In an exercise in sadism and masochism, I recently climbed to Legend with Fatigue Warrior. This isn’t an experience I’d recommend; at almost 10 minutes per-game, my climb took me eight hours. Fatigue decks aren’t the best choice for fast laddering. It was also uncomfortably intense, requiring frequent breaks.
Luckily, the deck did have one key upside; a fantastic winrate, especially against Paladin. My overall win-rate was 75%, and I won 9/10 Paladin matches. A key part of the deck’s success was an old, forgotten 1-drop from the Old Gods expansion: Blood to Ichor.
King of the Coin
Since the War Axe nerf, Warrior has been sorely lacking early tempo. But Blood to Ichor is one of the few Warrior cards that lets you actually win the early tempo race. Let’s consider the most common turn 1 or 2 minions in the meta. This will most likely be cards like:
- Murloc Paladin: Murloc Tidecaller, Grimscale Chum, Vilefin Inquisitor or Righteous Protector
- Warlock: Kobold Librarian or Mistress of Mixtures
- Secret Mage: Arcanologist, Mana Wrym, Sorceror’s Apprentice or Kabal Lackey
- Priest: Northshire Cleric, Shadow Ascendant or Netherspite Historian
- Dude Paladin: Argent Squire, Righteous Protector, Knife Juggler or Lost in the Jungle
Of these, Blood to Ichor trades favourably or evenly with all except Lost in the Jungle. This allows you to stay even on tempo when on the play while floating a mana, and occasionally pull ahead when on the coin. This is massive when piloting a deck that is oriented around infinite late-game combos. Stemming their early tempo will most likely allow you to run away with the game against aggressive decks, and prevent vital chip damage versus your controlling opponents.
Of course, your opponents can often not lose out too badly; Murloc buffs, Hero powers, weapons or spells can allow them to stick their one-drop regardless. But this costs them vital time, and still leaves their minion weak to your incoming Ravaging Ghoul or Blood Razor.
Out from the shadow of Patches
So if Blood to Ichor’s so effective, why hasn’t it seen any play? Typical Fatigue Warrior lists, like the one Alexandre “Odemian” Leadley used to win HCT Toronto, eschew Bloot to Ichor for additional copies of cards like Bring it On!, Shield Slam, Whirlwind and Dirty Rat. But I would argue that this approach is outdated; and while optimal for previous metas, does not take into account the weaknesses of other deck’s post-Patches early game.
In the Patches meta, Blood to Ichor was rarely effective. With 1 health Pirates like Patches or Southsea Deckhand running rampant, it was near-impossible to trade evenly with Ichor. To make matters worse, even if their turn one play wasn’t a Pirate, then there was always the threat of a Southsea Captain summoning a 2/2 Patches to erase your slime. Back then, it was better for Warriors to run Whirlwind to deal with the flood of 1 health pirates, or Taunts and Armorgain to stabilise after a Blood Razor or Sleep with the Fishes.
But without Patches to punish it, it’s more viable than ever for Warriors to use Blood to Ichor to fight for the early board. What’s more, another Old Gods powerhouse, Ravaging Ghoul, is also far more useful, as it is no longer necessary to Whirlwind turn 1 or 2 to play around a Southsea Captain buff.
Synergy for days
Aside from its early-game power, Blood to Ichor also has numerous synergistic applications. Depending on your list, it can draw cards with Acolyte, activate Execute or Sleep with the Fishes, or allow extra draws from Battle Rage. It can even work well with King Mosh if that’s your style. But one of the most surprising and useful application is with Skulking Geist.
One of the main downsides of 1-cost cards is the feeling when you topdeck then late-game instead of that vital lifegain, AOE or removal spell. But Geist helps mitigate this, by cutting these pesky spells from your deck as well as your opponents. This deck-thinning ability is even more useful considering how Warrior both doesn’t fear fatigue and wants to refine its deck down to a few key cards to re-shuffle.
A short-lived triumph
Unfortunately, this brief golden age for Blood to Ichor must end soon. With the next expansion coming likely sometime next month, and the rotation with it, Blood to Ichor will be sent over to Wild with the rest of the Year of the Kraken cards.
But there may be hope yet. In Wild, Paladin proving incredibly strong, and Blood to Ichor could be a vital part of a Warrior archetype to counter it. The Patches nerf applies there as well, so if the early-game meta is right, then Blood to Ichor will be there to shut it down. We can hope that Warrior gets similarly useful, synergistic, and reactive early game tools in the Witchwood expansion.
Until then, there’s still a chance to appreciate this potent card. With the expansion several weeks away, that’s enough time for about two-and-a-half Fatigue Warrior games.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.