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HearthstoneDec 13, 2019 5:21 pm CT

Hearthstone’s Decorating Dalaran Tavern Brawl is wildly complicated (and wildly fun)

This week’s Hearthstone Tavern Brawl is an interesting one. Instead of the traditional gameplay that pits you against another player or an NPC, this week’s Brawl has you fighting the entire city of Dalaran. The Decorating Dalaran! Brawl challenges you to up the city’s holiday game by sprucing the place up. Every point of damage you do is a new decoration hung — and the denizens of the city will fight you all the way.

Or, as Rafaam explains it:

‘Twas the night before Winter Veil and with great upheaval the villains and their lackeys made the holiday EVIL!

But despite the silly setup, this is a relatively challenging Brawl. I often grumble about Brawls that are wholly reliant on RNG for wins — which covers a lot of Brawls — but this Brawl requires some strategy (and some deck experimentation) to win. You have to build your own deck, which can be fun, but tough for players without a strong card collection. The playstyle

On top of that, the Brawl is just hard to understand. The in-game description is funny, but vague, and while it suggests that you’re playing League of E.V.I.L. characters, the game only shows standard heroes in the deckbuilder — so you may be surprised when you realize you don’t have the standard class hero power.

That means it requires a bit of extra knowledge to win… and that’s what we’re here for.

Decorating Dalaran Brawl basics

Name: Decorating Dalaran!

Description: The League of E.V.I.L. is feeling festive! Build a deck to spruce up Dalaran for the holidays (and dispense with those pesky defenders). With the help of an E.V.I.L. henchperson how many decorations can you put up?

Fun level: 9/10, particularly if you challenge yourself to stretch out the game and apply hundreds of holiday decorations

Difficulty: 8/10

Format: Wild

Rewards: 1 Classic pack, 1 Rise of Shadows pack, 1 Descent of Dragons pack

Most of the difficulty here is figuring out how this Brawl works. The first conundrum: the heroes. You aren’t playing standard heroes with standard hero powers, but League of E.V.I.L. heroes from the Dalaran Heist adventure with one of their hero powers, and it doesn’t show which power until you’re in a match. The hero power you have changes up gameplay a lot, so here’s what you can expect from your chosen class:

  • Mage: Rakanishu

Hero Power: Burning Wit (1): Reduces the cost of a random card in your hand by 2. Spending one mana for a two mana discount is a good deal that can let you get your more powerful cards down quicker.

  • Shaman: Vessina

Hero Power: Totemic Call (2): Summons a random totem. Though it’s the default Shaman Hero Power, Totemic Call keeps that Shaman totem synergy if you want to build a totem-powered deck.

  • Hunter: Ol’ Barkeye

Hero Power: Add a 1/1 Shifting Chameleon to your hand which changes into a different 1-mana minion every turn it’s in your hand. This is an amusing hero power, but the randomness makes it unpredictable.

  • Priest: Kriziki

Hero Power: Distort (2): Swap a minion’s attack and health. This is a versatile ability that can alternately depower enemy minions so they don’t hit so hard, or you can power up your minions so they hit harder. A couple of the minions Dalaran summons have no attack, which makes this an instakill.

  • Rogue: Captain Eudora

Hero Power: Yoink (2): Add a random card to your hand from another class. This plays into many Rogue cards that trigger when you have or have or play spells from another class, so build a deck based around that.

  • Warrior: Mr. Chu

Hero Power: Invigorating Brew (2): Deal 1 damage to a minion and give it +2 attack. This can help you take down enemy minions or buff your own minions, and it’s great with Enrage cards.

  • Druid: Squeamlish

Hero Power: Touch of Bark (2): Give a minion +1/+1.  This is a good fit for a Token Druid or Treant Druid — pack your deck with minions that summon other minions, fill the board, then buff it with this and the many other buffs Druids have on offer.

  • Warlock: Tekahn

Hero Power: The Pact (2): Take 2 damage, summon a 2/2 imp. This ability plays right into Warlocks’ traditional zoo deck while also making it easy to damage yourself to trigger other abilities.

