Storm Haven is back: A Faster and Counter-Heavy Build

ElDynamite, J / January 19, 2017

Today we're pleased to bring you the first of our deck analysis pieces, an analysis of Storm Haven and how it can be built to continue to survive in the current meta. This build is brought to you by J, Bagoum's resident deckbuilder and sponsored tournament player.

The first question to raise of this build is how it differs from DE Storm Haven. The most critical differences are this build's focus on a lower curve (via the addition of Goblin and Unica) and more steady anti-aggro options (in Unica and Temple Defender).

These changes are highly targeted, with the goal of providing counters to the most threatening decks on the ladder: Daria, Roach, Aggro Blood, and DShift. Temple Defender secures the early game against Aggro Blood and Roach, which generally rely on 1/x followers in the first few turns. Furthermore, it is a powerful stall against Daria, which employs many 2/2 followers, thus allowing you to set up Ancient Lion Spirit for an efficient midgame tide-turner.

While Haven has incredibly efficient removals in Blackened Scripture, Priest of the Cudgel, and Ancient Lion Spirit, older builds suffer in the current meta due to their inability to stabilize before evolve turns come online. The addition of 1x Goblin as well as the 8 follower 2-drops allow this build to directly contest the board early with a consistent T1-T2 curve.

Playstyle

A critical playstyle difference with this build is the prioritization of followers over amulets. Given the speed of the current meta, or more specifically, of Daria and Aggro Blood, it's often unfavorable to drop amulets on-curve, and sometimes even the formerly dreaded Beastcall Aria into Hallowed Dogma combo will get you killed for effectively passing turn 2 and 3. As such, against these aggressive decks, you generally want to drop followers on curve, with few exceptions. Most notably, Pinion Prayer is the best opening play against Daria, because they utilize many 2/2s and thus have an easy time removing Goblin.

Even when playing against slower decks, it is sometimes optimal to curve followers instead of amulets in the pre-evolve turns. This is because your non-Divine Birdsong amulets are very easily popped with Garuda, and by dropping them on turns 4-7 instead in combination with cheap minions, you can force awkward AoE removals while also setting up for powerful burst turns.

Mulligan

General rules: Hard mull for a 1-drop, but hold Beastcall Aria if it can be played safely (not against Aggro Blood or Rune).

Against Rune (Daria): Try to set up T1 Pinion Prayer. Hold Ancient Lion Spirit if you have an early curve.

Against Blood (Aggro): Consider holding Unica.

Against Forest: Consider holding Temple Defender.

Notable Cards

Goblin: This card is included mostly for the purpose of ensuring access to a T1 play. It also is powerful against Fairies and Bats.

Unicorn Dancer Unica: This card has exceptional synergy with Haven's wards (Doge and Temple Defender), and can be played with them to ensure it procs.

Temple Defender: While uncommon in the DE days, Temple Defender is now a powerful card that walls off Forest and Blood, and even provides complete immunity to Will of the Forest.

Veteran Tamer: While this card suffers a weak body, it dodges AoE, contests the board, and provides delayed value in its amulet. Given that it generally is played around the evolve turns, its weak body is also usually not an issue.

Ancient Lion Spirit: This card replaces Angelic Barrage, as it entirely clears the boards of Rune, Forest, and Blood in one evolve. If you can ensure an early curve, it sometimes is worth holding this card in your mulligan in these matchups.

Conclusion

While this build will probably ultimately see several tweaks in the coming weeks, it is manifestly clear that Storm Haven must adopt a lower curve in order to compete with the speed of the meta. With only 5 cards above 4 mana, this build is much more immediate than DE Storm Haven. The tradeoff is a weaker lategame, but the sacrifice must be made if Storm Haven is to survive.

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