Let’s Brew Episode 3: Jack Frost Druid

List of Episodes


  • Episode 1: Introduction & Divine Paladin
  • Episode 2: The Death & Resurrection Show Shaman
  • Episode 3: Jack Frost Druid

Introduction


Hi guys, welcome to Let’s Brew Episode #3. In this series you guys vote for the deck you want us to build and we then write article explaining the build process and also provide a little help playing it!

This episodes deck was a viewer suggestion that won last weeks voting: Watcher Druid here we come!

However, since a new expansion is just round the corner I have decided to dedicate significantly more time to explaining the build process rather than explaining how to play the deck (after all, who is going to play this deck once we have over 130 new cards to experiment with?)

The other advantage of focusing on deck building is that the moment the new expansion hits budding deck builders will have a better understanding of how to move from the idea stage to fully-functioning  competitive deck stage.

Shout-outs to Stonekeep and Newton for helping with the testing and acting as a soundboard for my ideas.

And as always guys, likes, comments, questions, etc are welcome.  

:)

Motivation, History, and Expectations


Ah, Wailing Soul. Ever since the cards release I have loved the bloody thing. I been building decks with it on-and-off with it for a good while now.

My first article published at HSP (December of last year) was guess what? It was a guide where I wrote in detail about how I tried to build a Wailing Soul Rogue deck.  The Goal I set myself was to get (and then maintain) a 50% win-rate at Rank 4.

Why “only” rank 4? Well, I’ll let my previous self field that question:

“Why set a target of Rank 4 and not Legend?  Basically, this is the price of innovation.  Well established decks like Control Warrior have had thousands of players play and attempt to improve the deck; it has had thousands of brains scrutinising every card and as result has become a polished gem.  My deck meanwhile has merely had one brain examining it. And although the owner of said brain is ridiculously handsome the fact remains that the other decks out there have had more time and more man-power dedicated to their development.”

On that occasion by the standard I set myself I was not successful. But failure should not deter you! Do you know what my third article ever published at HSP was? Why, it was a Wailing Soul Druid Deck, and as matter of fact I smashed my “must hit rank four” target with that one.

In the previous two articles of the let’s Brew Series, both decks hit Legend. But unfortunately I feel that given the time I have available to dedicate to this project this is not realistic: As I type this sentence (29th July) I am Rank 3 with the deck. The deck still requires tweaks and I have only just started writing this guide! Given how limited my time is, I have set myself the goal of reaching Rank 2 this season. Incidentally, this highlights one of the golden rules of deck building: When building decks, the first crucial (and often forgotten) step is to set realistic goals for yourself.

In short, I love building decks (the weirder the better!) and  I also have a long history with trying to make Wailing Soul work in-particular (with mixed success). Owing to time constraints, my goal for this project to build a list capable of hitting Rank 2.

The last thing to say in this section is to mention this article is intended to be self-contained. But with that said if you have the time I would recommend a quick skim-read of my other two aforementioned Wailing Soul related articles (links directly below). Taking the time to look at those articles will, I think, give you a much fuller and richer understanding of my thoughts and experimentations with the card.

  • Smashthings, Building Innovative decks: A Step-by-Step Guide (Wailing Soul Rogue Deck)
  • Smashthings, Wailing Soul Druid

The first step to building a deck is having the idea. The second step if done correctly can save you a lot of time and heartache; What is that step? It is called ‘research’.

The Research


All projects should start with research. Most of time (unless a card set has literally just been released) you will find that someone else has tried and tested your idea: hearthstone has over 20 million players….did you honestly think your idea was so innovative that literally nobody else thought of it?

A Great tool for research is any website which allows you to search decks and filter the results. For example, here is a Hearthpwn search for all Druid lists containing Wailing Soul. There are two stand-out results:

  • Firebat’s Wailing Soul Deck (Here)
  • NicoSaraintaris’s Wailing Soul Deck (Here)

Firebat is a big name in hearthstone (for those readers currently living in a cave: He is the current World Champion) and so therefore any list he takes to a tournament ought to be taken seriously. The other deck is posted by a player I am unfamiliar with, but the guy has credibility because he hit Legend with it.

Unfortunately there are some downsides to research; in this case 3 out of the 4 lists are considerably out of date (8-9 months). In that time we have seen the Blackrock expansion and numerous meta-shifts. So while these lists provide us a great starting point to build from, we still have a considerable amount of work ahead of us.

In the spoiler below, I have put four deck-lists side-by-side for ease of comparison (The fourth list is attributed to Newton, which I found in the comments section of Let’s Brew #1).

