Mastering the Control Warlock: Beginner Guide

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections: Part 1: Beginner Guide Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices Part 3: Match-ups and Mulligans Control Warlock is a deck that was recently popularized by Eyecelance – he took it to high Legend ranks in both June […]

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Introduction

Control Warlock is a deck that was recently popularized by Eyecelance – he took it to high Legend ranks in both June and July season of 2015. The list is a mix between Handlock and the old Demon Warlock. It doesn’t have one particular win condition (like for example Malygos Warlock), it rather plays the value game and often grinds enemy down. A lot of games go way beyond 10 turns or even to fatigue.

The exact deck list we’re using is the one Sixis (from Team HSP) took to high Legend ranks in July season.

The deck isn’t quite as popular as many other Warlock archetypes like Handlock or Zoo Warlock, but it has seen some play from top Legend players and is really strong in the current meta.

Summary

Control Warlock is a well-rounded deck that has everything covered. Early game removals, Taunts and AoE as a protection against Aggro, strong mid game presence to stand chance against Midrange decks, Heals to get out of combos range and a high value cards to grind out other Control decks. The addition of different tech cards can boost different matchups significantly. If you enjoy slow, reactive decks that tend to win the game thanks to value of the cards – you should definitely check out this one.

Strengths:

  • A lot of removals, both single target and AoE.
  • 2x antique-healbot and 2x defender-of-argus make you very hard to kill.
  • Strong mid game and late game.
  • The deck is terrific in long, grindy games – it’s really hard to outvalue it.
  • Voidcaller allows huge tempo swings with Lord Jaraxxus and Mal’Ganis.
  • Since you have a lot of everything – Silence, removals, healing, Taunts – you rarely run out of answers.
  • Good matchups against many of the popular decks.

Weaknesses:

  • Games are really slow, so you give your opponents a lot of time to draw into cards they need.
  • Not running molten-giants make the big tempo swings at low health impossible.
  • Can be rushed down by a fast without drawing into early game answers.
  • Your mid game drops are vulnerable to Silence.
  • Two Big Game Hunters are bad against fast decks.
  • Really long games might make the deck not optimal to ladder with at lower ranks.

Favored against:

  • Patron Warrior
  • Control Warrior
  • Midrange Paladin
  • Freeze Mage
  • Handlock
  • Oil Rogue
  • Control Priest

Equal against:

  • Face Hunter
  • Tempo Mage
  • Zoo Warlock
  • Malygos Warlock

Unfavored against:

  • Midrange Druid
  • Midrange Hunter
  • Aggro Paladin
  • Mech Shaman

Note: Since the deck isn’t as widespread, some of the matchups listed above might be wrong because of rather small sample size.

Card Choices

Current deck list is really balanced to fight well against most of deck types, but specializes in slower matchups. We’re gonna go through the card list and explain each choice – why the card is here, what it does and how you should use it. To boost some of your matchups, especially Aggro ones, you can include some of the alternate or tech cards. To read about those, you can check out the Advanced part of the guide!

Mortal Coil

A very strong choice against faster decks. The 1 damage for 1 mana is not that big, but it gives Warlock a way to ping. The best way to use this card is to kill 1 health opponent minions – either small drops (like leper-gnome) or the ones damaged before. It helps killing minions that survived darkbomb or one of your AoEs. It also allows you to get efficient trades, especially with a lot of 1/1 tokens from imp-gang-boss and imp-losion. It might serve as a way to ping off the Divine Shield – it’s often better to use this than running your minions in. You can use it on your own 1 health minions if you need to cycle it or want to get rid of those (e.g. 1/1 minions against Patron Warrior). If you’re close to fatigue and don’t want to draw, use it as a 1 damage for 1 mana at high health minions instead of finishing them off.

Abusive Sergeant

Abusive Sergeant is a typical choice in Zoo Warlock, but also a good card in a deck running two copies of big-game-hunter. Not only it allows your mid game drops to trade up, it also has great synergy with the 1/1 Tokens. You can use one to deal 3 damage, which is usually more than enough to kill some small minion. The 2/1 body can trade into enemy minion, push for some damage or at least get some tempo if enemy wants to ping it. You can use Abusive Sergeant on enemy minions to activate the Big Game Hunter’s Battlecry. You can kill 5 or 6 attack minions with this combination, allowing you to get rid of minions like loatheb, emperor-thaurissan or even ancient-of-war.

