While Hearthstone allows players to construct a vast range of decks, featuring numerous strategies, overall decks are considered to boil down to a few main types. These deck types are commonly used to compare and predict how decks will interact and compete with each other, without needing to go into detailed strategies and decklists.
Hearthstone features three deck archetypes: aggro, midrange and control. Each describes the deck's intended means of obtaining victory, as well as alluding to its overall pace of play. Other commonly used deck categories can be considered sub-archetypes, such as combo and zoo. These largely fit within one or other of the main archetypes, but are more descriptive of the deck's particular strategy.
Beyond these archetypes, there is a far larger range of more specific deck types, each more or less defining that deck's constituent cards. Some deck types are broader labels, with a range of different subtypes, while others are quite fixed with only a few cards varying between all the popular variants. Deck types are class-specific, and usually describe specific strategies, the deck's archetype, or even key cards, such as Aggro Shaman, Freeze Mage or Patron Warrior.
While the main deck archetypes are eternal, the introduction of new cards will frequently alter existing deck types, at times creating whole new types, and driving others extinct through a lack of power in the current meta. Within the meta, players can use knowledge of the currently popular deck types to predict the contents of the opponent's deck, often with a very small margin for error.
Deck archetypes[edit | edit source]
Aggro[edit | edit source]
An aggro deck or aggressive deck, also known as a rush deck, is a deck that takes an 'aggressive' approach of dealing damage to the opponent as quickly as possible, generally through the summoning of a large number of low-value minions and the use of direct damage spells and Hero Powers. Aggro decks rely on explosive damage in the early game in order to surge to victory before the opponent has time to counter them.
Midrange[edit | edit source]
A midrange deck is a type of deck somewhere between an aggro deck and a control deck in pace, seeking to attain victory during the midgame. Midrange decks generally try to control the board during the early game, before moving into a more aggressive role mid-game with medium-costing minions and spells, with the goal of winning before the late game. Midrange decks focus on cards with good overall value, for efficient trading, top decking and card advantage.
Control[edit | edit source]
A control deck, also known as a late game deck, is a deck that attempts to attain victory in the late game, through a combination of early game removal and Taunts, and powerful cards in the later rounds of the game. These decks focus on controlling the early game in order to survive through to the later rounds, where they can use a string of powerful spells, or a steady flow of larger minions to overwhelm the opponent.
Sub-archetypes[edit | edit source]
Combo[edit | edit source]
A combo deck is a deck that revolves around executing one or more specific combinations of cards, to great effect. Combo decks may aim for one turn kills, slightly slower two or three turn kills, or simply powerful plays that allow the player to seize control of the board. However, most combos aim to win the match, either through direct damage or through establishing an overwhelming advantage, usually in one or two turns.
Zoo[edit | edit source]
A zoo deck is a deck focused around a large amount of low and medium cost minions. Zoo decks generally aim to flood the board with minions, overwhelming the opponent and achieving victory through board control. Zoo decks use mostly cheap minions and efficient trading to dominate the battlefield, before turning their attacks toward the enemy hero.
Tempo[edit | edit source]
A tempo deck is one that focused on strong tempo through playing on curve each turn. Tempo decks usually provide early threats, and focus on getting good value from their cards. Tempo decks are often midrange decks, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Rock, paper, scissors[edit | edit source]
A common concept held across collectible card games is that the three traditional deck archetypes - aggro, midrange, and control - are similar to the classic game of rock-paper-scissors. This is because in theory aggro decks beat midrange decks, midrange decks beat control decks, and control decks beat aggro decks.
The reason for this pattern lies in the basic strategy for each deck type. The speed of aggro decks allows them to defeat slower-moving midrange decks before they are able to stabilize, but their focus on aggression over longevity leaves them vulnerable to control decks' stalling, heals/armor, taunts and more efficient trades. Control decks are in turn often too slow to defeat midrange decks and their tempo swings to which they are vulnerable.
While these trends are consistently observed, note that they represent only an increased likelihood of victory, and there are exceptions as well. In addition, different decks have very specific strengths and weaknesses against each other, making knowledge of the specific decks involved important in estimating the likely outcome of a match. However, this pattern is widely held to depict overall trends for the main deck types.
This circular pattern significantly impacts the meta. If an aggro deck such as Face Hunter becomes very popular in the meta, control decks may rise in popularity due to their ability to reliably counter it. Over time, this can lead to a rise of midrange decks designed to prey upon the swelling control deck population, in turn feeding the by-then shrinking aggro deck pool.
|Common deck types|