After a week off, I am back! As I announced last week, from now on I will be doing my articles every other week, instead of every week. This will allow me to keep the quality of the content I provide high, and provide me with extra time to continue producing content for the EndBoss YouTube page, which we launched shortly after my last article!
Speaking of the YouTube page, if you head over there (after reading the article, of course) you will find some sample games of me playing today’s deck, along with a bunch of other sample games we have posted over the last couple of weeks with some of the previous decks I have featured, such as The Rhonin Show and Beast Druid!
So, with that taken care of, let’s get into today’s deck!
One of my favourite things to do in Hearthstone, or any other card game, is to find those hidden gems that other people have forgotten about. All cards have to be considered in context. There are a lot of cards in Hearthstone that have the potential to be super powerful, in theory, but which have never had the support cards around them to make it to the big time. Today’s deck is built around two lovely (and scary) ladies who fall into this category: The Bane Sisters!
In my weekly search for new archetypes, I came across an awesome aggro Paladin list that Tars had run to a ridiculous (albeit small sample size) 15-3 record on ladder. I started testing with the list myself, putting up a respectable 6-4 in my first 10 games with it. While the deck felt very good, it didn’t feel totally optimized. The deck ran Acolyte of Pain in the 3-drop slot, which felt really out of place in a hyper-aggro deck. Acolyte is a great card, especially when you can buff it, but paying 3 mana for a 1 power minion just doesn’t feel right, especially in Paladin, where you can’t easily trigger the draw effect (as opposed to in Mage where you can trigger it with your hero power).
Luckily, Tars found a solution: The Bane Sisters! Because, he posted an updated list, a little while later, including the lovely ladies, which is the one you see at your right today (his previous list was +2 Acolyte of Pain, +1 Lance Carrier, +1 Silvermoon Portal, -2 Bane Sisters, -1 Barnes, -1 Avenging Wrath).
The sisters each provide a solid 3/4 body to start, which is much better than the 1/3 body that Acolyte of Pain provides, but it is their respective abilities that put them over the top for this deck. This list has 9…count ‘em…9 spells that are meant to target your own minions! Not only that, but 6 of those buff spells cost only 1 mana. This becomes very relevant when evaluating a minion like Eydis Darkbane, who can absolutely wreck a board (or an opponent’s life total) if you can target her with multiple buffs.
Some of the buffs that the deck uses to great effect are ones that many people overlook, such as Blessing of Wisdom. But, when you are running minions with Divine Shield that can reliably attack multiple times, Blessing of Wisdom begins to look like a much better deal. After all, if Arcane Intellect tells us that drawing 2 cards should cost 3 mana, then drawing 2 or more cards for 1 mana begins to look like a very good deal indeed! And, of course, Blessing of Wisdom on Fjola often feels like cheating.
This deck is very good at getting on the board early, and putting a lot of pressure on the opponent. The deck can control a board and start going to face very early, has a lot of burst damage potential (charge minions + buffs) to finish things off, and has access to the huge card draw potential of Divine Favor (alongside Blessing of Wisdom), to keep the gas flowing.
I played 63 games with the deck (not including the 10 I played with Tars’ original list), posting a 41-22 record (for a 65% winrate). All testing games were played between ranks 6 and 3. My full matchup data is as follows:
Like with every deck in the environment right now, you need to be able to hold your own against Midrange Shaman, and this deck does. That having been said, it requires practice to do so, because the matchup is reeeeeeeeeally hard to play correctly. Shaman has so many ways to beat you, and you need to play really tight in order to beat them. My record in the matchup improved as I got more comfortable with it (I was something like 3-7 against it early in testing), but there are so many cards to play around and one slip-up can very easily cost you the game. That really is the difference between the two sides in this matchup: from the Sister Act side you have way less margin for error on your play than the Shaman player does.
The key in the Shaman matchup is to play around Maelstorm Portal/Lightning Storm and Hex at the same time. Yup, it’s just that easy. Shaman is very good at dealing with a wide board, and has the best card in the game at neutralizing a single powerful minion. Dealing with Maelstorm Portal and Lightning Storm is largely about using your Divine Shields and Dragon Eggs effectively, while not overextending. Playing around Hex is largely about ensuring that your buffs get value right when they are played and not investing too much in a single minion. Your ideal board is about 2 or 3 attacking minions, with potentially a Dragon Egg or weapon to supplement. Dragon Egg, in particular, is really good in the matchup, since it acts as a great deterrent against AoE effects. Even sitting on the board as an 0/2 it changes your opponent’s math.
Shaman’s effectiveness is limited if they can’t keep their minions on the board, so you need to take out their totems and ensure that they can’t keep a board presence. This makes cards like Flametongue Totem and Mana Tide Totem far less effective. You cannot let the Shaman player take the board, because you don’t have the same tools that they do to reclaim it.
