Dallas Fuel

Will New Talent Help Ignite the Dallas Fuel’s Flame?

Dallas Fuel’s Situation:

As teams evaluated themselves throughout the early weeks of Stage 1, the free-agent signing period began. For some teams they assessed their roster size, for others, their player and hero pools. With raw talent available on the market and three more stages ahead, teams looked to gain a strategic advantage against their competitors. For the Dallas Fuel, who started Stage 1 with a 3-7 record and were below expectations, they a hit home run during the free-agent signing period. Not just one home run, but potentially two. The Dallas Fuel signed Dylan “aKm” Bignet to their roster and are also reportedly in the works to acquire Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim from the London Spitfire. Both are exceptional DPS players when using their respective heroes and have a history of success in Overwatch.

The Addition of aKm

Prior to the start of the Overwatch League, players and fans were shocked that aKm didn’t appear on any of the teams’ rosters. Former Rogue teammates Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson, who now play on the Los Angeles Valiant, noted that he was one of the best players not in the league. Known for his hitscan prowess, with his time on Team Rogue and Team France during the Overwatch World Cup, aKm is one of the mostly deadly Soldier 76 and McCree players in the game. His positioning and accuracy during team fights is uncanny, quickly picking enemies off with two or three headshots in a row. When adding aKm to their arsenal, the Dallas Fuel hope to gain some flexibility in the DPS role. Currently, only Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang from the Dallas Fuel plays McCree on a consistent basis. With the addition of aKm, the Dallas Fuel hope to burn bright again and perhaps kindle a new rivalry against former teammates on the Los Angeles Valiant.

Acquiring Rascal

The second big roster move for the Dallas Fuel: the acquisition of Rascal from the London Spitfire.

Courtesy of Liquipedia

Even though Rascal rarely saw playtime during Stage 1, he is a highly talented and respected player. Before the Overwatch League, Rascal played in Korea for Cloud9 KongDoo and was known for his Sombra, Genji and Pharah play. Rascal’s consistency in the DPS role helped his team secure many Top-3 finishes. Rascal who used to play alongside Birdring on Cloud9 KongDoo, now finds himself in the backseat while on the London Spitfire roster. If the Dallas Fuel end up singing Rascal, more consistent play time could help him regain his prowess back. With the addition of Rascal, the Dallas Fuel would also gain a consistent Genji and Pharah player – something that the Dallas Fuel drastically need… consistency.

Looking Ahead

Stage 2 of the Overwatch League begins on February 21st; Dallas Fuel takes on the Shanghai Dragons in the second match of the day. With new roster moves and the free-agent signing period ending on the 21st; will the Dallas Fuel be able catch fire, turning their losing record from Stage 1 into a winning one during Stage 2?

 

For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to keep up with my posts or myself, come check out my twitter:@J02Armstrong. Thanks for reading!

Featured Image Credit: Overwatch-World.com

Will post-nerf Cubelock conquer all?

Hearthstone’s incoming round of balance changes are as wide-ranging as they are unusual. Unlike the Gadgetzan patch a year ago, the balance team chose not to leave soon-rotating cards untouched. Surprising many, they instead focused three of their four nerfs on cards from previous sets. Corridor Creeper, Raza, Bonemare and of course Patches will soon be significantly weaker. But while these changes delighted many, some grow increasingly worried about Cubelock.

The untouched terror

cubelock

Control Warlocks lost nothing to balance changes

Cubelock is a powerful combo Warlock deck that uses Skull of Manari and Possessed Lackey to cheat out demons, typically Voidlord and Doomguard. It then seeks to duplicate these minions multiple times with Carnivorous Cube, Faceless Manipulator and Bloodreaver Gul’dan. So far, so standard. It’s powerful, but not gamebreaking. So far, so standard. But what has people worried is that so far, it’s the only top-tier deck that plays none of the nerfed cards.

This poses a question; with none of the other tier one decks up to their former strength, will Cubelock run rampant, destroying the meta as we know it? Well maybe; but there are strong reasons to believe it may not.

Counters will rise

cubelock

Perhaps Quest Rogue could return to challenge Warlock?

One of the problems with the meta as it is is that Warlock and Priest hold it in a vice-like grip, pressuring it from different angles. Though their winrate isn’t astronomic, they’re incredibly popular, and they pressure decks in different ways. Razakus is the ultimate Control killer, with armor-shattering OTK potential and massive long-term burn damage. Meanwhile Cubelock shuts down aggro and midrange with massive walls of Voidlords and a huge variety of powerful boardclears. But with Raza Priest no longer the foe it once was, and Aggro diminished, it not only frees up Warlock, it opens up its counters.

Decks like Big Priest, Quest Rogue or Control Mage can crush Cubelock by pressuring its lack of hard removal, early game tempo or vulnerability to transforms or silences. It’s also worth mentioning that Control Warlock also does very well against Cubelock, and with no Raza Priest to pressure it down, may become the dominant Warlock archetype.

Wrecking with teching

cubelock

Cards like polymorph hard-counter many Cubelock minions

But you don’t have to counter-queue to counter Warlock. There are a number of potent techs that would help quell a Warlock meta. Most notable is Spellbreaker; a versatile silence that both neutralizes Voidlords and renders un-popped Cubes useless. But there’s more than just Spellbreaker. All transform removal, silences or return-to-hand effects can massively cut into a Cubelock’s strategy. Even Faceless Manipulators and Prince Taldarams of your own can copy their boards.

Otherwise, tweaking your deck to be stronger against Cubelock can be as simple as a few snowball minions. The deck runs no early removal to deal with cards that can quickly grow out of control like Vicious Fledgling, Scavenging Hyena or Frothing Beserker. These can prove to be a massive problem when the opponent plays around defile, quickly smashing down the Warlock’s health total while providing the tempo to build a sticky board.

Ruler of the rotation

Things get a bit trickier after the Year of the Mammoth however. Cubelock loses only Mistress of Mixtures from current lists, and may get substantially stronger if Blizzard continues to give Warlock such high quality cards. Meanwhile existing decks lose far more, including many of Cubelock’s counters.

If Cubelock is going to run rampant, it’s likely going to be after the following expansion. But all is not set in stone. Key cards may be “Hall of Fame”‘d, new techs may be printed and new more powerful strategies may arise. With all that said, it is certainly an archetype Blizzard should keep an eye on.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

 

The World Championship was Hearthstone at its best and worst

(Spoilers)

Hearthstone’s World Championship is finally over, after a rollercoaster ride of high stakes, great plays and unbelievable topdecks. It served as testament to not only the contestants’ skill level, but also the craft of Hearthstone’s design team. Not all of this reflected well; both the players and the game had their fair share of mistakes highlighted. All in all, the tournament served to show Hearthstone ‘warts and all’ with all the crazy moments, skill-testing positions and unfortunate RNG design decisions we’ve come to love and hate.

Great plays

The tournament, a culmination of a year’s effort from hundreds of players over the world, was arguably a high-water-mark in skill. From Surrender’s counter-intuitive but ultimately successful “wasting” of Prophet Velen versus Shtanudachi’s Jade Druid to Fr0zen’s simple but decisive cycling of Holy Smite on a Northshire Cleric, Raza Priest offered many opportunities for flashy, hard-to spot plays. But skill was shown throughout even the most straightforward of decks. My favourite play of the entire tournament was a very straightforward two turn sequence by eventual champion Tom60229.

In the opening game of his semifinal match against Surrender, Tom played a nourish for mana on 5 after topdecking an Arcane Tyrant. The casters and audience all expected him to cash in on his good fortune, playing out the free 4/4. But Tom waited. Instead, he played it on the following turn along with Spreading Plague. Not only did this protect the 4/4 better, it allowed Tom to get an additional 1/5 scarab. By recognising he had the luxury of taking the game slower, he gained incremental advantages that ended up swinging the game in his favour (no doubt helped by Surrender’s Patches draw).

 

Tom60229’s choice to hold Arcane Tyrant was counter-intuitive but brilliant

Frustrating RNG

Drawing Patches may have cost Surrender a shot at the final

Of course, the tournament was filled with far more eventful, but less controllable events. Surrender couldn’t hide his despair as he drew Patches two games in a row. To make things even worse, it was immediately followed by Tom60229 starting out the game with Keleseth and Shadowstep. The final game of the tournament was also heartbreakingly one-sided, as Fr0zen tried desperately to dig for an Ultimate Infestation that came far, far too late.

However, the most frustrating early-game RNG came about on the previous game, where Tom60229’s turn one Swashburglar pulled Innervate, allowing him to follow up with a turn 2 10/10 Edwin. While a strong play, the single extra mana from the random Innervate gave his Edwin another +2/+2 and an extra turn to hit face, essentially resulting in 12 extra points of damage. That would be bad enough, were it not for the fact that he was able to have Leeroy on turn 5 for lethal.

Despite all this talk of Tom60229’s good fortune, it wasn’t totally out of his opponent’s control to counter. Fr0zen could have kept Ultimate Infestation in the mulligan, and hero powered out of Leeroy range, for instance. Regardless, the RNG made these two games far less enjoyable than the preceding few.

A turn 2 10/10 versus Druid, courtesy of Swashburglar RNG

Moments to remember

Despite how early-game RNG can make a tournament feel swingy, there were some great crowd-pleasing moments created by randomness. Sintolol and Fr0zen’s final face-off as Big Mage versus Combo Dragon Priest was such a fantastic match because of RNG. Sintolol pulling Frost Lich Jaina with Drakonid Operative created a fantastic and memorable game. It was filled with incredibly skill-testing and exciting situations that went all the way to fatigue. There were also the triumphant moments. It was hard not to cheer as Fr0zen’s hard-pressed Control Mage, struggling the entire game, managed to topdeck an Arcane Artificer to clear Tom60229’s last Jades with Flamestrike and heal out of range of Ultimate Infestation.

Brian Kibler’s words for the Sintolol versus Fr0zen match could apply to the entire tournament; “If you don’t like [this], you don’t like Hearthstone”.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via https://www.twitch.tv/playhearthstone

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

The Spellstones that didn’t work

The Spellstones were one of Kobolds and Catacombs most interesting additions. It’s been hard to design spells that synergise with certain tribes, mechanics or card types; but Spellstones manage to allow interesting deckbuilding strategies. By upgrading in the hand, value can be accumulated throughout the game then unleashed in a powerful tempo swing. Of course, some of these strategies work better than others. Each of the class’s Spellstones has had a different impact on the metagame, with some supercharging archetypes and others waiting in the wings.

But not all of them were as strong as Warlock’s Amethyst Spellstone’s lifegain, or Druid’s Jasper Spellstone with its efficient removal potential. For a variety of reasons, most of the Spellstones failed to make much of an impact.

Rogue

Onyx Spellstone has anti-synergy with its upgrade requirements

Perhaps, in another meta, Rogue’s Onyx Spellstone would have been OP. Perhaps in the Undertaker days, when deathrattles were mandatory in every aggressive deck, and Haunted Creepers and Harvest Golems ruled. Unfortunately, the Rogue Spellstone started out its days in a meta sadly empty of cheap, effective Aggro deathrattles.

And like the Priest Quest, it’s hard to shove a lot of minions in a deck in order to fulfill a goal (late-game mass removal) that doesn’t really gel with a late-game strategy.

This one had an extremely poor start, with the lowest deck winrate of any Spellstone. That said, it’s not impossible the Onyx Spellstone finds a home in the future. Rogue is notoriously bad at large clears and mass hard removal, and if big decks rise to the fore, it may just be worth including in some kind of aggressive deathrattley mid-range strategy.

