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Legendary Warlock Handlock Standard Deck

Last updated on Jul 27, 2016 at 13:19 by Sottle 10 comments

Table of Contents

The following guide outlines how to play a Standard build of Handlock. Prior to Standard, Handlock was a common archetype with many different forms, but it has been rarely seen in the Standard meta due to the nerf to Molten Giant and the removal of key cards like Antique Healbot. Despite this, Handlock is still a powerful choice against Control decks as it can often present too many threats too quickly for them to deal with.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Legendary Warlock Handlock Standard Deck

Our deck costs 8,600 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Warlock Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve


3. Strategy

The general strategy of a Handlock deck is to quickly develop a large hand to enable you to play your huge minions like Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake and overpower your opponent before they gain the Mana to answer them. Handlock should primarily be played as a board control deck, but understanding when to switch to aggression can often be the key to victory.

The early turns, defined in this case as turns 1-4, are key to success with this deck. You must quickly identify the correct plays for these turns and plan ahead based on your current cards and your opponent. The most common Handlock opening is simply to spend the early turns using Life Tap, which enables you on turn 4 to play a Mountain Giant, or a Twilight Drake with 9 health. However, this is not always the correct play. For example, against an aggressive deck like Zoo or Shaman you will want to spend your early turns fighting for the board using cards like Doomsayer, Sunfury Protector, Shadow Bolt, Earthen Ring Farseer, and Mortal Coil. When going second with The Coin in your hand, you will not be able to tap on both turn 2 and 3 without playing a card as it will cause you to overdraw which makes the aforementioned cards also very valuable in these situations.

Doomsayer is a particularly key card against aggressive decks. In older variations of Handlock, you would rely on burst healing like Antique Healbot to stabilise your life against aggressive decks, alongside Molten Giants to punish them for lowering your life too low. In this deck, the healing is more incremental and not as efficient per Mana spent, which means you must spend more time fighting for the board aggressively in order to not get rushed down. Doomsayer is your best tool to achieve this in the early-game since it can almost single-handedly carry you through to the all important turn 4 if played on turn 2 or 3.

Upon entering the mid-game, you will look to consolidate your board position with further big minions while removing your opponent's threats with cards such as Shadow Bolt and Siphon Soul. It is important during this time to continue to Life Tap as much as possible. Always plan out your entire turn in advance and if your play leaves 2 or more Mana to spare make sure to life tap first as you may draw into a better play.

Once you have been able to consolidate some huge threats on the board, Faceless Shambler comes into its own as a way to generate more huge threats on the board, but also with the added benefit of starting to build a Taunt wall for yourself. Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus are great for turning your huge minions into powerful Taunts but do not represent much of a threat for their Mana cost; Faceless Shambler is a much more proactive way to create a huge Taunt and can simultaneously ramp up the pressure on your opponent. Faceless Shambler can also be used to absorb the stats from Power Overwhelming. If you use Power Overwhelming to trade a smaller minion into a large one, or to activate Shadowflame, you can copy the buffed stats of the minion that is set to die and maintain them on the board.

The AoE in your deck is crucial for combating the more aggressive decks in the game. Hellfire in particular lines up extremely well against aggressive Shaman decks and Zoo Warlock and can buy you much needed time to stabilise in the mid-game. Since many decks in the meta will almost always get ahead of you in the early turns of the game, access to your AoE effects are extremely important to catch you back up.

Finally, if your early huge minions have not been enough to take the game away from your opponent, you have fantastic late game cards such as Ragnaros the Firelord and Lord Jaraxxus to consolidate your victory. Since the nerf to Molten Giant, this deck chooses not to include them, which can make it much more difficult to put up an imposing Taunt wall at the end of the game. However, if you are able to put up big Taunt creatures, then you should continue to be very liberal with your life total in order to draw more cards and keep high on resources. If you are playing against a deck that plays direct damage cards like Fireball or Lava Burst then you will need to be a little bit more careful with your overall life total.

Lord Jaraxxus is your trump card in this deck. While in Jaraxxus form, you gain access to an extremely overpowered Hero Power: INFERNO!, summoning a 6/6 for 2 Mana every turn. These summoned Infernals have fantastic synergy with many of the cards in your deck, giving you easy access to taunts, or AoE clears with Shadowflame. Doomsayer can be used to set up a potential Jarraxus turn by forcing your opponent to do nothing on their turn. Even if you are slightly ahead on the board, it can be correct to drop a Doomsayer to allow you to activate Jaraxxus on the following turn, since if you do not die on the turn immediately after using Jarraxus, you are usually incredibly favoured to win the game.

3.1. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

The basic mulligan strategy involves aggressively looking for Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake, often discarding your entire hand to look for them. When going second, one card such as Shadow Bolt or Earthen Ring Farseer can be kept, as a card will have to be played on one of the first three turns to prevent overdraw.

Against Aggro decks, much of this strategy changes, however. Mountain Giant will usually be too slow for these matchups, as you will be forced to play out cards in the early turns, preventing it from being played on turn 4. Twilight Drake can be kept as it can be played on turn 4 regardless of hand size, but primarily you should be looking for Doomsayer in these matchups.

Against Zoo, Hellfire and Mortal Coil are also fantastic cards as they have multiple 1-Health minions that can function as good early targets for Coil, while Hellfire is a key card in the mid-game to be able to stabilise against their flooding strategy.

Against Shaman, Shadow Bolt is a key card to be able to deal with an early Totem Golem, or in an emergency a Tunnel Trogg that threatens to grow out of control. Hellfire is also a key card as it interacts very well with cards like Tuskarr Totemic and Feral Spirit.

3.2. Card Swaps

High quality Warlock cards like Dark Peddler or Imp Gang Boss can be included in the deck in place of Earthen Ring Farseer.

You can choose to include Molten Giant even in its nerfed form, but it should be limited to a single copy.

4. ChangeLog

  • 27 Jul. 2016: Deck added.
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