Now on to how the Brawl itself works. This is a complicated one, and the description doesn’t do a great job of telling us how it works. This is what you need to know about Decorating Dalaran:

  • The point isn’t to do 30 damage. Dalaran starts at 1 health, and every damage you do adds one health. In this context, each health counts as a decoration.
  • You need to get at least 30 decorations, but you can go (almost) as far as you want. I’ve gotten as many as 950 before dying of fatigue, and it’s fun to see how far you can go.
  • You have to die to win. When you’re up to 30 decorations, you don’t automatically win. You have to decorate and then die — not concede, but die.
  • You won’t win if you hit the turn limit. If you’re playing a deck with staying power like Control Warrior, be aware that hitting the turn limit (45 turns) won’t earn you a win, no matter how many decorations you’ve placed.
  • Dalaran’s Hero Power summons minions. The power is Dalaran Defenders (2), which summons a random defender of Dalaran. The possible minions are:
    • Arcane Servant: 2/3 Elemental
    • Holiday Partygoer: 0/1 with Taunt that gains health equal to Dalaran’s attack
    • Party Banner: 0/2 that gives adjacent minions +2 attack
    • Dalaran Crusader: 5/4 with Taunt and Divine Shield
    • Proud Defender: 2/6 with Taunt that gets +2 attack if you have no other minions
    • Grumpy Partygoer: 1/1 that gains attack and health equal to Dalaran’s
    • Exotic Mountseller: 5/8 that summons a random 3-cost beast when Dalaran casts a spell
  • Dalaran gets more powerful every turn. Dalaran starts the game with a 1/1 weapon equipped called the Armory. Every turn, it gains +1 attack. The city never attacks you directly, but it its attack goes up by 1 every turn. As you can imagine, this makes for some powerful enemies on Dalaran’s side.
  • Greatfather Rafaam gives out presents. Every so often, Rafaam summons a Large EVIL Gift (0/5 minion) on your opponent’s side. Kill it and you’ll get a random treasure. Aim to do this as quickly as possible, because all of the treasures are super powerful.
  • You have to build a deck. This adds a bit more strategy to the game, but can also be tough for players without an extensive card collection — particularly because it’s a Wild format Brawl which lets you use even more cards. However, there are lots of ways to win, and as long as you have some cards in your collection you should be able to manage.

How to win Decorating Dalaran

Okay, so how do you win this monster of a Brawl? Here are some key points about how Dalaran plays:

  • It casts Dalaran Defenders every turn, even if its board is full. This limits its mana a bit, slowing it down and letting you get the slightest early lead. That can favor aggro and zoo decks who can swarm the board fast.
  • Its deck is packed with Taunt minions, which effectively keep you at bay. Anything you can do to keep these down will improve your chances.
  • It focuses on killing your minions over attacking you. Unless all you have are extremely weak minions, it will usually go for them over you. That means it’s unlikely to slaughter you outright, but it also makes it hard to keep minions on the board.

There are two ways you can play this, and I’ve managed to win with both:

  • Go full-out aggro and get to 30 decorations before Dalaran kills you. Fast-moving Zoo decks with lots of low-cost, self-buffing can be good for this, like a Murloc Shaman.
  • Play defensively with a deck that builds in power over time. This could be a Pogo Hopper or Kingsbane Rogue, a Control (or even Bomb) Warrior, or a C’Thun deck.

There’s no right or wrong way to build a deck, and the kind of deck you build, and a lot of it will depend on the cards you have. I’ve had the best luck with C’Thun decks, because the power C’Thun gains over the course of the gain can really win the late game — particularly with cards that let you return C’Thun to your hand or deck to play it again. The only trick is having a deck that can keep you alive to make it to the late game.

That means your deck should:

  • Have weapon removal. Dalaran’s biggest threat is the fact that its weapon gets +1 attack every turn, and its minions are powered up by it. Though it will resummon the weapon, any cards that will destroy or replace its weapon will reset its attack and weaken its minions.
  • Have plenty of minions that can stick to the board. Minions with Taunt, Divine Shield, or Reborn can help a lot here. Resurrection abilities can work too, making Priest a good bet if you have the right cards.
  • Have spells to clear the board or at least clear individual minions. If you let Dalaran own the board, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed. Look for cards that outright destroy or remove minions from the board, like minions with Poisonous, Rogue’s Vanish, Warlock;s Twisting Nether, or Warrior’s Brawl — AOEs that just do damage will be quickly outpaced by the increasing health of Dalaran’s minions.
  • Have cards that will build and buff your minions. To keep up with Dalaran, you want your own minions to keep getting bigger and more powerful. Murloc decks work if you can win quickly enough, Pogo Hopper Rogue and Jade Druid both play minions that keep getting more powerful, and Token or Treant Druid builds an army of small minions that just get bigger. There are a lot of directions to go, but ideally every card in your deck will do something to make the other cards more powerful.
  • Beware of decks that are too slow. Even if you aren’t playing an all-out aggro deck that aims to win quickly, you need to move fast enough to prevent Dalaran from overwhelming you with beefy minions before you can pull off your win condition. I’ve found quest decks and Galakrond decks to move too slowly to get far, and decks that require specific combos to win may not get them quickly enough. However, your mileage may vary.

That’s all the advice I have for this Brawl, but what about you? If you have any winning strategies, please drop them in the comments — I’m sure other players will appreciate them!

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