Control Warlock Deck List Guide (Rastakhan's Rumble December 2018)
Combo decks have been the bane of control decks since the inception of Hearthstone. Ever since the rotation of Dirty Rat from Standard, control players have been left without a way to interact with key combo minions in the opponent's hand. With the release of The Boomsday Project, Warlocks picked up a powerful new anti-combo card in Demonic Project, making Control Warlock the perfect counter to all the Malygos and King Togwaggle combo Druid decks which are currently popular on the ladder.
Control Warlock sees one new and powerful addition from the Rastakhan's Rumble expansion, Void Contract, giving it much more consistency in its goal of disrupting opponents. However, the deck has no new additions and functions very similarly to how it did before the release of the expansion.
1. Control Warlock Card List
This Control Warlock deck costs 12,500 and it is made up of the following cards.
|Warlock Cards||Neutral Cards|
2. Control Warlock Mana Curve
3. Aim of Control Warlock
Control Warlock is a highly reactive, flexible, and adaptable control deck. Arguably the most controlling deck in the current meta, Control Warlock's primary objective in the vast majority of matchups is to "no" to its opponent until they run out ways to win the game. This deck can easily clear away aggressive boards with Defile and Lord Godfrey, dismantle combo decks with Demonic Projects or a lucky Gnomeferatu, and occasionally send its opponents straight to fatigue with Rin, the First Disciple.
One of the greatest strengths of Control Warlock is its ability to constantly adapt and evolve to take on the meta at hand. Perhaps the greatest challenge with Control Warlock is finding the perfect the list for your current stretch of the ladder, as the majority of cards in the deck are considered "current", not "core". A well-stocked card collection of tech cards and some clever deck-building choices can tilt almost any matchup in Control Warlock's favor, so do not be afraid to tweak this deck as you see fit!
4. Control Warlock Mulligan
Mulligans with Control Warlock are a bit more of an art than science, especially when playing against classes like Druid and Warlock with multiple powerful decks across several different archetypes.
Before diving into the more complex mulligan choices with this deck, we should begin by getting all of the obvious mulligan decision out of the way. Kobold Librarian, Skull of the Man'ari, Gnomeferatu, and Stonehill Defender are easy, defensible keeps in the vast majority of matchups. Control Warlock does not run many proactive cards which can be played on turns 1, 2, and 3, which makes the limited number of low-cost minions in the deck strong to keep in opening hands. Against unknown decks, Defile is also a widely keepable card as it is capable of interacting with early boards and bailing you out of a wide variety of sticky situations.
The majority of Control Warlock's cards should be thought of as "answers" to questions your opponent will ask of you. Beginning in the mulligan phase, you should already be attempting to look for the best answers to the kinds of questions your opponent is likely to ask you. Though it will not always be possible to determine the exact answers you need after only seeing your opponent's hero portrait, it will always be possible to make informed and weighted decisions based on the popularity of different decks in the current metagame. This means that a basic knowledge of the metagame is a requirement for making smart mulligan decisions (and in-game decisions) with Control Warlock, and that Control Warlock is not a particularly beginner-friendly deck.
Most of the answers in Control Warlock can be grouped into 3 categories: anti-aggro (Lesser Amethyst Spellstone), anti-control (Rin, the First Disciple), and anti-combo (Demonic Project). If you are ever reasonably sure that you are facing a specific archetype, always keep answers which line up against that category in addition to the "obvious" cards which were mentioned above. If you ever find an answer in your opening mulligans which is necessary for defeating a deck which belongs to the class you are up against (such as Gluttonous Ooze for Twig of the World Tree against Malygos Druid), it is typically best to keep these answers to eliminate the risk of the card getting buried on the bottom of your deck.
You should always try to weigh your mulligan decisions based on the popularity of various decks within a given class. For example, Warlock is a class which could potentially be playing an aggro deck (Zoo), combo deck (Mecha'thun Warlock/Cubelock), or control deck (the mirror match). However, the most popular Warlock deck by a wide margin is Zoo. This means you should heavily prioritize anti-aggro cards in your mulligans against Warlock (always keep Sacrificial Pact against Warlock!), even if it means that you could be mulling away cards which are strong against other types of Warlock. If you are facing a class that has a relatively equal chance of being aggro or non-aggro, try to tilt your mulligan decisions towards finding anti-aggro cards, as aggro decks are typically able to punish you much faster for poor mulligan choices than combo or control decks.