Spirit Claws is very good against you, as is Tunnel Trogg (which has regained prominence after the nerfs). You want to mulligan hard for your resilient one-drops (Argent Squire, Dragon Egg and Sir Finley). Arcane Anomaly is a conditional keep. You keep Anomaly for sure on the coin, due to the pump that the coin provides, and you keep it on the play if you have another good one-drop to go with it, or a Divine Strength to drop on it (in which case you plan on playing it on turn 2, instead of on turn 1). Argent Protector is also a conditional keep (ie. if you already have at least one resilient one-drop), as are the one mana buffs (only keep these if you have a resilient one-drop to play them on). Literally anything more expensive than 2 mana is always a mulligan. Your curve is super low, so don’t worry, you will have a 3-drop to play on turn 3 no matter how hard you mulligan.
Yup, you read that right. If you want to beat Druids to a pulp, I have the deck for you! Sister Act just annihilates Druids, who have a very difficult time getting on the board. Druid usually gives you a few turns to get your board established, while they are ramping their mana. Druid’s defensive weapons (Wrath, Living Roots, Swipe) are all stalled pretty hard by Divine Shield. Dragon Egg is also difficult for them to deal with effectively, and often makes Swiping one of your other minions a lot less enticing. Both sisters are big enough that only Swipe or Mulch can remove them (out of a typical Druid list), which means that if you drop a Sister on turn 3 on the play, then your opponent needs to use their coin and Swipe or else you will probably untap and get to start destroying them with it. Similarly, playing a turn 2 Sister (with the coin) also leaves them in the position where Mulch or Innervate + Swipe are their only likely methods of stopping you from untapping with it.
Mulch is Druid’s only real answer to a big Divine Shield minion, and most lists only play one (which they will almost always mulligan away), so you can feel free to commit to a large minion in the early game. Keep the Druid off the board and keep pushing damage to face, and you can usually get the finish before they get the chance to get their game going.
Mulligan for Argent Squire, Dragon Egg and Sir Finley. Arcane Anomaly dies to their hero power, so keep it if you have the coin or a spell to pump it up (eg. a hand of Argent Squire, Anomaly, Blessing of Wisdom is a snap keep). The one mana buffs are keeps if you have a one-drop to buff. Argent Protector is a conditional keep, and anything more expensive than that goes back into the deck.
P.S. Playing Divine Favor after your opponent plays Nourish is good times…that is all.
And, here is another good reason to play the deck…There have been a lot more Tempo Mages on ladder recently, with some Freeze Mages popping up, too. Both are strong matchups for Sister Act. All of their removal is damage based, so Divine Shields protect your minions very well. This makes dropping a Blessing of Wisdom or a Blessing of Might on a Divine Shield minion a very attractive option.
The matchup is more difficult if they have a turn 1 Mana Wyrm, since its toughness is high enough that it can tangle with most of your early game minions. You should always expect them to have a 3/2 on the board on turn 2, so keep that in mind if you are dropping something like Sir Finley on the board on turn 1 on the coin. Divine Strength does a lot of good work in this matchup, allowing you to out-size Cult Sorcerers and Sorcerer’s Apprentices in the early game. Usually, playing a Sister on turn 3 is safe. If they use 4 mana to Fireball it, you are probably fine with that, since it means they aren’t advancing their board or dealing with the rest of your board.
Against Freeze Mage, you just put as much pressure as you can on them, and then try to use a burst turn to pop their Ice Block earlier than they expect. The charge minions and buffs make it very hard for Freeze Mage decks to buy themselves the time they need to set up a kill turn.
Mulliganing is pretty much the same as always. Dig for your resilient one-drops, keep buffs if they have targets and send back anything that costs more than 2.
Quick Aside on Selfless Hero: Ok, so after discussing a few matchups, you might be asking yourself: Why am I not keeping Selfless Hero in most mulligans? The fact of the matter is that Selfless Hero is actually pretty lame when played by itself in the early game of most matchups. In particular, Hero is terrible against Druid and Mage in the opening hand, since their hero power kills it (the same applies to Rogue). Also, against Shaman, they now have Spirit Claws, which makes Hero a terrible turn 1 play there. In those matchups, Hero is much more suited to being played a couple turns in, when you have a board, since your opponent often won’t want to kill it, for fear of giving one of your minions a Divine Shield. As such, I will often mulligan Hero, even though she is a one-casting cost card, in any of those matchups. This doesn’t apply in matchups like Warrior, Priest, Hunter, Paladin or Warlock, who are much poorer at dealing with the Hero, but for the matchups I have discussed so far, do not fall into the trap of hoping that your turn 1 hero will survive, because you will lose a lot of games that way.
This is another excellent matchup. Hunter actually isn’t that fast at getting on the board. Most of the lists I have been playing against recently are Secret Hunter variants, so you just need to play around their secrets carefully. Freezing Trap is pretty poor against a deck with so many 1 drops and Dragon Egg tokens you can run in there. Don’t get beat by Explosive Trap. It is usually easy to play around, so please do.
