With the latest round of balance changes, Warrior has finally supplanted Shaman as the worst class. According to Hsreplay.net, the class boasts an eye-watering 40% winrate. Despite this abysmal overall performance, the class still soldiers on. A few loyal adherents still experiment, hoping to find that elusive combination that can outperform all others. Warriors’ chances of finding this unknown “unicorn” deck are surely better than Priest’s at that class’s lowest point. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much.
Warrior’s main issue is a giant, glaring, Fiery-War-Axe-shaped hole in its early-game board control tool-set. While Warrior has ways to deal with Mana Wyrms and Murloc Tidecallers, they’re slow or inefficient. In everything that isn’t the already-optimised Pirate Warrior that usually means packing your deck with board clears, removal and lifegain to make up for your tempo loss.
But with so much given over to simply surviving having no efficient early game, Warrior has very few straightforward options left to win. Nonetheless, there are a few strategies powerful enough to swing a game back into your favour. So what’s available?
N’zoth has always found a home in Warrior. The class has always lacked late-game finishers outside of Grommash Hellscream, so the huge value bomb fills a vital role. However, its value has waned. More and more decks either kill you faster or have more and better board clears. It’s also hard to build a big N’zoth board against, say, Cubelock, when they can build multiple comparable boards far more easily. It doesn’t help that there are few big, efficient, defensive Deathrattle minions to use with it.
Traditional N’zoth decks seem unlikely to be the Unicorn; the inefficient minions simply can’t keep up. But all is not lost. A big advantage N’zoth has is its flexibility and synergy with cards like Dead Man’s Hand. This can allow more room for survival tools rather than value, but comes with its own problems.
Dead Man’s Sacrifice
Another answer would simply be to rely not on a single value bomb, but to simply outlast the opponent by dealing with all of their threats. With the amount of value in many decks, this should be impossible; but Dead Man’s Hand offers a way to attain potentially infinite lifegain and removal. Could Mill be the Unicorn Warrior we need?
Unfortunately, this works far better in theory than in practice. Not only does going all-in on a removal strategy limit proactive plays, it also cuts into reliability. When drawn early, Dead Man’s Hand is essentially a dead draw, which considerably cuts into winrates. To make matters worse, you need to save key resources to shuffle back in, leaving you forced to hold back yet more cards. While it gives you the potential to outlast anything, the difficulty and unreliability holds the strategy back.
Woecleaver also presents some opportunities to find a Unicorn. Recruit or Big Warrior is gaining some traction, though it still struggles to have the same consistency as Big Priest or Cubelock. But Woecleaver can do more than just cheat out big dudes. It can also open up interesting OTK or burst potential. Fibonacci recently highlighted a Woecleaver deck that uses Sudden Genesis and Grommash for surprise bursts of damage.
Unfortunately, this requires a lot of sacrifice in the form of cutting minions and adding unconventional cards. To make matters worse, the popular Control decks that it may be useful against run big taunts like Voidlord and Obsidian Statue. Even Bonemare is still seeing play in midrange lists. As such, charging minions may not be the best strategy.
The search continues
So far, no one has managed to make Warrior do anything that another class can’t do better. But hope still remains. The promise of infinite value, minion duplicating and anti-Paladin board sweepers means that experimentation is both rewarding and has near-infinite possibilities. If you don’t mind losing a lot, you could do a lot worse than trying to figure out a Warrior deck that works for you.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.
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