My bug friend is back and he’s better than ever!

Hello everyone and welcome to Random(‘s) Thoughts! This is a joint article series that is written by me (Husband) and wife. We primarily intend to focus on the WoWtcg, however we might branch into other topics. Just a brief overview we both have put a lot of years into tabletop and other gaming. Wife started out with the WoWtcg when she and I first started dating and eventually branched into the World of Warcraft proper and other games. On the other side, I started gaming a looooong time ago with Magic and have played more ccg’s than I care to admit. By far the World of Warcraft trading card game is our favorite tabletop experience, and it continues to be today despite its untimely demise.

The goal for this series to try to inject a little life during the… let’s call it afterlife of this great game and maybe talk about some other games along the way. There is a successor if you want to call it that in Hearthstone, however anyone who has played both will immediately tell you that the similarities stop quickly and abruptly once you get beyond the source material. Since there was actually an “official” event at GenCon 2016 we realized there are still others out there who miss slinging spells as a fire mage, crushing enemies as a warrior, or calling upon allies from the twisting nether as a warlock. Overall the game was very good to us and this seemed like a fun and simple way to try and add something to the community.

Starting off we wanted to dive into something fun and in this case we are going to look at a build utilizing my favorite Warcraft character of all time:

“I have heard the Summons!”

You meet Anub’arak for the first time in the Frozen Throne expansion for Warcraft 3 and he saves Arthas’ backside as well as being a gigantic badass. Unfortunately, the Crypt Lord didn’t displace the Death Knight as the first hero of choice in multiplayer. However, he still gets used from time to time as a 3rd hero. Later shows up in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion as both a dungeon and raid boss, and more recently in Heroes of the Storm (albeit with a different voice actor). If you aren’t familiar with Anub’arak he is worth looking into he’s a super awesome character and as mentioned an all-around badass.

“For the Frozen Throne!”

We were planning on attending GenCon 2016 before we found out about the WoWtcg events there. We certainly hoped there would be some but couldn’t do more than that. Ended up getting a decent turnout (15 or 16 people) and it was a lot of fun. Classic was the format which was perfect since both Wife and I adore using certain old cards, the play pattern is just flat out different than contemporary or core. To preface the decklist below you have to keep in mind that there were certain cards banned at the event. Classic typically doesn’t have a banlist, but I think most would agree it needed one and why not make those changes going forward? After a voting and review period these were the bans:

  • Unending Breath
  • PX-238 Winter Wondervolt
  • Winterveil Disguise Kit

There are various reasons why these ended up on the list and not others but that’s a discussion for another day. We expected there would be a lot of Tyrus since that deck has a lot of potential variations as well as strong across the board matchups. Mage of varying flavors as well as other red warlocks were also likely alongside some deathwish and aberration hunters. All the usual standard-bearers. Naturally there would be outliers and some tier 2 pet stuff like boomkin, but we wanted to make sure we could stand up to the known decks and then just wing it against the others. Personally, we feel Bogmara and Jasani are also pretty high up on the tier list but both seem to be non-existent when we spoke with other people. One person ran something very close to my Jasani deck but most other people didn’t go those directions.

Since really nothing was on the line but pride, and I didn’t know what the meta would look like (who would?) I wanted to go in using something fun. Specifically Anub’arak.

“I will consume the living and the dead!”

The bug man wasn’t the only card I tried to build around, but he was the one I tried the hardest to make work. I tried initially to plug him into an old deck based around Babagahnoosh the Grumpy. Basically the deck was running Syreian the Bonecarver as a hero and tried to swing the downsides of dumping your hand into an upside. You could run Maurauding Geist, Shredder, Gilblin Deathscrounger, Shade of Arugal to create a super strong board on turn 1. Since you’re dumping so many cards into the graveyard early on you could also recur the Traitor King himself as early as turn 2 ending the game in short order one way or the other.

The deck struggled however often against itself. That is you’d get hands that were super clunky or if your opponent did manage to weather the storm of ice, teeth, claws, and ghosts you would be left with little to no resources in play and in hand so I moved on.

Looking at the other scourge heroes I leaned towards the dual-class ones. This was the first of many attempts at duel-class heroes and it is a unique take. Unfortunately, the restrictions on ally usage makes it complicated to build something coherent. That being said there is an advantage to be able to pull from all factions as long as they are death knights. Really the deciding factor was card draw, while Kjaran the Callous was cool paladin equipment and hunter abilities left me with limited options to draw cards in what clearly wanted to be a control deck. Traps are really powerful especially in what we felt was a tempo heavy format, but when the aggro decks are warlocks and the midrange-y stuff is mage you can fall behind on card advantage and end up in a bad spot. I tried very, very hard to make the zombie-go package of Phylactery of the Nameless Lich and Ymirheim Chosen Warriors fit but it was just short otherwise I probably would’ve played this deck.

Askalti and Turov had “real” decks at one point or another so that pushed me away from them. That left me with Deathseer Zuk’raj who is shaman equipment and druid abilities. That particular combo provides some interesting assets. Voice of reason, hibernate, innervate, and a slew of others. Once the hero was selected and the general build determined I just hammered away at it.

