Tag Archives: brewing

Hearthstone – Witchwood Sleepers

In the days leading up to the release of The Witchwood, everyone has been submitting their reviews hoping to either be the guy who called Grim Patron, or the guy who gave Corridor Creeper one star. It’s true, I’m going to talk about some cards today, but these are the long shots, the cards that many are dismissing out of hand in favor of more obvious all-stars.

So basically I’m trying really hard to call the next Grim Patron. I’m not saying that will happen, but if nothing else these cards need a little more attention, as they appear playable in the coming powered-down Standard.


ratcatcherRush is a mechanic we can’t fully understand yet. Arena experts claim its completely overpowered, and makes the game extremely swingy from turn to turn. Constructed players are a little more reserved, and they should be. Most of the rush minions aren’t very well statted, and Ratcatcher is no exception.

However, Ratcatcher could have some very favorable outcomes. Zoolock has very few options for retaking tempo outside Saronite Chain Gang, which is really just hoping your opponent can’t break through. If you’re losing the board, any trade you can make that leaves a man in play enables Ratcatcher to gain value, and it doesn’t take much to get there. Even gaining a measly +1/+1 can turn a board state back in your favor, and that’s the bare minimum. Having the ability to attack with a bunch of power essentially twice in a turn during a key turn can decide games.

There’s another way to leverage Ratcatcher for value. Eating minions with deathrattle like Devilsaur Egg can create a decent board pretty quickly. Combined with Sanguine Reveler there’s potential for a new style of Zoolock in Standard. Consider this shell:

  • 2 Flame Imp
  • 2 Witchwood Imp
  • 2 Sangiune Reveler
  • 2 Swamp Dragon Egg
  • 2 Dire Wolf Alpha
  • 2 Devilsaur Egg
  • 2 Ratcatcher

I’m sure more cards could be added to this core, but these few cards showcase the potential power of Ratcatcher. Note how easy it is to double up on Dire Wolf Alpha bonuses, or create a 3/5 on turn one with coin using Reveler and the new Imp.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that this card is just bonkers with Power Overwhelming in Wild. Like PO wasn’t good enough already.

Mad Hatter

MadHatterMy argument for Mad Hatter is very similar to Ratcatcher. If you ever have the only guy or guys on the board, Mad Hatter is four mana for 6/5 worth of stats, though it may be even better than that depending on where the ‘hats’ land. Extracting value from this minion doesn’t seem tough, but I admit that it’s unplayable from behind. Still, most cards are bad when played from behind, so perhaps it ‘s not an issue. I could see this minion being played in any aggressive deck that seeks to never lose the board.

Hench-Clan Thug

Thug.PNGI’m surprised the buzz for this card was low. A neutral minion that is basically a 4/4 for three mana that grows +1/+1 most turns is reminiscent of Undertaker before being nerfed. The weapons in this new Standard line up so that there aren’t many very good turn two plays outside Woodcutter’s Axe from Warrior, but Rogue will get plenty from this minion. Thug could also see play in the right Hunter deck because of Candleshot and Hunter’s ability to quickly apply pressure after taking a board.

Spectral Cutlass

CutlassFinally, we come to Spectral Cutlass, the longest shot of all those mentioned. During the reveal stream I was impressed at how long the Rogue could keep Spectral Cutlass alive, albeit having to make some tough choices. That may not translate to Standard, especially with the random nature of the Burgle mechanic, but with a little help and a lack of Oozes the Cutlass could become as important as top tier payoff cards like Murloc Warleader or Gentle Megasaur. Don’t sleep on just how much weapon support Rogue has right now. Between Doomerang, Rummaging Kobold, Cavern Shinyfinder, Deadly Poison, Cutthroat Buccaneer and others, there are the makings in the near future of a very powerful new archetype!

That’s all the time I have today, and with the set releasing tomorrow I’ll be diving into the new cards with gusto. This isn’t an article about archetypes, but if you’re wondering, besides the obvious I’ll be trying Weapon/Burgle Rogue, Rush Warrior, Odd/Quest Warrior, Zoolock, and Odd Mage. Note how all of these decks are either naturally aggressive or have a very specific plan in mind to win(except Odd Mage, which will probably durdle pretty hard). If you want to quickly climb after release, pick something with a plan and go hard!

