I don’t know how other people decide on the decks that they play, but for me it has always been somewhat of a struggle. There’s a lot of work that goes into building decks. As with most people who play card games, I enjoy playing my own creations. Most of the time they are bad, but I tend to end up with something playable. Granted the ratio of good decks to bad decks isn’t really in my favor, but something-something-eggs-omelets-cliches. This is essentially how the journey Wife and I take for every event, a million ideas followed by frantic panic as I realized I haven’t actually decided on anything.
The New Era
Wife and I mentioned it on one of our early podcasts but I feel the worst kept secret of the classic format is that Tyrus is one of if not the best deck right now. It is incredibly versatile even before you try and tailor it to a specific meta simply by virtue of warlock cards. Banish to the Nether doesn’t care if you’re an ability or an ally or and equipment, you’re gone. Hesriana doesn’t care how big or small you are, just that you aren’t Dethvir. On top of that the deck also has a number of “oops I win” draws. On the play, an on curve Unholy Power can be back breaking. If you didn’t already have a Vuz’din on board, or left resources open for an instant speed answer you could be in a world of hurt. That’s of course assuming they didn’t strip it away with Lesson of the Nether or Eye of Kilrogg. You can go more discard heavy and even run Voidfire Wand. Flip early and shred your opponent’s hand with Curse of Midnight. The options are varied and all incredibly dangerous. Our version eschews a lot of the discard spells but does include Signet of Manifested Pain to make sure that you have a steady stream of Burning Legion troops to fill your board. Assuming you manage to address all of the various threats the satyr gets to play some of the most efficient quests in the game since he is a demon. The deck is a monster, no pun intended.
However the satyr isn’t the only big dog. There are several other threats, especially since a certain nasty ongoing was going to be legal. Since only Unending Breath and Winterveil Disguise Kit were banned this time around, I was super concerned about the Wondervolt combo. Would anyone play it? I tested it a lot but I couldn’t be sure that I was playing it properly. It did not win the MetaMart event it debuted at, that tournament was instead won by an incredibly discard heavy Tyrus build. Still, it successfully placed 2 players into the top 8. I would later learn that Amsterdam also had Wondervolt builds present but unfortunately details about that event seem to be lost to the annals of time.
Wondervolt, Werewolves, and Tyrus were the 3 decks that were I planned to paint bulls-eyes on this year. Two of those are repeats because they are what I’d call pillars of the format, at least for now. The new addition is a pretty resilient combo deck that I didn’t have enough data on. Initially we were testing all sorts of things and just flinging things at the wall to see what stuck. Although she will claim otherwise, Wife was on the Bogmara plan from day 1. In my case, I knew I wanted to play something original but things just weren’t working out.
Initially we thought we broke the format with a monster build based on the Portal mechanic. I’ll leave that for another article, but suffice to say you need to read the cards carefully. Then I switched between a number of different things. We couldn’t really pin down anything that would beat all 3 decks. Usually there were comfortable matchups against 2 of the 3, but then the 3rd would be virtually unwinnable, probably even post sideboard.
As Gencon drew closer I was getting more and more frustrated until I decided in one testing session to pull out Holy Cows.
The deck revolved around Joru, Kahul, and trying to abuse WoW’s version of Cursed Scroll: Torch of Holy Fire. The deck was fairly close to 100% casual but the combo of Joru the Blinding Light and Kahul the Sunseer is really strong. If you can feed Joru every turn you have a pretty sticky threat that is also draining your opponent’s health. This allows you to pull out of holes against aggro, the unpreventable damage punches through armor or prevention effects, and you also have a difficult to remove threat against control. Later on Sixto the Earth-Blessed would join the team and then we were really cooking with gas.
Sixto is actually a pretty impressive engine. While the bloodrush mechanic is pretty obvious on the orc side, tribe is less initially impressive. Joru and Kahul might jump out at you whereas Sixto is likely more subtle. At the time when he was released, Core just didn’t really contain many worthwhile quests. Well guess what classic has in spades? Think of Sixto as a pseudo Tuskarr Kite. He staples “draw 2+ cards” onto all or most of your allies if you construct the deck in a particular way. Consider this scenario:
Turn 5, you have Eye of the Storm, a facedown card, Rise and Be Recognized, and Call to Arms: Arathi Basinin play. You play Sixto, complete CtA and reveal a Cairne, maybe some other stuff. You stash Cairne and then trigger Sixto completing R&R. That’s a significant gain on the card economy side. Having a 6 health value also means he is likely to stick around and also makes playing him with a Kahul already on the board hilarious. A sequence of Joru, into Kahul, into Sixto can simultaneously pull you out of a hole with respect to your remaining health, put you ahead on cards, and put your opponent under substantial pressure.
