We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of the best Hearthstone decks for Rise of Shadows since the expansion launched a few weeks ago. As always happens when a new set of cards enters the game, familiar archetypes have been reworked, while completely new faces have also entered the fray.
Who better to ask about the state of the game, though, than some of Hearthstone’s top pro players? We caught up with a handful of them at the Hearthstone World Championships to get their thoughts on some of the standout Rise of Shadows decks - and why these are the ones you’ll be seeing on the ranked ladder for some time to come.
Control Warrior and Bomb Warrior
Even though both decks are incredibly strong, we didn't actually seen all that much of them at the World Championships, as players have decided to follow Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk’s advice:
“Ban the Warrior away and try to be as good as you can against aggro”.
In the matches where these decks were allowed through, however, we’ve seen just how powerful they can be.
That said, there could still be more developments for Bomb Warrior in the future, according to Muzahidul "Muzzy" Islam.
“I think Bomb Warrior is a deck that can be explored more by people,” he told us.
“When I saw Blastmaster Boom I wanted to make a deck with that card, but people still haven't put in the cards that I put in originally. It's been my highest win rate deck. It's sort of like a Bomb Warrior, but tempo-based with Grommash, Inner Rage and Battle Rage.”
Sitting at the top alongside the Warrior is Tempo Rogue. This was something that a lot of pro players saw coming during the pre-release theorycrafting stage of Rise of Shadows, and it didn’t surprise anyone when the deck cropped up in many line-ups for the World Championships.
“It was clear to me that Rogue was going to be one of the best classes,” says Jon "Orange" Westberg.
“Every deck lost their identity in the rotation but Rogue still has Raiding Party and core cards like Preparation and so on. I thought the only thing Rogue needed to be Tier 1 in the expansion was a good weapon. And then one of the last cards revealed was Waggle Pick and I'm like, yep, that's it. I got Rank 1 Legend with it on day one of the expansion!”
It’s not only a strong competitive deck, it's also gone down a storm with players for its playstyle too. Many are finding a lot of fun in playing Tempo Rogue, including Mark "Ike" Eichner, thanks to all the satisfying mechanics tucked away within it.
“My favourite real deck is [Tempo] Rogue because it is super variance depending. There's a bunch of Discover and a bunch of ‘Created by’ cards which are always a blast. That deck flows super nicely and it's really consistently strong.”
While Warrior and Rogue are sitting in the top tier, perhaps the most powerful deck to assert itself during the World Championships was Hand Mage (also known as Khadgar or Summon Mage). We saw it become the source of many highlight-reel-worthy moments as players summoned multiple minions and generated ridiculous boards thanks to Khadgar and Conjurer’s Calling.
“Hunterace's Mage is super well built,” enthused Ike. “I think he solved what the Mage build should be and I was not really prepared for its anti-aggro tools. I thought that the deck was powerful against Warrior, but I didn't think that it could switch over to an anti-aggro deck in a way that mattered. That deck was definitely rough.”
This might not be the end of experimentation for the class, however. Even after bringing what many consider the best Mage list to the tournament, Casper "Hunterace" Notto is already excited to try a new Hybrid Spell/Miracle Mage.
“I haven't been playing it too much because I want to focus on my decks,” he says. “It’s really like a Miracle Mage. Like a hybrid of the Mage I brought and a Mage with Questing Adventurer and all the cheap spells with Mana Cyclone. It's very cool and I do like it a lot.”
The power of Control Shaman in the Rise of Shadows meta has a lot to do with how the majority of classes lost hero cards as Knights of the Frozen Throne was rotated into Wild. This left a huge power vacuum behind, where those classes who still had some of these immensely strong cards had an advantage over the others - something pros were ready to capitalise on.
“Early on in this expansion, I knew that Shaman was going to be very strong when it was refined,” says World Champion, Hunterace. “It has Hagatha, the Witch - one of the strongest cards from last year. It didn't see play because all of the other hero cards were even stronger, but now that all the other hero cards are gone I wanted to make that work”.
There has been some criticism of the deck, suggesting that it has significantly weaker matchups, but the Norwegian feels that it does have the capability to contest against midrange and control decks. However, it seems like Ike is not convinced:
“Shaman is OK. It's very mediocre. It's really good against exactly Zoo so it'll get a win there, but it's absolutely trashy against everything else that's not a token deck.” That said, he feels it was a good read for the tournament as it excelled against the Zoo and Token heavy lineups brought by some players.
Hunterace, meanwhile, is still looking to refine it some more, and we’re interested to follow his next developments to optimise it.
Although it has gained more traction over the last few weeks, the decision by David "killinallday" Acosta to bring Nomi Priest to the World Championships was especially surprising, because decks had to be submitted eight days after expansion launch. At that point, it was nowhere near as well-known as it is now.
“That deck wasn't on anyone's radar and surprised us all with it. That deck's very strong and I might consider putting it in my lineup if I had to for a future tournament,” said Muzzy. Those thoughts were echoed by his teammate David "Justsaiyan" Shan who saw its potential but didn’t quite put it together in time for the tournament.
“I'd like to say it's one of those decks that didn't necessarily fly under our radar, but we didn't quite get it right in our testing. I'm a combo player and I definitely like the deck a lot. It might be one of those decks that emerges in this meta to be a beloved deck of combo players.”
The popularity of the deck is only set to grow further as more players take the time to explore it and refine it further. You should also expect to see it in your ladder matches more and more as popular streamers such as Thijs continue to run it.
“I've been playing the Nomi Priest a lot myself on stream as well,” he said. “It's a super fun deck and I was very surprised about the power level of the deck. It’s maybe not the best deck but it's definitely Tier 2 and very fun to play!”
So, that’s where the pro players are at right now. We’re still relatively early into the new Rise of Shadows meta and it’ll be interesting to see how the best decks develop further over the coming weeks.
Be sure to stick with Metabomb where we will keep you updated on all the latest developments with our comprehensive Hearthstone deck guides.