By Spike, Regular Contributor, Wild Legend
Well, here we go. I’ve rounded up over a hundred different decks that see decent amounts of play in Wild- there are some meme decks, but they’re fairly popular ones.
The tier list is based off of a mix of publicly available data and my own opinion. It should reflect the meta fairly well, and includes many more decks than most published Wild tier lists. Decks that have distinct variants that differ by more than a card or two- such as Discolock having a popular list that runs a Darkglare package and one that doesn’t- are counted separately.
Again, all placements are based off of publicly available data such as HSReplay and Tempo Storm’s Wild Meta Snapshot, as well as my own experiences and opinions. You, reader, probably won’t agree with me on everything. You probably won’t agree with every card in every list, every placement, maybe not even on if a deck exists or not. That’s fine. I did my best to reflect the current meta (this is the first draft, posted May 1st, 2021), not public opinion. Likewise, apologies if a deck isn’t on there- I did my best to round up meta and off-meta decks that are at least somewhat popular. Wild has approximately 5 billion, 828 million, 028 thousand, 384 different decks. I’m sure I missed a couple.
What does everything on the tier list mean?
The tier list is set up somewhat oddly- each tier is lettered, as opposed to the traditional numbered tiers most Hearthstone tier lists use. It’s a lot of decks, and I wanted to separate them more distinctly than number tiers allow. S/A+/A/A- looks a lot cleaner than Tier 1, Tier 1.25, Tier 1.5, Tier 1.75. Under the main tier list, there’s a list of a few of the decks where players seem to mainly be using Standard decks or decks from the last Standard rotation without changing any cards, as well as a section for off-meta and “meme” decks. I didn’t want to rank the off-meta and meme decks that aren’t yet popular, decks that don’t have a solid archetype nailed down, purely meme-y decks or decks that are just starting to establish themselves (looking at you, Floodlock and Deathrattle Priest) alongside established meta decks. Some of these off-meta decks are still viable and are marked as such, along with what tier I think they’ve got potential to hit. There’re definitely off-meta decks on the regular tier list, but they’re all fairly established and somewhat popular, either because they’ve been around a long time or Blizzard pushed them.
Each deck has a few little blurbs alongside it. One has other common names for the deck, so you can just ctrl f search for decks. There should also be a relative popularity measure next to most decks on the regular tier list, so you know somewhat how often to expect to run into them. This is not based on hard stats and is based off of Platinum through ~800 Legend, so it excludes the homebrews down in Gold and below and the weird mix of off-meta and top tier that is higher Legend. There’s also, just for fun, a little superlative for some of them tossed in with alternate names. You can tell it apart from alt names because it’s generally too long to be a name, and because it’s (hopefully) somewhere in the realm of even attempting to be funny. Also, italics.
Decks also have a link to one of three things- a decklist and basic overview, a simple guide that doesn’t include much besides some analysis and card substitutions, or a full guide with all of that plus mulligans and some basic matchup advice. I’m a one-person Hearthstone writing team, so don’t expect very many decks to get full guides. Not every deck is even going to have a list linked in the early updates, but the majority of popular meta decks should. This stuff is linked on a separate page to make it easier to navigate the tier list.
Each deck should, at some point, have a short blurb under it on the main tier list giving some basic information on the deck. When a decklist is put up, the blurb should be expanded to include background on the deck’s rise to viability, a bit of playstyle analysis, and the like.
Decklists are, for the most part, made by me breaking down popular lists, finding the core cards, and then creating a list very similar to the meta lists that I think works best. Some of the time, that means looking at cases where the deck has hit high Legend and swapping out the less essential cards to what I think is best. Some are simply popular meta lists, some are my lists that have been created from scratch (mainly for off-meta decks where there isn’t much data on them other than what my deck tracker has seen from opponents), and a few are lists from various players and streamers- they’ve been credited. Again, I’m sorry that they’re linked on separate pages, but I wanted to make it easier to read this monster of an article.
Whew. That was long. I wanted to get all the how to navigate stuff out of the way early so it would be obvious how to find whatever you’re looking for here, but that has… backfired? Anyways, now for the tier list! It is ordered, at least in the higher tiers. Towards the bottom it all blends together.
Wild Tier List, May 2021
Handbuff Paladin (BBC- Buff, Burst, and Charge)- List and Overview
Based around using cards such as Glowstone Technician, Grimestreet Outfitter, and Smuggler’s Run to make every minion played a hugely overstatted one, this meta tyrant runs several Charge and Rush minions alongside yet more buffs to ensure games can be ended by just one or two minions. With targeted draw from Salhet’s Pride and Knight of Anointment, the deck does so consistently, cementing its spot at number one. Despite being so strong, it has a very different playstyle from most decks and a steep learning curve (plus, it’s a fairly new deck to the meta, compounding both of those), so you’ll see it fairly commonly at higher ranks, but nowhere near as much as Waker Mage, Secret Mage, Tax Pally, and Raza Priest.
