Another expansion, another standout decks compilation. I hope that you will enjoy this one too just like the ones from previous expansion!
Rastakhan's Rumble – the third and final expansion of Year of the Raven – was released roughly 24 hours ago. Trolls, Pirates, arena gladiators, jungle beasts and Overkilling are only some of the set’s themes. The ladder is full of interesting experimental decks. But are they any good? How much the meta has changed compared to The Boomsday Project? Did we already see any huge surprises, or maybe the new Tier 1 decks are yet to be discovered?
Since yesterday, I’ve been testing a variety of decks and playing against even more of them. Besides playing, I’ve spent most of my time watching pro players’ streams, trying to find some of the best Boomsday Project decks so far. Below, I’ll list some of the lists that already caught my attention. Just like every new expansion, remember that the early meta is very chaotic and it might look completely different in a few days. Decks are chosen based on my ladder experience (R4 to Legend), watching the steamers & pros, talking with other high ranked players and early statistics from sites like HSReplay.net or Vicious Syndicate.
You can also check out our full list of pros & streamers Rastakhan's Rumble decks here on reddit if you're looking for something else!
These decks are only example lists – meta is adjusting very quickly and more optimized builds might be out at the time you’re reading it!
Da Undatakah is a card with lots of potential. I was pretty sure that it will find home somewhere, but Big Druid definitely wouldn’t be my choice if you’ve asked me. It’s actually quite simple, yet clever. You play your Taunt minions and Astral Tiger throughout the game. Then you drop Hadronox + Naturalize (or if your opponent has a big minion, you can also Stampeding Roar it out of your hand and run into it, that’s even better actually). Then you can drop Undatakah, which will gain Deathrattles of both Tiger and Hadronox – it will summon all of the big Taunts when it dies, but it will also shuffle itself back into your deck. And so, you can go nearly infinite.
To be completely fair, the “infinite” combo stops as soon as it gets Silenced or transformed, but it doesn’t meant that you immediately lose Shaman and Mage matchups. You see, you can still get a few board refills without ever letting them do it. Unlike Hadronox, which can only be killed by Naturalize, Undatakah can also die to a fully upgraded Spellstone, meaning that you can have quite a few board refills before you finally have to drop it without killing it immediately. Up to 4 times, or up to 5 times if you manage to kill of your Hadronox through Stampeding Roar.
But after playing around with the deck for a while, I’ve noticed that Hadronox isn’t the only win condition you have. You can absolutely win thanks to a mid/late game tempo swing provided by Stampeding Roar or Oondasta. Pulling out a Tyrantus is especially deadly, and most of the decks have no easy way to deal with it. Two 12 damage hits to the dome are usually enough to win the game, so if your opponent doesn’t clear it quickly, you just win.
Overall, it’s an interesting twist on a Big / Taunt Druid archetype. I’m not quite sure if Da Undatakah version will be the best one, but just adding Beast package with Oondasta, Tyrantus and Amani War Bears looks quite promising.
Before Deathrattle Hunter became popular, Recruit Hunter was the best way to utilize big Beasts and Kathrena Winterwisp. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to make a comeback – I thought that it was completely pushed out by the Deathrattle version. But you see, the Deathrattle version is much more minion-based, which means that it can’t really run Zul'jin. This deck, on the other hand, runs a full Secret package, making Zul’jin a much more appealing option. And as it turned out, the swing provided by the card is really great.
The deck’s game plan is quite simple, and it actually looks a bit like a mix between Spell Hunter and Deathrattle Hunter. Instead of Devilsaur Eggs, Spider Bombs etc. this deck runs spells, mostly Secrets. The goal is to survive through the early game and get to the mid/late game, when the real magic happens. Despite the deck being quite slow, it doesn’t mean that it can’t put pressure. A turn 5 fully upgraded, Greater Emerald Spellstone can actually be enough to run away with the game. But Turns 8-10 are the biggest tempo swings for the build. Kathrena Winterwisp can easily pull 20 mana worth of stats between her 6/6 body, Battlecry and Deathrattle. Then, we’ve got Oondasta, which – especially if pulled from Kathrena – is another big tempo swing. Assuming you have a big Beast left in your hand, getting it out on the board for free is just insane. And finally, on Turn 10, we’ve got Zul'jin – between repeating all of your Secrets, flooding the board with 3/3’s and Animal Companions, as well as throwing a random Deadly Shot at your opponent’s minions, it’s another one card win condition.
