After reaching legend for the first time earlier today with handlock I was very happy. I run a somewhat standard list:
The one major difference my deck has compared to most other handlock decks is alexstrasa over jaraxxus. Originally it was a budget thing, but after a dozen or so games I realized the potential of this card. Sure jaraxxus gets huge value in a control matchup like paladin or warrior, but I found alex much more useful against aggro because you can stabilize while also putting immediate pressure, something which jaraxxus is much too slow for. It can also pull out surprise wins.
I honestly think it is the best deck to ladder with in this meta. I know many people write off handlock because of its supposed awful matchup against hunter, but I really found it to be not that bad. Also, all the priest that appear trying to hard counter hunter are free wins.
Here are my stats from my climb from rank 4 to legend in order of commonness:
Hunter 10-8-1 [26% of all matchups]
This is definitely a tough matchup for handlock, but if played right it’s not bad at all. Most games I win start with me getting an early watcher down, dropping medium sized drakes and belchers through the midgame and then dropping a wall of taunts and alexing myself to win. I always played around kill command if I could afford to, and double kill command if you are far ahead on board. Sometimes, however, you just have to say fuck it and go all in.
Priest: 13-0 [18% of all matchups]
Easiest matchup of all time. Just mulligan for your 4 drops. I also often keep a molten in my hand when playing against priest because I know they will often get me pretty low but have no burst to finish the game if you have a taunt wall. Keeping a molten pretty much ensures this.
Warrior 5-5 [14% of all matchups]
This matchup could definitely be improved by running jaraxxus, but it wasn’t common enough to warrant weakening other matchups. Try to play around brawl (never have more than 2 big threats at a time) and play around grom+task if you can afford to. It is also sometimes worth considering playing around black knight if you are far ahead. Lastly, keep an eye on their armor count. You want to avoid playing a threat if it can be instantly shield slammed. If this means attacking the face over an armorsmith, so be it.
In this matchups it’s 4 drops or bust. You have to assume it’s control warrior (I only played 1 aggro warrior).
Druid 6-3 [12.5% of all matchups] This a pretty good matchup. After turn 9, check every single turn to see if the combo will kill you. If you are very far ahead, it is sometimes worth it to play around innervate with the combo as well.
Pretty straightforward in this matchup, mulligan for 4 drops.
Warlock Zoo: 4-4 [11% of all matchups]
This can go either way. Sometimes they just have the perfect hand and steamroll you, but a lot of times I was able to stabilize at low health with moltens/alex.
You usually want to assume its zoo so i would mulligan for watcher, owl, and maybe a soulfire. I would keep twilight drake when you see warlock as well because its versatile and decent in both matchups.
Handlock 6-1 [10% of all matchups]
I’m not exactly sure how I was able to pull of such a high win percentage here, but I think its in part due to alexstrasa instead of jaraxxus. I can recall at least 2 games where I used alex aggressively in the mirror to pull out a surprise win. The main thing is not to overextend at all, and try not to get them below 17 health before killing them. This plays around shadowflame, which can turn games for or against you extremely quickly.
You mainly want to be mulliganing for zoo when you see a warlock, but if you know its handlock for some reason, mulligan for your 4 drops mostly.
Shaman 0-4 [6% of all matchups]
I might have been playing this matchup slightly wrong but I just could not win against them. Their early pressure with flametongues and resistance to AOE with nerubians and creepers made this a night mare to me. This is not to mention earthshocks for drakes and to bypass taunts, hexes, and the large amount of burst they can put out.
I have limited experience in this matchup, but mulligan for belchers, giants, and watchers. I usually like to conserve drakes until the shaman is forced to use ES on a belcher or something else.
Mage 0-2 [3% of all matchups]
I faced this matchup too little to actually give any input on it. I lost once to a undertaker mage and a freeze mage as far as I can remember.
Rogue 1-1 [3% of all matchups]
Again, faced this too little to offer serious input. Seems to me as if you are favored as the handlock however.
Never played against a paladin 😀
Hope this helped you guys! Best of luck on the legend grind