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Warlock Handlock No Naxx/LoE/Kara Wild Deck

Last updated on Nov 08, 2015 at 18:43 by Sottle 1 comment

Table of Contents

This guide outlines how to play Handlock, a powerful Warlock variant that relies on filling their hand with large amounts of cards and lowering their own life total to abuse the mechanics of the Giants in the game.

This particular BrM build includes the power of Emperor Thaurissan, which is able to provide massive discounts to your large hands and create you a massive advantage.

Losing access to Naxxramas means dropping the Sludge Belchers from the deck which can hurt your sustainability with the deck. To replace them, additional healing and Taunt are added in, in the form of Earthen Ring Farseer and Defender of Argus.

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. Warlock Handlock No Naxx/LoE/Kara Wild Deck

Our deck costs 8,080 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 Hunter you will want to spend your early turns fighting for the board using cards like Ancient Watcher, Sunfury Protector, Ironbeak Owl, and Mortal Coil.

When going second, The Coin is a crucial card. You must decide whether to Coin out a Life Tap on turn 1 to essentially replace The Coin with a random card from your deck. This is often a good idea in control matchups or if your opening hand is bad, but pay attention to whether the Coin is important to your Mana curve. For example, you may want to Coin out a Twilight Drake on turn 3 and follow it up with a second one on Turn 4.

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 Shadowflame, Darkbomb, 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.

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 Molten Giant and Lord Jaraxxus to consolidate your victory. Molten Giants are incredibly powerful in this deck, as through lowering your own life total with Life Tap you can often play them for very little, if not 0 Mana. With this in mind it is important to be extremely brave with your life total as a Handlock by using Life Tap aggressively. Unless your opponent has direct damage, such as Fireball, your life total should not concern you once you have 1 or 2 taunted Molten Giants on the board.

3.1. Key Cards

Darkbomb is an important card in the deck. It gives you an option for early removal against key Aggro cards without having to discard important cards from your deck. The previously played Soulfire was more explosive, but could cost you games if it discarded one of your key cards.

Ancient Watcher is a fantastic utility card. This deck contains 7 cards to activate your Watcher:

Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus are vital cards for taunting up your huge minions and keeping you alive. However, it is important not to use these cards too early in the game. Try to avoid taunting a big creature for no reason, as it can leave you vulnerable to The Black Knight or leave you short of a vital taunt to save your life later. If you have a choice between spending 2 Mana on a Life Tap or a Sunfury Protector, Life Tap is often more beneficial. Remember, you want your Health to be low in order to enable your Molten Giants. Bravery is key.

Antique Healbot provides you with greatly increased life gain in the deck. This card provides you with some much needed stability against classes like Hunter or Mage, which can kill you with burst damage from their hand and Hero Power, regardless of how powerful your board is. It is also fantastic at extending the life of your Lord Jaraxxus form, since Jaraxxus' maximum health is so low, Healbot functions almost as a full heal.

Emperor Thaurissan is a hugely powerful card in this deck, since, through the style of the deck, you usually have an extremely large hand, giving Emperor Thaurissan the possibility of discounting 8 or 9 other cards. The discount can also cause havok for your opponent's planning, since much of playing against Handlock successfully is managing their life total so that they can only do specific things with Molten Giants when you allow them to. The Emperor Thaurissan discount can make it extremely difficult for your opponent to predict what you are able to do with specific life totals, making it much more difficult for them to plan their line of attack.

Dr. Boom is a powerful card that is strong in almost every position. Should you be ahead in the game, Dr. Boom can be played on the board to seal your victory. In even games Dr. Boom can be used to push the board in your favour, and in games where you are playing from behind, Dr. Boom can be used as a board clear tool to bring you back into the game. It also provides multiple bodies immediately to be targetted with a Sunfury Protector.

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 three of the same cards as Ancient Watcher, giving you easy access to taunts, or AoE clears with Shadowflame. It is worth noting that upon playing Jaraxxus your maximum health is set to 15, making it extremely difficult to play Molten Giants. For example, when at 5 health with Jaraxxus, your Molten Giants still cost 10. While it is ideal to play your Molten Giants before Jaraxxus, do not hesitate to play Jaraxxus early on turn 9 or 10 if the board is clear, even if it lowers your Health. The Jaraxxus form is so powerful that often he is enough to single handedly win the game.

