Hello everyone, since September 22th the game was rebirth, with leeroy-jenkins and starving-buzzards nerf the possibilities for deck choices were widened and the game became healthier than ever. Within that wave of new decks, also came old decks reworked to the current state of the game, and one of these decks was the Handlock.
Stronger than ever, Handlock is one of the most succesful decks in this new meta, and a safe choice for laddering given its strong consistency which is allowed by the most powerful hero power in the game.
By the matter of fact, Handlock was also one of my deck choices for this season’s ladder grind, I had to drop it to Zoo at a point during my climb (after rank 2) in order to obtain faster results, I really wanted to get to Legend fast, but during the time I played Handlock I learned a lot from it: the because of every card, the fluid slots, the needed cards, the mulligans, the strategies, everything! That allowed me to create this guide so I could share all my knowledge with you.
With hunters not being the strongest class in the game the ladder started having less of them, which means this decks nemesis was partially out of the picture. As I said before on my previous articles Hunter was not destroyed by these changes, since it has quite a few of the strongest mechanisms in the game, it just stopped being over the top as it used to be.
With that, we are now allowed to play Handlock: A deck that was previously destroyed by Hunters. Not only that, Handlock stopped being a shadow in the corner of the metagame and is now a powerhouse. With its consistency and interactions, if you don’t like the playstyle you might as well read this so you can understand its mechanics and how everything works.
Ok, we now start to understand my deck choice. Firstly, this is not my list, this is Kolento’s list used in Prismata Cup 2, a tournament before the nerf where both leeroy-jenkins and starving-buzzard and what is most interesting about this list is that its not a tournament list, rather a Ladder list, and the reason Kolento choose this was that he was going to be facing a fresh environment, which means a solid list without specific responses was his best bet against an unknown meta.
With that said, I recommend you start with this list and in case you need, make your own adjustments on the fluid slots. And yes, I will be guiding you thru those fluid slots and the options regarding those slots too =D
Alright its time to talk a little about all the options I choose to use in this deck:
soulfire: One of the best warlock cards in the game, the fact its free mana-wise means you can cast it whenever you want, making this card a must-have 2-of in every warlock deck that is ever born. Since warlock’s hero power involves card advantage, loosing a card is rarely a problem with this spell, unless its something you needed, but as a Handlock your hand is usually going to be so full that the odds of losing the card you needed the most is small.
mortal-coil: A fine card, its biggest use is removing early game threats while cycling itself, the fact this cycles means you’ll not be a turn later on your mountain-giant and that your twilight-drake and that is the biggest reason that this fluid slot is not something you can easily swap.
sunfury-protector: The biggest weakness of Handlock is that its slow against Rush decks, Sunfury Protector means that you will be able to give your Giants and Drakes taunt with only 2 mana, and that makes this guy a must-have 2-of in the deck regardless of handlock build.
ancient-watcher: The fact you, as a Handlock, have to run taunt-givers such as Sunfury and Argus means that using Ancient Watchers on your deck becomes a must, after the nerf we got some extra slots in the deck that allowed us to add a second ironbeak-owl which means the uses of this guy have only grown, since now you can silence it and have a cheaper chillwind-yeti.
ironbeak-owl: Oh, Naxxramas, the sole existence of this new set means that silence has now more value than ever before, which means having 2 Owls is a good option. In this deck in particular you also have the option to silence your own Watchers, making them able to attack as I said before. This slot is fluid.
earthen-ring-farseer: You take damage from your own hero power regardless of your opponent’s deck choice, so having 2 of these guys becomes a must on this slow deck. Remember you can also use this guy to heal your big minions whenever they are injured and your life total is safe.
twilight-drake: Another core-card in this deck, the fact your hand is most likely always going to be big means that this guy is also always going to be big. This card is indeed weak to silence, but whenever unanswered this leave a big impact on the board.
defender-of-argus: Another taunt giver, and altho its effect is better than its brother’s (Sunfury Protector) it’s also slower. This guy is good and altho some people consider this slot to be fluid, I don’t. The game has moved into a more consistent meta, and I think this guy is consistent enough that swapping him is not optimal.
hellfire: A board wipe spell. the fact you take damage from it means your molten-giants are going to come into play quicker, but dont forget that your oponents can have direct damage on your face and it will ignore your big taunted minions, so always be careful when playing this spell. This is sometimes also used to finish off opponents whenever their life total is 3 or below and yours isn’t, since it also deals damage to the opponent! This slot is fluid.
