Hi, I am Litiq. I play Hearthstone since the beginning of closed beta. I am from Czech Republic and I used to play professionally for some local teams as player and mostly coach. I play mostly Handlock on ladder (80% of games). I hit legend regularly every season and my peak was rank 17.
From those numbers you can tell I am a Handlock fanatic. It is my main deck and I customize my setup for tournaments around this deck. Today I want to teach you how to play Handlock on the latest patch – Blackrock Mountain patch.
Handlock is a deck that has been around for a very long time. It is very consistent as most of control heavy decks are. Why I chose Handlock as my main deck? Because I am a control-playstyle player and I find this deck most entertaining from control decks pool. Also many pros say, that Handlock is one of the hardest decks in the game since you have so many cards opening more ways to play a turn. You will find a lot of decisions to make in a single game. Way more than other decks such as Druid, Control Warrior, etc. If I should describe Handlock in a single sentence I would say: It is hard to master, but once you do reward is inevitable.
The gameplay differs a lot depending if you play against slow control decks or fast aggro decks. But from experience I can tell you that you will find way more satisfaction playing against control deck than aggro.
When playing Handlock the most important are first 4 turns.
Control – Mulligan for twilight-drake and mountain-giant. These days I do not even play Watcher + Owl combo, because of the amount of silence targets. The first 4 turns go usually like this if you go first: T1 pass, T2 tap, T3 tap, T4 drake/giant. If you go second: T1 pass T2 tap T3 coin drake or pass. It is also important to know whether to play first your Giant or Drake if you get both. Generally playing drake first to force removal on him is better. I will explain this below more detailed as people have been asking about this a lot.
Aggro – Mulligan aggressively for molten-giant, hellfire, sunfury-protector, ironbeak-owl and darkbomb. If I go second I might consider keeping twilight-drake. I keep ancient-watcher only when I have something to combo it with (Shadowflame/Sunfury Protector/Ironbeak Owl). The first 3 turns are crucial as you do anything to slow your opponent down so later in the game you can overwhelm him with big taunts and AoE spells.
With the addition of Blackrock Mountain expansion my eye caught up only 1 card: emperor-thaurissan. This card is truly amazing. It is a 5/5 body for 6 mana. That means, that the effect of the card costs us only 1 mana and it allows you to taunt up your big creatures earlier and makes it really hard for your opponent to predict your turns since they don’t know which cards got cheaper. As Handlock you will holy 8+ cards most of the time meaning 1 turn of Emperor will spare you A LOT of mana. Also it is one of those must-kill minions. If you leave it on the board it gets out of hand really fast. This card is the Loatheb of Blackrock Mountain.
2x sunfury-protector and 2x defender-of-argus – There are many aggressive/combo decks on the ladder at the moment so you will need a lot of taunts.
1x hellfire and 2x shadowflame – Generally Hellfire is good only when played early. Later in the game you will want to use Shadowflame.
2x antique-healbot – As Handlock you will be sitting on low health quite often. Healing for 8 for 5 mana is exactly what you need in case of dropping too low. You want to use this cards after molten-giant.
Handlock decks do not vary a lot. Biggest question is if you should play 1 or 2 copies of the card. It really depends on what fits you the most. If you can cut some of the copies like ironbeak-owl, defender-of-argus, antique-healbot, loatheb or siphon-soul I would recommend putting in sylvanas-windrunner and power-overwhelmingas it combos really well with shadowflame.
Mulligan and Match-ups
Reasoning etc. is described above in General Strategy content.
Match-ups differ mostly if you are standing against aggro or control, which if also described above. In this section I will tell you if you should play twilight-drake or mountain-giant first and why.
Shaman – Giant > Drake as it’s better if your opponent spends 3 mana hex than 1 mana earth-shock. I also keep Hellfire / Shadowflame against Shaman, because board clear is very important in this matchup.
Druid – If they have minion on board Giant > Drake, if they do not have a minion Drake > Giant. If they silence you on turn 4 without minion, you can still trade the drake for Keeper and follow-up with Giant.
Rogue – Drake > Giant. You force his removals on Drake so he will have less ways to deal with your giant.
Paladin (Control) – Drake > Giant. You want them rather to use aldor-peacekeeper on Drake than on Giant. Also try not to put down too many minions on board, as they can remove your entire board easily. If I can play 2 Molten Giants I play only 1 as they will probably use equality to remove it and you can answer with 2nd giant. Also keep your ironbeak-owl for aldor-peacekeeper targets and tirion-fordring
Warrior – Drake > Giant. You want them to use execute / Shield Slam on your Drake. I would also go for Watcher + Owl combo in this matchup to prevent them from armoring up and forcing a removal on watcher so they won’t have it on Giants / Drakes.
We can say I am a Handlock player exclusively. You will have hard time against Hunters. I can assure you with that. But once you will have some games played with the deck it will get easier. I have over 3000 wins on EU with Handlock meaning about 6000-7000 games played with it. Legend rank was never problem even in aggro heavy meta. My peak as stated in introduction was rank 17 and the funny thing is, that it was in Hunter meta in season 4. So anything is possible. Remember this: It is hard to master, but once you do it is highly rewarding. So don’t give up on the deck easily and try your best.
If you like this guide give it a thumbs up and feel free to leave a comment below. I hope this guide will help you on your road to legend and good luck!
P.S. Everything is possible! 🙂
I also provide coaching (not only Handlock), so if you are looking for improvement add me on skype: l.i.t.i.q