Darkbomb

A standard 3 damage for 2 mana spell. It doesn’t have any additional effects like most of those, but it’s good enough. In the early game it allows you to destroy enemy small drops. In the mid game it helps you with trading or finishing off minions after the AoE. It’s your best source of unexpected “burst” damage from your hand. While the deck can’t really pull out a lot of burst, the 3-6 additional damage often helps when pushing for lethal.

Acidic Swamp Ooze

Anti-weapon tech card. Since the Warriors and Hunters are really popular on the ladder with Paladins and Rogues also being seen quite often, it’s really nice to have a way to destroy enemy weapon. There are two options – either acidic-swamp-ooze or Harrison Jones. The second one has an upside of drawing the card for each weapon charge. When you play Warlock, however, you don’t really need more draws. Your Hero Power is more than enough to supply you with all the cards you need. Ooze is a better tempo play, because you might drop something else besides him – which works great in some cases. You might also drop him as a 3/2 for 2 mana in matchups that don’t require weapon destruction. Not the best 2-drop, but it passes vanilla test.

Ironbeak Owl

Silence is really important in the current meta. Even if you don’t run ancient-watchers, two Silences are not wrong because most of enemy decks run more than one Silence target. In this deck, you aim to get the “value” Silences. Silencing minions with huge Deathrattles like sylvanas-windrunner or Tirion Fordring gives you a lot of value for a 2-drop. It’s great against Aggro – for example Silencing off the Aggro Paladin’s buffs or the Mad Scientist against Hunter is crucial. It’s great against all types of decks and since most of your games will be long, you can wait for the perfect targets.

Big Game Hunter

Another card with potential to get a lot of value. Big Game Hunter is usually an one-of tech card, but in this case we run two of them. The reason is simple – your games are long and you tap a lot so you can afford to have couple of potentially dead cards. With the help of Abusive Sergeant, you can bring the 5 or 6 damage minions into Big Game Hunter range, so it might even work against decks running no 7+ attack minions. And in the end, dropping him as a 4/2 for 3 mana is not the worst thing ever. Great card in slow matchups – against decks like Control Warrior or Handlock it’s really easy to find two BGH targets.

Imp Gang Boss

Really strong card that allows the early and mid game board control. It often takes enemy at least two hits to get rid of it, which means spawning two additional 1/1’s. Great against Aggro – it puts a lot of pressure on them and allows easy trading. Decent against slow decks – either as a way to deal with their smaller drops or to put something on the board they have to deal with. Good Defender of Argus target – making it a 3/5 Taunt that enemy doesn’t really want to hit because of spawning more minions. It shines around turn 3-4, but it’s not the worst drop in the late game too.

Hellfire

The first AoE you run – it’s unconditional 3 AoE damage for 4 mana. Really strong. The only problem is that it also damages your own minions, but that’s a price you can pay. Great tool against Aggro decks – you can often clear most of their board on turn 4. Great way to deal with Patron Warrior combos. Awesome against decks that are based around board control, like Zoo Warlock. They often clear everything you play, so for the most time your board is empty anyway. The 3 damage to enemy Hero might serve as a way to push for lethal. You sometimes also want to damage your own minions – like Voidcaller to push out a Demon from your hand or Sylvanas Windrunner to force a minion steal.

Imp-losion

Imp-losion is a really swingy card. Not only it removes enemy minions, it also puts a lot of tokens on your side of the board. While the card is really RNG-dependant, the average outcome – 3 damage – is good enough to include the card. If you roll 2, that’s bad, but on the other hand, 4 roll is awesome. Remember that going for risky play and trying to kill enemy 4 health minion with your Imp-losion is not always the best idea. You can control the RNG a little by having other cards or ways to help the card. For example, if enemy minion is at 4 health and you really need to kill it – try to have a plan B like finishing it off with Darkbomb or a minion in case the RNG fails. If enemy plays Sludge Belcher and you have some minions on the board – just play the Imp-losion first and then trade depending on how much damage it dealt. So while the bad roll can sometimes screw you, if you don’t use it too risky it’s always a good card. I’ve learned the hard way that trying to kill a 3 health Grim Patron with Imp-losion is not necessarily a good play.

