- Drew is on the show this week
- Topic: Deck Battle!
- Reasons to be happy this week
- News: Cards got nerfed, Josh will be on the Con Before the Storm Hearthstone podcasts panel!
What is a Deck Battle?
Once a month, a guest host brings their favorite deck onto the show to battle the current reigning champion deck for control of the Happy Hearthstone Deck Battle Throne!
If the challenger wins the best-of-3 series, their deck becomes the new Reigning Champion Deck and will fight off future challengers until it loses, or until it’s earned its place in the Happy Hearthstone Hall of Fame!
Defending Deck: Craig’s Dragon Priest deck puts an aggressive twist on the standard control class.
Challenger Deck: Drew’s Pickpocket Rogue uses the element of surprise and a few key combos to outsmart and outvalue opponents.
- 2x Swashburglar: Don’t use on Turn 1 — this is a combo piece. Best with Brann or Gang Up in faster matchups. Shadowcaster works well too.
- 1x Bloodmage Thalnos: Early game draw, late game board clear with Fan of Knives, or used to bump up damage from Backstab, Eviscerate, or Shadowstrike. In most match-ups right now, use as an extra Loot Hoarder.
- 2x Loot Hoarder: Mulligan for this, you want card draw and early game board presence.
- 2x Undercity Huckster: Mulligan for this, starts your combos, provides good board presence early on.
- 1x Brann Bronzebeard: Combo with Earthen Ring Farseer, Swashburglar, Ethereal Peddler, Defender of Argus, Shadowcaster, Azure Drake, and even Nefarian.
- 2x Earthen Ring Farseer: Heal face for 3, combo with Brann for 6 healing. Keeps play going with a solid body for the board.
- 2x SI:7 Agent: Keep in mulligan if you have Coin or Backstab. Play as a tempo 3 drop. Rogue staple.
- 2x Defender of Argus: Turns a board into a wall. Wonderful target for Shadowcaster, because you can have a 3/4 taunt, a 4/4 taunt for 6 mana since you would already have the Defender of Argus on the board as a target. Amazing with Brann too.
- 2x Azure Drake: Draws a card, boosts spell damage, great with Brann and removal spells. Almost never a bad Turn 5 play.
- 2x Ethereal Peddler: The reason this deck works. It turns a bad concept (filling your hand with cards with no synergy) into a working archetype. You lose tempo by using substandard cards, but the cost reduction from this makes it the tempo swing in your favor again. Use with Brann for even more shenanigans.
- 2x Shadowcaster: The ultimate shenanigan. With all of the battlecry effects, this card makes them more work even more often. Use on Brann to get two Branns that only cost 1 mana to use with other battlecries. Use with Defender of Argus for even more taunts and buffs. Use with Swashburglar to steal even more cards (it essentially just gives you another Swashburglar, so not incredible value, but still value). Note that since Brann makes battlecries trigger “twice” not “double,” it doesn’t help to have more than one Brann on the board at a time.
- 1x Nefarian: Gives two spells, which are usually pretty good. Good as a late game threat too, which is nice against control decks. If it survives for a Shadowcaster the next turn, you can get some insane value.
- 2x Backstab: Mulligan for this. Early game removal. Rogue decks start with this and then start building a new deck.
- 2x Eviscerate: Mulligan for this. Early game removal. Don’t be afraid to use it as 2 damage if needed.
- 1x Gang Up: Use on really good minion steal or on Swashburglar for faster matchups. Can also use it if an opponent plays a great card to copy before you kill it. Don’t use it on Reno Jackson unless you are literally at the end of your deck.
- 1x Sap: Good for getting rid of Barnes-products, taunts, Flamewreathed Faceless tempo shifts, pesky deathrattles that threaten to go off, or just to prolong your life through tempo. Good against Druid’s Innervate shenanigans too.
- 1x Fan of Knives: Good against Zoo. It at least cycles, even better when combined with Bloodmage Thalnos and Azure Drake.
- 2x Shadow Strike: This plus Loot Hoarder can kill a certain 4 mana 7/7. Great against Darkshire Councilman, and anything else with 5-6 health. Can even get the party started on the enemy’s face (though I would generally save this for removal).
In case you don’t have some of the ideal cards, here are some quality back-ups and alterations you can use, which all keep with the same theme and strengths of the deck.
- Grand Crusader: This is a battlecry card that gives Paladin cards, which is great, but it is a 6 mana 5/5 which I think is too slow in this deck. Perhaps it is better in a more controlling deck.
- Nexus-Champion Saraad: Alternative to Nefarian. A bit slow, requires a hero power to be useful, and has substandard stats at 5 mana 4/5. That being said, if you can get him to stick, he will be consistently giving you cards to use. Might pair him with Sir Finley Mrrgglton to get a more useful hero power for the kinds of matchups that this card would struggle in.
- Shifter Zerus: How about some randomness with your randomness? Does maintain cost decreases from previous Ethereal Peddlers.
- Tomb Pillager: This card is even better than it looks as a tempo card. It trades up, it has the potential to draw out removal like Shadow Word: Death, and it gives a coin back for even more tempo. Swap it in for Defender of Argus if larger, slower decks are in the meta.
- Crazed Alchemist: Alternative for Bloodmage Thalnos. Weird as it sounds, this is helpful to remove enemy minions, as it makes trades more favorable sometimes, and anytime you swap a damaged minion’s health, it is no longer damaged, allowing the use of Backstab or Shadow Strike.
Strategy Advice for Playing the Pickpocket Rogue Deck
(Meta comments are current as of Sept. 2016. This was written by Drew.)
You have to know how to play other classes at least in theory to play this archetype, because you want to be looking for common combos, such as Divine Spirit and Inner Fire from Priest.
Your worst matchups are going to be Priest, Shaman, and Warlock. They have incredibly wide variance in their selection of good vs. bad cards.
The best matchups are probably Warrior, Druid, and Mage, because they have really good standalone cards. You are never disappointed to steal Bash or Shield Block. Druid has a lot of large minions, but the Ethereal Peddler discount makes them so you can play multiple large minions in one turn. Mage secrets are nice to play because they have no idea what to do, and their thinking is sometimes biased towards what secrets they actually have in their deck, instead of the full range of Standard secrets.
Playing Against Priest
Priest has cards that only have healing triggers, really bad cards like Power Word: Glory, and other extremely situational cards that might be entirely useless. Weirdly enough, Purify isn’t terrible, since it allows you to get rid of a terrible Priest card and to draw one of the cards from your deck, which is probably much better. In all seriousness, Purify is actually pretty good, because a Shadowcastered 1/1 minion can be silenced to be full-sized again. And I will say that Priests that are built to Thoughtsteal and other things like that are hilarious to play this deck against. I mean, you’re probably going to lose, since they get Rogue cards and you get Priest cards, but it is pretty funny when you have a bunch of Priest minions on your side and they have a bunch of Rogue minions on their side.
Right now, the most prominent deck is the Barnes-silence deck. You want Sap if it comes to your hand, as well as your standard early game removal. Don’t waste it on small damage (like Northshire Cleric, unless you want to play a minion, so it can’t ping, heal, and draw off of it).
Playing Against Shaman
Shamans give overload cards that screw up your curve and are sometimes so cheap that Ethereal Peddler can’t reduce their cost that much, since a lot of the mana cost is in the overload. A LOT of cards require totems too.
Get early game removal. If you don’t, and they curve out, you will lose by turn 6. Sap isn’t bad, especially against Flamewreathed Faceless. At this point in the meta, Flamewreathed Faceless isn’t a standard include, but Sap can also be used to get rid of a buffed Tunnel Trogg, a Thing from Below, and so forth. Later in the game, don’t feel bad about playing a Defender of Argus on one minion to save some health.
Playing Against Warlock
Warlocks have terrible downsides to their cards unless they synergize, which is not likely (such as discarding cards, destroying your own minions, hurting yourself, destroying mana crystals). In fact, the best card you can probably get from Warlock is Renounce Darkness, because the discounts stack, and they’re random cards anyway.
Early game removal is necessary against Zoo, and the two-health minions are more valuable than the one-health minions, to deny card draw from Mortal Coil. Fan of Knives is also great in the Zoo matchup. The current meta deck for Renolock isn’t as strong, but it has some dragon synergy, so if you think you are playing against dragon Renolock, save Gang Up for Twilight Guardian if you have Nefarian in hand.
Playing Against Warrior
The tier 1 deck is Dragon Warrior right now, so you should try to keep a low curve minion as well as Eviscerate or Backstab. If you keep Backstab, do keep Bloodmage Thalnos as well. The reason for the low curve minion is Faerie Dragon can’t be killed with a spell, and it is really inconvenient to hit it with your face if you don’t have an early minion. Coin + SI:7 Agent is ideal. Don’t keep Fan of Knives, as the other Warrior decks (Control, Worgen OTK, C’thun, Patron) are usually trying to draw with Acolyte of Pain and things like that anyway. Your best use of Fan is on a blank enemy board for cycle probably. If you see Emperor Thaurissan, you are probably facing Worgen OTK, and you need to create a taunt wall, so use Shadowcaster on Defender of Argus and start taunting as many minions as possible. It is very hard for it to win if you have a bunch of taunts.
Playing Against Druid
The top tier deck is Malygos right now, and the problem with this one is its reach usually exceeds what you can keep your health above. It also has Yogg-Saron, so just expect a weird and fun game. There is also Token Druid, and that one you’ll want to save your Fan of Knives + Azure Drake or Bloodmage Thalnos to clear the board. It has several reset options too, though, so you might just hope for a stolen Swipe or Starfall.
Playing Against Mage
The main deck right now is Tempo mage, and it is going to be a more consistent tempo game than you can probably play, unless you are lucky with your steals. Save your Eviscerates for Flamewaker.
Playing Against Paladin
Paladins are hit-or-miss, because while the cards you get are good, there are two distinct types of cards you get for Paladin, control and token. Sometimes you get too much of a mix, and the synergy just isn’t there. Luckily, the cards are pretty good, so something usually works, and Paladins have the best legendaries in the game, probably. Tirion Fordring for 6 mana? Yes, please. Gang Up on him and you win.
Murloc Paladin and N’zoth Paladin are the dominant types, and the key for both of these will be to win before they do. Tempo out, but don’t overcommit or your board will be cleared with Equality. If you can Gang Up a really good minion of theirs, do it, but one note: Ivory Knight is not as good as you think, because it gives you Rogue spells, not Paladin spells, and that means you won’t heal for much because we have really low-cost spells.
Playing Against Hunter
Hunters are similar to Paladins in that they can be very hit-or-miss. A Call of the Wild for 6 mana is amazing, though. And then sometimes you get a Ram Wrangler and a bunch of spells with no beasts to trigger them.
I actually think Hunter is one of our best matchups with regards to tempo right now, since we can basically out tempo most of their decks. Sap on a Savannah Highmane is a huge setback, but be aware that turn 8 Call of the Wild is a serious problem and can end you if you leave any minions on the board on turn 7. Mulligan for early game removal and keep Shadow Strike if you get it.
Playing Against Rogue
Finally, there is Rogue. This is a pretty bad match-up, because Ethereal Peddler doesn’t work on Rogue cards, obviously. That being said, you often get good cards when you steal, because you’re playing Rogue for a reason. I don’t mind having more Rogue cards to use, because I love Rogue. Rogue cards don’t exactly have synergy with each other, they just have efficient, tempo-based cards, so it isn’t the worst scenario. I’ve won some of the matchups just because this deck has a decent tempo backbone. Short story, long: I don’t think that the Rogue mirror problems are a reason to NOT play this deck.
The usual archetypes that are played right now (Fall 2016) are Miracle (usually with Leeroy, though an Arcane Giant variant has shown up recently), N’Zoth (sometimes combined with Pickpocket-style), Malygos, and some variant of this pickpocket deck type. Because of all the taunt-possibilities, Miracle is often stymied. Gadgetzan Auctioneer is a good clue you are playing a Miracle Rogue, though the Malygos Rogue also runs Auctioneer, so you might look out for Shiv, which is only in the Malygos variant usually. N’Zoth is a problem, but it is really just a type of tempo deck, so sometimes you can out-tempo them if you get a good draw. If they land N’Zoth and you weren’t lucky enough to steal Vanish, it is probably over. The pickpocket archetype is having the same problems you are, so it is really up to luck.
That being said, focus on drawing cards, because you’ll need the card advantage. Keep Loot Hoarder and Undercity Huckster. You want to make them take some initial damage while keeping the cards flowing to your hand.
Other Variations of this Deck You Can Try
(In order of Drew’s opinion of viability)
- Brian Kibler’s: Best pacing and balance of value and tempo. Not too greedy on stealing, just solid cards. Pretty consistent.
- Trump’s: Super aggro. Can sometimes run out of gas, but solid curve with good cards
- Drew’s (This one!): More fun than the others because of craziness. Definitely less consistent against aggro, but wins most control matchups.
- Kripparian’s: Really greedy, as this includes literally every way you have to gain cards from opponent’s class. Less consistent.
- Day9’s: Could be good in certain matchups, but suffers from worst of both worlds of aggro and greedy. Runs out of gas and is very inconsistent.
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