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The HCT Americas Summer Playoffs took place over the weekend, and most players stuck with the tried and true decks.
The line-ups that the majority of players brought consisted of Cube Warlock, Spiteful Druid, Even Paladin and Quest Rogue – generally the consensus best decks for the format.
This reflects the ladder meta to a degree, as those are all strong, popular decks that you have undoubtedly run into many times if you’ve been playing over the past couple weeks.
However, a few brave players dared to change things up. Chief among them was David ‘Dog’ Caero, a streamer and player for Team Liquid. He came out with a control heavy line-up, featuring Control Warlock, Control (Mind Blast) Priest, Spiteful Druid and Odd Warrior.
For me, the most intriguing deck was Odd Warrior, as Dog was able to demonstrate its resilience, particularly in a couple match-ups against Even Paladin (the games that stood out were against Muzzy and Nalguidan).
Warrior was looking like it was in a rough place early in the expansion as it sat at the bottom of the meta along with Shaman.
Recently though, the class has seen some innovation as players have tinkered with it. Rush Warrior, the archetype that was pushed in The Witchwood, has been lacklustre but the control decks with Baku have been very promising.
Dog’s decklist for the tournament can be found here.
The deck aims to grind out opponents while exploiting the upgraded hero power. Tank Up gives four armor per turn, offering massive life gain that can quickly snowball out of control.
It is definitely a slow deck, and we saw Dog floating in the dangerous area between 3-10 HP for turns on end, hovering just out of lethal range for his opponents. However, it packs a ton of removal, with cards like Baron Geddon, Brawl, Reckless Flurry and King Mosh just a few of the options available.
In terms of value generators, we see Stonehill Defender, Elise the Trailblazer and Azalina Soulthief offering potential outs in tricky situations.
One of the more interesting wrinkles in the development of this deck over the past couple weeks is the inclusion of a Rush package, with Town Criers being able to pull a Rabid Worgen or Darius Crowley to fight for the board and clear off opposing minions.
When everything comes together, it’s extremely frustrating to play against. In the match-up with Muzzy, Dog found himself in a rough position early on as he quickly fell behind on board against Even Paladin. But then, he just kept finding ways to keep himself in the game.
Muzzy pressed him hard, but Dog was ultimately able to stabilise, flip the board state and push for lethal.
While Dog was obviously piloting the deck at a level above what most players can aspire to, Warrior enthusiasts should take heart that their class is maintaining a presence on the biggest stages of Hearthstone play despite the death of Pirate Warrior or the Coldlight Oracle fuelled Dead Man’s Hand Warrior deck from the last expansion.
For control players looking around for new decks to play with, you now have another strong option to test out. Control Warlock and Mind Blast Priest are more proven, but Odd Warrior offers a breath of fresh air in what is a relatively stale ladder meta.
Of course, for casual players, there’s still a problem – if you followed the link above to check out Dog’s list, you’ll see that it costs a whopping 16,460 dust, packing a bunch of epics and legendaries. Did someone say Wallet Warrior?
If you’ve got the cards, though, give it a shot. It’s a fun and challenging deck with many lines of play available on every turn once you start getting into the late game. Personally, that’s when I enjoy Hearthstone the most – when I can play a deck that offers a multitude of options and forces me to think.
I’m interested to see if more Warriors will start popping up on the ladder following this weekend’s event. I’ve complained about the meta before, and seeing the underrepresented classes getting even a little more play will be a welcome sight.
At the very least, I’m happy to see that Dog, one of the more entertaining Hearthstone professionals to watch, continues to innovate and go against the grain a little bit. Only time will tell if ladder players will follow suit.