Firstly, the proof:
Please let me talk a little bit about getting to Legend. The biggest mistake I think players make is that when they lose they get upset about how unlucky they were or how lucky their opponent was. This is never a good idea. After a game you lost your thought process should go like this:
- Did I make any misplays. That means, was there any possible way I could have played my cards differently so that I would win?
- If so, did I make the ‘wrong’ play because I was playing around the most likely scenario and I was just unlucky that the scenario turned out the way it did?
- If I lost because I was unlucky then that is fine. I just have to play more games, over enough games that same scenario will come up and I will win more than I lose.
I was lucky getting to legend in under 200 games. Realistically you should expect to have to play 200-300 or even 400 games to even out the variance. As long as you are actively trying to improve your game and studying your plays and your deck and your opponents, then individual games don’t matter, all the luck will eventually even out.
The next biggest mistake I think people make is to look at the rank they are at rather than the number of games they have played, their realistic winrates, and the number of games they will likely need to play. I know several times during my climb I would say, hey I’m currently at rank 10, so if I keep going at this rate I’ll be legend in a week, easy peasy. That is because I was at a huge winstreak and realistically my win rate would only be 60-65% and when the big downswing came and I went down a rank or two I would wonder what I was doing wrong. The answer was that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, it’s just variance and you have to allow for it! If I had just one piece of advice for players trying to climb to Legend it would be, forget Rank, look only at your winrate, the number of games you need to play, the number of games you have played and still need to play. You can use the stats here and here as a guide. Also I suggest using this stat tracker.
As you can see, it’s a fairly aggressive deck with matches lasting on average about 6/7 minutes. The deck very often can kill around turn 5/6/7 but doesn’t completely run out of steam past 8/9/10. My overall winrate was 64% and I played only 186 games, I ended the last season at rank 8. Below you can see that every class match up is at least 50%. But let me add that handlock is probably the hardest to beat and actually slightly unfavored, while the Zoo mirror is actually slightly favored.
Firstly, let me just say why Zoo. I would say for 3 main reasons:
- Zoo has super fast games, but so does Hunter, so why not Hunter?
- People are teching for Hunter, if you run into too many anti-Hunter decks you lose, meanwhile Zoo,
- CAN win any match up, you are almost never hard countered, and often you hard counter your opponent.
Some general tips on playing the deck I played:
- If you have both in hand, always drop Loatheb before Doomguard unless you are actually killing them this turn. Sometimes even if you set up lethal next turn by dropping Doomguard, you can be running into too much removal potential and then your hand is empty. Loatheb generally stops all removal for a turn and then can do 5 damage next turn plus the Doomguard!
- If you can save cheap death rattles then do, they are almost always better played at certain times. It might be tempting to spam the board with deathrattles now, since even if they are cleared they do something, but then an efficient clear from your opponent leaves you with nothing. Also very importantly if you draw into a late game undertaker you generally want to make him as big as possible.
- 99% of the time go for board control early game and 99% of the time go for face late game. I think I lost a few games going face too early and/or going board control when I should have been slamming face. Early board control means more face damage in the long run as your creatures live longer and do more work. Late game this deck can easily pump out 10-20 damage a turn even two consecutive turns. Your opponent can feel confident that he is regaining control of the game and end up taking a lot of face damage and being finished in your turn.
- Assume pretty much everyone has at least one silence. If your strategy is: As long as he doesn’t have a silence this is best, then it’s probably a bad strategy. I’ve seen even freeze mages and miracle rogues running silence, you are never safe!
- About 60% of the time the best strategy is just to all in. So you have void terror in hand and Loatheb on board, do you save the void terror because you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket? Nope, most of the time slam that fucker down and hope to god your opponent has run out of answers. Are you dead if he has hidden lethal, but if he doesn’t you can kill him next turn? All in baby, forget those burst damage spells, leave those creatures, kill that B@#$%!
Ok, now class match ups, going from hardest to easiest:
HANDLOCK: Ugh, welp the best I can say is F%&# Molten Giant and Defender of Argus. Ideally you win this match up by having ridiculous burst turn 5/6/7 and he either has only 1 molten or no taunts. You know that Hellfire/Shadowflame is coming turn 4 so don’t overextend your board, try to only have 2 MAX 3 minions without dethrattle, ideally only 1 minion and the rest are rattle. You definitely want to clear his little minions efficiently (owl, farseer, sunfury etc) and sometimes it’s worth using the owl early to pop a drake. The Giants if/when they come should generally be ignored unless you have close to lethal or are going to die. Mulligan: Against Warlock keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Owl, Undertaker, 1 Abusive Sergeant, Leper gnome if you have Undertaker or no other 1 drops or Abusive already, also keep egg and haunted creeper if you have Undertaker or are going second.
SHAMAN: This match up can be really rage inducing. Shaman excels at early/mid board control, stopping you from getting them too low to finish late game. You should always try to play around the first lightning storm, just like with handlock but a turn earlier. Don’t bother playing around the second lightning storm, if they have it you are generally dead anyway. Try to kill totems if you have a 2 or 3 attack minion, but otherwise face damage is much more important. Almost always remove any and all sources of spell damage, that extra point of damage on your minions often makes a huge difference. Mulligan: Against Shaman keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Undertaker, 1 Abusive Sergeant, Leper gnome if you have Undertaker or no other 1 drops or Abusive already, egg and haunted creeper.
PRIEST: Almost always keep abusive sergeant against Priest. This little doll just ruins their early game plans. They will often try to heal or shield just out of range of the attack of your minions on board. Try to keep/get your minions at specific health/attack: 3 and 5 health minions are great, making them much harder to remove for priest. 3 Attack is much better than 1 or 2 and 4 is obviously best. Priest will generally beat you with a good combination of AoE and shadow madness / cabal shadow priest. Watch for when they play thought steal, it means either they are really screwed and searching for answers, or they feel super confident they can regain the board. If you are close to lethal then push hard for it, but if you can perhaps protect some key board resources with buffs that is just as good. Mulligan: Against Priest keep Voidwalker if you have an abusive sergeant and going first, Flame Imp, Undertaker, Abusive Sergeant, Leper gnome if you have Undertaker or no other 1 drops or Abusive already, egg and haunted creeper if you have undertaker and maybe keep one if you are going second.
HUNTER: Alrighty, the big one that ‘dominates’ the ladder right now. It seems a lot of people don’t understand how Hunter works. Hunters can not heal themselves, they can not easily draw cards and they only have a 1 dmg AoE clear (unleash). The most important thing against a Hunter is getting and keeping board advantage early game, and even into mid game. Without a beast they can not hound master, their kill command does less damage, and without a board their snake traps are useless. Meanwhile, mid to late game you can start pushing some serious damage. If they want to clear with weapon they take a lot of damage. Traps are key here, if you manage to play around a trap properly you will often destroy the Hunter. A freezing trap bouncing a low cost or battle cry minion hurts them, an explosive trap popping your eggs or even your haunted creepers helps, and simply attacking face so that the 1-2 snake traps are dead cards. Counting lethal is paramount in this match up, as you can often kill a Hunter before they kill you. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that unleash is effectively a 1-2 damage AoE that you should avoid over extending into, sometimes its best to keep that abusive sergeant or leper gnome in hand and use it after you force them to unleash. Mulligan:Against Hunter keep Voidwalker, Soul Fire for killing their Undertaker or animal companion or their knife juggler, Owl for silencing Undertaker or deathrattles to deny cards, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, Leper gnome, egg and haunted creeper if you have undertaker and maybe keep one if you are going second.
ROGUE: Rogue runs anywhere from 2 to 4 AoE spells that can really screw your board. They also have backstab and SI Agent for cheap easy removal. Deadly poison works against your undertakers and knife jugglers. So with so many answers for you how do you beat rogue? Easy, just don’t play around them, go all in almost all the time. A key note is that if you can pop and egg, do, because if you leave it sitting there it will either get sapped at a bad time, or it will be popped when they are ready to deal with. Shiv is perhaps your greatest enemy really, be aware that 1 damage is as good as dead on most of your creatures. Early game against rogues it’s best to spam the board as much as possible and make them deal with it. You can life tap all day once you drop your hand. If you don’t pressure the rogue too much, you might think you have board and hand advantage, but they can change that in a turn or two and you’ll be sitting their with no board and a smaller hand than them. Mulligan: Against Rogue keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, Leper gnome, egg and haunted creeper if you have undertaker and maybe keep one if you are going second.
