If you didn’t catch ManaGrind’s ManaCast earlier today, which you totally should’ve because it’s an incredibly informative livecast covering the competitive scene and Hearthstone on the whole, Jotto made a rather insightful comment, saying that, essentially, while the less competitive members of the community continue to quip about the overpowered nature of Priests, Paladins are starting to really dominate the competitive scene, despite being a reasonably balanced class.
It’s a bold claim to make, but the evidence is there. This week’s results only gave more credibility to the statement as, once again, a Paladin would take the top spot.
Here are the top eight decks from this week’s North American ManaGrind tournament:
1. Amaz – Paladin Aggro
2. Ezmod – Shaman Aggro
3. Spoh – Druid Midrange Beatdown
4. 3vo – Mage Secret Control
5. Kisstafer – Priest Midrange
6. Dominence – Priest Combo Control
7. Krond – Paladin Control
8. Spajj_TFU – Warrior Enrage
Mentioned earlier, Amaz, playing an aggressive styled Paladin deck took top honors this weekend. While that’s not surprising, some of the cards within the deck did shock me a bit. Venture Co. Mercenary, BlizzPro’s official arena mode hero was featured, albeit just once, alongside Arcane Golem, a card beginning to make some noise in both the competitive and casual scene. The card is a carbon copy of the Hunter 4/2 boar potentially summoned by the Animal Companion spell, with the caveat that it also gives your opponent an extra mana crystal, a cost that’s not to be taken lightly. Arcane Golem is an interesting minion that we discussed on this week’s episode of the HearthPro Show, where in we attempted to find the situation to run it in. Here’s the situation, apparently. I theorized that an aggressive deck looking to win super early might find a use for it, and that’s where it ended up getting run. Point for me!
Moon’s aggressive Mage deck was not featured in the top eight this week, but 3vo’s Mage Secret Control deck was, and this one’s definitely worth discussing. There are a couple of Mage specific minions, Kirin Tor Mage and Ethereal Arcanist respectively, that each synergize with class specific secrets, either in the form of buffs, or cancelled secret mana costs. My own experience has been that it’s a difficult deck to swing, but looking at what 3vo did here, it’s not surprising to see why it did well. Two Pyroblasts, an Archmage Antonidas .. alongside the control allowed by all the various secrets. This deck has a lot of fire power and can be truly difficult to deal with. Opponents should spend an uncomfortable amount of time just trying to figure out what secrets are on the board, which allows the Mage to mind game their opponent. If you’re probing for Counterspell, you’re more likely to throw down a less integral spell in hopes of popping it, lest the secret claim something vital like a game winning bloodlust. All in all, an awesome deck, and props to 3vo.
OP Priest Style
I don’t feel good about that section title, but it had to be done. There has been a lot of discussion on the collective internet, our site being no exception, about the overpowered nature of Priest Control decks. Beginners and intermediates alike have suffered the sting of having their largest minions destroyed or commandeered in one spell. That said, despite all of this, there were no Priests in the top four, which is something to consider because the tournament featured a total of nine Priest decks. There was also an interesting discussion on today’s ManaCast (we’ll be sure to update this with a link once it’s available) as to whether or not the deck was overpowered, or just gimmicky.
The competitive consensus seems to be that the deck is too inconsistent given its almost purely reactive nature and that, before it wins out in a tournament, someone will need to innovate something a bit more aggressive. Food for thought, for those looking to make their mark on the scene.
There’s something about Paladins
It doesn’t feel like Paladins are overpowered, in fact, far from it. The class features what is possibly the smallest available arsenal of direct damage spells in the game, possessing all of two, one being an epic card. That’s an important differentiation to be made considering that a lot of other classes are flinging Fireballs, Starfires and what have you essentially right out of the gate. The Paladin hero power, Reinforce, was viewed as a largely impotent one prior to closed beta, outside of arena, at least. The class area of effect spell, Consecrate, while available a bit earlier than others, does not feature any sort of utility effect or health swing. It just does two damage.
So, what makes the Guardians of the Light so strong in tournament?
I would argue versatility.
The comment was made earlier by Noxious, and I agree, that you never really know what’s coming at you in a Paladin deck, aside from the Truesilver Champion and Consecrate. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. It can be aggro, it can be control, it can be midrange. It can feature Knife Jugglers, buffing up minions like Mana Addict and Questing Adventurer, it can buff up minions with Sword of Justice, it can even go into a build featuring a dozen or more Divine Shields. Bottom line, there are a lot of options. What’s more, in dealing with something like stat manipulation through the normal methods, along with Sword of Justice, Blessing of Might and Blessing of Kings, Paladins can always find a way to do the unexpected and, in a game without instant spells (discounting class specific secrets) that’s a huge, amazing quality.
It’s worth watching as the competitive scene trudges onward, just what happens with Paladins. Is the class destined to continue winning, or will changes to come to the metagame leave them in Dumpsville, alongside Rogue, and seemingly Warlock? We’ll be sure to keep you abreast of the situation.
If you’re interested in the competitive scene, pop on over to the ManaGrind Twitter account and watch for updates. The guys hold weekly tournaments for both North American and European players, and they’re a lot of fun, regardless of your skill level. If competing isn’t your game, be sure to watch for the various streams on Twitch over the weekend.