Rastakhan’s Rumble – the third and final expansion of Year of the Raven – launched a week ago. I was going to do a Day 3 deck roundup, but I’ve decided against it, since it would be too similar to the Day 1, and thus counterproductive. To be honest, I was kind of on the edge about doing this one too – I feel like most of the decks I’ve mentioned in the Day 1 compilation (after some changes, of course) are still the best meta decks. Still, some update would be nice, so here it is – compilation of best decks from Week 1!
Over the course of the week, I’ve been playtesting dozens of different decks – completely new archetypes, old archetypes with a few new cards, as well as the decks that didn’t really change at all. Overall, I have to say that I’ve been a bit disappointed with Rastakhan’s Rumble – even though I have a lot of fun with some of the new cards, overall it’s been quite underwhelming in terms of power level. According to stats from HSReplay, over the last 3 days, at Ranks 10-Legend, we had only two popular Rastakhan’s Rumble cards – Zul'jin, obviously (#21) and Baited Arrow (#35), mostly because of the massive Hunter’s popularity. There are no other new cards in top 50, which is rare even for pretty low impact expansions.
Still, I’ll try to do my best to list some of the most impactful decks we had so far. Keep in mind that I’m mostly judging them by the power level, NOT by how new they are, which means that we’ll also have some decks that are taken straight out from the Boomsday Project. I know that just linking Boomsday decks might seem like a lazy thing from me, but that’s just how a part of the meta looks like – I can’t really do anything about it, even though I would love to. But without further ado, let’s start.
This specific list was used by tenergy in Post-Nerf Boomsday meta, but honestly, it doesn’t even matter. Just go to the HSReplay.net, pick decks from the latest expansion and sort by the win rate. You’ll get an entire page of Odd Paladin decks. You might think that things are getting better at higher ranks? You would be only partially right. If we look at the Ranks 5-Legend, only 2 out of 12 decks on the first page aren’t Odd Paladin.
I could start talking about the deck, its strengths and weaknesses, but every one of you knows it already, so there’s no point. Instead, I will use this space for a short rant.
The funny thing is that Odd Paladin didn’t even get a single good card in Rastakhan’s Rumble. It’s the same Boomsday Project deck. But wait, we can go even further back. Odd Paladin didn’t really get any amazing cards in Boomsday Project either – some of them were okay (such as Mecharoo or Glow-Tron), but most of the time they were cut from the most optimized decks. So we’re basically playing against exactly the same Witchwood deck third expansion in a row. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s getting really tiring already.
This time around, new cards for the class were all about Control Paladin, Heal Paladin, Combo Paladin – admittedly, those decks also got significantly better (OTK Paladin in particular), but Odd Paladin is just absolutely dominating the new meta in terms of win rate without even trying. I know, a lot of that is because it’s a fast, refined, Aggro deck that obviously preys upon non-optimized, experimental decks that people were taking to the ladder. And that would be fine for the first day or three, but it’s still the case, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change.
So unless something changes (let’s say Baku the Mooneater gets nerfed), I think that we’ll have to play against the exact same deck for another ~4 months until the rotation. And I would absolutely love if something did change after all.
While not as popular as the Odd variant, Even Paladin is also quite powerful in Rastakhan’s Rumble. To be fair, the deck’s power was sort of already realized in the post-nerf Boomsday meta, where it started becoming more popular. The deck’s general play style didn’t really change that much, but it got some new tools to play around with.
When it comes to new cards added to Even Paladin, there are two – Spirit of the Tiger and Mojomaster Zihi. Some build play one of them, other play both, I’ve even seen builds that didn’t include any of them and just play the old Boomsday deck, although that’s pretty rare.
Spirit of the Tiger is a good example of a card that’s slow initially, but can snowball the board state out of control if left on the board for longer. I mean, you don’t really need THAT much – a single 6 mana spell like Avenging Wrath or Spikeridged Steed already makes it worth it – you pay 4 mana for a 6/6, although delayed. If you throw in another spell, even a 4 mana one like Blessing of Kings or Consecration, the card already did its job and even more than that. It’s not always easy to get value out of it (if you drop it without playing a spell immediately, it might even get AoE’d before you can do anything with it), and it’s quite slow to just spend 4 mana doing initially nothing vs a faster deck (once they get ahead, you might have a hard time catching up without Equality combos), but from what I’ve seen, it’s been doing its job quite well. That said, if anything, it will probably be the first card to cut from the list, as it seems to be the most clunky one.
