Deck of the Week – The Forgotten God
Kyle “EndBoss” Smith
Whispers of the Old Gods is a fantastic set, which has provided many fun, powerful and interesting cards, not the least of which have been the gods themselves. Last week I featured a Priest list running two gods who have not seen any lack of play, N’Zoth and C’Thun. Their cousin Yogg has been potentially the most loved of all the gods, being featured in countless videos in which he uses his enormous power in hilarious ways (Praise Yogg!), but also establishing himself as a serious competitive force, including finding homes in two of the previous lists I have featured: Yogg and Load and Yogg Druid. But, what about that fourth god…what’s his name again?
This week I have a spicy list to share that features the Forgotten God. May you never forget the name Y’Shaarj again!!! (…at least not if you could pronounce it in the first place)
This list has some of the most powerful turns I have ever seen in Hearthstone. Have you ever wanted to play 34 mana worth of minions on the same turn? Does a turn of Aviana, Innervate, Y’Shaarj, Ysera and Dark Arakkroa sound like fun?! Yup, I did that…needless to say my opponent rage quit that game shortly thereafter…maybe that’s where the “Rage Unbound” name comes from.
This deck is also seriously competitive. Katsucurry made rank 1 legend on the North American server with it earlier this month. In my own testing with it (around ranks 4 and 3), I have about a 55% to 60% win rate, so suffice it to say, the deck is certainly holding its own.
In Magic the Gathering strategic theory, we had the terms “going under the opponent” and “going over the opponent”. The former means to play a deck that aims to “go under” your opponent’s mana curve and win, or gain an overwhelming advantage, before your opponent gets going. The latter means to “go over” your opponent’s power level, by outclassing his creatures and spells with much larger ones that negate any card advantage or board advantage he/she may have built up. This deck is one of the best Hearthstone decks I have ever seen at “going over” opponents.
This deck can ramp surprisingly quickly into absurdly powerful turns. The deck also features a pile of big fat minions with taunt, who can slow aggro decks to a crawl. Fighting through a Druid of the Claw is not fun. Fighting through the Dark Arakkroa and the Ancient of War that follow it is often downright futile.
Control decks only have a limited number of hard removal spells. For instance, a Control Warrior deck will usually have 2 Executes, 2 Brawl and 2 Shield Slam (which is semi-hard removal). You can count up the number of fat creatures in this deck, but it is most certainly higher than 6. As long as you don’t over-commit to the board and get wiped out by a Brawl, it is very difficult for a Control Warrior to handle all the threats you can throw at them, especially when you can refill with Nourish.
Aggro matchups are surprisingly strong. When I first picked up this deck, I expected to get stomped by the likes of Shaman and Zoolock, due to the high mana curve, but that turned out not to be the case at all. While those decks can certainly get aggressive starts that will let them “go under” you, very often you can ramp up fast enough, or disrupt them enough, to take control of the board with your fatties and roll to an easy win.
Against midrange decks, they need a big burst to overwhelm you. If Midrange Hunter fights you for the board, it will lose. They only win if they can get enough of an advantage to go to the face early, or if they can swing things enough with a Call of the Wild on turn 8. C’Thun Druid is just simply outclassed, and is forced to try to steal the game with a big C’Thun to have any hope.
While this deck is surprisingly good at not being tempo’ed out of the game before it can get going, aggro decks can still “go under” your mana curve if they get an aggressive enough start. This is more of an issue with Shaman than it is with Zoolock. I would estimate Zoolock to be about a 55-60% matchup, while the new versions of Aggro Shaman are about a 40%-45% matchup. The reason for the difference is because this deck has trouble dealing with a 7/7, if it hits the table before our fatties come down, and because Shaman has more reach with direct damage spells. If you stabilize at 12 life, there are still some games where your opponent will just double Lava Burst/ Lighting Bolt you, and there is just nothing you can do about that. Conversely, Zoolock has very little, if any, direct damage, so if you can clear their board and drop an Ancient of War, there is very little they can do to get through and finish you off.
