Hey guys and gals, DarkArbiter here bringing you an article I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I haven’t had much time lately to do anything other than my weekly deck series, but I wanted to revisit a topic that was incredibly popular the first time I approached it. This topic is about reducing the cost of one of my favorite decks, a deck that can be considered to be one of the most expensive competitive decks to craft, Control Warrior.
For those of you new here, I guess a bit of background wouldn’t go amiss. Ever since I started playing, I fell in love with the Warrior class and how consistently powerful it feels to play it. However, there is no doubt that it is incredibly difficult to amass all of the cards to assemble the deck due to the large number of Legendaries the Warrior utilizes in its control strategy.
This didn’t deter me though, and shortly before I started writing for this website I constructed a Control Warrior deck that utilized the cards that a budgeted player might have at their disposal, keeping only the bare minimum of what was required for Warrior to function as a control archetype. This ended up being the second topic that I ended up writing about, and you can find the fruits of my labor here.
However, that deck no longer works. Much has changed since then, with the most significant being the release of Curse of Naxxramas. This adventure mode has muddied the waters a bit in that it is significantly harder to make budgetary recommendations when people have to juggle spending gold not just on packs but also on each wing of the adventure.
With that being said though, it is slightly easier to discuss this from the perspective of mid-budget terms. If you are at the point were you have gathered the cards for a low-budget deck such as Zoo and are now working on amassing cards for a second deck, you are at the mid-budget level of play. As a result, unlocking every wing of Naxxramas should be a top priority, and for the rest of this article I will proceed with the assumption that you have done so.
Now, without wasting anymore of your time, I present to you my Mid-Budget Control Warrior.
Looking through the deck you might initially not think anything has been really changed from standard Control Warrior. In fact, you’re right. This deck still utilizes the same beginning strategy as regular Control, and as a result many of the cards are the same.
I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting on how to make this deck work with only two Legendaries, which I consider the key starting point for getting into the Control archetype. In the end, the only logical solution is to implement cards that can compete for the board in the early game and thus give your Legendaries the ability to finish the game with what they are able to do on their own.
The side effects of changing around the deck’s focus like this means that the mid-game portion of the deck has been strengthened. While in other situations this might turn the deck into more of a Mid-range list, the early game of this deck compared to other Mid-range lists is far too weak for what is expected of that archetype.
Now that I’ve talked a bit about how the deck functions, it’s time to dig into the cards in the deck.
What Stayed the Same?
Despite this being a budgeted deck there are still some relatively expensive cards in the deck. Therefore it is still a large commitment to pilot this deck. In particular, there are still a relative number of epics in the deck not to mention two Legendary creatures. However, if you manage to collect these cards, you are well on your way to getting the remaining cards needed for the full Control Warrior deck.
As I said above, much of the early game remains the same, especially in terms of cards. Armorsmith is a card you should mulligan for every single match, as her ability is just incredible especially against aggressive decks like Zoo and Hunter (and yes, despite the nerf, Hunter is still pretty viable on the ladder). This card also has the secondary benefit of comboing off of several other cards in your arsenal.
One such card would be Shield Slam. I said this in my previous article, and I’ll say it here; if you don’t have any way of obtaining two copies of this card for the deck, consider another deck until you can. This card is just too good not to play in the deck, as it removes so many threats and benefits from so many cards that are in the deck. With this deck especially, you can’t use your late-game minions as removal, as you don’t have enough of them to treat them as such, so keeping Shield Slam in the deck is crucial.
Fortunately, that is the only epic-level card in the list that is actually required in order to play the deck. You can get away without playing the other epics on the list, although I don’t advise you do so.
Other than that, most of the other cards that remain the same are pretty cheap in the crafting cost, and you should already have some of them anyways if you want to keep building up your collection of competitive cards. Acolyte of Pain and Unstable Ghoul will probably remain competitive cards for a while, while Cruel Taskmaster is used in almost any Warrior deck.
In the spells department, other than Shield Slam, most of these aren’t bank-breaking. Execute is probably the best hard removal at Warrior’s disposal, while Shield Block combos well with Shield Slam for dealing with nasty threats. While the single copy of Slam doesn’t appear to be effective on its own, it combos so well with Execute that there is almost no reason to not include it.
