Once again I finished in the Top 100 with a Warrior deck. Although I wanted to make Top 100 with Miracle Rogue, the current metagame is simply much more favorable for N’zoth Control Warrior. There are a lot of Warlock Zoo, Dragon Warrior and various Shaman decks on the ladder, which I farmed consistently. Since the introduction of the Standard format, I also played a lot of C’thun Warrior, but dropped it in favor of N’zoth Control Warrior, because the latter is not only more consistent, but also even better against Zoo Warlock, Aggro Shaman and Dragon Warrior, which are both popular and good decks, you want to consistently beat.
This article is a complete guide about N’zoth Control Warrior and is hopefully a good tool for you, if you want to play it yourself.
N’zoth Control Warrior
Out of all Control decks I think N’zoth Control Warrior is currently the most efficient one when it comes to dealing with aggressive strategies. Not only does it feature four board clears (once Revenge is activated), it also plays a good amount of life gain and four single target removal, which help a lot at dealing with bigger minions like Flamewreathed Faceless. The inherent nature of this deck is being defensive throughout the early and mid game and to deliver the final blow in the late game with either Grommash Hellscream and possibly Alexstrasza or simply the deck’s namesake: N’zoth, the Corruptor.
Unlike C’thun Warrior your expensive minions with the exception of N’zoth are consistent. You don’t need to draw activators in the right order and you never end up with 7 mana 6/6’s without an effect (Ancient Shieldbearer when C’thun does not have 10 attack). With C’thun Warrior you actually lose a lot of games (with a large enough sample size), because you simply could not activate your seven mana minions. Twin Emperor Vek’lor and Ancient Shieldbearer are very powerful cards, but if you can’t activate them, they are horrible. I don’t mean the deck is bad, but I just don’t like the inconsistency of it. In some games C’thun Warrior can feel very powerful when it draws well, but overall the inconsistencies of whether you get C’thun to 10 attack or not, makes the deck weaker against fast strategies than N’zoth Warrior.
The Deck’s Game Plan
Control Warrior is a very defensive Control deck. Unlike other Control decks like Reno Warlock, you are not as board- oriented and more defensive. Reno Warlock is very reliant on getting a good minion curve against aggressive decks like Aggro Shaman. Control Warrior’s early game mainly consists of removing opposing minions and playing some cheap minions like Infested Tauren or Ravaging Ghoul. Prior to Turn 6 you very rarely push for board control, you are just being defensive and try to kill enemy minions as efficient as possible to delay the game. Turn 6 is normally the breakpoint of the deck, because of Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof, which are both high value minions that fight very well for the board and help you seize board control.
Throughout the early and midgame you don’t have any proactive plays or cards available that can put pressure on your opponent. Any damage you deal to your opponent in the early and midgame is negligible and almost useless, because you cannot pressure them in any good way before the late game. So you should the majority of time use your minions to clear your opponent’s minions and not go for any aggressive plays, that might punish you.
So to summarize, Control Warrior’s game plan is rather simple against the majority of decks. You stifle their pressure by removing their minions, stay alive and once they are exhausted you finish the game with your high value legendaries or some sort of burst with Alexstrasza, Grommash Hellscream, Gorehowl and even Bash.
In contrast to other decks like Miracle Rogue, Control Warrior’s game plan is very straightforward against the majority of decks. You are just defensive and win in the late game. With Miracle Rogue you have to realize when you want to go aggressive and push for a lot of damage, when you want to be defensive and you also have to calculate your burst in your hand and the burst you can draw into. With Control Warrior you don’t have to think about these things, you just want to be defensive. In 99 % of the cases you remove damage from the opponent’s board, because it is all about delaying the game and reaching the lategame.
Game Plan vs. Aggro (f.ex. Aggro Shaman, Zoo Warlock)
You want to diminish their damage output in the early game, by removing their minions and once you have board control, you use your life gain to get out of their burst spells. Once you have a high enough life total and they are low on cards, you just win and you should have no idea why your opponent is not already conceding.
Game Plan vs. Midrange (f.ex. Dragon Warrior, Midrange Shaman)
The majority of Midrange decks like Midrange Shaman have fewer burst, but a much higher curve when compared to aggressive decks. Therefore you are not so concerned about your life total, your biggest concern is finding yourself in a situation where your opponent has dominant board control. Therefore you can use your life points more liberally to wait for a better Brawl or Revenge swing turn. If you have 14 life points and you cleared the whole board and the opponent is exhausted, you will very likely win the game.
