Feeling Blue

Sometimes you feel a little blue you know? It could be for any number of reasons, but in this particular case the cause of the colder color is that, a more fiery one allegedly dominating the ally ranks. Let’s see what we can do about everyone seeing red and inject a cooler aesthetic! Alliance allies may not be at the top of the heap based on recent results, but they can come off the pine (or out of binders) and swing for the fences with the best of the red and green teams. Only a few are going to be highlighted here but let’s get some ideas flowing.

To begin, what does the Alliance team do well? Well since the start of the game they have access to far more elusive allies. This expanded to the keyword shadowmeld, but in general blue guys are better at hiding. This allows you to control combat outside of the traditional curve-based smash fest. While this would lead you to believe that this faction sports a more defensive mindset, that isn’t necessarily the case. It simply means that you have more influence on when and where combat takes place. Similar to how ferocity allies can be used defensively, elusive can be leveraged offensively. Additionally, there are a number of difficult to target allies carrying the Alliance banner. Lord Kurtalos Ravencrest and Jarod Shadowsong didn’t have a whole lot of time to shine, but both can be serious threats. Things with stat blocks aren’t the only tools afforded to this team though. There are a number of fantastic quests as well, arguably some of the best in the game. As mentioned earlier it isn’t reasonable to cover everything in this single article, but let’s kick it off with some allies shall we?

Starting at turn 1 we uh…aren’t off to a great start. The alliance suffers from what I like to call “lack of Broderick syndrome”, trademark paperwork has yet to go through on that one. The undead mage actually invalidates a number of opposing one drops be they red, blue, or green. This includes allies up to 3 health as going second can be even more of a liability than usual when your opponent can merely facecheck whatever you play. What does that mean for the humans, dwarves, gnomes, night elves, and worgen? Well, they need to be prepared to suffer some losses. Most X/1 allies up and down the curve are out simply because they won’t do anything other than some minor hero damage. Larger X/2 and X/3 allies need to be wary for similar reason. As I said, not a great start. Not all hope is lost because of cards like Lady Bancroft:

Lady Bancroft
1c           2/1 (holy)
Human Priest
Prevent all damage that opposing heroes would deal to this ally.

That’s a nice Broderick you have in your graveyard, shame you can’t touch me. Neener neener. This lady probably doesn’t need a paragraph to tell you how strong she is, but I need to keep my word count up! Deathwish hates to see her, Tyrus is frustrated he can’t punch her himself, and as mentioned Broderick pokes can’t touch her (although Broderick himself can). Aggressively or defensively Lady Bancroft can supplement a blue army.

Speaking of Broderick “hate” there was the ally hailed as the answer to him. It never really turned out that way but Gardos Gravefang has other utility:

Gardos Gravefang
1c           2/1 (melee)
When this ally is destroyed, you may put target card in a graveyard on the bottom of its owner’s deck.

The anti-Broderick part is readily apparent. This worgen presents other options as well. Classic being that way it is utilizing every single part of the game which is a big part of why it is fun. Your hand, your cards in play, your graveyard, even your hero flip all need to be contributing to your gameplan. Otherwise you are quite simply handicapping yourself. Worried about a rogue feeding finishing moves? What about an imminent Anub’arak? How about an innocuous The Ichor of Undeath? You can try to pre-empt these cards by stuffing Gardos into your own graveyard. We actually stumbled on him when attempting to make scourge builds work for Gencon 2016 and he was pretty solid. You aren’t going to be calling in a marching band for this guy, but he is a decent way to shore up specific holes.

Without spending too much time on the one slot you of course have Garet Vice who has an obvious home with his werewolf brethren. There are actually quite a number of other utility players. I do want to call special attention to Windspeaker Nuvu. A 1 attack 2 health with “windfury” (for those Hearthstone players out there), the draenei shaman readies himself the first time he attacks each turn. Given that he produces nature damage it isn’t unreasonable to try and pump him to then get double swings. Unfortunately, the body is understandably small, however if a “pants” build ever arises (hint hint) he could feature prominently.

Moving to 2’s is where things get a lot more interesting. The obvious trifecta are:

Ashnaar, the Frost Herald
Mikael the Blunt
Burly Berta

Starting at the bottom, Berta in the correct matchup is a monster. On the other hand, that matchup doesn’t seem to exist in classic. Even before you consider the feel bad of Hesriana targeting the dwarf, you just happen to have a lot of bodies that can punch her down before she connects. If you can get more than 1 swing out of her though, you can snowball the game so she is something to keep an eye on.

