The Complete Guide to ALL Hearthstone Mercenaries Heroic Bounties in Winterspring and Blackrock Mountain

The PvE side of Hearthstone Mercenaries culminates in Heroic bounties. Heroic bounties, at their best, are fun puzzles where you put together a team that takes advantage of any weaknesses that the boss has to overcome the challenge.

I have played through all the Heroic bounties multiple times in search of the most consistent party comps to tackle them. All the strategies in this guide are highly repeatable and do not depend on any specific treasures. Yet, there is no single solution to any of these puzzles. You can also find other ways to win.

This guide contains all the bosses in Winterspring and Blackrock Mountain. Barrens and Felwood bosses are generally easy enough to manage with a generic, solid team. Surprisingly, so are some of the bosses from the later stages, but I chose to include them anyway for completeness’ sake.

The role of treasures

Treasures are important. Some treasures allow you to skip entire mechanics and instantly win. For example, Scabbs and many other fighters can pick up an assassination treasure to instantly destroy one of the opponents at the start of the game. King Krush with To the Death treasure and immunity from King Mukla can destroy all opponents at ease. Even on a budget team, you can use Hysteria with Xyrella and make Samuro immune to defeat many bosses.

However, this guide is written with consistency in mind. Good generic treasures are all you need, and most likely you can succeed even without them. Stat buffs, damage buffs, and damage reduction are useful and can make the bosses a lot easier, but you do not need to try to roll for any specific one to succeed.

Winterspring 3-1: Heroic Snowclaw

Heroic Snowclaw is one of the most challenging heroic bosses to the extent that Blizzard has already announced that it will be nerfed in a future patch, although the specifics are not yet known.

Snowclaw summons Totems that slow you down and then punishes you for being slow.

There is an effective, maybe borderline cheese, strategy to take down Heroic Snowclaw: Rokara with Helm of Inspiration, Rathorian with Demonic Ashes, and Blademaster Samuro. This gives the Hulking Overfiend from Rathorian at least 25 Attack, which means that it can instantly kill a totem, and proceed to kill them all via Deathblow to hit the lowest-health enemy. You simply skip your first turn and unleash the Overfiend on turn two together with Rokara’s buff power. Between the Overfiend and Samuro, Snowclaw will fall almost instantly. This strategy can fail if Snowclaw takes the first hit, although you should be fine with waiting a little to try again.

For climbing to Snowclaw, I have used the standard Nature comp: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan.

Video guide:

Winterspring 3-2: Heroic Yeti Hunter Ranel

Yeti Hunter Ranel is accompanied by a pair of Frosted Elementals who can slow you down, freeze you, and heal themselves. Annoying.

My party to take down the Yeti Hunter is Murlocs! Mutanus with Earthen Armor, Old Murk-Eye with Navigator’s Amulet, and Morgl the Oracle can start to work on killing the Elementals immediately.

A bench of Rokara, Blademaster Samuro, and Xyrella provides support.

I use Mutanus, Old Murk-Eye, and Xyrella to climb to the boss.

Video guide:

Winterspring 3-3: Heroic Avalanchan

Unlike the previous two Winterspring Heroic bosses, Avalanchan is not particularly strong. A simple Nature team with Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan can bring down even the Heroic version easily.

Video guide:

Winterspring 3-4: Heroic Ursula Windfury

Ursula Windfury has buffs for all Orcs. Yes, that includes your orcs, so orcs are ideal for taking down this boss.

I climb to the boss with Garrosh, Thrall with Ring of Strength (an important piece of gear for orcs PvE), and Xyrella. The bench is Rokara, Blademaster Samuro, and Cookie with Appetizers for the Health buff.

The extra health from Cookie is particularly useful early in the climb before you get any stat buffs, but once you have some, it does not really matter.

I start the boss fight with Garrosh, Thrall, and Rokara. I defeat the red Orc first and then continue to Ursula herself. As some of the Heroes may fall, you can bring in any necessary support from the bench.

Video guide:

Winterspring 3-5: Heroic Icehowl

Heroic Icehowl has so much attack that it is best handled with spells.

A nature team works well: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan. On the bench, I like to use Cookie with Appetizers for additional Health, Lady Anacondra as a backup caster, and the final slot does not even matter. Brightwing looks fun, for example.

The extra health from Cookie is particularly useful early in the climb before you get any stat buffs, but once you have some, it does not really matter.

Position the Ice Blocks between your Mercenaries at the start so that you can flexibly move them to block Icehowl’s attacks. Burn down Icehowl and then take down the adds.

Video guide:

Winterspring 3-6: Heroic Ahune the Frostlord

Ahune the Frostlord cannot be damaged directly. Instead, you need to destroy their ice shard to deal damage to the boss.

The most consistent party comp I have found for this is the Holy comp.

First, you can climb to the boss relatively easily with Mutanus with Earthen Armor, Anduin with Harmonic Mallet, and Prophet Velen with Tome of Inspiration.

At the boss, use Anduin, Velen and Natalie Seline with Splinter of Nordrassil to defeat all ice shards as they are summoned.

This party comp is more consistent at climbing to the boss than fire, even though fire is strong at the boss itself.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-1: Heroic Coren Direbrew

Coren Direbrew buffs any characters that attack. This makes the bounty ideal for orcs, who are happy to attack and have some big stats by the time they reach the boss.

For both the boss and the climb, I open with Garrosh, Thrall with Ring of Strength (a key piece of gear for pve orcs), and Saufang with Serrated Shield. The bench consists of Rokara, Blademaster Samuro, and Cookie with Appetizers for some extra health. The extra health is particularly useful early in the climb before you get any stat buffs, but once you have some, it does not really matter.

Then you just smash.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-2: Heroic High Justice Grimstone

High Justice Grimstone is one of the most difficult Heroic bosses. Whenever the High Justice or the adds attack, your team takes aoe damage, and teams can get instantly wiped here.

The easiest and most consistent way to beat High Justice is with an Orc team and two high-damage casters on the bench. I open with Garrosh with Tusks of Mannoroth, Threall with Ring of Strength, and Saurfang with Serrated Shield. This trio brings down at least one add, sometimes both, on turn one! I have Rokara on the bench for more Orc support, and the boss is finished off with blue casters. I like Gul’dan and Jaina for the job, but any high-damage blues should do.

Video guide:

I have also done High Justice with a Nature/Beast party. Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan are my usual opener, and from there I bring in Anacondra and finally King Mukla and King Krush, if needed.

During the climb, you can alternate between the Nature trio and the Beast trio, depending on the opponent.

Video guide:

There is also a budget path to taking down High Justice, and many of the other bosses too.

The combo team of Mr. Smite, Cornelius Roame with Shield of Dawn, and Rokara with Helm of Inspiration can be surprisingly good. You use Overboard on Mr. Smite, Blessing of Sacrifice Mr. Smite with Cornelius, and activate Offensive Rally on Rokara. This makes Mr. Smite attack and grow until Cornelius dies whenever your team takes damage.

All the abilities have a cooldown, so depending on the boss, you need to sacrifice your frontline if the combo team cannot survive one turn of waiting at the start.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-3: Heroic Emperor Thaurissan

Heroic Emperor Thaurissan is surprisingly one of the easier encounters. The regular Nature comp can handle it well.

