This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections for more info on this deck:
- Part 1: Beginner Guide
- Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices
- Part 3: Match-ups and Mulligans
Grim Patron Warrior is a combo based deck that hit the spotlight shortly after Blackrock Mountain release. The expansion introduced a card from which the deck took its name – grim-patron. At first, the card was pretty underrated and most of pro players didn’t think it will see any kind of play. Grim Patron, however, was just a finishing touch to another list. Razor’s Math Warrior was the deck with really similar play style and win condition. It didn’t emerge on the ladder because it was really hard to play, but barely competitive. Introduction of Grim Patron and some other changes polished the deck enough to make it top tier one in almost no time.
Patron Warrior revolves around warsong-commander combos. Deck’s main win conditions are Warsong Commander + Grim Patron and Warsong Commander + frothing-berserker, but almost every minion in your deck can get the charged to clear the board, finish enemy off or draw cards.
The deck has changed a lot since its discovery, but for the last 2 months the deck completely dominates the ladder and is classified as Tier 1. Most players believe that it’s the strongest deck in the game.
Grim Patron Warrior is also incredibly cheap and accessible. Besides the first wing of Blackrock Mountain unlocked, you only need to pay 760 dust to craft it yourself.
Patron Warrior’s game plan in the early game is controlling the board. You want to use your weapons and small drops to clear enemy’s minions and use your card draws to cycle through the deck. You want to assemble the combo pieces by the mid game and start unleashing them as early as turn 5-6. Depending on the opponent, you can either play the slow game and try to kill him in one / two turns, or you can steadily throw your combos into the board to contest what they play and dominate them. If you like the hard to play, combo decks with a potential to deal 30+ damage in one turn, Grim Patron is a great choice.
- Deck is pretty consistent
- It has lot of card draw / cycle
- It can defend itself against Aggro decks
- It beats most of the popular ladder decks
- Deck has potential to kill enemy in one turn without any board presence
- If you don’t get answers for early threats, you can get rushed down
- Not drawing into Warsong Commander might cripple your whole game plan
- Patron Combos are weak against 3+ damage AoE
- Big Taunts might stop your advance
- Face Hunter
- Zoo Warlock
- Tempo Mage
- Midrange Druid
- Freeze Mage
- Midrange Paladin
- Aggro Paladin
- Control Priest
- Control Warrior
- Malygos Warlock
- Mech Shaman
- Midrange Hunter
- Oil Rogue
- Ramp Druid
Inner Rage is a spell version of the cruel-taskmaster. Like its minion counterpart, it has couple of purposes in the deck. The important thing about it is 0 mana cost, which means it can be squeezed into any turn you want. The first use of the card is cycle. When you drop acolyte-of-pain and use Inner Rage on it, it cycles the card for 0 mana and makes your Acolyte 3/2. You might also use it to get one more draw from battle-rage. The second use is spawning an additional grim-patron or pumping up frothing-berserker when you’re doing your combos. Here, it’s really important that it costs 0. With pre-equipped deaths-bite at 1 charge, you might drop Grim Patron on turn 5, Inner Rage it, hit with the weapon and finish with a total of 4 Patrons (2 of which are still at full health). You can also fit it into turn 8 combos with warsong-commander easily. The third purpose is using it on enemy minions to clear them or activate execute. Great against decks like Face Hunter, where you can clear their 1-drops for 0 mana.
The only real big removal in the deck. Since the deck runs so many whirlwind effects, activating it is really easy. It’s great at stalling the game or getting through their big Taunts. Removing big enemy minion for 1 mana gives you a lot of tempo. You can also fit it into your combos to remove key enemy minions or push for lethal by executing a Taunt. Try to not throw them out if you don’t have to, since those are your only way to deal with enemy big drops.
