Early Meta Impact: March of the Lich King

Article written by PeacefulSea.

March of the Lich King came out a week ago, and the meta is starting to form and take shape. After the initial excitement and fun of playing with new cards and archetypes, people have set to work on figuring out what decks are best, regardless of new cards and archetypes. But what cards from March of the Lich King are actually having an impact? Let’s find out.

At the top of Tier 1 is Implock, with a grand total of zero March of the Lich King cards. Implock quickly rose back into popularity due to the lack of impactful cards that Warlock received from the new expansion. Implock is strong into many of the more combo oriented decks in the format, like Ramp Druid.

Next we will discuss Deathrattle Rogue. The Deathrattle archetype has struggled since Renathal decks became popular last expansion because their main win condition was Naval Mine, which was really good at dealing 30 damage but not so good at dealing 40. The new Deathrattle Rogue is a different animal entirely, making insanely powerful board states as early as turns 3 and 4. Their biggest high rolls are basically unbeatable, and their average draws are overwhelming for everything except the most aggressive decks. The best part? This deck relies heavily on new deathrattle cards printed in the new expansion, and would not be possible without Scourge Illusionist, a new epic card that pairs particularly well with Sketchy Information to generate a ton of super cheap, high tempo Deathrattles that most decks simply lack the tools to deal with effectively. The other archetype added for Rogue this expansion, concoctions, is prevalent in Miracle Rogue lists and makes Rogue one of the biggest winners from March of the Lich King.

Up next is Big Spell Mage, a surprisingly well performing deck in this expansion. Mage, similarly to Warlock, hasn’t seem much success from the new cards it gained this expansion, and the only new cards in Big Spell Mage is Arcane Defenders, an 8 mana spell that generates two large untargetable taunts, and Astalor, which improves the deck’s consistency by giving it another strong midrange play. The big buff is definitely Arcane Defenders, giving the deck a lot more play into aggressive decks which could often get underneath Big Spell Mage and kill them before their powerful plays came online. Sadly, the other archetypes added for Mage are having little impact, with Arcane Mage barely registering on the meta report with a 39% winrate.

Making a surprise entrance into the top tier of the meta is Evolve Shaman. This deck contains almost no new cards, with certain lists running Prescience, the new card draw tool for Shaman that gives the deck some draw consistency and early defense. But this card alone hasn’t propelled this deck into tier 1; in fact, this deck has risen to prominence because of the power of Primordial Wave into many of the other top decks, in particular Deathrattle Rogue. This deck applies quick, efficient pressure, creates hard to deal with boards, and prevents decks relying on deathrattles and powerful taunt minions from executing their game plans. It will be interesting to see if this deck continues to be a factor moving forward if Deathrattle Rogue loses its position at the top of the meta. Unfortunately, the “Big Minion” package and Deathrattle themes have yet to make an impact, as they play a much too fair game to compete with the top decks.

Beast Hunter remains a top tier deck in this expansion, with the best performing lists containing absolutely zero cards from March of the Lich King. As many of you may already know, an archetype arose early in the expansion based around attacking with your hero and bursting your opponent down with Shockspitter, the new 2 mana minion from March of the Lich King. The deck was capable of killing extremely early and prompted Blizzard to nerf the card just three days into the expansion. Unfortunately the side effect of that is that the Arcane package from Hunter has fallen out of favor, since Spitter Hunter was the only deck effectively utilizing it. Arcane Hunter decks currently boast a demoralizing 44% winrate, making them a poor choice if you’re actually trying to climb.

The next deck currently in the top tier of Meta Decks is, surprisingly, Pure Paladin. The best Pure Paladin list currently has 8, count ‘em, 8 cards from March of the Lich King, with the aggressive “Blood” Paladin cards proving powerful for dominating the early game and ending games before the slower decks come online. This deck has speed, resilience, and some end game power with The Countess. You can even play it early off of Blood Crusader for a super powerful swing turn. 

Floating around in various forms are Fel and Relic Demon Hunter variants. All of these decks have adopted Unleash Fel with SIlvermoon Arcanist for insane board control and life gain, which has made the decks more consistent into aggro. These decks, in particular the no minion variants, are very consistent and hard to hate out, and utilize the new cards from March of the Lich King very well.

While not in the top tier of decks because of its terrible matchup into Implock and Pure Paladin, Ramp Druid is currently playing the role of Meta warper. There’s not a single deck that can beat its late game, so every deck is either built to kill Druid or hope to dodge them completely. No deck can reasonably hope to reliably disrupt their combo, as they draw through their deck and find the pieces faster than other decks can find their disruption. The upside is, Ramp Druid is currently running a ton of new cards, with the entire armor package as well as Astalor finding a prominent place in the deck.

The last deck we will discuss today is Naga and Bless Priest, which actually doesn’t become a serious player until Diamond/Legend. This deck continues to menace the ladder, despite gaining no new cards from March of the Lich King. However, the higher you get up the ladder, the more prevalent another Priest menace becomes: Quest Priest, or Control Priest variants. These decks utilize a minimal number of new cards, and have risen in prominence because they are so good into the aggressive and combo oriented decks that menace the top of the ladder.

You may have noticed our friend the Lich King is sadly missing from this report; in fact, since my last article, things have only gotten worse. There isn’t a single Death Knight archetype currently above a 50% win rate, and it only gets worse the higher into Legend we get. 

In closing, I believe March of the Lich King has had a reasonable amount of success….as long as you enjoy Rogue, Demon Hunter, Druid, or Paladin. It’s not reasonable to expect every card and archetype to make an impact, but I do hope after the next round of nerfs we may see some of the other classes’ new cards shine. And who knows, maybe our friend The Lich King might even find himself a playable deck.


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