A few weekends ago, I spent most of my waking hours and a few of my sleeping ones helping people prepare for EUCC. A few of my fellow countrymen will have traveled to Prague to participate in the festivities, and with this being their first foray into the new post-Tomb meta there has been extensive preparation required. Of course, it would be very uncouth of me to blow up their spot by discussing what we've been up to and where they are in terms of deck selection (keeping in mind that I wrote this before they went), but fortunately for the purposes of this article I don't have to. You see, we also did a whole ton of drafting this past weekend, and I'll be darned if I didn't get an idea or two from that. It actually turned out to be a very timely idea, too, given the nature of our weekly Battleground event. I'll explain.
This week, we decided that the format for competition would be Core, but with the twist of deck swap. What that means is that you'd show up with a Core legal deck, but instead of playing your own you would be assigned a deck from the pool of what everyone else brought at random. Before you think to yourself, "This is a great time to break out 60 [Murloc Coastrunners]!" not so fast. You would get your own deck back for the playoffs, so no deliberately building a stinker and passing it off to someone else to deal with. What this meant for me was that I wanted something on the cute side of the spectrum, maybe with a few interesting cards that I'd been considering. This isn't to say that I refused myself rares and epics, but it does mean that I didn't immediately reach for my playset of [Edwin VanCleef] and start from there.
Back to drafting all weekend. As I'm sure you've noticed, we've gotten a lot of cards having to do with token allies in the past block, and I felt it high time that I gave them their due. I'd gotten to explore a few of them in the past, but the Tomb additions to the party were new to me. Aside from the incredibly obvious (and now tournament tested) [Blood Parasite], Tomb gave us a wealth of token-friendly options. [Raso'jin] and [Poison Fang Bracers] are among the obvious ones, but [Gloves of Dissolving Smoke] also reward token-based strategies. And unlike [Fluid Death], you have the luxury of sending your allies wherever they're needed instead of restricting their action to the opposing hero. I'm not saying that you should play one and not the other, but it's at least a consideration.
So this is the list I put together tonight. Note that there are a few cards notably absent, particularly one Mr. VanCleef, but also a pretty plausible card in [Avatar of the Wild]. I didn't want the deck to be an exercise in jamming money rares into play, but rather an exploration of a concept. That's not to say that I avoided the epic rarity or valuable cards entirely, of course. Valuable cards tend to be valuable due to either their power level or their ability to provide a unique effect for a cost, and those I included are no exception.
To defend [Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen] in the deck, there is simply no substitute for having access to a free 1/1 token. You can get around not using Edwin by simply going to [Stonebranch, Ancient of War] or [Zaza'jun]; [Baby Murloc] will never be Cairne. I filled the role that [Avatar of the Wild] usually occupies (reach) by choosing [Kamu of Thunder Bluff] for my hero as well as [Poison Fang Bracers]. If you don't have access to Kamu, [Fama'sin the Lifeseer] will serve in a pinch, but then I'd try to get a hold of an Avatar or two for your list to make sure you can close out a game. [Twilight Citadel] is simply the least costly token generator in Core, but you may be able to get away with [Deepholm] or no location at all.
Hero: [Kamu of Thunder Bluff]
Master Hero: 1
1 [Alexstrasza the Life-Binder]
4 [Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen]
4 [Stonebranch, Ancient of War]
1 [Galvano the Beast Lord]
3 [Renshol, Herald of Nature]
4 [Verdant Boon]
3 [Nature's Reach]
3 [Fungal Growth]
4 [Natural Purification]
3 [Poison Fang Bracers]
4 [Bottled Life]
4 [Twilight Citadel]
I'd like to quickly discuss a few cards I considered for inclusion that didn't quite make the cut. [Unstable Corruption] was very close, but I had a vision of wanting to put multiple allies into play each turn until turn 5 or so. In retrospect, I could have made room for two of these by removing [Sinestra], who was either irrelevant when showing up to a board with no cards on my side of the table, or was a win-more card when I had a field of tokens already established. [Sylvanas, Queen of the Forsaken] was not likely to make many tokens when she came into play, and [King Bagurgle, Terror of the Tides] was too slow and unsynergistic to consider. [Mazu'kon] does make a token when he dies, but if I wanted to play [Mazu'kon] I'd play almost any other Horde deck in the format. The aforementioned [Fluid Death] and [Gloves of Dissolving Smoke] could have easily been included, or the ever popular [Viewless Wings], but I wanted to move away from that archetype.
There is definitely an Alliance version of this deck that uses [Leader of the Pack], but having just come off of [Jaral of Gilneas] at NACC, I wanted something different. Besides, the four-slot was plenty busy with options already. Lastly, [Innervate] didn't get the nod due to the high amount of things I could be doing with the cards I had in play. [Poison Fang Bracers], [Nature's Reach], [Twilight Citadel], [Vuza'jin] and [Overwhelm] were able to provide me with suitable outlets for my resources. I didn't think I'd need to be drawing multiple cards.
Oh, I probably should have played [Lockmaw], but I'm really high on that guy right now. I kind of wanted a break. If I were to do it again, he'd get in there for sure.
In the event, the token deck put up token resistance against a solo Rogue deck packing [Carnage] and [Poison the Well], which was not altogether surprising. Cheap board wipes kept the tokens from building up critical mass for [Nature's Reach] or [Zaza'jun] to come in and apply real pressure. Next, it squared off against a more traditional Horde Mage list packing [Frost Blast], [Edwin VanCleef], and [Baxtan, Herald of the Flame], all of which were bad times in token town. At this point, I was beginning to think that I had underestimated my opponent's willingness to bring a less-than-competitive list in order to have an easier time in the swiss rounds! The final round opponent was a mostly solo Horde Death Knight with a host of armor and [Blood Parasite], but fortunately enough no [Withering Decay]. Without that constant –1 health, the tokens were able to assemble unchecked and crush the death knight beneath their weight. It turned out that the Death Knight deck's owner and I both made the finals, where that same scenario played out again. Victory was mine!
I don't think this is an optimal list, but that's partially by design. There is a lot of space to explore with this deck, not the least being shifting the class to Death Knight to take better advantage of [Bark and Bite] as well as [Overwhelm] making ghouls instead of Treants. I think if you do port to Death Knight you can remove the top end of [Sinestra] and [Renshol, Herald of Nature] in favor of [Etched Dragonbone Girdle] and just a slew of cheaper drops. For me, it came down to wanting to have an answer to abilities and equipment via [Natural Purification] as well as using [Poison Fang Bracers].
The deck was a lot of fun, and could probably be an interesting choice in a meta where [Boundless Hellfire] hasn't caught on yet. If you're in such a place, I highly recommend seeing what Treants can do for you en masse!