Hearthstone has a reputation as one of the most expensive PC games to play – and, honestly, that reputation is not undeserved.
Keeping up with the top meta decks every year can cost hundreds of dollars, and the free-to-play experience is a nightmare. You can often only make one deck on a free-to-play account and you’re heavily limited to which “Death Knight” you open, as those are the most powerful free cards you can get throughout the game.
There are, however, a few great inexpensive options for decks that will allow you climb to legend rank. There is a really useful core “package” of common and rare cards that can be stretched out throughout almost all the classes, and used to build competitive decks that can get to legend. Because of this package, there are a few midrange decks, a few aggressive decks and even a combo deck that require zero legendaries to play. Let’s take a look at the package and figure out why it’s so strong.
The five cards above form a formidable budget core. This shell is annoying for most decks to deal with, because each of the minions have plenty of stats for the initial early turns while the top end minions snowball after winning early game board control. Golakka Crawler can be especially powerful in the two decks it’s featured in, as Pirates are very common on the ladder right now as well as being a beast for the various beast synergies. Two of the most powerful decks in the game are both decks that use this shell the most efficiently.
With this explained, let’s take a look at my top five budget decks for the Knights of the Frozen Throne meta.
Note: One Night in Karazan is, unfortunately, a bit too good to leave out. So you will have to either buy this adventure straight-up or earn enough coins to complete it.
Aggro Druid is probably one of the more common decks on the ladder right now. This deck functions by snowballing early game board control with buff effects like Mark of the Lotus, Mark of Y’Shaarj and Power of the Wild. This is one of the rare uses for a minion like Snowflipper Penguin which, combos great with Mark of Y’Shaarj for a two mana 3/3 minion that draws a card. It also lets you throw down extra minions to receive the area-of-effect buffs.
The typical mulligan strategy for this deck is to find your one mana cost minions and Mark of the Lotus. You want to flood the board as hard and as fast as possible, buff up all your minions and continue to buff them up, then protect them with taunt minions and finally Savage Roar lets you finish off your opponent. If you want to make this deck better, once you’re able to get Patches the Pirate, I would include it and a pair of Bloodsail Corsairs as they are a fast way to get multiple minions on the board.
Hunter is one of the most common classes for budget decks, because you can easily get by with zero legendaries – or even epics. This version of the deck is more focused on board control, with Tar Creepers and Cobalt Scalebanes to protect your early game minions so you can land Houndmasters and Bonemares without issues. Savannah Highmane continues to be one of the strongest rares in the game, with a power level that easily surpasses that of most legendaries.
With Hunter it’s more important than most classes to attain early game board control, so I would hard mulligan for your one mana minions so you can follow up with Dire Wolf Alpha or Crackling Razormaw.
Next up, it’s Secret Mage. Secret Mage is one of the most inexpensive decks to make, as well as one of the strongest on our list. One of the more well-known powerful aggressive decks, this particular version has extra punch against Druid and Priest because of the Cobalt Scalebanes.
You want to mulligan every card for Mana Wyrm and Arcanologist, as drawing either one of these two cards ends up making your deck way more powerful. Playing the secrets to rush out fast Kabal Crystal Runners, and trigger the battlecry of Medivh’s Valet, leads to plenty of quick victories. So if you have Kirin Tor Mage alongside Arcanologist in your mulligan, I suggest you keep it.
This next deck we’re going to feature is a little bit different than the rest. This one functions more like a midrange combo deck, as do many Priest decks. You want to play out high health minions and get board control through the strong priest early game tools and Dragonfire Potion. A lot of your minions happen to be dragons so they are immune to not only your own Dragonfire Potion but your opponents’, making this deck very strong against Priest.
Early mulligan tips are to throw away your cards for Radiant Elemental, Twilight Drake and Northshire Cleric and Power Word: Shield. If you’re against aggressive decks, Tar Creeper becomes more appealing as well and you can consider holding onto Dragonfire Potion if you have a decent opener. This actually is the competitive standard version of this deck, meaning that this is the optimal list. Some players experiment with Lyra the Sunshard to make use of combo pieces that haven’t gotten paired together.
The last deck we’re going to feature is another Priest deck. This one is a full-on combo deck that relies on silencing your high health minions that can’t attack, making them really big with Divine Spirit and Inner Fire, then killing your opponent in one turn. If you’re looking for a different style than just playing a midrange or aggressive deck, then this is the deck for you. This is a really rewarding deck to learn, as it becomes more effective the more experienced you are.
The mulligan strategy for this deck is to find Northshire Cleric, Wild Pyromancer and Circle of Healing to draw a lot of cards in a single turn. You may also keep the large minions that you can silence or copy if you have the right tools to work with them, such as Purify or Silence.
Once you’re able to draw a lot of cards with your Northshire Cleric combo or Acolyte of Pain with Wild Pyromancer, you should be able to piece together the necessary cards to kill your opponent in one or two turns. This deck is really strong against Priest and Druid because both of these decks have trouble removing high health minions from the board, meaning that you should be able to run them over once you’ve gotten your combo together.
This is another deck that can use Lyra the Sunshard to turn dead combo pieces into miracle cards that can win the game. I recommend Lyra the Sunshard more for this deck, instead of the Dragon Priest deck , because this one ends up with dead cards in hand way more often if you can’t piece together your combos.
With these budget decks, it’s very easy to get into the game and begin climbing up those ranks. Though it may be the flavor of the month to say that Hearthstone is super expensive, and you can’t compete without spending hundreds of dollars, I think right now is actually one of the best times to be a budget player.
These decks are very competitive from the get-go and can be crafted within just a few weeks of playing the game if you buy One Night in Karazhan. Even if you’re not a budget player, I recommend giving these decks a try, especially if you’re playing against a lot of Big Druid and Raza Priest. All of these decks can go toe-to-toe with the most powerful “pay-to-win” decks in the game, for much less than their hefty price.