18 August 2014 - 15:00

Beginner Hearthstone Deck Tech: Basic Warlock

Sheng here with a basic tech guide for the Warlock class in Hearthstone! New to the game or have friends just starting out? Highly recommended!
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Editor's Note: You can find this deck guide updated over at our partner site - Disguised Toast.

If you're looking to expand your collection, highly recommend going for the Classic set and Whispers of the Old Gods (Standard Format). And here are budget guides, also from Sheng, to get you started!

Introduction

Greetings, I’m Sheng, a Legend rank constructed and 7.5 win-average arena player. I run HearthstoneCoaching.com where our coaches have helped many students achieve the same.

Of all our Beginner Deck Techs, Basic Warlock Hearthstone Deck is perhaps the most difficult to play correctly. This is because Warlock's Hero Power, Life Tap, allows him to draw a card at the expense of 2 mana and 2 health. Knowing when to play a card, and when to Life Tap is essential to playing this deck successfully.

Basic Warlock is built around four primary removal spells available in Warlock's Basic card set. These are Soulfire, Mortal Coil, Shadow Bolt, and Hellfire. Because Hellfireand Life Tap both deal damage to you, it's very easy to push yourself carelessly into lethal range for your opponent. However, when these removal spells are used efficiently in conjunction with the spell power bonus from Ogre Magi, they can be amazing.

A sub-strategy is the usage of cards like Elven Archer, Mortal Coil, Hellfire, and Dread Infernal, to enable Gurubashi Berserker. Unlike our other Beginner Deck Techs, there is no inclusion of Gnomish Inventor, a card primarily used to gain card advantage. Because of Life Tap, running out of cards isn't a problem we generally have to worry about.

Minions - 22

1x Elven Archer

  • She's primarily used to get our spells in range for killing a minion, or enraging our Gurubashi Berserker. You'll never want to play her on an empty board just to deal 1 damage.
  • A situational card like her should only be included once in a deck. You don't want two copies of the same situational card in your hand at once.

2x Acidic Swamp Ooze

  • The best two mana minion in the Basic card set. With a weapon destroying battlecry, an Acidic Swamp Oozeplayed at the right time can swing games.

2x Bloodfen Raptor

  • A plain 2 mana for a 3/2. He's chosen over other 2 mana minions in the Basic set because 3 attack allows him to kill most 3 mana minions.

2x Ironfur Grizzly

  • Having two options at 3 mana slot is pretty useful. While Shattered Sun Clericis generally better, her value comes from having something already on the board to buff. In situations where that isn't possible, it's better to play our 3/3 Ironfur Grizzlywith taunt.

2x Shattered Sun Cleric

  • An amazing card for tempo if you can utilize her battlecry to buff a smaller minion to trade against a larger one, or when you can increase the health on a minion so it doesn't die in what would have been an even trade.

2x Chillwind Yeti

  • The best 4 mana minion in the Basic card set. While he doesn't have any special abilities, his 4/5 base stats allow him to trade with two 2 or 3 mana minions, and even some 4 mana minions.

2x Ogre Magi

  • A key minion for his spell power bonus. All the spells from our deck can benefit from an Ogre Magibeing on the board. A 4/4 body is not bad either.

2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta

  • 4 mana for a 3/5 with taunt is pretty good value. We need him to stabilize the board when we're faced with aggressive decks with many small minions.

2x Darkscale Healer

  • While it's unlikely you'll be able to play Hellfireand Darkscale Healertogether on the same turn, she's best seen as a more expensive Chillwind Yetithat heals ourself. Often the 2 health is important, because it's equivalent to one more Life Tap late in the game.
  • She gains the most value when we can use our minions to clear our opponent's board, and then heal them back up by playing her afterwards.

1x Gurubashi Berserker

  • A hedge against our Hellfire. Playing Hellfireagainst a Gurubashi Berserkersimply trades 3 health for 3 attack most of the time. We can also enrage him with our Mortal Coils, Elven Archer, and Dread Infernal.
  • Be sure to check if you're within lethal range after pinging him! Every time you do so, he gains 3 attack. This is unlike other enrage cards like Amani Berserkerand Raging Worgen.

2x Boulderfist Ogre

  • A plain 6 mana for 6/7. This is exactly what we want at this slot. A big guy who will trade with two other big guys. He'll trade with two 6/6 minions, and is out of Big Game Hunterand Fireballrange.