Paladin

It’s hard to outheal Cubelock or Razakus

Pearl Spellstone faces the same problem that many Paladin healing and healing synergy cards do; it’s pretty useless if you’re not damaged. The trio of requiring face damage, a heal card and to have drawn the Spellstone in a class with limited draw options is a bit much to ask. That said, the card is still decently powerful in the right deck; namely, Control Paladin. Unfortunately for Pearl Spellstone, that deck happens to be extremely weak to some of the most popular classes in the game, most notably Raza Priest.

If there are fewer all-conquering combo decks in the future, Control Paladin may do alright on the back of Call to Arms. In that case, it’s quite possible that Pearl Spellstone finds a home. Until then, you may be better off running Knife Jugglers instead.

Shaman

Fully upgraded, Sapphire Spellstone is powerful but clunky

Crusher Shaman got new hope with the Sapphire Spellstone. This powerful tool can be devastating played on an Ancestral Spirit’d Snowfury Giant. The downside? Well, it’s yet another situational tool in a deck full of situational tools, that’s weak to exactly the same things Crusher Shaman was always weak to. It’s strong enough to find a home, but not enough to push Crusher Shaman out of Tier Shaman.

There are a few things that could allow this card to be more effective. One would be the addition of more viable Overload removal. Another would be more cost-reduction minions that could synergise with this. Or even just more control tools for Shaman (especially in the early game). But as is, it remains an interesting but fringe tool to make that rare Control Warrior cry.

It doesn’t help that it’s forever going to be in the same rotation as Psychic Scream and Diamond Spellstone, two cards that hard counter and overshadow it respectively.

Mage

“Well, it’s this, Glacial Mysteries or Shatter, soo…”

You’ve probably seen a lot of Ruby Spellstones on ladder. It’s just quite likely they came out of Primordial Glyph. This card could be good, but it unfortunately relies heavily on Elementals. Maybe down the line, Elemental Mage could be the next mech mage. But as is, there’s simply too few viable Elementals to completely build a deck around.

It also doesn’t help that Tempo Mage is so strong. The secrets package takes a lot of deck slots, and is the best option to combine with burn, Mana Wyrm and Aluneth.

But the next rotation will leave us without Kabal Crystal Runner, Kabal Lackey and Medivh’s Valet. Maybe Elementals like Fire Fly, Tar Creeper, Steam Surger and Leyline Manipulator could combine with new Elementals to replace them?

Warrior

There’s not much reason to play Mithril Spellstone outside of Spiteful Summoner

Warrior’s Mithril Spellstone is currently played in an extremely potent and meta-viable deck. Pirate Warrior is a powerful, if not especially popular, aggressive option, that runs Mithril Spellstone in some variations. So why is Mithril Spellstone on this list? Well, despite the fact that it’s played in a strong deck, the deck does better when the card is not drawn and played.

Sure, it can create a board of 5/5s out of nowhere, but that’s just plan B. The real reason for this card’s inclusion is Spiteful Summoner, which can be a massive turn six tempo swing. A random seven drop and a 4/4 on six is far more appealing than a couple of 5/5s on seven.

What’s more, if anything, the future looks poor for this card. Pirate Warrior loses its best cards in Patches and N’zoth’s First Mate after the rotation, and is unlikely to survive. In addition, any more pro-active expensive Warrior spell is likely to replace Mithril Spellstone as a Spiteful Summoner activator, as Mithril can be hard to activate in a deck with no draw mechanics and only six weapons.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Dirty Rat

Ode to a Rat

Amongst the hundreds and hundreds of cards released over the past few years, a few truly stand out. Every card is crafted with love and care. Designed, balanced, voice acted, drawn and animated into something lively and characterful. Each one oozes charm and fulfills a unique gameplay niche. But some rise above their peers, effortlessly matching flavour, balance, art and design into something great. Dirty Rat is one of these, perhaps the best designed card of the last two years.

With the good old disloyal Kobold due to rotate soon, now is a perfect time to reflect on what made the card so great.

A flavourful felon

Dirty Rat

What a charming fella

A large part of Dirty Rat’s charm is his wonderful flavour. It all fits together. The card’s joke ties together perfectly with his mechanical function. He’s a ratlike Kobold who literally “rats out” a minion hidden in your opponent’s hand, screeching that he “Ain’t talkin’!” as he does so. It’s a cute and funny moment, that is even more hilarious when he suddenly gives the opponent a Y’shaarj on turn two.

His mischievous grin even points to his Taunt ability, as well as his penchant for messing up your opponent’s carefully crafted combos. All in all, the flavour is so strong and compelling because it perfectly gels with Dirty Rat’s gameplay. It reinforces perfectly the ideas the mechanics put across, while helping build the Hearthstone character and unique feel of the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion.

Johnny’s dream

Dirty Rat

The card has some powerful and unexpected synergies

One of the most enduring appeals of Dirty Rat is its seemingly endless series of interactions, tricks and combos that can be used to devastate an enemy. The possibilities are almost endless. On a basic level, just cheap hard removal is great for handling that Velen or Malygos that just got pulled. Otherwise, mass board clears like Brawl or Twisting Nether get even more value when you’re able to pull down one or more big enemy minions.

Beyond that, there are truly innovative combos. Mind Control Tech, Sylvanas and Doomsayers can all have some incredibly potent interactions. Priest can pull off some crazy shenanigans with Potion of Madness, Divine Spirit and Inner Fire. It can activate Defiles, punish Unlicensed Apothecaries and create targets for Entomb and Psychic Scream. The huge number of potential possibilities for Dirty Rat’s unique effect is part of the card’s genius.

Counterplay for days

Of course, the main utility of Dirty Rat is as a combo counter, and it does that job beautifully. But unlike many tech cards, it’s extremely interactive. There are numerous ways to play around it, from executing the combo early, to holding minions in your hand, to bluffing not having pieces, or even to Dirty Rat out their Dirty Rat. However, it is nonetheless extremely effective at sabotaging combo decks in all their forms, making it an invaluable control tool in the right meta. Quest Mage, Quest Rogue and even Raza Priest were all held back from completely dominating slower decks with this card.

