While there are many decks in the current meta, Control Warrior is one of the most popular. As a result, you always want to plan for it when laddering. Though its armor, big finishers and board clears make it hard to beat, Tempo Warrior is a very resilient deck whose powerful minions and constant pressure can really choke control. This guide will break down that matchup and examine what cards enable Tempo to win.
There are several builds of Tempo Warrior right now and each of them come with their own strengths and weaknesses. If you are seeing a lot of control decks you can run more finishers, while more removal or low-curve threats can be used if you are facing a lot of aggro or fast midrange. The core of the deck is always going to be the same, but the deck is crafted in a way where there is a lot of room for tech cards. You should always play the version you are the most comfortable with. To help you make this choice, two guides have been linked below.
When mulliganing against Warrior you have a little bit of leeway. This is because Control is going to start out slow, largely just armoring up or using one-for-one removal. While you do want to curve as efficiently as possible, you can keep some naked three or four drops depending on if you have the coin or not. This matchup begins at the end of the early game and you should plan for such.
Cards to KeepArmorsmith Slam Fiery War Axe Ravaging Ghoul Acolyte of Pain
Fierce Monkey and Frothing Berserker should always be kept with the coin or on curve.
Kor’kron Elite is a good keep with a fast opening.
Bloodhoof Brave should be kept if it slots in your curve.
How to Win
A big part of facing Warrior is resource management. That is to say, controlling your minions in a way where your opponent’s removal is never getting full value. Warrior makes a living off of efficient and powerful removal spells that it uses to easily glide to into its incredible end game. You can combat that because you have good minions at all stages of the game. If you can set up your strong midrange minions then you can force your opponent to use premium removal on them and set up your big finishers.
Never let your opponent get comfortable. Control Warrior is a fantastic deck when they have ample options, plenty or cards and a ton of powerful minions to finish the game. However, if they are forced to burn multiple cards early to save their life they are going to be in a bad spot. This is a matchup where you need to use all of your aggressive tools and do everything you can to make sure you are either adding to the board or doing damage each turn. As soon as you have a dead turn you will fall behind.
Early Game Strategy
The early turns of the game are going to go very slowly. You might have a strong minion, but Warrior is often going to be able to take it down with ease. That does not mean you want to miss a drop, but know that everything is going to die. You want to get a minion down as soon as possible. This may seem like an obvious tip, but you do not need to get full value out of things like Frothing Berserker or Acolyte of Pain, you just need your opponent to burn cards.
The most important thing about playing Warrior is recognizing which version they are playing. Tempo, Control, and even Aggro, are all popular versions of Warrior that you will see on ladder. A big tip off is Armorsmith. She is only really run in Tempo so if you see her you know you are facing the mirror. From there, Aggro runs pirate cards or swings weapons at your face, and control has early removal spells like Shield Slam and Bash.
Set up Battle Rage whenever possible. Due to the way this game plays out, you are going to need to beat your opponent through sheer card advantage. The more cards you have in your hand the more threats you will have, giving you a ton of options. It is not going to be easy, but if you have a turn where you have minions on the board that you can damage to draw, you should do it.
These are the best turns of the game for you because this is where you can really start to squeeze Control Warrior and force them into plays they don’t want to make. Almost everything you have is going to be a live threat that Warrior needs to remove to keep their health as high as they want. As a result, run out as many threats as you can.
Bloodhoof Brave is very good on turn four because it puts Warrior in an awkward spot. Six health is very hard for them to kill, dodging things like Slam/Fiery War Axe. As a result, they will often be forced to use a premium removal spell like Execute on your four drop, giving your later drops much more leeway.
Understand how Justicar Trueheart changes the game. Though you can play a slower game, that won’t cut it here. You need to get damage in, meaning there is no way you are going to be able to race the six drop over more than a few turns. Once your opponent begins to armor up you need to push as hard as possible to take them down before they can stabilize.
Your best threat here is Cairne Bloodhoof. The six drop gives Warrior a ton of fits and will usually eat at least two removal spells before it goes down. It also gives you a great way to stick four damage a turn even if your opponent has removal in hand. This is also very important at trading into your opponent’s minions and keeping off any pressure they might have.
Playing Sylvanas Windunner to eat heavy removal on turn six or seven when pushing for damage can be a great play if you want to force your opponent’s hand and set up a giant finisher. She is also good on an empty board to stop your opponent from getting down a finisher of their own.
Note: Play around Brawl. If you have the board you should hold back when possible to avoid making the AOE too strong.
Late Game Strategy
If you make it to the end of the game you are going to have a very small window to kill your opponent before they get out of reach forever. The way you do this is by playing to your finishers and stacking up every hit you can get down. You have many ways to be aggressive, from weapons to charge minions, and you need to constantly think of the various ways you can do damage.
Your have three big finishers in your deck, Malkarok, Ragnaros the Firelord and Grommash Hellscream, and you should play to them all. Each of these cards are forms of immediate damage that put a big body down. If your opponent still has removal available during this time you want to only play the cards in ways where they can get in a hit right away (i.e where there is no taunt in the way).
Another important note is that you need to watch out for your opponent’s Grommash Hellscream. As you push for damage it is easy to forget what your opponent can do. If you fall down to the low teens you need to watch out and stay above the ten/twelve health margin as much as you can.
Play around Revenge. This is very important when being aggressive against Control Warrior. If you can, try to keep them at thirteen health. Of course, there are times where you need to just push, but hold back if you can afford it.