Sounds awesome right? Well we ported the core into multiple classes, sneaky cows, holy cows, stormy cows, armored cows, undead cows, unholy cows etc. Unfortunately, they all fell prey to what was mentioned earlier. They would beat two and then just fold to the third. Sneaky cows came reeeaaallllyyy close, but with literally 2 days to Gencon I audibled. Maybe next yeah people will need to take the bull by the horns.
For the record, this is generally a terrible idea, changing decks so close to an event. Throwing caution to the wind I switched as I really thought that the cow lists needed more time in the oven. Instead I went back to a deck that I had some history with. My first realm championship qualification was with Emek the Equalizer. Since Anub’arak and I go way back to Warcraft 3 days I wanted to introduce him to my undead priest friend.
They hit it off immediately.
Total cards in deck: 60
Total cards in sidedeck: 10
Years ago, for the NACC in Vegas I chose to not play Emek for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that I felt it was much too easy to run out of gas and end up topdecking into things that you don’t want to see. Anub’arak happens to fix a number of those issues. Your discard spells (and flip) are going to pile a bunch of cards into the graveyard, this is before you even consider decks that do it on their own such as Vorix or Spider Solitaire. Additionally, if you can reanimate him early you could have a 6/6 protector in play long before your opponent is truly prepared to address it. If they end up expending multiple resources to remove him then he is likely to just jump out of the grave and threaten to end the game. The recursion cost of a mere 2 is a bargain, this allows you to not need to resource as much if you aren’t in the situation to do so. Between being able to stunt early aggression (BIG BUG BODY GUARD!), be a resilient beatstick against control (interrupts feel super bad), and simultaneously shredding graveyard based strategies (flickers and finishing moves, /sadface) he is way more than just a pet card.
The rest of the deck is relatively standard although I wanted to focus more on the discard element as I felt our bug friend let us get extra mileage, and the discard suite is necessary to beat control/combo builds. The obvious question is, how did the deck do? Well it went 4-0!
Round 1 vs Cody
Cody was running the blue Marksmanship hunter Elendril. I won the die roll and chose to go first. I wasn’t sure how aggressive his list could be and suspected a Werewolves variant. I had commented prior to the game that I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was not lying. I honestly could not recall what marksmanship talents there were. I felt it would be werewolves as my only experience playing hunters were either Valerie Worfield (undead-survival) and Syreian the Bonecarver (Babagahnoosh). Personally I don’t like feeling unprepared so I tried to refocus as we offered deck cuts.
Cody was a really cool guy and was a pleasure to play against. In this particular case, I was able to grind him out over the course of the match. Broderick pokes and discard allowed me to whittle down and remove his threats or preemptively address them until Dethvir and Anub’arak were able to successfully close out the 2 games we played. The ubiquitous warlock is top dog of the 4 slot for a reason and he earned his paycheck in this match. He played several early game x/3’s, but I was able to generate a good amount of card advantage through the powerhouse allies. We spoke for a while during and after the games about our respective scenes and what other games he played. Hopefully Cody will make an appearance at next year’s event as well!
Round 2 was against a familiar face and as the pairings were read we laughed and laughed…and then cried a little.
I was paired up against Wife!
We both had a sneaking suspicion as we flew out that we’d end up playing and we did. Since we tested together we already knew the matchup pretty well. If she got out to an explosive start I’d be in serious trouble. If she didn’t however, I could take the game over. Since I run Holy Guardians this was even more likely as the early protector almost 100% requires a Broderick on Wife’s side of the board. Otherwise it is all too easy to make several X-for-1 trades in my favor.
Bottom line is I took the match 2-0 like my previous one. Although I was on the draw and she did threaten some serious damage game 2, early Holy Guardians that eventually had Dethvir backup kept my out of danger and slammed the door shut.
Round 3 was against Andrew rolling with Sepirion the Poised and a teched out variant of Spider Solitaire.