Really important card, which also serves many purposes. Against Aggro decks, it might clear a lot of enemy minions. When you have Acolyte of Pain on the board, it activates it and draws you a card. When it comes to the card draw, it combos nicely with Battle Rage – you might draw a lot of cards if you combine those two with some board presence on your side. It works as an activator for your combos – both Grim Patron and Frothing Berserker benefits greatly from that card. On top of that, with help of armorsmiths, you might get a lot of Armor which is amazing against Aggro and Combo decks. The deck runs other cards which do the same thing as this one – those all together are called “Whirlwind effects”.
Fiery War Axe
Your first weapon and THE card you want in the early game. It contests almost all 1-drop and 2-drops and can kill most of mid game minions when combined with slam or your small minions. You want to mulligan for it in almost any matchup, because it’s your main tool to control the game during the first turns. Later in the game it’s not that good any more, because generally you want deaths-bite instead, but it still can be used to clear their leftover small drops, activate the Execute on their big minion or just deal 6 damage to the face over 2 turns. It combos with your dread-corsair, making it cost only 1 mana.
Your main source of card draw, and probably the biggest “hidden op” card in the game. For 2 mana, you draw one card per each damaged character on your side. Your Hero also counts as a character, so in most of cases that one draw is guaranteed. It means that combined with some Whirlwind effect, you might easily draw 4-5 cards for 2 mana. It has great synergy with Grim Patron, because you want to put damage on those, and often you end up with almost full board of damaged Patrons. Great in combination with emperor-thaurissan, because getting discount on almost full hand is never bad, and if you get the Battle Rage discounted it’s much easier to fit it into your turn.
Slam has two main purposes – board control and cycle. It might be used on enemy 2-drops like knife-juggler to deal with them if you don’t get your Fiery War Axe. The second purpose is cycling. If you use it on a minion with 3 or more health, you draw a card. It thins your deck, which means you draw to your combo pieces more consistently. It also serves as an execute activator. You don’t want to use your Whirlwind effects if you have nothing on the board that benefit from it, and using Inner Rage / Cruel Taskmaster pretty much wastes the card. Slam on the other hand cycles itself, and it means that it activates your Execute for free.
Mainly an anti-Aggro and anti-Combo tech, but it works pretty well against any deck. 4 health on turn 2 is hard to be contested. The 1 attack is pretty low, but is good enough against fast decks. It is great at dealing with enemy 1-drops. It’s good when combo’ed with either inner-rage or cruel-taskmaster, it makes Armorsmith a 3/3 for 2 mana, whilt still keeping its effect. The effect itself is fine on the first turns, but you’re probably not gonna get more than 2-3 Armor from it. It excels later in the game, when you can combine it with a lot of friendly minions and Whirlwind effects. Those turns are great to put you out of the reach of Aggro and Combo decks. With 2 Armorsmiths and couple of other minions, you might easily get over 20 Armor in one turn. It ruins the day of decks like Freeze Mage, which have limited burn and often can’t get through so much health. Playing against decks that want to combo you, you might want to not drop Armorsmith on turn 2, but rather wait to get much more value on later turns.
It does the same things as Inner Rage, but gives you a 2/2 body for 2 mana. The body is pretty nice early in the game, especially against the fast decks. It might kill a 1-drop with Battlecry and then trade for something, giving you 2 for 1. Later in the game, the 2/2 is pretty negligible, and the 2 mana cost makes it harder to fit into the combos. If you manage to fit it, though, you might charge for 2 damage into something, as a way to get through the Taunt, clear the board or boost Frothing Berserker’s attack. Acolyte of Pain + Cruel Taskmaster is a pretty decent turn 5 play if you aren’t under much pressure.
A 1/3 Taunt for 2 mana, not the best, but that’s not really what the card is about. It gives you an additional Whirlwind effect and a way to protect your more valuable drops. It’s great against Aggro, when dropped on turn 2 it contests pretty much anything they might have played. Against some decks, you might drop it on turn 2 if you have an Acolyte of Pain follow-up on turn 3. It’s also great when you drop it alongside armorsmith or grim-patron. Enemy is usually forced to kill it, which means more Armor / Patrons for you. You might also charge it into something thanks to warsong-commander to buff your Frothing Berserker. Great fit in the Patron Warrior deck.
