Hey everyone, I have recently decided to spend some time writing short guides and things of that nature to help those who want to improve their hearthstone skills. This first guide will primarily be on handlock. If I get a good response from this, I will most likely make more writeups and try to cover everything. Please feel free to write me suggestions about the writeups, whether it be within this thread or a PM.
So lets get to it!
Here is the deck I used to get #1 legend on NA:
This is pretty standard handlock with a few different choices; It is geared a bit more against aggro but still has very good cards against control.
Matchups and Mulligans
Hunter – This used to be the hardest matchup, but has gotten significantly easier with the addition of dark bomb. The goal of this matchup is to just get board as early as possible (whether it be through silencing a watcher, taunting a watcher, or just dark-bombing an undertaker. I would say this is favored in the way of handlock.
Hunter Mulligan – Look for Darkbomb /sunfury /coil /owl /ancientwatcher /molten/sheep.
My rant with hunter – The mulligans change according to whether or not you have coin. If the hunter has the coin, they will generally undertaker – coin – deathrattle(leper/webspinner). Because of this the undertaker will be a 2/3, so the most important card to mulligan for when going first is the dark bomb. However, if you have the coin and they play an undertaker turn one, coining the dark bomb becomes less effective because you can’t fulfill your curve as easily without the coin. However obtaining watcher – coin – silence or watcher – coin – sunfury can be exceptionally good when going second. Almost all of this matchup comes down to early board control. Moltens are decent keeps incase things go south…. You are generally going to take a fair amount of damage in this matchup. Drakes are okay to keep if you have a curve that you can follow (by curve I mean something to do every turn). The drakes generally just serve as a body. Mountain giants should never be kept. * watcher silence/taunt is still good if you don’t have coin- watcher can trade with animal companion)
Paladin – This matchup is generally not too difficult, I would say it’s favored in the way of handlock. There is really only one type of paladin deck out on ladder at the moment and that is mid-range with muster/quartermaster.
Paladin Mulligan – Molten giants /drakes /mountain /coil /hellfire /sheep *If coin Watcher/silence)
Paladin rant – Paladins are pretty annoying to play against, dealing with muster units is a tad difficult without destroying your board. The most important thing you need to realize about this matchup is that paladins have very very little reach so getting low isn’t too bad(think ~10hp low, not 6). All of the mulligans seem like common sense aside from the molten giants, I have found that paladins seem to ignore your initial threats and go straight for the throat, ever since I’ve been getting Moltens in this matchup I have been able to put them at a holt(especially because it’s generally hellfire clear then molten). Handlock will outvalue the mid-range paladin 100% – focus on clearing board.
Zoo – This matchup is just comes down to if you have hellfire/moltens – board clear is THE most important thing against zoo
Zoo Mulligan – Look for hellfire/moltens/drakes/silence/sheep/darkbomb *If coin watcher/shadowflame/silence
Zoo rant – Zoo just thrives on buffing up all their minions, with one good wipe you will win the matchup easily. I mulligan aggressively for hellfire/sheep because those seem to be the most important cards, coil can also be half decent. Silence is generally important because you can play it on turn 2/3 then hellfire to get a complete wipe on fire. Not much to say about this matchup, just try to wipe their board with hellfire/shadowflame.
Handlock – The handlock list posted seems greedy enough to beat any other handlock.
Handlock Mulligan – Drakes/Giants *1 Watcher to drop if coin.
Handlock rant – There are two ways to play this matchup 1- get early board control with drakes/giants – just make sure you don’t over extend into molten territory, by running x2 siphon and sylv/boom you should never run out of removal/threats. 2- losing board control – get it back by hurting yourself to play moltens (you probably lost board control because you hand was clogged – one of the main ways it gets clogged is moltens). Keep in mind, by running double hellfire/double dark bomb there is a lot of reach past taunts! I would also never suggest coining a drake out, if they have a giant it trades wayyyy too well, go with watcher and try to trade up with units like that. (keep in mind the handlock going first generally has the advantage)
Warrior – Somewhat difficult matchup – once again, you should have enough threats to deal with them. Keep in mind Sylvanus is a game winner, most warriors haven’t been running silence!
Warrior Mulligan – Drakes/Giants *faceless if you have x2 threats
Warrior rant – tapping is the most important thing in this matchup, You want to keep pumping out threats and getting weaker. Most of the time your first giant will get BGH’d and your drake will get executed and you will feel demoralized. Don’t lose hope! Use those hellfires to clear board/get you low enough to play molten giants. The only way the warrior loses this matchup is by allowing you to play moltens, If you can get enough threats out the warrior will soon run out of answers!. (warriors have shieldslam x2 and execute x2 and 1x bgh as removal- you have 6 threats excluding sylv and boom- try to get moltens out, then jarrax for even more kill potential. * a note for this, don’t jarrax if you don’t have to, sometimes harrison can lose you the game.
Priest – You should stomp priest. keep voljin in mind and always stay above ~7 Hp (holyfire smite)
Priest Mulligan – Drake/Giant
Rogue – Just keep in mind most rogues don’t have too much burst now, this matchup is not too difficult.
Rogue mulligan – Drake/giant/darkbomb(dark bomb deals with all 3 drops)
Rogue rant – If i have the option to play giant or drake against a rogue, I will almost always take drake. It has more hp, it can deal with any of their threats and it can’t be BGH’d!. Drake is the gamewinner in this matchup, most of the time the rogue deals with the first threat and prays you don’t have a second. Always drake first against a rogue. Once they burn past the drake, the giant can usually get a few hits in and do a decent bit of work.
Mage – same as hunter- The only difference here is I might keep antique healbot if I have a decent hand. Mages are just hunters with greater reach
Shaman – Haven’t seen a shaman, I would suggest adding them and laughing in their face.
But really – Watcher silence is generally good, as well as hellfire and giant. I would keep a drake in my opening hand but look for the other things stated
Druid– This is a hard matchup, it all depends on whether or not they have their silence/BGH in hand and if they get ramp.
Druid Mulligan – Drake/Giant *watcher/silence If going second
Druid rant – Playing around combo is not always the correct thing to do in this match up, take into account how many cards they have played and try to read the opponents hand. A lot of people make the mistake of just dropping the belcher on 5(it’s fine if you don’t have another play, but try to save taunts) or using heal too early. It doesn’t matter if you drop down to ~8, if you get a taunt down the druid is generally at a stand still. Keeping a molten isn’t incorrect in this match up either.
Explosive sheep – If you are not seeing much aggro I would throw in a BGH to deal with more threats + add to a shadowflame target
Hellfire – once again you can replace with a shadowflame, although I have really been liking double hellfire (helps get moltens out even in control).
Last Rant – This deck isn’t anything new, I just wanted to show everyone a list that worked on ladder and give them a brief rundown. Handlock is one of the harder decks to play because you need to be able to read your opponents hand. Playing around burst combos is important but also playing probabilities is more important (probability they have it or not). There will be some games you just win because your giant sticks… that’s what makes handlock so strong!