This guide will be covering not-so popular warlock deck, which I personally call “16hp lock”. I’ve created this deck around test season 1 to meet several requierments. Deck should have been as fast as possible in order to grind through ranks at great speed. At the same time I wanted as little random in my deck as possible. That means no irreplaceable or “must-draw” cards and no hard card combos. Ideal card is the one that gives you value (For this deck damage output is equally important to card draw. Consider it a value of a sort) outright after coming into play.
So here is the deck list:
Neutral Cards (19)
Abusive Sergeant x2
Argent Squire x2
Leper Gnome x2
Bluegill Warrior x2
Dire Wolf Alpha x2
Ironbeak Owl x2
Knife Juggler x2
Arcane Golem x2
Warlock Cards (11)
Mortal Coil x2
Power Overwhelming x2
Flame Imp x2
This is a current version that carried me all the way up to top 5 legend on EU ladder season 1 and top 6 in test-season 4. It was slightly different in test-season 1 days though. I had 2 blood imps and tinkmaster overspark instead of wolfriders and hellfire.
This deck consists of 2 main parts. First part aims at softening your enemy, while the second one allows you to finish them off with one blow.
Mortal Coil: 1 mana to finish off a creature and draw a card is a win. Using it on your own minions can be helpful too.
Abusive Sergeant: One of the weaker 1-drops. A bad choice to play as a standalone minion. But if you’ve got something on board already, it brings 2 damage for 1 mana right away, which is usually fine even if it dies wihout attacking even once.
Argent Squire: A solid 1 drop. Divine shield means it will take 2 hits before it dies, therefore allowing it to trade or survive through aoe.
Flame Imp: A great 1-drop. 3/2 for 1 mana is insane, while your HP is not something you should be concerned with in most matchups.
Leper Gnome: As a sergeant it is basically an almost guaranteed 2 damage for 1 mana. Not as desirable in a starting hand as squire/flame imp/void, but he gets his job done.
Voidwalker: An overall great 1-drop. Its ability to survive through 2 dmg aoe, as well as decent trading potential makes it must have in a deck.
Dire Wolf Alpha: Most damaging 2-drop out there. Not only it is technically a 4/2(or even more considering chargers) for 2 mana, it also has a hidden “charge” written on it unless it comes to an empty board. Being able to extract 1-2 additional damage on turn two makes doggie the most desirable 2-drop for you in the vast majority of matchups.
Knife Juggler: We all know why juggler is here. Although juggler is random by his nature, he fits quite well in the deck. You shouldn’t learn how to play him, you’d rather learn how to play around him. Variety of 1-4 damage sources in the deck will allow you to trade quite effectively with a juggler on board, or simply do additional damage every time you play a minion.
Bluegill Warrior: Quite weak as a standalone 2-drop, bluegill still has several advantages. He brings 2 guaranteed damage into play, although for a higher cost than sergeant or leper. On the other hand, its damage is unconditional and immidiate, which enables him to be an optional PO carrier or extract extra damage-value from doggie/sergeant.
As you can see, first half of the deck is not completely, but largely similalr to what you would expect from most zoo locks. It definately plays to your advantage as with an abundance of zoo locks on ladder, people will quite often label your deck as zoo, rendering themselves terribly vulnerable to what comes next.
Soulfire: Easy pick. 0 mana for 4 damage in a face makes it a perfect finisher. A discard component makes it a bit harder to play in trading situations, although sometimes it is definately worth doing so.
Power Overwhelming (PO): 1 mana for 4/4 one turn buff. It is definately a great cheap finisher, but it has other uses too. People often forget that PO has an HP component tied into it. Killing a big creature and silencing your doomed minion with an owl afterwards is usually more favourable than trading with soulfire. It also allows your minion (usually doggie or juggler) to survive an obvious explosive trap and deal its damage for 1 more turn. Last but not least, if you are going for the face and you have a choice of whom to PO, you should always pick Leper Gnome. Sometimes this forced dethrattle trigger is a difference between win or loose.
Arcane Golem: A great finishing minion and the main PO carrier in the deck. He is cheap, he deals tons of damage, and he can even survive 1 point of damage if played in midgame. In most matchups though, gifting one mana crystal to your opponent is a bad idia, so play him with care.
Wolfrider: Pretty much a bigger bluegill. Can be played both as softening and finishing minion depending on your hand. Although if you have a choice, you should always let creatures from “part 1” take their place on the board first.
Leeroy Jenkins: An ultimate finishing tool. Ultimate but not mandatory. A large amount of other chargers makes Leeroy just one of many PO carriers. Having him in the hand though transforms your other charge minions into a gunmeat. Which is great ofcourse!
Ironbeak Owl: A really weak 2-drop, but it’s a cheap silence. Silence that people usually do not expect to see in what they percieve as a zoo deck. Allows you to finish off those pesky druids and handlocks with one blow. Apart from that it has some uses against divine shields, netherdrakes and synergy with our own PO.
Hellfire: Probably the most controversial card in a deck. I took it back in the deck after Tinkmaster was nerfed, and ever since I could not come up with a better card to fill a spot. Although quite expensive for the curve, it has some uses. It certainly shines in Shaman matchup, and also has its uses against zoo, handlocks and druids. It also has a minor synergy with PO, allowing your minions to surive the blast and hit the face after enemy taunter is already dead.
Cards that did not make it in:
Young Priestess: Great in a zoo but not here. Basically it does not bring any damage to the board right away. While a guaranteed buff to a random minion can be helpful, absence of Shattered Sun Clerics and Defender of Argus to futher buff your creatures, makes this card too passive for this deck.
Blood Knight: Too situational for my taste. 3/3 for 3 without a charge is worthless in this deck, while in a buffed form it will still slack for a turn. Being vulnerable to pretty much every deck in a current meta does not help either. Execute, Keeper, Sap,Ironbeak Owl, Hunter’s Mark – they can all deal with a BK.
Harvest Golem / Shattered Sun Cleric / Scarlet Crusader / Defender of Argus: they are powerhouses in the hands of a zoo lock but they all share same detrimental feature: they bring no or too little damage for their cost right away. Generally speaking, they are slowing you down.
Doomguard: Although 5/7 body for 5 mana and quite possibly 0-1 discards is insanely good, Doomguard has a problem. He is not comboable with soulfires or PO’s. Arcane golem with PO+PO/soulfire is 12 instant damage for 4/5 mana. Here you are getting only 5 for the same cost and being forced to throw away other finishers. Apart from that, unlike Arcane Golem which can be played as a softening minion in desperate situations, Doomguard will simply lay in your hand as a completely dead card till the end of the game.
As with a deck composition, your gameplan will consist of 2 parts: softening your enemy to aproximately 12-16 HP and finishing them off with one big blow afterwards. Here comes the main difference from zoo – you do not care about board presence that much, nor can you hold if for long in most cases. All you need to do is to get your opponent into a comfortable 16hp range as fast as possible, and when they think the’ve made it out alive after stabilizing the game, finish them off with any combination of arcane/PO/soulfire/leeroy/wolfrider/bluegill/sergeant.
The other key difference from zoo lock is your general unwillingness to flood the board. You want to keep 2-4 creatures on the board (depending on MU), but if you know your opponent won’t be able to deal with all of them next turn, tapping is generally a better option compared to a minion drop. Remember – your creatures are soft and vulnerable. Adding more meat to the board will most likely lead to a more devastating aoe. Tapping on the other hand, helps you with finding necessary pieces for a finishing move. I’d say knowing when to tap and when to play a minion from a hand is probably the main skill that you’ll have to master while playing this deck.
Druid: Token or ramp, this matchup is horrible. You are facing ping/wrath/innervate/keeper/swipe + a bunch of taunts on top. The most challenging part here is taking your opponent down to a finishing range. If you’ve managed to do that, you’ve most probably won. Aside from that there is not much you can do. Mulligan for squires/voidwalkers/imps as they can survive swipe aoe and less vulnerable to keeper 2 dmg drop. Buff what you have on the board with a doggie, because juggler will be alot less important in this MU, and hope that you will draw atleast one silence with your aggressive tapping.
Rogue: Yet again, miracle or tempo, you’ve got the same problem. Rogues are too good at early removals. An enemy coin also dramatically lowers your chances of survival. There is not much you can do here. An outcome depends much more on the cards that rogue will get, rather on how/what you play. Not the worst matchup, but probably below 50% winrate for you.
Shaman: There are 4 cards in pretty much any shaman deck that decide an outcome of this match – 2 Lightning Storms and 2Feral Spirits. Here is how it goes. If shaman gets 1-2 of those cards early in a game, you’re most likely going to win. If he gets 3-4, you are most likely screwed. What makes this MU unique, is a high usability of Hellfire. Up to an extent that it is probably worth leaving it in a starting hand if you happened to get one. Clearing up doggies and 1-2 totems is worth alot. Overall it is around 50/50 MU.
Facehunter: The ones with traps, weapons and chargers. Health lead plays a huge role in this MU. Every game will end with either in you killing hunter 1 turn before dying, or him killing you right when you had your next-turn lethal ready. Your main concern here is an explosive trap. It will kill pretty much anything you can drop, so play around it. Muliganing Argent Squires and Voidwalkers is priority. PO is quite usefull in extracting extra damage from otherwise useless creature. As an example, you have a pretty much default board on turn 3: Argent Squire, Dire Wolf Alpha and a Leper Gnome while facing a trap. Dog and leper will certanly die, but with PO, you can buff doggie, check the trap with squire as it can be a freezing/misdirection too, and after an almost-certain explosion, you can hit with a dog. As your PO will be used as a face-damage anyways, using it early does not change a thing. But it helps you in extracting that vital 3-4 aditional damage. This matchup was quite hard for me before midrange hunters came to meta. Nowdays though, after UTH nerf, we essentially have one additional free turn of aggression. This MU should be above 50% winrate now.
Midrange hunter: Pretty much nonexistant now, after UTH nerft, it was still quite a decent MU before doggies came 1 turn earlier. It played the same way as facehunter except for the trouble of dealing with explosive traps, which automatically gave you an edge. If you happen to meet one now, you should probably be happy with 60+% winrate.
Control warrior: Very straightforward matchup. Warrior has a great control and is quite durable. Unlike other classes, he won’t go down early. Warrior matches tend to be the longest ones – up to turns 9-10 and sometimes even longer. That does not mean that warriors are a huge problem though. Longer match usually means only that you will have more time to dig through your deck for a stronger finisher. You may want to keep an early soulfire in this MU which is not usual for this deck. Reason for that being that you really want to kill an early Armorsmith as ASAP without damaging your minions, and giving warrior more than 1 free armor. Considering that warriors usually dont run taunts either, you may want to silence their Armorsmithes before killing them off. Overall you should have a solid 55-60% winrate here.
Zoo lock: Here is where you play a control game. If you leave the board as it is and allow your opponent to make decision on how to trade, you will loose in no time. The board should be cleared to minimize buff efficiency, and keep atleast some damage going in. Unlike zoo lock though, we are not hindered in ability to burst down for 12-18 damage in one turn. This means that at some point in time, usually around him having ~20 hp, you can suddently go for the face instead of expected trade (assuming you have lethal ready for the next turn ofcourse). Mortal Coils are especially vital in this MU. If you happened to have hellfire early on, you might want to consider playing around it, doing passive taps till turn 3-4. Overall you should be a slight (55-60%) favourite in this MU.
Handlock: The sweetest of the sweet. Tired of handlocks while your favourite huntard deck is nerfed now? No problem. We have a solution here. Handlock MU is insanely favourable for this deck. Up to 3 turns of passive play and self damaging from handlock means you can easily setup a 3-4 creature board and bring him down into your favourite ~14 hp range till turn 5. The great thing is that not only you have a huge early burst potential and silences, but you are most probably free to tap on your turn 3-4. Turn 5 is usually a turning point where you should decide whether or not you can finish him, and if not, are you willing to bring him down lower than molten/taunt combo hp threshold. Luckily for you answers to these questions are in most cases quite obvious. On a side note, if you are wandering if you should silence drake on turn 4 and finish him off with 1 damage – yes, you definately should. Overall you should be winning as much as 80% against handlocks.
Paladins/Pristests/Mages: Lower tier is lower tier. It does not mean that you will always win against them, but you should definately be favourite in those matchups.
– As you can see this deck was built in such a way, that it woud be as independant from starting hand quality as possible. That does not mean you won’t be getting bad hands though. To put it simply – a bad hand in our case is when finishing cards come too early and in a great numbers. Having dead soulfires/PO’s/leeroy in your starting hand is quite unpleasant. Starting to play minions on turn 2 is insanely bad – you need to muligan for at least one 1-drop always. Even if it means removing a 2-drop from your hand. Playing arcane/wolfrider on turn 3 is very weak too. Your idial hand in most scenarios is squire/imp/void x3 + doggie while going second. This will allow for a quite durable creatures on the board on turn 1 with an immidiate damage buff on turn 2. Having a 1-drop on turn 3 in order to tap along helps a great deal too. Mana efficiency is very important with this deck..
– You will be mistaken for zoo. Quite often, even after the match people will still lable you as zoo. Although in terms of gameplay these decks are quite different. Use it to your advantage.
– As it has been said before, the most important skill that you should learn while playing this deck is when to tap. Question yourself: is this 2-drop really worth it now or should i draw a card. Because cards is what you gonna need to finish off your opponent in 1 turn. This also means that you should be using your mortal coils to the max, sometimes even on your own 1hp minions. Think of it in a such way: the earlier you will start tapping, the higher chances are that you gonna topdeck that leeroy/PO/soulfire later in the game.
– 1-4 damage will often be the number that separates you from the lethal. Remember your outs and calculate your odds of drawing into one. Your are essentially drawing 2 cards per turn. Quite often you’ll be surprised by how high your chances of topdecking are.
– Speaking of topdecks. If you have lethal and some spare mana, keep tapping for lulz. Drawing another 4dmg minion/spell and using it will piss people off. Loosing to “topdecks” is never fun.
– This deck is dirt cheap. Only 4 rares and 1 legendary (which is technically replaceable with Elven Archer, Stonetusk Boar orWorgen Infiltrator) makes this deck really easy to pick-up.
Hope you’ll find this deck fun/effective to play. If you are interested in watching me play –
Although I am streaming for russian speaking audience mostly, I’ll gladly answer your questions in english.