I open with Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan. Bench can be pretty much anything. Cookie with Appetizers and Lady Anacondra are some fine options.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-4: Heroic Garr

Garr is one of the easiest Heroic bosses, just don’t bring your Fire comp because it has Fire resistance.

I do Garr with the Nature comp: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan. The bench can vary, but Cookie with Appetizers and Lady Anacondra for backup are pretty good.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-5: Heroic Baron Geddon

Baron Geddon has green adds that hit like a truck, so any caster comp is instantly in trouble. My preferred way to fight is to go big and hit back with orcs!

I start with Garrosh, Thrall with Ring of Strength, and Saurfang with Serrated Shield. The bench consists of Rokara, Blademaster Samuro, and Cookie with Appetizers for some extra Health. The same team can climb to the boss.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-6: Heroic Majordomo Executus and Ragnaros the Firelord

The final fight of the original set has you face Garr, Majordomo Executus, and Baron Geddon at the same time. Executus has a Deathrattle to summon Ragnaros, so you want to kill it last. Garr gives the opponents Fire resistance and Frost weakness, which you want to take advantage of by killing Geddon first.

I climb to the boss with the Nature comp: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan. At the boss, I open with Jaina with Ice Block Talisman, Varden Dawngrasp with Chilling Amulet, and Lady Anacondra with Toxic Venom. I take Geddon down first, then Garr, then Executus, and have strong enough of a team left to quickly take down Ragnaros before it can overwhelm me.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-7: Heroic Highlord Omokk

Highlord Omokk has an impressive 20 points of damage reduction, so you need to ramp up your damage to hurt him. He also destroys a random damaged Mercenary on regular basis.

I have all of my kills with a Nature bench: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Bru’kan, and Guff.

I’ve used a Holy front, a Fire front, and a Frost front (Jaina, Varden, Brightwing). There are lots of alternatives for the frontline.

After you kill the red add, you want to kill off your other Mercs and get the Nature team in.

If you have a damage reduction treasure (-3 to all characters) and level 3 Nature’s Call on Malfurion OR level 5 Nature’s Call on Malfurion, you can kill the blue add and outheal the lone boss.

If your team is weaker, you must not speed up your Nature spells and you want to kill the boss before the blue add. This way you can always outheal the damage after the blue add acts to avoid the instagib. Of course, you can use this strategy with a stronger team as well.

The only risk is when transitioning to Nature. If you get boss & blue add vs Nature, it is 100% consistent with correct play.

Here is a showcase of kills with the damage reduction treasure and without it, with Frost and Fire frontlines.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-8: Heroic General Drakkisath

General Drakkisath heals his adds by 100 each turn, so there are two ways to take him down: either you prevent healing and focus down the adds, or you burn down the boss first and then go for the adds.

I have done the boss both ways, and the healing denial plan is easier.

For healing denial, I climb to the boss with the Nature comp: Malfurion with Liferoot Staff, Guff, and Bru’kan. At the boss, I open with Gruul with Dragon’s Skull, Mannoroth with Fel Spikes, and Thrall with Doomhammer. Fel Spikes prevents your target from being healed, so burn down the adds and then go for the boss. At least Thrall will fall while doing this, but that’s fine, the Nature squad can easily mop up the boss once the adds are gone.

Video guide:

For the alternative burn plan, you use the same Nature trio, and add Anduin, Velen, and Natalie Seline to the bench.

Video guide:

Blackrock Mountain 4-9: Heroic Rend Blackhand

Heroic Rend is afraid of one thing, and one thing only: Diablo.

I open with the Fire comp: Antonidas, Geddon, and Ragnaros, and bring in Cairne and Diablo as they fall. Cairne speeds things up and Diablo uses Fire Stomp, and either Rend is dead or at very low health and ready to be taken down.

There is a bug with the 9 damage aoe treasure that causes Rend to take crazy amounts of damage, but the bug is of no significance to the outcome. Whether Rend dies at 0, -1000, or -3000 Health makes no difference. The only downside is that the bug makes the animations last longer, but they will end, don’t worry.

For the final slot, I use Gruul. Gruul can help the Fire comp climb to Rend without losses, as its Fire Resistance equipment makes many of the Elemental fights easy.

Video guide:

Good luck, have fun!

That’s all the bosses in Winterspring and Blackrock Mountain!

You can find guides for these and for any upcoming encounters on my Youtube channel at

You can also find me trying out new things and generally chilling with Mercenaries on my Twitch channel at

Is the State of Blizzard Leak True? Is It Plausible?

Over the past couple of days, an unverified insider leak about the state of Blizzard has been making rounds in social media.

Now, fake leaks happen all the time, but even if this one is not true, it is quite interesting because it exhibits lots of symptoms that companies like Blizzard are likely to fall into and that Blizzard has fallen into based on other publicly available information.

I have played World of Warcraft and Hearthstone from launch and created Hearthstone content on Youtube and Twitch for almost six years. Therefore, I have followed Blizzard closely for quite some time. I have also worked in a Director level position on strategy, processes, organizational models, and pricing in a global company. Overall, the theory and practice of what the leak describes from Blizzard are familiar to me.

In this post, I want to take a deeper look at what the leak claims, how believable those claims are, and what they mean, if true.

After the initial hype, there has been a considerable amount of criticism regarding Shadowlands. Player numbers shot up at the start of the expansion, and then fell. Whether the situation is as dire as the leak claims, is difficult to verify. Furthermore, World of Warcraft has exhibited the pattern of increasing player numbers with new expansions followed by a fall for years by now.

What is interesting is the line about being too big to fail and if they build it, players will come. This is a common attitude in some of the biggest companies in the world. For example, when I was going through interview rounds for a position at one giant company, and we discussed their product portfolio, the employees just flat out told me that they will simply create the demand for whatever they make with their marketing machine. I have never been a fan of this belief, but it is something that is very commonplace in big companies.

It would not be out of place for Blizzard to not understand the appeal of Final Fantasy XIV, either. Blizzard maintains a very positive communications strategy and typically pushes major content releases to coincide with those of their competitors, trying to drown out any hype for competing products. This has worked for a long time, so not considering the competition that dangerous is an easy evaluation to make.

Regarding mobile game style retention traps, we have seen in both Hearthstone and World of Warcraft that Blizzard has indeed moved towards in-game design that attempts to keep people playing. The grind is real. Whether you’re happy playing the game is irrelevant, as long as you keep playing and keep rolling in those hours spent in the game. Hearthstone’s Rewards Track revamp that added to the number of quests you want to complete and Shadowlands’ quest and travel design that increased the time you spend doing essentially un-fun things are both clear examples of this.

The focus on getting people to sub to World of Warcraft for 6 months at a time has been clear for some time: pretty much every 6 months, people with the long sub get a free mount, something that has not been the case before. It seems like a sensible monetization strategy: for people just on the edge of unsubbing, the slightly cheaper 6-month subscription combined with some cosmetics might just be enough to keep them active instead of taking a break.

