I have been working on a control deck based around Lock and Load
- very few minions – the deck focussed on spells that created minions, or minions that created minions either in play or in hand, with the ultimate combo of playing spells that created minions which created other minions at a time when there were minions in play that created minions when spells were played *whew*
- the opponent was encouraged to make many misplays due to having absolutely no idea what he or she was playing against – strong plays they would make against traditional archetypes turned out to be errors against me
- the strategy tended to struggle to recover a board that was lost – it lacked a proper “catch-up” mechanic
- the randomness inherent in many of the effects led to the occasional flat game (where nothing happened) about as often as the amazing game (where EVERYTHING happened), with an average that made the deck eminently playable
- the deck was extremely challenging to play because nothing about the effects was reliable, forcing you to discover different ways of using the powerful, but single-purpose spells to good effect – a failure to do so generally resulted in defeat. For a while I dubbed it “Chess Hunter”, aka the “Thinking Man’s Hunter”, which was ironic during the age of Face…
- the good games more than made up for the bad in terms of sheer thrill factor – the decks were fun and they did not overly compromise on win percentage, provided one took the view that one could never climb the ladder with them and therefore plied one’s trade in the casual room
As the season wore on I gravitated back to decks that could actually climb the ladder, and the concept was shelved.
Enter the Old One
Yogg-Saron, Hope's End
Reno and Yogg-Saron aside, one also cannot understate the impact of Call of the Wild
Having used Yogg-Saron extensively in Paladin, Rogue and Hunter (and having faced not a few Mages running it), I have discovered the following common features of summoning it (these don’t happen all the time, but each has an excellent chance of occurring so several usually run together):
- It will kill or cripple itself unless it returns itself to hand first,
- it will wipe the entire or one side of the board (not necessarily that of the opponent only, even though that’s what we always wish for)
- several spells will do nothing either due to a lack of targets or having no mana (eg Forbidden Healing)
- you will draw at least 2 cards
- you will play at least 1 secret
Oh! The fun I’ve had. Yogg-Saron casts Mark of the Wild
But *those* games pale into significance compared with those where it gets you Ice Block
However, if we take the average scenario where the board is cleared, the Old One is dead, you have a secret and a few extra cards in hand, then playing Yogg-Saron seems like something we should never do because the outcome can be much worse that such a minor upside! Unless of course the deck can use just such a situation to its advantage.
Our purpose is to use Yogg-Saron as a reset button, the catch-up mechanic that the spell-based Control Hunter never had, and while sometimes we’ll lose anyway more often than not we’ll either get back into the game or just win it right there.
Hope follows Despair and vice versa on the Yogg-Saron roller-coaster, a wild ride that may just be addictive. And even when you lose, the game replay has a story to tell your hearthstone friends over a beer… Surely it’s the most complete hearthstone strategy ever?
The Key Elements
- The deck is relatively easy to craft: a mere 3 legendary minions (one of which is in League of Explorers) and 3 epics (Lock and Load, Snake Trapand Call of the Wild, with the latter 2 being Hunter staples) means we’re not about to be out of pocket.
- Only 2 minions do not draw cards, Summoning Stoneand Reno, including specifically not playing Emperor Thaurissanor Savannah Highmane. Thaurissan is very much a “win more” category card, because if you have the luxury of summoning it with a mostly full hand you were probably winning anyway; it’s more common that you have few cards in hand that can benefit from reduced cost and he’s just a 5/5 for 6 that doesn’t affect the board. While Highmane is strong in mid-range decks, this isn’t such a deck.
- 5 different traps, so the opponent genuinely has no idea how to react to them, especially when Snipeis the first one triggered – you can smell the uncertainty, and fear is the mind-killer, the little death that brings total obliteration. There is a chance that an Eaglehorn Bowcan be added to take advantage of this aspect, but weapons do not count as spells. It is something to consider though, perhaps instead of the Trackingwhich is only ever useful after playing Lock and Load.
- Spell counts ramp to between 9 and 14 on average by the time you have 10 crystals, which gives Yogg-Saron plenty of opportunity to get the secrets, cards and board clears desired.
- Other than Reno and Yogg-Saron the deck does not require any specific card to function, so failing to draw apparently vital cards like the Summoning Stone/Explosive Shotcombo generally doesn’t matter.
- You mulligan for the minions every time, especially King's Elekkwhich has very few low cost targets and can therefore get Reno or Yogg-Saron out the deck directly. About the only spells to keep are Lock and Load, Quick Shotand Hunter's Markwhich can deal with the various 1-mana minions that can defeat you by themselves, especially Northshire Cleric.
- Minions that grant bonuses to Spell Damage are massively under-rated in Hunter because one always expects a Highmane or Knife Jugglerinto Unleash the Houndsinstead, so not a few opponents will make the mistake of not killing them on sight.
- Generally speaking, at least one random beast from Ball of Spiders will be something the opponent’s deck has no direct answer for. Yogg-Saron sometimes gives you a free trip to value town.
- When having the coin and Lock and Load, don’t use the coin. On turn 5 you can play Lock and Load then the Coin to get a free hunter card and have 4 mana available – most of the spells cost 2, with several 1s so you can chain an extra 2 or 3 spells. You’ll be surprised how often your next turn is Savannah Highmane.
- Sometimes you don’t even need any of that because occasionally the deck will pilot itself as seen in the screenshot below.
One of the main keys to playing such a loosely-defined strategy is to understand how the opponent is going to try win the game. The primary advantage this deck has is that the opponent can almost never predict exactly how we’re going to win the game; heck, even we can’t predict that! The deck also uses a lot of spells that simply never see the light of day; the opponent is only going to play around Explosive Shot by accident, for example, and he won’t see Multi-Shot
Druid (25% Win Rate)
Given that C'Thun
It’s a draw-dependent mirror regardless of what strategy the opponent is playing. Smaller minions than Druid make it easier to clear the board on demand and Reno on turn 6 can be a back-breaker. More enemy minions also gives more scope for Lock and Load to reel out several small spells around turn 5, trading one for one with the minions on the board, but returning the gas in hand that can give you a lasting advantage.
Mage can do some amazing things, mainly big turns involving Flamewaker
I have an extraordinary record against Priest, a typical match where we Hunters just scoop it up and take the loss. But the truth is that Priest largely revolves around taking your good cards and using them against you; and we play precious few of those! He won’t Entomb
Rogue is tough, especially those that revolve around death rattle or the Miracle engine (which is to say all Rogues). These decks are commonly played in the casual room because they take a fair bit of experience to master, so it’s not uncommon to face “proper” rogue decks that the pilot is trying out or learning to play. Again though, opposition mistakes are what we prey on and short of a big Edwin VanCleef
Another “good” match-up, Shaman is common in casual and the decks are of a good average quality. Usually these are decks that simply don’t have enough duplicates of key cards, be they Master of Evolution
I’ve actually not yet lost to Warlock with this deck, but their card drawing power is higher and Doomguard
Warrior & Paladin (?%)
I can’t predict these because I’m yet to face either class. I suspect Warrior is an auto-loss because C’Thun-based starts on 30 health+20 armour (Ancient Shieldbearer
We play in casual in order to avoid the “Power” C’Thun or Control decks. Anything else and we’ve got game. And when we haven’t got game we get a jolly good laugh out of our feeble or futile attempts at winning that helps us maintain perspective; it’s just a game after all…