Shadowflame

The second AoE. Compared to the Hellfire, on the one hand it’s conditional – it requires you to have a minion on the board. That means you rarely can use it on turn 4 to clear board against Aggro. But on the other hand, it might deal much more than 3 damage at the cost of sacrificing one minion. And the good thing is that there are some minions you don’t mind sacrificing. Using the Voidcaller as a Shadowflame activator means that you get one random Demon from your hand out. Using Sylvanas Windrunner means that you steal a random enemy minion that survives the damage. You might boost AoE damage with your Abusive Sergeant – using him on a minion before sacrificing it boosts the AoE by 2 damage. It means that even a 1/1 Token can serve as a way to deal 3 AoE damage.

Defender of Argus

Defender of Argus is a really important part of the deck, especially good against Aggro and Combo decks. Taunts protect your life total and also get rid of enemy board by forcing enemy minions to attack into them. Turning ANY minion you want into Taunt is even stronger. The deck uses a lot of high health or Deathrattle minions, which are perfect Taunt targets. You might change your Twilight Drake into ancient-of-war or Lord Jaraxxus into a 4/16 Taunt which is almost impossible to get through without Silence or hard removal. A really flexible minion – can serve both defensive and offensive purposes. Use Defender of Argus when you want to switch the gears and start pushing for damage. Enemy is gonna be busy dealing with your big Taunts while you can just attack them. The 2/3 body is not really big, but might either trade with their small drop or even serve as a way to activate a 2 damage Shadowflame.

Twilight Drake

Very strong 4-drop in the decks that tend to hoard a lot of cards. Since you Life Tap a lot and you rarely keep less than 5-6 cards in your hand, Twilight Drake will usually be a huge minion. Dropping let’s say a 4/8 minion on turn 4 is really strong. It often trades for 2 or even 3 enemy minions. It can be a huge Taunt thanks to Defender of Argus. It scales really well into the late game – even on turn 10 it works pretty well. The only flaw of the minion is how vulnerable it is to Silence. Silence removes all the additional health and reverts it back to a 4/1 minion. Pretty crushing blow. If not Silenced, however, it’s a solid 4-drop that allows you to dominate the mid game.

Voidcaller

The bread and butter of this deck. The 3/4 stats for 4 mana are bad, but it’s not about those. If not Silenced, the effect can give you a huge tempo swing. Even getting out your smallest Demon – Imp Gang Boss – is fine. You get a 3-drop for 4 mana that spawns another 3-drop on Deathrattle. Pretty strong. But the real fun begins with your big Demons – Lord Jaraxxus and Mal’Ganis. The first one is a 3/15, so it can help you with a lot of trades. While against some decks you want to use him from your hand, against faster decks dropping a 3/15 on the board is much more valuable. Taunting him up means a 4/16 Taunt as early as turn 5, which usually completely swings the game. Mal’Ganis on the other hand is much more aggressive drop – not only you can push for a lot of damage each turn, enemy is forced to kill it or he can’t attack you at all. Both of those options on turn 5 are great. You almost never have to play your big Demons from the hand thanks to the Voidcaller. The only way to really counter Voidcaller is Silence, but then enemy won’t have Silences for your Drakes, Sylvanas, Taunts etc.

Antique Healbot

Antique Healbots are used for two purposes – to counter the damage enemy has dealt before you stabilized and as an offset to the amount of Life Tapping you do. Aggro decks tend to deal a lot of damage in the early turns, so having a way to regain up to 16 Health is really crucial. The 3/3 body for 5 mana is small, but it’s a minion nonetheless and can be utilized in some way. The good thing about not running Molten Giants and getting Jaraxxus as a minion on the board is that you can use them whenever you feel like. If you’re at 20 health against combo deck, you might as well use your Healbot to be safe. Handlock often can’t do that because he risks not being able to play Moltens for the rest of the game. Against Control decks they may seem less useful, but since you Life Tap a lot you are bound to get lower and Healbots will eventually get the value. In many slow games I get below 20 health without enemy even hitting me one time.

Sludge Belcher

A solid 5-drop. An unconditional Taunt is really important – you can always drop him, while Defender of Argus requires some prior board presence or a lot of mana to drop minions and Argus on the same turn. Sludge Belcher is especially good in faster matchups, giving you a great turn 5 play. A nice way to stabilize and get back into the board. Good thing to put late game into the board to protect against certain combos. It’s pretty hard to get through since it requires at least two hits – first for the main body and second for the 1/2 Slime. A well-rounded minion that can get some value or stall the game, but it doesn’t do too much by itself – you need another things after stabilizing.

