Welcome to the first series of tips for Hearthstone’s new Game Mode: Duels! Here, we’ll go over some of the deck constructing and gameplay strategies that will help you in your Duels.
Overview: Stelina has a solid Hero Power, even better than Demon Hunter’s normal one. The consistency of gaining Second Slices can be extremely powerful whether you use them to keep removing minions or save them up for one big strike to your opponent’s face. The personal treasure also allows you to cheat out multiple big demons easily if your opponent slows down your aggression.
Strengths: Since Demon Hunters have access to most of their best cards in the current Duels rotation, they can build one of the strongest early-run decks. The Soul Fragment cards are a fantastic core for the deck. It easily creates more than enough damage to rush down the opponent. The Second Slices obtained through your Hero Power combo extremely well with Aldrachi Warblades and Blade Dance.
Weaknesses: Even though Demon Hunters have many strengths, they still have weaknesses in Duels. Since your Hero Power insists you kill minions with your hero, which chips away at your Health. If your opponent has overwhelming treasures, you may not be able to afford constantly attacking their stuff. You‘re also very dependent on a few specific cards to keep up with certain types of decks. Against high pressure decks, you rely heavily on healing from Aldrachi Warblades and drawing Soul Fragments. Against decks centered around big minions, you need big Blade Dance plays and large Soulciologist Malicia boards.
Band of Bees: Poisonous 1/1 Illidari with Rush.
Double Time: Double value on Attack gaining spells.
Stargazing: Guaranteed free +2 Attack and twice as many Second Slices.
Pillage the Fallen: Marrow Slicer becomes a permanent 4 Attack weapon.
Scepter of Summoning: Making big Demons way easier to play.
Clockwork Assistant: Huge minion that scales off of all the Second Slices.
Overview: Omu has both a versatile Hero Power and flexible treasure. Nature’s Gift is a solid source of additional damage while Warden’s insight can pivot between a cheap huge board or the ability to take a huge turn.
Strengths: Being able to ramp up mana helps keep up with early game treasures, and also be able to play yours sooner. The Hero Power granting Spell Damage can often give smaller spells the value of other higher cost cards, the best ones being Wrath, Starfall, and most notably Swipe. One of the best group of cards to begin with is Guardian Animals and their famous 5-cost Beasts.
Weaknesses: The cards Druid has access to in Duels is lacking in healing and armor. To slow down wide boards, you’ll often need to combine AOE spells with your spell damage to swing the board back in your favor. Even though Druids can build a solid deck around other archetypes through drafting more cards, the available support for your starting deck is primarily the Guardian Animals set and not much else.
Stargazing: +4 Spell damage makes this almost a 2-cost Malygos on just a Hero Power.
Rocket Backpacks: Can give the Beasts you drew before Guardian Animals could summon them the Rush they need.
Overview: Professor Slate has the aggressive Hero Power that Hunters are known for, but it also gives a friendly minion just a little bit more Attack that can either contribute to damaging your opponent or trade up more efficiently. Remember to use this Hero Power before you summon new minions if you want to get that bonus minion damage in right away. His treasure is also a fairly big swing if used on an early turn. It’s a strong 6/6 shift in tempo that’s usable on early turns. If it’s early enough, your opponent might not be able to deal with you buff Beast in time.
Strengths: Amongst all the other heroes, Hunters have access to the best Deathrattles and excellent synergies when drafting more cards and treasures. Any Beast with a Deathrattle is a good addition to a starting deck, even more so since many of them summon other minions to make use of the Hero Power’s bonus effect. You can even bolster this strategy with legendary minions like Baron Rivendare and Vectus.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, Hunter is vulnerable to treasures that summon multiple big minions. The lack of card draw is also a struggle for Hunter’s aggressive nature since Duels games usually last longer. There are ways for some classes to deal with minion heavy decks, so you’ll need some strong synergies and treasures to stay ahead. If you have them, then it can overwhelm most opponents.
Hagatha's Embrace: Effortless stat-based value for a minion centric class.
Band of Bees: Gives tokens from things like Deathrattles much greater value.
Rocket Backpacks: Helps keep you from falling behind, especially important as a Hunter.
Bag of Stuffing: Compensates for lack of class card draw.
Overview: Mozaki has one of the strongest Hero Powers among the playable heroes, being able to clear a minion while also getting a great one in return. The personal treasure can be considered relatively less impactful than others, but it supports this strong Hero Power even more to create your army of Mana Wyrms. Remember to make the Mana Wyrm before you cast other spells that weren’t used to hep summon it.
