Content of the article: "Want a Competitive Deck that Isn’t Shaman or Rogue? Try (non-ETC) Enrage Warrior!"
u/enodren here again with my second guide featuring another variation of my favorite class (Warrior) and deck (Enrage), which I feel is severely underplayed in the current meta given the strength of it's matchup against the three most popular classes (Shaman, Rogue and Warlock). I have played variations of this deck a lot since AoO and it could be overlooked given how little it has changed. I used it to climb from Legend 6711 to peak at Legend 575 with a 61% winrate across 210 games. I started playing Hearthstone at the beginning of the year and set it as a goal to reach top 1000 Legend (and 11x stars) and am psyched that I made it there to close out 2020!
I hope you all enjoy the deck and guide and hit me up with any questions in the comments. Good luck!
# 2x (0) Inner Rage
# 2x (1) Risky Skipper
# 2x (1) Shield of Honor
# 2x (1) Sky Raider
# 2x (2) Armorsmith
# 2x (2) Battle Rage
# 1x (2) Corsair Cache
# 1x (3) Ancharrr
# 2x (3) Bloodsworn Mercenary
# 2x (3) Bomb Wrangler
# 1x (3) Lord Barov
# 2x (3) Warmaul Challenger
# 1x (4) Kor'kron Elite
# 1x (4) Reaper's Scythe
# 2x (4) Sword Eater
# 2x (5) Cutting Class
# 2x (7) Bloodboil Brute
# 1x (8) Grommash Hellscream
Proof (both versions using the list above, it was an issue with my deck tracker)
What Makes This Deck Good in General?
In my opinion it does (nearly) everything well: card draw (Battle Rage / Cutting Class), board clears (Skipper / Lord Barov), healing (Skipper / Armorsmith), scary boards (buffed Warmaul / Brutes) and burst damage (Mercenary / Kor'kron / Grom). It also plays very consistently, with the only RNG (beyond card draw) coming from the two Skyraiders and enables you to apply consistent pressure through (up to 4) weapons and a steady board at all stages of the game. The biggest improvements since AoO have been the inclusion of Sword Eaters (3/2 weapon + 2/5 taunt!) and Cutting Class for additional draw. Reaper's Scythe is another great weapon that provides some additional board control with the spellburst effect.
The biggest weakness is single target removal and multiple waves of high health minions. These weaknesses do show up in the two most common matchups in the form of big/early Edwins or QA in Rogue and mid-game Shaman boards, which is why I look hard for Barov in the mulligan in both of those matchups. I also prefer the Cache / Scythe variant (as noted below) for this reason, as it functions as a semi-clear along with your standard Skipper turns.
What Makes This Deck Good in the Current Meta?
As noted above the deck does a lot of things really well and matches really strongly into Rogue (all variants), completely destroys Warlock (all variants) and can hold it's own against Shaman (Evolve variants that run Revolve are the hardest). The burst damage (16 starting turn 7 up to 28 on turn 10 if you manage to hold onto the coin that long) is something that very few decks are equipped to handle (thankfully few taunts outside of Paladin) and the deck has enough ways to push consistent damage to your opponents face that you rarely need a crazy combo turn to win.
It's also helpful that the worst matchup (Hunter by far) is not seeing very much play at the moment and Paladin drops off in popularity the higher you climb. Neither of these matchups are unwinnable, but if these classes rise in popularity (likely as a result of nerfs to Shaman) then you probably want to try a different deck. It also performs well against Demon Hunter, although Aggro comes down to literally having Skipper/Armorsmith/Mercenary on turn 6, which can feel super dicey.
There are four cards that define the version of the deck that I prefer: 2 x Shield / 1 x Kor'kron / 1 x Grom and four cards that I feel are optional: 2 x Bomb Wrangler / 1 x Cache / 1 x Scythe. I prefer this version over the ETC variant (2 x Broomstick / 1 x ETC / 2 x Quartermaster), as I felt there is greater flexibility in how you used the combo pieces, especially Inner Rage and Mercenaries. With the ETC version I found myself wanting to hold back more of the pieces for longer, but it's probably a result of just being more comfortable with the burst version of the deck. I also have seen versions that swap out Grom for an extra Kor'kron, which is cheaper to build, but I feel inferior to the list above, as Grom is much less dependent on your combo pieces to push significant damage to face (Skipper / Grom is 10 damage).
