Control Warrior is in an excellent spot. Not only is the archetype very good in the current metagame, but you also have various versions to choose from. Ironforge Portal has proven itself and is a very good addition to almost every list.
Control Warrior is the only Control archetype that is good in the current metagame. All the other Control decks like Control Priest, N’zoth Paladin or Reno Warlock are not consistent enough to compete with aggressive decks. So in case you want to play a Control deck on the ladder and be competitive, Control Warrior is the one and only option you currently have.
This article will cover the different flavors of Control Warrior and analyze the different strengths and weaknesses they have. At the end of the article I will also cover some unusual tech cards for every version.
Compared to the Control Warrior lists of Vanilla and Goblins vs Gnomes, this version plays very few expensive minions and instead plays more anti-aggression tools. Currently players started adding Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End. It has taken some time for players to figure out how overpowered Yogg- Saron actually is. If you play a slower deck with a lot of spells, you need a very good reason to not play him. Although Yogg-Saron is the most random card in Hearthstone, he is quite consistent. If you cast enough spells (10+) , he will on average clear the board and do a bunch of nonsense (play Secrets, draw cards, buff something and then kill it etc.) Of course Yogg- Saron can rarely be bad, because he gives the opponent cards, buffs opposing minions and fails to cast removal spells. But the amazing outcomes, where he clears the board, produces minions and generates a lot of value make up for the bad outcomes in the long run.
Overall Yogg- Saron is extremely powerful. As long as Yogg- Saron is an option in the Standard format, he is on average far better than Deathwing. Especially because you can get key cards in some matchup, like Ice Block (Ice Block is very good in Control decks. I would play a 10 mana 7/5 that only gives you Ice Block in every Control deck). As a sidenote, I fully expect a Yogg- Saron nerf in the near future. Not only because he is so random, but because he is overpowered.
Some people are not playing Yogg- Saron in their Standard Control Warrior list, and instead play something else. This is a huge mistake. Of course Yogg can be bad over a short sample size if you get very unlucky, but if you play enough games it will all even out and Yogg will be amazing.
Although Yogg- Saron is such a random card, he is quite skill intensive to play properly. In almost every Control mirror he is bad and should therefore just sit in your hand and should only be played if you would lose anyways. The reason? Yogg- Sarron has a very high chance to draw a bunch of cards, which is bad against other Control decks, because he accelerates fatigue. Against everything else, like Aggro and Midrange, he is similar to Deathwing. Whenever you are low on cards, lack meaningful ways to spend your mana, you just play him.
.) Maximum amount of board clears, which makes the deck even better against Shaman and Zoo than the other versions.
.) Slowest Control Warrior version. Yogg- Saron compared to the other Old Gods is more of a board nuke, than an actual win condition. N’zoth and C’thun win the game on the spot against the majority of decks, whereas Yogg- Saron only delays the game the majority of time.
N’zoth Control Warrior
When Whispers of the Old Gods came out, I think no one expected that N’zoth Control Warrior will be the most successful N’zoth deck. After all Warrior does not have flashy Deathrattle minions, like Tirion Fordring. As it turned out, the metagame has simply too many fast decks for other N’zoth decks to stand a chance. Warrior has the best anti- aggro tools after all.
Whereas Yogg- Saron is very good against board- flood decks like Shaman and Zoo, N’zoth is at its best against slower Midrange decks like Token/ Malygos Druid and Dragon Warrior. If you resurrect Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof you are almost guaranteed to win the game against them.
N’zoth is so powerful that he makes bad cards like Infested Tauren playable. Infested Tauren is very underwhelming, but sees play because sometimes you need your N’zoth to bring back a minion with taunt.
Before Karazhan came out I played Loot Hoarder over Acolyte of Pain, because Loot Hoarder is better against Aggro Shaman, Dragon Warrior and Zoo Warlock. He also improves N’zoth in the faster matchups because resurrecting only one Loot Hoarder and one Infested Tauren is good enough against fast archetypes. So in case you expect the metagame to be very aggressive, I would recommend adding Loot Hoarders. Note that against Midrange Hunter Loot Hoarder has become a two-sided sword. He is quite good against 3/2- minions, but not as good as Acolyte against Fiery Bat and Kindly Grandmother. Also in case you want to get very fancy, you could also play Bloodmage thalnos. This is probably the only viable card I have not tested.
Barnes is a very good minion in this deck. If you take a look at the decklists, you will find out that you have a 50/50 for a very good outcome (getting Acolyte of Pain or a Deathrattle minion) or a mediocre one (mere 1/1 or 1/1 with Charge).
The card slots in N’zoth Warrior are very tight, especially with the inclusion of Ironforge Portal. Usually Elise Starseeker competes Barnes. If you expect very few Control decks, I would recommend changing Elise Starseeker for Barnes. Barnes is just so much better against faster decks. If you win the 20 % dice roll and get Cairne Bloodhoof or Sylvanas Windrunner, you are in an excellent spot against something like Midrange Hunter/ Shaman. Especially because Midrange Hunter is a bad matchup and Barnes improves it, playing Elise Starseeker in this deck, comes at a high cost I think.
.) Is the best version against Token/ Malygos Druid and Dragon Warrior.
.) Slightly weaker (but still favored!) against Shaman and Zoo Warlock, because you don’t have Baron Geddon and Yogg- Saron as additional board clears.
C’thun, C’thun, C’thun!
With the introduction of the Standard format C’thun Warrior was the most popular version of Control Warrior.
The reason? Ancient shieldbearer and Twin emperor Vek’lor are so powerful if you buff C’thun to ten attack. This version is also more easy to play than other versions of Control Warrior. Usually you play minions on curve to buff C’thun and then play the big boys. And the big boys are so powerful that they carry you in a lot of games without much thought.
After some time the deck the deck was less and less represented on ladder, because people started realizing that the deck is just worse than other versions of Control Warrior. You have to play quite a lot of shitty minions to activate your good minions. And if you draw only your high-end minions and not enough Cultists… well a 7 mana 6/6 and a 7 mana 4/6 is quite bad. On the other hand if you draw too many Cultists and not your high- end you can sometimes be outvalued by aggressive decks. I had quite a lot of games, where Dragon Warrior managed to grind me out of cards.
As it seems the majority of the Control Warrior player base has finally came to the same conclusion, and C’thun Warrior is an extremely rare sight on the ladder. Especially with Ironforge Portal there is even less reason to play C’thun Warrior.
So only play this deck in case you have not much experience with Control Warrior or want to dominate for some strange reason the Control Warrior mirror (Spoiler: currently Control Warrior is not very popular, because it is a slow archetype and rather challenging to play very well).
.) Easiest version to properly play. Follow these instructions:
Step 0.: Dodge Inconsistency! Step 1.: Play Cultists! Step 2.: Play your big boys Step 3.: Profit!
.) Plays the most powerful minions. If you get very lucky over a short sample size it can trick you into believing it is better than the other versions.
Tech Cards and Flexible Slots
The Control Warrior archetype has 16 staples. Staples are cards that are so good that if you cut them you will be thrown into a dungeon! Without further ado, the staples are:
2 Execute, 2 Shield Slam, 2 Shield Block, 2 Slam, 2 Fiery War Axe, 2 Ravaging Ghoul, 2 Brawl, 1 Justicar Trueheart and 1 Sylvanas Windrunner.
Don’t cut them! They are just too good. The other 14 cards are interchangeable and can be cut for a card with a similar mana cost or something more expensive if you want to be greedy.
About two months ago the Worgen OTK Warrior was very popular among the Legend Ranks. In case you don’t know the deck: It plays mainly card draw and in the late game it hits you for 60 damage with Raging Worgen.
I think this matchup is very close against good players, because getting above 60 life points is quite tricky, so I’ve added Soggoth back then, who just wins you the matchup if you happen to draw him and play him late enough, but not too late 😉
Once Elise Starseeker rotates out of Standard, Prince Malchezaar will see a lot more play. He is very good against other slow decks. But the edge you get in the slower matchups comes with a price. You make your deck less consistent against aggressive decks, because they can punish you for a bad draw. Drawing random legendaries like Malygos, Nozdormu or Hogger and sometimes complete trash like Lorewalker cho can be very bad against decks that aim to win the game before Turn 10.
Warrior lacks a card like Hex to shut down Deathrattle or Ressurrect effects. Tinkmaster Overspark is very good against Savannah Highmane and Doomcaller, but is kind of unplayable against decks that flood the board with smaller minions.
Should Miracle Rogue become very popular one day, Tinkmaster is the only good answer against Gadgetzan Auctioneer with Conceal.
Drawing 2-3 cards
Findinding a Dragon to put in your deck is the easiest part. There are many good dragons like Alexstrasza. My suggestion for the Murloc and Beast are Corrupted Seer and Jeweled Scarab. Corruptor Seer is very similar to Barron Geddon and is actually quite a good card. Jeweled Scarab can be too slow, but rarely disappoints, because Warrior has a lot of good three mana cards.
Overall the Curator greatly increases your midgame consistency, because he can replenish your hand, once you are low on resources. Therefore he is very potent against Midrange decks, where you can sometimes struggle to keep up with their card advantage.
I hope you liked my article! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments!