Life coaches devastating dragon warriors
© Blizzard Entertainment
One of Hearthstone’s greatest strengths is deck building: it’s easy to learn and very accessible. This process is detrimental to both players and developers at Hearthstone as it reveals the developer’s intentions and their implications for the player base.
With more and more cards added over the course of three expansions and four adventures, forging a deck that is not only fun but also competitive requires a lot of thought and gameplay. Because of this, many Hearthstone players who either lack the time or expertise copy popular deck ideas that fit the current meta. There are innumerable community sites out there that make the process of “net-decking” accessible and easy to use.
But even after playing dozens of games with that one deck, an amateur’s personal win rate still stagnates while both legend players and professionals dominate the meta with the exact same cards. What is the difference? Why is a deck so successful in the hands of a professional player and what do you need to consider when playing the deck in different situations and matchups?
Lifecoach loves the strong curve of Dragon Warrior
Take one of the most famous “fantasy” deck archetypes, the Dragon Warrior. It’s one of the most played deck types in the game, but to really understand it you need to speak to Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy. The German ex-poker player and Hearthstone pro, who currently plays for the European powerhouse Team G2, has always been a source of knowledge in the tank-centric and control-heavy class.
The best in its league
Curve decks in Hearthstone inherit the most basic idea of deck building: it’s about distributing mana-efficient cards. In general, this idea is used when creating each and every deck because the worst result of a game is when there are too many or too few cards. With this in mind, a particular list is called a “curve deck” when it serves one purpose: to use mana as efficiently as possible in a given turn.
And Dragon Warrior holds a special place in the list of curve decks. When the deck hits the curve, its ability to set the pace of the game is unmatched, and the versatility behind almost every dragon card catalyzes a more than unique style of play.
“Dragon Warrior has been an absolute top deck since the last expansion,” explains Lifecoach when he talks about the history of each deck archetype. And while Lifecoach and several other pros agree that Dragon Warrior climbed the rankings following the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, Hearthstone’s latest expansion, gamers like it Brian Kibler have played the deck for a long time.
This is mainly due to the strong imagination the Warrior class conveys when combined with the Dragon Minion type: many of the most powerful cards in the game are dragons, and they are only really playable in the final stages of the game, and those stages are those in which the Warrior class excels. Because of this, the Dragon Warrior decks of the past evolved around meaty legends like Onyxia and Ysera, combined with a heavy removal of early and middle games in the form of cheap spells and weapons like Death’s Bite.
With the release of the expansion, and most importantly the introduction of the standard format, Dragon Warrior has become a much curvier archetype. The most important change was the loss of Death’s Bite, the warrior’s most powerful weapon when it came to control of the playing field during the game. New additions like N’Zoth’s First Mate are trying to make up for that loss and offer solid choices for the 1 mana slot. Having several good 1 mana cards again increases the deck’s ability to curve really well.
“You want to know how to play the deck? Play the cards that are outlined in green, and if they are outlined in yellow, that’s even better!” Lifecoach jokes about the deck’s basic play style. Jokes aside, the idea behind the Dragon Warrior deck is to target your opponent’s total life by playing the curve. With this strategy, the chances are high that you can deploy an activated Drakonid Breaker in turn 6. “
This answer might be a bit surprising. Looking at the deck’s past, Dragon Warrior’s general imagination had its place in the control decks category.
But after looking at Lifecoach’s list of dragon warriors, it all makes sense. In his opinion, Alexstrasza’s champion is the first of three key cards. The card, which supposedly has the strongest dragon scream compared to its mana cost, is considered a dream card against aggressive and control-heavy opponents: the charge potion guarantees either early facial damage, which is of crucial importance during the game, or highly valuable trades against 1 – or 2 Attack minions.
“Twilight Guardian and Blackwing Corruptor complete the aggressive and active archetype of Dragon Warrior,” explains Lifecoach after naming two other key cards in the deck. The Blackwing Corruptor in particular really represents the true nature of the archetype. The 5/4 body provides enough value on the board itself and the 3 damage battle cry to set the pace of a possible upcoming round 6 with an activated Drakonid Breaker.
When asked about adding more heavy dragon cards to the deck in the mid to late game, the Warrior Expert reiterates the true purpose of the deck: “We don’t want reactive cards like Nefarian or Ysera that get better in the deck.” Later stages. You could occupy a point in the hand that could be filled with a card that fits the curve, and at that point it would be basically a dead draw. “
Decklist from Lifecoach’s Dragon Warrior
© Lifecoach / Blizzard Entertainment
And while the strengths of the Dragon Warrior deck sound so strong, this statement also highlights its greatest weakness: its reliance on the curve. Many decks have had to deal with this problem in the past, and it turned out to be the main problem with curved decks. However, what makes Dragon Warrior the best corner deck right now, according to Lifecoach, is its ability to solve this problem.
The key to success are versatile spells like Inner Rage and Blood to Ichor, which can be used in both defensive and offensive scenarios or when the right servant just hasn’t made it into your hand by then. The addition of Sir Finley continues to make the deck multifunctional, turning the warrior’s heroism into something more useful, especially in control-heavy matchups.
make it spicier
The only card that really leaves Lifecoach’s mark is The Curator, one of the few interchangeable tech cards on his list: “A 7-mana, 4/6 game that draws an average of two and a half cards is pretty good,” he says .
What sounds so sensible solves another big problem with any deck of curves that involves cards. Even high-ranking turn decks like the Dragon Warrior have bad matches, and after a dream start, being literally empty-handed with no minions on the board could be a death sentence. A card that could draw a dragon to active major battle cries, a solid 3 mana 3/4 in the form of Fierce Monkey AND Sir Finley at once, could definitely decide a large part of the games played against aggressive and control-heavy opponents in the world later stages of the game.
Lifecoach talks about bad matchups and makes it simple: “Dragon Warrior has no real ‘counters’. If you take the active part on the board you will always perform well against any opponent.”
That being said, Dragon Warrior’s biggest counter seems to be the deck itself. It’s not just about playing the curve, and that’s the main problem, according to Lifecoach, with players who underperform the deck. A curve deck can beat any opponent, even with average draws, as long as the player follows a premise and has to take action. It doesn’t matter if following this premise leads to bad trades or large amounts of hero damage. Dragon Warrior has to get the opponent to react by either making worse trades or taking even more hero damage.
Lifecoach has one simple advice: “Go face!”
And while that statement makes the curve deck look a bit one-dimensional, it’s all about the timing of when to face and how to iron out the deck’s weaknesses. This will not happen within two or three games, but for this reason “Learn the Deck” is not general advice in this case.
Dragon Warrior seems to be one of the easiest decks to play in the current meta. But as with many “not the best, but really good” decks, it is imperative to understand the essence and win conditions in each matchup of the deck. It’s easy to be strictly for face or board control, but identifying the situations where you don’t do exactly that is where Dragon Warrior really shines and sets the pace.