With the release of Un'Goro Hearthstone’s stale metagame has been alleviated of its stagnancy. The initial release week of Un'Goro has been the most fun I have personally had playing Hearthstone in a long time. In that time, I have also managed to make what I believe is going to be a staple deck in the upcoming metagame: Quest Warrior.
The skeleton and idea of the deck itself is intuitive, but the specific list I managed to do well with on ladder has appeared to gain significant traction. My goal with this article is to teach you how to play the deck properly and improve your win rate.
As you can see my specific list of quest warrior has been played over 10,000 times so a significant amount of data exists on the deck already. The deck is reminiscent of control warrior from previous formats except it feels much more proactive and has a clear end game strategy. You want to complete your quest by playing taunts and close out the game through minion pressure and the Ragnaros hero power. Obviously, this isn’t the case for every matchup but that is the general idea of the deck. I’ll go through each matchup throughout the article but one alarming stat that I notice is the quest is being kept over 95% of the time. I can assure you this should not be happening in the current metagame. You want to mulligan the quest against aggressive matchups and combo decks like rogue. Your win condition in these matchups is simply surviving their initial onslaught and outvaluing them with your minions. Eventually they will flounder without resources, be unable to kill you, and concede.
Notable Card Choices
Essential in this metagame. Originally when I first built the deck I didn’t have it and found myself losing to rogue decks and combo mage decks. Dirty Rat is the perfect answer to being able to neuter their combos if you get lucky. Don’t be afraid to use him on turn 2 against aggro decks in this metagame.
His package just makes sense in this deck. Primordial Drake is one of the best cards in the deck and Direhorn Hatchling is one of the strongest taunts. Since you already include those cards in the deck regardless The Curator is just value on top of being a taunt to help you complete your quest.
He is not needed in the deck and can easily be cut for anything you want. I just prefer having the burst potential and find myself winning games I should never win because of it. I know a lot of people sub it out for cards like Deathwing but I still prefer Grommash. This is a personal preference flex spot.
The main issue when it comes to keeping the quest is that as the metagame evolves it becomes harder and harder to know what your opponent is playing. Previously, people were only playing aggressive versions of druid which means you mulligan the quest. Recently, Fr0zen built this deck and it has started to gain traction. You need the quest in order to beat his deck which means it’s worth keeping. Having a dead card against aggro druid isn’t the worst thing in the world since the matchup is favored so you can usually pull out wins anyways.
Against aggressive druid decks don’t be afraid to rip Dirty Rat on turn 2. Most likely you will pull something small and set up for a strong whirlwind turn in the future. The worst thing you can pull is a Bittertide Hydra if they even play it. If you pull that and don’t have Execute that is devastating but the odds of that happening are low. If you are able to find your AOE cards and then follow up with a wall of taunt creatures you will be able to stabilize easily and take control of the game. Against the ramp version of druid, you want to complete your quest ASAP. Use your removal carefully since they have so many threats in their deck. This matchup is difficult but still winnable.
At this point I think it’s safe to assume most hunters you face on ladder will be midrange and not a quest hunter. Hunter is aggressive enough that you can’t afford to have a dead card in your hand therefor you must mulligan the quest. Once you stabilize your minions will be able to pressure them enough to end the game and you won’t need the quest reward.
I think Dirty Rat can be a liability since you lose if you pull out Savannah Highmane on turn two. With that said pay attention to your opponent’s mulligan and if they keep their whole hand it’s unlikely they have highmane since they don’t keep it so you can feel safer going for a t2 rat if you draw it. I have found the hunter matchup to be easy if you are able to stifle their early game and have removal for cards that can potentially snowball like Scavenging Hyena. Once they can play their high-end cards like highmane you usually have a plethora of ways to deal with it and then can clear their board with Primordial Drake while developing an insurmountable threat. This matchup usually plays itself out with you either having removal for what they have or getting run over by a minion they snowball. If they go wide on the board you have so many ways to deal with it that that’s not usually how you lose. If I lose this matchup it’s from not having a single target removal for a threat they are able to snowball with buffs early.