We also have the greatest tool at Warrior’s disposal; its weapons. Fiery War Axe is an all-around amazing weapon that is just huge in the early game. It is a card you want to be actively mulliganing for in addition to Armorsmith, as both are your main early plays other than Acolyte of Pain.
In addition, we have the weapon that competes for the best weapon in the game, Death’s Bite. This is another card that is just too good for the Warrior class to not include, and there is no reason to run any other weapons over this one. As such, if you don’t currently have the fourth quarter of the Naxxramas adventure unlocked, it’s time to start saving up your gold so that you can do so. I don’t recommend running Arcanite Reaper in place of this, as that is equivalent to running Bite over Swipe in Druid.
Last but certainly not least, we have the Legendaries. It really is difficult picking only two out of the plethora of Legendaries to keep in the deck, but in the end you want the basics when it comes to a budget deck. As a result, these two Legendaries are the crux of your entire strategy, as they are really the only two cards capable of ending the game for you.
First off, we have Ragnaros the Firelord. This card is one of the big three neutral Legendaries in that you want to craft him as soon as you are able to. No other card is capable of replicating his abilities, and he is one of the best finishers for control decks in the game.
Then we have the second finisher of the deck, Grommash Hellscream. For eight mana, you can’t ask for much more with this guy. His enrage ability is not hard to get off with this deck. For instance, slam him down and attack with the second charge of your Death’s Bite and you have an incredible burst of 14 damage, as much as Druid’s Force of Nature+Savage Roar finisher. Due to how few Legendaries your deck contains, do not waste this card on removal. If you lose him before being able to finish off the game, your chances of winning are significantly reduced.
Obviously, being a budgeted version, this deck will have at least a couple of changes in its lineup. Some of these changes to the traditional Warrior might not seem like that big of a deal, but including these cards are what helps maintain the tricky areas with Warrior’s matchups.
With that, let’s start with the two other epics in the deck, the Big Game Hunter and Faceless Manipulator. These two tech cards are sometimes seen in regular Control Warrior lists, but here in this deck they do some extra work that they normally don’t have to worry about in the full version.
Big Game Hunter in general helps improve your matchups against other control decks as well as decks like Handlock, as you have limited removal already. While this may not help out your games against decks like Zoo, it is still a decent minion that if nothing else is a body on the board.
Faceless Manipulator is, to be honest, my way of cheating a third legendary into the deck. With this card, you can get the extra edge you need to power through a match by copying either one of your Legendaries if they haven’t already finished the game or an opponent’s Legendary that will help you maintain tempo.
Next up we have the pair of Sunwalkers. These are a straight up replacement for Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner. While they may not replicate these two Legendaries’ abilities, they still do roughly the same thing in that they provide a board presence that needs to be answered in the mid-game and can often make favorable trades.
Azure Drake is a card that has reduced in play quite significantly over the past few months. Mostly this is due to the inclusion of Sludge Belcher in the meta, but the card is still solid and provides an extra bit of drawing when we need it but don’t want to waste something like a Shield Block. On top of that, the extra spell damage might come in handy now and then to give your spells some extra reach.
Speaking of Sludge Belchers, I bet you’re wondering why I don’t have them in the deck, and instead have a pair of Spectral Knights in their place. Well, to put it bluntly, Sludge Belcher dies way too quickly. Normally in regular Control Warrior, Sludge Belcher gives you just another extra turn you may need to get into the late-game, and losing one isn’t necessarily the end of the game.
However, with this deck, you can’t always rely on just getting to the late-game to win; you need to have creatures to fight for board presence earlier while also being resilient to removal in some way. While Sludge Belcher does this in the form of a deathrattle, Spectral Knight does it better in the form of their ability to not be targeted. Overall, they are stickier, and as a result are a change I feel necessary for the health of the deck.
Finally, we have the last addition to the deck, a pair of Defender of Argus. Needless to say, our creatures are overall quite a bit weaker than the full Control Warrior, and as a result we will have a tough time combating them without a bit of flexibility in our minions’ stats. Defender of Argus provides that flexibility while at the same time providing us with quick taunts in a pinch. Overall these two should help you provide the favorable trades that you need to seal the game away for your Legendaries to finish off.
When mulliganing against any class, you’re searching for three cards; Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith, and Fiery War Axe. If you can get two out of those three in your opening hand, you will be able to battle for the board early.
Most of the time, if you are going up against an aggressive opponent, it isn’t wrong to toss away an Acolyte of Pain to search deeper for the other two, as you will sometimes also draw Unstable Ghoul, which isn’t a bad card to have in your opening hand in these matchups.
Speaking of matchups…
General Matchup Analysis
Overall, your matchups might change slightly as a result of how your deck has been restructured. With your mid-game strengthened, you will normally fair better against other mid-range and aggressive decks, especially with the Spectral Knights in your deck.
Against Zoo, you will normally have a favorable matchup, but it will still depend on your draws. If you can’t stop their aggression early on and establish a board, your chances of winning will decrease. In this situation, minions like Unstable Ghoul will provide invaluable as it counters normally strong cards such as Haunted Creeper and Flame Imp.
Against Aggro matchups such as Priest and Mage, you will still have a hard time. They will be able to apply pressure early, and you have to draw your Fiery War Axe and Armorsmith early. Failing to do so will result in the aggro player taking over the game, because although you can negate some of the damage with your hero power it can only do so much for you.
Less aggressive matchups like Midrange Druid and Deathrattle Priest are a bit harder to judge. It can go either way but as long as you use your removals efficiently you should be able to make it into the late-game where you have an advantage.
Going up against Ramp Druid, however, is another story. They will normally have multiple large and aggressive threats throughout the game. This means that what is normally an even matchup goes slightly in their favor, as you don’t have a limitless supply of answers for their creatures. Above all, Cenarius usually spells defeat for you if they manage to use its buffing ability, as it’s incredibly hard to recover from such a tempo shift.
Finally, we come to the Control and Mirror matchups. Generally against the Warrior Mirror you will have a rough time. They have multiple Legendaries they can throw on the board at any time whereas you need to conserve yours for when you want to finish them off. Here cards like Big Game Hunter and Faceless Manipulator will help you regain the edge that you lose.
Against the other Control matchups, it’s simply a matter of understanding how their deck plays. Paladin will want you to flood the board so that they can get value out of Equality, while Priest delights in stealing your minions and using them against you. In these situations, Spectral Knight will help you gain an edge as it will be resilient against spells in general.
Comparing the Crafting Costs
Now it’s time to look at what this deck costs in comparison to the regular Control Warrior. Since the release of Naxxramas, Warrior lists have varied slightly in expense, but overall they are still an enormous commitment in time and crafting dust.
The normal Control Warrior, however, does utilize at least five more Legendaries than this deck, giving it a crafting cost of anywhere from 12,000-16,000 dust to craft, which is a ridiculous amount considering how much time it normally takes to accumulate such a vast amount. While this might be slightly muddied by the fact that some of these cards have to be obtained for gold rather than dust, overall it remains that most of the deck is pretty hard to craft.
In contrast, most of the cards needed for this deck to work aren’t hard to obtain, and while some of them still require gold to obtain, overall you are looking at a crafting cost of 5,700 dust. Granted, this is still a significant commitment if you are a mid-budget player, but if you enjoy playing Warrior as much as I do, the cost is worth it.
Overall, I think this deck works fairly well given the current state of the meta. Aggressive decks are making somewhat of a resurgence, and on top of that there is now a bit of room for innovation due to the recent nerfs that were implemented. Because of this, decks like this one can take advantage of these openings to gain an edge over what other’s are playing.
While its play style is a bit different from the regular Control Warrior list, this deck still provides the same win-condition and contains many of the cards that make Warrior a force to be reckoned with.
Well, that wraps up everything for this article. If you have questions or comments about the deck, or want to know more details such as replacements, feel free to send me an email at [email protected] or just leave a comment below. As always, I encourage any and all questions and criticisms, and I hope you enjoyed the article today. Thanks for reading!