It’s also not just a one-trick pony; it can be a great stabilisation tool against Aggro, or even a solid turn two play versus the right deck. But these gambles can have disastrous consequences, leading to its other advantage.

Dirty Rat

Dirty Rat helped keep Quest Rogue in check

The Disaster Artist

One of the best features of Dirty Rat is how calculated risks can lead to utter disaster. Of course, you know that playing Dirty Rat on two can go wrong, but there’s no way this guy isn’t Raza Priest with that mulligan, right? And then Y’shaarj comes down to ruin your day. Everyone who’s played Dirty Rat knows the hilarious failcascade that can happen if you fatally misjudge your opponent’s deck or starting hand. While it can be frustrating, it creates amazing moments to share and laugh over later. And it gives every Timmy deck a chance to shine against an overconfident opponent.

Of course, if you’re overly cautious, this is simply avoided by saving it for a turn with a guaranteed clear. But for those who are willing to push the envelope and try their hand at perfectly judging their opponent, there’s a huge and entertaining variance of payoffs or calamities.

All in all Dirty Rat charmed its way into our hearts with his lovably traitorous nature, created huge opportunities for deckbuilding and experimentation, kept otherwise oppressive combo decks in check and enabled some awesomely over-the top and unexpected comebacks and game situations. Goodbye from Standard, Dirty Rat. You will be missed.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

Rotation, schmotation: Hearthstone needs balance changes now

We’re not even a month beyond the Kobolds and Catacombs release and already the meta is closed to settled. While the eventual top dog is as-of-yet unknown, a small cluster of decks have stuck close to the top. Lists are solidifying, and it’s getting harder and harder to experiment. The effectiveness of certain cards and decks eclipse all but a few other high-powered strategy. Normally, a few months after a major Hearthstone release, we would expect a balance change. But Rotation changes all that.

With a Standard rotation coming soon, Team 5 may simply wait rather than alter problem cards that are due to leave soon. But this is an overly cautious strategy that risks alienating Hearthstone’s playerbase and leading to a stale meta-game.

How long can this go on?

rotation

A lot of familiar faces (via vicioussyndicate.com)

The last set of balance changes were announced in September 2017. It’s likely we’ll now get no new balance changes until the next set after Kobolds and Catacombs releases, roughly three months from now. This means we’ll have six or more months with no substantive balance changes to Hearthstone beyond adding new cards. This sets a terrible precedent.

Six months is a long time, and only having one content release to shake up the meta in that time makes Hearthstone’s meta even more frustrating and stale. Frustratingly powerful decks like Keleseth Rogue or Razakus Priest are one thing; it’s quite another to have the same few decks dominate with little hope of respite.

It doesn’t help that the same decks that dominated in September 2017 are still mostly intact. Murloc Paladin, Jade Druid, Tempo Rogue and Razakus Priest were all very powerful by this stage. The only real alteration to the meta has been the addition of Warlock variants to the meta and the swapping around of a few Corridor Creepers and Psychic Screams. If nothing else, there’s a strong case for a balance patch just to shake things up.

Wild is not your dumping ground

rotation

Wild Reno Priest has the potential to be extremely oppressive

Of course, there’s another argument against simply letting Patches, Raza et al retire to Wild; Wild doesn’t want them either! Using Wild as a dumping ground for problematic cards is not a good long term strategy. Wild is supposed to be maintained as a parallel competitive environment, not a place to forget design mistakes.

Leaving Raza as is would lead to Reno Priest becoming even more dominant in Wild as time goes by. While currently not completely oppressive, it definitely has the potential to be as Priest inevitably gets more consistent early tools. And need any more be said on the impact of Patches on Wild’s early game? Even in a world of Haunted Creepers, Zombie Chows and Shielded Minibots, a free 1/1 charge is not to be sniffed at. Patches is the sort of card that could permanently warp Wild’s early game for the worse.

Part of what makes Standard work is players not simply feeling they’ve lost their cards after they rotate. Not caring about the competitive integrity of Wild will eventually make players feel worse about Standard as a whole. It wouldn’t even work from a financial standpoint, as Blizzard doesn’t exactly want players to dust their rotated cards due to them no longer caring about a format overrun with overpowered cards and synergies that were never balanced.

Greed is not a good look

rotation

Blizzard probably aren’t acting out of greed: but it sure looks like it

The cynic in me wants to suggest that Blizzard and Team 5 are putting off balance changes for short-term financial purposes. After all, giving thousands of dust to millions of customers will have a direct impact on pack sales. Of course, this is unlikely to be anything other than a tangential issue.

The Hearthstone team have a well-documented aversion to making changes where changes are arguably unnecessary. Buffs are unheard of, and only the most egregious offenders (and Hex) have the nerfhammer called down on them. Waiting for rotation is just an extension of this strategy.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it looks. A growing number of players are dissatisfied with a number of recent changes to Hearthstone’s cost, most notably the swap from Adventures to Expansions. Delaying balance changes simply reinforces the idea that Blizzard only cares about Hearthstone’s short-term profits and simply doesn’t want to reimburse players for Patches, Razakus, Aya Blackpaw or similar.

A matter of principle

Hearthstone will probably be fine without urgent balance changes. A few extra months of Razakus, Patches and Corridor Creeper dominating the meta will be bearable (just). But if we can only expect two balance patches a year instead of three because of the latter’s proximity to rotation, we are condemning Hearthstone to spend a good third of its existence is its worst state of stale metas and overpowered cards.

We can and should forgive designer’s mistakes. But we should not stand for laziness when it comes to balance changes. It’ll be a long three months before Standard rotation, and in the meantime we deserve a more balanced game.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from great TGH writers!