I also tried the burst variation from VS that runs 2 x Quartermaster instead of 1 x Cache / 1 x Scythe, but I found the lack of the additional board control to feel really iffy. There are times when the RNG from lackeys can win games, but in general I preferred the consistency of knowing exactly what was in my deck and using that to shape how I approached each matchup. I also didn't find the prevalence of weapon removal to be that much of an issue, as you equip 4 weapons (2 from Sword Eaters) in almost every game and your opponent often destroys/steals one of your other weapons, as Scythe is generally better in the mid to late game and getting 1 swing with the Spellburst effect can be enough value.
I also experimented with subbing out Cache and Scythe for 1 x Coerce and 1 x Stickyfinger, primarily to give an additional edge against Rogue and Shaman respectively, but I'm not a huge fan of these narrowly focused tech choices, but can definitely see the case for Stickyfinger (and Ooze) if want an extra edge against Shaman. This version has worked a little better for me the higher I climbed and the more narrowly focused the meta becomes on Rogue and Shaman.
Finally, there is an option to add a second Kor'kron and 1 x Rampage if you want to really go all in on the burst combo potential, but I don't feel this version would perform as well in a Evolve Shaman dominated meta, as you are generally not winning through your combos. Personally I feel the focus should be on removing their minions over pushing damage to face, which is why I like the Cache / Scythe list.
I'll talk about specific matchups in the next section.
Always keep: Ancharr
Keep vs Rogue & Shaman: Barov / Warmaul Challenger / Skyraider
Keep vs Demon Hunter, Warlock (assume they're Zoo), Hunter: Skipper / Armorsmith
Keep vs Druid, Warrior, Mage, Paladin, Priest: Battle Rage / Warmaul Challenger + combo pieces
Matchups (ordered by frequency)
Shaman 34-15 (69%) – Favored
I had meta-breaking performance against Shaman, that has since dropped to a respectable 57% winrate as I've broken into top Legend and encountered more people running the Revolve build to target Rogue (which also impacts Enrage Warrior). I encountered almost exclusively Evolve Shaman, with a handful of Aggro and Control thrown in (a good Control player is tough). Your goal against Evolve is to land some early minions (ideally a buffed Warmaul that you copy with Mercenary) and constantly clear their board. Barov is critical and I mulligan hard for him as the one guaranteed board clear. The trickiest part of this matchup is knowing when to use Barov vs holding him back to clear more formidable boards. As mentioned earlier I also really liked Scythe in this matchup as a semi-clear along with the Spellburst effect. More recently I've been experimenting with running Stickyfinger to specifically target this matchup as the Shaman players have gotten better.
Rogue 25-20 (56%) – Favored
Another strong matchup for this deck and a bit trickier to play given the range of threats that Rogue is capable of producing, I encountered almost exclusively Whirlykick Miracle, with a handful of Aggro (piece of cake) and Highlander (tougher than Miracle). Again Barov is your friend in case they create an early big Edwin or QA. There were a number of games that they landed one and I was able to eventually clear it and win because they commit a lot of key cards (Shadowstep / Foxy Fraud) to pull these off that leaves them with weaker follow up (so don't auto-concede). Your main win condition is to wear them down until they are in combo range and push lethal burst damage to their face after turn 7/8. Coerce is a useful tech choice in this matchup, again to primarily counter a big Edwin or QA.
Warlock 23-2 (92%!) – Heavily Favored
I loved queuing into Warlock with this deck, as it is as close to a hard counter as you can find. I encountered mostly Galakrond Tickatus, a few Zoo and a couple Demon Tickatus and this deck destroys them all. You MUST mulligan for Zoo (unless you're certain your opponent is another build), as the only time you'll lose is if you don't expect Zoo and don't have a way to deal with a wide early board. Much like Aggro Demon Hunter this comes down to having Skipper / Armorsmith / Mercenary on 6. For the Tickatus decks you play your minions on curve, space out your buffs to avoid board clears, push as much damage to face as possible (focus on clearing minions more with the Demon version to play around lifesteal) and eventually kill them with your burst combos. I think only 1-2 managed to live long enough to play Tickatus and each time I had already drawn through enough of my deck and worn them down that it didn't matter.
