Wisdom/Rage Advanced Zash Control

One of the most consistent control decks in the game, Wisdom/Rage Advanced Zash has dominated the meta for the last several months.

Wisdom-Rage Zash.PNG

Here's Duall's (comprehensive) overview of the deck:

Hello, I'm Duall, the 19th Master's champion and this is a deck tech for my Wisdom-Rage Zash control deck. My teammate VanguardX of the Shrining has taken this deck to #1 on the ladder and I'm currently #6 with it as well (this was true at the original posting of this). I believe that this is one of the strongest choices for a ladder deck due to the pure power of the cards in it, the synergy between the cards, and how it matches against popular decks on the ladder. This will be an extensive deck tech for the deck including a card-by-card explanation as well as some brief comments on matchups, so this will be a very long post.

THE LIST

Creatures x (16)
4x Frost Elemental
2x Djinn of Wishes
4x Battlescarred Elder
4x Mescatian Phoenix
2x Elder Red Dragon

Spells x (21)
4x New Horizons
4x Power Discharge
1x Flashfreeze
2x Ancient Wisdom
4x Fireball
1x Detonate
4x Fireblast
1x Dragonfire

Artifacts x (4)
4x Johrail's Silencer

Shrines x (19)
9x Wisdom Shrine
2x Altar of Dragons
8x Rage Shrine

THE MAIN PLAN
The plan of this deck varies depending on what it's facing, but the common elements are to keep the board clean by using freeze effects alongside Rage spells and using New Horizons to get to 3 levels 3 mana and then use your Phoenixes and Elders to gain board control. You finish the game by using Johrail's Silencer to lock out your opponent once you have board control and burn out your opponent with Elder Red Dragon if necessary.

CARD CHOICES

Frost Elemental
What a difference moving from 1 level 3 mana to 2 levels 2 mana makes. The change to this guy really helped move this deck to tier 1. He's 4 of your 9 freeze effects, a good blocker against aggro, and an excellent creature to sacrifice to Sanctum of the Void. A key part to your early defense and curves directly into Fireblast. He is mainly DO fodder once you get past 3 levels 5 mana unless you need to keep a freeze effect in hand.

Djinn of Wishes
A card drawing machine. With 25 hits in the deck, you are fairly unlikely to miss. It can also play well on defense in a pinch, but it can't attack well. Regardless, this is one of the scariest cards to drop on an open board in an attrition-based matchup, especially when you have Silencers you can hit. Probably the hardest creature to play perfectly whether to front line/back line and activate/don't activate before you pass the turn. In general, if you're low on life and this can block something (don't forget about Flame Serpents), don't activate it. If you're fine on life and you need the cards, go ahead and activate it. This is also probably one of the hardest cards to figure out the right number for especially when you have 8 other creatures at 3 levels 3 mana.

Battlescarred Elder
While he's generally weaker than Phoenix, this solidly keeps your card count up while also presenting a powerful board threat. The only card that can block the card draw besides itself is Elder Red Dragon, so it's a hit 85%ish of the time. Other notes is that this card does survive your hero power and can be difficult to kill for other Rage-Control decks.

Mescatian Phoenix
The star of the show as it were. Phoenix is one of the best creatures in the game imo. It's difficult to answer for a lot of decks and only valued out by a few playable cards (Parallel Evolution, Helm of Dominion, Innkeeper ability makes it card neutral). It does die to your hero power, but on most boards you keep it you can stabilize without needing to use the hero power. Using the second life of this card is key. Generally, you can be more reckless with the first life doing things like trading with deadly/high power creatures as you lose no board presence to do so, especially against decks that can answer both lives at once. However against aspects like Corruption, you want to save the first life so you can pitch it to a Sanctum of the Void/Infernal Tribute.

So which creature should you play at 3 levels 3 mana? The two main things that answer this is "What does the board look like" and "What are you playing against." If you already have control of the board, think about what cards your opponent can get them out of it. If it's Cataclysm or bust, Phoenix is generally better to keep up the post-Cataclysm pressure. However, if they have to use Suffocate, then Elder or Djinn is probably better. If you're opponent is something like One-Turn-Heal, getting a Djinn down to find your Silencers/artifact removal can be the best if you already have pressure on your opponent's life total. If you don't have control of the board, the next question is "How effective is a 4/4 2 Spd as opposed to a 3/3 3 Spd Flying to stabilize?" Djinn is usually not the correct answer if you're down on board as you want to be using it to draw cards. Parallel Evolution is the card that can turn this on it's head, however. You need to address the fact that not only can Parallel Evolution can "kill" your creatures (including both lives of Phoenix), but that your opponent can copy your creature which might make their creature harder to kill. Another consideration is "Will I use my hero power soon?" If the answer is yes, losing a Phoenix life to the hero power might not be worth it. Usually, you don't have the option of all 3 at once, but a lot of the time you'll have to choose between 2 of them.

Elder Red Dragon
The burnout king. Alongside Fireball(s), this guy can take your opponent by surprise and finish them off from as much as 11 points for only 4+8 mana across 2 turns (2 end of turn Fireballs + play Dragon + activation Dragon). Generally, you want to only play this guy if you're activating him the same turn, if you have a healthy Silencer in play, or if you have your other Dragon already in hand. Again, watching out for Parallel Evolution is important here, as your opponent copying your Dragon and then killing your Dragon is very bad for you.

New Horizons
The best ramp spell in the game and one of the best turn 1-2 plays. Sparking out Horizons is generally correct, but if you don't have a good play lined up for the turn after it might be better to wait, especially if you are against a control opponent and you have multiple 3 level 3 mana creatures in hand (turn 1 shrine, turn 2 Horizons, turn 3 spark 3 lvl 3 mana creature, turn 4 3 lvl 3 mana creature). After getting to level 2, play your Horizons if you have time. The more aggressive your opponent, the more you probably will not be able to afford taking of time to play Horizons. However, if it can get you to a devastating hero power next turn, then it could be considered. The other time that it really takes consideration whether to Horizons is when you have 4 mana available at 3 levels and can level up to play Silencer mana to do Horizons + Something else. This depends on the state of the board and how much you need to lock your opponent out. Against more momentum/combo based decks (Valor, Mill, One Turn Heal, Shamans), playing an earlier Silencer will be a lot more effective. Against more attrition based decks (Corruption Control, other Wisdom-Rage Control decks), waiting to be able to Horizons to your 4th level will be worth more.

Power Discharge
The headliner freeze card of the deck. It freezes, it destroys a frozen creature, it always draws, it even can shock a creature that you don't want to die like opposing Bezaroks or Phoenixes. This is a card that you always want in your hand except against the most non-creature decks like One Turn Heal, Wisdom-Dominion, or Pure Corruption Control. The best times to consider the shock mode besides for the creatures listed above is when you think the game will only go on for 1 more turn after the current one and/or you will be able to kill the creature more efficiently next turn. The shock mode also almost completely counters Molten Passageway, so that's a good use too.

Flashfreeze
A good 1 of as there are enough times where this can really get you a tempo swing. The best kills are a Flame Serpent or a Shifting Aurite without Might Emblems, but you can do things like add a kill to your Fireblast or Hero Power next turn too. I've found that having 9 freeze effects is just about where you want to be with this deck, so I wouldn't include a 2nd unless the metagame has a lot of Shifting Aurites/Flame Serpents.

Ancient Wisdom
The best proactive 2 level card for the deck. There are a few creatures you could consider for this (Flameborn Incarnate, Infused Subordinate, Arcadian Visionary, Cinderflame Subordinate), but all of them are too vulnerable initially and don't consistently provide value immediately. It would be worth considering changing these out in a Curse of Rysha heavy metagame.

Fireball
The best rage card in the game imo, and no doubt the best rage spell in the game. Instant speed is icing on this cake and makes it even better against swift creatures like Flame Serpent, Shifting Aurite, and Aezheris. Something that I see people do with this in controlling decks that I don't think is good is throwing Fireballs at the opponent's face when they are not killing them by the end of the next turn. Now, there are some matchups where you need to be aggressive like against One Turn Heal. However, this deck should not generally be throwing away one of its best removal spells to
deal 3 damage to the opponent "just because I shouldn't let the mana go to waste." Not only can you just be throwing away a card for nothing, you lose some of the surprise factor in burning your opponent out. One thing that is important to consider is using Fireball not as a removal spell is to drain your opponent's Silencer on their turn so you can finish it off on your turn and push through something like a Silencer of your own.

