Greetings, wanderer. Being just over a week away from Reborn Chicago I wanted to go over the Contemporary format a little bit. We kind of did this with Core already as well as Classic which was broken up into two parts: Aggro/Control and Midrange/Combo. But today we’re going to do something a little different as a way to glance over the Contemporary format. Since there are so few events to pull data from and Contemporary is really just Core plus Worldbreaker Block we’re going to give it a little less attention. Instead of analyze how the meta was shifting and talk about tournament lists, we’re just going to go over some of the most played card combos in the format.
Before we begin, I should clarify that by combo I don’t mean loops or going infinite. These are more synergies than proper combos and the stuff we’re going to look at is what saw heavy play in 2013 Contemporary - so you’re either looking to do one of these things or beat one of these things. And these aren’t necessarily ordered in terms of relevance or power. Each of these combos just represents a strategy generally capable of winning some games. Let’s get to the combos!
10. Sinestra and Shalug’doom, the Axe of Unmaking
There aren’t a ton of cards from Block 5 able to tango with the power-packed Blocks 6 and Block 7, but man is Sinestra one of them! Coming down and destroying allies like Edwin Vancleef or Pygmy Pyramid can lead to a massive amount of damage. Add Shuggy-doom to the mix and it can be a one turn kill.
9. Distraction Technique and Token Producers
Distraction Technique decks were a popular strategy in Core as a way to combat Grglmrgl by slowing him down with Rogue class cards and eventually setting up a Distraction Technique and token producer like Nasala or Benedictus. But the deck used Viewless Wings as a finisher and that card has since been banned in both Contemporary and Core. Did it kill the deck? It certainly hurt it badly but I’m not so sure it’s fully dead. Distraction Technique’s effect is still relevant and some people have tried running it alongside Riftmaker as well. While it’s just a shadow of its former glory, Distraction Technique decks did have a lot of glory and have a lot of tools available to let them remain a contender.
8. Grand Crusader and Blood and Thunder!
Ah yes, Grand Crusader, the scourge of the Core Format. Getting Bottled Light banned did very little to stop the aggressive strategy of little dudes and big board pumps. As soon as the announcement was made to ban Bottled Light in Core and Contemporary, Grand Crusader lovers everywhere just swapped out their Bottles with Blood and Thunder! With Grand Crusader on the board, Blood and Thunder! is an extremely efficient finisher. It turns out the Bottled Light ban was just a speed bump for the deck, not a death sentence.
7. The Last Relic of Argus and Emerald Tree Warder
The Last Relic of Argus has made some waves on Core and people even tinker with it in Classic, but in Contemporary it has all of the tools of the Core versions with one extremely important upgrade: Emerald Tree Warder. With the quest quality in Contemporary being poor but some of the cheaper ones having passable effects, Last Relic and Emerald Tree Warder threaten to draw a metric ton of cards. Girdle combo might have received the ban hammer but this draw combo is very much alive.
6. Balanced Heartseeker and Maimgor’s Bite
Strikeout decks have been a thing for just about every constructed format of WoW TCG. There are always those players who check the card pool for ways to bypass ally-based combat and win by stabbing the opposing hero to death with weapons. During spoiler season for Block 6 I’m sure such players’ hearts skipped a beat when they saw the emerald axe Maimgor’s Bite. Remembering Block 5 there was a cycle of Heirloom weapons, one of which was especially good at killing the enemy hero. Putting these two together makes too much sense.
5. Medivh the Corrupted and Spy of Kilrogg
Nothing says, “Get your opponent dead” like paying three, looking at their hand, dealing 5 to their hero, and drawing a card. Or using two of these on turn five and having Medivh give your opponent the death stare with BOTH of his eyes dealing 10 and drawing two cards. Surround these two with any ally that deals damage and the rest of the Warlock burn suite and you have yourself a deck that can compete at the top levels.
4. Harmonize Ferocity Combos
Okay, we’re kind of cheating here. You really do need to see the decklist to begin to understand this one, but imagine having a ton of instances of Harmonize such that every large ally is free and then chaining these cards together for a one turn kill. Sinestra strikes again here destroying your Monster allies which then provide two Twilight Dragonkin and a Demon Monster token version of themselves… all with Ferocity. Yikes!
3. Jak the Bilgewater Bruiser and Brutal Steel
Brutal Steel on a weapon with low strike cost is.. well.. brutal. But readying your hero and one of your weapons featuring a Brutal Steel is.. Savage. If you can weather the storm of early threats and get to your weapon plus Brutal Steel combo, Jak’s flip does the rest and will wreck your opponent. Brutal. Savage. Rekt.
2. Good Stuff and Good Stuff
Whether you’re rocking Crop Top Simon or the Gun Dog Jaral you’re playing these cards if your hero has a blue border and a bow icon. Hunters aren’t rocket science - their game is playing the best possible ally every turn. In some ways they are the anti-combo deck because everything they play has so much raw power it doesn’t really care what else is happening in the game. Fandral is the exception to this, though, as he combos with the majority of the strong allies in the format. One of the most broken allies to pair with Fandral? Definitely Kur’t.. Grumdak. Do you like clearing the enemy’s board, progressing your own, and creating a huge tempo swing? This is how you do it in Hunter.
Devout Aurastone Hammer and Fatties
This is the combo that people most think of when they think about Contemporary. Devout Aurastone Hammer, stash allies, Shadowfang Keep, and fatties. Do you like turn four 7-drops? Because this is how you get turn four 7-drops. As the format progressed it is debatable as to whether Harmonize was the better ramp strategy, but if that’s the case Amani Dragonhawk ends up being a great trump card in that matchup as it is in many matchups. Primarily played out of Shaman and Priest, Devout Aurastone Hammer is one of the defining strategies of the format and only time will tell if its reign has come to an end.
Look like a bunch of Core format cards? Yeah, it mostly is, but Block 5 had some bangers as well. Looking ahead to next weekend in Chicago I couldn’t tell you what will show up. But I think most people will look to be proactive with one of the combos listed above. Did we cover everything? Absolutely not. Cards like Legacy of the Horde are broken in half and only now being properly explored. Reign of Fire really brought a lot of new cards to the Contemporary table. Zealotry and Devout Aurastone Hammer? Yeah. Anyway, there’s only one way to find out which combo prevails! If you’re in the Chicagoland area, make sure to turn out, compete, and join us for pizza afterward!