As for the second new addition, Mojomaster Zihi, I’m really surprised with how well she works. It would seem that a 6 mana 5/5 minion is very bad (even worse than just drawing Genn Greymane), but her effect works very well in the right matchups. Of course, against Aggro it’s basically useless, but against slower decks – especially Druids – it does wonders. You see, most of your deck costs 6 or less mana, so you don’t really care THAT much about getting down to 5 (because you will be back at 6 anyway next turn). There are rare scenarios in which you topdeck your 8 mana play right after, but it’s not the end of the world. Your opponents, however, might not appreciate it that much. Playing against Control Warlock? Well, they can’t Lord Godfrey for one more turn, Twisting Nether for two, Voidlord for three and Bloodreaver Gul'dan for four, just in case they wanted to do any of those things. It’s also a great anti-Druid card – you don’t even have to wait, just drop it on the curve. When you’re at 6 mana, they’re probably already at 9, most likely waiting for that sweet Ultimate Infestation refill next turn. Now they either have to ramp again (if they have it, that is) or wait a few more turns before they can drop it. Really game-winning. Of course, it’s also a nice counter to any combo that requires a lot of mana, although in this case you need to pick the right moment (when you suspect that they want to combo you already).
All in all, Even Paladin is not that different in Rastakhan’s Rumble, but the two new cards are working alright, especially Zihi. Spirit might be cut if the meta gets faster, since it’s too slow initially, but it can be great in a more greedy meta, adds some nice threats to the deck.
And while we’re at it, here’s another Paladin deck. Some players have been trying to make OTK Paladin work again ever since the rotation (I’m looking at you, Thijs), but it just wasn’t good enough. However, Rastakhan’s Rumble has seemingly changed that, as Exodia Paladin is both popular and competitive, for now at least.
The deck’s basic goal didn’t change at all, but if you aren’t familiar with it, let me explain it quickly. Basically, you play Uther of the Ebon Blade, and then start Hero Powering. You want to bounce back three unique Horsemen to your hand (first one is unique 100% of the time, second one 75%, and the third one 50%), then on your final turn, drop 3 of them and press Hero Power to win the game. Of course, the basic combo is very simple (although RNG plays a significant factor in it, something I don’t particularly like – you can lose the game just because you get the wrong Horsemen few times in a row), but the problem was always actually getting there, not doing the combo.
However, that’s where the new Rastakhan’s Rumble cards come into action. Let’s start with new Legendary Champion – High Priest Thekal, who lets you go above and beyond. Without it, a bunch of your healing cards can be quite useless when you’re near max health, but once you drop it, you can play them to your heart’s content. The effect comes really handy versus damage-based combos, such as the ones from Malygos Druid or Control Priest – not only Thekal makes Alexstrasza a non-threat (until you heal up a bunch yourself, she actually HEALS you instead of setting up a combo), but your opponents are rarely prepared to deal 40, 50 or even more damage to you in a single turn, which they often have to do in this scenario. But even ignoring combo decks, just getting to high health total means that you have more time to set up your bounces – even a regular, non-combo Control build will want to rush you down after all.
Thekal would be useless without some good ways to heal up, but we’ve also got some of them. Flash of Light is a card I’ve been particularly happy with – healing for 4 is not a significant effect, but when combined with cycling a card, it makes perfect sense. Combo decks want to draw cards, and survive until they can pop their combo and win the game – and that’s exactly what this card helps with. Then, we have more of a late game option – Shirvallah, the Tiger. While getting it down to just a few mana points is not the easiest thing ever, with the amount of spells you run and the number of cards you cycle through, getting to your expensive spells like Shrink Ray or Spikeridged Steed is pretty consistent, and so is making Shirvallah cheap. It’s not always relevant vs Aggro, where it would be most useful, but you never mind having a free 7/5 with Rush, Lifesteal and Divine Shield even in the slowest matchups. I also like the combo with Crystalsmith Kangor – dropping both at the same time means healing for 14 as well as removing a threat, which is a great swing.
And finally, while not directly a healing card, it’s another way to survive – Time Out!. The card is basically an Ice Block on demand, and while I’d say that Block was stronger (since you could set it up early and then don’t worry about it), Time Out definitely has its moments. The card buys you a turn, which means a lot for a combo build. If you stare at lethal and you don’t have a board clear, you can just play Time Out and try to dig for it. If you draw it – then the card has saved your skin. You know that your opponent is setting up a combo that will hit you next turn? Time Out! You have not one, but two extra turns in the late game, since you run two copies, and those extra turns are often enough to win the game. You’re looking to bounce your final Horsemen, but your opponent is putting too much pressure? Time Out! Now you can do whatever you want for the next turn or two. The card has saved my skin many times already. You can even use it just before hitting a big threat with your weapon, or before triggering a Secret like Explosive Runes – remember being immune starts on your turn, and while it might not be relevant that often, there are ways to take advantage of that.
All in all, this is definitely the best time for Exodia Paladin in Year of the Raven, possibly even ever. If you like slow Paladin decks or combo builds in general, you should love it.
If you’ve played even just a few games since the new expansion has launched, you have definitely noticed a trend. Hunter class, and Spell Hunter archetype in particular, is all over it. And I mean it – it’s by far the most popular deck in the meta right now. And it’s not even surprising – it’s strong, pretty fun to play and it utilizes the new Hero card – Zul'jin. Actually, Zul’jin is the main reason why the deck is so strong in the first place.
Spell Hunter was already a pretty relevant and strong deck over the course of Year of the Raven, but it was always outshined by other Hunter decks (mostly Deathrattle Hunter) which had some extra unfair win condition (like pulling 20 mana worth of stats for 8 mana). And finally it got one – the Hero card I’ve already mentioned.
As you can probably imagine, repeating every spell in a deck that’s full of spells is a pretty powerful effect. While a lot of the spells are randomly targeted (you can e.g. kill your own minion with Flanking Strike), the end result is always similar – you end up with a full or nearly full board, clear some of your opponent’s minions, play a bunch of Secrets and end up with a few extra cards in hand (from Tracking, Flare, Secret Plan etc.). Effect well worth the 10 mana you’re paying for it. But to be honest, the card could as well be a Legendary spell, because you play it for the Battlecry – upgraded Hero Power is a nice touch, but not nearly as relevant as Hunter players would like it to be.
Other than that, the second new card from Rastakhan’s Rumble is Baited Arrow. Since the deck can’t naturally play minions, it likes ways to put minions on the board through spells, and this is a solid one. You can either clear a token/small minion and put a 5/5 up for 5 mana, or combo it with Hunter's Mark, Kill Command or other removals to clear a bigger minion (and also put a 5/5 up, of course). The card can also target Heroes, so extra 3 burn damage is sometimes relevant, even though it costs a lot.
Other than that, it’s the same Spell Hunter that was played before. Most of the players play basically the same lists, but there are some interesting tech choices you can make. For example, Flare is one of them – given the mirror matchups popularity, Secret destruction is a pretty solid addition. Also, whether you play Eaglehorn Bow or not. The most popular lists don’t play it, but it actually makes quite a lot of sense, both as a board control tool vs faster decks and a way to deal extra damage vs slow decks. But in the end, it doesn’t matter that much what tech cards you add. Variants of Spell Hunter might not be the best decks on the ladder, but they will definitely be at least Tier 2, and given how popular the deck is right now, it has to be on this list.
Deathrattle Hunter is another archetype we all know, the deck was dominating a big portion of the Year of the Raven meta. While it didn’t get a lot of direct support this expansion, given that it was one of the best ladder decks before it and the expansion didn’t have a massive impact, it’s not surprising that it still stays relevant.
The most common new card played in Deathrattle Hunter is Oondasta – it’s present in the majority of new builds. I like the card a lot, since it gives you a way to get an extra tempo swing in case you draw your Big Beasts (normally you’d rather pull them out with Kathrena Winterwisp). Even just playing Oondasta from hand, clearing something, and pulling out a King Krush is an insane tempo play – if you pull Oondasta from Kathrena, it’s even better – it’s basically a board wipe or bust kind of situation most of the time.
This specific build also plays Dragonmaw Scorcher, most likely because of how popular Odd Paladin is. Since the deck is very common, and it’s always been a bad matchup for Deathrattle Hunter, adding a way to deal 1 AoE damage can’t hurt. I don’t necessarily agree with cutting one Flanking Strike (I’d rather play it than Stitched Tracker or Tar Creeper, for example – although Stitched Tracker comes handy to get extra Beasts in hand for Oondasta), but Katagami has climbed to top 10 Legend with the list, meaning that it works quite well in the end.
If you liked Deathrattle Hunter before the expansion, you should still like it now – it didn’t really change that much. To be honest, you could probably even run the old Boomsday list and it would still work very well.
And the last Hunter deck I wanted to feature is Secret Hunter. A deck that has gained some notoriety after Subject 9 was released back in Boomsday Project, it was a quite solid (although not very popular) deck last expansion. The deck has gained some new tools in Rastakhan’s Rumble, and it’s aspiring to be the best Hunter deck (although we’ll see how it will turn out after a while).
Of course, again, the deck got quite a nice boost thanks to the Zul'jin – it’s another deck packed with spells, and while it won’t swing the game as much as it would in case of Spell Hunter, it should at least be a board flood (thanks to the Spellstone and Animal Companion) + replay a bunch of Secrets.
