Sjow’s Rank 1 Control Warrior Guide: Part 1 – Deck Analysis.

DarkFrost here and today I'll be showcasing Sjow's Control Warrior deck that he used to get to Rank 1 Legend past season. Let's dive right in!


Heh, Greetings. DarkFrost here and today I’ll be showcasing Sjow’s Control Warrior deck that he used to get to Rank 1 Legend past season. You ask why play control warrior and what’s different about this one, We’ll get to that in just a second.

What is a control deck?

A control deck is based around the idea of winning through inevitability. You want to get to the later stages of the game by controlling your opponents board efficiently and simply win due to the sheer amount of threats and super high value legendary minions that you have. You know that when your ragnaros-the-firelord snipes the right minion, your sylvanas-windrunner steals the best minion and your ysera survives the next turn, You win.

Control warrior in this meta

The meta game right now is really weird unlike the previous one’s where we had 1-2 decks that prevailed and all the other decks countered these top-tier decks. But right now, nearly all classes are viable thanks to the recent nerfs and the introduction of undertaker.

So why play control warrior? Well because control warrior is a deck like zoo, It doesn’t have any bad matchups in particular and can virtually win against any deck. You can beat fast decks like zoo with cards like fiery-war-axe, armorsmith and cruel-taskmaster. Out-value midrange decks with super efficient removal in the form of shield-slam, execute and your weapons. And outlast control decks in fatigue wars with the immense amount of armor/life-gain that is provided by your hero power and cards.

Deck Breakdown

execute – One of the best hard removal in the game that comes with a catch that the minion (execute face Kappa?) must me damaged, Great combo with deaths-bite, and basically anything that deals 1 damage. It can gain huge tempo at times as well when you can execute a big creature and play a card.

shield-slam – This card kills decks in control matchups, if you can stack a huge amount of armor, It can even kill of a ysera for 1 measly mana. It’s decent against aggro, but the effectiveness of this card in control matchups far outweighs it’s deadness in the aggro matchup. It can be used with a shield block when you cannot stack a bunch of armor. This card and alexstrasza is the reason why you wanna value your armor over your health.

fiery-war-axe – The famous 2 mana weapon often dubbed as “Fiery Win Axe” Due to the fact that it lets you absolutely crush your opponents early game, it will destroy any and every minion playable at 2-3 mana (exceptions: dark-cultist and dancing-swords). If you draw this card in your early hand you can dominate over any deck that runs early drops. LOK’TAR OGAR!

cleave – The inclusion of this card is questionable, it sometimes feels dead but can be pretty good at times, personally I feel that this card is a bit undervalued. It lets you kill that 1/2 slime for free and damage the other minion. And it is so good in aggro matchups especially zoo. I remember a Zoolock who ragequit after I used cleave into his double flame-imp opener #thedream. Sjow has this card to counter hunters. And to be honest it is pretty decent.

armorsmith – This card is basically needed for two things, To get a lot of life gain vs aggro and to increase the shield slam value, by a lot. If you can manage to let an Armorsmith live behind Sludge Belcher, you can end up getting a lot of armor and absolutely crush aggro. Armorsmith is card that is amazing in the early game and decent in the late game as well. But in the late game you only wanna play her behind taunts and if you can get at least 3-4 armor off of her.

cruel-taskmaster – A warrior has a really difficult time dealing easy one damage to one minion, this card is however the best card to deal one damage in this deck. It combos with: execute, big-game-hunter, grommash-hellscream, armorsmith and acolyte-of-pain. Also it helps deal with early one health minions. You wanna try saving one though to combo it with grommash-hellscream

big-game-hunter – BGH is purely a combo/tech card right now. it helps kill big threats like Ragnaros in the late game, improves your matchup against handlocks, and isn’t as dead a card due to the 2 cruel taskmasters in the deck, as it allows you to kill popular 5 health minions like Loatheb which is run in almost every deck. You can almost guarantee value off this card in most matchups if you can save a cruel taskmaster.

shield-block – It’s a cycle card for 3 mana that gives you health and lets you get immediate value from you shield-slams. Against control and midrange decks save this card to combo with a shield-slam. Do not just cast it to simply cycle it when you have remaining mana, It is better to save it to make your shield slams better. The only exception being if your hand is extremely bad or you are against aggro and need a quick health Regen.

acolyte-of-pain – Your primary draw engine. Your goal is going to be to at least draw 2 cards off of it. It is correct to just play him on turn 3 but post that try to at least draw 1 card immediately after playing him.

deaths-bite – The naxx card that replaced korkron-elite and gorehowl in control warrior. It has amazing combo potential, It is the truesilver-champion/swipe hybrid for warriors. It can get a 14 damage combo on turn 8 with grommash-hellscream or a ton of armor and card draw when combo’d while you have armorsmith and acolyte-of-pain on board. There is speculation on whether or not to hit the face with the first charge. You wanna do this when:

  • You are setting up for lethal
  • You want it to deal 5 damage to something the next turn.
  • You are guaranteed a benefit from the whirlwind effect the upcoming turn.

