As the meta continues to mold itself, I wanted to take this Weekly Legends to break down Control Warlock. Though we are a long way from getting anything fully settled, there is no doubt that Gul’dan has some really nice tools for the late game. Warlock has always been good at staying one step ahead because of Lifetap, and the added tools from KFT have really given it a little extra punch. This week’s build is one of the many versions of it running around, but I believe it will be what the deck looks like in the coming weeks. I have tried many builds and this, from a used on CompHS, seems to be the best. Warlock, even with their new cards, still have some gaping weaknesses as a class, and I think this version addresses those quite well.
[cardinsert card=”tainted-zealot” float=”right”]
[card]Tainted Zealot[/card] is a very interesting card that seems bad at first glance. However, looks can be deceiving. The 1/1 has proven itself quite good in this list because of how strong it plays with [card]Defile[/card]. If your opponent has a two or one health minion and you play zealot with the spell you do two damage to the board. Then, when something dies you do two more damage, and then one more because the zealot died. That is a five damage AOE spell for two cards and four mana. Not quite as effective as [card]Wild Pyromancer[/card]/[card]Equality[/card], but very strong nonetheless. You are a deck built off of stalling. This two drop greatly helps with that and gives you even more ways to clear. It can also be dropped down on turn two to challenge small aggro minions, which helps as well.
This card is for [card]Defile[/card], but it has other applications. A four damage [card]Hellfire[/card] is very good against Token Druid and Pirates, while a three damage (and three heal) [card]Drain Soul[/card] can give you some extra time. Just be aware when you’re working to set up [card]Tainted Zealot[/card] with [card]Defile[/card] that you can trigger it. It is very easy to take the combo for granted and just assume it is going to work. However, something needs to have two or less health. When you realize the board slipping away or when you feel things are getting out of control start to plan for ways to use AOE. If you have the zealot/Defile combo then you need to use your other removal or trade to set it up in the right way.
[cardinsert card=”chittering-tunneler” float=”left”]
Another sweet addition to this build is [card]Chittering Tunneler[/card]. The 3/3 has seem very limited play over the years, but it is quite good in the current meta. Discover is always going to be strong, and being able to find extra removal or value spells against midrange or control is quite nice. Sometimes you need a clear, sometimes you want to kill something, sometimes you want to draw, and sometimes you just need a body. Just note, whatever you take is going to cost some health. Normally, you should be able to sculpt the game in a way where that won’t matter, but there are times where it can cost you. Don’t blindly take that [card]Twisting Nether[/card] against Mindrange Paladin only to suddenly find yourself in the middle of lethal range. On that note, it is important to state that this card is purely a tool for the slower games. If the pendulum starts to swing back towards aggro, this card could become [card]Mistress of Mixtures[/card]. The 2/2 is already extremely popular and does the opposite of what tunneler does. This choice is purely based on what you see.
[cardinsert card=”corpsetaker” float=”right”]
It is no secret that [card]Corpsetaker[/card] is good in Paladin. In fact, the card so easily slots in with Uther that many may assume it is a class card. However, it is not a class card. [card]Tainted Zealot[/card] and [card]Bloodworm[/card] (discussed below) turn this into a 3/3 [card]Wickerflame Burnbristle[/card]. That is insanely powerful for two reasons. One, it (obviously) provides you a great wall against aggro. Something that will come up many times is the fact that Warlock is susceptible to hyper-aggressive decks. Your ample removal suite is almost never enough, and each lifetap helps your opponent. Corpsetaker gives you a way to mitigate slow starts and provides you a great tool for later in the game after you’ve stabilized. Burn is always going to be a threat, and lifesteal is a good way to keep it at bay.
The other reason this card is strong is because it helps you build a midrange game. Whenever you create a deck you need to think about the different things you are going to face around the meta. This deck does a good job of diversifying against the field, and one of those reasons is because of how you can fight against Druid. Malfurion is likely going to be the scourge (haha) of the coming meta, and they are not a deck that is equipped to deal with a bunch of solid bodies. Your deck, while a control build, has ample big bodies that you can throw out to dominate the middle game. [card]Corpsetaker[/card] holds down that board and helps you slowly move up your curve. It seems like a small thing, but divine shield and taunt are very hard for decks to get through. For that reason, the 3/3 is also amazing when facing things like Paladin’s weapons.
