The best decks from the the first day of The Witchwood have been built around Baku, the Mooneater and Spiteful Summoner.
With a full day of Witchwood laddering and an Inn-vitational under our belts, early contenders and pretenders from The Witchwood are beginning to emerge.
The jury is still out on the Shudderwock OTK deck, which has shown promise but has plenty of room for improvement. Unfortunately, the combo suffers from some extremely long animation times which have a tendency to draw on long past the end of the rope, making the deck a bit frustrating to play against on the ladder. Don’t be surprised if a future patch reduces the animation times on Shudderwock, especially if the deck remains a popular choice.
Tempo Rogue decks with Blink Fox have been stronger than expected. Hench-Clan Thug is the real deal, and a card that many (including myself) were quick to write off in Tess Greymane could end up as one of the biggest sleepers in the set. There’s still a lot of testing to do on the archetype, but the early results for Tempo Rogue have been solid.
Cubelock obviously remains as a strong option, having rotated very few cards while picking up several new ones from The Witchwood. Voodoo Doll has looked the part in early versions of Cubelock, and so has Lord Godfrey. I haven’t seen much of the Countess Ashmore + Ratcatcher package on the ladder, but I’d expect it to look weak in an aggro meta and stronger in a control one. It’s probably too early to say which one we’ll get, but I’d put my money on it being another aggro meta thanks to this guy:
Unquestionably, the biggest surprise from the first day of The Year of the Raven has been Baku the Mooneater. The upgraded Hero Powers for Hunter, Paladin, and Rogue transform into incredibly reliable and steady sources of damage through Baku, which quickly translates into wins against decks that stumble in the early game.
Baku has been an incredible replacement for Stand Against Darkness in Dude Paladin decks, which appeared to be the most popular deck on day one. Gallon hit rank 1 Legend with this list, which features a single copy of both Witch’s Cauldron and Marsh Drake. Both cards have felt strong in my time with them on the ladder, and I’d be surprised if one or both of these new cards weren’t included in “final” builds of the deck. Corridor Creeper has also reemerged as a playable card in Baku Paladin, where it is trivially easy to play for it 0 Mana thanks to the upgraded Hero Power.
Deck Code: AAECAaToAgb/AqcFg8cC9/MC7vcCnvgCDKIC8QX1BZvCAuvCArjHAuPLApXOAvvTAtHhAtblArXmAgA=
I’ve only played 10 games with Baku Paladin, but a huge percentage of my games on day 1 were against the deck. It’s the most popular deck on the ladder and it has already begun to transform the early meta. If you’re hoping to climb ranks right now, I’d recommend teching your deck out to beat Dude Paladin over Cubelock. The deck is very beatable if you pack board clears and big Taunt minions, but it can get out of control in a hurry if you let their Silver Hand Recruits stick around long enough to get buffed up by a Level Up! or two.
Deck Code: AAECAR8EogKvBJfBAp74Ag2hAqgCtQPUBe0G4gfbCf4M68IC080Clc4C4eMCi+UCAA==
For my money, Baku Hunter felt like the strongest of the three Baku decks I’ve played with or against. It feels almost too easy to generate 30 damage by turn 6 or 7 with the upgraded Hero Power, giving you an excellent matchup against decks which take longer than that to get going (such as Cubelock and Shudderwock Shaman). It can have a tough time with Baku Paladin if it gets behind on board, but it can still win the matchup with a big Unleash the Hounds turn.
I’ve been doing well with a Stitched Tracker version of the deck, which allows you to dig for key Ironbeak Owls when you need to fight through a Voidlord and for a Leeroy Jenkins when you need those last points of damage. In my opinion, this flexibility positions Stitched Tracker as one of the better cards in the deck, but most of the other Baku Hunter lists I’ve seen haven’t included them. Without Stitched Tracker, I’d certainly run a second copy of Ironbeak Owl. Bittertide Hydra could also be decent in this deck, but it makes your bad Odd Paladin matchup even worse.
Deck Code: AAECAYO6AgKvBJ74Ag6MAqICywPGBdQF9QXiB90In8ICr8IC68ICysMClc4Cpu8CAA==
Last (and possibly not least) is Baku Rogue, which has been the least popular of the three decks by a fair margin. Though I haven’t seen a ton of it, the 2/2 dagger created by Baku offers Rogue a whopping 4 points of damage for just 2 Mana, which is incredibly effective for racking up face damage while curving out. Hench-Clan Thug is an all-star in this deck, and it feels even stronger than Vicious Fledgling when played on curve. Though all the buzz is currently about Odd Paladin and Odd Hunter, don’t be surprised if a Odd Tempo Rogue or Odd Aggro Rogue proves to be an equally viable home for Baku.
It’s been a classic case of addition by subtraction for Spiteful Summoner, as the departure of the Old Gods from Standard makes the average 10 drop substantially bigger than it once was. There are just 5 total 10 drops in the game now: Sea Giant, Ultrasaur, Deathwing, Emeriss, and Tyrantus. This gives Spiteful Summoner a 2 out of 5 shot at spawning a 12/12, a 2 out of 5 shot at spawning an 8/8, and a 1 out of 5 shot at spawning a 7/14 if the only spells in your deck cost 10. With DOOM! gone, this leaves us with Ultimate Infestation, Mind Control, and Pyroblast as potential engine cards for Spiteful Summoner.
I’ve played 25 games with Spiteful Priest, as well as a handful of games with Spiteful Druid and Spiteful Mage. I was able to put up solid results with all 3 decks, and would expect these decks to improve further as the meta settles down.
Three of the best new anti-aggro tools from The Witchwood are neutral cards: Scaleworm, Witchwood Grizzly, and Wyrmguard. To me, the most obvious home for these cards is a Priest deck with Spiteful Summoner, Duskbreaker, and Lady in White, which I like to call Spiteful Dragon Lady:
Deck Code: AAECAa0GBKIJmcgCguICsPsCDQjhBPIMysMCyccCyssCy+YC/OoC1+sCjO8CifEC8vEC6PkCAA==
I’ve played this deck more than any other on day 1, so it should come as no surprise when I say that Spiteful Dragon Lady feels the most tuned of my three Spiteful decks. Though the loss of Netherspite Historian and Drakonid Operative from the previous meta can’t be overstated, The Witchwood gave Spiteful Priest plenty of new dragon-related cards to build around. Scaleworm has been the standout among them; it’s the perfect compliment to Duskbreaker for contesting large minions on turn 4, and it does an excellent job at gobbling up Tar Creepers (which are as popular now as they have ever been).
What I love about the Wyrmguard/Witchwood Grizzly/Lady in White package is that it gives the deck an alternative win condition to Spiteful Summoner at an extremely low cost. Unlike Unpowered Steambot, both Wyrmguard and Witchwood Grizzly are cards that dragon-based Spiteful decks would likely play regardless of whether or not Lady in White was included in the deck, as their big Taunt bodies do an excellent job of shutting down aggro decks while setting up huge Spiteful Summoner turns. These cards are effective on curve regardless of whether or not Lady in White has been played, and they obviously become game-winning threats if she ever gets played. I’ve been keeping Lady in White in all my openers which don’t include Spiteful Summoner, which should speak to how powerful the card when played on curve.
Squashling, Mindbreaker, and Primordial Drake have been included as tools for fighting Odd Hunter and Odd Paladin, which are both very winnable matchups if you’re ready for them. One of the strengths of these Spiteful decks is that they have a ton of room to adjust their tech cards to take on the current meta, and can be taken in several different directions as the winds shift from aggro to control.
I’ve tried out Prince Keleseth in this deck, but if you take out Faerie Dragon you’ll need to include Nightmare Amalgam to keep the dragon count up. The deck felt a bit weaker to aggro without the 2 drops in it, so if you want to go the Keleseth route I’d recommend finding room for a few Lone Champions.
Deck code: AAECAbSKAwTFBJnTApziAsPqAg3yBZfBAuvCAsrDAsjHAsrLAofOAvnmAtfrAovuAonxAu/xAt6CAwA=
I haven’t played as many games with Spiteful Druid as I have with Spiteful Priest, but this hybrid elemental/dragon list feels like a decent starting place. This is hands down the best Nightmare Amalgam deck I’ve found, as the card is an activator for both Scaleworm and Blazecaller.
I’m a little iffy on the Alexstrasza and the Lifedrinkers , and could easily see these cards getting swapped out for some combination of Servant of Kalimos and Wyrmguard. I also haven’t had the chance to test Splintergraft in this deck, which seems like an obvious inclusion on paper but I have yet encounter the card on the ladder. I’d love to hear from someone who has tested out Splintergraft in this deck, as I’m a bit nervous to craft the card.
Deck Code: AAECAf0EBsUE08UCws4Cm9MCnOICw+oCDL8Il8ECwsECrMIC68ICwsMCysMCyMcC0dMC1+sCt/ECzvICAA==
After trying and failing to build a decent Archmage Arugal deck I was able to put up some decent results with Spiteful Mage, which picked up two excellent Witchwood cards in Bonfire “Drankonid Operative” Elemental and Voodoo Doll. Frost Lich Jaina gives you the ability to grind out races with ample Lifesteal (keep in mind that the Battlecries of Fire Plume Phoenix and Blazecaller have Lifesteal), while Pyroblast is an excellent tool for closing out games and it is rarely the end of the world when you draw it before Spiteful Summoner.
Toki has been less than impressive for me, so I’d probably recommend swapping her out for one of Alexstrasza or Baron Geddon. You might also want to consider Pyros or Archmage Arugal instead of Prince Keleseth, but I don’t think that more card advantage is what this deck needs. If anything, I might consider running a single copy of Flamestrike both as a buffer for Pyroblast before Spiteful Summoner and as a tool for fighting aggro.
Its worth noting that in my 9 games with Spiteful Mage I managed to dodge Odd Paladin and lost both of my games to Odd Hunter. If Odd Aggro decks are popular in your stretch of the ladder, I’d be much more keen on playing a dragon-based Spiteful Summoner deck than an elemental one.
For a set which was dubbed “Dustwood” by the community before its release, I expect Hearthstone fans to be pleasantly surprised by the number of playable and impactful cards we’ve seen in The Witchwood. There are still plenty of new strategies to explore, but if you’re looking to quickly climb ranks in the early days of The Witchwood, there are few better options than a Baku Aggro deck or a Spiteful Dragon deck.