Flamewaker Mage (Waker Mage/APM Mage/Get killed from 30 on Turn 5)- List and Overview
Flamewaker Mage is a fairly old archetype that has only recently become common due to a few recent cards, most notably Conjure Mana Biscuit, Refreshing Spring Water, and Incanter’s Flow. They’ve turned the deck from a Small Spell/Tempo deck into a deck that will happily kill you in one turn, sometimes as early as Turn 5. It’s incredibly popular due to the ease of play (most games will either be one where you steamroll or one where you fail to draw your discount cards/draw/Flamewakers early and flop) and low cost, with incredible popularity at lower ranks and still high popularity at higher ranks. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you can reasonably expect a third to half of your matchups to be either Waker Mage or its close cousin Mozaki Mage at lower ranks, with that number only dropping slightly in high Platinum and Legend due to the strength of Secret Mage (Explosive Runes and Counterspell can be timed to destroy Flamewaker Mage), as well as the popularity of Murloc Shaman and Pirate Warrior, who are both more than happy to race to a Turn 5/6 kill. One thing to note- don’t try to play this deck on mobile. You will lose games you should win due to animations eating your turn and running out of time.
Painlock (Giants Warlock/Glarelock/Zoo Glarelock/Darkglare Warlock, Most Likely To Self Destruct)- List and Overview
Painlock is an archetype that popped up in Scholomance Academy and has only gotten stronger in Forged In the Barrens due to the new Legendary Tamsin Roame and the change to Drain Soul that has made it a carbon copy of Penance, one of the strongest single target damage Spells in the game. Despite the nerf to Pen Flinger, often used due to the ability to damage your own face with it and repeat that, the deck is still highly consistent and strong. After damaging face enough, often playing large numbers of cards due to Darkglare refreshing mana whenever your Hero takes damage during your turn, the deck drops Flesh Giants and Molten Giants, sometimes buffs them, and aims to finish the game the turn after. It’s not easy to play due to the need to manage Health carefully, and has a distinct weakness to any deck that can burst it down when it’s vulnerable. That includes meta titans such as Handbuff Pally and Secret Mage, so you’re unlikely to see this deck often, especially after the Pen Flinger nerf, unless you find a high ranked pocket meta.
Raza Priest (Highlander Priest/Reno Priest/Machine Gun Priest/One Turn, 393 pings)- List and Overview
Raza Priest is a Highlander deck that runs the typical Reno/Kazakus/Zephyrs package, but also has a 2 card combo in Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin that allows you to ping for 2 damage, for free, every time you play a card, which functions as the finisher that Highlander decks often need. You’re going to see it constantly in every rank above Gold. It’s popular, it’s been around a while, and it’s constantly been top tier since Raza the Chained was unchained (it was nerfed from HP cost 0 to cost 1, then unnerfed). It’s as strong as either Highlander or Control gets in Wild, so fans of either gravitate towards it. It’s top tier, it’s consistent (as compared to Painlock or Flamewaker Mage), it’s fairly cheap (not counting the Reno/Kazakus/Zephyrs package, which sees play in several decks), with only 2 Legendaries and 1 Epic that don’t see much play elsewhere, and thus- it’s super popular and it’s everywhere. For better or worse, it’s EVERYWHERE. Cue PTSD flashbacks.
Secret Mage (Ruiner of Gameplans, Burner of Faces)- In depth guide
The guide is from Darkmoon, but the deck hasn’t changed much aside from the meta getting better while it didn’t. The new Secret, Oasis Allies, is basically a slightly more consistent Netherwind Portal. It’s bad! Yay! On a more serious note, the deck is relatively simple to play and fairly cheap (depending on the list, up to 5 copies of Epics, of which only 2 are essential and 1 Legendary). You use your Secret cheapeners to put Secrets into play, wreck your opponent’s gameplan, and finish off by burning their face. You have both Secret tutors in Arcanologist, Mad Scientist, and Ancient Mysteries as well as straight out draw in Rigged Faire Game and Sayge/Aluneth (Sayge is better and more popular, but Aluneth works fine). On top of that, you have disruption from Counterspell and Explosive Runes, plus AoE, one sided board clears from Arcane Flakmage and Flame Ward. The deck is a super consistent machine, and you’ll see a ton of it. Though you’re unlikely to hold onto that sweet 70% winrate while climbing past Platinum, it’s possible to play the deck in a fairly braindead manner and still do well. Since it’s cheap on top of being strong even when played suboptimally, it’s incredibly popular and has been since Cloud Prince and Arcane Flakmage got printed. Some of the players who were playing it just for its strength have shifted to Flamewaker and Mozaki Mage, so you won’t see it half your games in Platinum like you would have last expansion, but it’s also all over the place.
Odd Paladin (Dude Pally, Five Boards Cleared, Eighteen To Go)- List and Overview
Odd Paladin takes advantage of Baku upgrading Paladin’s Hero Power to flood the board with Silver Hand Recruits and then buff them, often two or three turns in a row. It’s very strong in the current meta due to its ability to quickly and consistently end games before the opponent gets rolling, but because most Paladin players are gravitating to Tax Pally (and the pain in the butt Secret Mage and Flamewaker Mage matchups), it’s not very popular right now.