Emperor Thaurissan

While Emperor Thaurissan fits the combo decks more, you can’t really pass his value in the deck like that. You constantly have at least 5-6 cards in your hand, often you end few turns in a row with 8-9 cards. Even one turn of Thaurissan might get a great value. Most of your cards don’t particularly benefit from discounts, but overall, playing them for less is never bad. The one that gets great combo with Thaurissan is Lord Jaraxxus. 8 mana Jaraxxus means that you can get to use your Hero Power (spawn a 6/6 Infernal) on the same turn you play him. A huge boost to tempo to the otherwise very slow card.

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas Windrunner is an interesting card – an easiest way to get a mind-control outside of Priest. While the 5/5 stats for 6-drop aren’t great and dropping her against empty board is not the best play ever, sometimes Sylvanas might get a lot of value. Really strong against slow decks like Handlock or Control Warrior – great way to get a lot of value. Not only she might kill something, but also steal another minion. If you Taunt her up, enemy has no way to ignore her and go for your face. You can combo her with Shadowflame for a 5 damage AoE and stealing random enemy minion that survives (or pops from Deathrattle like 2-drop from piloted-shredder). She’s really vulnerable to Silence, but with so many smaller drops requiring Silence (Twilight Drake, Voidcaller) the chances are that enemy won’t have one for your Sylvanas once you drop her. She’s a little too slow against Aggro decks, but sometimes might slow enemy down by making it awkward for him to drop more things into the board.

Dr. Boom

The (in)famous Dr. Boom – probably the best all-around 7-drop currently in the game. Auto-include in a lot of the decks for a good reason – it’s really strong. While the first body often gets taken down by Big Game Hunter or some other removal, the 1/1 Boom Bots can do a lot. They deal a total of 4-10 damage to opponents if you sacrifice them into enemy minions – even though it’s random, you sometimes kill 2 or even 3 small minions thanks to the damage. Great at controlling the board or even dealing some damage to the enemy. If the 7/7 body won’t get answered, it’s also pretty huge and can push for a lot of damage and get great trades. So, in the best case scenario, Dr. Boom might destroy a board full of minions by itself. Auto-include into most of the slower decks.

Lord Jaraxxus

The first of your big Demons. This card has two purposes. The first one is value one. Used mainly against slower, Control decks. You want to play him as soon as you can and change your Hero Power. A 6/6 for 2 mana every turn means that enemy is gonna have really hard time dealing with your board. You just need couple of turns to completely outvalue most of the slower decks. The 3/8 weapon also helps with pushing for damage – attack with it every turn, if you have no good minion target just hit enemy Hero – the game is gonna end sooner than those 8 turns anyway – either you win the game because enemy had no answers or enemy rushed you down because you have 15 health. The second use is to use it as a minion – it’s much better against fast, rushy decks. Getting out a 3/15 minion into the board means that it’s gonna gain a lot of value. 15 health allows him to stay on the board for a lot of turns, killing all their small drops. Great Defender of Argus target – if enemy has no way to get through it, you pretty much won the game.

Mal’Ganis

A cherry on the top. mal’ganis is an incredibly strong card – giving your Hero an immunity is something that can save your skin in many dire situations. You can say that he has a Taunt, but he’s even better when hidden behind other Taunts. If enemy has no way to deal with it, you’re probably gonna win the game pretty quickly. Usually the best thing you can get from Voidcaller – a 9/7 minions that can’t be ignored, on turn 5, is something many decks can’t deal with. The +2/+2 buff for all your Demons is incredibly strong in conjunction with all the 1/1 Imps – they’re classified as Demons, so they become 3/3. It’s a huge difference and seemingly small board of four 1/1’s can push for 12 damage thanks to Mal’Ganis. Mal’Ganis is great way to seal the game – dropping him on already strong board usually means that you can push for damage and you don’t have to worry about enemy rushing you down.

General Strategy

Control Warlock is a rather slow, grindy deck. The only way to win the game early is a huge tempo swing with Voidcaller – if not, the games are gonna last pretty long. Since the games are long and you draw a lot of cards, you face a lot of decision. Even though the deck is easier than Handlock, it’s still not the deck we can recommend to new players.