Unless these are the situations you are in, do not hit the opponents face with the first charge.

senjin-shieldmasta – Control warrior doesn’t have a 4 mana minion. Senjin is in here to counter aggro and give you something to play on turn 4. It can be replaced with anything you want but Senjin works really well against zoo and hunter.

brawl – The viable version of twisting-nether it’s the board reset that absolutely wrecks decks that rely on board development. You want to get as greedy as possible when using this card against matchups like Shaman, Zoo, and Tempo Priest. In other matchups it is ok to use this card when you can destroy 4-5 or more minions. If you can get a fire elemental and a feral spirit caught in a brawl, it’s fine to cast it. But timing the brawl right is always crucial. It combos well with sylvanas-windrunner as when you cast brawl when you have her on the board it’s a brawl you always win. remember the same goes if your opponent has a Sylvanas as well.

faceless-manipulator – This is the card that wins you the control matchup, It is always good to faceless a 6-7+ mana minion. Imagine having a second copy of Ragnaros or Cairne or facelessing your own 10/8 Grommash for 20 damage, The combos and the shenanigans that you can do with faceless are endless.  One of my favorite combos is to faceless-manipulator a ragnaros-the-firelord and then big-game-hunter it. It ruins your opponent and provides a huge tempo swing.

Also against a control paladin you absolutely want to save this guy to Faceless his tirion-fordring. It is just as difficult for a paladin to deal with Tirion*

* – Unless the-black-knight

sludge-belcher – The auto-include card for every midrange to control deck right now. It just provides so much value. It requires at least 2 hits to clear completely and can really slow down any aggro deck. It just makes sense to run two of these. Another nice combo is to play an armorsmith behind a Belcher, It usually ends up in you getting 2-3 armor off of this play. Honestly sludge-belcher is my favorite card from naxx as well as the card i hate the most when up against.

loatheb – The lockdown card. Timing your Loatheb correctly is crucial to winning a lot of matchups. You want to save him to either Prevent AOE and Hard removal and to deal massive damage next turn or to stop an incoming lethal combo wombo such as force-of-nature + savage-roar. It is recommended that you time this card properly against miracle rogue, druid and mage.

cairne-bloodhoof – The best midgame creature in a control warrior’s legendary suite. The 4/10 stats that you get for six mana are off the charts.  A yeti that you have to kill twice. Most decks just can’t deal with Cairne and most have to burn a lot of resources to kill him. If Cairne’s deathrattle triggers it means that you just gained 2 mana over your opponent by getting a free 2 mana yeti. His anti-board clear nature makes him great against decks like paladin.

Also in the mirror matchup getting down the Cairne is extremely important. Because it is really tough for a warrior to deal with Cairne. He has to use to cards to get rid if it completely. Also Cairne is the only minion you can safely play without being scared of a big shield slam. When a Cairne spawns a Baine, you know you are ahead.

sylvanas-windrunner – Sylvanas is a card capable of completely shifting the board control to the player who plays her, However to do so, it is necessary to play her at the right time. She is the perfect response to an opposing cairne-bloodhoof. When playing Sylvanas make sure that your opponent cannot just trade his board into her and you cannot steal anything.

The correct time to play Sylvanas is when your opponent has stuff on the board that does not directly kill her and you can steal a minions. example: Opponent has a Cairne on the board or an Ysera it is a great idea to play Sylvanas. Also It is a good idea to play Sylvanas if you know that you are going to cast Brawl the following turn. In which case you will always win it, as whatever live will be on your side or Sylvanas herself will live.

the-black-knight – I mentioned earlier how sludge-belcher is an auto-include card in almost every deck right now. That makes The-black-knight to become an auto-include card as well. Killing your opponents 5 drop on curve at 6 mana just absolutely crushes your opponent. You might think that it is not the great value as there still is the 1/2 slime to deal with, but look at it this way, Your opponent spent his turn 5 to summon a 1/2 while you just summoned a Yeti. And not only does it get Belchers it is insane against druids and sometime paladin and shaman if you can Black Knight their legendaries.

Sometimes you want to save Black Knight against a druid and paladin in order to get the bigger stuff, specifically when you have an alternate answer and you can play a minion with it, eg.Shield slam. Because you get the same Black Knight sort of effect but now you just saved him to perhaps kill an ancient-of-war or tirion-fordring.

grommash-hellscream – A good viable constructed deck needs three things:

  1. Removal,
  2. Card Draw and a
  3. Win Condition/Burst Potential

Grommash fulfills the third role to make control warrior a perfect constructed deck. There are some games that you just cannot win by having a board or you lose board control. But luckily when this happens you can take the aggro route while playing warrior and hit face. And Grommash will let you accomplish that strategy. Also at times you just don’t have enough to kill your opponent and are about to die from fatigue in the control matchups Grommash helps you out here as well. And some times you cannot just kill your opponent by getting him extremely low, and you just need to burst him down to win eg.Handlock Grommash helps you out there as well. When son is in trouble Daddy is always there to give him a quick escape route to victory.

So Do you play Grommash to kill a minion? or Is it correct to play Grommash when you are nor about to win after playing him? The answers to these questions are extremely situational, But here is what you should do generally:

  • Yes, When your opponent is out of spell based removal
  • Yes, When need to kill something to not die
  • Yes, When your opponent is out of cards and has no board
  • No, When your opponent is a Handlock
  • No,  When your opponent is a Control Paladin.

Remember although Grommash is primarily a win condition, in certain situations you have to play him a charging 4/9, when you have to don’t hesitate on doing so.

ragnaros-the-firelord – It’s always fun to purge people with fire and throw 8 damage fireballs isn’t it? Well Ragnaros is the guy you want looking for if you like these things. Not only will he kill your target but also not take any damage in the process. You just need him to be on your side.

No matter how RNG based rag shots are, with great risk comes great reward. Yeah it is risky to play Ragnaros into that Alexstrasza but if he hits the Alex your opponent is gonna be in trouble. Despite his weakness to BGH Ragnaros is a card that can entirely shift the outcomes of games. He is an 8/8 body that is immune to silence and can deal free 8 damage to the face or a minion. Just remember one thing, always be nice to your rag and he will be nice to you.

ysera – The queen of control and the nightmare of priests. Ysera is the trump card in your deck. She can single-handedly win you a game without having to play another card ever again. All the cards from Ysera are extremely strong and possess the ability to close out games really quickly. She is the best card in any control matchup and gives you an edge over the control decks that do not run Ysera.

Remember: Never play Ysera before baiting out all of the removal cards from your opponent. It is ok even if you lose grommash-hellscream but you absolutely need to save Ysera till the end. Because Ysera is the only card that can win you the game even when you don’t have a single card left in your deck.


Cards that you can consider changing depending on your choice/style/meta:

cleave – Facing a bunch of control decks, consider replacing this with a copy of slam.

big-game-hunter – Finding this to be a dead card a lot of times or not facing many Handlocks? consider replacing this guy with a whirlwind or unstable-ghoul to improve the aggro matchup.

Senjin-shieldmasta – Facing a bunch of control decks, consider replacing this with a copy of spellbreaker.

Loatheb – With the decline of miracle rogue it isn’t that necessary to run this guy, although he is still pretty good. But if you want to play something else instead of Loatheb, You can add anything you want. If facing a bunch of shamans or weapon based classes I’d recommend harrison-jones

The-black-knight – Personally I feel like TBK is never a dead card most of the time. But if you don’t have him or want to play something else, you can sub him out for anything you like.

ysera – It’s either ysera or alexstrasza If you are facing a bunch of control Ysera is better. If you are facing a lot of aggro Alexstrasza is the better choice. Although it depends on your taste what to run.


Shield-Block + Shield-slam

Cruel-taskmaster + execute

armorsmith/acolyte-of-pain + any self damaging AOE.

sylvanas-windrunner + brawl

cruel-taskmaster + big-game-hunter

cruel-taskmaster + armorsmith

cruel-taskmaster + acolyte-of-pain

faceless-manipulator + big-game-hunter

sludge-belcher + armorsmith

deaths-bite + grommash-hellscream

cruel-taskmaster + grommash-hellscream


That concludes the First part of my Guide for Sjow’s Rank 1 Control Warrior covering all the cards and major deck strategies. You can find the second part here with the Mulligans and Matchups Guide along with some general tips to help you play the deck better. If you have any feedback or suggestions regarding the deck or this article feel free to ask me in the comments and I’ll make sure to reply.

Until then see ya and Good Luck!