Detonate
A new card that I believe will find a spot in this deck, but probably only as a one-of unless a deck like Demons or Shamans becomes incredibly popular. The 2 main modes you are looking to use are the mini-Fireblast mode and the artifact killing mode. There are a number of artifacts that can give this deck trouble such as the Totem of Legends, Thaumic Reflector, and Dark Portal. Being able to kill any of these artifacts on curve and not having to wait until Dragonfire is a great boon. While you are naturally advantaged against Angelic Temple decks, being able to deny the Lifegain wincon and not having to hold up Fireball as much is an extra bonus. The mini-Fireblast mode can do things like turn your hero power into 4 damage for 7 mana as well as killing frozen creatures.

Fireblast
The second-best rage spell and one of my personal favorites. With your freeze effects, this can easily kill 2 creatures in a row. It definitely underperforms in the more non-creature based matches, but the work it puts in against decks like Soldiers is one of the things that defines this deck's creature matchups. Make sure you look at all of the ways you can utilize the 1 damage to the row. It may look meaningless against creatures with greater than 1 HP, but there are ways you can combine your creatures with this card to get additional kills.

Dragonfire
Another card that's on creature and artifact killing duty. You rarely get to kill two things with this card, but it's often more mana efficient than going the freeze+damage route to kill a creature. This will kill most creatures by itself, and don't be afraid to use it on big stat creatures like Battlescarred Elder. This does great decent work in trading for cards like Helm of Dominion or Thaumic Reflector.

Johrail's Silencer
With Skatador's Bidding being changed, this becomes one of the best finishers in the game. By trading 4 mana for your opponent's 5, you lock them out from playing any non-shrine cards. Similar to discard effects, this works best when your opponent is low on cards and/or if you have board control. This goes extremely well with the fact that your deck should have board control or be close to when you reach this card on your curve. I should note that your opponent's hero powers are not locked out with Silencer, the four most notable being Sanctum of the Void, Altar of Dragons, and Adv Despina's power, and Adv Nefaros' power. You might think "Altar of Dragons? That's a removal spell, right?" Yes, except for when your opponent hits a dragon. I've seen it twice now where Altar of Dragons has hit an Elder Red Dragon which proceeds to burn out the person with a Silencer in play. There's not much you can do against that but you should be aware of that when choosing lines of play and managing your life total, especially in the mirror match.

Altar of Dragons
I'm not going to lie: I don't activate this much and I often hit it with New Horizons. It has 2 uses: doing an emergency 3 damage against a high impact creature like a Flesh Sculptor or a Master Tactician and sneaking an Elder Red Dragon into play through a Silencer. The tricky thing is that Altar is bad against most Elder Red Dragon decks, so do your best to figure out if you can afford to go down a card for a potentially useless hero power.

FLEX SPOTS
Usually in a deck, there are the core cards and some cards that are more filler. You might be able to deduce it from the text above, but I'll lay out some additional options if you want to increase your chances against certain decks.

-1 Dragonfire/Detonate, +1 Detonate/Word of Fire: This gives you earlier artifact destruction or removal. Word of Fire is especially good against creatures like Flesh Scuptor which can potentially get out of hand if you don't remove it quickly or Mesmerizing Spirit which you can get even on cards. It can also be another "kill a frozen creature draw a card" effect.

-1 or 2 Ancient Wisdom/Djinn of Wishes, +A combination of Flameborn Incarnate, Infused Subordinate, Cinderflame Subordinate, Djinn of Wishes, and Word of Fire: You can add some additional pressure to the deck and remove a drawing card or 2 to not make you as weak to Aggro/Curse of Rysha. If you're facing too many curses, I would honestly play a different deck as the deck will still be spell heavy. A note on Cinderflame, though: it works beautifully with Frost Elemental against aggro decks with the second activated ability.

+1 Djinn of Wishes, -1 Battlescarred Elder/Ancient Wisdom: This makes you a little draw focused, making it easier to find your Silencers

-1 Johrail's Silencer, +1 Detonate/Word of Fire/Cinderflame Subordinate: This is an aggro concession. While I don't think it's necessary, I do sometimes find myself with an embarrassment of Johrail's Silencers against aggro.