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Hearthstone – Old Warrior, New Tricks

This is a repost from Hearthpwn. Go upvote me!

Sadly, you’ll have to follow the Hearthpwn link to see the decklist. This PC has neither Hearthstone nor the ever-handy SnipTool to bail me out!

This season, control warrior has been great to me. It absolutely dominates the aggro Paladin deck that’s become a thing lately, is favored against any Hunter or Rogue, has fair matchups against any Mage, Druid, or Shaman, and is only OK against Warrior and Warlock.

Yes, that was a little generalized. C’est la vie.

The Grand Tournament is releasing in the middle of the season, and here I sit at Rank 7 or 8(honestly, I don’t recall which right now), wondering if I should crack all those delicious pre-ordered boosters and start brewing, or stick with the old standby and try for legend.

“Well,” I thought. “Why not both?”

TGT brings a few cards that could slot right into a traditional control build. However, I don’t think King Varian Wrynn is one of them. Sure, its an amazing card, and I may be as wrong about Wrynn as most people were about Dr. Balanced, but hey, its my call to make for now.

Control warrior’s minions all serve a very specific purpose, and some of those purposes only come to fruition through battlecries. For example, Ysera is there to grind opponents out from a more or less even board, and Dr. Boom comes out to stabilize a board that is only somewhat behind. Sure, its great to play Varian and put Alexstraza into play, but really you just played a few large dudes, and warrior is RARELY far enough ahead that its OK to just do that on a turn and call it a day.

[SPOILER: Varian would be pretty damn good in a Bolster-centric deck since his battlecry affects the board more meaningfully]

Anyway, there are two legendaries that caught my eye from TGT: Justicar Trueheart and Nexus-Champion Saraad. Both help push the game into longer, grindier territory, where warrior shines.

nexusI admit, I’m not sold on Saraad yet. The reason control warrior is good is because there are so few RNG effects. Boom Bots, (formerly) Sylvanas, Ysera, and Brawl are the only unknown variables, and those all have good-to-insane outcomes. Reducing the RNG would be ideal, but I don’t see a better option than Saraad to replace Ragnaros, who has one too many times purged the wrong target for me to do anything but wince whenever I hear “DIE, INSECT!” Ragnaros is “just” damage, while the Nexus-Champion can provide somewhat controllable value over a series of turns, and I believe he is worth trying out because of the blowout potential of an unexpected spell.

trueJusticar Trueheart is far more straight forward. You play him and lose board position from him having three health, but the payoff of extra armor is big and becomes HUGE over a longer game. You won’t have to sit on Shield Blocks or Shieldmaidens  in case you draw Shield Slam and need to remove a large target. Despite falling behind on board when you play him, he seems like an obvious inclusion.

The only other change I plan to make between my current build and post-TGT is probably +1 Random Threat in place of -1 Alexstraza, though again, I may miss the big dumb dragon. Alex usually served as a way to pressure an opponent that had lots of healing with a small window to kill them with Grommash. This was needed because there just weren’t many real threats in the deck, but now, warrior has the potential to just run another deck right out of threats, and with the focus being heavily on valuing out someone rather than just trying to steer the game into a winning Grommash turn, Neferian or even Chromaggus could be pretty good.

I suppose we’ll find out just how right or wrong I am tomorrow morning!

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Blackrock Mountain Spoilers – Evaluating Role-Players

It actually looks like Rag's room in Molten Core in some ways, doesn't it?

It actually looks like Rag’s room in Molten Core in some ways, doesn’t it?

So, preorders for the upcoming Hearthstone adventure, Blackrock Mountain, are apparently starting today. Reserving all five wings nets you the lovely “Molten Core” card back as a bonus, so hurray! Still, that’s not really much of a reason to spend $25 on all five wings(though at $7/wing individually, for the love of god please just buy the bundle). It’s the sweet new cards we want to pay for!

I’m sure Blizzard has some awesome stuff in this adventure for us Ladder Folk, but for now they’ve played with their hand close to the vest with some role-players from the obvious dragon-themed deck that this adventure may spawn. Some people, myself included, are not terribly excited about paying $25 for 31 new cards that probably won’t change the landscape of ladder very quickly or very much, though I’m sure it could happen did happen before with the advent of Undertaker, so who knows.