[cardinsert card=”bloodworm” float=”left”]
[card]Bloodworm[/card] is another odd inclusion, but one that makes quite a bit of sense when you start to think about how this deck plays. As mentioned, Control Warlock is very strong against big aggro, midrange, and, thanks to [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card], slow control. However, it struggles mightily against hyper-fast decks like Pirate Warrior and Aggro Druid. While those two builds dipped off in the early days, they are slowly trickling back to the ladder, and will likely continue to do so as the pendulum inevitably shifts back towards aggro. While you could once sit back and tap for a few turns, the aggro these days are too fast and too powerful to be easily cleared. As such, you need to be more proactive. This is where Bloodworm comes in. Not only does it act as a nice way to trigger [card]Corpsetaker[/card], but it also can really climb against faster decks if they don’t have a clean way to answer it.
Whenever you play against a deck that loves to do damage you should try to set [card]Bloodworm[/card] up on an empty board. This is not always going to be an easy task (five mana is quite steep) but if you can manage it you are going to be in very good shape. An interesting thing about lifesteal if that it is only truly strong when it has protection (divine shield) or when you can control the trades. Letting your aggro opponent swing a big weapon or use a removal spell on the beast is something you don’t want to happen because you are going to gain minimal life. However, if you can trade into something smaller and then something else, you just played a 4/4 [card]Antique Healbot[/card]. That ceiling can also grow if you just go face and protect your 4/4. Yes, this is not the most exciting card in the world, but it helps address a big problem, and that’s pretty cool.
[cardinsert card=”lord-jaraxxus” float=”right”]
This is my own inclusion to the list. Everyone knows by now that [card]Bloodreaver Gul’dan[/card] packs a lot of punch. The Death Knight has one of the strongest powers in the game and he comes with a whole slew of demons at his disposal. He gives you reach, helps you get back into games, and works as a strong overall finisher. However, as good as he is, he doesn’t fix one of the biggest problems with this deck: control. Almost all of the control decks running around right now have fast-damage and big finishers that can completely take over a game. You may be able to keep up, but it is too easy to get outvalued. Shadowreaper Priest, Control Paladin, and even slower versions of Druid and Warrior simply have too many tools for you to keep up. So, I decided to slot [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] into the build. Not only has he earned his keep, but, as always, the demon just breaks open control matches like no other card can.
Yes, [card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] does have a bit of anti-synergy with [card]Bloodreaver Gul’dan[/card]. However, that often won’t matter because you are going to use the two heroes in different matchups. Against control you want to lean hard on the 3/15 demon, and when going up against fast or midrange builds you want the death knight. Not only that, but Jaxx and Bloodreaver can both be used any time as pure value. I have seen a lot of lists running all sorts of big threats, but Warlock just doesn’t have the tools needed to outlast the control decks right now. Instead of trying to fight that, I thought it was better to just slot in a tech choice and call it a day. Putting your health to fifteen can be a bit iffy at times, but if your opponent can do 15 damage against you that late in the game, you were probably dead in the first place.
The four decks I’ve seen the most during the early days of the meta.
[cardinsert card=”strongshell-scavenger” float=”left”]
It seem that Jade Druid is going to be public enemy number one in the next month or two. While that is not the best news, at least we know what we’re in for. The way you beat Malfurion and his ever-growing gang is, as mentioned, to play as a midrange deck as hard as you can. Outside of [card]Tainted Zealot[/card] (which almost has no utility outside of its combo) you need to throw everything out onto the board. It is an old rule that Druid cannot handle big boards, and that is even more true with the current lists. Even something like a big [card]Twilight Drake[/card] or uncontested [card]Abyssal Persecutor[/card] will give them fits. Today’s Druid’s are value machines, and that is not a game you want to play. Going long works out a lot of the time, but against Jade you will just get run over by big bodies.
[card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card] is a great way to win this one. However, you can only afford to change into the demon lord when you have the board. Druid has a ton of ways to do damage, and you need to watch out for that when capping your life at fifteen. Even so, once you start making a 6/6 every turn your opponent is going to have a difficult time keeping up. Start building onto this from turn three and always make sure to clear Druid’s board. It is impossible to play around [card]Innervate[/card], which means you can never be sure what type of play your opponent is going to make. Thinking your board is safe only to be hit with double [card]Swipe[/card] or some other nonsense will quickly be the end of you.
[cardinsert card=”bonemare” float=”right”]
Another oldie-but-goodie, Murloc Paladin appears to have come roaring back in the past few days. Uther’s control game hasn’t worked out quite as well as planned, but there is no doubt the lower version has gotten better. Paladin does what it has always done, they just do it a bit better now. This is a game where you need to keep a hard eye on your opponent’s minions and plan one turn ahead. Not everything has to die, but you do not want your opponent to get too big or push with too much damage. Just mitigate murlocs at all costs. Once you get to your bigger AOE you should be fine. It is surviving that long that’s the hard part. Be careful every step of the way and always calculate your opponent’s damage potential.