shadowflame: Another Board wipe spell, the most common use for this is blowing up your recently casted molten giants to alleviate pressure. The fact you have such big minions as the giants means that most of the times everything on the oposing board is going to be destroyed, but keep in mind this card requires another minion to be played, which means it’s not as optimal for a consistent meta as Hellfire is, and the reason I only run 1 of this and 2 Hellfires. This slot is also fluid.
sludge-belcher: Since Naxxramas came out, every control deck in the game included a pair of Belchers, its tempo generating Deathrattle means you’ll have more time to set up your game and take control of the board.
loatheb: Another big card that came out with Naxxramas, its battlecry means that your opponent will have no way of wiping your board the next turn, this guy is usually used to prepare for lethal the following turn, but its solid body means it can be played in any situation regardless.
faceless-manipulator: The fact you have so many big minions, means Faceless Manipulator is a good option for the deck, this slot is fluid.
siphon-soul: A hard removal, this is not only strong because it removes any minion in the game: it also heals you for 3. Some people argue this is a fluid slot.
mountain-giant: This card alone is not too good, but in this deck is a powerhouse. The fact you can almost always drop him on turn 4 due to your hero power means you’ll have a huge threat on the board sooner than any other control deck in the entire game(even sooner than druid!). This card is one of the 2 reasons this deck exists.
molten-giant: The other reason why this deck exists, both giants have a lot of synergy with Warlock’s hero power. This guy in particular can be cast for such a small cost that it will almost always come into play with taunt (given by one of the taunt-givers this deck has) which means it can alleviate most of the pressure you’ll be receiving.
The last card of this deck I’ll talk on a different section because….
You Face Jaraxxus
Remember back in the day we used to run alexstrasza as our way to heal back to 15 life? Well, the reason we wanted her over lord-jaraxxus was that we needed imediate impact on the board, and Jaraxxus was no 8/8. Now the times have changed, with the rise of consistent Aggro as well as Control, having a consistent Minion such as Jaraxxus means that you’ll have a bigger edge at winning games. Jaraxxus is a minion that will win you the game if left unchecked, it’s not only a way to heal back to 15 life as Alexstrasza is, its also a recurring card draw mechanism that will not be taking cards away from your deck, but instead will be drawning you 6/6 Infernals that only cost 2 mana every single turn. This guy is a game winning tool against most of the control decks as well as a decent way of not losing the game versus aggro. Lets not forget his 3/8 weapon which helps a lot in any kind of matchup.
After the nerf, Jaraxxus stopped being a bad option for Handlock, not only that: now you need to have a Jaraxxus in order to play Handlock competitively. Yap, this guy is now a core-part of the deck, and I must say it cripples your deck by a lot not having him on it.
Fluid Slot Replacements
So, I named quite a few fluid slots and now its time to know what cards you can replace them. But keep in mind most of these cards are in the deck for a reason and should not be swapped unless you completely understand
mortal-coil: Having at least one of these spells is essential. But the second sometimes is not needed, keep in mind you will lose consistency in order to swap this slot, with that said these are the cards you can swap it for:
In case you want to swap, swapping this for a BGH on tournaments is reasonable, and if you are facing many midranges and Undertaker decks, swapping it for a Shadow Bolt.
ironbeak-owl: Silence is always good, but sometimes you want to use at least one of these utility slots to put something else in your deck, the options are:
- power-overwhelming (in case you want to run more than one Shadowflame)
hellfire and shadowflame: These are the board wipe spells, the most common substitutions are going 1x Hellfire and 2x Shadowflame, these are usually better options against Control decks since you can blow up your giants to eliminate a board with big threats. Keep in mind Hellfire is almost always better against aggro because it does not need a setup like Shadowflame does, and is the reason I believe it’s better for ladder and general consistency.
loatheb and faceless-manipulator: These are the mid-late game utility slots you can choose to swap these for any of the following cards:
Remember these cards are not optimal and their utility is not as broad as Faceless’ and Loatheb’s.
siphon-soul: Another utility slot, the reason I put this separated from the Faceless and Loatheb slot is that I don’t belive these should be swapped as easily as the other 2. In case you want to swap them anyway, just go for one of the options listed before.
This is the first part of the series of articles I am writing about Handlock. The next parts shall be out together with this one and they are most likely to be premium content, the reason behind all these premium contents on this websites, as said multiple times, is that Hearthstoneplayers is the only website that support its writers, which means you’ll have better quality content than any other websites on the internet.
I really hope you enjoyed reading this, and in case you are interested in reading the following parts of this article, which contains gameplay strategies against every single deck in the meta, here are the links for the next parts:
See you guys soon!