I got to thinking about how to be excited about these cards without speculating too much on potentially what else might be in the adventure. Thinking became musing, musing became planning, and now I am all interested and stuff, and I’ve got a few interesting ideas to share that might get you excited about the spoiled cards too! I’m not reviewing every card spoiled, mostly because Rend Blackhand is pretty weaksauce, and even barring his poor stats, his ability to do anything beyond being a mediocre creature is firmly grounded in how many awesome dragons out of 31 cards we get from Blackrock Mountain!

Dragon Egg

dragon-eggDragon Egg doesn’t look like much, mostly because it isn’t. It’s a value card, and appears much less exciting that Nerubian Egg because a 4/4 is far more problematic for more decks to deal with than two 2/1 whelps, and that’s assuming you get maximum value out of this by spending resources hitting it twice.

The big difference is the cost of Dragon Egg – at one mana, it rarely takes the place of a different drop, and is far easier to fit into turns where you just want to spend all your mana. Two mana is when the game really starts, and spending it playing a card that might later turn into a 4/4 is risky, especially against aggressive decks.

Another interesting aspect of Dragon Egg is that any damage triggers it. I’m not saying this is good, but a Mage could play this on one, and ping it on two to create value. I know a 2/1 on two isn’t as amazeballs as something like Mechwarper, but in a deck that utilizes Dragon Egg with buffs like Abusive Sergeant already, it can turn a hand with no two-drop into something serviceable.

Really though, the best card I thought of to pair with Dragon Egg is undoubtedly Cruel Taskmaster. The battlecry gives you a whelp, and when the Egg dies, you get another. You got your two whelps from one card and, more importantly, only two more mana. You don’t even have to trade-off the Egg the turn you play Taskmaster since the buff is permanent! As you’ll soon see, there are several cards that appear to play well with Cruel Taskmaster and other cards that can damage your own creatures, and many people have been hoping for a new style of Warrior deck to emerge for some times. I don’t think any of the cards spoiled so far are good enough to do it on their own, but they could be solid role-players.

Well, there I go, evaluating cards based on cards that may or may not exist. It’s really hard to avoid the hype!

Blackwing Technician

Blackwing_Technician_transparent-728x1024Not many people are talking about this card. It isn’t very impressive on the surface, and of course its value is partially reliant on unspoiled cards. Let’s make a very small assumption, but base it in what we know. We know people DO play dragon cards. Azure Drake and the legendary dragons see a fair amount of play, and we know that Hungry Dragon(a card I’m not talking about today because well, it’s a 5/6 for four mana, do we really need to analyze why that’s good?) exists, so that makes, maybe, six or seven dragons one could just randomly play in a slower deck.

Why would we want to play this card anyway? I’ll let you in on a little secret – 3/5s are really, really good right now, and 3/5s for three mana are as good as it gets. Being able to survive the front end of a Piloted Shredder forces an opponent to either spend mana to kill it that could have been another dude, or your Technician gets to kill another dude. I don’t think that Dragonkin Sorcerer is good enough to talk about, but it also has that sort of value if you’re into buffing minions. Yes, the various Yetis have that value too, but Chillwind is boring, and the Mechanical can be a liability. Giving an aggressive deck more cards to play, even if they are spare parts, is dangerous!

Lava Shock

lava-shockI’m actually not impressed by Lava Shock, but I really hope I’m wrong because I love Shaman more than most classes. Yeah, maybe there’s a home for it, and yes, it does make your turn five less annoying because you never have to choose between playing Spirit Wolves or Lightning Storm and your Fire Elemental on the next turn, but it’s just not a good card because it doesn’t really kill anything. Maybe a burn spell that doesn’t overload by itself is something Shaman need.