The monetization potential on mobile/tablet is undeniable, and a gaming company can easily be tempted to step into that. Blizzard has made some of the first moves – Don’t you guys have phones? – although from a strategic perspective one has to wonder whether such a traditional PC game company really should try to conquer mobile. I suppose Blizzard has some pretty good data on the subject and has deemed this more of a Blockbuster/Netflix moment for them than an unnecessary distraction from their core focus on PC games.

I have not followed Overwatch closely enough to say whether there is anything to the claim that it was killed by trying to make it more of an esport.

The comments about J. Allen Brack and Ion Hazzikostas being good people who are now in positions that are way over their heads is impossible to verify. It is difficult to see into the inner workings of a company, but as a phenomenon, over-promoting people is well known.

The culture where managerial positions are seen as inherently more valuable than designer positions is a major contributor to this, as getting to any managerial position is seen as advancement in a career, even though a star developer could be more valuable for the company. In traditional companies, sales has been the only part of the organization that has been exempt from this thinking, as commission-based salespeople have been able to out-earn even their CEOs.

The characterization of some attitudes at Blizzard as “positivity dojo” is hilariously accurate.

Blizzard, as a company, has long been allergic to any criticism and anything that is not unconditional praise, really. In Hearthstone, the community manager blacklists people who are not praising the company enough and major content creators have talked in interviews about how they are afraid of losing support if they are in any way negative.

This is a significant cultural issue at Blizzard, and one often associated with failing companies. It is always the culture that goes first. Hubris, a loop of false positivity, and silencing the doubters happens first, and financial losses come later. In various studies, companies have been found to make their record profits at a point when it’s all already going downhill, carried by the good deeds of the previous years. When that updraft ends, the fall can be steep.

I had the pleasure (?) to work some periods at Nokia and for its contractors, both during its good years and when its fall had started, and the culture was gone before the profits were in that case too. I think we are seeing plenty of similar signs at Blizzard.

The difficulty in hiring is hard to quantify, but it is easy to find plenty of people online saying that they would have loved to work at Blizzard once upon a time, but no longer feel that way. I’m part of that crowd myself; at the very least, I would no longer consider relocating just for Blizzard.

This is where it’s starting to get a little iffy. Celestalon (Nervig) has not stopped using Twitter – he last responded to me yesterday, as a matter of fact. Then again, the effects of any such instructions are difficult to assess from the outside.

The search for Blizzard’s direction in this final part is not something that can be easily verified.

Is the leak true?

There is nothing in the leak that could be used to immediately verify whether it is true. Future events cannot reliably show it either because even if Sylvanas were to become the Arbiter or Activision cracked down on Blizzard and turned it into a mobile company, neither would be definite proof.

The vast majority of things in the leak are publicly available information: the monetization strategy, the move to mobile, the mobile-game-like engagement metrics, none of that has been hidden in any way. Someone who has been following Blizzard closely for the past few years could put this together.

Then again, nothing in the leak is terribly off, either. Are these the real sentiments inside Blizzard? From the outside, we cannot know. Overall, however, the leak is neither outrageous nor overly negative, so it might as well be a real one.

What can we learn from the leak?

Blizzard is going through a rough time. The customer sentiment has turned in a dangerous direction for the company. You could put this together from other sources already, it is just conveniently compiled in the leak. The current state of the company would require crisis management, but the companies that need it often recognize that need only when things are almost impossible to correct. If I were into betting, I would not bet for Blizzard right now.

The Best Hearthstone Budget Decks (July 2021, Forged in the Barrens)

In this post, I will take a look at the best budget decks in Hearthstone. These decks can be played all the way to Legend, although you will generally have an easier time with a full-cost list, with perhaps the top three or four decks from this post capable of fully competing with more expensive lists.

Blizzard has been much more proactive with balance changes in the past months than ever before, and it has made building budget decks even more challenging: I can barely test all the classes before a new balance patch is released, and almost all the changes hit budget decks even harder than full-cost decks (Crabrider, First Day of School, Hand of A’dal, Sword of the Fallen, Pen Flinger…). That’s quite a one-two punch for budget players because their best decks are constantly getting destroyed. Spoilers: Gibberling Druid is a great budget deck right now, and I expect it will get rekt in a couple of days with the next balance patch.

Be that as it may, the life of a budget player has been reasonable since the Wailing Caverns mini-set opened up Shaman as a viable class also on a budget. Early in Forged in the Barrens, the relative weakness of the Core set compared to Basic and Classic had made budget life difficult, but the mini-set added crucial cheap cards to be able to create cheap 30-card decks.

I have seven decks that I consider good enough at the moment. You can find even more budget decks on my Youtube channel if you’re looking for some other classes or experiences, even if climbing to Legend may be too tough with those lists.

#7: Face Hunter

Face Hunter is perhaps the most iconic budget deck, but with Forged in the Barrens, Blizzard decided that Face Hunter should be more expensive. Warsong Wrangler, Kolkar Pack Runner, and Barak Kodobane provide a significant amount of power for the archetype, and while it is still possible to build a Face Hunter deck on a budget, climbing to Legend with it is a struggle.

Scavenger’s Ingenuity is still a fine card for tutoring Wolpertingers and Trampling Rhinos, and sometimes you can pull off some sweet surprises with Scrap Shot, but that is practically your only edge against the full-cost list.

Deck code: AAECAR8AD6K5A/m6A/+6A9zMA6LOA4LQA7nSA7ThA4biA8rjA9zqA9vtA6mfBLugBL+gBAA=

Guide video:

#6: Elemental Shaman

Elemental Shaman is one of the best decks in the game, but its success is difficult to translate into budget form. Lilypad Lurker is the strongest tempo swing in the archetype and there is nothing that matches it on a budget.

Often, budget decks tend to look for some ways to go under the established versions of the archetypes, to be a little faster, but Elemental Shaman’s midrange nature does not mix well with such a plan (Aggro Shaman is a different matter).

Earth Elemental has been my card of choice to replace Lilypad Lurker, and it has its advantages in aggro matchups. In a mirror, however, you generally just have to slam it down and hope that the opponent cannot answer with a Lilypad Lurker. The whole cat-and-mouse game around that Hex effect tempo swing is missing when you play the budget version, but there’s very little you can do about it.

Deck code: AAECAaoIArCKBICgBA7buAOn3gOq3gOr3gOM4QPg7APh7AOt7gPj7gOU8AOMnwT5nwT7nwTjoAQA

Guide video:

#5: Deathrattle Demon Hunter

Deathrattle Demon Hunter is a powerful deck, and it is reasonably simple to build on a budget as well.

While the full-cost lists often make use of N’Zoth, a budget version aims to be faster and end the game before N’Zoth can even enter play, hopefully even before Death Speaker Blackthorn can make a difference.

Taelan tutors for Illidari Inquisitors, while Raging Felscreamer makes them cheaper. Fury, Sneaky Delinquent, and Darkspear Berserker give the deck some more punch compared to the full-cost list so that you can play a faster game.

Deck code: AAECAea5AwKoigTUnwQO2cYDh9QDitQDyd0D8+MDmOoDmeoDu+0DvO0D/e0DqO8Dr+8DwvEDgIUEAA==

Guide video:

#4: Aggro Paladin

Rumors of Paladin’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, Paladin decks have needed multiple rebuilds after all the nerfs, but the class is still perfectly capable.