PALADIN: I originally thought this was by far the easiest match up, just drop creatures, spam face damage, laugh when they try to clear board. But after getting to rank 5 I faced 2-3 really good Paladin’s that made me change my mind. Some key points are, always remove the 1/1 dudes, except maybe on like a 5 power creature, or a creature that has 2 or more power and 1 health, even then it can be worth it to lose a 2/1 over losing a 5/1. Try to save all your deathrattles for as long as possible. Sure they might get silenced, but tbh better they spend it on that than to sneakily kill a big dude, and more importantly it forces them to do that before board clearing, which they will. Almost always save your owl for Tirion too. If you are at rank 10 or higher there is like a 90% chance you will see him by the end of the game, and when you do, a 6/6 taunt, divine shield and a 5/3 weapon will very likely ruin you. Other than that you can often force them down pretty low, before they can regain board. Mulligan: Against Paladin keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, egg, haunted creeper, leper gnome if you have an undertaker or voidwalker or haunted creeper, sometimes keep knife juggler if you have a couple a few one drops.
WARRIOR: This was the opposite to the Paladin, at first I thought Warrior was really hard, but once you learn the match up you feel highly favored. Fiery win axe and cruel task master are real pains in the ass, until you realize two things. Firstly, the warrior still has to take face damage from your creatures, so even though he might two for one with it, he is often still taking 5 to even 9 or more damage from them, so it’s not really as good value as it seems. The same goes for death’s bite, sure he gets value, but often takes 8-12+ damage. Cruel task master, if played around properly, at best 2 for ones, and often just goes 1.5 for one and 2-4 and still 2-4 damage to the enemies face. So the key to this match up is just maintaining a strong board presence and whittling him down. Some hints and tips. Always kill acolyte of pain asap. This guy can often draw the warrior 3 cards instead of just one, while also killing your stuff, I’d usually save owl for sludge belchers or other such taunts but acolyte is a viable target if the warrior is low on cards. Same goes for killing the armor smith. This creature has to die asap or else your opponent will out armor your damage. Finally, turn 5-10 there is a brawl coming. Try to make sure you either have minimal creatures on board, lots of death rattles, or lots of cards in hand. If you lose 4-5 creatures to a brawl, but then drop 3-4 creatures from your hand, the warrior is generally in really bad shape. Oh and don’t forget surprise Alex’s, Grom’s and Geddon’s coming down and doing their thing. Mulligan: Against Warrior keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, leper gnome, egg or haunted creeper if you have Undertaker or if you are going second and have an abusive.
MAGE: Mages just seem easy. I think it’s because their hero power actually perfectly compliments this deck’s goal. How you say? Well by slowing them down. Say you go second and drop flame imp and leper gnome first turn. They frost bolt the imp, now you drop a 2 drop and attack with the gnome, now on their turn 3 are they gonna hero power the gnome? Free card advantage for them right? Except they still took 4 damage from it so it’s a better sinister strike, and they haven’t dealt with your two drop. This continues well into the mid and sometimes even late game where you are spending 1 mana to deal 2-4 damage to them and they are spending 2 mana to get the card advantage. All of a sudden they are really low, have very little board and you can burst them really hard. Now a few hints and tips, never defender your deathrattles if you can help it. Defender your other creatures so they have to be dealt with before they can pop the deathrattles, often dealing more damage to their creatures or them. If they are playing tempo mage creatures (like frost elemental, kirin tor, mana wyrm etc) then their secrets are probably mirror entity, duplicate or counterspell. Make sure to account for these by dropping small creatures first, not killing their stuff if you can avoid it or killing nuisance creatures, and allowing for your soulfire or power overwhelming potentially fizzling (soulfire will not discard if it is countered). Mulligan: Against Mage keep Voidwalker if you have an abusive sergeant, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, egg, haunted creeper, leper gnome if you have an undertaker or Flame Imp.
DRUID: By far the easiest of the lot. Pretty much the only way they can win is if your hand is terrible, and/or they have double swipe and/or double innervate and/or double wrath. The key here is to just spam them hard with damage the first 3-4 turns, then out-trade them and then finish them with huge burst damage. I mean, obviously you should be aware of a swipe and not have a 4 health and bunch of 1 health minions. Obviously they have HUGE trouble dealing with Doomguards and/or a big buffed up void terror (keep it under 7 attack remember, and only make it big if you’ve seen at least 1 keeper and have reason to believe they don’t have a second). Druid is just generally too slow to deal with your threats. Mulligan: Against Druid keep Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Undertaker, maybe 1 Abusive Sergeant if you have a 1 drop, egg, haunted creeper, leper gnome if you have an undertaker or Voidwalker, egg or haunted creeper if you have Undertaker or if you are going second.