 

KnC Banner

Kobolds and Catacombs Day 1 Deck Theorycrafting

The next Hearthstone expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, has finally been released. In the reveal season, we saw many powerful and fun cards that are coming out with the set. But, which of these cards fit into existing decks? What new decks are coming into the meta?

The Meta

Dragon Priest

KnC Dragon Priest

Dragon Priest Decklist

In past expansions, Dragon Priest has been an archetype that many people have toyed around with and played on ladder. In this expansion, we may see the rise of a Dragon-oriented Priest build similar to the Dragon Priest deck that was viable during the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion last year. The iteration I have theory-crafted includes a much more value-orientated game plan by including cards such as Lyra the Sunshard, Drakonid Operative, and the new Priest weapon, Dragon Soul. The deck can also be built to take on a more minion heavy route by taking out cards like Dragon Soul, Lyra the Sunshard, and Shadow Word: Death and replacing them with Cabal Shadow Priest, which synergises with Twilight Acolyte, and Twilight Drake.

 

The inclusion of Duskbreaker in this expansion really helps Dragon Priest’s historically bad matchup versus aggressive decks, which makes the new iteration of Dragon Priest that much scarier. On ladder, this deck seems like a solid choice for climbing at a high pace. In tournaments, players may elect to bring Highlander Priest instead because of its favorable win-rates versus slower decks.

 

 Zoo Warlock

KnC Zoo Warlock

Zoolock Decklist

In the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, we once again saw the rise of an old friend: Zoo Warlock. The early game minion package combined with Prince Keleseth proved to be the kick this deck needed to get back into the meta, and topping off with Bonemare and Bloodreaver Gul’Dan made Zoo Warlock scary in the late-game as well. This time around, Blizzard has given Zoo Warlock even better tools for taking the board early game and keeping it. The addition of Kobold Librarian helps keep your hand full, which is extremely important when having so many low mana cost minions in your deck. The main difference with this Zoo Warlock compared to the previous deck is that it cuts Prince Keleseth for the new 2-drop, Vulgar Homunculus.

 

With this iteration of the deck, I decided to add the Demon synergy package in the form of Demonfire, Bloodfury potion, and Crystalweaver. We have seen quite a lot of play with Bloodfury Potion and Crystalweaver in the past Zoo Warlock decks, but the addition of the Vulgar Homunculus makes these cards coming down on curve extremely threatening. Hooked Reaver also makes an appearance in this deck because of how solid its stats are when the Battlecry goes off, as well as its ability to synergise with the rest of the demon synergy in the deck.

 

The addition of higher-health minions and buff cards will help Zoo Warlock in the next meta mainly because of the predicted prevalence of Duskbreaker on the ranked ladder. In tournament play, this deck will likely be chosen for inclusion in aggressive lineups.

Big Druid

KnC Big Druid

Big Druid Decklist

The ‘Big’ archetype saw large amounts of play during the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion as a whole, especially during the later half of the set’s meta. Kobolds and Catacombs has not given Big Druid many other tools, but the core of the deck is strong enough to still see play. The only change I have made to the current Big Druid list is taking out Innervate and adding Arcane Tyrants. Innervate, once a staple in most Druid decks, took a huge hit from the nerfs that occured in the middle of the last expansion. It was included in Big Druid, but it was arguably one of the weaker cards within the deck. Two different cards were shown from the new expansion that could find a home in Big Druid: Greedy Sprite and Arcane Tyrant. I chose to include Arcane Tyrant instead of the Sprite because it is very similar to Kun the Forgotten King in the way that it makes your power turns even more powerful. A common way Kun has been used during the meta was playing it as a big free body to pair with Ultimate Infestation. Arcane Tyrant acts in a similar way when paired with Nourish, Spreading Plague, and Ultimate Infestation as well. Greedy Sprite could be included instead of the Tyrant, but the ramp effect is rather slow and your opponent can choose to ignore it. Although this is the case, ramp is powerful enough that Greedy Sprite might see play over Arcane Tyrant.

 

Big Druid seems to be the new go-to Druid deck. In the past, Jade Druid has held this spot, but Big Druid is able to make bigger minions faster and still keep aggression at bay, which may see the ‘Big’ archetype overtaking the Jade mechanic this expansion. Because of this, it is a solid choice for both ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Tempo Rogue

KnC Tempo Rogue

Tempo Rogue Decklist

Tempo Rogue swept the meta in dominant fashion when it was first discovered to be a powerhouse of a deck. With Kobolds and Catacombs, this deck gets even stronger with the inclusion of some slower yet highly valuable cards. One of these cards is the Rogue Legendary of the set, Sonya Shadowdancer. Sonya replaces the rather weak card of Shaku, the Collector as a card generation engine. Most of the minions in Tempo Rogue have such good effects or Battlecries that Shadowcaster saw a decent amount of experimentation and success during the expansion. Sonya is much cheaper than Shadowcaster, which makes its effect easier to pull off. The second card I have added to the deck is Fal’dorei Strider. Admittingly, a 4 mana 4/4 is rather weak as a tempo play. But, the potential for that minion to pull one, two, or even three additional 4/4 bodies is so powerful that it is worth the initial tempo loss. Even if only 1 additional body is pulled, paying 4 mana for 8/8 worth of stats is crazy powerful. There is also the potential to high-roll by creating a 4/4 on turn 7 to be able to play Bonemare onto after your opponent cleared your board the previous turn.

 

Fal’dorei Strider takes the place of Saronite Chain Gang, mainly because of Chain Gang’s vulnerability to an on-curve Duskbreaker. Overall, Tempo Rogue looks to still be a powerhouse deck next expansion, and I expect to see it played both on the ranked ladder and in tournaments.

