Hearthstone‘s Showdown in the Badlands expansion is the final Hearthstone expansion of 2023. Historically, the final Hearthstone expansions in a year tend to be the most powerful. That’s due to both the number of cards available at that point in the rotation and what the designers have learned about the cards that are currently available. Well, Badlands certainly doesn’t appear to be an exception to that rule.
While there will be plenty of time to experiment with Badlands‘ many new and seemingly powerful cards, here are some of the best Hearthstone decks available on day one of the new expansion:
Best Death Knight Deck – Excavate Plague Knight
Deck Code – AAECAfHhBAak7wTipAXm5AWT+wXt/wX/lwYMh/YEopkF9fcFgvgF8vgFu/kF6/8FyoMG0IMG9YwG94wG85EGAAA=
I admit that running a modified version of Plague Knight that features an Excavation package isn’t the most exciting proposition. However, Plague builds are not only strong, but they’re an almost guaranteed counter to the Highlander decks that will certainly be popular in the early days of this expansion.
Plague Knights are constantly filling their opponents’ decks with numerous copies of spells, which ruins the entire Highlander strategy (unless the opponent runs multiple copies of Steamcleaner). The increased amount of draw options in Badlands also supports what Plague decks are inherently trying to do, and DK’s Excavate package is pretty solid.
Best Demon Hunter Deck – Naga Rapid Fire
Deck Code – AAECAea5AwAP7KAE7bEEiLIElrcEmLoE+b8E5OQF4fgFxfkFkIMGhpAGiZAGjZAGj5AG65gGAAA=
I’m not entirely sure which variation of Naga Demon Hunter is going to come out on top, but it’s looking like some version of that strategy is going be one of the best “out of hand” damage decks in the game.
This deck is built around Blindeye Sharpshooter, which essentially allows you to push out as much damage as you want in a turn so long as you can keep playing Nagas and spells. We saw a somewhat similar deck work very well for Mages in the past, but the big difference here is that this deck deals more indirect damage via that strategy and benefits from generally better draw options. This deck needs a few things to go right, but it’s hard to play around it when things do go well.
Best Druid Deck – Highlander Dragons
Deck Code – AAECAZICHtqfBKCwBOWwBMeyBK7ABLLBBNbeBMHfBKOTBeKkBf3EBazRBf3fBZ/zBf74Baf6Bdr6Bdv6BfH6BbuVBryVBr2VBr+VBsGVBvmXBs6cBtecBticBtqcBq+oBgAAAA==
Some version of Dragon Druid is going to be powerful in the upcoming expansion, and I’m not entirely convinced that deck even needs to go the Highlander route. However, I’ll err on the side of caution and go with the version of the deck that utilizes more of the class’ new Badlands cards.
The Highlander payoffs in this deck are Reno, Lone Ranger and Rheastrasza: two control-oriented cards that help this deck win the long game. Honestly, though, it’s the Dragon package that makes this deck so special. The synergies between those cards are crazy, and most of them are powerful in their own right. This is just a strong overall control deck that can still win games early if needed.
Best Hunter Deck – Buffed Highlander
Deck Code – AAECAR8e6ukD57kEg8gEweMEwO0ExO0EsJMFqqQF4qQFuMUFj+QF8OgF8/IF5PUFyPYF1/kFy44GzI4GzY4G044G1I4G344GyZEG/ZQGgJUG5ZUG75sGvpwG05wGr6gGAAAA
I’m not entirely sold on the Hunter class in general in the Badlands expansion, but I do agree with those who say that the class’ Highlander package is interesting. Specifically, I’m leaning toward the “buff” version of that package.
Hunters actually have the cheapest Highlander card in the new expansion, and it happens to be useful in both the early and late games. More importantly, that card benefits from Hunter’s many buff cards, which is really true of this entire deck. You don’t need to wait for the perfect hand to enjoy the buffs this deck offers, which automatically elevates it over similar archetypes.
Best Mage Deck – Secret Excavation
Deck Code – AAECAf0EAuefBNH4BQ7b3gT67AS87QT/kgWCkwWEkwWrmAWAwgXo6AXKgwbQgwaVhwbzmwaznAYAAA==
Mage is…not looking great in the Badlands expansion. They stayed roughly where they were before while everyone moved ahead of them, which is generally not what you want to say about a class at the start of an expansion. However, this Secret Mage package is certainly promising.
Like many Secret Mages of the past, this deck is looking to frustrate opponents with a seemingly endless parade of Secrets while gradually dealing damage or building towards big damage turns. In this case, the Excavate and Skeleton packages offer those extra sneaky sources of damage that Secret Mages are looking for.
