- Also known as: "Playstyle"
Deck archetypes are a way to classify deck types into broad categories. The main three strategies are: aggro, control, and combo. Note that hybrid decks make a bulk of these and are a combination multiple archetypes (such as control-combo and aggro-control).
Aggro (aggressive) decks attempt to close out the game quickly and start pressuring the opponent early. Straight-up aggro decks are all about speed and tend be either swarm or burn decks if not the mix of two (perhaps a name for that could be rush?). The curve of straight-up aggro decks is notably low, around 1 to 4. Technically both tempo decks (aggro-control, "disruptive aggro") and midrange decks (control-aggro) could be classified as aggro decks. However, they are a bit slower.
An example of an aggro deck is Ashgerdy Burn.
The plan of control decks is to go into the late-game. Their early game consist of answering threats with removal, defensive units, HP gain, drawing cards and so on. During the course of the game, these decks tend to attempt to sculpt a hand that consists of "perfect answers" to a varied number of threats. Their early to midgame is reactive, made up mostly of resource gathering either directly through cards that give those resources or taking out multiple cards opponent has with fewer number of cards (gaining card advantage with board clears and bodies that have "summon: remove a thing").
Once they are able to stabilize and establish control, they finish the opponent with big plays and overwhelm their opponent in card advantage. These large, game ending moves can suddenly take down the opponent even from large HP totals. Preferable they are hard-to-interact ones (actions or units with immediate impact or untargetable) so that you can count on them doing their job as they don't make the most of your deck's composition, usually limited to less than 10, possibly even only taking 2 to 3 card slots.
Combo decks focus heavily on the interaction between two or more cards that is their main key to victory. Consistency is important so they prefer card draw and especially "tutoring" cards (cards that search up specific other cards). This is not be confused with synergies cards in most decks have. Unlike other decks, combo decks focus solely on these plays that are made up of a combination of multiple cards to finish a game.
An example of a combo deck is Dhat Fallout Combo.
- Also known as: "Midrange"
These decks lie somewhere between aggro and control. They can play either of the roles depending on the match-up - whether they are the slower or faster participant. Against aggressive decks they prefer to play attrition-based game where as they tend to go more pro-active against decks that are slower than them. A keyfactor in midrange decks is whether they run (or have access to) mana acceleration. The sweet spot of midrange curve is around 3 to 5, possibly up to 7. Given access to ramp there is really no upper-limit to the cost of threats midrange can run. Midrange decks without ramp might run similar early threats to aggro decks, albeit perhaps more so focused on value and controlling early access. Especially in midrange decks with ramp, early drops are more of "means to an end" - possibly a form of said ramp in the form of mana dorks.
Midrange decks tend to utilize removal spells (especially single-target ones) and units that can control the board. More than any other deck archetype, midrange decks like to play on curve and value "good stuff" cards that are good in and out of themselves regardless of the context.
In contrast to aggro, midrange units are more value oriented and less about finishing the opponent as soon as possible. In contrast to control decks, midrange decks start committing on the board relatively early on and much of their control tools are units themselves that also apply pressure. Said units can be beatdown units as well.
- Also known as: "Disruptive Aggro", "Tempo Deck"
- "Weenies with backup"
The plan of these decks is to drop out a suite of early aggressive threats to set up a clock and then protect that clock. This protection is either direct in the form of protection and counterspells (Dome of Protection, Counterspell) - or in-direct in the form of hand (Servant of Maricha) and mana disruption (Arcane Parasite). Tempo decks like to utilize effective, low-cost spot-removal spells to gain tempo on their opponent. Burn spells are also favored as they can both act as a form of gaining tempo and in the end they can be used to release built-up tempo to finish out the opponent. Bounce spells (effects that return enemy cards to hand) are quintessential tempo tools as well - almost to the point of defining the archetype. Effects that temporary banish or disable units in some manner serve a similar purpose.
Aggro-control decks tend to be slower than straight-up aggro decks, but faster than midrange decks. They can run threats similar to aggro decks, but their general threat density is lower as they run more disruptive cards. This is why they don't gear towards weenie or "swarm" decks as much. Tempo decks need to get enough punch and pressure out of their single threats meaning they less frequently can rely on sheer numbers.
Note that even though aggro-control decks are sometimes referred to as "tempo decks" or of being the "tempo archetype", this is not to be confused with the gameplay concept of tempo.
|More about the ambiguity of the definition|
IMPORTANT NOTE: The definition of a "tempo deck" is notably different in Hearthstone when compared to a game such as Eternal or Magic: The Gathering . In Hearthstone, a "tempo deck" isn't technically a deck archetype at all, but more of a subtype of midrange. From this point of view, it might be better to refer to "tempo decks" as described above with the name "disruptive aggro". Similarly, it's recommended to specifically refer to "midrange-tempo" when talking about a deck matching that Hearthstone deck type.
This description is contrary to the concept of disruptive aggro in that they aren't interested in "getting good value from their cards" nor are they synonymous in any way with midrange decks. "Playing on curve each turn" is also another defining factor of the midrange archetype, but less so in disruptive aggro decks that are also sometimes setting up rather reactive ways to protect their threats. Midrange and disruptive aggro have somewhat similar speed, though midrange decks are notably slower and interested in grinding out value, which is a way to stretch out the game longer while disruptive aggro decks try to set up a clock and protect that lock by answering answers by denying them in one way before the game can be stabilized to enter those late game phases.
Here it should also be noted that the speed of midrange decks in a game such as Hearthstone compared to Eternal and MTG seem to differ quite a bit as well, which is in need of further inquiry. An example of this would be a deck type such as "Token Druid" in Hearthstone, that in terms of MTG might be categorized as a midrange deck.
These distinctions are crucial because even though the tempo and midrange archetype share certain qualities they're approach and hence their match-ups are entirely reversed. For example, according to theories such as Metagame Clock, midrange decks are most well-suited to out value and out board-control aggro decks while aggro decks are the worst match-up for tempo decks. Similarly, control decks are the best answer to midrange decks where as tempo decks are specifically geared towards defeating control decks.
Very similar to basic control decks, but they also host some combo elements within them - usually utilized as the deck's win-con.
- Also known as: "Lock", "Prison"
These decks seek to cut out the opponent out of some crucial resource they have with the intend of locking the opponent out of plays. They are usually seen as more of an unexpected anomaly.
An example of a control-combo deck is Lockmaw. Note that players are now able to replace units they have played with new ones and Coerced Capitulation got updated, so this deck type doesn't technically any longer match the archetype.
Gameplan here is that of aggro's but backed up with some combo like elements. This can through specific interactions between cards or just through buff spells. This type of deck can pull out massive amounts of damage seemingly out of nowhere.
An example of an aggro-combo deck is Heldim Weapons.
Run same things as combo decks, but don't focus entirely on those as win-conditions and have beatdown as the backup plan.
An example of a combo-aggro deck is Spicy Heldim.
Decks of this type utilize elements from all the main archetypes. They utilize heavy disruption, unit-based damage and powerful synergies between certain key pieces that can be end the game in a quick fashion.
An example of an aggro-control-combo deck is Vriktik Disco.