Game Plan vs Control (f.ex. C’thun Warrior, Reno Warlock)
When you play against other Control decks, your biggest concern is card advantage. You don’t want to trade unfavorably with the cards of your opponent and you want your cards to trade with multiple of their cards (f.ex Brawl killing four minions is very good). In a Control mirror it is almost impossible to get a quick win, because both decks play a lot of life gain and removal, which makes it very unlikely that one Control deck can finish the other one. So one of the biggest mistakes against other Control decks you can make is putting too many minions on the battlefield and allowing your opponent to kill all of them with just one card. You cannot pressure them in any reasonable way, so there is no point to play too many minions.
There are two different types of Control decks and it is of utter importance to know against which one you are playing: Fatigue-Control and Normal- Control. Against Fatigue- Control decks like C’thun Warrior or Control Priest, you want to avoid drawing cards at all cost and ideally donate an Acolyte of Pain to your opponent by killing their Sylvanas Windrunner. Tempo against Fatigue decks is also not of any great importance the majority of time. Fatigue decks play way more defensive cards than their Normal- Control counterparts, so you can only expect to win in the very late game. Normal- Control decks like Reno Warlock are a completely different animal. Gaining momentum, keeping up with their card advantage and having the initiative is of utter importance. Especially if they have a trump card like Lord Jaraxxus. To summarize against Fatigue- Control it is almost impossible to win before Fatigue, whereas against Normal-Control you will win or lose the majority of time, before fatigue becomes a factor, because one player will die because of burst or a trump card, they could not handle.
I will only cover the most outstanding choices.
Once upon a time when Miracle Rogue was by far the best deck in Hearthstone during the Classic era, it was complete idiocy to not run Tinkmaster Overspark in a Control Warrior deck. Without Loatheb, Tinkmaster is the only card that can answer a Conceal‘d Gadgetzan Auctioneer. I’m aware that Brawl can also sometimes be an answer to Auctioneer, but good Rogue players will always play around that.
One of the reasons why I put Tinkmaster in the deck, is obviously Gadgetzan Auctioneer with Conceal. But Miracle Rogue is nowhere near as popular as it used to be, so just dedicating one slot in this deck, just for Rogue is not a smart choice. Actually the main reason why I put Tinkmaster Overspark in the deck is Doomcaller. If you transform C’thun, their Doomcaller will not revive C’thun, which is a huge swing against C’thun Warrior. If they ever manage to play three C’thuns (Emperor Thaurissan+ Brann Bronzebeard+ Doomcaller), you will auto lose this matchup. On the last day of the season I had a 11-5 record against C’thun Warrior, and Tinkmaster Overspark helped me getting such a good winrate against C’thun Warrior. Overall I have to say that Tinkmaster is also useful against a lot of other matchups, for example transforming a Ragnaros the Firelord or Cairne Bloodhoof, Anub’arak or a Savannah Highmane into a 5/5 can sometimes be a saving grace.
When I evaluated the effect of Tinkmaster Overspark, I mainly took a look at the worse outcome, which is transforming particular minions into a 5/5, which is actually quite good in the current metagame. Transforming an Ancient of War or other big minions into a 1/1 is just super broken, and should not be considered as a standard outcome. Obviously Tinkmaster is bad against decks that flood the board like Zoo Warlock and Aggro Shaman, but both matchups are very good ones, where I think you can afford to run one dead card, that really helps in the harder matchups.
Tinkmaster Overspark is by no means a necessity for the deck, it is just a tech card. So you can feel free to cut it for a second Acolyte of Pain or Elise Starseeker.
2 Infested Tauren
Every N’zoth Paladin (yep, Paladin!) I build always starts with two Infested Tauren. Without Sludge Belcher, Infested Tauren is the only good Deathrattle taunt minion and I think it is a fairly decent one against aggressive decks. Bloodhoof Brave can be taken out with just one Power Overwhelming, and Infested Tauren is much more resilient to removal and is especially great against Zoo Warlock, who always want to buff up their garbage minions and trade into your big minions. Infested Tauren makes that a lot harder. Infested Tauren is very rarely great, but from my experience it is always at least decent. It soaks up damage and delays the opponent because he has to deal with two small minions. The N’zoth synergy is also a great bonus.
Another reason why I think Infested Tauren is mandatory in any N’zoth Control deck is that you very often need N’zoth to revive some Taunt minons to protect your life total. The other option Chillmaw is for my taste way too expensive, I don’t want to waste my Turn 7 playing a 6/6 with Taunt in a world where Shaman can play zero mana 5/5’s with Taunt (Thing from Below).
Although Harrison Jones is a very popular tech card, I really like Gorehowl. It is very strong against slower Midrange decks and against other Control decks, who sometimes even don’t run any weapon destruction like C’thun Warrior with Doomcaller. The synergy with Alexstrasza is also very nice. Gorehowl is by no means mandatory for the deck, and if you don’t like or simply swim in an ocean of Harrison Jones, you can simply cut it for Baron Geddon, Elise Starseeker or Chillmaw.
An overwhelming amount of people thought Revenge was bad or even the worst card of the set, when Blackrock Mountain came out and I hope they all feel stupid now. The card is simply great. You pay 1 more mana for a Whirlwind and as bonus you sometimes have a 2 mana Hellfire. A lot of decks, even Control decks will activate Revenge so this card is useful against a lot of matchups, and especially useful against Zoo Warlock, Shaman and even Dragon Warrior.
Weapon classes are all very popular and Harrison Jones is also very good against Lord Jaraxxus, because he can draw you an absurd amount of cards.
N’zoth, the Corruptor
Reviving Sylvanas Windrunner or Cairne Bloodhoof is already very good value and can push you very far ahead against the majority of decks. Once you revive all your Deathrattle minions, N’zoth is almost an “I win the game- button” against every deck that does not have good board clears. Especially against Token Druid, which was a fairly popular deck on the last days of the season, N’zoth is an awesome card, because Druid does not have very good minion removal or even board clears.
The metagame is currently very aggressive at every Rank, so the potential life gain of Alexstrasza can be very powerful and devastating for your opponent. If the metagame somehow slows down you can cut Alexstrasza for a more high value minion like Ysera or even the king of value: Arch-Thief Rafaam.
The mulligan approach is rather easy. You know that this is a Control deck, it wants to be defensive and reach the late game. So when you mulligan you look for cards that help deal with early aggression. In general you ALWAYS keep Fiery War Axe. With Fiery War Axe you also can keep a mixture of removal spells like Slam or Bash to deal with midgame minions. You can keep Slam as a standalone against decks that have threatening 2 health minions like Flame Imp or Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Against Control decks you mainly look for Fiery War Axe and Brawl (except against other Warrior Control decks ). Against board flood decks, like Shaman and Zoo Warlock you also keep Brawl in your opening hand.
Because the deck has a high amount of comeback cards you can draw into like Brawl and Revenge and getting some sweet early card advantage is almost always nice, you also keep Acolyte of Pain against almost every matchup (an exception would be Aggro Shaman, where Acolyte can be a liability because he is too slow).
Also consider keeping Harrison Jones against weapon classes, if you already have a Fiery War Axe.
What are the good (50%+), even (50/50) and bad matchups (<50%)?
Good: Zoo Warlock, Dragon Warrior/ Tempo Warrior, Aggro & Midrange Shaman, Token Druid, C’thun Druid, Tempo Mage, N’zoth Rogue
Even: Reno Warlock (without Lord Jaraxxus); C’thun Warrior (but highly dependant on the list of the opponent)
Bad: Reno Warlock (with Lord Jaraxxus), Midrange Hunter, Miracle Rogue, Control Priest, Control Paladin
Matchup vs. Zoo Warlock
Whenever you face a very good matchup it is important to realize how you actually can lose games. Against Zoo Warlock the most common way to lose the game is that they have an unanswered Flame Imp that deals a lot of damage and simply snowballs and forces you to play a bad Brawl. Fiery War Axe and Slam are very important to stop early pressure.
Against Zoo Warlock you always want to clear all their minions to deny them any value from their buff cards. Overall the matchup is very straighforward, you try to remove as much damage from their board as possible and later want to destroy them with Brawl , Ravaging Ghoul and Revenge. Keep Forbidden Ritual in mind, it is their only way to regain board control once they lost it. Also respect their potential damage, that is a combination of Doomguard or Leeroy Jenkins, Power Overwhelming and Soulfire. Especially keeping track of their Dark Peddler cards is important so that they cannot catch you off-guard with big burst.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Slam, Brawl, Ravaging Ghoul and Acolyte of Pain; Don’t keep Bash or Revenge, especially Revenge is only useful very late in the game
Matchup vs. Aggro and Midrange Shaman
Both decks are sometimes very hard to distinguish from each other. Their early game is almost identical. Abusive Sergeant, Sir Finley Mrrgglton and Argent Horserider usually signal Aggro Shaman, whereas Mana Tide Totem and a slower pace signals Midrange Shaman, which has way more situational cards than its aggressive counterpart, and the situational cards slow them down.
Brawl is very potent against both decks, because they need to commit a lot to the board in order to pressure you. Even Midrange Shaman has or should have access to some sort of burst damage with something like Al’Akir the Windlord, Bloodlust or the standard Doomhammer, so always be wary of potential burst damage and play around them, whenever you can afford to. Although Harrison Jones is devastating against Doomhammer, I would never keep him in my opening hand against Shaman, he is way too situational and a lot of the time, they even don’t have Doomhammer.
Against Shaman you always need to respect an early Flamewreathed Faceless, so don’t waste your Execute on a Totem Golem, when you don’t have to.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Brawl. Keep Slam with Axe to deal with Totem Golem. Keep Acolyte of Pain if you already have Brawl or Axe
Matchup vs. Dragon Warrior
This matchup kind of evolves around Sir Finley Mrrgglton and Frothing Berserker. If they get the Warlock hero power very early, the matchups becomes very hard, because they now have an endless stream of minions they can play and they have to try really hard to ever run out of steam. You can’t do anything about that, just accept that the matchup can heavily swing sometimes. Frothing Berserker on the other hand needs to be answered as soon as possible, because an unanswered Berserker that deals too much damage will make you lose the game. Therefore against an unknown Warrior equipping Fiery War Axe on Turn 2 over using your hero power is crucial, so that you then can handle the Frothing Berserker with a weapon attack and another source of damage on Turn 3.
Revenge is surprisingly also very good against Dragon Warrior because they can very rarely play around it, but nevertheless never keep Revenge against them. Also keep their bigger minions like Ragnaros the Firelord, Drakonid Crusher and Grommash Hellscream in mind, if you can’t deal with them it is game over. Also don’t be too greedy with Brawl, using it once they have 3 minions is completely fine the majority of time. Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof are your big trump cards in this matchup, just make sure that you avoid playing Sylvanas on an empty board, so that you always can steal something.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Acolyte of Pain and Bash (they have a lot of good targets). Keep Slam with Axe to deal with midgame minions. Also keep Harrison Jones if you have Fiery War Axe.
Matchup vs. Token Druid and C’thun Druid
From my experience it is rather easy to identify against which version you are playing, even before the game starts. The higher your opponent’s rank is the less likely it is that they play C’thun Druid, which is in every way worse than C’thun Warrior or Token Druid, unless you are very lucky and always hit Ramp and play Twin Emperor Vek’lor on Turn 7. In that case, I would recommend going to the casino and not play C’thun Druid.
C’thun Druid is a fairly easy matchup. They normally play bigger minions earlier than Control Warrior, but the Warrior has a lot of ways to deal with them. The breaking point is that C’thun Druid does not have good ways to deal with bigger minions if they don’t have minions on the board to trade. The majority of time, you will kill some of their minions and then overwhelm them with some of your legendaries. But you can also expect to grind them out of cards if they cannot answer Gorehowl.
Token Druid plays a lot of draw spells, and almost can rival Miracle Rogue when it comes to drawing cards. Nevertheless they share the same weakness as every other Druid archetype: dealing with bigger minions. Against Token Druid a few things are very important. Try to not give them too much time, because they have so much draw, which is very dangerous. So having initiative is a big deal in this matchup. The next important thing is having access to cards that deal with a board flood and small tokens, so all your Whirlwind effects are very good and you should value them and not waste them.
In addition to that always keep track of the cards they get from Raven Idol. Once they know what they are playing against, they will value Savage Roar very highly and will almost always pick that card. So try to keep in mind not only their single copy of Savage Roar they usually play, but also other copies from Raven Idol. Violet Teacher and Fandral Staghelm are both high priority targets you need to kill as soon as possible, otherwise they can snowball very hard or force you to use an unfavorable Brawl.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Acolyte of Pain, Brawl. Keep Slam with Axe to deal with midgame minions. Keep Sylvanas Windrunner, even as a standalone if your opponent has a bad rank (=C’thun Druid), she is very good against C’thun Druid.
Matchup vs. Reno Warlock
Warlock has access to an inbuilt card advantage mechanism, so in order to keep up with that, you want to avoid trading one for one with their cards. Brawl is especially crucial in this matchup, and is among the few cards that can pick up a lot of value. Once you reach the later stages of the game, you should seize board control to delay Lord Jaraxxus. If they can play Jaraxxus when they have board control the matchup becomes very hard, and you will need some Harrison Jones and Grommash Hellscream shenanigans to win. Just resurrecting Sylvanas Windrunner or Cairne Bloodhoof is completely fine in this matchup. They have Twisting Nether and Shadowflame so N’zoth very rarely wins the game on the spot. So don’t be too patient with N’zoth, just use him to get initiative.
Keep in mind the potential 20 damage burst combo (Leeroy Jenkins+Power Overwhelming+Faceless Manipulator) once they played Emperor Thaurissan. But if they play C’thun or N’zoth in their deck, they usually don’t have a burst combo.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Acolyte of Pain, Brawl.
Matchup vs. C’thun Warrior
This matchup is very reliant on Justicar Trueheart. The player who has her a couple of turns or even dozen turns before the other one, has a huge advantage. Denying them any Doomcaller – value is crucial in this matchup, therefore saving Sylvanas Windrunner and Tinkmaster Overspark is very important. Brawl is very bad in this matchup, so you should be extremely happy when you can kill two minions and it is completely fine to use it to only kill one minion, once you realize your opponent is aware of the existence of Brawl and does not commit too much.
Mulligan for: Gorehowl, Justicar Trueheart, Fiery War Axe
Matchup vs. Midrange Hunter
This is the second worst matchup. Every Control deck struggles against Midrange Hunter. Their early pressure, Steady Shot, burst damage from hand and that all combined with Call of the Wild and Savannah Highmane is simply too much for every Control deck. Luckily there are a lot of Zoo Warlocks and Shamans on the ladder that take care of Midrange Hunter, so the deck is not that popular.
I think it is also important to note that this matchup is definitely winnable, but you need to get lucky. Hitting a good curve, having Fiery War Axe, destroying their weapon and drawing a card on Turn 5 and not missing a six mana minion (which is probably the most crucial factor in this matchup) are all factors that increase the odds of winning the game.
Keep in mind that Hunter can activate Revenge quite quickly, which can sometimes be outright game winning, especially if they don’t respect. Therefore you should value the card very highly and not use it to kill a lone Fiery Bat or two 1/1’s from Infested Wolf. Revenge is very crucial in this matchup to seize board control at one point and stifle their pressure.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Acolyte of Pain, Ravaging Ghoul. Keep Slam with Axe to deal with midgame minions. Also keep Harrison Jones if you have Fiery War Axe (they might not have a weapon, but you need to get lucky in this matchup, it is a bad matchup after all and therefore you should take risks). Also keep Justicar Trueheart if you have a Fiery War Axe.
Matchup vs. N’zoth Rogue and Miracle Rogue
The same formula that applies to Druid is also true for Rogue. The higher their Rank is the less likely it is that they play N’zoth Rogue. N’zoth Rogue is a good matchup, as long as you can keep up a little bit with their draw (Harrison Jones and Acolyte of Pain are very good in this matchup). In addition to that they also have very little burst and not much life gain, which can make them vulnerable to burst damage. Saving one Brawl or Revenge (if you can get it activated) is important, so that you can deal with their N’zoth, the Corruptor. Anub’arak is one way they can steal a win, but Tinkmaster Overspark can take care of him. Also just killing the Rogue with burst can take care of Anub’arak.
Miracle Rogue on the other hand is by far the deck’s worst matchup. Miracle Rogue farms every slow Control deck, even more than Midrange Hunter does. Tinkmaster Overspark is the most important card, because if you can’t deal with a Conceal‘d Gadgetzan Auctioneer you almost have a 0 % chance to win the game. Killing every minion they play is of utter importance, because of Cold Blood and Conceal that can snowball and make you lose the game.
Mulligan for: Fiery War Axe, Acolyte of Pain, Harrison Jones. Keep Slam with Axe to deal with midgame minions. Also keep Tinkmaster Overspark if your opponent has a high Rank.
Overall Control Warrior has very good matchups in the current metagame, which makes it an excellent choice for ladder play at any rank. You also don’t have any abysmal matchups, you even have a reasonable chance to win against your worst matchups.
I hoped you liked the article. Also if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments!