Deckbuilding 101

 
Even Hunter 1.0

Even Hunter 1.0

 
Even Hunter 2.0

Even Hunter 2.0

One of the best things about being a Wild player in Hearthstone is the ability to access every card released since the launch of the game.  Being able to utilize interactions of cards released over the life of the game can create unique plays.  Building your own deck in Wild with all of these cards is a great way to challenge your creativity whether you are building a fun deck with a crazy meme play or just trying to build the newest meta-defining deck.

If you are new to deckbuilding or are hesitant to build because you feel that you don’t know where to start, this article should help you get started.

STEP 1 – The Idea

The first step is sometimes the most difficult; how to come up with an idea for a deck.  There are a couple of way to approach it.  Perhaps you can start by taking a card that hasn’t seen much play, or an interaction that you would like to utilize and build around it. 

To better help visualize this I will walk you through the steps in building a deck.

When even and odd decks were announced by the Hearthstone development team I began thinking of how they could work in each class.  I had seen Odd Hunter get some play early on with the three damage hero power, but I realized that Even Hunter could be equally aggressive as well.  Being able to chip in two damage for one mana was very powerful. 

STEP 2 – Building the Deck (Tempo)

Before you start throwing cards together there are a few things that you should be looking for, depending on what the deck is trying to do.  First, what is your win condition(s)?  Is your deck a mill deck, an aggro deck, or one-turn-kill (OTK) deck, etc?  With that in mind it is easier to build with a flow to the deck so that you can achieve that end result. 

The flow that I referred to is called tempo.  It’s the ability to control the board state and keep momentum of the game on your side.  For most decks this means keeping larger or more minions on the board than your opponent.  For OTK decks and Big Priest, tempo is about controlling your opponent’s board state until you can get to your late game win condition.  Figuring out which way you want to build the tempo of your deck is one of the most important things you need to building the deck.  Now having that concept in place, it is time to find out what cards work best in your deck. 

For our example Hunter deck, I thought that since I am able to get two damage off so easily that making it a face hunter deck would probably work well. 

STEP 3 – Building the Deck (Synergy and Value)

When choosing the cards, you are looking for two things that essentially made a card or deck more powerful:  synergy and value.  Synergy is how well the cards work together.  Murlocs, for example are very synergistic.  Most murloc cards have an effect of buffing another murloc, so if you fill a deck full of these cards, they will all work synergistically with one another. 

Cards that create value for the deck should give you more stats than the mana cost and/or give you additional cards to use.  For example, Drakonid Operative is a very valuable card in dragon priest decks because for five mana it gives you a five damage, six health minion (one health point over even cost); plus, if you have a dragon card in hand it allows you to discover a card from your opponent’s deck.

Looking at cards to include in the even hunter deck, I looked at spells and cheap beasts.  Cards like Crackling Razormaw, Scavenging Hyena and Kindly Grandmother gave me early beast synergy for two mana.  Kindly Grandmother also gives value since it is a 1/1 minion for two mana that leaves a 3/2 minion as its deathrattle, making it 4/3 of total value.

STEP 4 – Building the Deck (Curve)

Curve is the amount of cards in each mana slot.  If you have an early curve, all of your minions will be in the one through three mana cost slots, like zoo decks for example that flood the board with small minions.  Most decks have a few one drops, and the majority of the cards will be in the two through four slots.  They will only have a few five and six drops and even less seven through ten cost cards.  Too many large cost cards will clog your hand and not allow you to play on curve.  You will spend the entire game waiting for the late turns only to lose before that happens.  You can build a deck that has a lot of big minions, but your curve must consist of early removal that can be easily played in the early turns to allow you to stall until the late turns.  Regardless of the way your deck is structured, your curve and tempo should work hand in hand. 

The Even Hunter deck could only use two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve and twenty cost cards.  Since I decided to build it as a face deck, having the majority of my cards as two drops would allow me to be able to easily play them and allow for the use of my hero power. 

Left: My first iteration of this deck.

 

STEP 5 – Trial and Error

The next step is trying your version 1.0 deck against opponents to see what works and what doesn’t.  Playing against friends or in Casual is recommended, since most likely it will take you a few games to get used to your new deck and work out the hiccups.  Try to play at least ten games with the deck before making changes, unless you notice glaring weaknesses right away.  Make sure that your opponents are a variety of deck types.  You want to know how your deck works against aggro, control, etc.  Learn what your best mulligans are.  The data that you get from these games will help you in the next step.

In the first few games that I played, I quickly realized that the beast synergy I wanted wasn’t consistent enough.  The deck also was not aggressive enough.  It had a midrange playstyle with too many two cost cards.  It often ran out of steam against heavy control decks like Cubelock. 

STEP 6 – Tech

Now that you have the data of how well your deck performed against various decks, it’s time to refine your deck with tech choices.  This is where your skill as a deckbuilder really shines.  Think about what problems you ran into with the deck and try to find cards that counter that problem.  For example, is your deck a control deck that cannot outpace jade decks?  Then tech in Skulking Geist.  If your deck is falling behind in tempo to other decks, try adding more area of effect (AOE) cards like Volcanic Potion for Mage or Demonwrath for Warlock.  Even a Mind Control Tech might be the momentum changer that you need. 

To solve the problem of the beast synergy.  I took out the beasts with the exception of Kindly Grandmother and Hunting Mastiff.  As their replacements, I added in more charge minions to make the deck more aggressive.  I played a little more with this version, but still had issues running out of cards or into Cubelock walls.  I teched in Jeeves for card draw, since I frequently ran out of cards and my opponent almost always had at least three cards in hand.  I also added Justicar Trueheart for that extra punch of three damage per turn to finish off my opponent when the advantage of having a one cost hero power is invalidated by having a small hand.  Deathwing was also inserted as a late AOE, since my hand is usually nearly empty anyway it wasn’t much of a loss for me to play him.  He has certainly won me a few games that I would have otherwise burned out and lost. 

STEP 7 – Win Rate

Start enjoying your deck on ladder now that you have made the proper adjustments.  Record your win/loss rate and check your records against specific decks.  You should maintain a better than 50% win rate with your deck.  Understand the deck’s strengths and weaknesses.  Always continue improving your deck based on new expansions, meta shifts, etc.  Embrace being a Wild player and get creative! 

Good luck!

Our example deck, Even Face Hunter has maintained a 56% win rate.  Is it meta-defining? No.  Is it a good deck?  Yes.  It can destroy a Renolock or Big Priest quickly, but it still struggles against Odd Rogue and Even Shaman since Hunter lacks the early AOE outside of Explosive Trap, which is sometimes played around by my opponents. 

Left:  The current decklist.

 
guldan.png
 
400px-Cogmaster_-_art.jpg
 
516px-Mind_Control_Tech_full.jpg