Pirate Warrior (Weapons AND Board? Shiver Me Timbers!)- List and Overview
Pirate Warrior is a straightforward deck that capitalizes on Pirate synergies such as Patches and Parachute Brigand being summoned and Ship’s Cannon/Skybarge dealing damage to set up a large board and go face repeatedly. It also runs Ancharrr and Outrider’s Axe for even more damage and draw purposes, as wella s some sort of Charge minion as a closer. Forged In the Barrens and the Core Set have given it a new board control tool in the form of Fogsail Flybooter, draw and damage in Outrider’s Axe, and a buff in Rokara, and that’s led to the deck’s comfortable top spot. The ease of simply curving out and not doing too much beyond that being viable, but being able to do amazing after some learning and skill is applied have led to the deck being one of the most popular Tribe-focused decks in recent memory. Murloc Shaman one-upped it, though.
Discolock with Pain package (Glarelock/Discard Warlock, No Pain, No Gain)- List and Overview
Discolock was a meme for a while. Blizzard would print Discard synergies, fail to print enough, and the deck would flop. Eventually, those synergies hit critical mass in Wild, and Discolock popped up. The deck runs Flame Imp, Kobold Librarian, and of course the Hero Power already, so at some point someone went “hey, what if Raise Dead and Darkglare got tossed in, so your early boards are even more ridiculously absurd?” Thusly Discolock with Pain package was born.
Functionally, it may as well be Discolock with more early game focus. Take advantage of Discard to put bodies on board and draw, finish with Doomguard or a buff from Wicked Whispers. The notable difference is that Darkglare allows an extremely good early game if the draws align, but you sacrifice some power (usually Felstalker and Fist of Jaraxxus) to do so.
Murloc Shaman (And a buff! Another buff! And another- get the point?)- List and Overview
Murloc Shaman was pushed hard in Forged In the Barrens, which is awesome. It’s a really fun archetype- that is, in Standard.
In Wild, Murlocs have hit critical mass. Between early game powerhouses like Murloc Tidecaller, Murmy, and the new Spawnpool Forager (better Murmy), the resource generation of Underbelly Angler, finishers like Nofin Can Stop Us and Everyfin Is Awesome, and the new Firemancer Flurgl/Toxfin 2 card, 3 mana, one sided board wipe, the deck is ridiculously strong and snowballs quickly. If the opponent is unable or unwilling to deal with the early board, this deck can close games by turn 6 or 7 at MOST. That, combined with the straightforward play cards-buff cards playstyle and low Dust cost have made the deck incredibly popular. You can expect 90+% of matches against Shaman to be Murloc Shamans, and 10-25% overall. The deck is even more popular in high Platinum, from what I can tell. On my way through Platinum 5-3 half my matches were Murloc Shaman, and it got even worse beyond that.
Mozaki Mage (Worse Flamewaker)- List (Overview Pending)
Mozaki Mage is, for all intents and purposes, a worse Flamewaker. The deck revolves around the same idea- cheapen Spells, play a bunch in one turn, kill opponent- but needs the minion Mozaki, Master Duelist in play and finishes the opponent with burn from some mix of Frostbolt, Ice Lance and Runed Orb.
Unfortunately, the deck can’t afford to be as flexible with its combo pieces. It also only has one Mozaki, and relies on Taelan for drawing it, but Taelan is relatively slow. Due to being slower, the deck relies on 2 copies of Ice Block, 2 copies of Ancient Mysteries to draw it, and 2 copies of Frost Nova to stall. It’s not a horrible deck, if you have Mozaki it’s a pretty cheap and strong option, but Flamewaker is just better. Despite that, Mozaki is almost as popular. Expect to see it often- and to tell Waker Mage and Mozaki Mage apart, if it plays Ancient Mysteries or Frost Nova that aren’t randomly generated, it’s likely Mozaki Mage. If it runs Stargazer Luna or Primordial Glyph, it’s probably Flamewaker.
Renolock with Big Demons (Highlander Warlock/Reno Warlock, Consistently Greedy)- List and Overview
Due to the nature of Kazakus and Reno Jackson being primarily defensive, most Reno decks follow a defensive pattern, and Reno Warlock is no exception. With a bevy of early game defensive tools and a package of Voidcaller and Archwitch Willow alongside big Demons as a finisher, Renolock with Big Demons is about as simple a fit to that pattern as possible. Note- the deck is incredibly expensive, 20K+ Dust if you don’t have the cards yet. It sees a bit more play than the Tickatus version, but isn’t especially common. You’ll almost certainly see it once you get to high Platinum if nothing else, though.
Big Priest (Res Priest/Big Res Priest, The Soul Crusher Revival)- List and Overview
Big Priest is a deck built around the card Shadow Essence, using it to summon powerful minions that usually summon more minions, before resurrecting any that die repeatedly. It’s about as straightforward as a Priest deck gets.
Renolock with Tickatus