Strengths: Mages have some fantastic cheap cards, able to consistently generate tempo and value simultaneously. Having so many ways to gain card advantage, kill off minions, and a Hero Power that generates your own, Mage is a solid pick for all stages of your run. With the exception of Ras Frostwhisper and Jandice Barov, most of Mage’s bigger stat minions are unavailable for starting decks. Building your deck around your spell is the best plan. Minions that generate spells are good at supporting this play style. One interesting thing is that since the card generation pool is so narrow, it’s possible to cycle through Steward of Scrolls and Primordial Studies for a value chain of 4/4s with Spell Damage.
Weaknesses: Without healing or notable Taunts, Mages have to be careful with when they use their removal spells. This applies to Duels even more than normal Hearthstone since Treasures can easily create big threats out of nowhere. If you use your spells too recklessly, you won’t be able to deal with the treasures and Hero Power your opponent is taking advantage of. As often as you can, try to finish off their minions with your Hero Power to make them use their resources to get rid of your Mana Wyrms to keep them
Double Time: Twice as much AOE or card generation.
Clockwork Assistant: Potentially enormous minion for Mage.
Band of Bees: Poisonous Mana Wyrms
Recycling: Gives mage the extra protection it needs.
Overview: Turalion‘s Hero Power and treasure insist that you play relatively big and high value minions. At worst, From Golden Light is the same as the normal Paladin Hero Power. Sometimes it’s that but with higher Attack. The best case scenario is when it keeps resurrecting minions that are valuable simply by being on the board and doesn’t care about Health. Royal Greatsword reaps the most value if your starting deck has multiple Legendary minions in it. But even without the amazing effect, it’s still an 18 damage weapon. With or without cards that support it, it can still take a huge chunk out of your opponent’s Health.
Strengths: The name of the game for this hero is Big Minions. Cheating them out with the aforementioned Hero Power and treasure is Paladin’s specialty in Duels right now. However, you don’t have to build your whole deck around just big things. Other minions that capitalize on this Hero Power are ones with Deathrattles, Divine Shield, Rush, and various passive effects. Goody Two-Shields is a great early minion to keep resurrecting in your starting deck. As for legendary recommendations, Tirion Fordring, Turalyon, the Tenured, and Kel'Thuzad are all great for pulling out of the deck and resummoning multiple times. Also note that you will be able to draft more legendary minions even if you don’t have many to begin with.
Weaknesses: Unless you can keep up the assault of high value minions, it’s very hard to catch back up if you fall behind. With all the extra value passive treasures give everyone, Paladin’s shortage of non-minion damage can make it difficult to stabilize. Even cards that change enemy minion stats to lower values won’t necessarily be enough sometimes.
Scepter of Summoning: Lets you begin the big minion onslaught 2-3 turns earlier.
Disks of Legend: You’ll likely have many good minions to take advantage of being duplicated.
Staff of Scales: Not only is it effective for clearing big minions, it also adds 6 of those snakes into the resurrection pool that still have Rush, Poisonous, and Reborn if your Hero Power summons it.
Overview: Illucia is extremely good at controlling the board, staying alive, and keeping up on cards. Since most of the minions Priest likes using are unavailable, you’ll want to take spells that keep your opponent from getting too much momentum. You can always get in a pair of big minions with Fractured Spirits when you don’t have enough board presence.
Strengths: Constant healing and card draw can keep you from running low on value. Cards that copy your opponent’s stuff like Mind Vision and Thoughtsteal is very effective since they’ll be running some of their best cards. Later in your run, you may end up copying treasures too. Cabal Acolyte and Cabal Shadow Priest can easily steal many early-run games with help from Wave of Apathy.
Weaknesses: While restoring 3 Health is always good, but the card draw aspect is mandatory. Healing too often, especially early in your run, can bring you to fatigue really fast. There’s also not a particular archetype you can begin with given that so many cards can’t be built into the starting deck. So you have to gain a lot of your synergies through drafting.
Rocket Backpacks: Lets your minions trade, then can be healed back up with your Hero Power.
Blade of the Burning Sun: Not necessarily for the minion buffs, but it’s direct damage that can go face, which Priests lack other than minion damage.
Totem of the Dead: Lots of good Draftable Deathrattle minions.
Overview: Lilian’s Hero Power and treasure calls for weapon support. The constant availability of a potential 2/2 weapon can be useful for clearing a small minion or chipping away at the opponent’s Health. Deadly Weapons 101 significantly boosts your Hero Power’s weapon, but even more so for weapons with more durability.
Strengths: Frequently equipping a decent weapon can give you the early trading power or consistent face damage you need. Building off of weapon support can make this even better. Doctor Krastinov and Steeldancer are very rewarding while you have a 2/2 dagger. Jandice Barov and Wand Thief are also good additions to your starting deck just as generally great minions.
Weaknesses: With a Hero Power that gives you a weapon but in a class with no healing, there are only so many minions you can trade with before you have to stop and just use it for hitting your opponent. Against a class with abundance healing or armor, it can be hard to close out the game if you don’t have a way to keep up pressure.
Recycling: Provides protection that lets you trade with your weapon more often.
Overview: Fireheart has fairly straight forward synergy with Overload cards. Being able to summon a bonus totem circumvents the price of Overloading. Fluctuating Totem can upgrade those totems into minions with Attack, as well as any other minions you may want to transform.
Strengths: A Hero Power that can summon 2 minions is very powerful. Two of the three possible bonus totems also give you additional value. Your opponent will sometimes be forced to clear away some of the totems. The classic and basic Shaman cards are probably the best cards for your starting deck. Bloodlust is best finisher for starting decks when enough of your totems are alive. Overload cards like Stormforged Axe and Feral Spirit let you summon the bonus totem on curve the following turn. Remember that you’re considered Overloaded on both the turn you play the Overload card and the turn the mana is locked. Another fantastic minion is Diligent Notetaker, which can even return treasures to your hand.
Weaknesses: Most of Shaman’s value in Duels comes from board control. Damage spells and minion swarming is the best thing to focus on. However, if you can’t keep minions on the board or use up all your removal options, the opponent will capitalize on your setback and close out the game.
Clockwork Assistant: A minion that scales very well with all the spells Shamans use.
Battle Totem: The class with some of the best Battlecry minions.
Overview: Willow is a difficult hero to work with. Her Hero Power effectively trades a card in your hand with one in your deck. The treasure is also fairly specific in what can benefit from it. But there are definitely things you can draft to make the two work really well.
Strengths: Dark Arts is fairly weak before you draft some cards to take advantage of it. The only ones you can start out with are Boneweb Egg, Malchezaar's Imp, and Silverware Golem. But if you can manage to get High Priestess Jeklik, Clutchmother Zavas, or Hand of Gul'dan, your Hero Power’s potential skyrockets. Early on in your run, constantly drawing cards can bring you close to fatigue. But this can be delayed with Prince Malchezaar. His legendary minions can give you strong plays you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can also discard the ones you don’t want to draw another.
Weaknesses: The main weakness of Warlocks in Duels is heavy reliance on what you draft. There aren’t very many combinations of starting cards to begin a run with a particularly synergistic deck. On the bright side, this allows some flexibility in picking your first couple cards and treasures so you can push your deck in a certain direction after you have the support for it.
Archmage Staff: Adds more resources to your hand, also being discard fodder if needed.
Recycling: You can more easily afford to play cards that damage your hero.
Overview: Rattlegore’s Hero Power is pretty flexible for a Warrior having both offensive and defensive capabilities. Auto Armaments is also supported by this as a source of card draw, slight minion buffs, and the presence of a minion that loves the self damage effects Warriors are known for.
Strengths: Warriors in Duels have the option to swap between aggressive and defensive depending on the situation. If you have a minion with enough Health to survive foreseeable threats, you can hit it with your Hero Power to get some extra damage in. Having minions like Armorsmith and Frothing Berserker add extra power to those plays. Finally, Grommash Hellscream is an amazing finisher if you can get them low enough to burst them all the way down.
Weaknesses: Warrior comes with solid Whirlwind-esque cards that work well together. Unfortunately, they aren’t good enough on their own. While you can continue drafting more cards with similar synergies, none of the treasures make significant use of that. You’ll need to figure out a secondary archetype to run along side it to make it further into your run. Since Warrior is a class with both aggro and control options, other weaknesses would depend on what path you choose to take your deck in.
Disks of Legend: RAATTLLEGOOOORRRRREEEE!!!!
Scepter of Summoning: Warrior has a lot of very big minions to choose from.
Hagatha's Embrace: Gives your minions more Health that can be converted into more Attack with Hero Power.
Banana Split: Great with Charge minions, especially a Grommash should you have one that survives next turn.
Rocket Backpacks: Lots of Warrior minions like to take/deal damage in specific ways.
Pillage the Fallen: This can make either of the two 4-cost Warrior weapons into a permanent 4 Attack Weapon.
Generally Useful Minions
A lot of these decks have plenty of small spells to recycle Penflinger. His usefulness is doubled if you get Battle Totem and maximized if it has Poisonous from Band of Bees. Note that he will die instantly if your opponent has one of the Caltrop treasures.
Most classes that have weapons will usually run them. Several treasures are weapons too, so having a hard counter to it is an excellent staple option. Ooze is better for decks with otherwise small number of low cost minions and Harrison Jones is better for decks that need the card draw.
If you’re looking to fill that last slot, these 2 are great disruptors against the many decks that rely on their spells.
Those are the tips and tricks we currently have for you. If you have your own ideas that you think we left out, share it in the comments so everyone can become better Duelists!