Grinding your way up the Hearthstone ranked ladder can sometimes be a disheartening experience. Stuck playing the same meta-tuned deck for days on end just to reach that elusive Legend rank is not always the most exciting prospect. Sure, the wins may keep coming as your Jade Druid or Pirate Warrior dismantle everyone you face, but it can get a little repetitive.However, these slumps can also bring on moments of divine deck-building inspiration and open the mind to some completely mad ideas for Hearthstone decks. The majority of them are definitely best kept for private games, playing Wild, or taking a shot at creating the next best meme video. A certain few, on the other hand, actually end up working like a charm. OK, we may never see these decks in competitive play, but at least they can offer some success and a few good laughs.
There’s little else more satisfying in Hearthstone than swinging for 30 damage directly to your opponent’s face. One Punch Paladin recreates that same screen-shaking thwack, but does so in such an over-the-top and convoluted way it’s incredible it even works with some consistency.
The concept of the deck is very straightforward. Survive and draw through cards until you pick up Hemet. When played the Jungle Hunter will remove all cards from your deck at a cost of three or less, leaving just two copies of Holy Wrath and two copies of Molten Giant. Then it’s as simple as pointing the Holy Wrath to your opponent’s face and hoping a Molten Giant is drawn to deal a whopping 25 damage out of nowhere.
Amazingly, it does work, you just have to be a little lucky to avoid pulling your game winning cards from the deck too early. You also have to hope your opponent hasn’t built up a comfortable wall of armour to shrug off the massive hit from the Molten Giant. Dodge both of these potential pitfalls and One Punch Paladin offers one of the quickest and craziest ends to a game of Hearthstone.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, characters make a huge deal about the difficulty of assembling the five pieces of Exodia and summoning the game-winning creature in a single match. The protagonist, Yugi, still achieves this feat in the first episode of the series. Exodia Mage was inspired by the very same ‘challenge’ of drawing exactly the right few cards from your deck in order to execute a one turn kill.
At first thought it could seem like an entirely fruitless task. Do you just rely on getting a few lucky draws to find the needed cards, or exactly how do you delay and delay and delay if the last pieces you need are at the bottom of the deck? Fortunately, for Mage, there are so many freezes and delay options that you can hold out for a considerable time.
The most recognisable Exodia Mage requires you to set up an Archmage Antonidas alongside four Sorcerer’s Apprentices so you can fire off an infinite chain of Fireball spells. Doomsayer, Frost Nova, Ice Block, Blizzard and more help reach a point where setting up this board state is possible. Echo of Medivh was also a nice inclusion to generate more resources. Variants of the deck have evolved over time to include cards such as Open the Waygate, but this bold deck has fallen out of the meta for some time.
Renounce Darkness Warlock
In the world of risky, high variance decks, Renounce Darkness Warlock is about as effective as pulling the arm on a slot machine and leaving the rest to fate. Will it fail? Oh, most certainly. Will it find success too? Play long enough and it will.
As a concept it’s a brilliant one: have Barnes and Y’shaarj as the only two minions in your deck and fill the rest of the space up with spells. Then, when Barnes comes down on turn four and brings out two copies of Y’shaarj, cast Renounce Darkness to fill your hand and deck with another classes’ cards. The pair of Old Gods can continue to bring minions out of the deck, while the variety of spells in hand can support them.
It’s a huge gamble play that can have extremely high upside if the cards fall your way. It also makes things much tougher for your opponent, who now has almost no idea what cards to prepare for or play around. Altogether very silly, yes, but also great fun.
The concept of milling your opponent’s resources by forcing them to discard cards or overdraw is not a unique strategy within CCGs. However, as Hearthstone is designed around interactivity and minion battling, it’s definitely a more unorthodox approach to the game. It also requires a very different way to consider deck building and playing the game, but still, a viable Mill Druid deck has played a part in the game’s past.
Cards that would look terrible is most other decks finally find a place in Mill Druid. Often maligned minions such as Coldlight Oracle, King Mukla and Nat, the Darkfisher all excel at overfilling your opponent’s hand. Mixed in with other cards like Brann Bronzebeard and Naturalise, it’s easy enough to set up a situation where you’re forcing your opponent to draw cards into a full hand and trash them.
Mill Druid manages to work as it is able to disrupt the game plan of whoever you’re facing. You also get the devious thrill of burning big or important cards from their deck. Savvy players might be able to keep their hand size low to make Mill Druid near useless, but this counter-intuitive style can definitely take advantage of some deck types.
Earlier we mentioned all the delay options available to Mage that allowed the Exodia variant to set up a very specific board state. The Echo of Medivh/Giants Mage has a similar goal in mind, although instead of chaining Fireballs together it wants to slam down an army of Molten or Mountain Giants onto the board.
The deck definitely shouldn’t work because of the precarious position you have to put yourself in to allow multiple Giants to be played on the same turn. Even with an Ice Block ready to go, sitting at less than double digit health for too long is always a risky play that’s bound to backfire on occasion.
Nevertheless, the deck has still created some incredible highlight reel moments. Sean ‘Day9’ Plott took on the brave task of trying to reach Legend with the deck. He couldn’t quite make the grade but still managed to hit the upper ranks of the competitive ladder, proving that even a silly deck concept can climb high.