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Champion of the Benelux: Narra's insight on his decks

Jesse “Narra” Marijnissen here. I’m a Dutch Hearthstone player playing for mCon esports. I’ve recently won the ESL Benelux finals and will share my decklists, strategy and mulligan guides with you here. I generally prefer slightly slower control decks but I strongly believe that a good Hearthstone player should be able to play a multitude of decks…as you’re about to find out.

Preparation

Going into the tournament I made a list of what I thought my opponents would bring and how I could make a well-rounded lineup that wouldn’t just beat my first opponent but could win the whole tournament. With 3 other competitors who each have their own playstyle it was near impossible to counter a specific deck so I went for a lineup that would be good in general rather than good versus one playstyle. Based on previous games I expected none of them to bring a control-ish Mage so I opted for a Jade Druid ban. Most Jade Druid lineups would ban either the Shaman or the Rogue and losing one of my two favorite decks versus that, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to leave it open.
I wanted a lineup that would be good against aggro while remaining decent versus control. Therefore one of my easiest picks was the Mage, quickly followed by the Shaman. Since most aggro decks are board dependent right now, Miracle Rogue fit the line quite well to be good versus aggro while remaining amazing versus midrange/control decks. I’ve struggled for quite a while before settling down on Quest Warrior as my last pick. Since I leave Rogue open I wanted a deck that would at least have a chance versus that. Therefore I went with the Quest Warrior instead of a Paladin variant. 

Deck guides

Evolve Shaman

Mulligan:
Always keep: Bloodsail Corsair, Fire Fly, Jade Claws
On coin: Primalfin Totem

Extra note: If you already have 2 minion keeps, you can decide to keep Flametongue Totem as well. If you start on turn 1 versus a board-focused deck like Murloc Paladin, you can opt to keep Flametongue as well if you have a turn 1 play. Bloodsail Corsair is often correct to play without getting value in the early turns as the tokens are a great threat with Flametongue and you want to get – and stay – on board as soon as possible.

General strategy:
You generally want to snowball your board to threaten Bloodlust whilst not overextending into their mass removal. A board of small minions and totems is as threatening as 3 big minions, maybe even more. Always try to go for a good mix between pressure and holding cards back on hand for a refill after your opponent has used their removal.

The combo:
Doppelgangster and Evolve form a great combo/ refill which often puts enough damage on board to threaten Bloodlust lethal right away afterwards. The hardest part of this deck is when to use either without the other. Keep their removal in mind when playing Doppelgangster or Evolve without the combo.

Card changes:
You can decide to cut the Doppelgangster Evolve combo for less combo based card like Jade Spirits, Fire Elementals, Sea Giant or when trying to improve your deck against aggro, a Bloodmage Thalnos or a Lightning Storm.

Quest Warrior

Mulligan:
Always keep: Fiery War Axe, Stonehill Defender, Armorsmith
On coin: Acolyte of Pain and Tar Creeper and depending on the matchup, Ravaging Ghoul if you already have the War Axe.

Extra note: There are some matchup where your win condition doesn’t rely on the quest (versus aggro generally), for those matchups it is recommended to not keep the Quest but look for a stronger early game/ curve.

General strategy: 
It’s rather easy; play 7 taunt minions, gain an awesome new hero power and start smashing your opponent in the face with 8 damage every turn. In truth it’s a bit harder although not that much. Most decisions are based on when to use which type of removal or if you can take more damage for another turn and be slightly greedier with Brawl / Sleep with the Fishes combos. Timing of your removal really depends on your opponents’ deck and what you expect their hand to be so it differs for each situation. Keep in mind that your hero power is very powerful after you’ve finished your quest so always try to set up a Ragnaros shot lethal if possible. This is probably the least interesting deck to describe though so I’ll leave it at that. 

Possible combos:
Ravaging Ghoul/ Primordial Drake with Sleep with the Fishes or Dirty Rat and Brawl are amazing combos to get you ahead in a value orientated game or to destroy an aggro decks’ dreams.

Card changes:
I decided to not run Harrison Jones for this tournament because I would ban Mage while Paladin wasn’t a huge target of this deck, for ladder purposes or a different ban situation I would recommend playing it instead of Battle Rage or Tar Creeper. You can opt to play 2x Bloodhoof Brave over 2x Tar Creeper as well but that’s mostly up to personal preference. If you want to make the build fully anti aggro cut both Dirty Rats as well for more early taunts or removal cards. Lately I’ve seen some people try out the Corrupted Seer (2/3 Murloc, 6 mana) which can work really with Sleep with the Fishes and synergizes with The Curator.

Miracle Rogue

Mulligan:
Always keep: Swashburglar, Razorpetal Lasher, Backstab
On coin: SI:7 Agent, Edwin vanCleef, Shaku

Extra notes: This deck is one of the harder ones to do the mulligan for since it has many different ways to curve out in the early game, mainly with Questing Adventurer and Edwin VanCleef. The noted keeps are general outlines, if you have a Swashburglar and Lasher you can also keep an Eviscerate vs. a deck with annoying 4 health minions like Frothing Berserker. The whole mulligan works around the idea of having 2 keeps so the third is good as well; Preperation is a major key here and it differs per matchup and even per game of said matchup. So use this as an outline for your mulligan, not a hard tooltip. On that note, Sherazin is a keep versus slower decks as well, Shaku too even without the coin and if you have a multitude of those cards versus a slower deck you can keep Mimic Pod as well. Versus really slow decks like Quest Warrior you can even decide to keep the Auctioneer since it’s such an important card for the matchup. And last but not least, while Hallucination might look like a very strong turn 1 play, you never keep it in your opening hand (unless it’s to make a huge turn 2-3 VanCleef). Hallucination provides more options for situational plays which you generally don’t know by turn 1 while also working really well as a buff to VanCleef, Questing Adventurer or to draw cards with Auctioneer.

General strategy:
You basically want to out-tempo your opponent with Miracle Rogue, forcing them to have the answers for your plays and if they skip a turn you can oftentimes punish them by pushing lots of damage. A key factor for this is the Auctioneer to keep up your draw and allow you to continue having initiative. Versus aggro decks you can often get high value plays off in the early game using cards like Backstab, Preperation and SI:7 Agent to gain you early board and forcing them to reply to your plays. However the deck is rather light on minions so always keep overextension in mind.

Combos:
Auctioneer with any spell combination is the main combo of this deck, allowing you to cycle through your deck fast and efficiently while maintaining tempo. Any card with Vilespine Slayer is a huge tempo play; instantly killing any sized minion while gaining a 3/4 on the board. Bloodmage Thalnos often provides for great combos with Fan of Knives, Backstab, Eviscerate or ‘stolen’ spells as well.

Card changes:
This deck works around the idea of tempo with Arcane Giants to top it off while I kept it slightly anti aggro with the double SI:7 Agents. If you get bullied by many mages while playing this deck, an Eater of Secrets instead of the second SI:7 Agent generally shuts them up. If you want to focus more on getting ahead in the early-midgame, try a second Questing Adventurer instead of the SI:7 Agent. Other cuts that can be made are Shaku or, if you want the deck to be more anti control Fan of Knives or Bloodmage Thalnos. Possible adds would be a second Mimic Pod, a second Razorpetal Lasher or maybe even a Southsea Deckhand (although I recommend that for a Cold Blood build more than for this one).

Freeze/Burn Mage Hybrid

Mulligan:
Always keep: Mana Wyrm, Arcanologist, versus aggro: Doomsayer and Frostbolt. Versus token Druid/Shaman you should keep Volcanic Potion as well.
On coin: possibly Acolyte of Pain versus decks that can’t do the 3 damage well on turn 2-3 but the previous keeps are more important.

Extra notes: Medivh’s Valet is a tricky one since it’s still a good 2 drop without the battlecry, I personally don’t like keeping it to have a higher chance of getting a Wyrm or Arcanologist. Primordial Glyph can be kept too but only against aggro decks to have answers to their early board or if you already have a Wyrm on turn 1. Versus slower decks you can keep Arcane Intellect as well since you want to cycle through your deck as soon and fast as possible.

General strategy:
Versus aggro you just want to keep their board small or better yet: keep it empty. Always keep an eye out for setting up lethal with all your burn combined with Frost Novas / Ice Blocks to stall the game. If needed, Alexstrasza can be used defensively to set your health back to 15. Versus control with healing you want to try to force them to use it before playing Alexstrasza, otherwise you can often play Alex and shoot 15 damage worth of spells at their face over 1-2 turns. Antonidas provides a great tool for extra reach in this deck versus those kind of decks as well.

Possible combos:
Doomsayer and Frost Nova is a golden combo people have hated for ages, it still works. And it’s still amazing, try it out. Antonidas with Frost Nova often puts your opponent in a tough spot where they have to clear it with spells, if possible. Otherwise it’s a great set up to get a 2-3 turn lethal on your opponent. The discount of Primordial Glyph gives it lots of flexibility for other combos like Alexstrasza + Frost Nova, Antonidas with a multitude of spells or if you’re feeling extremely lucky a turn 1 Mana Wyrm into turn 2 Primordial Glyph into Primordial Glyph into… 30 damage. Good luck on that one though.

Card changes:
For this specific line up I went for more card draw to cycle through my decks fast. Since Mage was my main ban, I didn’t play Eater of Secrets or any form of weapon removal (Harrison if you cut Acolyte, otherwise Gluttonous Ooze). Both are great tools for the Paladin matchup as well. You can cut the Volcanic Potion or the second Acolyte of Pain for either or both of those. If you want to use the deck mostly against aggro you can cut Antonidas and add a second Volcanic Potion as well.

ESL Benelux

The event I used the lineup for included 4 players; Arneej, Babbelbox, Sjoesie and myself. Building my line up I kept in mind their playstyles and favorite decks. In the end I got 3 out of 4 decks right of each player with the 4th being my top alternative pick. I knew my line up would do well against Babbelbox where I won 3-2 because of using the right (or getting lucky with my) pick order of decks. Arneej brought a full aggro line up where I would only possibly struggle with Rogue but since he lost to Sjoesie I didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Sjoesie is known as a heavy (some might say greedy or weird) control player so Quest Warrior became my biggest worry. Luckily for me I decided to go for Quest Warrior over Control Paladin so I got my win against his Rogue at a 2-2 score thanks to the lovely Dirty Rat into Brawl into praying combination.

Final words

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you learned something new. If you have any questions regarding specific matchups, tech choices or something else, feel free to get in touch. I want to use this to thank ESL Benelux for hosting an amazing event, my team for the endless support and finally thank the attending people for making the ESL Benelux finals an amazing day.
And a personal shoutout and thanks to my team manager Marcel ‘Praedyn’ Opperman and my teammates Patrick ‘maDe’ Verhoeven en Ruud ‘ArchEnemy’ van Delden.

Here is the VOD of the Finals:
in which you can find my game versus Babbelbox starting 8h30m in and the finals versus Sjoesie 11h30m in.

Thank you for your time and I hope to see you in the inn soon,
Narra

Gepost door Narra op 28/06/2017

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