What it does have is tempo by undoing the harm that your overpowered overload spells do to you, which is a powerful thing. Lava Shock can also go to the face, and joins a HUGE array of cheap burn spells. When GvG was released, the very first deck I built was an aggressive Shaman deck with Zap-o-Matic, Dunemaul Shaman, and every burn spell Shaman had access to. The deck was pretty bad, but mostly because there wasn’t a critical mass of burn, and the overload on many of my spells was too much to overcome when using them to control a board. I don’t think it will be, but I hope that Lava Shock is the role-player that a different sort of aggressive deck needs to be a real thing.

Grim Patron

Grim_Patron_transparent-730x1024I’ve saved the best for last. Yes, many people are interested in brewing with Grim Patron, sometimes trying to build decks with Grimmy as the cornerstone. But that’s not really why he’s good. You could just pick a card or two from a Warrior list, jam two Patrons in, and call it a day! There are already several existing synergies to take advantage of Grim Patron’s ability. Whirlwind, Cruel Taskmaster, Death’s Bite, and Baron Geddon are all cards commonly played in Warrior lists that work well with the Patron.

Grim Patron doesn’t look like much though, even if you make a second one, and I agree. It is not an intrinsically powerful card. However, it has the ability to actually pressure an opponent far earlier than most Warrior lists can, and provides a completely different angle of attack by threatening to flood the board with smaller dudes. Being on curve with Death’s Bite is just a bonus. Imagine clearing your opponent’s board on turn five and ending up with two of these guys in play.

There’s also the option of going all-in by playing Bouncing Blade. If you assemble the dream scenario where Grim Patron is the only creature in play when you play Bouncing Blade, you have a roughly 17% chance you only end up with two dudes. But you also have an almost 38% chance to end up with six! I admit, I didn’t do this math myself, so credit to this Reddit post on Bouncing Blade math, and also their fault if they did the math wrong!

That’s all from me today. Be sure to follow this blog for updates on all 31 new cards coming from Blackrock Mountain, and also keep an eye on the BlizzPro spoiler page for new cards, then come here and comment with your favorite new cards and why!

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Controlling Standard

This post is courtesy of @BrianEconomides, a friend of mine who thinks my blog is cool enough to want to post his own material here. Contact him on Twitter or on this post for feedback.


The good old days

The good old days

I remember the first time I ever truly understood what counter magic did. It was an experience that altered the entire game for me. Since then, we’ve gone from using simple spells like Arcane Denial and Counterspell to complex ones like Cryptic Command. I am a control player, one who really enjoys locking an entire game down and having my opponent scoop with the understanding that they just can’t win.

However, today’s Standard format requires a different style to be successful. With Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash producing next to no help for true control players while setting the stage for Naya and Boros decks to shine, what’s a control player to do? These last few weeks I’ve spent countless hours researching the best cards for an Esper control deck. My first effort looked a lot like Brian Braun-Duin’s Esper list that he tested on January 25th, with minor changes, but after putting it to the test, I was disappointed.


  • 3x Obzedat, Ghost Council
  • 1x Snapcaster Mage
  • 3x Jace, Architect of Thought
  • 1x Liliana of the Veil
  • 1x Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
  • 1x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
  • 2x Detention Sphere
  • 2x Dimir Charm
  • 2x Dissipate
  • 4x Sphinx’s Revelation
  • 4x Think Twice
  • 2x Ultimate Price
  • 4x Lingering Souls
  • 4x Supreme Verdict
  • 4x Drowned Catacombs
  • 4x Glacial Fortress
  • 3x Godless Shrine
  • 4x Hallowed Fountain
  • 2x Isolated Chapel
  • 2x Nephalia Drownyard
  • 4x Watery Grave
  • 1x Swamp

I won’t go over the sideboard as my meta will probably differ from yours (I live in Japan), but here are some realizations from my first two weeks with this deck.

Lingering Souls

Lingering Souls has seen its time come and pass in Standard. Unless you are building a deck based around pumping your critters up, this card just lacks any value in this format. I even tried Sorin, Lord of Innistrad over Liliana of the Veil to give my Lingering Souls a little more value, but it just wasn’t enough. Too often was I casting Lingering Souls turn 3 to avoid getting slapped in the face by a 3/3 Haste creature, or worse, Geist of Saint Traft. Or, I’d cast it only to find out that they were holding a Bonfire of the Damned or Thundermaw Hellkite.

