MUA: Midrange Druid vs Warlock

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Warlock. We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing. Cards To Keep Situational Keep or – with Ramp/Innervate The most popular Warlock build in the current […]

Introduction

This is the matchup analysis of Midrange Druid versus Warlock.

Sample Decklist

We’re using this decklist as a basis. Keep in mind there are decklists with slight variations, each one tweaked to the player’s own taste and the meta they’re facing.

Mulligan

Cards To Keep

Innervate Darnassus Aspirant Wild Growth Shade of Naxxramas Big Game Hunter Keeper of the Grove Piloted Shredder

Situational Keep

Druid of the Claw or Azure Drake – with Ramp/Innervate

Warlock Meta Decks

The most popular Warlock build in the current meta is Handlock. A very slow deck that Druid, luckily, has a positive winrate against. The second one is Midrange/Demon/Zoo Warlock (yeah, it has quite a few names, but it’s usually just called “Zoo”) , which fell out of favor in the Patron Warrior meta, but should be back on the right track soon enough. There are a lot more Warlock builds, like the Malygos Warlock and Control Warlock, but they aren’t very popular right now.

Vs Handlock

General Strategy

Right now, there are two Handlock versions which are fairly popular. One is the standard, old list with only demon in it being Lord Jaraxxus. The new one, which gains a lot more popularity and is currently #1 list runs more Demons, including the Voidcallers, Doomguard and Mal’ganis. We’re going to talk about the new list, which is a lot harder to play against for the Druid than the old one. Handlock decks are incredibly slow decks and that’s where Midrange Druid can find the opportunity. Warlock uses his own life as a resource, often putting himself into the combo range. When playing against Handlock, balance is very important. You want to put them close into the combo range, so only one minion on the board + combo would mean lethal, but you don’t want to put them too low, into Molten Giant range, because it might ruin your whole plan.

Early Game

  • Besides occasional Ancient Watcher + Ironbeak Owl start, Handlock usually taps for the first few turns. If he starts first, he should use Hero Power on turn 2 and 3. If he start second, Hero Power on turn 2 and skip the turn 3 or Coin out something. It gives you a window of opportunity to get some board presence or maybe ramp up.
  • Darnassus Aspirant is awesome in this matchup. Warlock shouldn’t threaten to kill it with minions – the only way he can get it out of the board on turn 2 is the Darkbomb. If he doesn’t it – you get free ramp probably until turn 4-5. If he has it – no problem, you might have denied them the ability to play Mountain Giant on turn 4.
  • You want to play the Shade of Naxxramas as soon as you can. The earlier you play it, the bigger is the chance it’s going to survive. On turn 4 Warlock can Hellfire, which usually kills the Shade, but if you dodge it, it should grow out of control. Later in the match the only way to kill it is Shadowflame on one of the Giants.
  • Wild Growth start is good, but not necessary. What you need most is the smooth curve. You want to get into the board – this matchup shouldn’t last long. The longer the game goes, the smaller your chances to win are.

Mid Game

  • The Mid Game is when the Warlock starts dropping his threats. Their turn 4 plays are: Mountain Giant, Twilight Drake and Voidcaller. The first one is countered by the Big Game Hunter, the second and third ones are countered by the Keeper of the Grove. It means that you really want those cards in your starting hand.
  • From those 3, Voidcaller might actually be the biggest threat. The 3/4 body is small, but if Warlock manages to get one of his Demons out, you’re in trouble. Doomguard gets intant value thanks to the Charge and gives Warlock a way to clear your board. Mal’ganis stops your whole push until you kill it. If you can’t – it’s going to push for 9 damage per turn, and if Warlock hides it behind the Taunt, you’re doomed. The last one – Lord Jaraxxus – has huge amount of health. 3/15 stats are good, but if Warlock has the Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus, 3/15 or 4/16 Taunts is incredibly hard to pass through.
  • If you have no clear way to get rid of Giant or Twilight Drake – you have two choices. Either go for bad trades with minions + spells and let Warlock get a lot of value or ignore it and hope that Warlock can’t do anything else, especially Taunt them up. As you can see, it’s either having an answer or hoping.
  • Mid Game is your first opportunity to kill Warlock. You should be able to get Warlock down to ~15 health easily. Meaning that a single Savage Roar with 3-4 minions on the board can often just finish the game. If you can get Warlock to below 4 health and you have a Swipe in your hand, you should also take it around turn 5. While Warlock can usually heal up with the Antique Healbot, it takes the whole turn. If you still have some board presence + Swipe/Druid of the Claw, you should be able to finish enemy off with the minions left on the board and damage from your hand. At this stage of the game Warlock can only choose one of the three: Clear the board with AoE, Heal with Healbot or play Moltens + Taunt them up. Meaning anything he does kills him.
  • If you don’t aim for the mid game kill, you should stop damaging Warlock around 15 health. It’s still a safe place – you put him close to the lethal range, so he needs to start playing defensively, but you don’t get him low enough for him to play Moltens.
  • Just play the biggest threat every turn and try to stall the game. Drawing cards is important – you might just cycle the Wrath if you have the spare mana, you need to draw into the combo.
  • Emperor Thaurissan and Innervates are great if you already have combo in your hand. Waiting for turn 9 combo often means that Warlock will stabilize and Taunt up by then, getting it out earlier should catch Warlock off-guard.

Late Game

  • Late game is definitely in Warlock’s favor. While you have some big threats, he should have pretty clean answers for all of them. Sometimes you just overwhelm him with the minions, he finds no answers and you win, but that’s really rare. You generally should assume that you won’t win the minion war. You want the combo. Ancient of Lore is very important, because it brings you closer to it.
  • Count damage every turn if you have some minions on the board and damage in your hand. Handlock often has to play risky and tap in a situation where he’s already low on health. If you find a hole in his defense, abuse it and kill him.
  • You can’t play the long game against Warlock. You’re going to run out of cards – it usually takes 2 for 1 to kill his big threats and he is drawing much more than you are. Not to mention that Warlock is eventually going to put himself into cheap Molten Giants range with just tapping. Even if he’s at 15 health, on turn 9 he can play let’s say Molten Giant + Ancient Watcher + Sunfury Protector. You have to prepare for a big Taunt wall in the late game and you have no real way to deal with it.
  • Dr. Boom is great if enemy has no Big Game Hunter. With how many cards Warlock is drawing, though, it’s very likely that he has some answer. Still, the Boom Bots also have a nice synergy with Savage Roar.
  • Try to finish the games in the mid game, don’t drag them out. Play risky – it’s much more likely that Warlock doesn’t have X or Y earlier in the game. By turn 10 it’s quite likely that he has Molten(s), while at turn 5 he still might not have them. If you’re running out of cards, just go for it – try to push the Warlock and hope for the best, that he has no way to answer your stuff.

Tips

  • Not revealing your Shade of Naxxramas might give you an easy lethal. If he grows to let’s say 6/6, he threatens 8 damage with Savage Roar. It means that with just one or two more minions you can actually take enemy down from quite high health.
  • If you’re pushing the Warlock or you’re close to lethal, do not play the Keeper of the Grove for the “value” Silence. Even if enemy has a high priority target like Twilight Drake or Sylvanas, keep the Silence for the Taunts. The 2 damage from your hand also might come handy to deal the last points of damage.
  • Living Roots is another way to surprise enemy with a damage from the hand. Something like Swipe + Keeper of the Grove + Living Roots can deal 9 damage from your hand, even if enemy Taunts up, which he won’t likely expect from the Druid.

Vs Zoo Warlock

Strategy

Zoo Warlock was always a hard matchup to the Druid, but it got a little easier with TGT. Zoo usually had 2-3 minions on the board before the Druid could play the first threat. It changed with the Living Roots and the Darnassus Aspirant. Druid can also get into the board early and the Zoo has to find answers. If Zoo can’t kill your Aspirant, you’re in a really good shape. Zoo Warlock is a very board-centric deck. Take their board – you win the game. Sadly, the same goes for the Druid and Zoo has much easier time getting the board lead. Ramp is important – your only way to really pressure Zoo is to play big stuff before they do. For example, Imp Gang Boss is a very strong minion, but it’s not that strong anymore if you play the Druid of the Claw against it. Keeper of the Grove is awesome in this matchup too. It’s very likely to get tons of value. It can straight away snipe the 2 health minions like Flame Imp, Knife Juggler or Dire Wolf Alpha. It can also silence the Nerubian Egg, which gives you a lot of trouble. If enemy has Power Overwhelming to proc it, not only he can get a good trade, but also a 4/4 minion back. Swipe is very good in this matchup, but be a little greedy with it. Try to snipe at least 3-4 minions with it, it’s very possible against Zoo. Especially after they use the Imp-losion – all the 1/1’s are very annoying to kill without it. The easiest way to lose this game is when Warlock drops a Voidcaller on turn 4, you have no Silence and he has a big Demon in his hand. It’s either the Doomguard or Mal’ganis. The second one you can answer with Big Game Hunter (the card is a solid in this matchup too, but not as good as against Handlock). Doomguard, however, you have no real way to kill. On turn 4-5 it’s getting a lot of value. You might just go for it and kill the Voidcaller – I know that if you kill it and he drops something without Charge, it’s like you’re giving their Demon a charge. But the fact that you destroy it means that not only the chances that enemy has one of those Demons are lesser (he draws on his turn + can tap), but if he has some smaller demons, he might play them before sacrificing the Voidcaller, guaranteeing to get a big guy. Not to mention that he can get the buff value, which he wouldn’t without the minions on the board. In the mid game, Zoo Warlock should start Life Tapping a lot. It means that he should get himself close to the combo range over the course of the match. That’s your main win condition – you won’t likely get big enough board presence to kill him without combo. But you might sneak an attack here and there, getting them pretty low. Remember that Warlock still has ways to counter your combo – Voidwalker can stop up to 4 damage (reducing your combo’s damage to 10), Defender of Argus can completely ruin it and Mal’ganis – especially if hidden behind a Taunt – can just win them a game. Ancient of War is awesome. If Warlock doesn’t have huge board presence, it should be rather hard to get through it. He might have an Ironbeak Owl, but that’s usually one-of plus he might use it on something else (like Piloted Shredder). With a minion on the board, Zoo can put quite a lot of burst from the hand. Something like Power Overwhelming + Abusive Sergeant + Doomguard is pretty common, and even if he has just a 1/1 on the board, it’s 12 damage. If Zoo is holding a lot of cards in the hand and it’s late into the game already, it’s quite probable that he can kill you if you aren’t careful. The easiest way to win it is either to get a great ramp and just completely take the board control in the mid game or try to sneak some damage in the mid game and finish them off with the combo in the late game. The matchup is close, but it’s slightly in the favor of Zoo.

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