Of course, while the new, shiny Hero is quite powerful in this deck, it doesn’t mean that Deathstalker Rexxar can be thrown away. On the contrary – the card is still insane. Zul’jin provides a big immediate swing, while Rexxar is a long-term win condition with its infinite value Hero Power. Ideally, you want to put pressure on the opponent throughout the mid/late game, drop Zul’jin and then if that’s not enough turn into Rexxar and start producing Zombeast. But to be perfectly honest, if you play in a purely value matchup (like vs Odd Warrior), just turning into Deathstalker Rexxar early and ignoring Zul’jin is also an option. You won’t run out of resources anyway, and Zul’jin can still be used in case things go south and you need a big board swing.
I’m a big fan of this build. Things are looking pretty good for Hunter this time around, that’s for sure.
This Spell Hunter build runs two new cards – Baited Arrow and Zul'jin. Baited Arrow turned out to be quite strong in this build. Spell Hunter loves spells that summon minions, because it can’t actually run minions (duh). It’s not that easy to trigger Baited Arrow’s Overkill, and killing some token while putting a 5/5 on the board is quite powerful. But the real MVP is obviously Zul’jin.
Remember how devastating a good Yogg-Saron, Hope's End could be? While the power ceiling of Zul’jin is lower, it’s way, way, WAY more consistent, making it an amazing option. I’ve already talked about it under Recruit Hunter, but it basically works even better in Spell Hunter. Secret Plan adds more value to the card, there are more removals, To My Side! makes it nearly guaranteed to flood your entire side of the board with 3/3’s as well as random Animal Companions, and you can even get some extra spells out of Rhok'delar that will also get repeated. It’s just crazy. Of course, after you’re done with Zul’jin, you can still play Deathstalker Rexxar and go for the value Hero Power. Because frankly, Zul’jin’s Hero Power is quite underwhelming. Yes, it’s an upgrade over the basic one, but it’s often irrelevant, since you USUALLY want to go face anyway after dropping him.
One thing to keep in mind that Tracking can work against you. Playing 2x Tracking and then Zul’jin “removes” 12 cards from your deck (4 of which you draw), basically putting you near fatigue. It might not be a problem against faster decks, but I feel like Tracking becomes somewhat unusable in slower matchups where fatigue is a real concern. Especially if you want to drop DK Rexxar after Zul’jin and start fighting for value. As much as I like the card, I think that if the meta will be slower, it should be dropped for something else.
One of the most heavily theorycrafted decks before the launch was Odd Mage. Everyone was impressed when Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk got revealed and the best way to make it work was Odd Mage. There were basically two main schools of building the deck during the theorycrafting phase. First one was a Tempo deck, with a more aggressive curve, which uses the 2 damage Hero Power both as a board control tool and as a Hunter’s Hero Power. The second way was going for a slower, more Control-oriented build, which uses the Hero Power for early/mid game board control and then wants to play Frost Lich Jaina anyway. From my experience with the expansion so far, the latter builds work better, but I’ve seen a pretty interesting Spiteful build that might give other versions a run for their money.
Theo’s approach to Odd Mage looks very similar to Big Spell Mage – it’s like taking the best Odd cards from the deck and adding a few extra synergies. And surprise surprise, it works. You’re definitely losing some good cards when you compare it to the base version. Prince Keleseth, Polymorph, Blizzard, Meteor or The Lich King were all Big Mage staples for a while, and you can’t run any of them. But you’re also gaining quite a lot for that. First and most importantly – Hero Power. Having 2 damage on demand is way, way better than 1 damage on demand. You can straight up kill some minions without even using a card, or make your trades much better. Another advantage is Black Cat – 3 mana 3/3 with Spell Damage that draws a card is very powerful. And finally, Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk. In a regular Big Spell Mage, it would be very difficult to activate it. In Odd Mage, you can often even play it on the curve.
Talking about Jan’alai, it’s really a great card in such a deck. Summoning Ragnaros the Firelord for 7 mana is already powerful, but you’re also getting a 4/4 body on top of that. After you turn into Frost Lich Jaina, your opponent rushing you down is one of the biggest concerns, but a great thing about Ragnaros is that it’s an Elemental, meaning that it will heal you for 8 with every hit (except hitting Divine Shields and such). And of course, it can be used as a finisher. 8 damage to the face is not too shabby, and you basically force your opponent to remove it or he loses the game.
One thing that feels pretty bad is that after you turn into Frost Lich Jaina, you need to give up your upgraded Hero Power. I get it, FLJ’s Hero Power is still much better, and Warrior does the same thing with Dr. Boom, Mad Genius, but still, it’s just a small thing that bothers me.
