Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs, landed late last week, and if you’ve tried to get a hold of me in that time, I apologize. I’ve been completely preoccupied running Dungeon Run after Dungeon Run. For those unaware, Dungeon Run is the free singleplayer mode from the set which combines some of the best parts of Arena with classic dungeon crawlers. It’s a blast and I highly recommend it.
We’ll have more about that later this week. Today I want to talk about the decks already shaking up Standard. I’ve picked some of the coolest and most unique decks that I’ve seen for each class, focusing on a mixture of fun and potency. Some of them only include a few new cards while others are brand new archetypes, but they all have something interesting going on.
This innocuous 3/1 is the next in a long line of minions that helps Druid do what Druid does best: cheat out Mana crystals.
Druid is doing what it does best in the post-K&C world: ramping into one huge thing after another. Greedy Sprite and Twig of the World Tree are the go-to ramp additions for the deck, with Lesser Jasper Spellstone providing some essential removal. With cards like Ultimate Infestation, and having gone up to two copies of Earthen Scales, we should have no problem upgrading the Spellstones.
Malygos is an interesting inclusion here, but he does end up pumping our damage-based spells a significant amount, which can work particularly well with Twig of the World Tree. Druid's first class weapon is flexible in that, even if it’s destroyed when you have ten Mana, you’ll still get another ten Mana when it triggers, which can make for some disgusting combos.
Druid may have gained the least from this expansion, but you can also see new cards like Corridor Creeper and Arcane Tyrant making appearances in the existing Aggro and Jade decks.
lesser emerald spellstone
Summoning 12 attack worth of wolves is a powerful way for Hunter to reload after any AoE spell.
One huge Hunter trope to come out of Kobolds and Catacombs was an archetype that lacks any minions at all. We’ve seen spell-heavy versions before, notably with ‘Yogg & Load’ decks, but this is the first time the archetype has ditched minions entirely. That’s thanks to numerous new cards like Wandering Monster, Flanking Strike, Lesser Emerald Spellstone, To My Side, and Rhok’delar, all of which compensate for running no creatures.
The deck created by Thijs is interesting for one notable caveat: he did choose to include minions, but only a select few. His entire deck only contains five minions. As such, it eschews cards like To My Side and Rhok’delar, which work best with zero minions, in favor of another K&C legendary in the form of Kathrena Winterwisp. This ensures that when Kathrena triggers, she is guaranteed to hit either King Crush or Savannah Highmane.
The new K&C weapon single-handedly allows this aggressive Secret Mage deck to keep unloading and refilling your hand, turn after turn.
TeamLUL brought this Mage deck to the Trinity Series this past weekend and it played like an amped up version of the aggressive burn Mages we’ve seen in the past.
Multiple one-drop minions help apply pressure along with new cards like Explosive Runes and Corridor Creeper, the biggest sleeper hit of the set so far. Explosive Rune will often not only kill anything that comes down on turn three or four, but also deal a good amount of face damage.
Though the deck has fewer new cards than others on our list, the mage legendary weapon Aluneth is a vital part of the strategy, allowing it to regularly refuel, which is key given that a previous problem with aggro Mage was running out of gas.
It turns out being able to spam cheap 5/5s and Secrets is a pretty sound strategy.
Hellfire and Abyssal Enforcer have always been vital in Warlock decks. Now Priest gets a similar effect, but one that preserves their health and is attached to a 3/3.
What rundown would be complete without a Highlander deck of some sort, which pretty much has to mean a Priest list. There’s no arguing that the combination of Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained is the most powerful combo in Standard, but there’s always room for improvement.
This Dragon-based list utilizes the extremely powerful Duskbreaker as a new way to stabilize while assembling the combo. Twilight Acolyte is another useful tool that allows us to take a good deal of the bite out of a troublesome minion. And if Corridor Creeper is eventually going to cost zero Mana, we might as well include one here!
Finally, there’s Psychic Scream. I initially saw it in Big Priest lists, which made sense since most of your minions come down after turn seven. In this deck, we’ll likely be shuffling a couple of our minions into the opponent’s deck. But that's a small price to pay for a total board wipe that avoids Deathrattles, and could actually be a minor benefit.
Tutor effects are often strong, and Shinyfinder being almost certain to pull Kingsbane makes it a key card.
Another deck from the Dutch master, but this time Kingsbane is the name of the game here. It uses both Leeching Poison and Deadly Poison to buff the 1-Mana legendary weapon we'll be drawing repeatedly. We also have Cavern Shinyfinder to shinyfind the legendary sword for us.
Additionally, the deck sports two Fal’dorei Strider, which sets us up to draw 4/4 spiders that we cast for free. I played against this card more times than I would have expected this past weekend, and it seems likely to remain a two-of in most Rogue lists.
Speaking of which, Elven Minstrel is a powerful way to pull useful minions out of our deck (providing you can combo it) and also develop a 3/2 body on board—which is exactly what Rogue wants to do.
Unsurprisingly, this deck still has a real Miracle Rogue feel, but with a splash of K&C thrown in to keep it fresh. It's also fun to see a single copy of Doomerang, and the new Rogue legendary Sonya Shadowdancer, making the cut too.
Being able to reuse the Battlecry abilities of cards like Fire Elemental, Kalimos, Primal Lord, or Blazecaller is a recipe for greatness.
After his unbelievable comeback at the 2017 Blizzcon Invitational, when Kranich makes a deck, I’m going to pay attention.
It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a huge Kalimos fan. This version of Elemental Shaman uses several new cards, including Murmuring Elemental, Healing Rain, Grumble, Worldshaker, and Zola the Gorgon.
When I first saw Grumble, I couldn’t think of any immediate applications for him. Well, turns out that having a ton of Elementals with powerful Battlecries is a great use for the legendary minion. Following up a Murmuring Elemental with a Zola the Gorgon is also a great chain of card advantage. And who doesn’t love that Healing Rain is basically a reverse Volcano?
If you’re looking for a Shaman deck that shies away from the typical Evolve fare, this is a great place to start.
The versatility of this card is exactly what Warrior wants. Sometimes it’s a threat, sometimes it’s removal, and sometimes it’s just 15 desperately-needed armor.
If it wasn’t clear, K&C allows a lot of classes to go for big minion strategies. Control Warrior always had kind of a big strategy at their top end, but now it can mirror the Big Priest archetype a little more. Instead of using Shadow Essence, Barnes and Eternal Servitude to pull our big minions out, Warrior has access to new cards like Woebreaker and Gather Your Party.
Sleepy Dragon replaces Primordial Drake as the Taunt Dragon of choice here, which might end up changing if Freezing Trap keeps increasing in popularity.
The deck also runs a copy of Forge of Souls to find its key weapon. I had better results with one copy of Dead Man’s Hand, which helps prevent us from running out of minions to recruit and doesn’t leave us with a dead card if we end up drawing all three of our weapons.
A +4/+2 buff is no joke, and being able to repeat that while also getting a powerful weapon out of the deal can prove extremely problematic for a lot of opponents.
DDaHyoNi ended up in the finals of the Sydney Innvitational and about 25 percent of his Paladin deck consisted of new cards, the main goal being to build toward a huge Lynessa Sunsorrow or a recurring Val’anyr.
While the only spells we’re casting on our minions are Spikeridged Steed and the new Potion of Heroism, hitting a Lynessa after several of these have been cast is very impactful.
One interesting inclusion here is Call to Arms. With only six minions that cost two or less, your odds of hitting a Doomsayer are pretty high, which leads me to believe that this is simply being used as a Doomsayer tutor when needed.
Silver Vanguard, the card you may remember from our reveal, is another refreshing addition that can provide nutty value. It allows us to pay seven Mana for an 8-Mana minion and a 3/3 so long as we can find a way to trade it off.
Buff Paladin decks aren't new, but they certainly received some sweet additions in K&C.
Short of something like Hex or Polymorph, Voidlord is going to provide six points of attack and 18 points of defense for a mere nine Mana. That’s not even accounting for its Demon synergies. In Wild, you can even cheat it out using Voidcaller, which is just gross.
NaviOOT ended up winning the Sydney Invitational this past weekend, so it seems only fitting to showcase his Warlock list. Running six K&C Warlock cards, the Aussie fan favorite showed us just what this set is capable of.
Kobold Librarian is an aggressively costed minion that also upgrades any Lesser Amethyst Spellstones in our hand. Voidlord is an awesome card for the top end, stonewalling aggressive decks and providing exceptionally powerful Demon we can get back with our Bloodreaver Gul’dan.
Vulgur Homunculus is another card that upgrades our Spellstones and fits perfectly with the Taunt theme. Speaking of Taunt, Stonehill Defender has gone up in value for Warlock with the new set now that we’re able to hit Voidlords relatively often. Finally, Bane of Doom is another powerful spell that has the potential to summon anything from Flame Imp, to… Okay, Voidlord again. (The card is very good!)
The new set has barely been out for a week now and we’re already seeing the huge impact it's having on Hearthstone, spawning multiple new archetypes and upgrading numerous others. I can’t wait to see where it takes us in the coming weeks.