Think Twice

Too many times I found this card just sitting in my hand when what I really needed was either a way to deal with a creature, or a creature to put on the board. Additionally, many people see Esper and automatically think Rest in Peace, which turns Think Twice into a cycler instead of a draw spell. Coincidentally, Rest in Peace also hits Lingering Souls, and screws over the one Snapcaster Mage that wiggled its way into the deck.

Sphinx’s Revelation

Finally, I don’t feel there is a need for four Sphinx’s Revelation. I love this card, but if you draw more than one in your first four turns, they just start clogging up your hand and you start wishing you had answers for your opponent’s board and not a hand full of draw cards with three lands in play.

So, after some initial setbacks, I’ve come up with this new brew, one that should help us control player’s stand a little bit of a chance against aggro:

  • 3x Obzedat, Ghost Council
  • 3x Augur of Bolas
  • 4x Geist of Saint Traft
  • 2x Jace, Architect of Thought
  • 3x Liliana of the Veil
  • 1x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
  • 1x Dimir Keyrune
  • 1x Orzhov Keyrune
  • 2x Dimir Charm
  • 2x Orzhov Charm
  • 2x Detention Sphere
  • 2x Dissipate
  • 4x Supreme Verdict
  • 3x Sphinx’s Revelation
  • 2x Essence Scatter
  • 4x Drowned Catacombs
  • 4x Glacial Fortress
  • 3x Godless Shrine
  • 4x Hallowed Fountain
  • 2x Isolated Chapel
  • 2x Nephalia Drownyard
  • 4x Watery Grave
  • 1x Swamp

Some notes on the new additions.

Augur of Bolas

Lumengrid Warden he is not

Lumengrid Warden he isn’t

I felt that this decks early game is what got it into trouble against aggro. In the past, we had access to cards like Wall of Omens that aided in the early game. Today, the closest thing to this is Augur of Bolas. Initially, I didn’t like the concept of Augur, however, I found myself always digging for spells and Think Twice wasn’t getting the job done. Augur allows me to see three cards down and have the option of which one to take. To top it off, this ability is attached to a 1/3? Couldn’t ask for more.

Geist of St. Traft

The old version really had no way of dealing with Geist of Saint Traft and the deck lacked any offensive capability. I believe the saying “If you can’t beat them, join them” comes to mind. Adding four Geist’s to the list brings not only giving me another means of dealing with him, but also the ability to turn a creature sideways for some damage.

Mana Considerations

I altered the mana curve slightly to account for the fact that Sphinx’s Revelation was only really effective at six mana or more. Two Keyrunes came in to help with the mana-fixing and to help create offense after a Supreme Verdict.

Orzhov Charm

I struggled to find an effective creature kill spell, but eventually landed on Orvhov Charm. I’m still wary of this card as it comes with a few downsides. First, you lose life equal to the creatures toughness. This really only becomes a plus against Thragtusk and Aurelia, The Warleader because they deal more damage than they can take. Second, one of the abilities of the charm is completely useless in the deck. I’m currently checking out some one cost creatures to see if it would be a good idea to run any, but am currently at a loss.

Board Control

The last thing I considered was the board control elements of the deck. I added two Essence Scatters to help with early threats, and ditched a Jace, Architect of Thought for a third Liliana of the Veil. Liliana is just great all around because if you aren’t forcing your opponent into top deck mode, you are helping nuke creatures off their board.

Test Time

Now that I feel the deck has answered some obvious issues with its early game, it’s time to test this thing out at my local Friday Night Magic. Keep an eye out for my next article where I’ll be discussing some of the best sideboard cards for each color.

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Bringing the Vengeance

Hopefully for the last time ever, MTGO has caught up with the paper world with M13 release events firing every few minutes. I personally joined one for 25 tickets, played one round of double mana screw, and dropped. Limited play for Core sets is so boring. Even if I had ever drawn a fourth land in either game I played, it wouldn’t have been that exciting, and not having to play M13 is about as fun as playing it anyway. After selling some of my rares at the highest price they will ever be(ex. sold Cavern of Souls during release event for 24ish tickets. Now I get them passed to me in draft), I turned to updating the R/W ‘Storm’ deck originally featured here:


When I first read this article, I quickly dismissed it as poor because there were no notes on actual performance, or even a primer on how to play the deck correctly. Normally a primer isn’t needed because a deck’s function will be obvious, but with so much card selection, it is vital to know what you are looking for. Tough decisions are more often the case now that there are eight looting effects, so don’t just try to blow through your deck without a plan in mind. But before some general advice, the new list:

  • 4 Faithless Looting
  • 4 Infernal Plunge
  • 4 Kuldotha Rebirth
  • 2 Panic Spellbomb
  • 1 Noxious Revival
  • 4 Wild Guess
  • 4 Krenko’s Command
  • 4 Ichor Wellspring
  • 2 Mycosynth Wellspring
  • 4 Battle Hymn
  • 2 Increasing Vengeance
  • 2 Past in Flames
  • 2 Burn at the Stake
  • 2 Reforge the Soul
  • 1 Devil’s Play
  • 18 Mountain


  • 4 Smelt
  • 2 Gitaxian Probe
  • 1 Noxious Revival
  • 2 Reforge the Soul
  • 2 Burning Vengeance
  • 4 Whipflare

There are three big changes of note: Krenko’s Command, Wild Guess, and Increasing Vengeance. One of the major issues the deck had previously was an inability to refill or add to your token army in the middle of the critical turn because Gather the Townsfolk required White mana, and in most cases all your mana was Red once you started going nuts. You lose the ability to go to five or less and then go off out of nowhere, but the consistency gained in both the mana base and having more paths to win seems well worth it. Wild Guess is an additional selection spell, and means we don’t have to play quite as many Reforge the Souls. It is quite rare that I even cast one during a win. With all the Lootings/Guesses/Wellsprings, it’s not hard to craft a hand and graveyard that can win without seven new cards. Still, I left two so the option is open in case a key piece is missing. Increasing Vengeance is probably the most interesting addition, for two reasons. One, it was available at the time the original article was written, so why wasn’t it included? Also, it is just incredible at bridging the gap between an engine that never really does much and killing the enemy easily. When you flash back the Vengeance for RR using Past in Flames, you still get the extra copy of the spell; it is literally double Fork. When copying Burn at the Stake, it also remembers how many creatures were tapped for the first one. I played against some weird life gain brew last night, and easily, EASILY Burned him for NINETY using the Vengeance. Yes, I needed all three copies for thirty to kill him.

This deck takes a bit of mashing before becoming proficient at taking care of witches medieval style. It took me several games to realize that you should probably not loot away a Rebirth or Artifact just about ever. One mana for three guys is your most efficient way of making a Ramen Instant Army. Krenko’s Command is a backup plan at best, and is generally used to test an opponent for a sweeper by throwing out two goblins, or to refill during the Burn turn. Deciding when to use your Vengeance is usually just a matter of math, but don’t lose sight of the goal of just having enough to kill your enemy. I have caught myself several times having to rethink a line of play because I was opening myself up to disruption for a gain that was much bigger than what was required to win the game. Lastly, many openers with this deck will look clunky or useless. It’s a combo deck, so that’s perfectly natural. Most hands that have either a Ichor Wellspring, Faithless Looting, or Wild Guess are keeps with the ability to cast said spell and not much else. The idea is to get a graveyard going most of the time, and these spells get the ball rolling.

Before I leave you to play with this hilariously fun deck, a few quick notes on the sideboard. Smelt is a catch for Grafdigger’s Cage, and I would never bring in more than two blindly(though of course I would have to suspect it before I blindly board anyway). Any deck that still plays Cranial Extraction somewhere brings in the Revival, as it’s not bad just sitting in the deck letting you redraw a Rebirth, or setting up a Reforge the Soul. Burning Vengeance is an alternate win condition, but mostly it’s there because I can’t think of what else to jam against a deck that wants to go long.

There are also a number of other directions this deck could go. Becoming even more graveyard-centric is an option. A RUG deck that plays Rebirth, the Artifacts, Rituals, and far more ways to fill the bin like Mulch or Thought Scour could be better options. Creatures like Augur of Bolas would find a home in a deck like this quickly as well. I leave it to you, reader. Go forth, and brew!

Nigel H.

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