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Hearthstone slang Part 1: Types of decks

In this new segment we will do our best to explain all the terms we throw around while discussing our favourite game, that might be confusing to new players.

Competitive Hearthstone attracts passionate and analytically-minded players. We would often pour over statistics, watch professional gamers play and overanalyse their every move. In this process, lots of funny words come out of our mouths that might slightly confuse an innocent bystander. Combine this with the fact that Hearthstone belongs to the 25-year-old family of Collectible card games, and with long tradition comes long vocabulary. While a seasoned veteran will be well familiar with the game terminology, this article is aimed at rookie card-slingers. Feel free to link this to your friend who just started playing, to save them the trouble of discovering what we’re talking about the hard way.

With the long introductions out of the way, let’s discuss the main topic at hand: the types of decks in Hearthstone.

Aggro

Short for ‘Aggressive’, it is exactly what the name suggests – quick and dirty style of play. Aggro decks want the game to end as soon as possible. Ideally by turn four or five.
They will stop at nothing before achieving this goal and don’t care about trades, card advantage or life advantage – just tempo and damage to the Face.

The perfect example of Aggro in Hearthstone is the Hunter, and especially its build Face Hunter – relying on minions with Charge and direct damage spells, going all-in every time.

Combo

Again, like the name suggests, these types of decks rely on the interactions between specific cards to achieve specific goals. Combo decks are constantly looking for synergistic combinations of cards to increase their power and ultimately overpower their opponent.

An example of Combo deck could be found in the popular Cube Warlock archetype – by using Carnivorous Cube on a Voidlord, the already strong Deathrattle effect gets triggered up to two additional times, increasing its value even further and making the game extremely difficult for the opponent to win.

Control

Control decks are the antithesis of Aggro – slow and methodical, often using the opponent’s own resources against them. Control decks try to drag the game along and counter their enemy’s offences. Once the opponent is out of cards to play, they end the game with a powerful finisher. Typical control builds can be seen in Mage and Priest, where they would preserve their own life (either by healing, or by other means) and sustain tons of damage, before swinging in with huge game-shifting cards such as Pyroblast.

Mid-Range

Mid-Range is what stands between Aggro and Control. Not quite as aggressive, but not as slow either. They like to establish board control early and support their minions with protection and buffs. Good examples for Mid-Range are certain Hunter and Paladin builds that like to provide lots of Taunt and Divine Shield and go for their opponent during turns six to ten.

OTK

Short for ‘One turn kill’, these assassination decks are centred around the idea of ending the game in a single strike. Think of them as an even narrower version of the Combo decks, not looking for interesting interactions with their cards, but very specific combinations that end games. An example of an OTK is the ‘Exodia Mage’ – a deck built with the sole purpose of getting four copies of Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Archmage Antonidas on the battlefield, creating an endless stream of 0-mana Fireballs that kill the opponent regardless of the amount of Health and Armor they have.

This concludes part one of our journey! Click here for part 2: Gameplay!