-1/+1 Flashfreeze +1/-1 Ancient Wisdom/Cinderflame Subordinate/Djinn of Wishes: You might find yourself without good Flashfreeze targets or be wishing you had more Flashfreezes.

MULLIGANING

New Horizons is always your friend in the opener. You should mulligan to it against any Midrange/Control deck. Against aggro decks, you should keep a hand that has at least 1 shrine and early plays like Fireball, Fireblast, and Frost Elemental. If you know specifically that your opponent is playing an Artifact deck, value hands with Detonate highly.

CONQUEST

If you want to use this in a lineup, I would suggest a lineup that wants to ban Mill/Demons, which are both usually Enoch. These tend to be slower midrange decks, so Valor and Mono Corruption make good partners.

MATCHUPS

Artifacts
With Detonate, this should be significantly better. The primary things to watch out for are Timea and Parallel Evolution. You naturally have some hate cards, so this should be in your favor. Try to deduce what kind of artifact deck they are quickly so you can figure out what to play around.

Elves
Should be a fairly easy matchup. Mulling to Fireblast is not unreasonable. Keeping a Frost Elemental in hand to pitch to a Deathtrap can be fairly beneficial, though not all variants run that to my knowledge. Be wary of less played cards like Tornado Outbreak and Ambush Strike.

Healmellion
The main threat is the healing win condition here. You should be wary of an Angelic Temple activation, so try to hold Fireball up when a Namir activation will not put it out of Fireball range. The new Detonate should do work here. Make sure that they don't lock out too much of your removal with the Dwarven Priests, but that should be fairly difficult given your decently diverse removal suite + Hero Power. You should be aware that your in-hand Fireball could be turned off during their turn, though.

Angels
I'm not exactly sure what the Angels have been running lately, but I do know that historically some have looked similar to Healmellion but they add some angels. These decks come with some potential for the heal wincon so that's a potential threat. Other variants shouldn't provide you with as many problems unless you draw low on freeze effects. You can usually let a non-Antriel Angel stick around a bit to set up a more effective use of your Freezing, but keep The Triangelica in mind as well as Saluxio turning off your boardwipe.

Polar Bears
A fairly favored matchup. Don't let their board grow out of control, and watch out for trap Flashfreeze trades. More favored than Valor as you don't have to watch out for Parallel Evolution, but they still have some of the Timea/Diogen overruns.

Soldiers
A very favored matchup. Make sure you play around Tactician + Might Emblem when they get to 4 mana as well as Guards, Guards! when they have it up. Always having a Fireblast available is important, Watch out for the little things that each variant throws at you (Chalice of Yunx from Purple, Fireball from Red, and Parallel Evolution from Blue).

Valor (no Rage)
Kill the creatures, using freeze for the bigger things. The more reactive cards like Dwarven Mortars and Arrow Barrage they have the better. This is a favored matchup, but watch out for Parallel Evolution.

Rage Valor
Kill their early creatures so Timea doesn't become a problem. This can be a difficult matchup depending if you have Flashfreeze available or not and how much they can grow their Shifting Aurite. Do not let Diogen live for long as they have many creatures to grow it. Watch out for Parallel Evolution as always as well as Shifting Aurites.

Shamans
A rouge deck but one that plays uniquely enough (and is actually one of my favorites to play). What you want to do is have Detonate to kill their drawing totem then Silencer them out as Shamans gets low on cards quickly. If they have more than one, you're going to have to kill them quickly while making sure not to die to swift Offering Yard Priests.

Aggro Zombies
Your worse Aggro Matchup except for Red Demons. This will be decided by the opening hands, most likely. If they can get in enough damage, they can Succubus you out, so try to stay above 2 Succubus drains (6 life). Watch out for powerful Consume Spirit turns as well as Sanctum activations. Silencer can do some good work here to close out the game as they have little card drawing.

Demons
Red Demons are the scariest. Always be wary of when Aezheris can hit the table and make sure the Nightbringers are dead before that. Watch out for Flesh Scuptor too. Value Detonate highly in your mulligan. Look for an opportunity to burn them out as they hurt themselves.

Burning Rage
If you can avoid an early Forced Labor, you should be fine. Save your hero power for a Forced Labor when your creatures cannot take care of them. Prioritize Phoenix as it only loses one of its lives to a removal spell from Burning Rage. Watch for an opportunity to burn them out as they'll be hurting themselves along the way.

Rage Rush
Prioritize your life total above all else, and hold up Fireball/Flashfreeze once Flame Serpent becomes available. Fireblast can do good work here, but I've been seeing Bezerker over Gibo and Roni lately.

Mill
Probably your least favored matchup, but not unwinnable. The mill win condition and the damage win condition are about equal in possibility, so note both of them. You need to be fast, but do your best to not play into Parallel Evolution. Also, keep Fireball up if you can't defend against a potential Aezheris swift attack. Don't forget that your hero power can wipe anything on your side that has been transformed into a Voidtouched Subordinate. Utilize Silencer to close the game out.

Mono-Corruption Control
If they have Curse of Ryshas, you might be in for a bad time. Two at the beginning makes it very difficult to win, especially if they have Tombs on curve. Rely more on your creatures if they have a Curse out, and really pay attention to your life total. If they don't have Curses, you should be fine, but watch out for Infernal Tribute. As always, be careful of good Consume Spirit opportunities.

One-Turn-Heal
You need to move it here, but don't attack into Pacify if you can help it. Your Djinns should be helpful in soaking up damage, so position them to best absorb Arrow Barrages. Play Silencer precombat when you think they have Pacify, and destroy their Reflectors as soon as possible. Don't value Detonate/Dragonfire too highly in your opener as you have time to draw into them. This is a disadvantageous matchup I think, but it's not as bad as it might first appear.

Wisdom-Corruption Control
Be wary of Parallel Evolutions as always, but don't be too paranoid of them as not all variants run 4. A lot of variants of this deck have been popping up so be aware of the various possibilities. There will most likely be Reanimate in the deck, so pay attention to the opponent's graveyard. Also, try to not lose 2 Phoenixes to Suffocate. For the more all-in Reanimator decks, your more likely going to have to face an early Bezarok. The shock mode from Power Discharge will be fairly helpful here, though sometimes you just have to kill the Bezarok and let them get their demons. Don't do it with having the mana and cards/abilities to instantly remove what they could put in like Aezheris or Vulture.

Grand Reunion
The way that they are going to beat you is by tempoing you out as your removal can get quite a few 2 for 1s and their creatures don't produce much value. New Horizons, an early Grand Reunion, Ancient Treant, Storm Fairy, Thianor activation, and Dust Titan are going to be the main ways they'll generate tempo to get in the 20 damage, so blocking is not a great way to prevent damage a lot of the time. There are a few variants out there, most notably some running a few copies of Silencer, so don't let yourself get too far behind on board. Their early game (minus New Horizons) is a joke for the most part outside of Treant, so you should have time to dig for an additional New Horizons of your own. I'm not exactly sure what the percentages are, but overall I think it's generally in your favor. Also, remember that Bark Convoy can kill a Silencer if it slips through with Grand Reunion.

Rage-Nature Control
Your Wisdom cards are generally more efficient than their Nature cards. Make sure you don't take too much damage from the early Passageways so you don't get burned out by a Dragon and don't slam your Phoenixes as they get tempo'ed out by Storm Faires.

Wisdom-Rage Control
The mirror is an odd one and surprisingly tempo-based. The key cards are your best cards, New Horizons, Phoenix, Elder, Silencer, and Dragon. Djinn can be good too, but a lot of the times it can be killed off quickly and it doesn't apply the offensive pressure Elder does. This often ends with a Dragon burnout, and with no healing, your life total matters a lot more than it appears to.

Wisdom-Dominion Control
It's difficult to say how this matchup is after the Skatador's Bidding change. I think it may actually be favored now, but it depends on what form the decks take now. They still have a ramp advantage on you, and Helm is amazing if you can't kill it immediately, but you have much better creatures than they do and more flexibility in removing them. Watch for the Helms and the Cataclysms.

Thanks for your interest in this deck, and I hope my post was helpful!

Duall