rogue, Shudderwock or Exodia Shaman (they weren’t great, but totally winnable), but on the other hand, it was actually quite weak against Odd Paladin (the Quest’s reward was nearly useless against Paladin’s Hero Power). But as it turns out, especially the Druid nerfs have made the deck playable – basically every Druid deck was a bad matchup.
Since we haven’t really seen many Quest Warriors in Rastakhan’s Rumble yet, let’s first look at the new card choices. We have one new Taunt – Amani War Bear. It fits into the deck nicely, costing 7 mana and being actually an alright card for something that looks like a pack filler on the first sight. Between Rush and Taunt, it can both serve as an instant removal and a way to block minions. Importantly, it’s also a Beast. And that’s where another new card comes in – Oondasta. While summoning Taunts from your hand does not count for the sake of Quest, it’s still a powerful play. The new version also runs Witchwood Grizzly, which is both a solid Turn 5 play vs faster decks, and a 3/12 body to pull from Oondasta. And of course – Direhorn Hatchling is also a Beast (as well as the Matriarch it shuffles back to the deck). Between all of those, Oondasta is rarely a dead card. Clearing a mid-sized minion and pulling out one of your Taunts onto the board is a nice tempo play, and it works nicely especially against Midrange decks.
Besides that, it’s more of the same old. The goal is to play Quest on T1, then Taunts throughout the mid and late game, finish the Quest and gain advantage thanks to the 8 damage Hero Power. 8 damage kills most of the minions, and it also puts a lot of pressure, so it’s good basically no matter what it hits. Opponents can rarely keep up after you finish the Quest, the problem is actually getting there – Taunts are nice way to stall, but they are rarely impactful enough to outtempo / outvalue the opponent. You try to play Control role until then, but you lack some good tools (both by having to run Taunts, and by not running Even cards). Still, ultimately, the pay-off seems to be worth it, since right now both versions (regular Odd Warrior and Quest version) have a very similar, rather high win rate.
For a while now, Odd Rogue used to be one of the most powerful Aggro decks on the ladder. Having access to 2 mana 2/2 weapon any time it wants, without having to pay a card for it, is a very strong effect. The weapon lets Rogue control the board quite nicely vs faster decks, as well as put a lot of pressure in the long run. 2 damage per turn is like having the Hunter’s Hero Power clock, but in this case, you don’t have to replay it every single turn – just once per 2 turns is enough.
Once again, there’s not much to talk about here. When it comes to new, Rastakhan’s Rumble cards, there are… none of them. Some new 5-drops, such as Mosh'Ogg Announcer or Former Champ were tried out briefly, but they were quickly cut in favor of the old, more reliable cards.
Odd Rogue will most likely try to take the spot of #1 Aggro deck after Odd Paladin was nerfed. Actually, a rather bad matchup vs Odd Paladin was one of the reasons why the deck hasn’t seen that much play earlier in the first place, so with Odd Paladin either completely gone or (more likely) being weaker, Rogue has a nice opportunity to take advantage of that.
And finally, a Priest deck. Resurrect Priest, also known as Clone Priest, was a very surprising archetype from Boomsday Project. Zerek's Cloning Gallery has generally received very poor ratings, but as it turns out, it had more potential than most of the playerbase has expected.
Long story short, the deck has insanely powerful late game – both on the value side and the combo side. Combo one is easier – all you need to do is get lucky with your Gallery or Spellstone and pull out both Prophet Velen and Malygos. Then, each Mind Blast you play deals 20 damage, and each Holy Smite 14, making it relatively easy to kill the opponent. That’s the simplest, but not the only way it can win games. Reviving big minions can put a lot of pressure, especially if that big minion is The Lich King, which also gives Priest extra cards each turn. There’s also the Lyra the Sunshard win condition – getting her back multiple times and then cycling through multiple spells each time adds a lot of value. There are many nuances to how it plays in the late game, but it can be really powerful.
But you see, the deck’s biggest problem was always getting there. Once you were in the late game, you could do all sorts of crazy plays, including healing to full thanks to Malygos / Prophet Velen + Spirit Lash. But Aggro decks were a nightmare to face, because Resurrect Priest is one of those decks that tends to skip the early game. A lot of the time, the only thing you did before Turn 6 (Shadow Essence turn) were Hero Powers and Shadow Visions, maybe dropping some small minion like Radiant Elemental. A lot of the time, you’ve died before you could do anything. And here’s exactly where the new card – Mass Hysteria – comes handy. It fills the mid game removal void. Early game could be somewhat answered by the small minions, Spirit Lash and Holy Smite. Then, late game could be handled by Psychic Scream. But mid game? That was the problem. While Mass Hysteria is not the most reliant AoE clear ever, most of the time it does its job. For example, a Hunter that got a fully upgraded Spellstone on the curve would normally be one of your worst nightmares – with Mass Hysteria it’s not a big deal at all.
The deck is certainly difficult to play (not as much as APM Priest, but still) and quite expensive, so it might not appeal to some players, but it’s probably the best option Priest has in the current meta (well, I’ve been having some success with Control Priest too, but I haven’t seen too many other players trying it out so far).
That's all folks, thanks for reading. I hope that you've liked the list. If you'd want to see another deck on the list, please do share it in the comment section. I might be making another compilation next week, after Christmas, depending on how the meta will develop. If it will end up being too similar to this one, I'll just skip it and focus on other stuff (like updating deck guides or crafting guide second time).
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