Andrew and I had talked for a while we were waiting for the event to start and as with Cody, it was awesome to talk about this game again, and just gaming in general. As for the match itself, Andrew’s version of this deck had some cool tech choices. He included some additional multi-legged allies in Ajol-Anak Deathwatcher and Anub’arak!
Traitor King indeed.
Andrew admitted though that he was not all that familiar with the deck and hadn’t played in some time so I did have that in my favor. I believe I was on the draw, but that fact is missing from my notes. We had some really close games. My life total was at 21 and 20 respectively in each game before finishing it. The story in both really was the tale of dueling crypt lords. Due to Emek’s flip I was able to time an Anub’arak discard and activation whereas Andrew would have a more difficult time getting them to line-up. Not necessarily due to any play error or deck building mistake but because his deck didn’t quite cooperate. In all honesty Wife and I had shelved Spider Solitaire last summer and didn’t really test it this year. It is an omission that will need to be corrected going forward as the deck is as deadly as ever. After some crazy seesaw action, I closed the series 2-0.
Round 4 onto the final boss. Win and I am assured 1st, lose and I would be handing sole possession of the title to my opponent. I sat down and Pat was shuffling up.
For those who don’t recognize him, Pat was a pretty big deal when the WoWtcg was still alive and kicking. He created my all-time favorite deck Zombie-Go and we reminisced about how fun that deck was a bit as we waiting for the round to begin. That however isn’t the only deck he was involved in unleashing on the world, and I found out the Velindre across from me did in fact champion an army of murloc-crabs.
Fortunately, since I won the die roll I was able to pressure my opponent’s hand. Eventually game 1 ended after a series of hand disruption tactics and an ever growing army of undead. This is a significant advantage going into game 2. Although we had tested with me piloting wondervolt, we never tested me on the other side. We also did not test this specific matchup. Really, I was just relying on theory. In the 2nd MetaMart event the Tyrus build that fought its way through 2 wondervolt combo decks was swimming in discard. Unfortunately, priest doesn’t sport the pinpoint options that warlock does, instead it relies on the quantity approach. I just was crossing my fingers that I was able to apply pressure on 2 fronts, both health and hand. If I kept my opponent having to choose between sculpting their combo and just simply surviving to another turn I felt I had the best shot.
Game 2 saw me fall to the infinite murloc-crab army after several turns. This is despite Pat being forced to run out a naked wondervolt and give me a turn to remove it. In the end I could not so he went off and that was that.
Ending the series on the play definitely helped me out. I was able to apply the pressure I hoped for and disrupt just enough to keep him from accomplishing his goal. The turn 1 miniature voodoo mask of course influenced that greatly. As mentioned attacking on multiple fronts is important. Now, not only did he need to protect his hand, he needed a Rituals of Power or other similar effect to address the mask. All before my red and green allies chewed through his life total.
After 4 rounds I emerged victorious 4-0. Not the most grueling victory won in the WoWtcg but it still felt pretty good. Overall the event was very well run and most importantly it was a lot of fun. I don’t think I heard a single complaint about anything.
Well other than the fact that the game isn’t still being made of course.
The field was pretty varied. At the time of writing this I do not know the entire field but the breakdown I think was this:
- Varanis Slow Mage
- Souldrinker Bogmara
- Spider Solitaire
- Ghoulmaster Khalisa
- Boarguts the Impaler
- Tyrus (??)
- 2nd DK (??)
- Blue Worgen Hunter
I think the final 4 were:
- Spider Solitaire
- Slow Mage
Places 2 through 4 were decided by breakers to my knowledge.
Unfortunately there are a few question marks but hopefully discussion of the event over on the facebook group will yield more information.
Next year I doubt I will end up playing the same list again though. We had a list a mile long with potential decks to play. Most of them will probably get covered either in an article or on the podcast as I really do want to share all the ideas and see what others have to say about them. We had combo decks based on demons and chromie, we had aggressive builds aiming to close the game out on turn 4, we had the grindiest of grind control decks, we had ramp and master heroes. There are so many viable options that really our biggest issue was trying to cut down what we wanted to play and focus our testing. If you’re looking for decks we can certainly accommodate and provide some fertile ground for ideas.
I want to that everyone who came out this year and participated. I hope that we will see everyone return for Gencon next year. For anyone who couldn’t make it I also hope you will get the chance to sit down, sling some cards, and and keep WoW’ing it up!