3.2. 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 Ancient Watcher or Darkbomb can be kept, as a card will have to be played on one of the first three turns to prevent overdraw.

3.2.1. Vs Hunter

Look aggressively for cards such as Ancient Watcher, Darkbomb Ironbeak Owl, and Mortal Coil to help you control the Hunter's fast start. Molten Giant is also a fantastic keep as you will quickly find your life total dwindling to dangerously low levels. Never keep Mountain Giant since against aggro this is often the worst card in your deck as you will not find time to play it. In this matchup it is best to avoid Life Tapping where possible and instead try to play out the cards in your hand. Do not be afraid to play a Sunfury Protector without taunting anything as the 2/3 body can fight Hunter's early minions very effectively. The goal in this matchup is simply to survive long enough to get behind a big board of Taunts and then quickly finish your opponent within 2 or 3 turns. Once you have an imposing board of taunts in place it is usually best to ignore your opponent's minions and attack the opponent with your 8/8 giants. If you wait too long the Hunter can kill you with their Hero Power alone. Antique Healbot is the star in this matchup, as at some point, you will almost always gain board advantage against Hunter. In these situations, Hunter can often just ignore your board and simply finish you with burst damage, but Antique Healbot shuts this option down for your opponent.

3.2.2. Vs Zoo Warlock

Hellfire is a huge card here, as are Molten Giants, and both should be mulliganed for appropriately. Although Zoo will have aggressive starts they do not have the explosive damage of a Hunter and therefore you are often safe to tap until turn 4 and then clear the board with a Hellfire. However, do not let this stop you from fighting back with Ironbeak Owl, Darkbomb, or Ancient Watcher if you have them. The goal of this matchup is simple, create a board of taunts that the opponent cannot answer. Since the only direct damage in the Zoo deck is Soulfire, as long as your life is above 4 when you taunt up your Molten Giants, you should be safe and able to end the game with a few quick 8 damage attacks to the opponent.

3.2.3. Vs Shaman

Shaman is a tricky matchup. You should Mulligan for your usual 4 Mana plays but also prioritise Hellfire and Shadowflame. The main difficulty with Shaman is that they have Earth Shock and Hex which deal perfectly with your Twilight Drake and Mountain Giants respectively. To win this battle you will want to prolong it as long as possible, exhausting your opponent's removal cards before finally dropping your Molten Giants to seal the game. Try to be greedy with your AoE clears, avoid the temptation to use them to clear a board of Totems and instead wait for relevant minions to appear on the board.

3.2.4. Vs Priest

Look aggressively for Twilight Drakes. Since Priest in particular has trouble dealing with 4 attack minions, a Drake played on Turn 4 can often create enough momentum to simply win the game. Lord Jaraxxus is also a huge card, and this is certainly a matchup where you should consider playing him on turn 9 if available. Since Priests struggle to output damage, lowering your health to 15 in exchange for all the power Jaraxxus grants you is a fine trade. Make sure to have an answer ready for Mind Control after turn 10 and look out for the Auchenai Soulpriest plus Circle of Healing 4-damage AoE combo, and this should be one of your easiest matchups.

3.2.5. Vs Control Paladin

Mulligan as normal. The key to this matchup is the Equality combinations that Paladin can unleash to clear your entire board. It is important to play around this by only having 1 huge minion on the board at a time. It is important to remember that Paladin has very few ways to create damage so you can be as liberal with your life total as you see fit. Keeping a big hand full of options is the key to winning this matchup. Try to exhaust your opponent's removal options and then take the game away from them with Lord Jaraxxus once they are low on resources.

3.3. Card Swaps

Big Game Hunter is currently included due to the high presence of targets like Dr. Boom in the meta. If you start to find yourself facing less minions with 7+ attack, then BGH can be removed for a second Siphon Soul.

Alexstrasza can be used in place of Lord Jaraxxus and serves much the same purpose. However, you sacrifice the long term benefit of Jaraxxus for the ability to aggressively lower your opponent's life total to 15.

The balance between important survival cards Earthen Ring Farseer and Antique Healbot is constantly being evaluated. The deck currently plays 1 and 2 of these cards respectively, but you can experiment with different combinations.

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