Courtesy Blizzard Entertainment

The first true expansion for Hearthstone, ‘Goblins vs. Gnomes’, has officially been released. I’ve picked up a few packs for it, thanks to some solid questing and saving up my gold, and I am already seeing changes within the meta. Quite a few of the decks remain the same: I can still spot a Zoolock or Handlock a mile away, and Priests are likely to stay annoying. However, since one of my favorite things to do in an CCG is build new decks, especially if I can test them in a competitive environment, I have some ideas, partially based on what I’ve seen and partially building on prior successes. I basically plan on having a deck for each class, which as of this writing, means 9.

Druid – A Natural Mill

This was a deck that until recently occupied my Rogue slot (jokingly called ‘Bouncy Bouncy’). I always felt that ‘mill’ decks (so named for [c]Millstone[/c]) are not what opponents tend to expect, and are the sort of deck you play when you just want to mess with some heads. The problem with the Rogue incarnation was that it relied almost entirely on [Coldlight Seer]. Sure, landing a [Sap] on a big threat when the opponent’s hand is full always feels great, but it felt like a very rare occurance. And by the time it did, I would be on death’s doorstep.

Enter [Grove Tender] for Druids. Between this new card, the original but rarely played [Naturalize], and Naxxramas’ [Dancing Swords], there are plenty of ways for the Druid to fill the enemy hand. Druid also has more ways to stay alive until the late game. There are neat ways to capitalize on an opponent with a full hand, like [Goblin Sapper] and [Clockwork Giant]. With a few of the Druid’s old tricks, and new ones like [Tree of Life], this might actually be viable for the ladder.

Hunter – Beasts, Marks, or Survival? WHO CARES BEAT FACE

I feel very torn between a variety of Hunter decks. There are three specializations for Hunters in World of Warcraft: Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and Survival. To me, Beast Mastery speaks to aggression, Survival to control, and Marksmanship is more midrange. I’m more inclined towards control-style decks, as they make for longer, more interesting games, but aggressive decks make for faster trips up the ladder. So which would be best when it comes to Hunter?

Honestly, when it comes to Hunter, I’ve had the most success when I eschew the greater themes and just build something shamelessly aggressive. There are a couple cards in the new expansion, as well as Naxxramas, that will make this sort of deck both viable and fun to play. I mean, I crafted those golden [Webspinner]s for a reason, right? I still am leery about using [Unleash the Hounds] as a core of any Hunter deck, even one revolving around Beasts. I will revisit a “themed” Hunter deck after climbing a few rungs, but for now, I’m going to do something less esoteric.

Mage – Mechanomancy’s All The Rage

‘Goblins vs. Gnomes’ (or GvG as it’s often abbreviated) has a very strong sub-theme of mechanized minions, or ‘mechs’ for short. The synergy between minions like the [Mechwarper] and [Spider Tank] is pretty nasty, in and of itself, but Mages in particular got a potent addition to their stable of possible helpers: the [Snowchugger]. In addition to decent stats – 2/3 for 2 is already above par – these little monsters also freeze whatever they damage, or anything that damages them. Combine this with, say, Spare Parts like [Whirling Blades] or the old favorite [Defender of Argus], and you have an incredibly strong deterrent for the early game.

There aren’t a lot of threats that can deal with it, either. Mages are stocked to the brim with removal as it is, from their traditional standbys of [Frostbolt] and [Fireblast] to newcomer [Flamecannon]. It can be very difficult for aggressive decks to get a handle on a Mechanomancer, and control decks suffer from early damage if they cannot themselves remove the threat of multiple mechs rolling across the field. Put it all together, and you have an extremely potent weapon for climbing the ladder.

Paladin – The Silver Hand Wants YOU

This has been my pet class in Hearthstone for a while, now. At 500 wins on the ladder, the hero for your class and his hero power turn gold. I want [Reinforce] to give me golden [Silver Hand Recruit]s, dangit. I’ve been after this since the previous iteration of my Paladin deck. With GvG, the goal has become even clearer, for two very distinct reasons: [Muster for Battle], and [Quartermaster].

In the early game, Muster lets you respond to aggression, or deal out some quick damage. Later on, when combined with the Q man and, for example, [Knife Juggler], you’re presenting your opponent with a serious game-ending threat. Now, there are ways around this, from board clears like [Flamestrike] to underhanded moves such as [Mind Control Tech], but even so, it takes some doing to get around that sheer amount of firepower. For a while, I was running this deck with [Captain Greenskin], since a 2/5 weapon is nothing to sneeze at; plus, on occasion, I’d get a [Truesilver Champion] that could take out Yetis in one swing. However, I recently switched up for a build closer to Strifecro’s, and this is my go-to deck for struggling towards the twin goals of 500 paladin wins, and Legendary rank.

Priest – If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…

Oh, Priest. My love-hate relationship with you is well-known, among the five or so people who actually pay attention to my Hearthstone rants. To me, playing Priest on the ladder is like playing in Magic: the Gathering events with a deck that is almost entirely blue, mostly with counterspells and cards that steal things from your opponent or otherwise completely lock them out of what they want to play. I can respect that style of play, as I have done it myself on occasion, but in Hearthstone having such tactics used on me makes me inconsolably angry.

I can definitely get behind little combinations like [Auchenai Soulpriest] and [Circle of Healing] for a sudden and potent board clear, and while I don’t necessarily like getting smacked with a minion that’s been built up to 22 health and then given [Inner Fire], I have to give it the traditional “Clever Girl” response. I don’t know if I’ll ever play Priest on the ladder, personally; I do my best to meet the challenge when I’m there, but in Casual games, I tend to concede immediately when I see my opponent is a Priest. Unless I’m playing Priest myself.

But yeah, Priest players? Much respect, and you can all go to hell.

What are my thoughts on the other classes? What does the future hold for Hearthstone? Tune in next week to find out!