Warrior 13-6 (68%) – Favored
Another solid matchup, mainly into Control ETC, a handful of Enrage/Enrage ETCs and one or two Bomb and Silas OTKs. As the stats show, this deck performs well against all the popular Warrior decks. As noted above, I feel the ETC decks are tricky to play, which gives you greater latitude to buff your minions and send more damage to their face from the beginning. The critical thing in this matchup is assembling your combo pieces, so card draw is crucial. For the Enrage decks you want to clear their stickier minions to prevent buff targets and apply consistent pressure knowing they don't have a ton of board clears at their disposal. For the other, more control oriented builds, you want to space out your threats to force their board clears without overcommitting.
Priest – 10-8 (56%) – Favored
Unlike AoO, the current Control Priest builds are much weaker against Enrage Warrior, to the point where I feel this matchup is favored. Like Warrior, card draw is key, as you want to send consistent damage to their face and assemble your combo pieces. Clear their minions to avoid Apo and try to play around Stickyfingers by not equipping weapons before you can swing. Given the range of board clears they can generate you have to space your threats and avoid overcommitting (similar to Control Warrior).
Paladin 7-10 (41%) – Unfavored
This matchup is tough, although not unwinnable, so always play it out. A mix of Pure and Broom, I think the Broom matchup is closer to even. Again card draw is key, so try to time your Skipper turns to get the most out of Battle Rage. Always clear their minions, try to land a buffed and duplicated Warmaul and hope that they don't topdeck Libram of Hope. Try to hang on to Barov to clear big buffed threats, rather than push a little extra face damage early on, as they are likely able to heal at least once.
Mage 6-6 (50%) – Even (or Slightly Favored)
I actually think this matchup is slightly favored, but because I didn't encounter that many or know the builds well, it was hard to play around some their secrets. I encountered mostly Highlander with a couple of Cyclone, but most variations played a substantial secret package. Again card draw is key, as you don't want to deal with their late game threats. You can generally push a lot of damage early on, but I struggled closing out games as they were able to cycle through more of their deck and generate more random spells (especially secrets) to play around. It's critical to hold back some non-essential spells (Coin, Corsair Cache) in order to play around Counterspell and ideally have more than 1 copy of Inner Rage / Shield to play around Spellbinder. Try to always have at least 1 minion on the board to test for Vaporize. Also if you know they have Flameward active, you can use that to activate Grom, so sequence your plays accordingly (play Grom / test for Vaporize or activate Flameward / go face with Grom).
Druid 5-5 (50%) – Even
This matchup comes down to whether they hit their ramp cards or not. I faced mostly GA or Clown Druid, with maybe one or two Highlander. Your goal is to sticky and copy an early buffed minion (ideally Warmaul, but Armorsmith can do the job if protected by Shield) and get them within lethal range before they hit 7/8 mana. If you can do this and cycle through your deck, you win, if not you lose. Once they get big Taunts online it's over. If you're close to lethal, try to hang onto Barov to help clear one turn of Taunts, as he's not really useful for defensive purposes in this matchup.
Demon Hunter 3-6 (33%) – Even
Although my stats look terrible, it's a fairly low sample size and I feel this matchup is fairly even if you mulligan correctly. It's critical that you mulligan for Aggro, as there are still a few of those floating around and they will completely annihilate you unless you have Skipper and Armorsmith to heal and clear their board by turn 5/6. For Soul and OTK, it comes down to whether you can assemble your combo pieces and push enough consistent damage to their face (without them healing) to get them into lethal range, before they hit their combo pieces. Stickyfinger or Ooze would be a good tech option in these matchups to destroy/steal their Lifesteal weapon, as their ability to heal is the determining factor.
Hunter 2-4 (33%) – Unfavored
Luckily this matchup is at the bottom, as unlike Demon Hunter, I feel this is truly unfavored. I faced mostly Face, with a couple Highlander and Deathrattle (by far the worst matchup). Your main path to victory is a big Skipper / Armorsmith / Mercenary turn to clear their board and heal back the massive amount of damage you will have taken by that point. The secrets are slightly easier to play around in the Face version, as they generally only run Explosive Trap and Pack Tactics, but it still feels like you barely scrape out a win.
- Aggro ETC Warrior Guide to legend
- Miracle Rogue w/ Chef Nomi to legend
- If you are looking for a deck that beats both Shaman and Rogue
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