Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that looks at some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.
Warrior - Mid-Game Deck
This week I look at a deck that I have really liked playing in the last few weeks after having to face it several times in the ladder and having issues against it with a few different decks. This deck is not an all out control deck, nor is it an all out aggro deck, instead it tries to focus on a mid-game style. This means it has some aggro elements and some control elements, but isn't all about any one thing. Due to the fact that the deck can play in a variety of ways, it can do well no matter what.
As described above this deck aims to be able to take all comers through equal amounts control and aggression. In the early game the deck can focus on some early aggression or some removal depending on which cards you draw and who you are facing off against. Once you get into the mid to late game the deck continues being able to deal damage or controlling the pace of play.
While many Warrior decks can only do one thing very well, this deck really works well playing either aggressive or defensive (control).
The deck works by having a strong balance of aggro and control cards. Just a few of the key cards of both types are as follows:
Armorsmith - A great early game card that helps you clear up weaker minions while boosting your defence through its ability. Better yet this minion teams up very well with several other cards in your deck, such as Whirlwind to clear up enemies, and Shield Slam to deal damage based on your armor.
Cruel Taskmaster - A simply amazing minion for the Warrior class. At 2 mana for a 2/2 minion he is OK to start with. However, with the ability to deal a point of damage and provided a buff he creates a lot synergy with other warrior minions, or provides the ability to kill off some weak enemy minions.
Frothing Berserker - Another solid minion by himself, starting as a 2/4 for 3 mana, however even better with many of your other cards. Add in any of your cards that deal damage to multiple minions like Whirlwind and Wild Pyromancer can make this minion huge quickly. One thing to keep in mind with this minion is to make sure you hold off damaging him until the turn that he can attack.
Faceless Manipulator - This minion provides a lot of options to this deck. While most of the time you will want to use it on your own powerful minions like Syvanas Windrunner, Grommash Hellscream, or Ragnaros, there are times you will want to use it against your enemies minions. The key thing to watch for is the best possible use for them and timing its use perfectly.
Whirlwind and Brawl - Another two cards that do similar things but in a different way. Whirlwind helps clear up or weaken enemy minions early on in the game. Brawl helps clean up the board in the late game through mass random removal.
Acolyte of Pain, Azure Drake, and Shield Block - All three of these cards are in place to help draw cards to keep up the pace of the deck. Acolyte of Pain can provide up to three extra cards if you can time his use early on in the game. Azure Drake provides a card and a solid 4/4 minion for the mid game. Shield Block can be thought of as a 5 point heal spell since armor and health are essentially the same thing and provides an extra card as well.
Fiery War Axe and Arcanite Reaper - Both of these weapons are great additions to the deck but provide two very different things. The Fiery War Axe is all about providing early game control to help remove weak enemy minions. The Arcanite Reaper is there to help finish off the opponent as it can put out 10 damage over two turns of attacking.
Grommash Hellscream - Many times this monster of a minion will be your win condition in the late game. It is important to remember to keep an extra card in hand though to trigger his enrage condition. The best 2 being Whirlwind or Cruel Taskmaster. Using either of these means keeping Grommash in hand for an extra turn or two, however it is far better to do this in most cases as you can then deal 10 or 12 damage all at once before your opponent can do anything about him.. If you summon him without waiting, then you may only get 4 damage before your opponent kills him off.
Ideal Opening Hand Cards
This deck can come out strong with a huge number off different cards in its opening hand. You play for either an aggressive start or a defensive start depending on what class and deck type you are facing.
If you are trying to go aggressive then you should be looking to get cards that allow you to follow your mana curve from turn 2-4 since you have very few turn 1 cards. Cards that I would keep include: Fiery War Axe, Armorsmith, Cruel Taskmaster, Frothing Berserker, or Kor'kron Elite.
If you are playing defensive early on then you should be looking to keep cards that allow you to stall and defend early on. Cards that allow you to do this include: Execute, Whirlwind, Fiery War Axe, Armorsmith, Wild Pyromancer, and Cruel Taskmaster.