Devouring Ectoplasm from the Wailing Caverns mini-set has opened up the option to build a Rally-based Aggro Paladin deck: a full-cost list can be built even without Secrets, but the budget version still has to use Secrets to fill in the blanks. Either way, it is a powerful aggro deck with some potential surprises.


Guide video:

#3: Rush Warrior

It is finally possible to play Warrior on a budget! Control decks are a bit expensive- not to mention really bad in the current meta unless they’re Priest – but I finally managed to solve Budget Rush Warrior.

Frothing Berserker and Mankrik are here to fill up the otherwise abyssal gap of three-drops, and Guardian Augmerchant and Cruel Taskmaster can both help your own minions and ping down minor threats.

Deck code: AAECAQcG5/ADqIoEqooEsIoEi6AEjKAEDLy5A96+A+LMA6fOA7PeA7XeA7reA8HeA5HkA5jtA9XxA42gBAA=

Guide video:

#2: Aggro Shaman

Aggro Shaman is good and cheap and works perfectly well without any of the Legendary cards. Thank you, Wailing Caverns mini-set!

Deck code: AAECAaoIAA/buAOTuQOYuQP+0QOn3gOo3gOq3gOM4QPg7APh7AOt7gPj7gONnwT5nwT+nwQA

Guide video:

#1: Token Druid

Token Druid has been the one constant in Forged in the Barrens. While it is better if you have Guess the Weight in your collection, the archetype is perfectly viable with just two copies of Glowfly Swarm.

Unfortunately, it looks like Blizzard will nerf this deck this week, so it is uncertain whether a new budget version can be built.

Enjoy it now, but don’t craft the Epics for it anymore at this point until we know more about the next balance patch.

Deck code: AAECAZICAoefBNefBA7lugPvugP5zAObzgO50gPw1AOJ4AOK4AOK5AOM5AOt7AOz7AOunwTZnwQA

Guide video:


Hearthstone is often described as a pay-to-have-fun game. You can build a top-tier meta deck as a free-to-play player, but you cannot keep up with a variety of classes.

Budget decks can give everyone access to more classes, even though they remain a bit poor on the variety aspect: most budget decks are aggro decks with a midrange deck or two sprinkled in out of necessity, as it can be difficult to contest the power of Legendary cards in a longer game.

I hope these decks help you to climb the ladder with little to no dust!

You can always find my latest decks on my Youtube channel at

Pen Flinger should be nerfed!

The scourge of current Hearthstone is Pen Flinger. While a tiny one-mana 1/1 might seem inconspicuous at first, it has a profound effect on the game and its players.

Some people have suggested nerfing it to a two-mana 2/2 to prevent its Spellburst effect from being triggered so many times, but even that would merely be a bandaid.

The real problem is the voice line. Being called a loser hundreds and hundreds of times cannot be good for the already questionable mental health of the poor card game addicts who have to listen to it over and over again.

In Battlegrounds, Blizzard went over the top to make Bob a positive influence. Bob will tell you that things are OK even after you completely mess up your turn and you’re in the last place with one health left. You’ve got this!

Sure, we joke about Pen Flinger.

Or do we? There is always a hint of truth in humor, and we use it as a coping mechanism.

The real fix to Pen Flinger is to change its voice lines and speed up its animations. It could just say “Hey!”, or “Catch!”, or even “Cowabunga!” (probably not possible due to copyright reasons). Just make it quick to hit the board and fast to return back to hand. That would improve the lives of millions of people.

Hearthstone Returning Player Guide (March 2021)

Are you considering coming back to Hearthstone? In this returning player guide, I take a look at the most important things you need to know to get started with Hearthstone again!

Important note! There are returning player rewards that you will get if you have not logged into Hearthstone for 120 days. The returning player quest line will be updated from 9 Classic packs to 15 packs from recent expansions in the 20.0 update. Returning players should wait for that at this point to maximize their rewards. The estimated launch of patch 20.0 is around March 23rd, so check whether your Hearthstone is version 20.0 before logging in. If you already logged in, it’s not a disaster: you will get fewer returning player rewards, but can partially compensate for that by getting further in the rewards track before it resets on March 30th.

Free deck for returning players

One of the first things you will get is a free deck if you have not logged into Hearthstone for 120 days. The game merely prompts you to choose which class you want a deck for without showing you what’s in them. They are not all equally good!

The free decks will change with patch 20.0. Before the patch, Paladin and Rogue are your best options. The post-patch decks are somewhat weaker, but Paladin is still a fine choice. I have examined all the decks in more detail in this video:

The Core set

Basic and Classic sets are rotating out of Standard format on March 30th. They will be replaced by the 235-card Core set that is given to all players for free!

The Core set cards can change every year: you will lose any that rotate out, and automatically get any that rotate in. The Core set cards cannot be disenchanted.

You may want to hold on to your old versions of Core set cards because of this, so that you will continue to have access to them for Wild. You also need the originals if you want to play the Classic format, which is vanilla Hearthstone the way it was in June 2014.

The Standard rotation

The Standard format consists of Basic and Classic (or Core after March 30th) and expansions from the current and previous year. Older expansions rotate out of Standard when the first expansion of a year is released.

In 2021, when Forged in the Barrens is released on March 30th, the Standard format will consist of Core, Forged in the Barrens, Ashes of Outland, Scholomance Academy, and Madness at the Darkmoon Faire.

You will want cards from all of these expansions to build Standard format decks.

Getting cards from packs, and mini-sets

Hearthstone has a duplicate protection system: you will always get new cards from a set until you have opened all playable copies of every card of a specific rarity. For example, you need to open two copies of each Common card in a set before you start to see duplicate Common cards. Likewise, you need to open two copies of each Rare card in a set before you start to see duplicate Rare cards.

If you disenchant a card, it still counts as acquired and you are not guaranteed to get it back: the exception is Golden cards – if you disenchant a Golden card that you got as a playable copy, you will open a regular version of that card first after getting a full set of cards of that rarity. For example, if you open a Golden Common and disenchant it, you will open a regular version of that card once you have opened two of each Common card from that set.

You will get a Legendary card within the first ten packs of a set. After that, you will get a Legendary card at the latest every 40 packs, and on average every 20 packs.

The way the system works means that you want to open at least some packs of every available set in Standard.

We can also calculate fairly accurately how many packs you need to open to get all the cards of a specific rarity:

For Ashes of Outland, Scholomance Academy, and Forged in the Barrens (before the mini-set):

  • 28 packs for all Common cards
  • 64 packs for all Rare cards

For Madness at the Darkmoon Faire (including the mini-set):

  • 36 packs for all Common cards
  • 88 packs for all Rare cards

Mini-sets are a new thing for Hearthstone since Madness at the Darkmoon Faire. They’re basically like adventures in that they add some tens of cards to the game, but they include no single-player content and they are added to the most recent expansion so that they can be opened from the packs of that expansion and crafted. When a mini-set is released, there is also a bundle for real money and gold to get all the mini-set cards without opening packs.

Every expansion in 2021 will have a mini-set that will be released around halfway through the expansion’s cycle.

Solo content and adventures

There is no new solo content with exclusive rewards in Hearthstone, nor does the new solo content cost anything.

Strictly speaking, the Ashes of Outland Demon Hunter Prologue opens the Demon Hunter class and gives some class cards for you until patch 20.0, so if you return to the game before that, it is the first thing you should do. After patch 20.0, Demon Hunter can be opened by playing against it in practice mode and the solo content will give you one Demon Hunter card pack.

The other current solo content is Book of Heroes. These are short, but occasionally challenging, story missions built around each class. Completing the story gives you one class card pack for that class.

The solo content is completely optional.

Rewards track

Hearthstone’s quest system was revamped in late 2020. There is currently a battle pass style rewards track in the game, and all quests give you experience for the rewards track instead of gold. You get gold from the rewards track.

There is a free path and a paid path, but don’t worry about buying the battle pass: the paid path is mostly for cosmetics and while it gives you some gold, you will not get enough gold to be comparable to buying packs unless you play a lot. If you play a ton, it will actually give a fairly nice amount of gold. The gold gains are from xp bonus, so they are not retroactive: you need to know whether you want it right at the start of a new season to get good gold benefits.

You get experience from quests and from simply playing the game – all modes included, including Battlegrounds! Quests form the bulk of the xp gain, so try to complete as many of the weekly and daily quests as you can. Other than that, just play the game.

Remember to have fun!

Those are all the most important things you need to know to come back to Hearthstone. Have fun!

You can also find this guide in video format on Youtube:

Best Hearthstone Budget Decks in Scholomance Academy

I have built Hearthstone budget decks for years and played budget decks to Legend in all the recent expansions.

In Scholomance Academy, I took budget decks a step further and reached the high Legend x11 star bonus playing nothing but budget decks.

In this post, I go through all the decks I have had success with. You can also find gameplay videos of all the decks on my Youtube channel, links to the specific videos are in the segments for each of the decks.

People often ask me what is the best budget deck. That can be a difficult question to answer because most of these decks do not have large enough sample sizes to give definitive answers.

I am more comfortable giving you the rough tiers the decks are in: the staples that are strong, reliable workhorses, the challengers that I have had good success with but that lack the hundreds of games needed to really understand them thoroughly, and the playable decks that I am able to win at least half of my games with, but that I would not readily recommend for climbing.

The large majority of budget decks I have played go in a fourth category, the failures. When building decks, you will end up playing more bad decks than good decks, but all of that is necessary to find the insights that allow the good decks to be built. I will not showcase the failures in their full form, although I may reference some of the lessons learned from them as appropriate.

With that introduction, let’s journey deeper into the best budget decks in Hearthstone in Scholomance Academy!

The staples

These decks are strong, proven, and I would be happy to take them to the ladder any day.

Budget Face Hunter (1520 dust)

Deck code: AAECAR8AD6gCtQOHBP4Mn6UD+68D/K8DorkD/7oD3MwDm80Dos4DgtADxtEDudIDAA==

Face Hunter is once again one of the top tier archetypes in Scholomance Academy, and there is but a small difference in performance between the full-cost versions of the deck and the budget version. I have used this same budget list almost since the beginning of the expansion, and it just keeps delivering.

The secret package is always something you may want to tech for the meta you’re playing against, but double Freezing Trap and double Pressure Plate has been very reliable almost throughout Scholomance Academy. I occasionally replace one Pressure Plate with an Explosive Trap if I meet a lot of Rogues, but Rogues are not that common right now, so the basic package seems to be performing the best.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Guide video:

Budget Aggro Rogue (1000 dust)


It took me almost a hundred games to find a good Budget Rogue deck. There are fairly cheap ways to build a good Rogue deck with Greyheart Sage and Secret Passage, that’s just four Epic cards, but I was convinced that there had to be a way to build one without them as well.

The Self-Sharpening Sword, Vulpera Toxinblade, and Cutting Class weapon synergy package proved itself early in the testing, but I kept running out of resources before I was able to finish the job. After a detour with Budget Galakrond Rogue (which turned out OK too, just not quite as good as this one), I was convinced that some additional resource generation would be the solution. It still took some fine-tuning, but the addition of Pharaoh Cat and EVIL Miscreant proved to be exactly the thing the deck needed to have enough resources to win the game.

Compared to the meta Rogue decks, the budget Aggro Rogue is an amalgamation of Stealth Rogue and Weapon Rogue: it cannot fully support either style but creates its own mix in between. Upgrading the deck would therefore mean making a choice to pursue one or the other.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

Budget Aggro Demon Hunter (1240 dust)

Deck code: AAECAea5AwLMugPWvgMO/acD+a4Di7oD4LwD174D3r4D2cYD98gD+cgD/sgD3MwDgtADxtEDi9UDAA==

While Soul Demon Hunter is the more popular archetype right now, Aggro Demon Hunter is also still powerful. I have built several versions of the deck throughout Scholomance Academy, and this is my current favorite.

There are two fundamental ways to build the deck: either with Skull of Gul’dan and Altruis the Outcast, or without them but with Marrowslicer. The Skull variant has more swing and comeback potential whereas the Marrowslicer variant is even more aggressive.

I see a lot of people building the deck with both Skull and Marrowslicer, but in my testing already in August I found that solution unsatisfactory. Subsequent statistics of meta builds seem to indicate the same.

After making that fundamental choice, there are also some tech slots to fill. I currently like Cult Neophyte and Frozen Shadoweaver as my tech cards. Frozen Shadoweaver is usually better than weapon removal (Ooze) in a tempo deck because freezing the opponent for a turn is often as good or even better than removing a weapon, and Shadoweaver can also freeze big minions as needed. Cult Neophyte can serve to buy time against many of the current meta decks, such as Druid and Mage. You want your tech cards to be good in as many matchups as possible.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

The challengers

These are decks that I believe in, just not quite as much as in the absolute top decks. Some of them lack a good sample size, others are more dependent on hitting the right meta. Some of them might become staples in the future with more testing.

Budget Gibberling Druid (1400 dust)

Deck code: AAECAZICAA/+AfcD5gXDlAPKnAP9pwP/rQP5rgPXvgPevgPczAP5zAObzgPG0QO50gMA

Early in Scholomance Academy, Gibberling Druid was perhaps even the best budget deck. Alas, the meta has evolved and Gibberling Druid has not proven to stand the test of time quite as well as Face Hunter. It is still a formidable deck, clocking in an above 51% winrate in Diamond even today, but it is no longer a fully reliable climbing deck in higher ranks.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

Budget Secret Paladin (1520 dust)


Paladin is one of the big winners in Scholomance Academy, but a good budget Paladin deck proved to be elusive. Libram of Hope, High Abbess Alura, Lady Liadrin, and Argent Braggart are such key cards in many of the current Paladin decks that it can be hard to see how they can be replaced.

Ultimately, I found the answer in Secrets. Secretkeeper, Mysterious Blade, and Sunreaver Spy are still perfectly viable cards, they are just slightly too weak compared to the current main Paladin archetypes, but they can still come together for some unexpected results.

This is the deck I finished my Legend climb with in September.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

Budget Burn Shaman (1920 dust)

Deck code: AAECAaoIAA/5A5YG4AbGmQO1rQO2rQPbuAPXvgPevgOmywPczAPhzAPOzgPG0QPw1AMA

I think Burn Shaman is underrated and I believe the reason is that most people build the deck with the wrong strategy in mind. Sorcerous Substitute, for example, is a trap card that is not able to succeed in an archetype the can fight for the board for a limited time only after which it has to switch to direct damage spells to finish the job.

The way I believe Burn Shaman should be built is to keep the curve very low and aggressive to maximize early minion pressure and then finish the job with spells. Expensive minions are a waste of space with that strategy in mind.

Recently, there have been some individual full-cost Burn Shaman decks that have adopted this philosophy and I have a lot of faith in the archetype should it be more widely adopted. I built this deck in early August and retested it in September to find it working even better in the current meta.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

Budget Galakrond Rogue (1420 dust)

Deck code: AAECAaIHAs0Dy8ADDrQBlwaIB4+XA/WnA7muA/6uA6qvA86vA4KxA7m4A9a+A6TRA/7RAwA=

After failing to build a Budget Aggro Rogue for some time, I returned to Budget Galakrond Rogue, and found it to still be a viable deck! (As it happens, the lessons learned from this deck led me to build an even better Budget Aggro Rogue.)

This take on Galakrond Rogue is not that heavily dependent on Galakrond itself, you can think of it more as a Questing Adventurer + Lackeys decks. The key resources are Lackeys that are generated from all Invoke cards: they give you minions, spells, buffs for Questing Adventurer, and targets for Faceless Corruptors.

It is a fun deck to play, although the pure aggro approach seems somewhat better. It is often a good idea to just win the game as fast as you can.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

The playable decks

During my experimentation, I came across some archetypes that can win enough games to slowly climb, but that I cannot seem to make good enough to really roll through the ladder.

Budget Galakrond Priest (3520 dust)

Deck code: AAECAa0GBtwBigfTCpibA8jAA9fOAwzJBpmpA5+pA9qsA/KsA/6uA82vA5O6A5u6A6+6A/S7A9y+AwA=

I really wanted to build a budget control deck. I realize that it is a difficult task because Hearthstone is monetized so that control and combo decks are expensive. I tried several ideas, such as Big Warrior (does not work on a budget by the way), but the only class that had what it takes is Priest.

Budget Galakrond Priest is slower and more control-oriented than its more expensive kin: with no Soul Mirror, Mindflayer Kaahrj, or Murozond the Infinite to provide big swing turns and no stealing synergies available, Budget Galakrond Priest needs to play a slower, grindier style.

It still requires four Epic cards to work: two copies of Sethekk Veilweaver (for value) and two copies of Plague of Death (for hard removal).

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

Budget Resurrect Priest (3220 dust)


I also tried another Priest variant, Resurrect Priest. When building Resurrect Priest on a budget, you lack some of the value from Archmage Vargoth and Catrina Muerte, and the best way to overcome that is to add Galakrond to the deck.

I had moderate success with the deck and it seems playable, but not particularly strong.

Hearthstone Top Decks:


Deck guide:

What about other classes?

I actually had some success playing my old Ashes of Outland Galakrond Zoo Warlock, but I’m still uncertain what would be the best way to build a budget Warlock deck in Scholomance Academy. I believe there is one if the right list can be found.

Warrior decks are typically expensive and I am skeptical about Pirate Warrior without Ancharrr. I tried Big Warrior, but could not make it work on a budget.

A cheap Mage deck seems impossible with so many key cards being Epic or Legendary.


Scholomance Academy turned out to be an OK expansion for budget players. Voracious Reader alone provides multiple viable decks, which can be a good thing but also makes many of the decks play in a similar fashion. The meta is aggressive and swingy, and aggression works on a budget too.

For more content, you can find me on Youtube at and on Twitch at

Best Hearthstone Budget Decks in Ashes of Outland

Ashes of Outland is coming to a close and it was a wild ride. With five balance patches during the expansion, budget decks needed to be rebuilt and retested several times.

As a result, this became the only expansion so far where I have climbed to Legend with budget decks every month – that’s right, I played only budget decks to Legend in April, May, June, and July on NA server, which is my secondary server as I mainly play on EU. I did all of the climbing on stream, which you can find at and made guide videos for all the decks on my Youtube channel at

Here is the end of my final climb after the fifth balance patch:

Demon Hunter has been a blessing and a curse for budget players: after all the balance patches, it is now by far the strongest budget deck, so there is a really cheap and powerful option to climb with, but it also means that playing other classes can feel weak in comparison.

That said, there are viable budget decks for multiple classes right now, and there are probably still a couple of others that I have not tested. In particular, Murloc Paladin with just the four Epic cards (two copies of Underlight Angling Rod and Murloc Warleader) should also be viable, although I do not think it can get the job done without those Epics.

As for the decks that I have tested, here are the seven best budget decks to climb to Legend with!

#7 Budget Spell Druid

Deck code: AAECAZICBP0CmgjkCNOcAw3+AfcD5gXEBrmUA+KfA9yiA9ulA+W6A+i6A+y6A+66A++6AwA=

Guide video:

Before the nerf to Fungal Fortunes that was part of the final balance patch, Spell Druid was a contender for the strongest budget deck. It was close to the level of Demon Hunter and vastly easier to play.

However, the Fungal Fortunes nerf has hit Druid quite hard, and even the full-cost Druid lists are struggling to break above 50% win rate.

I still had good success with the budget list, but it was far harder to play now, often requiring setting up Glowfly Swarm + Soul of the Forest turns in order to close out games.

I attempted to build the deck in other ways as well, including a Dragon variant, but those attempts failed and for a budget option, a pure Spell Druid is still as good as Druid gets.

There are two Epic cards in Budget Spell Druid because the archetype cannot be played without those Glowfly Swarms.

#6: Budget Face Hunter

Deck code: AAECAR8AD6gCyQSIBZIF7QaXCNsJ/gzzpwP5rgP7rwP8rwOiuQP5ugP/ugMA

Guide video:

Hunter is currently perhaps the best class in the game, but its success does not extend to budget decks. In fact, budget Hunter decks are doing worse now than they were before the final balance patch.

Midrange Hunter and Dragon Hunter used to be viable options on a budget earlier in Ashes of Outland, but in the current meta, only Face Hunter can succeed without expensive cards.

Face Hunter does its thing, it goes face. It is the fastest Hunter deck, but also the most one-dimensional, so when you run out of steam, the game is just over. The deck is all about optimizing your damage and making key strategic trades when needed. When in doubt, go face.

In aggro mirrors, the game often becomes an interesting board battle even with Face Hunter, and some strategically placed Explosive Traps can win such games for you.

#5 Budget Galakrond Rogue

Deck code: AAECAaIHAs0Dy8ADDrQBlwaIB90Ij5cD9acDua4D/q4Dqq8Dzq8DgrEDubgDu7gD1r4DAA==

Guide video:

Galakrond rogue was not hurt too bad by the Galakrond nerf in the end. Many other decks lost a step or two, so a slower Galakrond is acceptable and the deck can still win games.

