Challenge me to a game! My alias is davidvs#1835.
The game is free and very fun. It installs well on Ubuntu using PlayOnLinux. That install process may need to be repeated a second time if the first attempt exits after installing the Battle.net software.
Thanks go to HearthPwn for the card images, mostly downloadable in a zip file here.
Theory and Analysis
Currently (early October, 2014) I am exploring a theme I call the Cheerful Giver decks. This theme focuses on using minions that buff other minions. These decks are fun! They provide fast games are and interesting to play.
(I was fiddling with the game's search feature when I was touched by inspiration and tried searching for the word give. This is a deck style I have not seen elsewhere. But I expect other folk have also invented this idea.)
The foundational 24 neutral minion cards are:
|Abusive Sergeant ×2 , Shieldbearer ×2 , Young Priestess ×2|
|Dire Wolf Alpha ×2 , Master Swordsmith ×2 , Nerubian Egg ×2|
|Harvest Golem ×2 , Raid Leader×2 , Shattered Sun Cleric ×2|
|Cult Master ×2 , Dark Iron Dwarf ×2 , Defender of Argus ×2|
This is a "rush" deck that puts many minions on the board early in the game. However, it differs from the other rush decks that I have seen by keeping those minions relevant!
Instead of including minions specific for the middle game (such as Spellbreaker and Loatheb from the Hunter deck below) it uses combinations of "buffs" that increase attack and/or health to maintain pressure and keep the early minions growing competitively.
None of the above minions serve as finishing cards. We will use class-specific cards for that role. But neutral minions could serve in that role too, such as Frostwolf Warlord or Stormwind Champion.
(Of course, some legendary minions are designed to be finishers, such as Ragnaros or many of the class-specific legendary minions. If you own such cards you can use them.)
This deck has very few draw cards—only the Cult Masters. But it does not need many, for any combination of foundational cards will work well together.
The Nerubian Egg and Harvest Golem both provide excellent and lasting value for their mana cost. They work very well with any minion that provides a buff, but especially the Defender of Argus.
The most desirable starting hand is a Shieldbearer with one or more Young Priestesses or Master Swordsmiths. The early taunt will help protect the others for several turns. If you are going second, using the coin to place two one-mana minions on the board on your first turn works well.
These foundational 24 neutral minions are then augmented with 6 class-specific cards.
For a Mage, add one mirror image to strengthen your early game, the secrets duplicate ×2 and mirror entity to maintain pressure, and fireball ×2 for a finisher.
For a Shaman, use Flametongue Totem ×2 and Mana Tide Totem ×2 to maintain pressure, and bloodlust ×2 for a finisher.
For a Warlock, add Flame Imp ×2 and replace the Shieldbearers with Voidwalker ×2. Also include soulfire ×2 and a power overwhelming as finishing cards. Finally, a Void Terror is a handy way to "pop" a Nerubian Egg or make room for more minions on the board.
For a Warrior, add execute ×2 to remove enemy taunts, Warsong Commanders ×2 to maintain pressure, and mortal strike ×2 for a finisher.
The first three Curse of Naxramas challenges have made four additional cards available to new players. My favorite beginner deck makes use of three of these cards.
A "zoo deck" uses many inexpensive minions to dominate the early game. The basic Hunter cards, combined with two of the Naxamas first wing card rewards, make a very potent Beast Zoo beginner deck.
|hunter's mark ×2|
|arcane shot ×2 , Timber Wolf ×2|
|Bloodfen Raptor ×2 , Haunted Creeper ×2 , Nerub'ar Weblord ×2 , River Crocolisk , Starving Buzzard ×2|
|animal companion ×2 , kill command ×2 , Ironfur Grizzly ×2 , Raid Leader ×2 , Silverback Patriarch|
|Tundra Rhino ×2|
This was my favorite beginner deck. I used it to defeat the first three Curse of Naxramas challenges. (At first, substitute other low-mana minions for the Naxramas card rewards.)
Then it served me well for beginning to do ranked play and quest goals.
One variant used Maexxna instead of the Boulderfist Ogre. There was a small advantage of yet another beast. But the Boulderfist Ogre costs the same mana, kills almost all minions anyway, and also threatens the opposing hero.
This used to be my favorite Rush Hunter deck. Then the nerf to Starving Blizzard wrecked it. But it still provides a good discussion about how to construct a potent deck.
|hunter's mark ×2|
|flare , tracking ×2 , Leper Gnome ×2 , Undertaker ×2 , Webspinner ×2|
|explosive trap ×2 , Bloodmage Thalnos , Ironbeak Owl , Loot Hoarder ×2|
|animal companion ×2 , kill command ×2 , unleash the hounds ×2|
|Cult Master ×2 , Spellbreaker ×2|
|Loatheb , Nightblade , Starving Buzzard|
I was fortunate that when opening packs of cards my first Legendary card was Bloodmage Thalnos, which is usable in many kinds of decks. Loatheb is a Curse of Naxramas reward card.
This is another rush deck that puts many minions on the board early in the game. To maintain an early advantage, this deck uses Loatheb, Spellbreaker, and explosive trap.
Any deck need finishing cards to wrap up the game on your terms. This deck uses kill command. Dedicate both to damaging the opposing hero. Try to save Bloodmage Thalnos for playing immediately before one or both kill command cards—despite being a minion he actually behaves as a spell that reads "this turn spell damage +1 and draw a card", which is excellent value for two mana.
Cards that allow you to draw more cards are vital. A strong rush does nothing if you never draw your finishing cards. This deck contains eleven draw cards: flare, tracking ×2, Webspinner ×2, Bloodmage Thalnos, Loot Hoarder ×2, Cult Master ×2, and Starving Buzzard. (Both Cult Master and Starving Buzzard work very well with unleash the hounds.)
Use the hunter's mark to get rid of opposing minions with taunt, or the Ironbeak Owl to remove a taunt.
Do not hurry to play the Undertakers. If this minion is in your hand early, do not be afraid to "waste" your second, third, or fourth turn by using your hero power instead of putting it on the board. You will have plenty of mana later for putting down this minion in combination of at least one other deathrattle minion.
Notice that if all four direct damage minions are played, the two Loot Hoarders will damage the hero by 2 × 2 = 4 health and the two Nightblades by 3 × 2 = 6 health. That and the two kill command cards totals 20 damage! In most games you will not draw and play all six of these direct damage cards, but can win quickly anyway because your minions and explosive trap cards also do much damage to the opposing hero.
The optimal starting hand depends upon the opposing hero. If you suspect the opponent will also rush (currently many Warlock decks) then keep an explosive trap. If you suspect the opponent will play early taunt cards (currently many Mage decks) then keep a hunter's mark or Ironbeak Owl. Otherwise mulligan away those, as well as any expensive cards, in hope of getting one-mana or two-mana minions or an animal companion.