This deck has so many different ways to play and win that it makes it hard to provide a simple strategy guide. I will provide two basic ways to play the deck and a few examples of combos available to you when playing it. However, it is important to look at the overall card list and realize that there are a huge number of options available to you at every stage of the game.
The first way to play this deck is defensively, meaning controlling the pace. There are many different cards in this deck that help you control the pace right from the start. Cards like Slam and Fiery War Axe let you take out your opponents minions starting on turn two. You also have minions like Cruel Taskmaster and Wild Pyromancer that let you take out enemy minions early on.
Later in the game, cards like Execute lets you take out any enemy no matter how strong. You also have cards like Brawl that can clear all but one minion, Faceless Manipulator that lets you duplicate any minion in play, and Sylvanas Windrunner that lets you pull in an enemy minion under your control when she is killed.
The second way to play this deck is aggressively going after the opponent directly right from the start. While the deck is not an all out aggro deck it can play fairly fast compared to many decks, and since it has control elements to fall back on it can do it well.
To play aggressively you want go get minions like your Frothing Berserker and Kor'kron out early and beat down your opponent with them. Other cards like Execute, Fiery War Axe, and Slam help deal with your opponents minions early on. When trying to play aggressively you should keep you opponent under threat as much as possible, by making sure you keep hitting them directly, while keeping the board clear. Cards like Execute and Shield Slam allow you to take out even large minions quickly and efficiently.
Beyond specific ways to play the deck there are a large number of combos available to this deck. Once simple later game combo is having a Frothing Berserker out and ready to attack. Then so use a Wild Pyromancer and a Whirlwind when there are a lot of other minions on the board. It is very easy to get a Frothing Berserker up to 12-15 attack value pretty quickly and can then smash your opponent.
Another great combo when your opponent has a great big nasty legendary minion that you can not deal with, is to summon Sylvanas Windrunner. Make sure that all the other minions are off the board first, but then use another card to damage your own Sylvanas (such as Whirlwind or Cruel Taskmaster) and then use Execute to kill it off, this means that you will then get the deathrattle ability to pull in that legendary minion under your control.
Optional Cards / Alternate Deck
There are other cards out there that can be put into this deck as substitutions for the cards listed above that you may not have or that may suit your play style a little better. Here are just a few that would work in the deck.
Big Game Hunter - If you end up running into to many large minions late in the game to deal with normally, then the Big Game Hunter is a solid card to add as it allows you to kill them off quickly and easily.
Cairne Bloodhoof - This legendary minion can take a place in almost any deck as he provides you with two 4/5 minions for 6 mana. Since a single 4/5 (Chillwind Yeti) is a great deal at 4 mana, a second for only 2 more is an amazing deal.
Sen'jin Shieldmasta - If you are having issues and running into too many direct aggro decks then a simple card like the Sen'jin Shieldmasta can help solve that issue. Even though this card is a common neutral card, it provides a really strong and basic way to stop the opponents rush.
Cleave - Cleave offers up a lot of options as it only costs 2 man to deal 4 damage to your opponents minions. My only issue with this card is that your opponent must have 2 minions in play which sometimes they don't.
Alexstrasza - Another very solid legendary minion that can really help this deck. Alexstraza can provide a massive hit to your opponent by changing their health to 15 health. If you are being and low on health you can always use her on yourself and gain a bunch of health back to get back into the fight. After the health drop (or gain) you still have a 8/8 minion around for your opponent to deal with.
How To Play Against It
Playing against this deck can be a little frustrating as it has options to deal with almost all threats. The two best decks to play against this deck though are Warlock or Priest decks.
Handlock Warlocks have a large number of big minions and can keep the threats coming long past the number of removal cards that you have. Priest decks of all kinds can cause issues with shadow word pain and shadow word death. Priests also have many different ways to heal and prevent damage until the late game, and then when you start summoning your big minions, they can steal them.
Other decks have options as well but rely on your ability to control to clear off minions quickly before they get too powerful. AOE cards like Consecration and Holy Nova are great ways to clear off weak enemies effectively.
Give the deck a try, play around with some options, and let me know what you think. How does it work for you, how would you change it to match your play style. As mentioned the deck is difficult to learn to play correctly, so you need to give it some time. Let me know your experiences with it in the comment section below.