Exodia Paladin is not a new archetype. It was first tried out the moment Knights of the Frozen throne was released and Uther of the Ebon Blade became playable, and at one point it was actually a semi-viable deck (back when Auctionmaster Beardo was still in Standard). Some players, like Thijs, have tried to revive it multiple times, but it was always a niche, off-meta deck after the Year of the Raven rotation. However, it might finally be its time to shine again.
Rastakhan’s Rumble has made the deck much better, despite not really adding any direct synergies with the combo. Yes, you still need to turn into Uther and then spend multiple turns bouncing the 2/2’s around. Still, two things have improved – it’s now easier to get there, and it’s harder for your opponent to disrupt your combo by putting pressure when you want to start bouncing the horsemen. So, basically, what the deck has got is a bunch of ways to survive, which is exactly what a successful combo deck needs.
For the starters, High Priest Thekal. By itself it doesn’t do a lot, but if you run it in a deck with some healing cards, it can come really handy. Being able to get above 30 health means that your heal cards are much better (since the heal is not wasted if you’re full), and it’s easier to combo them with Crystalsmith Kangor. As for the healing cards, there are two new ones in this deck. First one is Flash of Light, a perfect card for such a deck. You want to cycle as much as you can, but getting some extra heal on top of that is not bad at all. And then, we’ve got Shirvallah, the Tiger. While it’s more of a late game option, it’s a removal + healing in a single card, a high tempo card while we’re at that. Since the deck is quite spell heavy and it cycles through everything quickly, you should be able to get the Loa down 5 or less mana (at which point it’s really worth it) quite consistently. Shirvallah combos really well with Kangor – playing those two heals you for 14 immediately. If you add something like swing of the Uther’s weapon, that’s 24 healing in total, which usually puts you at max health (or possibly way above max health if you’ve played Thekal).
But maybe the most interesting card is Time Out!, which is kind of like a new Ice Block, but for Paladins. Your bouncing turns were the ones when you were most vulnerable. Hero Power + Zola the Gorgon / Ancient Brewmaster takes 5/6 mana and is a very weak tempo play, and since you can’t do THAT much with the remaining mana, it’s a nice opportunity for the opponent to start putting pressure. However, Time Out basically buys you a turn of free bouncing, even if you’re at 1 health or something. Without it, you were one or two turns off from playing the combo very often, and with them, you might have been able to finish it.
Of course, one of the combo’s biggest problems is still RNG, and you can’t help that. While the first horseman doesn’t matter, when rolling the second one, you have 25% chance to get the one you already have (so 75% to succeed), and once you got two already, you have a 50/50 chance to get the right one. Some of the most frustrating games are the ones when you try to roll it for 4-5 turns in a row and it just doesn’t give you the right ones. But it’s something you can’t help with the current pool of cards, since there is no 100% consistent way to do it in Standard.
From one combo deck to another combo deck. I probably don’t have to introduce Kingsbane Rogue to any of you – even though it’s been an off-meta deck for most of its existence, it was notorious enough for most of the players to know it. But Rastakhan’s Rumble added a little twist to the deck. While it’s still a combo deck, Raiding Party has pushed it slightly towards the Aggro side. Of course, it’s still possible to go for the late game scenario with infinite, big weapon that heals you on every hit, but the new build adds another way to win the game – by dropping Pirates and smacking your opponent with Kingsbane every turn, then drawing it again and again.
You see, one of the main problems with that kind of strategy previously was that you only had two ways to consistently draw the card – Cavern Shinyfinders. You could quite commonly buff your weapon to let’s say 4 attack, then smack stuff three times, then draw it again and do the same thing, but they you might no longer had a way to get it back, and relying on topdecking it was not the best strategy. Sure, the strategy worked sometimes, but it wasn’t necessarily consistent. However, Raiding Party comes to rescue, adding two more ways of drawing your Kingsbane, as well as some Pirates. The Pirates you draw will also either buff your weapon (Cutthroat Buccaneer, Captain Greenskin) or give you some free tempo (Dread Corsair), so now it’s often worth it to smack with your weapon every turn instead of holding it back.
So far, the deck works quite nicely from my experience. However, keep in mind that it’s been only 24 hours. Builds that beat slow decks and lose to Aggro usually have a higher win rate during the first few days, when the decks aren’t optimized yet and people are experimenting (mostly with slower, often greedy stuff). So it’s hard to say whether Kingsbane Rogue is only the early meta breaker, or will turn out to be a viable deck after all.
Aggro Shaman is back to menu, and I’m getting some Shamanstone vibes again, especially when dropping the (doom) hammer on the opponents.