 

Highlander Priest

KnC Highlander Priest

Highlander Priest Decklist

Highlander Priest has been at the top of the meta throughout Knights of the Frozen Throne, and it seems to still remain at the top during Kobolds and Catacombs. The Priest list I have selected to showcase only adds one card: Psychic Scream. In order to include the new Priest board clear, I chose to cut Mass Dispel from the deck. Mass Dispel is often times weak, so it made sense to take it out for one of the best cards of the upcoming expansion. This decision shows how good of a deck Highlander Priest already is. Another take on Highlander Priest is to go for a more minion-focused route by including a Dragon package with Duskbreaker. While this seems like a good idea, I feel the current version of the deck is much better. In the past, more value-oriented decks were tested. These decks included cards such as Elise the Trailblazer and Free from Amber. It was ultimately found that the faster and more burst-oriented Priest build was better. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to stick with the tried-and-true burst style.

 

Once again, Highlander Priest seems to be at the top of the meta. Expect to see a large amount on ladder and as a staple deck in many tournament lineups.

 

The Non-Meta

Combo Hunter

KnC Combo Hunter

Combo Hunter Decklist

For the past few expansions, Hunter has been struggling as a class. Blizzard keeps pushing control tools and weird cards for the Hunter arsenal, which leaves the class in an awkward position in terms of deck building because of how weak each of the archetypes are. With the new Hunter legendary minion, Kathrena Winterwisp, I thought it would be really interesting to build a combo-oriented deck using Kathrena, Charged Devilsaur, and King Krush. It is often not a combo that will instantly kill your opponent, but the amount of stats that the combo provides are truly ridiculous. This deck runs the Secret package to help fend off aggro, the Candleshot and Hunter’s Mark combo to deal with large threats, and Deathstalker Rexxar to create even more value in a late game scenario.

 

While the deck might not be top-tier, it seems extremely fun to play. Personally, I will be testing this deck in tournament play in a lineup that is attempting to target control decks. On ranked ladder, Combo hunter still seems weak to aggro decks and Highlander Priest, which makes it not extremely viable in the upcoming meta.

Conclusion

Overall, Kobolds and Catacombs sees both powerful and fun cards added to the game. While it may not be the best expansion of the year in terms of player attitude and hype, it will likely lead to a diverse and healthy meta both in terms of ranked ladder and tournament play.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Scott!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

toggwaggle

Are you ready to get Togwaggled?

Hearthstone’s Kobolds and Catacombs will bring perhaps the craziest card concepts yet. But between double turns, treasure chests and duplicating gibberers, one stands above all. By far the wildest of them is the mighty King Togwaggle. His ability to temporarily swap decks opens up all sorts of new win conditions and crazy combos. How hard will these strategies be to pull off? And are there any that could become genuinely competitive?

Let’s dive into the possibilities. Who knows, some may even turn out viable!

togwaggle

The King of meme decks, but could he actually work? (source: Hearthstone Youtube)

No backsies!

One of the most straightforward ways to use Togwaggle is to simply deny the opponent the ability to swap back. Normally, Togwaggle grants the opponent a five mana “King’s Ransom” spell to reverse his original effect. But if you can fill the opponent’s hand, there’s no room for the spell and no way to reverse the same effect. This could be tricky to put off. It’s hard to fill up your opponent’s hand while playing an eight mana card. But, some classes could pull it off.

Druid has perhaps the best chance. The new Legendary weapon, Twig of the World Tree, allows 10 extra mana crystals. That means you have 12 mana for Coldlights, Naturalizes and similar. If you succeed in getting your opponent to 10 cards, they will be stuck with your wanna be Mill Druid, while you’ll have all their win conditions.

Other classes could have some strategies. Rogue could also have a shot, with either pre-shadowstepped Coldlights or Counterfeit Coining out a Prepped Vanish. Mage’s Counterspell would work, but could be hard to set up and is easily played around.

Worth the setup?

togwaggle

Clog their hand and the deck swap could be permanent

Unfortunately, this plan has a number of flaws. It’ll be hard to fill the hand of anyone but the greediest of control decks. What’s more, swapping decks might not be that effective; you need to survive long enough to reach turn 10 in the first place, and if your deck can do that, it may not be that much of a liability. And you could easily be stuck as an out-of-steam tempo deck if you do steal the opponent’s deck.

This could rely on a fatigue style win-condition; if you dig through your deck enough before swapping, then the opponent will be far enough ahead in fatigue that victory will be guaranteed. But if you get to this point in the game, you have likely already stabilised against midrange or aggro. Meanwhile combo decks may have already assembled enough damage to kill you shortly after.

The burn strategy

You don’t need to permanently steal your opponent’s deck to ruin their strategy. Another plan could simply be to steal or burn vital cards from their deck. The simplest way to do this would simply be to draw lots of cards. Many classes have cheap card draws that could combo with it. Warlock can tap, or Bloodbloom into Doom to completely eviscerate the opponent’s deck. Hunters can Tracking to steal multiple cards while discarding additional ones. Warriors can set up a large Battle Rage, or precision-steal weapons with Forge of Souls. Rogues can Coin, Prep then Sprint to steal four or more cards.

Of course, this could be of limited utility. Simply taking random cards isn’t especially devastating in most cases; at least, not enough to warrant playing an eight mana 5/5. Unless you’re up against a combo or control deck, they often rely more on generic draws than specific cards. Even in the case of combo decks, stealing their cards can often bring them closer to their win conditions.

Exploring the possibilities

togwaggle

Explore Un’Goro could nuke your opponent’s deck

The most interesting and potentially potent combo comes with Explore Un’Goro. At two mana, it is perfect to combo with Togwaggle. The ability to essentially destroy the opponent’s deck could become genuinely competitive in the right meta. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as that. You need to be able to deal with the possibility of your opponent using their new one mana discover cards to win; or to use your own deck against you.

There are a number of ways to set up the combo. The simplest would be just Togwaggle and Explore Un’Goro. This essentially gives the option to your opponent to have your deck or an Explore Un’Goro deck. Both could be troublesome to deal with, as many classes can have powerful discover options that could lose you the game, and your own deck might be more effective when used against you. To make matters worse, a Skulking Geist could leave you with no deck at all!