Acolyte of Pain
Your second source of card draw. Most of the times it at least forces 3+ damage from enemy and cycles itself. If enemy uses an early removal like frostbolt or darkbomb on it, you’ve gained card advantage. It might draw up to 3 cards, but 2 cards is the most common instance. Against fast decks, you often want to drop it on turn 3 to contest their early drops. Against slower decks, you probably want to wait to combo it with something like whirlwind or cruel-taskmaster to guarantee at least 2 draws. Getting 3 draws is great because your one card cycled three, which is pretty big in combo deck. It might also serve as an Execute activator if you already have it on the board or charge it with Warsong. If used this way, just like slam, it cycles itself.
Your main win condition against slower decks. On the paper, it’s a pretty good 3-drop, with 2/4 stats and snowball effect. In reality, you often don’t want to drop it on turn 3, but rather wait for the late game combos. Aggro decks are exception, dropping it on turn 3 is a decent play, because it essentially has a Taunt – it forces enemy to deal with it because it’s gonna spiral out of control in very short time. Against slow, Control decks, it’s your main way to chop through their health. If you combine it with Warsong Commander and couple of Whirlwind effects (you can get up to 3 without it dying), one Frothing may deal over 20 damage. With help of emperor-thaurissan, you might easily get two on the board along with some smaller minions. It gets better with each additional minion on the board. It means that sometimes you want to bait enemy into flooding the board, which may turn the seemingly terrible situation into easy win. With some preparations, it allows you to OTK enemy with nothing on the board.
Warsong Commander is the most important card in the deck. It makes most of the combos available. While Grim Patron and Frothing Berserker are good by themselves, without the Charge in most of the cases they would be removed before having an opportunity to attack. This card guarantees your Frothing Berserker to hit at least once. In case of Grim Patron, every new Patron that’s spawned also gets Charge. It allows the new Patron to attack into something, possibly cloning itself and getting Charge again. Against a board with a lot of 1 and 2 attack minons, the combo usually clears the board and leaves you with couple of Patrons. Warsong Commander also allows you to charge your smaller minions to deal additional damage or clear the board. Charging an Unstable Ghoul can clear their minions or buff your Frothing thanks to its Deathrattle. Charing Acolyte of Pain draws you a card, maybe even an Execute you need in order to survive. You don’t want to drop Warsong Commander into the board without any combos, unless you’re desperate or completely sure that it won’t die until your next turn. This minion is really valuable, and you have only two of those, so don’t waste them!
Your second weapon, and one of the key cards in the deck. You want this card against most of the decks so much that you’re often gonna mulligan for it. It’s great at keeping the board control in mid game, but it’s main purpose is the whirlwind effect. When you’re on the second charge of your Death’s Bite, it’s something like an on-demand Whirlwind. It doesn’t cost you anything to swing for the second time, and that’s why it might fit your combos easily. You want to use the second charge only when you have some minions on the board that are gonna benefit from it. For example, really popular play is equipping Death’s Bite and attacking with it on turn 4, then dropping grim-patron + inner-rage and attacking with your Axe once again on turn 5. It leaves you with 4 Patrons on the board, which is really hard to clear on turn 5. Second charge is also a great keep until turn 8, when you get your Warsong Commander combos – you might boost them heavily with a free Whirlwind effect. Also, when you have Death’s Bite equipped, you might play your dread-corsair for free, which gives you a nice tempo boost. When you get your Death’s Bite and some of the combo pieces, things rarely go wrong. Be careful, however, and don’t pre-equip it without attacking against a deck that might be running an acidic-swamp-ooze or harrison-jones.