“My might cannot be matched!”

Deathseer Zuk’raj

2 The Lich King

3 Starshot
4 Innervate
4 The Natural Order
4 Cyclone
4 Hurricane
4 Hibernate

3 Calamity’s Grasp
4 Voice of Reason

4 Anub’arak, The Traitor King
4 Gardos Gravefang
4 Krax Gravesteel

4 Darkness Calling
4 A Question of Gluttony
4 Proving Grounds
4 Eye of the Storm


2 Blackout Truncheon
4 Flight Form
4 Daedak the Graveborne

Well, sort of. The deck does have problems which we’ll get into in a minute. As you can tell from the general outline the build is super late-game control. You want to grind your opponent out with removal and trades then plop down our best bug or drag his boss out of the refrigerator and then go to work. Given that the 2 alone presents 10 damage you can quickly turn the game around and that’s before you get into recurring whatever the best stuff that hit the board and bit the dust.

The issue comes in when you run into something that doesn’t want to play a “normal” game. For example boomkin presents a serious problem. You can run some things to try and shore up the matchup such as flight form, but if your opponent manages their moonfires properly it is incredibly difficult to actually catch them since you don’t have access to interrupts.

Bipedal chicken monsters aside you can compete against a lot of the decks we figured we would see. This is in addition to the fact that there is almost zero chance your opponent has any idea what you are doing. I mean a scourge hero? Really? Plus, the first time you have Gardos Gravefang and Krax Gravesteel next to each other your opponent will stop to ask what is going on. Speaking of which, both of those deathknights are fairly important. Both help stunt early aggression since Krax can be a 2-for-1 and Gardos in addition to being a protector can help out against the ever present Broderick Langforth. Removing a Broderick that was binned early can reaps huge dividends over the course of the game.

Calamity’s Grasp and Hibernate allow you to play effectively on your opponent’s turn and if they decide not to do anything threatening you can always quest or Innervate. Originally Daedak was in the main 60, however Hesriana changed that relatively quickly. Shadowfang Keep seemingly was the answer since it would let me dodge the succubus, but Eye of the Storm proved to be required despite the other removal. The hyper aggressive decks such as Bogmara could put out too much pressure. Additionally EotS allowed for a decent answer alongside Hurricane and Cyclone to deal with solo decks.

“The strands of destiny weave only a web of death”

Overall, I felt pretty confident if my opponent was playing a “normal” game plan, that is they planned to win without cheating things into play or sculpting a 1 turn combo win. You have a ton of versatile and instant speed answers, you also have inevitability since you can’t keep a good bug down. Even if your opponent has the appropriate can of bug spray you get the undead sovereign himself which is a pretty strong way to close the game.

Against say deathwish you have cyclones, hurricanes, and TNO to ensure you don’t die early on. Anything you can do to feed the graveyard keeps the traitor king online and eventually you can wear them out. Even if they run something strange like Kel’thuzad you aren’t too worried since eventually the minions will die and your master hero will continue to resurrect them.

For aggressive an opponent you’ll want to mulligan for any cheap removal. You have to keep pace which against anything but Bogmara should be possible. The Souldrinker is an issue if they have 6+ power on the board going into turn 2 and obviously even worse if they played lessons. Otherwise you can trade 1 for 1 and refill via quests and innervate when there are openings. Keep in mind though that windows are narrow so any 2-for-1s are important. Everything is very lethal in classic.

Mage is a different story. To be honest we tested it but not extensively. I leaned heavily on the idea that Anub’arak can’t truly be interrupted since he loves to come back. Further you can try to fight on their turn with instants to try and create openings on your turn. It may be a matchup that requires sideboard slots but will require more testing.

Tyrus was the big threat we had going in. Depending on the version the matchup is trivial to rough. That being said you should be favored if they don’t get the nuts.

“I’m the 5th Beetle!”

In the end I went 2-1 and missed the top 4 cut on breakers. Not a bad showing although I was disappointed I didn’t win out. My loss was to blue aberration hunter which I feel is a relatively strong matchup. I just couldn’t quite turn the corner in game 3. Wins came against a nature damage based druid utilizing Earth and Moon alongside Bath’rah and Mazu’kon. It can pump out a serious amount of damage in short order. Round 3 was against Tyrus (of which there weren’t actually many at the event to our surprise) which went for the Curse of Midnight play to flip early on. I don’t really care for that version as I felt a more aggressive approach was better. Taking turn 2 off actually made a difference since I didn’t need to worry about dealing with a threat that turn and if there wasn’t a turn 1 ally well I have a lot of breathing room if I went first. Combined with ample instant speed removal, a bunch of opposing guys being X/2 (AKA Krax fodder), and Voice of Reason to keep me healthy and/or prevent discards I was able to take that match as well.

Wife crushed it and ended up splitting the finals with Bogmara. That’s a discussion for another day. Thanks for reading and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions you can reach us at randomsthoughtspodcast [at] gmail [dot] com. Also please check out our Random(‘s) Thoughts podcast here SoundCloud

*Note: Section titles are quotes from the Warcraft 3 Crypt Lord.


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