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The Anatomy of an Aggro Deck in Hearthstone

by - 7 years ago

When it comes to building a successful deck, there are a lot of different ways to go about it. You can look to grind out a victory with control mechanisms, generate a massive horde of creatures, waiting for the chance to buff them for the perfect final strike, or perhaps invest in another, more gimmicky route. There are a lot of options. Today, we’ll discuss the ‘aggro’ deck, a strategy that hinges on quick aggression and exerting enough pressure to slaughter your opponent early.

Why an aggro deck?

Aggro decks are great for a couple of reasons. My personal favorite is the low price tag generally associated with them. In Magic the Gathering, a successful aggro deck was generally one of the cheapest decks to construct. That has translated well to Hearthstone. The build generally does not require a lot of super expensive, rare cards. In order to be successful, a few will sometimes be required, but this type of deck will not be as expensive as other options.

What’s more, aggro decks are fast. They either win early, or stall out and fall to their opponents. Playing is a rush and a test of your ability to squeeze every drop of productivity from your hand. I can think of no more enjoyable play style, personally.

What classes in Hearthstone can play an aggro style deck?

Surprisingly, most decks in Hearthstone can be run aggressively. The most successful ones though, in my opinion, tend to feature aggressive hero powers. Hunters, Rogues, Mages and Druids are my ideal candidates, but it’s worth noting that most all of the other decks feature viable options.

What decks counter aggro decks?

There are three key things that give aggro decks a lot of problem, and all of them are named Sen’jin Shieldmasta. I’m kidding, but I’m also not. The biggest hindrance the aggro deck will face is minions with taunt. They’ll force your low cost, fragile minions to deal with their fairly impressive stats (at this point in the beta) and away from the target hero.

Creature murdering cards will also be a huge issue. Facing a Hunter with an aggro deck can be an absolute nightmare because of their ability to get rid of minions with their host of spells. They feature an impressive number of kill cards and, given how quickly you’ll go through your hand, expect issues.

The final problem will be healing abilities. Priest is another class that is fairly difficult to DPS down because of all the healing they have access to. There are a number of minions which feature healing battlecry effects, and sadly most classes can do nothing about them. It’s just a matter of trying to continue your offensive through the healing.

What are some good, cheap cards to run in an aggro deck?

The answer to this will often depend on what class you’re playing as, but there are some good, generic minions that will help you put early pressure on your opponent.


Leper Gnome

I’ve mentioned this one drop in articles before, but he’s a brutal card. At 2/1, he can easily deal anywhere from two to six damage, between attacks and his ability to deal two damage to the enemy hero upon dying. Definitely look to grab him up in an aggro deck.



Wolfrider will fare better against some decks than others. He’s a 3/1 for 3 with charge, but he can be quickly upgraded with minions like Flametongue Totem, or spells such as Cold Blood and Power Overwhelming. Against decks that lack direct damage (Paladin, mostly) he might even survive for a second turn. He’ll fall quickly to Mages, Shamans, Warlocks, Priests, Rogues and most everyone else, however. Still, he’ll do three or more damage depending on what you run, and can come out quickly.


Faerie Dragon

It’s kind of a surprising play, but Faerie Dragon is actually pretty great in aggressive decks. The unique ability of this minion is that it cannot be the target of spells or hero abilities. It’ll still die to other minion powers, and spells that don’t target it specifically like the Hunter’s Multi-Shot, but against the right setups, it can survive for a while. It also features a 3/2 statline, gearing it more towards aggression than survival. If you get this in your opening hand and happen to have The Coin, dropping this on your turn one is absolutely ideal.

What’s the strategy of an aggro deck?

The strategy can be described as ‘getting there’. Most of your wins won’t be pretty. They’ll be about doing the maximum amount of damage possible with the tools in your hand. You can run some card draw. Shiv, Mortal Coil and Starving Buzzard come to mind, but you’ll be without a lot of the neutral gnome minions that just provide you cards. Wherever possible, you’ll want to avoid engaging minions and focus on DPSing down the opposing hero. Kill cards need to be saved for taking out creatures with taunt. If you see a Sen’jin Shieldmasta, terminate it with extreme prejudice.

These sorts of decks always have a lot of luck involved. Can you top deck an Assassinate when you need it? Did your opening hand feature an Arcane Shot? Did your opponent happen to draw into a lot of taunt? This is, to reiterate, not what I’d consider a top tier deck type. There are times where you’ll just flat out get stomped by individuals who have made sizable investments. These decks will however be a lot of fun, and make you competitive on a budget again the right decks.

We’ll look more into specific aggro deck builds down the road.

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Robert Wing


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