Ashnaar by comparison is another card that can fit in virtually anything with the lion crest. It works great on defense, works great on offense, and even scales if you can buff the mage. Ashnaar is arguably the “blue Broderick” turning your hero into a value generating machine. If you squint and look really closely he even has a line about protecting himself since you obviously play him on a turn where it allows you to sweep the board and setup to do so again the following turn (barring removal or ferocity). A recurring theme though is that Hesriana will make for a sad day, but that can be said of a lot of allies.

Third, Mikael is an ally that I know really gets under Wife’s skin. As a board sweeper with a body attached it is tough to ask for more. He is deceptive though. Rarely are you going to play him on turn 2. You want to be getting more value out of him and/or have a way to ensure his survival. That is why you’ll see him included in “google shaman” builds alongside squall totem. It is pretty satisfying to exhaust their board and then pop everything for 2 damage which usually leads to a very empty opposing side. As alliance allies go this guy is one of the big draws and although Ashnaar functions in a similar vein to Broderick, I would personally put Mikael as the reason to play alliance. He helps turn the tides against so many things while also fitting in on virtually any turn. Eye of the Storm being so useful enhances Mikael’s status and cements him as a pillar of the Alliance team.

Beyond those 3 there are a number of other allies that either play a solid supporting role or are the main attraction. Gromble the Apt, Great Elekk, and Jeishal all have seen significant play. The 2 drop mounts in general all have potential assuming the correct build. Allies such as Naisha can earn sidedeck slots, as cards like “Chipper” Ironbane did previously. Personally, I’ve been working on a harmonize based list to go arbitrarily-large-number that might include Anathel the Eagle-Eye to win immediately since Jaina from Icecrown has “harmonize”. A number of other 2 cost allies could extend this list but we’ll close out the 2 slot with mentioning Rufus Claybourne and Savis Cindur who have made appearances in werewolf lists already.

Discussing existing tournament viable allies such as Weldon Barov, Adam Eternum, Dimzer the Prestidigitator, and Varian Wrynn could go on for a while. Each of these (along with many others) have proven via top finishes that they can be components of or centerpieces for successful lists. Given the current state of the classic format I think they can still shine. Allies that demand very specific answers or ones that simply turn a game on its head, or even better both are well represented on this side of the faction divide. Instead of focusing on the obvious I want to call out a few that haven’t seen the limelight with as much frequency or more accurately have not seen the limelight at all, but could be cornerstones.

Funken Fusemissile
3c           3/2 (arcane)
Instant Ally
When this ally enters play, you may put another ally you control into its owner’s hand.

Shadowseer Calista
5c           4/4 (shadow)
Human Priest
When this ally enters play, target play puts an ally he controls into its owner’s hand.
Stash: Put an ally you control into its owner’s hand.

At the start, a few Alliance leaning powers were outlined to start the discussion, this is a non-keyword example. Although I’ve toyed with a few self-bounce lists I haven’t quite gotten them to where I want them to be, but there appears to be potential. The idea should be obvious, abuse the snot out of enters play effects! Whether a decklist exists that uses these effectively, or the other options remains to be seen.

Moving away from allies there are other card types sporting an Alliance flag that are worth considering. One I’d like to mention is the major capital city of the blue team.

Stormwind City
Human Hero Required
If a Human ally is in your party: [exhaust] à You pay 2 less to play your next ally this turn.

If only Magni produced human tokens this would get potentially really silly. Alas we are stuck doing it the hard way. That being said jumping up an additional resource can be pretty significant. There are a number of times that dropping an ally a turn early would make a huge difference.

Continuing to ignore the previous known players like Spellweaver Jihan, and Zaritha there are some other contenders waiting in the gryphon wings. First, I want to call attention to Jaina. The peacekeeper has been with us since Warcraft 3 and although she has become angrier over time it is only more threatening due to her strength.

Jaina Proudmoore
Human Mage
3 –> Flip Jaina
Forst Focus: If Jaina would deal [frost] damage to an opposing hero or ally, she deals that much +1 instead.

Sound familiar? Vorix sports a very similar flip. Granted mage doesn’t have Seal Fate to pump nitrous into their proverbial tank, mages are not slouches when it comes to useful cards. How would you feel about your Blizzards ticking for 2 damage a turn? Ice Barrier now does 6. Even simple targeted effects now could be breaking important thresholds.

For lolz you could always try Kurzon. I actually played him for a while when I first started and he is a lot of fun. The previously mentioned self-bounce plan may work there but it is going to take some real work to get it working.

That sentence was bad.

Anyway, Trilik and many other blue heroes provide options that aren’t present in the other factions. Not unlike the allies you get when siding with this team. In the end Broderick, Dethvir, and the host of red allies do have a compelling argument why you should be on that side. However, Azeroth isn’t a home for only the people who hoist red or green banners. Shuffling up a set of lion flags isn’t handicapping yourself it is simply playing to a different strategy.

You just have to find it.

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