Hi guys, my nick name is Litiq and I am bringing you a Handlock guide with Naxxramas additions, but first of all let me introduce myself as this is my first guide. I play for team Inside Games (www.insidegames.cz) and use nick “Litiq”. I made it to legend every season (S1, S2, S3, S4) playing mostly Handlock and peaked at Legend #17. In Season 4 (July) I finished at Legend#35 using this deck exclusively.
Standard Handlock with additions from Naxx.
Let’s go through some card choices different from standard Handlock:
sludge-belcher – New interesting card. Imagine it as senjin-shieldmasta + harvest-golem with 1/2 token with taunt, which can mean difference between win and loss as it’s so annoying to deal with in case of lethal combos. Let’s compare it to sunwalker. Less vulnerable to Blood Knight and The Black Knight (as it leaves the 1/2 taunt token). In case of silence you have 1 attack point less, but it also costs 1 mana less.
Loatheb – Insane card mainly used to prevent combo turns like Leeroy + Shadowstep / Leeroy + Power Overwhelming / Force of Nature + Savage Roar. This card is very situational and must know when to be used. I also removed 1 Shadowflame, because Loatheb is a replacement for Gadgetzan + Conceal answer. At worst it’s a 5/5 body for 5 mana with battle cry effect.
2 hellfire + 1 Shadowflame – It works better against aggro than 1 Hellfire + 2 Shadowflames. Hellfire also provides damage to the enemy, which makes it easier to find lethal. If the meta shifts into more control decks I would use 1 Hellfire + 2 Shadowflames.
Mulligan & Game Strategy
Aggro – Mulligan aggressively for molten-giant, hellfire, sunfury-protector, ironbeak-owl and earthen-ring-farseer. 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).
Zoo – Your goal is to get to around 13-15 health then use Hellfire to clean board and put down your Molten Giants + Sunfury Protector/Defender of Argus combo. It is very important to know how much damage can your opponent do to you and protect yourself from lethal. Also do not be afraid to tap, you won’t win if you won’t find your plays anyways. This version of Handlock has lower curve than usual Handlock and uses 2 Hellfires so the matchup should be a little easier. Most of the games vs Zoo I aggressively tap to find my AoEs and Moltens, if I didn’t get them yet, and then Hellfire to clear board and taunt up 1/2 giants. I almost never Hellfire if there aren’t at least 4 minions on board if I am not in danger of lethal. The beauty of Zoo is, that they don’t have so much burst damage in hand. You just count damage on board and then depending on mana add a little bit up.
Hunter – This is one of the hardest matchups for Handlock. You easily do everything to reduce the amount of incoming damage such as coining Sunfury. Taunted Watchers are very strong in this matchup as Hunter has to spend their removal to get past it. In early and mid-game you try to stall to find your giants. Once you get it try to find a way to clear the board and then put down your giants. It is important to play around secrets. Most hunters will play freezing trap as they see Drake / Giant. Big mistake many players do is they attack with Drake / Giant to check the trap. Easily just put down smaller minion (Sunfury, Farseer, etc.) and next turn attack with smaller minion. Also keep in mind not to put down too many minions as they will get value from starving-buzzard + unleash-the-hounds. Against midrange it’s important to have silence for savannah-highmane.
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. If I go second and get Mountain Giant and Farseer I keep both (t2 Tap, t3 Farseer, t4 Giant). It is also important to know whether to play 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.
Keep in mind, that this describes situations, when you have both Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant. If you have just 1 of them play it regardless ordering described below.
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 fewer answers for your giant. I also keep Loatheb or Watcher + Shadowflame. You answer gadgetzan-auctioneer + conceal with Loatheb or Watcher + Shadowflame. Also don’t hesitate to Shadowflame your Drake / Giant if you have don’t have Loatheb / Watcher
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.
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.
Watcher + Owl – A lot of people asked me about this. I almost never do this combo in current meta cause of amount of silence targets (so many nerubian-egg). I do this play only against Priests (Innervate yeti is so good against them), Warrior (because you want to apply pressure so they can keep armoring up and want to force execute on it so they wont have it on giants).
Coin + Tap on Turn 1 – I used to do this more often, when the meta was slower. Now I do it only against Priests as they do not apply much pressure in early game. I used to do it against druids as well, but they are so fast now, so I stopped doing it. Also I do it only if my hand sucks and I need more answers. Generally you can do it against easy matchups.
Always watch your enemies Mulligan. Against Warlock you can mostly tell if it’s Handlock or Zoo. If they mulligan everything then it’s probably Handlock. If they keep 2 or more cards it is probably Zoo.
2nd Faceless Manipulator instead of 1 Sludge Belcher. If you meet a lot of Midrange / Control (basically non-aggro) decks, you might want to put in 1 extra Faceless.
2nd Shadowflame instead of 1 Hellfire. Same rule as with faceless, against non-aggro decks it is better (and Miracle especially).
2nd siphon-soul instead of Sludge Belcher / Loatheb if you have hard times with only 1.
Why no alexstrasza or lord-jaraxxus? – I basically do not like them, because they cost 9 mana, which means you can not do anything else that turn = they are too slow. If Alex costed 8 mana I would put her instantly in as enabling Alex + Sunfury combo without coin. If the meta will shift into more control-ish I will probably put Alex in.
In the last week of Season 4 when I created this deck I was playing it in top 100 legend on EU and worked fine. I peaked at Legend#17 with it and ended at Legend#32. This means it should be viable at all ranks so go ahead and try it! Don’t forget to leave your opinion and questions in comments and I will be glad to answer.
Also I provide coaching (not only Handlock), so if you are looking for improvement add me on skype: l.i.t.i.q