2x Dread Infernal

  • His stats are worse than Boulderfist Ogre, and his battlecry can sometimes backfire against us, but thankfully we can choose when to play him.
  • Playing card Gurubashi Berserkeron turn 5 followed by Dread Infernalon turn 6 essentially gives you a 5/6 Gurubashi Berserkerfor 5 mana.

Spells - 8

2x Soulfire

  • The best removal spell in our entire deck. While it costs us a card, the tempo swing Soulfirebrings can be outrageous. Gets bonus points because this spell can be played on the same turn you play Ogre Magito deal 5 damage.
  • It's best to see if you can empty your hand first before playing Soulfire, as it won't cost you an additional card.

2x Mortal Coil

  • Like Elven Archer, this is a situational card. We play two copies because of the potential this has with Ogre Magi, which doubles the amount of damage we can do with it.
  • 2 damage and draw a card for 1 mana is the dream.

2x Shadow Bolt

  • Playing this early hurts your tempo, as on turn 4, playing this means you most likely won't be playing anything else, but late in the game you can play Shadow Boltto remove a minion and play something else as well, which is great.

2x Hellfire

  • A double-edged sword. Play this card to clear your opponent's board. As long as your life total is high enough, you can also use this to lethal your opponent. Just take into the account the damage it'll do to you and your board first before you play it.

Mulligan Guide

In general, you want to mulligan for a set of cards that will let you play something on each turn.

Good cards to keep:

  • 1 Mana: Soulfire, Mortal Coil
  • 2 Mana: Acidic Swamp Ooze, Bloodfen Raptor
  • 3 Mana: Ironfur Grizzly, Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 4 Mana: Chillwind Yeti, Sen'jin Shieldmasta, Ogre Magi

Note that if you have you can subtract 1 mana off the cost of one of your cards in your opening hand. Once you have something at a particular mana slot, try to mulligan for something else so you can play something on each turn.

How to Play

This deck is a mid-range deck that relies on board clear cards like Hellfireand Warlock's relatively cheap removal spells Mortal Coil, Soulfire, and Shadow Boltto efficiently remove your opponent's minions. Situational cards like Gurubashi Berserkercan actually benefit from Hellfireand cards like Mortal Coiland Elven Archercan be used on it to buff its attack.

You'll want to use your Hellfires when you'll do more damage to your opponent than your own minions. There will sometimes be situations where Hellfirewill clear your own minions, so be sure to attack your opponent before casting it.

Combos

Ogre Magi+ Spell: You'll be able to use Ogre Magion basically all the spells in this deck. Just remember that playing Hellfirewhen you have an Ogre Magion the board will clear the magi too. This spell power bonus is especially useful on cheap cards like Soulfireand Mortal Coil.  Elven Archercan often be used to bring damaged minions into range for a removal spell to clear it off. Be careful to check to see how much damage you can do to your opponent with all your spells. You'll be surprised to find that many times you'll be able to do 15+ damage in one turn with the minions you have on the board.

Gameplay Videos

Versus Druid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRUuUURbV18


Versus Hunter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTzhv56HO4


Versus Mage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyRZ6G1F-CU


Versus Paladin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ftLJHqEBic


Versus Priest

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VksZE6sKV8


Versus Rogue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFBZxLrTL_A


Versus Shaman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdmXuqK1p5g


Versus Warlock

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_eXbJCRPZA


Versus Warrior

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hze3j8fq8Kc

How to Upgrade Your Deck

Over time, you'll collect more and more cards from opening Hearthstone packs. Please follow the guide below before reading the upgrade card list to understand how to incorporate new cards successfully into your deck.

Which Cards Should I Upgrade?

  • Before you start, go through your deck and look at each card and understand its role and function.
  • The easiest cards to upgrade are minions that have counterparts that are complete upgrades. I define a complete upgrade as a card with the same or better stat distribution and a better ability for the same mana cost. A Knife Jugglerwould be a complete upgrade over a Bloodfen Raptor. A Spider Tankwould not be.
  • Replace situational minions or spells that will often stay glued in your hand until the right moment arises with more verstile minions or spells. You can easily replace Kobold Geomancerand Gnomish Inventorin your deck with Azure Drakeinstead. While Azure Drakeisn't a complete upgrade over either card, the fact that it has a better stat distribution, draws a card, and gives you spell-power makes it a card that isn't situational.
  • After making a list of cards that are potentially upgradeable from the list above, you can move on to the next section!

How Do I Actually Upgrade My Deck?

