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Deck Archetypes in Hearthstone

Jul 23, 2016
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This article is for those fairly new to Hearthstone. If you follow Hearthstone, you’ll often hear people discussing different deck archetypes. The most common ones are Control, Aggro, Midrange, and Combo decks. The archetype describes the style in which the deck is played. Decks can on occasion fall into two categories, but it is rare. There are also a few other archetypes, but they too are extremely uncommon. We will simply be discussing the big four here, and explaining how they function.

Aggro Decks

Aggro stands for Aggressive, and this style of deck is just that! This archetype of deck is built around playing quick cards and defeating your opponent very early. The hallmark of this deck is a lot of cards that cost one and two mana, for early starts. There are two styles of Aggro decks, rush and board control. Rush decks seek to simply kill their opponent fast with direct damage. Board control takes longer, but holds the board reliably using many cheap minions.

Examples of Aggro decks include Aggro Shaman, Face Hunter, and Zoo Warlock. These decks all excel at killing their opponent very quickly, and allow for fast games.

Hearthstone Archetype: Aggro Hunter
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Control Decks

Control decks are the exact opposite of Aggro decks. They seek to simply survive for the first few turns of the game, before bringing out their massive threats. A staple of Control decks is having a few extremely strong, high cost cards as finishers. They do play quite a few low cost cards, but they tend to be highly defensive cards. They also often run healing and taunts in order to stabilize the board.

Examples of Control decks include Reno Warlock, Control Warrior, and Control Priest. These decks all take a long time to win, and do so by answering every threat their opponent plays.

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Midrange Decks

Midrange decks fall directly between Aggro and Control. They run both early and late game cards in an attempt to control the game at all points. These decks tend to have quite a few strong four and five drops, to take control of the mid-game. The idea behind Midrange is that it beats Aggro decks late and Control decks early. However, it can also very easily lose to Aggro early and Control late, if they aren’t careful.

Examples of Midrange decks include Midrange Hunter, Midrange Paladin, and Midrange Shaman. They are all solid decks and can confidently go against most matchups. However, they tend not to have any extremely favourable matchups either, due to their nature.

Hearthstone Archetype: Midrange Mana curve
A beautiful Midrange mana curve.

Combo Decks

Combo decks are different from any of the others, but closest to Control decks. They too seek to simply survive for the opening turns, so that they can make it to late game. However, in the late game they do not win using big minions, but rather using a combination of cards. The combination varies for each deck, but it will be a combo of cards designed to deal massive damage in a single turn. They struggle in many matchups, as they are forced to wait until they get all the pieces before winning. However, when they get all the pieces, they are extremely strong and can defeat almost all opponents.

Examples of Combo decks include Combo Renolock and Freeze Mage. These decks take quite a bit of skill to master, and take a long time to win. When they manage to win, however, they are extremely satisfying and quite strong.

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Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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