MetaDeck #5 - Wild & Wacky Watcher Warlocks
Rum Ham have shared an article over at Reddit that it's worth a read if you are interested in knowing about the Warlock and how it fits in the current meta.
INTRO: WILD & WACKY WATCHER WARLOCKS
Hey gang - I'm The Rum Ham. I'm currently climbing the ladder, maintain a 70% win rate in Arena, and am an established M:TG player. I write a weekly deck column here on r/hearthstone with playtesting data on a deck I feel is underrated and well-positioned in the meta, along with insights on deckbuilding theory to help you with your own creations.
GAMEPLAN & DECKLIST
My opponent casts a Turn 6 Ragnaros and I gleefully squeal to myself. I start my turn eight with 9 HP facing a board of Murlocs and win within 2 turns. This deck could be called boozy - it's prone to make you feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. If your matchmaker spits an endless parade of Imps, Bandits, and Squires, then the solution might be hiding right where you probably hadn't looked.
The best aggro class might also be the best control class.
This deck, Watcher Warlock, is a defensive control deck that takes those aggro decks and uses their force against them. This is the judo of Hearthstone. Do you know aggro decks that can punch through a Turn Two 4/5 Taunt? Or survive a 3 damage board wipe? Or finish off a deck that can heal itself for 20 or more damage? This deck can punish aggressive decks all three ways, and more, often in the same game.
Early on, you're alternating playing out beefy stats like Ancient Watcher and Harvest Golem, and trading 1-for-1 with opposing threats via cards like Mortal Coil and Shadowbolt. If the board get out of hand, Hellfire it. If it looks tame, you can play either Taunt-granting minion to create a wall of impenetrable fat. That's when the fun starts.
Once you feel you have stabilized, alternating card draw with removal is elementary from there. I would venture to say this is deck has the most powerful removal suite in the metagame - there is nearly nothing they could play that I am afraid of. I'm more afraid of Fatigue than my opponent's creatures.
You have a trifecta of cards that shut the door on the opponent - Two Molten Giants and Lord Jaraxxus. All that damage from early aggression, your ability, and Hellfire usually leads to stablizing in the low 10s. This would be scary, except when you drop 0-mana 8/8s on turn six and then give them Taunt, you usually don't take more damage. When the opponent gets you down to 3 and then Lord Jaraxxus buries them two turns later under Infernals, you'll never want to play fair cards like Ragnaros or Ysera again.
2 Ancient Watcher
2 Sunfury Protector
2 Earthen Ring Farseer
2 Harvest Golem
2 Defender of Argus
2 Twilight Drake
1 Sylvanas Windrunner
2 Molten Giant
1 Lord Jaraxxus
2 Mortal Coil
2 Siphon Soul
1 Twisting Nether
1 Bloodmage Thalnos
1 Tinkmaster Overspark
2 Acidic Swamp Ooze
ORIGIN AND CREDENTIALS
This deck popped on the radar when it placed 3rd in a recent Managrind event, so it's definitely a contender. I played the deck a bit and without the ability to sideboard (like you can in MG tournaments) I wanted to make a few changes to make it smoother for repeated ladder play.
2 Mind-Control Technician -> 2 Acidic Swamp Ooze
1 Shadowflame -> Twisting Nether
1 Leeroy Jenkins -> Bloodmage Thalnos
I didn't like Mind-Control Tech, I felt the swarm decks were good matchups already, but I was afraid of weapons. Paladin, Warrior, Rogue, and Hunter all need their weapons to keep your board clear, and often an unanswered Truesilver Champion or Assassin's Blade can deal more direct damage than you can handle. Once I started recording, naturally, I didn't play any weapon decks. He was serviceably fine as a cheap 3/2, however!
LOSS vs. Big Druid (This is a good one - absolutely should've won; I wasn't aggressive enough)
BEST CASE SCENARIO: THE LAST BOARDBENDER
You often hear the term 'board control' to mean lots of little minions with value-generating buffs, bouncing around and enforcing order. This deck is board control in the opposite sense - with a full grip of cards there's nothing you are afraid of. In the videos, I cackle at a Turn 6 Ragnaros! Hellfire handles any swarm, Siphon Soul deals with anything large enough to tap out for, all while hiding behind 2-mana 4/5 taunters.
Pre-Freeze Mage the Ancient Watcher combo began to gain traction but not every class syngerizes well with the cards. Warlock, despite being thought of as an aggro class, would love cheap taunts to sit and draw cards behind. Ancient Watcher, Twilight Drake, and Molten Giant all complement the Taunt-granters at each stage of the game to stump most aggro decks, which can't deal with one 5HP Taunt, much less three or four.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: MUTUAL SELF HATE
Your gameplan is to exploit the board-focused nature of the meta by trumping small creatures with Ancient Watcher and Twilight Drake. You often end up widdling yourself down to around 15 or so before stablizing. Decks that deal damage directly are huge problems for this deck because it's generally slow to put the opponent away despite maintaining dominating positions. When both you and the Hunter's Hero powers deal 2 damage to you, the game doesn't last very long.
The Mage video shows a good example of this - she deals about 20 direct damage to me as I fall just short of dealing enough to break Ice Block and go for the kill.
WORST MATCHUPSMage Burn
Pros: Interesting to Play, Rewarding to Pull Off
This a deck that definitely requires a learning curve - I throw the Druid game by simply being too controlling and not casting Molten Giants early enough. Fatigue dealt me a Pyroblast and I was still a turn away from winning! The deck is also delightfully splashy, able to recover from enemy boards that other decks simply couldn't.
It's a deck than genuinely rewards planning several turns ahead, and managing your removal properly. Predicting what the opponent has and dealing out the appropriate response is the key skill to playing the deck well. The Druid game, despite being a loss, is a great example of this - he plays 6 or more legit game-enders and none of them stick. What other decks can absorb a parade of legendaries on the chin and keep battling?
Cons: Reactive, Not Proactive
You are designed to gum up the board, to be the defender to a presumed aggressor. But when you must come out of your shell it's tough. Ancient Watchers can't attack, you need to hurt yourself to get Giants out, leaving most of the aggro to Defender of Argus and Twilight Drake, which aren't winning any horse races. Fatigue suicides are a very real threat!
There's a surprising amount of anti-synergy to balance too, such as wanting to take damage to make the most of Molten Giant and Jaraxxus, but Earthen Ring Farseer and Siphon Soul heal you back up. Sometimes you have too much healing and your cards don't feel so good together, though usually that's a pretty decent problem to have.
The deck can be unreal hard to play. Normally I play a deck much more before doing an article, but the holidays cut into my time. These videos are cringeworthy because of how many misplays I make, even in the wins. This deck has a very high ceiling of power, but it definitely requires a commitment to master.
SIDEBOARD AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
None of the Legendaries besides Jaraxxus are required, so don't be intimidated! They can be replaced either with more removal (Drain Life, Demonfire, Bane of Doom) or beefy end-game minions (Sunwalker, Azure Drake). Molten Giants are a core card for so many combos, but they can actually be replaced with Chillwind Yetis to essentially double up on Twilight Drake. You lose out on big swingy plays but gain a lot of consistency!
Acidic Swamp Ooze is completely interchangeable with the meta, and I could see Voidwalker as a generic stand-in, but I suspect you'd want something more powerful. Wild Pyromancer is probably both great and unnecessary overkill at the same time.
If you have to craft Epics/Legendaries to make this deck, here is the priority I would put them in:
That's it for the week! Comments and suggestions are always welcome, help me make this column better each week!