The general aim is to Life Tap a lot and outvalue enemy – most of the decks are gonna run out of cards (or at least answers) in their hand before you do. If you get a good board presence and enemy is already out of answers, you can start pushing him with your late game minions. Matches against other slow, Control decks like Control Warrior or Handlock might even go to fatigue, so prepare for that – don’t take inefficient trades and don’t throw away your cards without getting value.

Early Game

When it comes to the drops, your early game is pretty slow. The only 2-drop you have is Acidic Swamp Ooze and in a lot of matchups you don’t even want to drop him on turn 2. Actually, even against opponents that run no weapons sometimes you prefer to Life Tap over dropping Ooze on turn 2. It depends on a lot of things – whether enemy has something on the board, what deck you face or even the quality of your hand.

Against faster decks, both Mortal Coil and Darkbomb can be useful – since you run no Mountain Giants, the merits of Life Tapping on first turns are much lesser. If you face the slow deck, however, Life Tap on turn 2 is usually correct – you want to have more options.

The best thing you can do on turn 3 is dropping Imp Gang Boss. Against fast decks it slows them down, allows you to do really good trades. It keeps them busy so you have more time to draw into cards you really want. What’s good about Imp Gang Boss is that when you drop him on 3, a lot of players will think that you’re a Zoo Warlock, just having a slow start. Even more if you follow him with something like Voidcaller or Imp-losion. If that’s the case, it’s really good, because enemy might use their removals on your smaller drops thinking that he needs to keep the board clear or you’re gonna rush him down.

If you know that enemy deck runs no Big Game Hunter targets or if the enemy is putting a lot of early pressure on you, dropping it on turn 3 may be a good play. Imp Gang Boss is much better play, but sometimes you have no other option.

Mid Game

Mid game is when the deck really starts shining. Both of your 4-drops are very strong in their own way. Sadly, both of them are also weak against Silence, but since you run a lot of Silence targets, it’s not likely that enemy is gonna deal with all of them.

Twilight Drake is a better overall option. It’s rarely smaller than 4/6 even if you used some cards before. When you drop him on turn 4, he’s usually between 4/7 and 4/9 – pretty huge for a 4-drop. It trades well with all enemy early drops and with small help can be used to kill their 5-drops or 6-drops. Great proactive play – Twilight Drake is a good turn 4 play pretty much always, no matter what enemy board looks like or what cards you keep in your hand. voidcaller has bigger potential, but is more conditional and depends on whether you have another Demons in your hand. He’s especially great when you have Jaraxxus or Mal’Ganis, but another Voidcaller or Imp Gang Boss are also good. Voidcaller allows you to take back the tempo you’ve lost by early tapping or against the decks that are heavily tempo-based. If you don’t have any other play, you might drop him even if you don’t have a Demon in your hand to bait Silence. Enemies also often just ignore it, so by the time it’s dead you may actually draw into some Demons. defender-of-argus is not really a 4-drop, because you rarely use him on turn 4. Turn 5 or 6 is a more common sight, after you’ve dropped some of your mid game stuff into the board.

Control enemy board. It’s really important – you don’t really want to push for damage in the mid game and if you take the game slowly, you’re usually gonna win it. Imp-losion, Darkbomb and Mortal Coil all help you with getting good trades. Your AoEs are great against decks that flood the board. In case something goes wrong and enemy tries to rush you, either Sludge Belcher or Defender of Argus should save you. antique-healbot shouldn’t be used on turn 5 unless you’re under really high pressure. It helps you at surviving, but not at stabilizing. A 3/3 for 5 mana is not really good minion to fight for board control – and healing without having board control is just moving your death away by one turn. Sometimes you have to do that and hope you draw into a good play or board clear, but generally if you can choose between putting Taunts and Healing when enemy has some minions on the board – go for the first one. Antique Healbot is really great once you stabilize and gain board control. Then, healing back often seals the game because you move out of range of enemy burn.

Do not sacrifice too much tempo for using your Hero Power. Life Tapping is really good but it slows you down. For example, on turn 4 you should use a 4-drop if you have one. Tapping every turn is not a common sight in the mid game and you generally shouldn’t do that, because you don’t have too much spare mana yet. If you however get a good opportunity to Tap – take it. A good example is turn 5. If you’re under much pressure and enemy is trying to rush you down – dropping the Belcher is a good idea. But if enemy has an empty board and you actually have some board presence, you can easily go for the Life Tap + Imp Gang Boss instead. This way you end up with one more card and you can drop Sludge Belcher later – when you’re gonna really need it.

Late Game

This deck runs a pretty strong late game. All the big minions are high quality and can get a lot of value. But what’s even more important is that unlike most of your enemies – you draw two cards per turn. There are certain turns when you don’t want to Life Tap because you already have full hand or because you use your whole mana for dropping a big bomb – but generally that’s the deck’s strength. Other classes have to use additional cards to draw – you don’t need to. If you play long games, it’s really important. For example – if you face a slow Mage deck that uses 2x arcane-intellect to draw cards, that’s actually two cards that do something less. Decks that need to run card draw have to sacrifice either their answers (like Silence or removals) or their threats to put the card draw instead. You don’t have to.

The pair of 6-drops – Emperor Thaurissan and Sylvanas Windrunner. Both are 5/5 for 6 mana with really strong effects. Thaurissan you might drop as soon as turn 6 hits. A lot of combo decks tend to keep him until they get their key cards. You don’t have any key cards you really need to discount – while there are better and worse discount targets, discounting just about anything is good as long as you have a lot of cards in your hand. If you can afford to wait with him, you might try to draw into Lord Jaraxxus first – discounting him to 8 is really strong in the matchups when you intend to actually use him from your hand, not drop him on the board via Voidcaller. Emperor is also strong because it has quasi-Taunt. Enemy HAS to deal with it or you get too much value. You don’t mind that, because you’ve got enough value after the first discount AND you baited enemy removal. Obviously, if it stays on the board for couple of turns it’s even better – playing your cards for almost free is never a bad deal. Sylvanas, on the other hand, you often don’t want to drop on turn 6. It’s that one minion that can either get a lot of value or be a plain 5/5 for 6 mana. It gets no instant value unlike Thaurissan and it’s vulnerable to Silence. But if it works – it can get a lot of value. You want to drop her when enemy has couple of minions on the board. It’s especially good when enemy has no way to sacrifice all of them into your other minions or Sylvanas. It means that he either kills her and you steal something or he ignores her and you get a great Defender of Argus or Shadowflame target. Silence hurts, but as I’ve already said, enemy is rarely gonna have the Silence considering both of your 4-drops are really high priority Silence targets.

Dr. Boom is obviously an awesome turn 7 play. What’s great about him is that he works no matter if you’re ahead on behind – he can either be used to catch up or to solidify your board advantage. Either way, it’s really strong. The main body is vulnerable to big-game-hunter, but as you already know, the Boom Bots can do almost as much. If it’s turn 7 and you don’t know what to do, Dr. Boom is almost never a bad play.

Dr. Boom is probably your biggest drop that is not situational. When it comes to lord-jaraxxus, against faster decks you want to get him from Voidcaller. A 3/15 in the mid game is much more valuable than your new Hero Power in the distant future. And when it comes to using him from your hand – you need to prepare for that. First, you need to judge whether enemy deck can burst you. Against certain decks like Patron Warrior or Midrange Druid it might be right to actually never use him from your hand. And against decks like Control Priest or Ramp Druid, you should probably drop him on the first opportunity, because enemy won’t likely burst you from 15 and the new Hero Power is very strong. There is no general rule when you should drop Jaraxxus – every game looks different. With some experience you’re gonna be able to tell when is the best time to do so.

Mal’Ganis is also a little tricky. You also prefer to get him from Voidcaller – he’s the biggest target you can get and a nice tempo swing. But there are times when you have to drop him from your hand. When to do that? First of all, just using him on the empty board without it getting instant value is usually bad. A 9/7 minion dies to Big Game Hunter and to any other hard removal, while you expect the value from your 9-drop. He’s best when you already have some Demons on your board. A board with five 1/1’s can deal 15 damage – it means that it can easily clear at least 2-3 enemy minions. It’s important because it means instant value – even if the Mal’Ganis dies after you end your turn, he already did a lot. Another way to use him is as a protection. If you play against an Aggro deck and you’ve survived until turn 9, Mal’Ganis often seals the game – enemy will rarely have a way to get rid of the 7 health body and kill you. Mal’Ganis is pretty safe to drop when enemy has already used a lot of removals. If enemy isn’t likely to have more removals and you don’t have anything else to do – sure, you might drop him on the board even without getting instant value. After all, the 9/7 minion is really good by itself if not removed – pushing for that much damage every turn means you put enemy on a rather short clock.