I went back to the SI:7 Agent roots of the class to better contest the likes of Murloc Paladin, and the deck keeps performing at a high level.

I also experimented with the Secret package, but without Shadowjeweler Hanar, it is not worth it. Stealth package is also out of reach without Greyheart Sage. But hey, pure vanilla Galakrond Rogue is still good.

#4 Budget Burn Shaman


Guide video:

The only completely new entrant to the race after the fifth balance patch is Burn Shaman. With other decks weakened and Transfer Student added to the game (for free even though it looks like an Epic card!), it was finally possible to build a strong Budget Shaman deck.

Burn Shaman starts with aggressive minions and depending on the number of buffs you can find, it may even end up controlling the board all the way through the game.

Even if it loses the board, there are multiple direct damage spells and some Squallhunters to find that last bit of damage needed to close things out.

#3 Budget Galakrond Priest

Deck code: AAECAa0GBNwBigfyrAPIwAMNHskG0wqZqQOfqQParAP+rgPNrwOTugObugOvugP0uwPcvgMA

Guide video:

Budget Galakrond Priest is the only control deck that can be played on a budget. Even so, the deck requires four Epic cards to function: two copies of Sethekk Veilweaver and two copies of Plague of Death. If you have some good Legendary cards, such as Soul Mirror, you do not need the Plagues, at least in two copies.

The increasing number of Hunters can make Priest’s life difficult and I have chosen to add Shadow Madness back to the deck to grab some Zixors for better use. Acidic Swamp Ooze can also relieve some of the pressure on your life total.

As a Priest, you remove the opponent’s threats, maybe steal some of them for yourself, and ultimately win with the value from Galakrond if the opponent does not concede.

#2 Budget Dragon Zoo Warlock (makee2)

Deck code: AAECAf0GAA8w4QTCCP2kA/2nA+WsA+ysA/+wA4exA7W5A7a5A8e5A9a+A9e+A96+AwA=

Guide video:

I came upon this deck as a deck request from makee2, and after extensive testing, I’ve concluded that it is the best way to build a Zoo deck on a budget. You can do Galakrond Zoo or non-Dragon Scrap Imp Zoo, and those are OK, but this is simply superior to them at a similar cost level.

The deck combines Imprisoned Scrap Imp and Hand of Gul’dan with the most powerful Warlock dragon synergy cards. Without a Magic Carpet, Scalerider, Nether Breath, and Crazed Netherwing provide means to wrestle control of the board back should it be lost and also serve as additional reach from hand.

#1 Budget Tempo Demon Hunter

Deck code: AAECAea5AwKBsQPMugMOlgb9pwP5rgOLugPXuwPgvAPWvgPXvgPevgPHxgPZxgP3yAP5yAP+yAMA

Guide video:

Tempo Demon Hunter is just really, really good. I have opted to add Cobalt Spellkin to the budget list as well for some additional reach, but I’ve kept Eye Beams in the deck to better contest other aggressive decks. Should you find yourself in a more control meta, you can add a second Cobalt Spellkin over an Eye Beam.

This is the deck that I finalized my Legend climb in July with and it is extremely strong. I am 17-6 with the deck after the fifth balance patch, and throughout Ashes of Outland, my Budget Demon Hunter score is 109-37 (75% winrate). This is with x10 multiplier and Diamond 5 – Diamond 1 games only, so no newbie farming there.

The berserker package of Bonechewer Brawler, Amani Berserker, Guardian Augmerchant and Beaming Sidekick provides major threats right from the start, Cobalt Spellkin gives some more reach, and ultimately there is always Skull of Gul’dan and Altruis the Outcast to come back to a difficult game.


Playing all the way to Legend on a budget has been possible throughout Ashes of Outland. Furthermore, there are multiple decks you can play to get there right now.

If you’re coming back to Hearthstone for Scholomance Academy or are a free-to-play player, these are some competitive options you can play without investing too much dust right before a new expansion.

If you like decks like these, you can find me on Twitch at and on Youtube at

Free new and returning player decks updated July 30th – which is the best?

There are new free decks up for grabs in Hearthstone: players who graduate to the main ladder from apprentice ranks receive a free deck as do any players who log in to Hearthstone after being away for 120 days (4 months).

The free deck program was originally not updated for Ashes of Outland, but on July 30th the decks will receive a number of Ashes of Outland cards and some of them change drastically. Most notably, the Mage deck that used to be one of the top recommendations will be by far the worst deck to pick!

In this article, I will go through all the new player decks and help you decide which one to choose.

If you prefer to listen to the review, you can also find it on my Youtube channel:

Free Druid deck: Big Druid

The free Druid deck has changed from Token Druid to Big Druid. Both are mediocre right now, as Druid generally struggles a little in the current meta.

There are some interesting cards in the deck, especially Ysera, Unleashed, which is arguably the strongest Druid Legendary card at the moment. The deck also includes Winged Guardian from the first chapter of Galakrond’s Awakening, so if you are not planning to buy the adventure, this is the only other way to get the card.

Nonetheless, Druid is a mediocre choice at best.

Free Hunter deck: Highlander Hunter

Highlander Hunter is the best deck in the game right now, and this free version comes with several powerful Legendary cards, two of the Neutrals!

Zephrys the Great, Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, and Dinotamer Brann form the core of Highlander Hunter, and this deck is both valuable and powerful.

There are some weaker cards in the list, such as Unleash the Beast and Marked Shot, but the deck is strong out of the box and easy to upgrade with some cheap powerful cards such as Bonechewer Brawler.

Free Mage deck: Spell Mage

Mage went from best to worst in an instant. Dust-wise, this Spell Mage list is the lowest-value deck available and its cards are not too awesome to use either.

Sure, you get many of the Spell Mage staples such as Font of Power and Apexis Blast, but the only Legendary card you get is Evocation, which is OK, but nothing too great. The deck would need The Amazing Reno (Legendary) and Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron (Epic) to be viable and it’s a shame that those have not been included, considering how the dust value of the deck is far below all the others.

Do not pick.

Free Paladin deck: Pure Paladin

Pure Paladin has improved throughout Ashes of Outland as other decks have been nerfed. It is currently a fine deck, not exactly tier 1, but easily playable all the way to Legend, and this free version has all the goodies: full Libram package including Lady Liadrin (Legendary) and two copies of Libram of Hope (Epic), two copies of Lightfoged Crusader (Epic), and even Shotbot from Galakrond’s Awakening adventure.

As a downside, it is all Paladin class cards, so you cannot use them anywhere else, but this is a great starter deck for a Paladin fan.

Free Priest deck: Resurrect Priest

Resurrect Priest is not really part of the meta now, the main Priest variant is Galakrond Priest, so it is surprising that the free deck is still a Resurrect Priest. The list has been improved from the previous one and it includes the main expensive Resurrect Priest cards apart from Soul Mirror, but the archetype itself is mediocre and not easily upgradeable to a meta deck.

Free Rogue deck: Galakrond Rogue

The free Rogue deck is still a Galakrond Rogue with some minor modifications: Edwin VanCleef has been dropped from the deck in favor of Flik Skyshiv. This makes the deck slightly weaker, but it is still a strong option that comes with several staple Rogue Legendary cards and the Neutral Galakrond synergy Legendary card Kronx Dragonhoof: you get all five Galakrond cards for free when you open your first Descent of Dragons pack, so Kronx can help fill up several different decks.