This card is not the most important one, but it’s a nice addition. 3/3 with Taunt isn’t really a big threat, but the important thing is how it combos with your weapons. You might get him out for 1 or 0 mana if you have one of your weapons equipped. It means that you push the tempo in your favor, because the minion’s real mana value is 3. You don’t want to use him for 4 mana unless you need to do that in order to survive. It combos nicely with Warsong Commander, because you might easily get a 0 mana 3/3 with Charge when you’re pushing for lethal. The good thing about Dread Corsair is that it’s almost never wrong to play him, so if your hand gets clogged (for example you’ve drawn a lot of cards with battle-rage), you might just throw him on the board for some presence. Dread Corsair might also be used as a way to protect your more valuable minions from enemy minions / weapons.
Even though Gnomish Inventor is not the key card, it’s still really important part of the deck. Card’s main role is to cycle through your deck and put something on the board. 2/4 body may not be threatening, but it can trade into enemy lower drops, and it has to be dealt with. In worst case scenario, it just takes a hit or two and puts some damage on enemy minions. And that’s fine, because usually you want to slow enemy down until you draw into your combos. Due to 2 attack, it might be charged with Warsong Commander, but the combo won’t be used that much, because the 4 mana cost on Gnomish Inventor is too much. Since the card has 4 health, there is a chance it’s gonna survive until your next turn to serve as an activator for battle-rage. You want to throw them on the board as soon as you can, because later in the game you might not get an opportunity to use 4 mana to cycle.
Grim Patron is the card the deck took name from. It’s your second win condition, best against decks running a lot of small creatures and the ones with no big AoE. The card itself is really bad, 3/3 for 5 mana is underwhelming. It needs an activators to work. Activators are things that damage it without killing – Whirlwind, Inner Rage, sometimes even Slam. This way, Grim Patron copies itself. The more Grim Patrons you have on the board, the harder it is for the enemy to effectively clear them. He has to either clear them one by one or all in one swing. Patrons are great against cards that deal less than 3 AoE damage like swipe or consecration. For some decks, it’s almost impossible to clear them, and that’s why they’re so strong. Another way to clone your Patrons is to attack small (1 or 2 attack) minions. It makes the card especially good against decks that flood board with a lot of small creatures, like Paladin or Zoo Warlock. It’s best when combo’ed with Warsong Commander. Not only the main Patron gets a charge, but every one you spawn afterwards also does. Thanks to Inner Rage and Whirlwind effects, after you charge him with Warsong Commander, you might do about 20 damage combo with nothing on the board.
One of the most important cards in Grim Patron Warrior. You can win against most of the decks without even drawing him, but he makes your wins much easier and allows some crazy combos. Almost all the cards in your deck are parts of some combo, so if you get a discount on 5 cards, you can be sure it’s gonna be useful. Getting two or more turns of discounts usually means you’ve won the game. Thanks to the Emperor Thaurissan, you might easily OTK enemy with nothing on the board. The card gives you a huge tempo boost on next turns, allowing to cast Whirlwinds or Executes for free. You prefer to use him on an empty board to increase the chances that it survives, but the 5/5 body is pretty easy to deal with on turn 6 anyway, so don’t expect him to live until your next turn. Try to use him when you have warsong-commander in your hand, because it’s the card that allows most of your combos.
It’s relatively easy to get a general grasp of Patron Warrior. You should understand the basic combos and card interactions after just a few games. It is, however, incredibly difficult to master it. When playing with the deck, you’re gonna face a lot of different decisions on each turn. Sometimes the plays that seem suboptimal for unexperienced players in reality may be the best options. You need to adapt your play style and understand what are your win conditions against each of the decks. If you want to read more about the complex strategy and mulligans against other popular decks, check out the ‘Matchups and Mulligans’ part of the guide.
Against fast decks, your early game plan is survival. You don’t really care about dealing damage to enemy Hero, you want to control the board with all of your resources. The best card you can get against most of the classes is fiery-war-axe. At the expense of health, it allows you to kill two enemy early drops. Against decks that run a lot of 1 health creatures, both inner-rage and whirlwind might serve as early removals. unstable-ghoul serves as another barrier to stop enemy aggression. If it doesn’t die, you might follow it with acolyte-of-pain to draw additional card. armorsmith + cruel-taskmaster is also a great early game combo. It allows you to deal with most of the enemy small threats, while gaining the armor at the same time. You can use slam as a removal. If you face a fast deck, don’t try to get value and draw from it – just use it to kill his 1-drops and 2-drops if you have no other way to do so. On turn 3, you might either use the Acolyte of Pain (it enemy has no clear way to kill him in one hit) or frothing-berserker. The latter is good because enemy is forced to deal with it. He can’t ignore it because it’s gonna grow quickly. It’s often gonna either slow enemy down or deal a lot of damage. dread-corsair might give you a lot of tempo when you combine it with weapon. Dropping him on turn 3 contests most of the things enemy can play.
Against slower decks, your early game will also be quite slow. Most of your early cards are reactive, not proactive. Even Armorsmith – you want to keep it for your late game combos to draw some cards. Pre-equipping weapon is usually fine if enemy doesn’t play anything, unless you know enemy list might run an acidic-swamp-ooze. Even attacking enemy Hero with your Fiery War Axe is a fine play if enemy doesn’t drop anything and you have deaths-bite in your hand already. Don’t waste your Whirlwind effects. They usually get almost no value in the early game, while in the late game you need them to win the match. Try to not throw away your executes in the early game, because those are your only big creature removals. If you waste them early, you might be forced to use one of your win conditions as a removal.
Mid Game is when you want to draw. Cycling through your deck is really important and with all the tools to do so, it’s almost certain that you’re going to have some of them. gnomish-inventor on turn 4 is a good start. On turn 5 you might go for Acolyte of Pain + Cruel Taskmaster. If enemy floods the board with small guys, Acolyte of Pain + Whirlwind on turn 4 works nicely.
If couple of your minions get damaged, you might get a nice battle-rage turn. Don’t be too greedy, if you have no other play, drawing 2 cards is fine. 3 and more is really great value, considering that it costs only 2 mana, so you should always go for it. Remember that your Hero is considered a character, so you want it to be damaged. It’s pretty easy task when you get early weapon, but if you don’t you might even consider not Armoring Up just to get some damage on your Hero. Additional draw is usually more important than couple of health.
Slam is a great card against slower decks, because most of the things they’re gonna drop have 3 or more health. When you combine it with Fiery War Axe or Death’s Bite hit, it might take out most of mid game threats while cycling the card.
You still want to control the board. Against fast decks, you should have the initiative now. Around turn 5-6, you can start dropping your grim-patron combos. With pre-equipped Death’s Bite and additional Inner Rage / Whirlwind, flooding the board with Patrons is pretty easy. Once you get a big Patron turn, you should turn the game around easily.
Fast decks should be running out of steam by now, so getting a lot of Armor usually means sealing the game for good. It means that doing a big Armorsmith play combined with +2 Armor per turn might completely put you out of their reach.
If you manage to get a Patron on the board and it survives until your next turn, you might drop the warsong-commander and start cloning him further. Every new clone is gonna get Charge, which gives much potential to clear the board or deal a lot of damage.
Dropping an emperor-thaurissan on turn 5-6 is usually a great move. Even if you only have 3-4 cards left in your hand, every discount gets nice value. Your aim is, however, to have some of your main combo pieces when getting a discount – Warsong Commander, Grim Patron and Frothing Berserker are usually the best cards you can get it on.
This is when your big combos come into play. Against fast decks, most of the games are already decided or finished. But against slow decks, that’s when the real game starts. Your two main combos are Warsong Commander + Grim Patron and Warsong Commander + Frothing Berserker. Depending on who you play against, one of those is your main win condition. You need to identify how are you gonna win the game. It is really important to not throw your combo pieces away for no reason, because most of the time you’re gonna need all of them to kill the enemy.
You have no big threats and your removals are limited, so you want to finish the game around turn 10. If the game goes too long, enemy might overwhelm you with their big drops and you might not have an opportunity to get a good combo.
Against the decks that have no reliable way to deal 3+ damage AoE, Grim Patron combos are great. Just be sure to keep some Patrons at 2 or 3 health – trade off the 1 health ones first, because you can’t clone them anymore. 3 attack on a Patron is not much, but if you multiply it by 5, suddenly you might kill enemy really quickly.
Against the decks that can deal with Patrons, you want to kill them in one turn, without them having a way to respond. This is where Warsong Commander + Frothing Berserker comes handy. The more minions you and your enemy have on the board, the better those combos are. With a total of 10 minions on the board, one Whirlwind effect gains you +10 damage per Frothing. It means that something so simple as Warsong Commander + 2x Frothing + Whirlwind + second Death’s Bite hit might easily deal 30+ damage from empty board. The combos get even better with Emperor Thaurissan discounts, because it means that you might get more minions or Whirlwind effects out.
You might consider saving at least one execute until your combo turn, because one big Taunt may often completely ruin your game plan. That’s the reason why deck may be struggling against opponents like Ramp Druid.
The most important decision is to when unleash your combos and how much can you overextend if you don’t kill enemy in one go. Try to not drop all your win conditions on the board at the same time if you can’t kill enemy yet. If enemy clears them, you might not get a way to finish your opponent off. With enough experience, you’re gonna be able to roughly estimate amount of damage you can deal from your hand in a short time. But without much experience, you’ll need to calculate everything each turn. It’s very easy to miss lethal when playing this deck, because you don’t expect to kill enemy when he’s at high health and behind Taunt. Surprisingly, it often happens. Even experienced players regularly miss lethal with Patron Warrior, so don’t feel too bad if you do.
The deck’s main win condition are its combos. While you might identify some lesser win conditions like early aggression or steadily hitting enemy with small minions and weapons, those are really rare and situational. Most of the games are finished by either of the two cards – grim-patron or frothing-berserker.
- Grim Patron. This is your main win condition against Fast decks and Midrange decks that drop a lot of small minions (Midrange Paladin, Zoo Warlock). The idea is to get your Patron on the board and start copying him as much as you can. Opponent either deals with him on his next turn (which is really hard for many of the decks) or loses the game, because you have pretty much infinite number of minions. Combo him with Warsong Commander and Whirlwind effects for even better result.
- Frothing Berserker. He is your primary win condition against slower decks that either have a good way to deal with your Patrons or you need to burst them (Handlock, Control Warrior). Your plan is to drop him alongside Warsong Commander and possibly some other minions, do couple of Whirlwind effects and kill enemy in one turn. This way you don’t have to worry about removals or enemy stabilizing with Taunts & heals.
- Emperor Thaurissan. It’s not really your “win condition”, but rather a thing which activates many win conditions that would be impossible otherwise. Getting discounts on your main combo pieces usually means you’re gonna be able to do thing you wouldn’t be able to without it. Discounts work great with so many low mana cards, because getting 0 mana Whirlwind or Execute to fit into your combo gives you so many opportunities.
Grim Patron Warrior is a great deck, considered a strongest one by many players for a good reason. It is similar to the old Miracle Rogue – a lot of card cycle, combos and tough decisions. It’s really hard to master, so we don’t recommend it to new players.
If you like playing combo-oriented deck that requires a lot of thinking and can surprise enemy with unexpected heavy damage, Patron Warrior is a deck you’ll definitely enjoy. If you want to read more about the combos, complex tactics, alternate & tech cards, matchups and mulligans – check out other parts of the guide! Feel free to ask any questions concerning the guide or the deck in the comment section below.
P.S. A big shout-out to Th3 RaT for his Patron Warrior deck. He was the one that made me start playing the it and some things written here were based on his guide. Be sure to check him out!
This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections for more info on this deck:
- Part 1: Beginner Guide
- Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices
- Part 3: Match-ups and Mulligans
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!