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HearthstoneDec 13, 2023 3:30 pm CT

The decks you need to beat the Hearthstone Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl

Happy Feast of Winter Veil! It’s time once more for the Hearthstone Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl. It’s the festive tradition where Hearthstone players give each other gifts and proceed to beat each other senseless with them. Good will toward men, all kinds of elves, trolls, tauren, undead, pandaren, and dwarves indeed!

Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl basics

  • Name: Gift Exchange
  • Description: Great Father is dropping cards on the battlefield! Get a gift each time you smash your opponent’s crate… or your own!
  • Fun level: 7/10
  • Difficulty: 5-8/10 (depending on the size of your card collection)
  • Replayability: 6/10
  • Format: Wild
  • Type: PVP
  • Deck: Constructed
  • Rewards: 1 Standard card pack (can contain any card from any set in the current Standard rotation)

At the start of your turn, Greatfather Winter will drop a a Winter’s Veil Gift on your side of the board if you don’t already have one. If you destroy a Winter’s Veil Gift (either on your side of the board or your opponent’s), you’ll get a Stolen Winter Veil Gift card. When you play the Stolen Winter Veil Gift, you’ll get a Discover type choice of three cards. If you destroyed your opponent’s Gift, the cards will be from their class. If you destroyed one of your own Gifts, the cards will be from your class. Either way, the cards are reduced by a juicy five mana.

You might also get a Hard Packed Snowballs card. This sends three random enemy minions back to your opponent’s hand. The cards will return to full cost in your opponent’s hand, but be wary of any powerful Battlecry effects.

How to win the Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl

Like most Constructed Brawls, the key to victory is finding a great deck. With this being an annual Brawl, players will pull successful deck lists from last year which will cut down on the experimentation. Over time, players discover the “meta,” the deck (or decks) that are particularly strong given the ruleset. These lists are published on sites like r/Hearthstone (and others) and become dominant. Counter decks rise and you fall into the same sort of ‘meta’ as you see on the Ladder.

The key to this Brawl is getting a bunch of Gifts. The five mana reduction in card cost creates powerful plays. Cards like Crazed Alchemist and Void Ripper are popular picks because their Battlecry can kill a Gift even if its protected by a Taunt minions. The Gifts also provide a minion on the board which is great for classes that love to buff their minions like Paladin or Druid.

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the decks people are trying out. You’ll probably find even more refined versions of these later in the week.

Updated for 2023: The Destruction Warlock deck again appears to the dominate strategy. See our updated list list below.

Demon Hunter Ruins Christmas

Deck code: AAEBAea5AwKRvAKe+AIO8gHUBbYTl8EClc4C+a4D5rsD4LwD3r4DusYD1MgD98gD8skDgtADAA==

Demon Hunter’s early game is the best in Hearthstone. This deck abuses that early game to get a lead on on the board. You use your minions and your Hero Power to destroy Gifts.

Secret Paladin

Deck code: AAEBAZ8FCsgE7Q+FENgUphXJFrnBAo6aA5+3A/bWAwqMAacFjA7qD9muAuPLAvjSAo22A8rBA8rRAwA=

Your Secrets protect your gifts while you build up your army of minions and control the board.

Gift Hoarder Priest

Deck code: AAEBAa0GAsPRA/vRAw4eoQSlCdcKhBSstALRwQLQ/gKYmwPZrAObugPWzgO00QPi3gMA

This deck has several spells to kill Gifts for zero mana with Topsy Turvey and Forbidden Words. Purify and Silence keep your presents from giving anything to your opponent while also still providing a target for your buffs. If you’re missing either Legendary (or both), sub in an Inner Fire.

Destruction Warlock

Deck code: AAEBAaaaBgAPxQnhugLnwQKXywL40AK90wL96gLY7gLchgOInQOdqQPX7QOdoATAkgXu/QUAAA==Warlock has several cards which destroy friendly minions, and in this Brawl, that can pay off big time when used on your own Gifts, denying them to your opponent. For 2021, Desecrated Graveyard is a strong addition for Warlock, and if you have this common Fractured in Alterac Valley card you should use one of the updated 2021 deck codes that include it. When you play it, for the next three turns, it will break your own boxes, plus give you a 4/4 on the board to take your opponent's boxes — perfect for this Brawl.

Rush Warrior

Deck code: AEBAYwWCP8H/eoCze8Co4sD260DuLkDvrkDxcADC6EG7wed8AKSmAOfoQPYrQParQOqrwPSrwPizAOK0AMA

This deck relies on the Gifts as well, and on the fact that Warrior has some hit and miss cards in its arsenal. Sometimes, you’ll give your opponent cards they can’t make a ton of use of. The deck features a plethora of Rush minions to take out your opponent’s Gifts on each turn. Once you turn into Galakrond, put pressure on your opponent turn and turn with steady damage.

More Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl deck lists

Keep checking Hearthstone Top Decks, where you can find good decks (and filter for cards you do or don’t have). Right now most of their Gift Exchange decks seem to be older, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win.

The Brawl’s main weakness is how strong some of the more aggressive decks can be. There are some fun decks and ideas, but too often you don’t get to enjoy them because you’re run over by an aggressive deck. Aggressive decks are their own kind of fun, and some people really enjoy them. I think the balance has tipped a little too far in their favor currently.

Happiest of holidays to you this festive season. Good luck getting this week’s Year of the Phoenix pack!

Originally published December 17, 2020; last updated December 23, 2023

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