The deck is Edwin VanCleef (Legendary) and two Questing Adventurers (Rare) away from a viable meta deck. A strong choice with many valuable cards, mostly for Rogue but also a little for all five Galakrond classes.

Free Shaman deck: Galakrond Control Shaman

Galakrond Shaman sees some play on the ladder, but it is a faster, more Evolve-based variant. This control version does not see any play.

The deck comes with Kronx Dragonhoof, which is good news for all of your Galakrond decks, and it also includes The Lurker Below, which is perhaps the strongest Shaman Legendary card, but overall Shaman is a sub-par pick.

Free Warlock deck: Galakrond Zoo Warlock

The free Warlock deck has not changed much, it is still a Galakrond Zoo Warlock with the Lackey package supported by Dark Pharaoh Tekahn.

This is sort of an amalgamation of two meta decks: Lackey Zoo with Tekahn sees some play, as does a slower Galakrond Warlock, but combining the two is a little mediocre.

There are lots of parts for multiple Warlock decks as well as Kronx Dragonhoof, the Legendary Neutral Galakrond synergy minion, so the deck is not a terrible choice although it is rather mediocre.

Free Warrior deck: Pirate Warrior

The free Warrior deck has not changed much either, it is still a Pirate Warrior, the purest aggro deck of the bunch.

It is a fine deck, capable of reaching Legend, and it comes with several good Warrior cards, such as Ancharrr and Livewire Lance, both of which see play in a wide variety of Warrior decks.

The problem with switching to a different Warrior archetype is that they are all built around Risky Skipper, which is from the Galakrond’s Awakening adventure, so without that you can only play this one Warrior archetype.


There have been some improvements to the free decks, but also some strange changes.

Hunter is now perhaps the strongest deck out of the box and it also includes the most valuable Neutral Legendary cards. Highlander decks can be expensive to build though, so you might not have the tools to fully take advantage of them. Still, Hunter is an excellent choice.

Rogue remains powerful. Probably the second-strongest deck out of the box and includes most of the staple Rogue Legendary cards. Another excellent option.

Paladin and Warrior are also strong decks immediately. Their upgradability is weaker: Paladin is just Pure Paladin and does not give you any Neutral cards and Warrior needs Risky Skipper from Galakrond’s Awakening to become anything other than the aggro deck it is. Nonetheless, both are good options for class enthusiasts.

Warlock deck is OK: decent performance and a bunch of pieces to build two different Warlock archetypes. It is behind the top four decks though.

Druid, Shaman, and Priest are mediocre at best, and Mage is bad.

Surviving the Warglaives of Azzinoth nerf as a Tempo Demon Hunter

Well, it finally happened. Just about every Demon Hunter card has been nerfed now that the latest balance patch hit Warglaives of Azzinoth, Kayn Sunfury, and Metamorphosis.

Is Tempo Demon Hunter dead? Far from it. Rather, it has finally been brought in line with the other classes and Demon Hunter decks even use some Neutral cards nowadays. I guess filling the entire deck with class cards may have been a sign of some minor balance issues.

It only took players a couple of days to figure out multiple potential paths for Tempo Demon Hunter to take in its new reality: building the deck without Warglaives, finding new ways to support Warglaives, or just doing things as if nothing has changed.

Tempo Demon Hunter without Warglaives of Azzinoth

The top contenders to replace the nerfed cards are History Buff and Cobalt Spellkin. History Buff can make your minions more difficult to handle whereas Cobalt Spellkin provides some excellent spells for Demon Hunters: Consume Magic, Mana Burn, and Twin Slice are the only current one-cost Demon Hunter spells, so you’re guaranteed to get some of them from Cobalt Spellkin.

Deck code: AAECAea5AwLMugPaxgMOlga8pwP9pwP5rgOBsQOLugPXuwPgvAPXvgPevgPZxgP3yAP5yAP+yAMA

This popular Tempo Demon Hunter list combines the power of these two new additions with the powerful early-game package of Bonechewer Brawler, Amani Berserker, Beaming Sidekick, and Guardian Augmerchant. If you can buff your berserkers, they are difficult to answer and can carry the game almost by themselves. History Buff gives you another way to buff them in the mid-game if you do not find them in your opening hand, and Cobalt Spellkin helps you to find reach and protect your berserkers.

Tempo Demon Hunter with new support for Warglaives of Azzinoth

With Warglaives of Azzinoth at six mana, Tempo Demon Hunter lacks a good play for turn five. Another approach to mitigate this issue is to skip directly to six mana with Escaped Manasaber.

Deck code: AAECAea5AwLMugPaxgMO/acD+a4DhLYDi7oD17sDxLwD4LwD1r4D174D3r4D2cYD98gD+cgD/sgDAA==

This popular new Tempo Demon Hunter list keeps Warglaives of Azzinoth and adds Escaped Manasabers to get them out on turn five as if no nerf ever happened. It does not have room for Amani Berserkers, which weakens its early aggression, but it can still dominate the board in the mid-game with Warglaives of Azzinoth.

Tempo Demon Hunter as usual

Surprisingly enough, simply ignoring that anything bad happened is actually a viable strategy for Tempo Demon Hunter.

Deck code: AAECAea5AwSWBsy6A8O8A9rGAw39pwP5rgOLugPXuwPEvAPgvAPWvgPXvgPevgPZxgP3yAP5yAP+yAMA

This older favorite list is still perfectly functional despite including all the nerfed cards, even Metamorphosis, which was hit the hardest.

As an unexpected upside, the Corsair Cache nerf means that Warriors now struggle to remove Bonechewer Brawlers and Amani Berserkers in the early game, which improves the deck’s weakest matchup despite the hits it took from the balance patch.

There is no strong unconditional on-curve play for turn five in the deck anymore, but combining multiple cards and possibly the Hero Power or using Glaivebound Adept if you have Umberwing equipped can still keep the tempo up even during that challenging turn.

I played the old variant after the nerfs and still had good results, you can see more about it here:

The future of Tempo Demon Hunter

Tempo Demon Hunter decks will continue to undergo experimentation in the coming weeks. Early results indicate that Cobalt Spellkin is the most promising new addition and a Warglaive-less version of the deck that includes the card is the strongest approach, followed by the Escaped Manasaber variant and the old Metamorphosis list. All of them can easily win more than half of their games and remain viable options for laddering, but I currently recommend the Cobalt Spellkin list the most for a smooth path to becoming legendary.

And you can still succeed on a budget too

Oh, and budget Demon Hunter is also still completely viable. In fact, with Druid taking a hit, Budget Demon Hunter is now the uncontested best budget deck in the game.

Here’s my latest take on the archetype:

Deck code: AAECAea5AwKBsQPMugMOlgb9pwP5rgOLugPXuwPgvAPWvgPXvgPevgPHxgPZxgP3yAP5yAP+yAMA

You can find my guide video to Budget Demon Hunter here:

Overall, then, Demon Hunter is still doing fine and I expect its numbers to go back up on the ladder soon.