Board control is still the most important thing. You run no bursty combo or a way to push for a lot of damage, so there is no point in ignoring minions and attacking enemy face when he’s at high health. If you already took him low – Taunting up and going for the face might be a legit strategy. But don’t try to out-tempo other decks, because you’re not gonna have a way to finish the game after you lose the board. Big Game Hunter shines in the late game – running two copies is pretty neat considering that you can combo it with Abusive Sergeant. Most of your mid game removals and minions scale well into the late game, so you shouldn’t run out of ways to clear the board of the threats. Use your spells over minions – there is rarely a merit in running let’s say a 3/2 minion into something instead of using a Darkbomb.

Since most of your Control games will take a long time – be efficient. Try to not overkill enemy minions, do not play into enemy removals and board wipes, do the trades yourself etc. This way you maximize the value you’re gonna get over a long period of time. While things like that usually don’t end up mattering in a tempo games, in value games you want to maximize the efficiency of every card. When the game goes into the fatigue, the one who played more efficient and got more value usually wins.

Because of that, it’s important to identify which matchups are more tempo based and which are more value based. Good example of tempo based matchup is game against Hunter. The game will never last to the fatigue – either enemy kills you or you stabilize and turn the game around in couple of turns. In this matchup, you don’t care that much about value – overkilling enemy minions or not getting the full value of cards is fine, your cards have much more overall value anyway. On the other hand, matchup like Control Priest or Control Warrior is value-based. It’s gonna be really slow and no one will be rushing anyone (usually). This means that you don’t have to get so much tempo. For example, getting Jaraxxus into the board on turn 5 via Voidcaller might not be a good play at all. Enemy might just kill it right away without you getting any value – and if you’ve used it from your hand, it would help you in a long value game.

From my experience, the deck rarely loses the late game war. But if it happens that you start running out of cards and enemy still has some big threats or answers, you need to change the gears a bit. If you identify that you won’t win the value game and will just run out of cards before the enemy – you need to rush him down. It often doesn’t work, but if that’s your only way to win, it’s better to try it. It means that you might play Big Game Hunter without actually having a target and things like that – put your minions into the board to seal the game in couple of turns before you completely run out of threats. It’s not the case if you’re in Jaraxxus form – this way you actually never run out of threats and the enemy has to rush you if he wants to win.

Win Conditions

The deck doesn’t have one clear win condition. A lot of the cards can be considered win conditions, depending on the matchup and the situation. But here are couple of most notable ways you can win the game:

  • Mid game push. Your mid game minions are really strong, especially your 4-drops. If enemy happens to have no Silence or other answer for them and you swing the tempo with a good Voidcaller, you might win the game around turn 6 or 7. Defender of Argus can help with that plan, putting two big Taunts and pushing for damage is sometimes a good game plan.
  • Big drops. The deck can easily overwhelm enemy with bigger drops if he finds no answers. The quality of big minions is really high and every of them is a threat by itself. Especially if you got some strong mid game, enemy might have used a lot of removals already and you’re free to roll with your big legendaries.
  • Grinding enemy down. That’s the most common win condition against slower deck – you just play the value game all the time, while often drawing 2 cards per turn, and you often run enemy out of answers or even cards at all. Then you start to hit his face and win the game.
  • Taunts & Heals. It’s the win condition against faster decks. The deck has a really easy time stabilizing in the mid game. If you survive the initial push, Taunting up and then healing usually puts you completely out of range, making this deck a pretty solid choice even against faster decks.

Closing

The numbers don’t lie – a lot of players, including myself, took the deck to high Legend ranks. It works really well against the current meta and honestly, it’s gonna work well against most of the metas. The deck is well-rounded and by changing couple of cards or adding some tech choices, you can make it strong against pretty much any opponent.

We definitely recommend you to try this deck by yourself and share your thoughts. Playing it in Control matchup is a good way to learn a lot about the efficiency and value as well as how important your every small decision can be in a long run.

If you want to read more about advanced strategies, alternate and tech cards, matchups and mulligans – check out the rest of the guide. If you have any suggestions, questions or just want to talk about the guide – please write in the comments sections below!

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Team HSP

Team HSP is a group of professional Hearthstone players. Consist some of the top players of the game and we love sharing our knowledge through articles and guides such as this. These guides are the result of hundreds hours of playing, research and analyzing games by the team. We hope you find these guides useful!