There are two new cards that work particularly well in the new Aggro Shaman. First one is Likkim – which is kind of the Spirit Claws v2.0. Spirit Claws were too weak to play after they’ve got nerfed to 2 mana, but then again, Overloading yourself is much more consistent and easier to meet condition than having Spell Damage on the board. In a deck like that, it’s basically a 3/3 weapon, you rarely have no way to trigger its effect. Keep in mind that a single Overload card buffs it for two turns (the turn you play an Overload card, and the turn when your mana is Overloaded). As it turns out, a 2 mana 3/3 weapon is a nice addition to an aggressive build – who would have known?
But the other new card is much more interesting. Something I’ve theorycrafted when reviewing it, but I thought that it’s going to be too slow. You see, this deck is heavily based on spell burn. So dropping Spirit of the Frog and then playing your cheap burn spells means that you draw your more expensive spells. Drawing 3-4 cards, most of which you can use to damage your opponent in one way or the other, is a very powerful effect, and it’s also something your opponent absolutely needs to kill unless he wants to die.
Since you’re running a lot of Overload cards, stuff like Unbound Elemental and Thunderhead gain a lot more value too. Triggering either of them once already makes them efficient for their mana cost. Second or any further triggers just makes them quite insane.
And of course, the classic Doomhammer + Rockbiter Weapon is a great way to close out the games. Doomhammer alone is 16 damage over 4 turns, which is quite good. But thanks to the Windfury, each Rockbiter weapon adds 6 damage for 2 mana, resulting in a massive burst turns. Doohammer + 2x Rockbiter is 16 damage, and drawing your Rockbiters is now easier thanks to the Spirit of the Frog I’ve already talked about.
Overall, Aggro Shaman looks quite promising this expansion. The deck definitely needs to be optimized, I’ve already seen lots of different builds. It’s important to test everything out, stuff like how many Overload cards and/or synergies you want to run, how many Spirits of the Frog you want to play, whether you want to play Krag'wa, the Frog or not (this build doesn’t, but I’ve seen ones that do – the goal was to play burn cards one turn, then drop Krag’wa next turn and get all of them back – pretty greedy, but works quite well in slow matchups) etc.
And last, but not least, a new version of Odd Warrior. A lot of players were happy when the deck turned out to be viable back in Boomsday Project, because it was really the first time you could play a working Control Warrior deck in a long while (Quest Warrior wasn’t a full-fledged Control deck).
One of the Rastkahan’s Rumble themes were Dragons, and Warrior was the main recipient of new Dragon synergies. While the regular Dragon Warrior is still up in the air (hard to say how good will it turn out to be), a new version of Odd Warrior has popped out and it’s looking quite well so far. Basically, it’s the Odd Warrior we all know and love (or hate), but with a bunch of Dragon synergies.
When it comes to Dragon synergy cards, the deck runs three. Starting with Smolderthorn Lancer a pretty good card, which adds a way for Odd Warrior to play Execute. Even better than Execute, because it comes with a 3/2 body. Then, we’ve got Emberscale Drake – a new, better version of Shieldmaiden. 5 mana 5/5 that adds 5 Armor is solid. Maybe not as amazing in a deck that can gain 4 Armor per Hero Power, but extra Armor is always welcome + it has a Dragon tag for the sake of other synergies. And finally, we’ve got Crowd Roaster – a big body with a big removal attached to it. It’s good, because it almost always gets 2 for 1 – you clear a threat (even some big ones, because dealing 7 damage is a lot) and get an 7/4 body that now your opponent has to clear.
While not a Dragon synergy, Dragonmaw Scorcher is also better than I’ve suspected. It’s a bit like a bigger Ravaging Ghoul. Of course, the effect worked better on a 3-drop, but it’s not too bad on a 5-drop. Between it and Dyn-o-matic, you can clear a lot of different boards on T5 – if they have a lot of small, mostly 1 health minions – you drop Scorcher, if they have let’s say a single 4-5 health minion, you drop Dyn-o-matic. Scorcher is also a nice way to activate your Lancer (total off-topic, he looks like he was riding a turtle, or am I crazy?), and it obviously has a Dragon tag for the sake of other synergies.
Nightmare Amalgam is also an interesting option, because it’s both a Dragon AND a Mech. So it can trigger your Dragon synergies, but you can also Magnetize onto it, and it gains Rush after you play Dr. Boom, Mad Genius. It might be the first deck that uses it for two tribes at once?
Again, I feel like there’s a lot optimization to be made. For example, I’m not a big fan of Ysera, it just feels too slow and unnecessary, most of the time you just use it as a Dragon trigger. But given the fact that the deck was already quite good in the last expansion and it has A LOT more options right now, I can’t imagine it not being a part of the upcoming meta.
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 will be doing another Standout Decks compilation on Friday (Day 3)!
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