Miracle Rogue also seems like a tough matchup, although not a very common one right now, so my testing against it is limited. Sap is a big tempo hit, and the Rogue player also has the ability to have a big midgame burst turn which can be too much to handle. Outside of Sap, they can’t actually deal with your creatures on any sort of long term basis, however, so if they can’t set up that burst turn early enough you should be able to overwhelm them. After all, it takes a lot of Eviscerates to kill an Ancient of War.
Much like the issue with Shaman, the direct damage potential of Tempo Mage can also be an issue. This matchup still feels overall positive, but you absolutely cannot get overconfident and complacent. Tempo Mage can put together some of the most powerful burst turns in the game, and they are not out of it, even if it looks that way. You need to jealously guard your life total, and make sure that you clear out their minions. Usually you want to make sure to keep the board clear instead of going to the face.
Play & Mulligan Advice
For mulligans, there isn’t a lot of variation across the board: Mulligan aggressively for your ramp cards. Your chances of winning are greatly increased if you can hit a turn 2 Wild Growth. There is no card in your deck that you want to see in your opening hand more than Wild Growth. Mire Keeper is always a keep, too, as is Innervate. Living Roots is a keep against any deck with early 2 toughness minions, such as Zoolock and Midrange Hunter. I will usually send Living Roots back against Shaman, however, because the key toughness number there is 3 or 4. Wrath is always a keep against an aggro or midrange deck. I would only likely consider mulliganing Wrath against Control Warrior or Priest.
Any card that costs more than 5 is a mulligan in every matchup. You have too much redundancy in your deck to worry about getting one particular fatty or another. Just send them all back and try to get more ramp. You will sometimes keep Druid of the Claw, if you already have Wild Growth and either Mire Keeper, Wrath or Innervate. Nourish is also an occasional keep, under the same sort of conditions.
Nourish is often a very key card, but unlike in most matchups, you will use the ramp side of it far more often than usual. Getting to big game enders like Y’Shaarj while your opponent is still on 6 mana or so, is just unfair. Innervate into Nourish ramp is a frequent and very good play.
Speaking of Y’Shaarj, you will notice that this deck’s smallest minion is Mire Keeper. Y’Shaarj comes down early in this deck and will very frequently just end the game on his own. A 10/10 is a devastating play, but one that gets extra value guaranteed, and often does so multiple times, is just backbreaking. I have flipped Sylvanas with him. I have flipped Ragnaros with him. I have flipped Aviana and Dark Arakkoa with him. If you thought that this guy was a second class citizen, think again.
This is definitely a relatively expensive deck to run, especially because it plays so many legends which are typically a little further down on most peoples’ lists of crafting priorities. Most of the legends are replaceable. You just need other powerful fatties that fall in a similar slot in the list. For instance, you could certainly drop Bog Creeper in for Baron Geddon, and not really lose a step. You could sub in Ironbark Protector for Ragnaros, or Arch-Thief Ratham for Ysera. Big taunt creatures are very strong in this deck, so those are good ones to look at as substitutes.
The only legends I would be really hesitant to play the deck without are Y’Shaarj and Aviana. Y’Shaarj is the card I am most often hoping to draw in the late game if I am running low on gas. His impact on the board is just unparalleled in this deck, as long as you aren’t facing a lethal swingback. Aviana, however, gives you your most explosive turns. Playing her and Y’Shaarj on the same turn is mean, but playing her and Innervating out multiple fatties is just straight-up unfair. While it wouldn’t totally kill the deck to be without either of these two, I certainly would hesitate to do so.
Thanks for reading, and, as always, feel free to leave questions or comments on the reddit thread and I will try to respond. I would also definitely appreciate any suggestions on how to improve the list. While the list is definitely powerful, as is, I feel like it has even more potential. I will probably try to find some time to fiddle around with some of the slots, and might post an updated list in a future article (which will almost certainly feature Fandral Staghelm).