Linear strategies are by far one of my favorite things to explore in Hearthstone. You’ve all been there. Don’t lie to me. You know in the wee hours of the morning, when you’re flipping through your collection, considering where to spend those morsels of dust you got from your latest disappointing Arena run that you’ve thought about linear strategies. You’ve spoken the words out loud, directed at no one in particular, “What if I just put 30 Murlocs in a deck and smash face?”

That would be living the dream my friend. Linear strategies are like combo decks except instead of needing to survive long enough to draw into a fragile two or three-card win-condition your entire deck is full of synergy and powerful interactions. While this strategy unfortunately doesn’t lend itself to competitive ladder decks too frequently it does have two important uses: teaching us how to play the game and giving us the means to crush our daily quests.

Mean Streets of Gadgetzan introduced at least one new linear strategy that is already heating up the competitive scene though: Jade Golems. These are the innocuous */* creatures whose Attack and Health go up by one each time you summon another Golem, capping out at an impressive 30/30. In addition to this new flavor of linear strategy, Gadgetzan infused some new life into plenty of existing strategies which we’ll take a look at today.

Minion Race-Based Linear Strategies

The easiest decks to conceptualize are based on the seven minion races of the game: Beast, Demon, Dragon, Mech, Murloc, Pirate, and Totem. Each of them is strongly associated with a single class, and can branch out into other classes as well. Beast, Demon, Murloc, and Pirate each have daily quests associated with them that award 50 gold, and in the case of Murlocs there’s the ever-popular 100-gold variant: Murlocalypse (play 75 Murlocs).

If only so that you can easily complete the daily quests associated with each race, I strongly recommend you explore building a Beast Hunter, Demon Warlock, Murloc Paladin, and Pirate Warrior deck. You have some leeway with class selection if you can’t make it work since Beasts are also supported by Hunter, Murlocs are supported by Shaman, and Pirates are supported by Rogue. You’re kind of stuck with Warlock for the Demon deck though.

Every one of these decks has an easily built-around suite of linear synergy cards. These are cards which have an increased value based on the density of minions who match the synergy condition. A good example of a linear synergy cards from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is [Smuggler’s Crate]. Having more Beasts in your deck will vastly increase the chances of having one in your hand making this card much more playable. In theory you want at least 10 Beasts in your deck to guarantee you have one in your opening hand such as [Rat Pack] which you could then play on turn two with the [Coin]. That gives you a 4/4 minion on turn two that gives you four 1/1 minions when it dies. Nice.

Mechanic-Based Linear Strategies

After you’ve built out the four recommended decks above you’ll want to move on to the nine quests that encourage you to build decks around a specific mechanic. Here are the quests and the deck/class you should consider building to complete each quest:

  • For Azeroth!/Cry Havoc – Play 30/75 Battlecry Minions – [Reno Jackson] Warlock or Priest
  • Death to the Living! – Play 20 Deathrattle Minions – Priest or Rogue
  • Tiny Bubbles Make me Happy – Play 10 Divine Shield Minions – Paladin
  • Rampage – Play 10 Enrage Minions – Warrior
  • You Shall Not Pass – Play 20 Taunt Minions – Warrior
  • Elemental Overload – Play 15 Overload Cards – Shaman
  • Combo Meal – Play 10 Combo Cards – Rogue
  • It’s a Secret to Everyone – Play 10 Secrets – Hunter or Mage
  • Weaponmaster – Play 10 Weapons – Rogue or Warrior

Most of these are straightforward except for that first one. The Battlecry deck is the one with the most flexibility in how you build it since every class has access to a lot of Battlecry minions. This is the one I recommend you have the most fun with by running [Reno Jackson] and [Brann Bronzebeard] along with 28 other single Battlecry minions. What could go wrong?

Once again you’ll find that each of these linear strategy decks has cards with synergy bonuses that get better with threat density. One of my favorites of these to come out of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is the Warrior legend [Hobart Grapplehammer] which gives every single weapon in your hand and deck +1 Attack and +1 Durability. The more weapons the merrier and you can run plenty of other Warrior weapon synergy cards like the new [Grimestreet Pawnbroker] which gives +1/+1 to a random weapon in your hand when you play it.

Combining Synergies

Once you’ve had fun exploring these linear strategies and learning the ins and outs of the mechanics strengths and weaknesses you’ll probably want to start blending them together. This is because together these decks can be even stronger, but also a bit more efficient in completing your daily quests. Why make one deck for the Pirates quest and one for the Weapons quest when a single Pirate Warrior deck can kill two birds with one stone? If Beast Hunter is losing too many matches, make it a hybrid Secret Beast Hunter deck.

Not every combination is going to pay off, but you’ll open a whole new world of deck-building by combining linear strategies.

Rich has been playing Hearthstone on and off since the closed beta and has a golden E.T.C. to prove it. He enjoys playing Warlock on the ladder and wishes he could get more than five wins in an Arena run. He’s trying desperately to figure out how Hunters always seem to have Call of the Wild on curve. 

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