Journey to Un’Goro Early Deck Recommendations

Via Hearthstone Players:


After a break, I’m restarting the series with the deck recommendations. I wanted to give the meta a few days to produce some interesting decks and oh it did, it’s been only 3 days and we’ve already seen a lot of cool and interesting decks.

In this article, I will compile the most successful decks from the early Journey to Un’Goro meta. Keep in mind that the meta is in a constant flux and the deck that are good today might not work tomorrow if it shifts. That said, there are some decks that I would still want to recommend – I’ve tested all of them between rank 5 and Legend on EU and they all worked quite well!

I’ll also focus on the “new” decks, writing about Pirate Warrior would be kinda pointless, even though it’s a rather powerful deck in the current meta.

DacianWolf’s Quest Rogue

Rogue deck utilizing The Caverns Below Quest was first popularized by Dog – hit hit #1 Legend with his own list on the Day 1. Then the deck was literally all over the ladder. But arguably, it wasn’t the best potential list – there is still a lot of room for optimization. And that’s why I’m not pasting his list here, instead I’ve found another one that seems even better.

While it lacks the burst potential of the Dog’s version, it’s more consistent, with more card draw and easier way to finish the Quest (using the Flame Elemental tokens from Fire Fly and Igneous Elemental).

If you haven’t seen the Quest Rogue yet, let me explain the basic premise of the deck. You want to start with the Quest on turn 1 and then pick your “bounce” target. Remember that you need to play it 4 times, so every time you play it, you bounce it back to your hand (or get really lucky and draw 2x Fire Fly and Igneous Elemental for example :p). The Quest is actually really easy to accomplish if you get a good hand. My record is turn 4, but I’ve seen a turn 3 Quest done on the ladder. After you finish the Quest, all your minions become 5/5. And that’s really, really strong if you can complete it in a timely manner. Most of your minions are low cost, with Battlecries, Charge etc. – you basically have tons of incredible tempo plays.

For example, Fire Fly is a 1 mana 5/5 that gives you another 1 mana 5/5. Novice Engineer is a 2 mana 5/5 that draws a card (Who needs Azure Drake?). You get it – everything is super powerful.

The main issue when playing this one are Aggro decks. Unless you put a big Edwin early, your tempo is pretty… low. Bouncing minions is generally slow, unless you get your Shadowsteps (they’re best, because they cost 0 AND give 2 mana discount, so you can replay the minion for free – e.g. bouncing something with Brewmaster and replaying it costs 3-4 mana, with Shadowstep it costs 0). That’s the problem, by the turn 5-6 when you usually finish the quest, you’re close to being dead. On the other hand, the deck is insane against a bit slower matchups. If they give you enough time to complete the Quest without putting too much pressure, you’re set. Pretty much no deck can answer 2-3 5/5’s every turn. Sure, with bad draws you can run out of steam, but with it’s much harder.

It’s still hard to say whether the deck stays in the meta after people optimize their builds, but one thing is sure – it’s pretty popular and powerful right now on the ladder.

Orange’s Midrange Beast Hunter

Midrange Hunter is looking really strong this expansion. With Aggro decks somewhat less popular in general and a few new early game tools, Hunter can stand its ground in most of the matchups. Still, it seems that the really slow Midrange Hunter versions with Dinomancy aren’t popular at all – it just seems too slow and the more aggressive version looks better. I’ll take closer look at the new Un’Goro cards, because rest of the build was already used months ago.

The first new card is Jeweled Macaw. It’s like a Webspinner, but probably even better, because it cycles itself right away instead of having to wait until it dies. So it can make for a decent late game topdeck if you get something you can play right away. Generally the 1/1 statline isn’t thrilling, but it’s a 1-drop, it’s a Beast, it cycles itself… it all makes it pretty powerful. But probably the best thing is that it curves out right into…

Crackling Razormaw. This card is nuts. A well-statted body, Beast tag AND you can Adapt any other Beast on the board. The card is really flexible. On curve you can Adapt your 1-drop to buff it and trade up or put more pressure. +3 health Adapt is amazing on 3-4 Attack stuff, let’s say getting Huffer and Adapting it with +3 health is a really powerful 5 mana play. You get 4/5 Charge and 3/2, both Beasts. You can also Adapt a slower, bigger Beast and either make it harder to remove (e.g. give it “Can’t be targeted by spells” or Stealth) or push for a lot of damage. I’ve pulled the Windfury Adapt on Swamp King Dred once and it was amazing – 20 damage with 2 hits + Hero Power. And in the end it can also be dropped on curve as a 2-drop even if you don’t hit any Adapts.

Golakka Crawler is a tech card. Even though Aggro decks are less popular for the time being, Pirates are still there. Not only the Pirate Warrior, but other decks also use the Pirate Core – e.g. Rogue decks use Swashburglars and Southsea Deckhands and even some Zoo builds run Bloodsail Corsair with Patches the Pirate – om nom nom. If you hit something, not only you get a bigger body (3/4 2-drops are great) but also some tempo from killing the Pirate.

Nesting Roc is another interesting tech. I didn’t see the card as powerful at first, but since it’s a Beast, the Hunter found its way to put it into the deck. Not only it’s a 4/7 body for 5 mana, which is as good as it gets, it also gets a Taunt if you have 2 other minions on the board. And that’s not hard for this deck, because you run a lot of small stuff and tokens – most of the time it’s a better Druid of the Claw‘s Taunt Form (too bad it can’t Charge). And in the slower matchups you don’t care about Taunt as much and you can drop is as a vanilla 4/7. Oh, and the Houndmaster synergy is insane. You can turn it into a 6/9 Taunt on turn 6, that can win you the game right away.

And last, but not least – Swamp King Dred. People are generally still 50/50 about putting this card into the deck. It’s actually too slow against Aggro decks and Control decks can answer it with direct removal… but when it works, it works REALLY well. It won me some games already. It’s an amazing card if you’re at least a bit ahead. I’ve seen opponents skipping their whole turn and throwing in 3 or 4 cards just to kill it. Yes, it can get countered by something like Poisonous, but you can’t really help that. The card is definitely not a staple, so if you didn’t open him, don’t worry, you can easily play something else and it will still be fine.

Same goes for The Black Knight – Taunt Warrior seems to be really popular, at least in Legend (I don’t know how many people play it at lower ranks, though) and TBK is a great tempo move against them. Not to mention that it works amazingly well against other decks like Handlock, Jade Druid (some people still play it), even in the mirrors (you can hit those Rocs and Houndmaster’d Beasts).

Overall the deck is quite strong and if you like the on-curve play + powerful, proactive moves, then it should suit your play style.

RayC’s Taunt Warrior

Well, that’s probably the most popular build of Taunt Warrior currently on the ladder, but there are more. It’s probably one of the most diverse decks – each pro has its own version of it. It’s hard to say which one is absolutely best yet, so I’m going with the most popular one. The decks will definitely be more optimized as the time goes, but Taunt Warrior looks to be really strong. Multiple players are using the deck in high Legend with rather good results.

The deck is a completely new things. Sure, Blizzard has tried to push the Taunt Warrior before, but it failed. The synergies weren’t enough to justify running a bunch of Taunt minions that are generally understatted. But the new Quest – Fire Plume’s Heart – is a whole another thing. That Quest actually lets you run a bunch of Taunts / “weaker” minions (Taunts usually don’t give you tons of value and don’t have powerful effects) while still having a huge late game win condition in a form of Rag Hero Power. 8 random damage every turn is really powerful – while it can be played around to a certain extent, it still either kills a minion every turn or pushes for 8 face damage. It’s especially powerful in slower matchups, where the opponent just can’t flood the board with small stuff.

Taunt Warrior builds generally run 3 things – removal, cycle and Taunts. Removal to keep control of the board, cycle to draw the Taunts and removal faster and Taunts, well, to complete the Quest and stall the game. The decks are naturally quite strong against Aggro decks, because running a bunch of Taunts makes much harder to kill. It’s not like it auto-wins against Aggro, it’s not 2014 where a bunch of Taunts was enough to stop Aggro. Remember that Pirate Warrior is a deck that can consistently clear Doomsayer on turn 2, so yeah, going through the Taunts is not that hard. However, they should stop the decks enough to give you some time to stabilize.

And then in the slower matchups, you aim to finish your Quest as quickly as possible. Of course, it’s not always that easy, but getting it done BEFORE getting rushed down is generally your #1 goal. You try to curve out with Taunts, clear everything opponent plays and then enjoy your new, fiery Hero Power. Normally a deck full of Taunts would have no late game staying power, but it has – each turn you play another Taunt to protect your health and then deal 8 damage. Repeat every turn. Brawl is also very powerful after you finish the Quest – you either get a full board clear (after Hero Power hits the last minion standing) or you nearly clear the board and put pressure. Slower decks want to play proactively against you and you simply don’t let them.

I’d say that the MVP of this deck was surprisingly a . 1/4 Taunt is not strong, but the fact that you can discover another one of your choice not only gives +2 to the Quest in total, but also lets you pick the right Taunt for the situation. You can pick a low attack, high health Taunt if you need one. You can pick Alley Armorsmith if you need more Armor. You can pick Primordial Drake if you want more AoE. You can pick something small if you want to fill your curve. Very versatile and strong.

Also, Primordial Drake has been performing better than I’ve expected. 4/8 Taunt for 8 didn’t seem that strong, but the 2 AoE damage is really useful A LOT of the time. You often have an empty board so damaging your own minions is not a problem. And then dealing 2 damage to every opposing minion and putting a big Taunt on the board is strong in certain scenarios. You can also combo it with Whirlwind for a 3 damage AoE (it’s a bit similar to Abyssal Enforcer then, but a little bit more expensive and with Taunt) or even with Sleep with the Fishes for a huge 5 damage AoE. The last combo saved my life many times.

The deck is really fun to play and if you like the Control decks play style, you should probably enjoy this one. It doesn’t remind me of the old Control Warrior a lot, it’s something different, but still very fun to play.

Savjz’s Elemental Paladin

And that’s really cool and unexpected. Savjz took a mechanic that completely flopped in Gadgetzan (Handbuffs), another mechanic that wasn’t meant to be played in Paladin (Elementals), combined it together and boom – a pretty powerful deck. While sure, it’s not the best thing ever, played it A LOT on Saturday and hit quite high Legend rank with it (I think it was top 20).

How does this deck even work? Well, it doesn’t look like something that could dominate the game, but it sometimes does. First of all – handbuffs. The deck runs a lot of stuff that work really well with handbuffs. Fire Fly and Igneous Elemental flood your hand with 1/2 1-drops, which have insane synergy with buffing. After just 2 handbuffs, which isn’t that uncommon, they’re suddenly 3/4 for 1 mana. You can tempo out really well with those. Tar Creeper becomes even bigger – I’ve seen a let’s say 5/7 for 3 (on the opponent’s turn) – good luck passing through that. Tol’vir Stoneshaper has Taunt and Divine Shield, another thing that combos with buffs. Same for the Wickerflame Burnbristle – it even heals you for as much as the damage it deals, so hey, buffing it to 5 means that you’ll most likely heal for at least 10.

Then the Elementals provide the mid/late game value. Servant of Kalimos can get you something big quite consistently, Blazecaller is a nice board control or burst tool and Paladin has quite powerful late game already – Ragnaros, Lightlord (which is also an Elemental, by the way) and Tirion Fordring is an amazing 8 mana duo.

However, the card I’m most surprised with is Hydrologist. I thought that it will be meh, not that powerful. But as it turns out, getting the Secret you need for the given situation is pretty solid. With only 5 Secrets, you have 60% to find the one you want at any given time – that’s A LOT for a random effect like Discover. Secret that was performing best for me was Getaway Kodo. I wouldn’t put it into the deck, but getting it from Hydrologist is amazing. Against Aggro play a Taunt and then Getaway Kodo – once it’s dead (because let’s be honest, it will be), you get it back and you can just replay it. Later in the game you can play a bigger minion like Blazecaller, Tirion or Rag and bounce it back once it’s dead. And if your opponent doesn’t want to kill it, sure, you don’t mind that either. Redemption is another great Secret when you have either Burnbristle or Tirion on the board, especially the latter. For just 1 mana you get a 6/1 with Divine Shield and Taunt, not to mention that it refreshes your weapon if it doesn’t die right away. Oh, and I won a game against OTK Mage by picking Eye for an Eye after getting them down to 1 and before their Combo turn (I would lose the game otherwise, because they most likely had the combo ready) and against Warrior when they were under 8 health – I just hoped that the Hero Power would hit face and it did. Isn’t that cool?

Savjz is a great deck builder and he likes to experiment with less straightforward and more “interesting build”. Right now he’s playing a Control Priest with Lyra the Sunshard and it actually looks quite powerful too. This deck might not become a part of the meta, but I really recommend trying it out – it’s really fun to play and it seeing a playable Paladin build simply makes me happy.


Do you know any fun/interesting decks that can also get you to high ranks? Some decks with non-meta choices, techs that you haven’t seen before etc.? If yes, let me know and I can include them next time! I hope that you’ve liked this batch of decks, I have played a few of those myself and I found them really cool. I’ll try my best to provide you with more fresh lists every now and then.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.

Good luck on the ladder and until next time!

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