Best Paladin Deck – Prismatic Dudes
Deck Code – AAECAZ8FBMegBIbiBISWBY3+BQ3JoASi1AS/4gTA4gTM4gSBlgXBxAXx6AWU9QWV9QWZjga8jwb1lQYAAA==
Paladins definitely got a lot of good cards in Badlands, but it’s not entirely clear how those cards are going to come together. When in doubt, though, you can’t go wrong with a good aggro Paladin deck, and that certainly appears to be what this deck is.
This deck exploits the synergy between Showdown and Prismatic Beam to fill your opponents’ board with minions for your benefit. It’s basically a hyper-aggressive deck that has a few sneaky ways to put your opponent in an even worse position. It may look like a gimmick, but the easy combos it can pull off should be devastating.,
Best Priest Deck – Elise Highlander
Deck Code – AAECAa0GGq2KBISfBMGfBPCfBKG2BKK2BKi2BPnbBLrcBIaDBdSVBYakBeCkBcKlBcWlBf7BBbvEBc/GBc/2Bfv4Bcj/BcmABqmVBuWcBrieBq+oBgK7xwXt9wUAAA==
Already rich Priests got slightly richer in Badlands as the seemingly always viable Control Priest deck types somehow got even better tools in this expansion. Specifically, the Highlander variation of Control Priest looks to be a real nightmare.
This deck needs a few things to work in its favor, but it’s hard to imagine many decks finding a way to mount a comeback against a well-timed Elise play. Furthermore, few Highlander decks will benefit from playing Reno as much as Priest. Not only does it feed into the control things they’re already trying to do, but it replaces their Hero Power, which is usually one of Control Priest’s few late-game weaknesses. It’s just a fantastic traditionally “slow” deck.
Best Rogue Deck – Excavate Casino
Deck Code – AAECAaIHBti2BMygBeigBeKkBaH8BdCUBgz2nwT3nwT13QTdoAXfoAXgoAWQgwbKgwbQgwbIlAbJlAbKlAYAAA==
Rogues received a few fascinating new options for this expansion. While I suspect someone will eventually turn that Wishing Well archetype into a nightmare, Rogue’s simplest path to success has to be their seemingly simple Excavate package.
Rogues are able to trigger their Excavate rewards with surprising ease, which is nice when you consider that their Excavate reward is essentially a nearly infinite resource generator that can easily win you the game with a couple of lucky rolls. At worst, this is a really good midrange deck that offers some potentially powerful late-game options based on how things break.
Best Shaman Deck – Elemental Flood
Deck Code – AAECAaoIAubkBcCPBg6MnwTjoASywQTmowXpowWVqgXB0AXf/gWwjQaKjwa+jwbDjwbslQb1mwYAAA==
Shaman’s Elemental package is the kind of boringly obvious deck archetype that tends to not be great for the game but only because those decks are typically incredibly powerful.
The strategy here is as simple as it can be. Try to play an Elemental every turn and enjoy the numerous benefits you get from doing so. It’s basically a variation of the old Murloc archetype, but this deck has a more notable payoff and the individual cards you’ll be playing along the way tend to be slightly more powerful. It’s going to be annoying to play against.
Best Warlock Deck – Azerite Snake Excavate
Deck Code – AAECAf0GBvXHBJbUBM6SBfr5Bab7BaeoBgycoATI6wXX+gXt/QXOgAbxgAbKgwbQgwbYmAbvmwbPngb4owYAAA==
Warlock’s Excavate package looks to be the best in the game. Their payoff card for completing their Excavate rotation (the Azerite Snake) may be the most broken Control card in Hearthstone history. So, we’re going with a package that leans into getting the most out of that payoff.
While I worry that the bounce variation of the deck may be too gimmicky, I do think you want to experiment with returning The Azerite Snake to your hand as often as possible. Playing that card just a couple of times will pretty much end the game against slower decks, and playing it more than that will straight-up win you the game. It’s a potentially devastating strategy that could be an early nerf candidate.
Best Warrior Deck – Odyn and Boomboss
Deck Code – AAECAQcGuNkEl+8ExvMFpfYF2IEG95cGEaIE/wepFd/EAri5A/iABJrvBMuSBZD7BaH7BaT7BYWCBsqDBpKOBryRBsKRBouUBgAA
I’m actually pretty surprised by the number of seemingly viable cards and strategies that Warriors were gifted in this expansion. While I think that Warriors may ultimately want to go with a slightly simpler package, I can’t help but love the sheer madness that this Boomboss/Odyn deck enables.
Over a long enough game, Boomboss essentially reads “Battlecry: Destroy Nine of Your Opponent’s Cards.” Well, this deck is designed to play the long game, but it also utilizes the Odyn package in order to give you the option of simply finishing your opponent off. This thing looks poised to win most Control vs. Control matchups, and I think it has enough survivability and removal to survive against more aggressive decks.