Show Spoiler

If you are struggling to read this because the font is too small try opening the image in a new tab.

:)

We can see that all of these lists share a number of features (e.g. Ancient Watcher), but there are considerable differences as well. When building today’s deck I’m going to mostly ignore my old Druid list, this is not because I think that list sucks but rather because there is little point to focusing on a deck I have previously built and written about.

Newton and I have argued (both publicly & privately) about what cards such a deck ought to run. On a number of points we have come to agree on but there are still a few major points of contention; For example, Newton thinks I’m completely crazy for not wanting to play Zombie Chow

in a deck like this. I meanwhile, think it sits in the hand idle too often to justify a place in the deck.  You will also observe that Nico and Firebat opted not to run chow either.

But as I say, these lists are months old; could it be that the meta has shifted so dramatically that my opinion on Chow is just as out-dated as the deck itself?

Okay, so our research has given us a number of ideas to consider. Now we need to build something and take it for a spin on ladder.

Jack Frost (Version 1.0)


 My first list looked like this:

So as you can clearly see, it takes its inspiration from all 4 of the previous lists, the only new things are the inclusion of Onyxia

and Emperor Thaurissan
(but remember Blackrock Mountain was not out at that time). Also noteworthy is the omission of Sunfury Protector
and Swipe
. For what its worth, I wanted to play Swipe, but I wasn’t sure what to cut to make room for it.

And as mentioned, my previous experience makes me I think that Zombie is wrong for the deck (for those that read my Rogue guide: I think Chow fits the deck’s identity but it contradicts the decks direction). But regardless, I am happy to at least try it out Newton’s suggestion.

In the next four sections (‘The core’, ‘The Good Stuff’, ‘Consistency’, ‘Adding the Support’) I aim going to try and explain how I came up with the above list.

The Core


Okay, so we know that we want to play Wailing Soul in a Druid deck. So our ‘core set’ of cards is going to look a little something like this:

  • 2x Ancient Watcher
  • 2x Ironbeak Owl
  • 2x Wailing Soul
  • 2x Keeper of the Grove
  • 2x Fel Reaver

I’ll quickly add some musings on each:

  • Ancient Watcher:  When Silenced we get a half-price Chillwind Yeti
    . We want this card simply because the value is through the roof.
  • Ironbeak Owl:  Played in lots of constructed lists. Moreover, it fits our theme.
  • Wailing Soul:  Fits the deck theme perfectly.
  • Keeper of the Grove: Just like owl: Strong card + fits deck theme = obvious pick.
  • Fel Reaver: Big Minion that benefits from silence.

In my mind about one third of the deck cannot be tinkered with  (i.e. all of the above are ‘core’ to our the strategy). This leaves us with 20 spaces to fill.

As a quick side note, notice that we already have 6 ‘activators’ for Ancient Watcher. This is really cool since it means that I shouldn’t need to add any more support cards for the Watcher (readers of the Rogue Guide will know that 6 is the magic number).

:)

The Good Stuff


‘The good stuff’ refers to all those powerful cards that you find in just about every deck that is allowed to play with them. For us, these cards are:

  • 2x Ancient of Lore
  • 2x Innervate
  • 2x Wrath
  • 2x Savage Roar
  • 2x Force of Nature

Once again, I’ll briefly offer some thoughts:

  • Savage Roar + Force of Nature: This combo has been one of the key win conditions of Druid decks for the longest time; its power it undeniable, so why not run it?  Moreover, Force of Nature does have a little bit of synergy with Wailing soul, which is a nice unexpected perk. (*See Spoiler Below*)
  • Innervate: Great for tempo; getting out something big in a hurry can sometimes just win you games.
  • Wrath : Wrath is a nice flexible bit of removal than can also double as card draw when needed.
  • Ancient of Lore: All decks need card draw and Ancient of Lore is hands down on of the best options out there.
Show Spoiler

This is a copy & paste from my Rogue article.  Here I muse over the value of being able to silence those little angry trees.

[…]

Question 1) What is the theoretical value of Force of Nature + Wailing Soul?
Question 2) What is the practical value of Force of Nature + Wailing Soul?

My Answers:

1) Theoretical value = 3/5 + 2/2 *3 minions on board.
2) Practical value = a lot less than that.