But maybe more importantly, a new Secret-related card was released. Masked Contender, which is kind of a Mad Scientist 2.0, fits into the Spell Hunter deck perfectly. Well, in all fairness, it’s probably a bit weaker than Mad Scientist, which didn’t have any condition (other than it dying without getting Silenced), in case of Contender you need to already have a Secret up. But given that Hunter’s Secrets cost 2 mana, and they often aren’t triggered right away, it’s not very difficult to get the value on the curve. And of course, the value is massive – drawing AND playing a 2 mana card from your deck is a crazy effect on a 3 mana card. Even if you don’t get value on the curve, on Turn 5 you can combo those two – 2/4 + 2 Secrets for 5 mana is also a nice tempo play, although not as good as just getting it on the curve.
An additional new card that this deck runs (although it’s not a staple in Secret Hunter, at least not so far) is Bloodscalp Strategist. With two copies of two different weapons, one of which is often kept around for long because it gets extra durability from Secrets, this kind of effect is not very hard to trigger. Getting an extra Hunter spell can be pretty nice, you can pick whatever you need at a specific time (e.g. removal, more burn, or a third Spellstone, which is nuts) and then it will also most likely make your Zul’jin stronger. An interesting option, definitely.
Between all of those and Subject 9, the deck has quite a lot of power plays throughout the game. Pulling an extra Secret on Turn 3 or swinging the board with Zul’jin in the late game, on top of drawing a bunch of Secrets with Subject 9 are all solid ways to get ahead and possibly even run a way with the game. Right now it’s hard to say which Hunter deck is best, but Secret Hunter is definitely a contender for this title.
I’ve noticed that Shudderwock Shaman has been getting more popular lately, especially at higher ranks. Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s basically the same old Boomsday deck without any new additions. And I get it, the deck was already refined, but I really thought that some of the new cards might see play in the build. Maybe Haunting Visions, maybe Krag'wa, the Frog. But in the end, it seems like they are too clunky in this build and it’s already packed (although Earth Shocks are kind of a flex slot).
Given that it’s an old deck, there’s not really much to talk about it. I kind of hope that it evolves and people will try out some new cards. I know that the old, refined build is always safer, but we wouldn’t have some of the best decks in the history without experimenting in the first place.
I would like to say that it’s the first completely new archetype on this list, but I would be lying. Of course, it’s still interesting, and I had quite a lot of fun playing it, but it’s not really that new. Playing it feels very much like playing Taunt Druid or Big Druid with Hadronox. The basic premise is similar – you either win the game by playing Taunt after Taunt (works quite well vs Aggro), swinging the game with Master Oakheart, or through the Hadronox combos. That’s where the deck is closer to Big Druid than Taunt Druid, though – it doesn’t run Witching Hour, it doesn’t run Carnivorous Cube, but it does run Spreading Plague. No Witching Hour or Cube means that you have less clunky combo pieces that are useless until the late game, and Spreading Plague is your best way to counter Odd Paladin.
The goal of the deck is to drop both Astral Tiger and Hadronox, kill them off, and then play Da Undatakah to get both of those Deathrattles. Now, on death, Undatakah will BOTH flood the board with Taunts and shuffle himself back into the deck. Now, if your Astral Tiger dies a second time, Undatakah will get TWO Tiger Deathrattles as well as the one from Hadronox, which means that it will shuffle itself TWICE whenever it dies. That’s also a nice counter-measure to stuff like Silence and Transform effects – as long as you kill off your first one or two Undatakahs, you will get a bunch of extra copies, so only one of them needs to survive. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t really want your Tiger to die for the third time, because you might get 3x shuffle Deathrattle and no Hadronox Deathrattle (good to keep away from fatigue, but you’d rather flood the board with Taunts too).
Spreading Plague kind of screws up the Hadronox, but it’s not really that relevant. In slow matchups, you can just keep it in your hand if you want. And if you absolutely need it, like if your opponent has set up a strong board you can’t answer, it’s better to have Plague messing up with your Hadronox later than to die on the spot before you even get there. And in all honesty, given that that you can drop Undatakah so many times, even getting mostly 1/5’s is good enough, because once your opponent runs out of removals, they will be enough to kill them.
When it comes to other new cards, Dog has decided to run Mosh'Ogg Announcer. Not only it’s a nice Taunt to get revived from Hadronox (2/14 with Divine Shield is VERY hard to get through), but it’s also pulled from Master Oakheart. I’ve seen some players running Rabble Bouncer in that slot instead, which is better against board flood decks when played from hand. Oh, and no matter which one you play, be careful around Priests – they would LOVE you to play a huge, 2 Attack minion after turn 6.
One more twist that Dog has added to the list is Savage Roar. It can act as a game finisher. Not only you might be able to catch your opponent off-guard after Plague (he doesn’t really expect Roar from a slow Druid deck), but also have a finisher after Hadronox (or Undatakah) dies. Most of your Taunts have low attack, but Roar on a full board means 16 extra damage, often more than enough to win the game (especially if you add another 14 from Branching Paths).
And that’s basically it. Despite sharing most of the cards with Big/Taunt Druids, it’s probably the most “fresh” archetype on this list. So far it is my favorite Druid deck this expansion, next to the Hakkar, the Soulflayer Togwaggle Druid (although I haven’t seen anyone on the ladder playing it).
And finally, a new version of the Rogue’s Kingsbane build. Last time the deck was truly viable in Standard was when the Legendary weapons were initially released, in Kobold & Catacombs. Rotation, in which the deck has lost many ways to buff weapon, along with moving Coldlight Oracle to Hall of Fame basically killed it, but it’s been slowly regaining its power over the year. And finally, it’s a pretty good build again in Rastakhan’s Rumble.
It’s mostly thanks to a single new card – Raiding Party. Drawing 3 cards for 3 mana is already powerful, but it’s even better if you consider the context here. Pirates are the weapon synergy and weapon buff minions, and weapon is obviously Kingsbane. So the card will ALWAYS draw Kingsbane (as long as you Combo it), as well as either ways to buff it or extra tempo from Dread Corsair. Combo deck benefits greatly from drawing cards, especially if those draws tutor exactly the cards you need.
With more ways to pull Kingsbane and buffs, the deck became much more consistent. With basically 5 ways of getting Kingsbane, it’s very rare that you don’t get it in the early game. Pulling minions out of your deck means that you have some board presence in the early/mid game, and a higher chance to draw the cards you need in the late game (e.g. Sprint, Valeera the Hollow etc.).
Another way to take advantage of drawing Kingsbane multiple times is that you can now be much more aggressive with it – if you buff it to 4-5 damage early, you can start punching face and just drawing it over and over again. Unlike minions, weapon is much harder to destroy or counter, not to mention that this one in particular will come back even after getting cleared by Ooze. It’s a strategy that has won me a lot of games – I’ve even outraced some Aggro and Midrange decks that way thanks to the Leeching Poison – a 5 attack weapon with Leeching Poison means that your opponent needs 6 attack on the board to even do anything, and probably 3-4 more to actually start putting pressure (and at that point, you can counter them nicely with Blade Flurry or even Vanish). Of course, the deck is still not THAT good against Aggro, because if it doesn’t draw well, it is prone to getting rushed down, but it has a significantly higher chance now than it did before.
It’s the same deck list that was featured in the Day 1 compilation – it’s still the most popular Odd Mage build on the ladder. We’ve actually got an interesting twist on the archetype, as some players have decided to go for a faster, more aggressive version (because keep in mind that even though 2 damage Hero Power makes a good board control tool, it can also be used just as the Hunter’s one – to put the opponent on a clock). Some builds are also going for more Elemental synergies, and I think that those are my favorite.
The deck has two main win conditions. First one is the new Loa – Jan'alai, the Dragonhawk. It’s very easy to meet the card’s condition in Odd Mage, and summoning a 7 mana Ragnaros the Firelord alone is good enough (keep in mind that the card has seen a lot of play at 8 mana and it still sees some play in the Wild), and you also get an extra 4/4 body on top of that. It’s crazy and if your opponent doesn’t have a good answer, it can win you the game.
The other win condition is Frost Lich Jaina, just like in any Control Mage build (including the most popular Big Spell Mage). Even though you replace your upgraded Hero Power, it’s well worth it – the card can carry the game alone. Not only it will give you a bunch of free Water Elementals, but it forces your opponent to play extra carefully, so you won’t summon even more of them.
And of course, the 2 damage Hero Power can also be a nice win condition. If you manage to put some mid game pressure, especially if you run a faster deck list, hitting your opponent for 2 every turn can put some nice pressure.
But all in all, I like Odd Mage, the deck is pretty fun, but I thought that it will be a bit more powerful than it is. It’s not a bad deck per se, but it might not even land in Tier 2 in the end. After more and more optimized decks are popping out on the ladder, Odd Mage’s win rate has been slowly declining.
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 apologize for skipping the Day 3 compilation which I've promised, but it would really be a complete repeat of the Day 1 compilation. Even the current Week 1 compilation is very similar.
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