To counteract this, it may be necessary to run Dead Man’s Hand, Skulking Geist and an additional Explore Un’Goro. The plan would be simple. First, you Explore Un’Goro your own deck. Then, you Togwaggle to swap decks, and Explore Un’Goro again to convert your newly acquired deck. After that, you can Skulking Geist to destroy both decks and begin shuffling Dead Man’s Hand to avoid fatigue.

This sounds like a difficult combo to counter. But it may be hard to pull off. Geist, two Explore Un’Goros, Togwaggle and Dead Man’s Hand are a lot of clunky cards to have in a class that’s already struggling. What’s more, assembling them would be extremely difficult. And after all that, you need to make sure you shuffle things like removal or lifegain to deal with your opponent’s remaining threats.

togwaggle

Togwaggle could fit into Dead Man’s Hand Warrior, but the archetype is hardly top-tier

Constructed or Tavern Brawl?

Finally, the best possible use may be to enforce your opponent into a Tavern Brawl style match. By simply Exploring Un’Goro both decks, you can force your opponent to discover their way to victory. It might not be the most viable of strategies, but if you want to hover at a rank floor, it might just be a fun way to remind your netdecking opponents of the kind of wacky fun Hearthstone and King Togwaggle can bring.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Alex!

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

 

predictions

RLCS playoff predictions

League play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series came to an end last weekend for North America and Europe. With that, it’s time to look at predictions for the upcoming promotion/relegation tournament as well as playoff predictions. Here are the RLCS standings for NA and EU after league play:

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 6-1
  2. G2 Esports 6-1
  3. Ghost 5-2
  4. NRG Esports 4-3
  5. Rogue 3-4
  6. FlyQuest 2-5
  7. Allegiance 1-6
  8. Renegades 1-6

 EU

  1. Method 6-1
  2. PSG eSports 6-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 5-2
  4. Mockit eSports 4-3
  5. exceL 3-4
  6. Flipsid3 Tactics 2-5
  7. Team Envy 2-5
  8. Team Secret 0-7
playoff predictions

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

Seeds seven and eight for both NA and EU are no longer competing in season four. They are currently in the midst of fighting for the last two seeds moving into season five. The round-robin promotion/relegation tournament is underway. The top two teams from the RLRS in both regions are also competing in said tournament. Those teams include Fibeon and Out of Style for NA, along with Fnatic and The Juicy Kids for EU.

I’ll give you my predictions for the promotion/relegation tournament results before we move onto the rest of season four. In the end, for NA, I’m expecting to see Fibeon and Renegades in season five of the RLCS, with Out of Style remaining in the RLRS and Allegiance moving down to join them. As for EU, I expect to see Fnatic promoted to the RLCS alongside Team Envy retaining their spot, while The Juicy Kids remain where they are and Team Secret is relegated back.

These are certainly the safer predictions when it comes to the promotion/relegation tournament. That being said, they’re safe for a reason. I’ll throw all of you Brandon “Lachinio” Lachin fans a bone and say Out of Style has the potential to come out on top over Renegades, relegating them back to the RLRS.

Now onto the remainder of this season.

NA

The fight for top four in NA was a close one all season. With top two still up for grabs at the start of week five, each of the top four teams had a viable shot at clinching one of those spots. As we now know, Cloud9 and G2 are the teams that managed to pull it off. Cloud9 was no surprise, considering the incredible season they had. I admit, I wasn’t expecting G2 to clinch that other spot.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

We’re guaranteed to see Cloud9 and G2 at the world finals this year, but who will the other two NA teams be? Here’s what we’ll see in round one of the NA playoffs: NRG versus Rogue and Ghost versus FlyQuest.

These are certain to be close matches. That being said, my NA playoff predictions are NRG over Rogue and Ghost over FlyQuest. I’m picking NRG over Rogue simply because of the team chemistry here. NRG won the last three NA regional championships and I’m looking to see them pick up number four.

As for Ghost over FlyQuest, the decision is a bit more difficult. FlyQuest looked strong all season, despite ending with a 2-5 record. And let’s not forget Kais “Sadjunior” Zehri made it to every LAN from previous seasons. But, as analyst Michael “Quinn Lobdell” Behrouzi said on RLCS Overtime, there’s a first time for everything. And this might be the first time Sadjunior doesn’t make it to the world championships. I say that because Ghost has looked phenomenal in season four. Despite going in with the number three seed, they could have easily been a top two team.

EU

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of excelesports.com

As we’ve seen all season long, EU is a bit more of an emotional roller coaster for Rocket League fans. Team Envy, formerly Northern Gaming when they won the season three world championships, now sit in the seventh seed. Meaning their season is done. They’re currently fighting for their season five RLCS spot in the promotion/relegation tournament. Gale Force eSports and Flipsid3 Tactics, two other highly anticipated teams at the beginning of season four, are sitting in the number three and six seeds respectively. Needless to say, EU’s had an unexpected season.

That being said, there’s still time for Gale Force and Flipsid3 Tactics, as they look forward to playoffs. Here’s round one of the EU playoffs: Mockit eSports versus exceL and Flipsid3 Tactics versus Gale Force esports.

Now just because Flipsid3 and Gale Force are both looking to keep the dream alive doesn’t mean they’ll both get to. There’s only four EU spots at the world finals, meaning only two up for grabs. One of these two teams’ seasons will come to an end after this weekend.

Here are my EU playoff predictions. ExceL over Mockit eSports and Gale Force over Flipsid3 Tactics, and here’s why.

ExceL had a rough season three, under the name Cow Nose. However, in the off season, the squad dropped Danny “DanzhizzLe” Smol and replaced him with Kasper “Pwndx” Nielsen. They came into season four by securing a spot in qualifiers, and they’ve looked strong ever since.