Let’s unpack answer (2) a bit; The Wailing Soul + Force combo is 10 mana. This basically means that we are playing this combo when we could otherwise be playing Savage Roar + Force.  So straight away we see a potential difficultly; by going for the Wailing Soul combo we are potentially forgoing a game winning Force + Roar combo.  Thus, in many cases where you have the Wailing Soul + Force combo in hand you are probably going to end up playing Ancient of Lore instead (hoping to draw into that Savage Roar, no doubt).

It is actually worse than this however. Stop and think for a second about how Force of Nature is actually used; if is not used for fatal damage then it is typically used to clear the enemy’s board, which means most of those 2/2’s are going to die before the end-of-turn ability triggers. Ergo, there is nothing left to Wailing Soul.  If we go face with force then sure, we get Wailing Soul value, but the point is that in most cases that would be a sub-optimal use of Force of Nature.

[…]

Long story short: Force of Nature + Wailing soul is not a very potent combo to have in the deck.


This is another Ten cards. which means we only have 10 spots left!

Consistency


We have 10 slots left. With these slots we have three basic aims:

  1. Add other cards that bolster our strategy (e.g: “What other minions would it be cool to silence?”),
  2. What are our defensive and ‘tech’ options (e.g. “How do we defend against Aggro?”, “Is Harrison Jones
    good in this meta, and if so; is it good for the deck?”
    ).
  3. How do we report consistent results?

When building decks, I usually like to start with the third question. Consistency generally comes from three things: (1) Card Draw (2) Mana Curve (3)  Redundancy.

Card Draw

Wrath and Lore combined give the deck about 4-6 card drawThis is a little on the low side, and so therefore with the remaining 10 cards it would be nice to add just a bit more draw power. Ideally, 4-6 needs to be increased to 5-7.

Mana Curve

So here is the mana curve of the good stuff + core cards:

  • 0 = 2
  • 1 =   2
  • 2 =  6
  • 3 =  2
  • 4 = 4
  • 5 = 2
  • 6 = 2
  • 7 = 2
  • 8+ = 0

When adding our support cards we need to try and slot them in the spaces we have available (decks with a gazillion 6-drops don’t function too well). For example, we already have four 4-drops, which thus means trying to fit in Swipe and Piloted Shredder

into the deck would be really tough since that is likely to do considerable damage to the curve.

In order to get a smooth curve we should try to add one or two 8 + drops, and while we are it, a few extra 3-drops, 5-drops, and 6-drops would probably help as well (what we don’t need is more 2-drops).

Redundancy

Redundancy is the addition of cards that do the same thing. So for example, if we have a minion on the board we want to silence we have six cards that can perform that role. That is a nice amount of redundancy to have.

There is also something else we can do to improve redundancy: The cheapest and simplest trick for increasing redundancy is to run two copies of every card you are allowed to run two copies of.

In Fel Reaver decks I consider redundancy a very important aspect of the deck. This is because even though we plan to Silence Fel Reaver the practical reality of hearthstone is that there is going to be a large number of occasions where we discard several cards. And for decks that have numerous ‘one of’ tech cards that can be a huge problem.

For example, suppose we have Savage Roar in hand and Fel Reaver on board. If you happen to discard Force of Nature you just lost your main win condition. But if you run two copies of Force of Nature and one copy is discarded then thats okay, your deck still has its primary win-condition in tact.  

Conclusion

In summary with the remaining 10 slots we want to add to the deck:

  • 1-2 Card Draw
  • 3-drops, 5-drops,  6-drops,  8+ drops.
  • To improve redudancy, we want to try to add cards in pairs.

Adding the Support Cards


Okay so the above section outlined a number of our aims. Let’s now see what cards I ended up running in Jack Frost (1.0) :

  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Ogre Brute
  • 2x Deathlord
  • 2x Druid of the Claw
  • 1x Emperor Thaurissan
  • 1x Onyxia

A few remarks on each:

  • Zombie Chow: A strong card in its own right that fits our theme. Good anti-aggro tech
  • Ogre Brute: A 4/4 that gains some benifit from Silence. Note that I chose this card over Dancing Swords
    because the Brute is more powerful without Wailing synergy (*See Spoiler*).
  • Deathlord: Strong stats for cost, the deathrattle is something our deck can silence.
  • Druid of the Claw: The ‘choose one’ mechanic offers us flexibility: a Taunt when we need a Taunt, and has ‘Charge’ when we need damage. Great Druid card in general.
  • Thuarissan:  An individually powerful card that can help set up our Force Roar combos early.
  • Onyxia:  Big late game body, works well with Savage Roar.
Show Spoiler [Brute vs Swords]
This is a copy & Paste from my Rogue Article:

Dancing Swords [versus] Ogre Brute

So I’ve grouped these two cards together since they are both 3 mana 4/4’s and when silenced are equivalent minions (both = vanilla 4/4’s). I haven’t play-tested yet but my gut tells me that if we have to cut one of these guys it should be Dancing Swords. This is basically because in plenty of games our opponent will kill these minions before we get a chance to silence (this sentence = ‘being practical’).  By killing Ogre they take out a 4/4.  By killing Dancing Swords they take out a 4/4 AND draw a card, which is rather significant.   In short; I’m picking Brute since he is less reliant on Wailing Soul synergy in order to be good.


And thats Jack Frost 1.0 now complete!

Recall my three objectives, how well did we do?

Test 2) Mana curve:= Pass

 MANA      Total number of cards    Cards playable on curve 
2 2
1 2 2
2 6 2-6
3 6 4
4 4 2-4
5 4 4
6 3 1-2
7 2 2
8+ 1 1

The “Playable cards on Curve” column is meant to give us an understanding of what we are likely to be able to do at that stage of the game.

For example, Deathlord and Ogre Brute are fine ‘on curve’ plays. Savage Roar however is not something we want to play on turn 3. Thus, we have a total of six 3-drops, four of which can be played on curve.   On turn six we have between 1-2 playable cards; since we run two copies of Force of Nature I think that it is permissible to use one copy on Turn 6 to clear the board (but we can’t use both copies in this role). So, One copy Force plus Thaurissan makes two ‘on curve’ Turn 6 plays.

Often the ‘playable on curve’ metric is more useful than the absolute values (this is especially the case if you are running lots of situation tech cards).  We we can see from the above table that we are most active on Turns 2-5, below and above that we have much less things to play, this seems to suggest that our archetype is ‘mid-range’.

For testing purposes though, the important things to note is that the curve is smooth and activity is ‘clustered’ around 2-5 mana. ‘Curve clustering’ is quite an important deck building concept, but now is not the time to discuss that principle.

:)

Test 3) Redundancy:= Pass

With the exception of two legendaries, we are running two copies of each card. This simple fact ought to lead to high levels of consistency.

Test 1) Card Draw := Fail

I failed to add any card draw. I was toying about running 1x Druid of the claw and 1x Harrison Jones but I thought that Druid of the claw is a really useful minion. Meanwhile, H. Jones is situational and adding it harms overall consistency.

When building decks frequently it is the case that, for a variety of reasons, you can’t do everything you want to do. I’d like card draw, but if I can’t find the space for it I’ll have to do without.

Jack Frost (Version 2.0)


So what happened next in the story? Well, I played a few games and went from Rank 7 to Rank 5 with the list. During that short climb I did spot a few problems:

  • The deck was suffering from the lack of card draw.
  • Onyxia was too slow.
  • Emperor Thuarissan often didn’t get a lot of value (owing in large part to the first bullet point).

I only made two changes from version 1.0 to 2.0, these were:

IN

OUT

+1 Dr. Boom
-1 Onyxia
+1 Sylvanas Windrunner
-1 Emperor Thuarissan

I swapped Onyxia for Dr. Boom because I found the mighty dragon just too slow in most match-ups. Dr. Boom is faster, is really strong by himself and hits the board as three minions (which can help set up a powerful Savage Roar, just like Onyxia).  In short, he basically does everything that Onyxia did for the deck but comes out two turns faster.

I swapped in S.Windrunner because in a lot of games I found myself playing Thuarissan with few cards in hand, making the ability sub-par. S. Windrunner meanwhile, is a strong card that should help most match-ups.

I think there are a few minor points to make here. The first is notice how these changes were on the cautious side; I only changed two cards and I didn’t mess up the curve in the process. The other thing to note is that I still haven’t added card draw!

When tweaking/testing tests it is often better to make one or two small changes than to make several all at once.  If you make several changes all at once it can become hard to the notice the impact any one card has.

So yes, the deck lacks card draw and I intended to add some one day. But first, lets test these changes…

Jack Frost (Version 3.0)


So I played a bunch of games with 2.0 and noticed a few more things:

  • Card Draw is still an issue.
  • Both Zombie Chow and Deathlord have huge match-up issues.
  • Countering big threats is a problem.

Zombie Chow and Deathlord were, for the most part pretty good versus Warlock Zoo and Hunter, but even in those match-ups I often felt underwhelmed by both cards.

  • Deathlord was vulnerable to Power Overwhelming
    and Hunter's Mark
    . Moreover in slow match-ups (e.g. versus Control) he was costing me games (I wasn’t able to consistency silence the Deathrattle).
  • Zombie chow meanwhile was great in all match-ups when played on Turn 1. But when played/drawn later in the game his deathrattle became a liability (e.g. if they are at 13 life and you are trying to finish the game with Force Roar the worst thing you could do is drop an unsilenced Chow). The problem of ‘dead if drawn late game’ only worsened my problems with card draw.
  • I also had problems dealing with the opponents big stuff (e.g what do I do about an enemy Dr. Boom?).

With these questions burning at the back of my mind I made the following two changes:

IN

OUT

+2 Druid of the Flame
-2 Zombie Chow
+2 Swipe
-2 Deathlord

The reasoning for these changes:

  • Druid of the Flame:  In 2/5 mode this card has 3 less health than Deathlord, but the upside of this change is that I no longer have that dangerous deathrattle in the deck. I hoped that this change would significantly improve the control match-ups.
  • Swipe: I always did want to play swipe in this deck but never knew what I wanted to cut. But when I finally figured out that I wanted to cut Zombie Chow I knew Swipe was right for the job: with his change I’m still going to have a decent aggro match-up but Swipe ought to improve my chances when up against control decks.

With these two changes made, I still have yet to address the previously mentioned two problems:

  1. No way to counter big threats,
  2. I still have issues with Card Draw.

But actually, on closer inspection, the two changes outline above ought to have a positive impact on both problems. Its subtle, but definitely worth talking about:

Firstly I would point out that Zombie Chow, if drawn on Turns 7+, was often a ‘dead card’ because playing it would frustrate the combo win condition. Swipe meanwhile is rarely a dead card (worst case scenario is that is does 4 face damage).  And so, by replacing an often dead card with something more useful this new version of the deck should not need *as much* card draw as the old version.

Secondly, swapping Chow for Swipe shifts the mana curve upward. Higher mana curves typically mean you need less card draw, and that is because the average number of cards played per turn decreases as you put bigger and bigger stuff in the deck.

And lastly, Swipe + Wrath is a six mana two card combo that can completely clear some big threats (such as an enemy Dr. Boom)

Both of these things are minor points, but nonetheless the fact remains that these changes should have slightly improved ‘card draw’ and ‘big threat’ issues. At the end of day minor improvements are still improvements.

That was all the changes I made for this version. Once again I feel that it is worth noting that I have not tried to fix every problem at once; card draw/big threat issues have been ‘tweaked’ but not solved. It is likely that more work will need to be done in this regard.

But this is stuff I can try and fix at a later date…

Jack Frost (Version 4.0)


So I played a bunch more games, my rank was going up and down like a Yo-yo and that was in large part due to some polar match-ups (e.g. 1 win 5 losses versus hunter, but 6 wins 0 losses versus Warlock). Play testing revealed a few things:

  • Card draw less problematic but still an issue.
  • With the loss of Zombie Chow/ Deathlord, Hunter Match-up became significantly worse (But Zoo, bizarrely, seemed to improve).
  • Big enemy threats still a problem.

With these thoughts in mind I went back to the drawing board and eventually made the following changes:

IN

OUT

+2 Frost Elemental
-1 Dr. Boom
+2 Sunfury Protector
-2 Druid of the Flame
-1 Sylvannas Windrunner

Let’s start by talking about the Sunfury change:

So as mentioned in the bullet point above with the removal of Chow/Deathlord my Hunter match-up took a nose dive, I wanted to address that.  I think an important first question to ask is what those two cards did against Hunter that I now lack: Deathlord was a taunt and Chow was an early game minion that traded for their stuff.

Now, if I play Sunfury Protector as a 2-drop it is only one turn slower than zombie chow but is one turn faster than the old Druid of the Flame. I predicted that this increase in speed would help recover some of the ground I lost by taking out the Chow. But what if I play Sunfury later than Turn 2 and use the Taunt mechanic?  Well, in these situations the Sunfury does what Deathlord used to do (i.e. create a defensive line).  Basically, Sunfury protector gives some of the functionality of the old cards and then adds something new.

What new thing does it add?  Well, its yet another way to activate Ancient Watcher (so we now have 8 cards that can perform that role). This adds a nice amount of consistency, redundancy and flexibility to the deck.

Onto the next addition:

Reader: “Frost Elemental!?” [reader spills tea and chokes on bagel]  “Are you joking Smashthings?”
Smasthings: “Nope. I’m Serious.”

Let me talk first about the problems I was experiencing, once that is out of the way I can discuss how I think the Elemental remedies those issues.

So the first question that needs to be addressed is why cut the two legendaries in the first place?  For the most part, the answer is rather simple: in the current meta, I found both of them to be far too slow.

For example, against a Hunter with a Savannah Highmane

on the board, Dr. Boom and S. Windrunner do nothing to stop the 6 damage and I would often lose as a result. Against other decks (e.g. Control Paladin) I would spend most of the game behind playing ‘catch up’ and as a result they were often the first player to play Dr. Boom. And once their Boom was on board, playing my own just never seemed quick enough. Take care to note that since I mention Dr. Boom AND Highmane being a problem the remedy is no where near as simple as; “Dude, just add Big Game Hunter”.

Could Antique Healbot

help?  Healbot would help absorb all that incoming damage, but the problem here is that Healbot  does not really solve the issue, it merely delays the problem a turn. For example, we can Heal up and then let Highmane hit us. But on the next turn Highmane is still on board ready to hit us again and we are not that much closer to removing it. Moreover, it is not clear how removing a big threat (e.g. Dr. Boom) and replacing with a very defensive minion (e.g. Healbot) would help us win the control match-ups.

I had a few other issues as well, let’s just bullet point everything I needed to do (with a mere two card-slots):

  • I needed something “fast enough” to play against a variety of decks (remember I cut Dr. Boom & Windrunner because I found  them both too slow).
  • New additions need to be good in all match-ups (i.e. I can’t simply add some ‘anti-aggro tech’ since control match-ups are also difficult).
  • New additions  need  to be reliable (e.g. adding 1x Mind control Tech to combat aggro and + 1x Big Game Hunter to combat control is likely to be highly inconsistent and situational).
  • I still need card draw.
  • I still need an answer to big threats.
  • Owing to Wailing Soul, cards that generate value over multiple turns (e.g Ysera
    ) are problematic additions.

Addressing all (or even half) of these issues is a rather tall order for any 2 cards. As it so happens it took me about 30 minutes of searching my collection until it hit me; Frost Elemental ticks most of the boxes!

Before moving on I want you guys to realise something important: I own almost every card in the game. Thus, this wasn’t some change I made because I am some ‘F2P player’ building on a budget. Rather, I cut powerful legendary cards for these guys solely because I thought the Elemental’s would perform better.

Okay so what does Frost Elemental do for us:

  1. We can run two copies, which helps with redundancy (this is a small but nice little perk). 
  2. In control match-ups Frost Elemental can by us time (e.g we can freeze an Enemy S. Windrunner while we wait for a silence, or Freeze as we stall for Force Roar combo).
  3. When life matters, Elemental provides a ‘quasi heal’ (e.g. Whatever we Freeze cannot attack us. Thus we save our life total).
  4. Against Weapon classes, we can freeze their face (this may delay Grim Patron
    and/or Blade Flurry
    combos against Warrior/Rogue respectively)
    .
  5. By Freezing minions, we are better able to threaten their life total (e.g. we can face with our minions and frozen minions means they have fewer ways to clear our board).
  6. …and so on…

I could go on, but the gist is that Frost Elemental is a nice utility minion that provides us with speed (due to the Battlecry’s immediate impact), flexibility (e.g it provides us a good tool vs weapons, big minions, ‘quasi healing’, stalling, etc), consistency (e.g we can run two copies) and board control (i.e.. its good for board control since 5/5 stats are big enough to trade with most commonly played 4/5/6 -drops). 

There are only two more things to I want say about Frost Elemental, the first point is I have decided to name the deck — “Jack Frost” in honour of the card. I think its only fair that we name the deck after what is the most interesting/innovative aspect of it.

The second point? Let’s mention the thrill.  Some deck builders out there may understand the feeling (‘the thrill’) you get when (in your own opinion) you discover something ‘clever’. Feeling as though you are on the brink of a discovery is always exciting. And even if I one day decide to cut the elemental from the deck I will still feel proud of myself for having found  a unique and innovative solution to a problem.

Will they make the final cut? Read on…

Lowering the Win-rate


Once you have a list that you feel is close to optimal the only thing left to do is lower the win-rate.

“Why on earth do I want to do that?”, I hear you cry.

Well, this is one way that you can proof to yourself that your current picks are the best: If you replace a card and your win-rate starts to decline then that is a good indicator that you removed a card that was doing something useful.

Please do not misunderstand me: Swapping Innervate

for Magma Rager
will adversely affect the win-rate but such a swap does not teach us that much about the deck. The sorts of swaps we are looking for are those changes that add something new and powerful to the deck.

Reader “Okay Smashthings, can you show me an example of a useful swap?”
Smashthings: “Of course I can!”

IN

OUT

+2 Azure Drake
-2 Druid of the Claw

Let me set out by saying the Druid of the Claw has done very well for me in the deck. But also recall that the deck suffers from card draw, a problem which Azure Drake can rectify (without messing up our mana curve).

So you see, this changes posses a very interesting question: What is more important to the deck; having extra card draw (and spell power) or playing strong minions?

  • If my win-rate increases post-change then we know that card draw is really important and that would suggest I should experiment further in this direction. For example, I could reverse the Claw/Drake change but then replace one (or both) Owls for a Loot Hoarder
    ).
  • If the win-rate declines then we know that having a powerful minion in the deck is more important than the additional card draw.
  • And if the win-rate stays more or less the same then we can choose either minion (the choice between the two would simply be a question of personal preference).

And this, dear reader, brings you fully up to date.  The current version of the deck runs Drakes but this is intended as an experiment and is not necessarily a permanent change to the deck. Currently post change I’m 6-0 (Ranks 4-3) but this is nowhere near enough games for to tell which option is better.

If you do happen to decide you want to play the deck then I would recommend that you take my list and then tinker with some of these substitutions (e.g. play with both Drake and Claw and make up your own mind). For those of you that don’t like Frost Elemental, why not try replacing with Drake?  If the win-rate suffers/improves you know what to do.

:)

Jack Frost (Current Version)


And so, without further ado, I present to you my most recent list:

Playing the Deck: Introduction


Okay so how do you play this deck?  In the next few sections I am going to give you a few tips and then show you a couple of commentated games I posted on my youtube channel.  But as I said in the introduction I am going to be brief because once the new set hits chances are you wanna be playing with the new fancy cards, not this. And secondly, this guide is rather long as it is!

Mulligan Tips


Instead of giving you the Mulligans for each match-up I’m going to give you a breakdown of what you want against the different Archetypes (‘top tier’ is the stuff you should always keep, ‘lower tier stuff’ is kept depending on the rest of the hand and/or the needs of a particular match-up):

  • Against Aggro:
    • Top Tier: Ironbeak Owl (key targets: Knife Juggler, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper, Imp Gang Boss, Nerubian Egg), Wrath, Innervate (never two copies).
    • Second Tier:  Ancient Watcher (only if you have Owl or Coin + Wailing Soul), Swipe (never two copies), Sunfury Protector (just drop it as a 2/3).
    • Third Tier:  Ogre Brute, Keeper of the Grove
    • Fourth Tier: Wailing Soul (only keep if you can curve out with it and/or have synergy for it). 
  • Against Control:
    • Top Tier: Wrath, Innervate, Ogre Brute.
    • Second Tier:  Swipe, Keeper of the Grove, Ancient Watcher.
    • Third Tier:  Wailing Soul, Ironbeak Owl.
    • Fourth Tier: Azure Drake (only worth keeping with coin and/or Innervate), Fel Reaver (never keep without innervate), Sunfury Protector.
  • Other Archetypes (e.g. Combo, midrange):
    • Top Tier: Keep counters (e.g. Wailing Soul is very good versus Freeze Mage, Swipe is very good at countering Muster for Battle
      , etc)
    • Second Tier: Keep anything that allows you to curve out with threats.

Obviously, if you have Innervate and/or the coin value four and five drops more than you normally would.

The need for Patience


As a general rule of thumb I would recommend that you value silence your opponents stuff over your own, this is especially true of the aggro match-ups.

Example #1: If I have an Ancient Watcher on board versus an enemy Mad Scientist (Hunter) it may be tempting to silence your watcher and then smash the 4/5 into the 2/2. In most situations however, I feel that this would be a mistake. The better plan is to play slow and patient; silencing the Mad Scientist means that we don’t have to deal with annoying crap like Freezing Trap. Don’t worry, with 8 ways to activate Ancient Watcher in the deck we will find a way to make use of the card later.

Example #2:  If I have Ancient Watcher on Board versus an Enemy Knife Juggler (with Wrath and Owl in hand) I would prefer to Wrath that minion rather than going for the  ‘silence 4/5 trade in’ line of play.

