The Disease spec of the Blackhand Scourge faction belongs to Orpal Gloor. He’s surrounded by a creeping death, and even being near him makes most beings uneasy. The Shadow Plague in the Dreadlands is his invention.
The power of Disease is to wear down your enemies. Battles against the Disease spec often involve fewer units than usual, because it’s hard to even keep things alive around the Plague Lord. Here’s his hero card:
His level 1 ability is unique amongst all heroes: Orpal Gloor puts -1/-1 runes onto units and heroes instead of regular damage. Any time he hits a unit or hero, he’s not only reducing their HP, but also reducing their ability to fight back by lowering their ATK as well.
There’s another powerful aspect to those -1/-1 runes as well. If an enemy 3/3 takes 1 damage, it’s possible that some with the “healing” ability could remove that damage and get it back to full health. If it’s a hero, you don’t even need an extra card to heal: all heroes remove all damage on themselves whenever they reach their next level band (so they’ll always heal twice between level 1 and max level). They will NOT remove -1/-1 runes this way though. So when Orpal Gloor weakens a hero, it’s serious. The only realistic way to get rid of -1/-1 runes is to put +1/+1 runes on the same thing. If you do, they cancel out and both disappear.
His middle ability is also really powerful; by sacrificing a unit he can put a -1/-1 rune anywhere. (Everything dies to Disease, even your own units!) And then his final ability lets you SPREAD the -1/-1 runes if you can kill something that has any -1/-1 runes. This spread of Disease is key to his gameplan. Make sure to orchestrate your grand plague just right.
This starting deck card can help you get more -1/-1 runes into the mix:
A 2 cost unit that can attack for 2 is already good for a starting deck card, but she can do better! Not only does she give -2/-2 to what she attacks, but she also ignores armor. A 2/2 with 1 armor from the Squad Leader patrol slot would normally survive getting attacked for 2, but not against Poisonblade Rogue because of her armor piercing. So she can get in sneaky kills like that, or you can use her as a way to put -1/-1 runes on things to combo with Orpal’s max level ability that spreads -1/-1 runes.
Orpal can also use spells to put -1/-1 runes on things, but that won’t drop your jaw as much as this:
The operative word there is “ALL”, as in maybe destroy a lot of things. It takes some work to set up, but you can threaten to clear their board out with Spreading Plague. If you feel yourself coming down with a slight case of -1/-1 runes, consult a doctor because it could become serious really fast.
Disease isn’t totally one dimensional about just killing though. This spell attacks opponents' hand cards:
It can’t get rid of unit cards, but the rest of Disease is geared toward doing that anyway. Carrion Curse is your chance to get rid of the cards you’ll have more trouble dealing with—before they even hit the table. That includes spells, upgrades, and building cards.
Orpal Gloor also has one of the most terrifying ultimate spells in the game, Death and Decay:
It’s expensive at 8 gold, and remember that it requires Orpal to be max level at the start of the turn he would cast it, but the effect is potentially game-winning. You can wipe out most of an opponent’s forces, then clean up the rest by attacking with yours. If you cast two copies of this in one turn (very, very expensive) it actually does pretty much win. It will literally destroy all their tech buildings other than their base. Opponents can’t really let your max level Disease hero go unchallenged. They also have to pressure you enough that you can't afford this plan.
Before we get to the tech I units, there's a black starting deck card you should probably know about too. Orpal Gloor's middle ability makes you sacrifice a unit. The black starting deck spell Sacrifice the Weak does that too. And of course lots of your units die in combat. Here's just the thing for all those dead units:
Graveyard helps you in multiple ways. First, you might be able to play a good unit twice in quick succession with it (play it once, then it dies somehow, then play it again). Next, it doesn't cost a card to play units from your Graveyard. If you have 5 cards in hand, then you play a unit from your Graveyard, you still have 5 cards in hand. This lets you play more threats without reducing your card draw. And finally, Graveyard helps you thin your deck. Even if you have 3 bad units in there, that's 3 fewer cards getting in the way of you trying to draw your best cards.
You can build whole strategies around Graveyard, and not just with the Disease spec, but I mention it here because you'll have an extra easy time filling it up with the Disease hero.
Moving on to units, starting with tech I.
Plague Spitter is amazing, because dealing THREE -1/-1 runes with him is just nuts. He’s a solid, all-around choice. Crypt Crawler is for trying to eke out more efficiency. If you’re just trading with other 3/3s, you might as well pay 1 less and use him. If you’re facing a patrol zone full of 1/1 tokens or something, the sparkshot will kill an extra thing for free. Both Crypt Crawler and Plague Spitter can beat fliers, so they’re actually both important counters in your toolbox.
Moving on to tech II, behold this beauty:
Besides being one of my favorite pieces of art in the game, she’s also a superstar of efficiency. For only 3 gold, you get a unit who kills anything she touches AND doesn’t even really cost a card. Your goal here is to “trade up” by making sure she kills something big and expensive.
Disease loves their -1/-1 runes, so here’s another tool related to that:
He comes with a free -1/-1 rune, and he can also sneak by any patrollers weakened by those runes. His stats are big enough that he can probably kill a hero if he can get to them. Probably by stabbing them with his cursed fingernails.
Abomination is an important unit because even his existence affects the game. Just knowing that you might play him makes opponents scared to play a bunch of 1/1 tokens of any sort. He’s a big play, but I’ll leave it to you to discover strategies with him.
When it’s time to end the game, you can count on tech III units.
He spews -1/-1 runes everywhere, every turn, and then players who have -1/-1 runes take damage to their base too. In other words, everything dies and crumbles, in true Disease style.
If you want to avoid complicated board positions with a lot of units, try killing pretty much everything with the Disease spec.