If you know it’s an aggro mage deck you can keep Ravaging Ghoul and even Shield Slam to help deal with early aggression and mulligan the quest. The aggressive mage matchup plays itself out. You need to answer the threats they present while maintaining a healthy life total and protecting yourself with taunts. If you can stabilize and get out of their burst reach you’ll win every time.
Most of the mages I face on the ladder have been some type of combo mage which means that Dirty Rat is the most important card to have. If you can Dirty Rat out any piece of their combo like a Sorcerer's Apprentice or Archmage Antonidas you can win on the spot. This isn’t a matchup where you want to Dirty Rat on turn 2. You would rather wait until you feel they are getting close to assembling their combo and then try to destroy it before they go off. Completing the quest is your secondary win condition if you can’t disrupt their combo. Some games you can pressure them enough with minions and complete the quest early while they flounder to put together the combo and kill them before they go off. Generally, they will find the combo and complete their quest before you can pressure them out of the game so it usually comes down to Dirty Rat. If it’s a freeze mage variant, which have been scarce, armoring up and not taking chip damage from their minions should be enough to win.
Honestly, there isn’t one specific Paladin deck that has assimilated itself into the metagame yet so it’s hard to give advice on a matchup that doesn’t really exist and that I have played almost none of. The only variants I have played against on ladder were aggressive murloc ones where the sheer amount of removal and AOE was more than enough to stunt their aggression and stabilize.
The priest matchup is a war of attrition and value. With the recent rotation dragon priest decks have become less aggressive and more value based. The other priest decks seem to be N’Zoth based which is the definition of value. You need to use your AOE and cards like Brawl sparingly in these matchups. If you use them too early and your opponent knows you are out of ways to clear their board they will go all in and kill you. If you keep them playing around Brawl and such you can limit the damage you take while getting closer to stabilizing and completing your quest.
The Ragnaros hero power is how you generate enough value to win the matchup which isn’t comforting. Knowing that most of my matchups against priest came down to rag coin flips hitting the right targets or hitting 50/50s is unsettling, but sometimes that’s all you can do. Some games you can complete the quest early enough to have your hero power completely take over the game and just kill them. Fatiguing N'Zoth quest priest is a viable game plan if they over extend into your AOE and let cards like Brawl get too much value. Keep their deck size in mind when formulating your late game strategy.
Dirty Rat pulls like pulling out a N'Zoth, Drakonid Operative, or Netherspite Historian can give you an idea of whether they will be able to out value you and how aggressive you can or can’t play. I always Dirty Rat in combination with Brawl in this matchup but I have seen a lot of people go for turn 2 Dirty Rat against dragon priest decks to try to pull their lone dragon and stunt them from the get go. Against dragon priest I’m going to start experimenting with playing Dirty Rat on turn 2 more often and see if I can essentially win on turn 2 by starving them of a dragon.
This appears to be the most iconic matchup in the forefront of the Un'Goro metagame and the one I play the most. If your opponent is playing combo rogue getting a Dirty Rat on any card they bounce, or even a bounce card itself, is pertinent. If you feel like they are going to be able to go off without having to hold a card they shadowstepped in hand for a turn sometimes it’s better to just try to rip a bounce card from their hand. This decision is something you’ll have to get a feel for by playing the matchup and developing your own in game instincts. Keeping war axe is debatable because of how important it is but I keep it to help deal with their early game minions or in case they are playing miracle rogue. Acolyte of Pain is only a keep because it helps cycle to Dirty Rat. If you can disrupt their questing with Dirty Rat the matchup becomes much easier. If they can accomplish the quest that’s when the matchup starts to get difficult. If you are playing against the non-vanish version of the deck you can easily outlast them and run them out of resources with cards like Brawl and Drake + Fishes to consistently clear their board. When they play Coldlight Oracle + Vanish is when you start to have a lot of issues. These cards just give them too much gas and resources for you to deal with. It’s crazy how much of a difference if they play vanish or not makes in the matchup.