The need for Aggression


I sincerely hope that the above suggestion does not give you the wrong impression on the deck; the ‘play-style’ of this deck is, generally speaking, very tempo-orientated and very  (you might even say ‘recklessly’) aggressive.   When it wins, it is usually because we we are faster (yes, believe it or not we can even outpace Face Hunter!).  Against Control decks a lot of the time we ‘go face’ with our minions and let them make the trades. Basically, we want to get them into combo range and force them to play around a two card combo for the rest of the game.  Against Aggro, we spend a lot more time trading minions and playing for board control in the early stages, but even in these match-ups a lot of the time we are simply trying to bide time. Eventually, we will ‘flip the switch’ and try to kill them a before they can kill us (for example: Against Zoo you almost always go Face with Fel Reaver but all the minions you played before dropping the 8/8 monster was probably used to trade for their board).

In short the game plan is three steps:

  • Stabilise on board (requires patience).
  • Go Face with Everything we have (requires aggression).
  • Once they are within combo range (i.e. 14 or less health) win the game outright, or go back to fighting for the board (if we don’t have combo in hand).

Don’t be scared of Fel Reaver


This is perhaps going to be the hardest concept for beginners to grasp but it is important that they do: in most match-ups don’t worry about discarding a bunch of cards (Mill decks being the only major exception to this rule). Your goal should be to get Fel Reaver to hit the face, not preventing discards!!

Here, let me show you:

With Seven Mana available I bet a lot of you are looking at the position and thinking we should play Fel Reaver and then silence him with Owl.  With that said, I reckon at least some of you paid attention to ‘silence opponents stuff rule’ I espoused in the section about patience, you guys are probably thinking Reaver + Owl on Flamewaker

.

But I think both plays are wrong.  The correct idea is Fel Reaver + Hero Power.

Why?  Well, there are a number of reasons.

  1. With only 3 cards next turn, the Mage is likely to be able to mill us for a maximum of 9 cards (with about 15 card left in our deck, this is not a a threat).
  2. If the opponent plays Sludge Belcher
    or Frostbolt
    or Ice Lance
    then we cannot attack the face with Fel Reaver. However, if we hold onto the Owl we can deal with any of these scenarios.
  3. Silencing the Flamewaker doesn’t achieve much: if the opponent has Fireball
    , Fel Reaver is dead regardless.
  4. With Time Rewinder in hand, we might as well wait and see if bouncing the owl back is going to be in anyway useful (btw, I got this spare part by killing his Mechanical Yeti
    on an earlier turn). 

In short, if being milled is the price we pay for using our cards efficiently then thats the price we must pay.

Commentated Games


The video (at top of page) has five games with the deck at Ranks 3-4. Enjoy!

  • Hunter Game:  Fel Reaver = Awesome Sauce.
  • Shaman Game: Illustrates the value of Owl vs Aggressive decks.
  • Druid Game:  Why Silence Ogre Brute? Good demonstration of Fel Reaver and Mr. Frosty.
  • Rogue Game:  Again, Good demonstration of Mr. Frosty.

Conclusion


Okay, that just about wraps things up. Hopefully this guide well help you guys build some pretty interesting decks once the next expansion hits a few weeks from now.  In the meantime, hopefully you have some fun playing the deck.

As a quick update, it is the 31st of July right now and I’m still only rank 3 with it sigh, so hitting Legend is pretty unlikely. But with that said, I do believe that this list is capable of hitting Legend within a reasonable amount of games, but unfortunately the deck is not especially well-suited to a Hunter infested meta.

But anyway, thats the end of the article. Don’t forget to like, comment, and sacrifice your first born child to Satan (or is that last one just me?). Anyway, The only things left for you do is checkout the reading list. Normally there would be voting for the next episode, but this series is going on a brief hiatus (we feel that this isn’t much point in writing about decks that are very soon to be made obsolete by the new expansion). But don’t worry guys! The series shall return once we know all the cards in the future set.

:)

With this said, if there is something you would like to see in episode #4 please let us know in the comments below.

References and Further Reading


LET’S BREW SERIES:

  • Newton, Let’s Brew Episode #1: Divine Wisdom (Paladin)
  • Stonekeep, Let’s Brew Episode #2: Death & Resurrection Show (Shaman)

UNDERSTANDING WAILING SOUL:

  • Smashthings, Building Innovative decks: A Step-by-Step Guide (Wailing Soul Rogue Deck)
  • Smashthings, Wailing Soul Druid

UNDERSTANDING FEL REAVER:

  • Kibler, Brian, Understanding Fel Reaver: hearthstone Theory
  • Smasthings, Resources & Dynamics: (Part 1) & (Part 2)
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