  • Don't rush the process! Deckbuilding takes time. Each and every card in this Basic deck was chosen for a purpose, and fills an important function in this deck. You would be surprised how much time it took me to think of each of these decks, and how long the process of tuning them took.
  • Generally, you don't want to make more than one or two changes to your deck at a time. Swap out cards one or two at a time, and play your deck with the changes. Each time you draw into your "upgraded" card, ask yourself whether or not you wish it was the card you had previously in your deck. If you consistently say yes to this question over several games, then the "upgraded" card belongs.
  • Repeat the testing process with more upgrades until you're fully satisfied you have the best deck you can make with the cards you have.

Respect Your Mana Curve!

  • While it's tempting to throw a bunch of late game minions into your deck, it's a bad idea because you'll find that without an early game, you'll never get to late game before your opponent kills you. You want to be able to play on curve, and not have to skip a turn without having something to play.
  • While this isn't a golden rule for all decks, this is what a general mana curve should look like for a midrange deck. Please keep this in mind as you swap in your shiny new cards.

    • 0-2 One Mana Minions
    • 4-6 Two Mana Minions
    • 4-5 Three Mana Minions
    • 4-6 Four Mana Minions
    • 2-4 Five Mana Minions
    • 2-4 Six+ Mana Minions

Potential Upgrades List — November 2015

Here are a few simple substitutions that will make this budget deck even stronger.

Minions

  • 2x Soulfire? 2x Flame Imp
  • 1x Mortal Coil+ 1x Elven Archer? 2x Voidwalker
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze ? 2x Knife Juggler
  • 2x Bloodfen Raptor ? 2x Haunted Creeper
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly ? 2x Nerubian Egg
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric ? 2x Imp Gang Boss
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti ? 2x Voidcaller
  • 2x Ogre Magi? 2x Void Terror
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta ? 2x Defender of Argus
  • 2x Darkscale Healer ? 2x Doomguard
  • 1x Gurubashi Berserker ? 1x Loatheb
  • 1x Boulderfist Ogre ? 1x Sea Giant
  • 2x Dread Infernal ? 1x Dr. Boom+ 1x Mal'Ganis

Spells

  • 2x Shadow Bolt ? 2x Power Overwhelming
  • 2x Hellfire ? 2x Imp-losion

Paths to Legend

For those with a more complete collection of cards, or players who want to invest dust into crafting cards to build competitive ladder decks, this is an introduction to some of the best competitive decks you can play on ranked with Warlock.

Because of Life Tap, Warlock has some of the most consistent decks out there in this game. Currently, Zoolock and Handlock are the two most popular styles of play on ladder.


  • The ultimate weenie deck. Zoolock relies on the synergy between many cheap but efficient minions.
  • While aggressive, this deck is best played in a midrange board control style, where you trade your smaller minions up for more expensive ones.
  • Zoo relies on controlling tempo, and works incredibly well because of Life Tap, which replenishes your hand when you're behind in cards.
  • As an added bonus, it's incredibly cheap to craft, as most variations of this deck cost less than the price of one legendary.


  • Handlock, also known as Giants Warlock, is another deck built around Life Tap. Warlock has an incredible ability to utilize his life as a resource in exchange for tempo and card advantage in games. Handlock abuses this to its full potential.
  • This deck relies on card advantage to bring out cards like Twilight Drake, Mountain Giant, and Molten Giantwith Life Tap.
  • Unlike Zoolock, this is a control heavy style of play that relies on surviving early with taunts and board clears to bring out giants and burst minions/spells to close out the game.


As a side note, there are also new variations of Demon decks that have become popular with the advent of the new Naxxramas cards being released. Keep a close eye on the articles published on this site in the future, as our contributors will definitely be covering them.

Conclusion

This was a relatively unorthodox introduction to the Warlock class. Because the best Warlock decks on ladder are built around Expert cards, I needed to come up with a deck that could creatively use Life Tap in conjunction with the removal provided by his Basic class cards. The end result is a fun deck built around spell power and removal.

I'd highly recommend new players to upgrade to Warlock Zoo as soon as they get the chance, as it fully utilizes this class's excellent hero power.

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the New Players section, other Beginner Decks, and our most popular section - Monthly Top Meta Decks.

Coaching Lessons

If you're interested in reaching Legend rank, or earning unlimited gold from arena, my team at HearthstoneCoaching.com would love to help! We've provided over a thousand hours of excellent coaching to students around the world. 

Want to Become Better at Other Games?

I also run RankOneCoaching.com, where our top coaches will develop a personal plan for you to achieve your dreams in other games. Personal lessons are an in-depth experience and most students improve significantly after just one full session!

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