So we’ve smashed some spiders, put down plagues, and mortared the military. Now it’s time to kill the constructs in the final Naxxramas quarter before we have the chance to face Kel’Thuzad himself. This is also a week we get some nice deathrattlers to help us make a nice theme deck after having won The Baron. As usual, Hearthhead has some decks up already, but for those of you who want a little bit more, I offer my advice and experience after the cut.
As usual, I want to start off with the cards we’ll be winning this week. Of particular interest is the priest’s Dark Cultist. Most people know that Chillwind Yeti is a strong card because it pretty much defines the “vanilla test” (we get at least as much damage/health as the casting cost without the card also having an ability) but has a bit of extra health so that it survives a raw 4/4 we might expect from a card with a minor ability. Dark Cultist has this going for itself plus a pretty nice death rattle ability that forces your opponent to kill off other targets before messing with the Cultist, unless they’re ok with one of your other cards getting more survival power.
It’s for this reason that Undertaker is also a nice new card. It does have the down side of being the same cost as Arcane Shot, but that’s the beauty of a card like this. It’s a card that, if left unchecked, can grow into something fairly dangerous. Many decks leave out one-mana options, or at least have only a few cards, so a deathrattle deck that takes advantage of cheap deathrattlers could make great use of this card.
However, while Mad Scientist passes the vanilla test, I hesitate to give it much praise. The wording of the card means it doesn’t allow certain cards to combo with its Secret orientation, plus it draws the Secret directly from your deck, so if you’re out of secrets or holding the one you’d like in play, it’s ability doesn’t do a whole lot. I’m sure in constructed play, this card will have some fun use, but for Arena, I’d advice to look for another card for your 2-mana slots.
Zombie Chow is a bit controversial at the moment. On the one hand, it has some good combo potential at the comments in the previous link suggests. It’s also good for the start of the game when combined with Undertaker, or if you need something to take out early game minions before you damage your enemy. However, unless you’re a priest, the card is a liability late in the game. I really don’t think it’d be wise to pick this card early in your draft for Arena, if at all.
Well, unless, perhaps, you have a Wailing Soul. While the card is good for getting rid of pesky abilities possessed by some cards that are otherwise very usable, remember that silence also rids you of frozen effects. It’s still a risky card for Arena though.
Warriors finally will have access to Death’s Bite, making it easier for them to fight against zoo deck, but also activate their cards that react to damage or benefit from weapons, which puts them in a better spot for arenas.
Now, for this week’s legendaries, we have an interesting situation. Stalagg is, without a doubt, the weaker of the two legendaries, since a Chillwind Yeti for one less mana can take him out. We don’t like that, at all. However, Feugen is a solid card on it’s own, in that it’s got a good amount of health, so it can take a beating, plus has a respectable 4 damage. What’s interesting to note, however, is that either one can summon Thaddius, no matter who owned the card that first died. That means if someone is playing with both cards, but you only have Feugen and can get yours to die after the opponenet’s Stalagg, you get a Thaddius of your own! I’m not sure if having Stalagg in a deck is the greatest option with this in mind, but priests or possibly even shamans may want to take Feugen due to his size for defense alone.
I had already peeked at this week’s bosses, and Patchwerk was the scariest for me due to Hook. Normal mode was still easy enough though. I just used my shaman murloc deck and beat him with 10 life to spare. Interestingly enough, this has been the first boss that actually makes you go second!
Grobbulus was not much of a challenge for my usual priest deck that uses my usual combos (Power Word: Shield, Inner Fire, Divine Spirit, and of course, Lightwell). Really, the AoE damage he does at this level just powers a lot of a priest’s cards to make the encounter rather easy.
When I hit Gluth and, once again, beat him rather easily with my shaman murloc deck, I started to really ask myself who these normal modes are made for. The first week felt like it had a little challenge, but again, maybe that’s because I tried to ignore the gimmicks. I know many players have awesome decks with powerful legendary cards, so they don’t need to cheese the game quite as much, or if they do, they often have just one really powerful deck they only slightly modify for different encounters. They didn’t seem to be enjoying the content that much though.
On the other hand, I’m probably about average, in that I play arena at least 5 times a week getting 3-4 wins on average (sometimes 2 wins, sometimes 7, rarely much higher), but my collection isn’t huge. Some of the decks I’d like to make involve having expensive cards which I don’t have access to, and I assume that my readers are mostly reading my guides for the same reason. This is why I try to focus on budget decks. That being said, I don’t think most of us are having a ton of fun with these encounters unless we’re among the first and trying to make decks for others. I know that’s been my motivation!