This is an interesting matchup that can easily flip one of two ways. Either you get early AOE that helps shut down Paladin’s opening push, or they build right into their murlocs and try to end things around turn five or six. Your best card for this game is [card]Doomsayer[/card]. Paladin loves synergy, but a lot of those small synergies take a turn or two to build. Sayer prevents those turns from happening and keeps Paladin off of damage. For example, your opponent will never play a [card]Gentle Megasaur[/card] against the 0/7 in hopes of rolling poisonous. It isn’t worth the risk. Your entire goal of this one is to clear over and over until you can become the aggressor. You simply need to turn the tables long enough to allow [card]Bloodreaver Gul’dan[/card] to take over the game (which he most definitely will).
[cardinsert card=”saronite-chain-gang” float=”left”]
Shaman did not get too many new options in KFT, but the ones they did get are very, very powerful. While you will see some elemental builds here and there, most Shamans these days are the old [card]Evolve[/card] builds that just swarm as hard as they can. This game is going to fall into your favor because Shaman simply cannot handle AOE. The first clear won’t beat them, but the second and third most definitely will. Think of this match as a game of chess where your opponent is going to try to bait out AOE, and you are trying to get them to play into it. If you pull the trigger too early your opponent will be able to rebound, but if you pull it too late you will die to [card]Bloodlust[/card] or the like. Calculating your opponent’s damage potential is key in this one. Think of all the ways they can hurt you and then play around it accordingly.
The cards that make this matchup tricky are [card]Evolve[/card] and [card]Thrall, Deathseer[/card]. Even if you manage to clear the board once or twice, something like [card]Doppelgangster[/card] or [card]Saronite Chain Gang[/card] can be problematic when they transform. You need to be aware of those style of plays, and do your best to prepare for them. Most of your AOE has a damage limit on it. While that is typically fine to clear out tokens, it is not going to be enough for bigger threats. To beat that, you want to have some bodies already on the board to chip down anything that might come about. This is another game where you simply need to grind your opponent out of cards. Shaman can only do so much once they have no gas, and you need to get them to that point at all costs.
[cardinsert card=”raza-the-chained” float=”right”]
[card]Lord Jaraxxus[/card], eat your heart out. Priest (and to some extent Paladin and Slow Druid) is what the big demon is here for. Your goal in this game is to frustrate your opponent’s removal through the middle turns of the game by running out threats they cannot easily deal with. Four attack minions have always been strong against Priest, and just one on an empty board will hit them over and over again. Kazakus Priest has some extremely powerful plays, but they can also sputter. Get ahead of them, put on pressure, and go the midrange route. This is control vs. control, but Priest’s control looks vastly different from yours. Also note that you need to tap as much as possible to find your finishers. That is how you win this game because, even with [card]Bloodreaver Gul’dan[/card], you will not be able to out value [card]Shadowreaper Anduin[/card] and [card]Raza the Chained[/card]. The damage that comes from that combo is too much, and getting stuck without an end-game hero is disastrous. The more cards you can dig through the better off you will be.
Anyone who has ever played slow Warlock should be familiar with this deck’s mulligans. Your goal against fast decks (or Druid) is to just get stuff out onto the board early, while your goal against slower decks is to find strong midrange threats. [card]Voidwalker[/card] and [card]Doomsayer[/card] are your two midrange threats. [card]Defile[/card] is a great keep against aggro, as is [card]Drain Soul[/card]. [card]Tainted Zealot[/card] should only be kept against board-centric decks with Defile, and [card]Chittering Tunneler[/card] is strong when facing slower builds like Priest. [card]Gluttonous Ooze[/card] is for any weapon class (Warrior, Paladin, Hunter), [card]Corpsetaker[/card] works well on curve against aggro, and [card]Twilight Drake[/card] is great against midrange or control. Keep [card]Hellfire[/card] against swarm decks.
I have never been a huge slow Warlock guy, but this deck is very cool. Not only does it have the most fun end-game punch around, but it also works hard to fix problems that have plagued the class in the past year. It is always nice to see people addressing problems rather than giving up, and I feel like this does that well. Of course, there are many different tech choices that could be put in here, but this is the space that Warlock wants to be in. Until next time, may you always build a demon army.