If you are playing against miracle rogue the matchup is reminiscent of control warrior against miracle from the last format except it got much easier for control. Generally, they are not going to be able to make a huge Questing Adventurer like they could before because they lack Conceal and you can just use your single target removal to take care of their threats as they come. There is no surprise 20/20 concealed Edwin VanCleef surviving a Brawl to steal the game anymore.
The shaman matchup is another attrition based matchup that is relatively easy if they don’t play bloodlust to burst you down. You have enough AOE to keep a shaman’s board in check and completing the quest will help you pressure them down late game or deal with their bigger minions if you can isolate them. All of your minions are good against them especially Primordial Drake. I love to play Dirty Rat on turn 2 against elemental shaman to try to ripFire Plume Harbinger, Flametongue Totem, or a firefly card. If you get Dirty Rat later in the game you can feel safe playing it after killing something like an Igneous Elemental because you have a high chance of pulling a 1/2.
Quest: No (zoo) Yes (Handlock)
At the current time, I’m facing more zoo decks than any other type of warlock so I mulligan for that but as the meta evolves that can easily change. The zoo matchup is easy with the amount of removal, taunts, and AOE you play. If you can get a Brawl in your opening hand or Fiery War Axe stunting their aggression shouldn’t be an issue. In this matchup, I have been playing rat on turn 2 if they keep most their hand. Zoo will never keep cards like Doomguard so the more cards they keep the less likely they are to have a Doomguard. If they mulligan their whole hand I’m less inclined to rat on t2 unless I have an Execute as a backup plan to deal with it.
The hand lock matchup is tricky, especially if they play Lord Jaraxxus. This is where completing your quest will pay off in dividends if you can hit your 50/50s. Even if you can’t hit their minions with the rag hero power sometimes hitting face is valuable because it threatens a grom lethal. This is a matchup where Grommash is arguably the most relevant card you can play. The game plan here is to answer their threats while trying to complete your quest ASAP. Don’t use your Brawls unless you must and when you use them try to combine it with Dirty Rat to pull more threats or even a game winning jaraxus pull. Most people think this matchup is highly unfavored but in my experience, it’s always been close and comes down to how efficiently you can answer their threats.
The more the meta evolves the harder the warrior matchup becomes because deciphering which deck your opponent is playing is getting more difficult. At the release of Un'Goro I was only playing against pirate warriors so I would mulligan the quest every time. Now that mirror is prevalent you can’t do that anymore. You immediately lose the game mulliganing the quest in the mirror. Unless you know what deck your opponent is playing you must keep the quest. You can still beat pirate warrior if you keep a dead card but you will never win mirror getting rid of the quest.
The Pirate Warrior matchup plays itself out. You either survive long enough to stabilize and set up your taunts or they kill you early. There isn’t much going on there.
The mirror is annoying because of how relevant your rag hero power flips are late game. If you whiff on killing their creatures with it every turn that can cost you the game. The early game is where you can gain some edges since most of the matchup is curving out and cycling into more taunt minions to complete your quest. Whoever is able to complete their quest first is favored. This means cards like Dirty Rat can be huge. I always play rat on t2 in the mirror because pulling out a Stonehill Defender, which is the best card to keep, can win you the game on the spot. Pulling a Stonehill almost certainly means you will complete your quest first. Other things to note about the mirror is to not over extend into AOE. This matchup isn’t a control mirror at all. It’s simply a race to see who can complete the quest first and kill their opponent. Gone are the times of the standard warrior mirror of armoring up every turn.
If there is one thing I want to see change it’s how often people keep the quest in general. Hopefully you have enjoyed this guide and it helps you improve your win rate. If you enjoyed the article, follow me on Twitter @PG_rayC and on Twitch rayc591.