With this in mind, I jumped into my final regular mode against Thaddius. I used my murloc deck yet again, despite the fact that the shaman hero power was close to useless, and I won, again, rather easily. It’s when, after all these weeks, something hit me: Naxxramas is content for theme deck builders. I know it may seem obvious, but the full weight of it was finally felt.
Let’s be honest: normal’s probably so easy because it’s there to semi-challenge a person’s very basic ability to recognize a deck building problem. However, it’s so easy that it can be completed by people even more casual than myself. Heroic mode, on the other hand, it exceedingly difficult for all but the major collectors who can build any deck they want, possibly out of golds. I know more than a few players who just feel guilty for doing the heroic, not so much for the card back, but because they feel they need to do it to milk the content.
No, Naxx is made for people who like theme decks and solving a specific problem. People who play constructed probably won’t be as attracted to Naxx unless their deck is powerful enough to snap anything in its way. Arena players love the challenge of randomness, so Naxx is completely the opposite for them. Many players just do their dailies to collect cards, and Naxx, not counting towards dailies, is decided against that play style. The only people left, in my mind, are deck builders looking for a challenge. Maybe that’s why I’m not entirely hating these wings, but at the same time, feel like I’m being cheated a little.
However, I felt like this week’s Warrior class challenge was a bit different. It wasn’t quite as easy as I expected it. Maybe our decks wasn’t as overpowered as usual, or maybe it’s because the AI was a little smarter, but I couldn’t face-roll my way through, which was kind of nice. It only took a few tries and still wasn’t hard, especially when I finally had cards I could play on turn 2 (maybe I’d gotten unlucky), but oddly enough, losing made things more interesting.
The priest challenge, however, was stupid easy, and I think this is largely because the class itself is feeling very powerful these days. It feels like it has a tool kit for everything: buffs, damage, board clearing, card drawing, silences, weenies, mind control and massive mobs… and that’s not including heals! It only really “lacks” weapons and polymorph, but I won’t pick on those too much since the priest usually has some option to get around things. Compare this with, say, rogues, who innately have no heals, little raw board clearing, no silences, and a general heavy reliance on neutral cards to really get the most out of their combos. More on the state of priests later though.
After all this, I must admit, I felt a bit cheesey. The gimmicks were starting to wear thin. Patchwerk was, for me, the most difficult encounter, even if his mechanic is the easiest. I just didn’t want to make an expensive deck if possible, but came up with one that I think is pretty cheap, both in terms of creation and execution. I actually won this without getting Acidic Ooze for the first 6 turns, so the deck should be pretty solid. To note though, try to get Patch to duplicate your Water Elementals. If need be, sub out the Defenders for anything with taunt. NEVER play a Water Elemental without something that can taunt because Patch will use Hateful Strike to just outright destroy it.
On Grob, I used priests. The idea is simple: use Lightwell for healing and buff a Deathlord up to to max defense. You do have the Soul Keeper/Circle combo if you need it, but I mostly used Circles for keeping minions alive and card drawing power, similar to normal mode.
For Gluth, I made a rather bouncy paladin deck. The main idea is that you want to bounce back bouncers when possible for more combos. You’ll want an Acidic Ooze early on to handle the weapon. There’s really no “god combo” here, just play carefully by ear. Don’t be afraid to juggle anything with divine shield multiple times, and if you can find something a bit beefier (and rarer), feel free to sub them in!
For Thaddius, I went with priests again, modifying my Grob deck just a bit. The fight is pretty much about killed his two big minions at the start. Survive the first few turns and do the above and you’ll be fine. Making this budget deck was rather easy. Quick note: don’t play the Death Lords without Inner Fire! The Light Wardens can actually get pretty big due to Thaddius’ hero power, but be willing to sacrifice them early on to kill his big minions.
Finally, arena. First: Six Leeroys in one turn. I haven’t seen it first hand, but it can happen. That being said, it’s rare, so that’s nice. Shaman may be capable of this, but my arena time as one didn’t play out that way at all. In fact, I still feel like druids and rogues feel like they’ve gotten the biggest boost from their new cards, even though I ran across duplicate many times. It was just too easy most of the time to take advantage of it. I could often make good use of it myself, but smarter players often played around it and forced me to play a card (or make a play) that would disrupt my attempted combo.
However, warriors’ new weapon combined with past cards should give them new life in the arena, but more dangerous are priests, whose Dark Cultist is only making a rather powerful class even more powerful. I fully expect some priest cards to be nerfed soon, so take advantage of the current meta-game while you can!