GFE versus F.3

As for Flipsid3 Tactics and Gale Force eSports, it promises to be nail biter. All six of the players that make up these two starting rosters are veterans of not only the RLCS, but the world championship stage. They’ll all surely be eager to make it back to that stage as well. Flipsid3 Tactics, time and time again, have come up through one loser’s bracket or another to turn their position in a tournament around. They are essentially in that same position now, securing the sixth and final playoff seed. However, I have to give this one to Gale Force.

This Gale Force eSports squad formed after season two. Courant “Kaydop” Alexandre left Mockit eSports after winning the season three regional championships. Had he stayed with Mockit and one other member of that roster from season three, he would have been guaranteed a spot in this season of the RLCS. Despite that, he left to join Jos “ViolentPanda” van Meurs on Gale Force. Their third, Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver, has a similar story.

playoff predictions

Image courtesy of @GFEsports Twitter account.

Since then, they’ve been a force to reckon with. Although they had somewhat of a second place curse during the off season, until the NBC Universal Open, they were still coming in at least second consistently. Now they’re looking for yet another first place win in a LAN environment.

So, there you have it, here are the eight NA and EU teams I expect to see in the world championships:

 

 NA

  • Cloud9
  • G2
  • NRG
  • Ghost

 EU

  • Method
  • PSG eSports
  • exceL
  • Gale Force

 



You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Ryan McElroy.

Featured image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net. Text added using addtext.com.

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

top two

RLCS: Fighting for top two

This weekend we move into the fifth and final week of North American and European league play for season four of the Rocket League Championship Series and Rocket League Rival Series. As we look ahead, the fight to secure a top two spot is a tight one, especially in North America.

The top six teams in NA and EU RLCS, at the end of league play, qualify for playoffs. Not only that, the top six secure their spot in season five of the RLCS. More importantly, they avoid the stress of facing off in the promotion/relegation tournament to try to remain in the upper division. Most teams are looking to secure a top six spot at this point, but there are a select few still aiming for a higher goal: clinching a top two spot.

As always, before we take a look at what we might see, here’s where the standings are now.

Standings

 

 NA

  1. Cloud9 4-1
  2. Ghost 4-1
  3. G2 Esports 4-1
  4. NRG Esports 4-2
  5. Rogue 3-3
  6. FlyQuest 2-4
  7. Renegades 1-5
  8. Allegiance 0-5

 EU

  1. PSG eSports 6-0
  2. Method 5-1
  3. Gale Force eSports 4-2
  4. exceL 3-2
  5. Mockit eSports 2-3
  6. Team Envy 1-4
  7. Flipsid3 Tactics 1-5
  8. Team Secret 0-5

Top two

top two

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

While it’s not an achievable goal for some teams at this point, teams at the top of their leaderboards are still aiming for a top two spot. While top six guarantees your spot in playoffs and season five of the RLCS, top two guarantees a trip to the season four world championships.

PSG eSports currently holds the record for the most wins during league play of the RLCS. If they win their match in week five, against Team Envy, they will be the only team to go undefeated in RLCS league play history. Not only that, PSG eSports is the only team to already clinch a top two league play spot.

Although PSG eSports is guaranteed a shot at the world championships, they’re still looking to secure that number one seed moving into the world championships. So, don’t expect this squad to slow down during playoffs.

EU top two teams

Since we already know that PSG eSports has nailed down their top two spot, let’s take a look at the other contenders for EU top two, beginning, of course, with Method.

Method is the most likely team in EU to snag up the other top two position. Sitting at 5-1, their only loss currently is to PSG eSports.

top two

Image courtesy of @Methodgg Twitter account

Heading into week four, Method and PSG eSports were both 4-0. Method won their first match of week four against Mockit eSports, putting them at 5-0 before their match against PSG eSports. They set the record for most wins in league play of the RLCS. However, it was short lived, as the very same day PSG beat Method and exceL to go 6-0 and take that record away.

While Method has been on fire all season, there are two other contenders: Gale Force eSports and exceL.

Gale Force sat at number five in the EU standings heading into week four. They took down Flipsid3 Tactics and Mockit eSports, both in five games, bumping them up to number three in the standings. Gale Force eSports is looking to beat Team Envy, as well as for exceL to beat Method and lose to Mockit eSports, in order to clinch a number two spot.

ExceL, on the other hand, is looking to beat Method and Mockit eSports, with Gale Force eSports losing to Team Envy, in order to clinch the number two spot for themselves.

NA top two teams

top two

Image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

The race for top two in NA is much closer than in EU, particularly because no team has clinched one of those spots yet. Right now, Cloud9, Ghost and G2 Esports sit in the top three, respectively. They all have four wins and one loss. Their positioning in the top three, since they are tied in matches, is determined by game win percentage. Along with these three, NRG sits at number four with four wins and two losses.

There are a number of different scenarios for how the fight for top two will play out in week five. Mostly because Ghost faces off against G2 Esports and Cloud9 faces off against NRG. That being said, don’t be surprised when the top two spots come down to a tie breaker, determined by each teams win percentage.

Predictions

Below are my predictions for who will clinch the remaining three top two spots after league play this weekend.

top two

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

For EU, I have to give this one to Method. As mentioned above, they’ve been on fire all season. With only one loss to the currently undefeated PSG eSports, they have what it takes to come out on top over exceL this weekend.

NA is a bit trickier. Here’s what I’d like to see happen: Rogue beats Ghost, G2 beats Allegiance, Ghost beats G2, Cloud9 beats Renegades and NRG beats Cloud9. If I’m doing my math right, this scenario puts the current top four teams all at 5-2, leaving top two entirely up to the game-win percentage.

Now, here’s what the realistic side of me predicts for NA top two: Cloud9 and Ghost.

We will have our answers this weekend in the final week of league play for season four of the RLCS.


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Ryan McElroy.

Featured image courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net. Text added using addtext.com.

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon