Hearthstone - Heroes of Warcraft news » How to Build a Playoff-Winning Deck Lineup
As we close the door on the first Playoff season of the 2018 Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT), there’s one last thing we wanted to do—get into the wily minds of some of the best pro players in the world to understand how they build tournament deck lineups. (Previously, we’ve looked at some general advice on deck lineups with Julien “Cydonia” Perrault, as well as how to construct a tournament deck for your favorite class with Jacob “Apxvoid” Coen.)
Caught in a Snake Trap
This week, we’re featuring a thorough look at how Torben “Viper” Wahl built the deck lineup he used to advance from the Europe Playoffs to the Summer Championship. (For reference, all three HCT Summer Playoffs were complete before the recent balance changes.)
Ended up with this stuff for Playoffs (Druid should have harrison>wrath , but the end of season deadline and missing sleep got me ... ) pic.twitter.com/wOC58eUKN1— Torben Wahl (@viper_hs) May 1, 2018
How did you pick your decks?
According to Viper, the first thing to do is determine which classes and decks are strong enough to merit consideration for Conquest. He asks a couple of questions: “Which decks can counter which decks? Can a specific deck go 0-3 against an expected lineup?”
For the Europe Playoffs, Viper concluded that there wasn’t a viable lineup comprised entirely of aggressive decks—which, in his eyes, meant there was less of a downside to playing greedier decks. His practice group looked at how to target decks like Control Warlock and Control Priest early on. Given that information, the next step was determining what’s possible within the space they’ve defined.
To beat Control Warlock and Control Priest, Viper was leaning toward Cube Warlock, Taunt Druid, and Miracle Rogue. “We were missing a fourth deck,” Viper said. “However, we thought—and still think—that a Warrior deck would have been a good fit, but due to the deadline we settled on Priest and decided to tech it to beat the mirror match and other slow decks. That’s how Benedictus found its way into the final list.” That single tech card, Viper said, became an alternate win condition against multiple decks.
What was your ban strategy?
Since he had determined there wasn’t a full lineup of aggressive decks that looked like it would succeed, Viper banned whatever the most aggressive deck his opponent had was—whether that was Tempo Mage, any type of Rogue, or Paladin.
“A lot of the time it also depended on what my opponent would have to ban for their lineup,” Viper said. “The basic idea—bringing four decks with the same weakness, then banning that weakness—meant my ban was kind of flexible, since not everyone brought an aggressive deck.”
Were there any decks or lineups you were worried about facing?
“Seeing the Combo Priest lineup from Windello, I was a little worried at first,” Viper said. “After playing their decks for a couple of games, though, I relaxed, because while they looked scary, they weren’t the most consistent.” After seeing the full field, the only lineup of concern was the expected collection of the four most aggressive decks possible.
This is what we came with pic.twitter.com/pU5q0xEiei— Windello (@Windello_HS) May 1, 2018
What matchups were hardest for you to navigate?
Practice made perfect for Viper on Cube Warlock and Taunt Druid. “Even the fatigue matchups with those decks weren’t very hard,” he said. Playing his Priest, on the other hand, was a struggle—in part because he hadn’t played more than 10 games with the deck prior to submitting it for Playoffs.
Would you go back and change anything about your decks or overall lineup in retrospect?
“My Warlock was perfect,” Viper said. “[For] Druid, I think playing Ultimate Infestation was a big question, but to win the Priest matchup it was necessary almost every time; it was weak against almost every other deck, though.” He also liked the Rogue list as submitted, but echoed his group’s sentiment that the Priest (which could have used a Holy Fire) would be replaced by a Recruit or Dead Man’s Hand Warrior instead.
Lastly, Viper put in a lot of practice time. “One or two days of hardcore testing wouldn’t work this time,” he said. “Casie and I started preparing for this tournament weeks ahead of the deadline.” He added that playing control-oriented decks can be scary early in a new expansion: “Figuring out optimal lists [for control] is difficult, and way more important compared to having an optimal aggro or midrange deck.” Thankfully, both Cube Warlock and Control Priest were relatively stable archetypes, so they weren’t as hard to navigate, and he was lucky to discover Taunt Druid early on and have lots of time to refine it.
With that, we bid a fond farewell to the first Playoff season of 2018, and turn our sights to the upcoming HCT Summer Championship! Are you cheering for Viper, or one of the other 15 talented competitors? Let us know in the comments.