Be careful around early game Fiery Bats and Huge Toads, since those 1 damage effects can be pretty relevant here. Dropping a Dragon Egg, playing a buff or even just dropping a 2 toughness creature before attacking into a Bat or Toad can really help the percentages there. Unleash the Hounds is really the only card that punishes you for having 1-toughness creatures, so increasing the odds of having that deathrattle trigger miss your one-toughness dudes is usually correct.
Try to avoid letting the Hunter get an effective Houndmaster on curve. Since Houndmaster is their only real taunt effect (Mishas out of Animal Companion don’t count because we know that it always summons Huffer), and they have no life gain, your burst damage is often pretty devastating to them. Leeroy Jenkins + Blessing of Might is a very good way to respond to your opponent’s Savannah Highmane.
Mulligan as normal, except Selfless Hero is a keep here.
Ok, this was some weird testing. When did Pirate Warrior become a thing again? My 4-4 was composed of a 4-0 record against Control Warrior and an 0-4 record against Pirate Warrior, which I certainly did not see coming (even the 4th time, frankly). Pirate Warrior is actually a surprisingly hard matchup. N’Zoth’s First Mate is very strong against most of your one-drops, and you have no defence to stop their weapon attacks. I think every one of those Pirate Warrior matchups came down to me dying the turn before I had lethal, like clockwork.
The Control Warrior matchup, on the other hand, is excellent. Divine Favour, in particular, is really strong here. In addition, they have difficulty efficiently removing Divine Shield minions. which makes Blessing of Wisdom a very effective tool.
I still mulligan in this matchup as if I am playing against Control Warrior or Dragon Warrior (since I am still not convinced that my Pirate Warrior matchups were actually more than a fluke). This approach likely cost me a couple of those games, since one of the cards I keep in the matchup is Divine Favor. Divine Favor draws you soooooo many cards against Control Warrior that I think it is worth keeping, despite the fact that it is less than ideal against Dragon Warrior or Pirate Warrior. This is based on my belief that Control Warrior is still the dominant Warrior deck out there. If you disagree, then you should probably mulligan Favor away, since it is less than ideal against the other variants.
Aside from that, all of your one-drop minions (Hero included) are keeps here, and the rest of your mulligan strategy is as usual.
I honestly expected this to be a pretty good matchup, so I am a bit surprised by the record. Turn 1 Swashburglar is very strong against you, because it, along with hero power, allows them to take out a turn 1 Argent Squire. Backstab and SI:7 Agent are both very strong tempo plays, too, and you have to be careful how many buffs you commit to any one minion because they have Sap. Honestly, I still have trouble believing that the matchup is this bad, because Rogue typically struggles against decks this aggressive, due to their relative lack of defence or life gain. That having been said, the matchups I played against Rogue certainly felt a lot more difficult than I expected.
The Priest matchup was very strong (3-0). They just don’t have the tools to fight you in the early game. Playing Blessing of Might to give your Argent Squire 4 power is just not something that they can effectively deal with. If you can keep your buffed minions in that safe 4 power slot (immune from Shadow Word Pain and Death), then you are in good shape. My two Paladin matchup went poorly (0-2). The matchup feels miserable, because they have great board clears and Tirion, but it is a small sample size. My three Zoolock matchups (2-1) felt like zoolock matchups normally do: two went really well and the other went really poorly. Again, the sample size is too small to really glean much useful information, except that Discard Zoolock is a very hit or miss deck.
The version of Tars’ list that I am featuring today actually has a fair number of legendaries in it, but many of those can be easily substituted for, largely by just returning to the cards that his original version had in those slots. For instance, while the Bane Sisters are better than Acolyte of Pain, Acolyte still makes a very solid 3-drop in this list. It is tough for opponents to deal with Acolyte without giving you value, and, alongside a Blessing of Kings, can provide a pretty formidable mid-game threat. Barnes is also a nice card, if you have it, but is certainly not necessary. The 2nd Silvermoon Portal can certainly sub into this spot pretty seamlessly.
As for Leeroy, he is the best at what he does, but you could probably sub Reckless Rocketeer in there, in a pinch, and the drop-off wouldn’t be too steep.
The last legend in the deck is Sir Finley Mrrgglton, and, unfortunately, there really is no good substitution for him. Sir Finley’s 3 toughness for 1 mana is very valuable for a deck that really needs to get creatures to stick on the board early, but more importantly, there is nothing that can replicate the effect of Sir Finley’s battlecry. Getting a Hunter or Warlock hero power can absolutely change the course of a matchup, and very few one-drops can claim that sort of impact. Vilefin Inquisitor is probably the closest substitute due to his body, but since you get no use out of Vilefin’s ability, the drop-off on such a substitution is pretty significant.
As I mentioned off the top, the EndBoss YouTube Channel has launched. I have posted a bunch of sample matches with Sister Act on there. You can also find some matches with my previously featured articles such as The Rhonin Show and Beast Druid, as well as the archived footage of our EndBoss Hearthstone Open coverage. While it will be two more weeks before my next article, I will be continuing to post new content on the YouTube Channel, including more games with Sister Act, as well as matches with other decks that I have featured in the past, or ones that I may not get the chance to feature in the future.
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