5. Control Warlock Strategy
5.1. The Early Game: Detect and Delay
Control Warlock is a fundamentally reactive deck which plays a limited number of 1, 2, and 3 cost minions. There is typically very little downside to making whichever proactive plays are available to you in the early game, which means that the early game is typically quite easy to navigate. Control Warlock wants the game to go long, so use your cheap minions to clog up the board and stall things out until your expensive and powerful cards can stabilize the game for you.
The true challenge of the early game is to determine exactly which kind of deck you are up against. The earlier you can determine which deck you are facing, the earlier you will be able to formulate a plan for how to stop it. Alternatively phrased, the earlier you can identify what your opponent's win condition is, the more efficient you will be at using your resources to stop them from achieving it. Information is a huge part of the reason why Gnomeferatu appears as a 2-of in this deck, as the cards it burns are revealed for both players to see.
5.2. The Mid Game: Assemble and Answer
Control Warlock is packed with board wipes, removal spells, and defensive minions which make the deck heavily favored against aggressive decks. If you can survive the mid game against aggro decks, your superior card quality will bury your opponent in value as the game goes long.
Control Warlock can defend itself from aggression in the mid game in a wide variety of ways. It can try to cheat a Voidlord into play with Skull of the Man'ari, or it can use a combination of cheap minions and spells to set up full clears with Defile and Lord Godfrey. There is no hard and fast rule for knowing which game plan is best for a specific matchup, as the best plan for any given game will always depend on the context of the board and the cards in your hand. With that said, you will frequently be able to identify which of these two game plans will be better several turns in advance. This is important, because you do not want to waste your precious resources while switching between defensive plans in the mid game.
When playing against slower decks, lean on your hero power in the mid game to dig for any key answers that you might still be missing. Against combo decks you should tap as much as possible for Demonic Project and Void Contract, and against control you should tap as much as possible for Rin, the First Disciple. If you already have the perfect answer in hand for the current matchup, then the only thing you need in the mid game is patience. Avoid using Life Tap in these games to keep your hand size low and your deck size high, then wait until the perfect moment to play your answer and dismantle your opponent. The Bloodreaver Gul'dan hero power will overpower the vast majority of decks in the late game, so try to not panic and over-commit your resources into your opponent's answers of their own.
5.3. Control Warlock Late Game
The late game is where Control Warlock is at its best. Bloodreaver Gul'dan will put the game out of reach for the vast majority of board-oriented aggressive decks, while Rin, the First Disciple and Azari, the Devourer can be used to out-value and put a clock on other control decks. Unfortunately, there will be a number of games where either or both of these important Legendaries are buried on the bottom of your deck.
The key to winning in the late game without Gul'dan or Rin is to be as patient as possible with your board clears. Most other control decks will attempt to win the game with powerful "army in a can" minions such as Dragoncaller Alanna or Hadronox. It is crucial that you hold onto your Lord Godfrey and Twisting Nether to clear away these boards, using Greater Amethyst Spellstone, minion damage, and Siphon Soul to clear away threats like The Lich King and Mountain Giant.
6. Control Warlock Single Card Strategies
6.1. Demonic Project
Demonic Project is the singular reason that Control Warlock is heavily favored against combo decks such as Togwaggle Druid and Mecha'thun Priest. By waiting until the turn before these decks combo to play Demonic Project (the turn Dreampetal Florist is played, or the turn a Mecha'thun deck draws its last card), you are guaranteed to morph one of their key combo minions into a random demon.
Beyond combo disruption, Demonic Project has a wide variety of uses as a proactive tool throughout the game. It can be used to turn useless tech cards (such as Gluttonous Ooze against non-weapon decks) into playable threats, to gain information about your opponent's hand, to disrupt the curve of an aggro opponent, to create a free minion for Skull of the Man'ari, and to set up devastating tempo plays in combination with Sacrificial Pact.
6.2. Rin, the First Disciple
Rin, the First Disciple is the most important card in the deck against other control decks, and a tempting piece of bait for your opponent's silence effects against aggro. Many aggro and combo players fail to realize that Rin is far too slow to pose a threat to them, and will frequently make sub-optimal plays to prevent you from obtaining The First Seal. For this reason, it is typically best to jam Rin as soon as possible against non-control decks, starving your opponent of removal and silence for your Voidlords.
There are two important things to remember when it comes to playing out all the seals. Firstly, there are 5 total seals to play which each cost 5 Mana. This means that it will always take you at least three full turns play out all the seals, with one of these turns always being a single-seal turn. If Rin dies on turn 7, playing one seal each on turns 8 and 9 will not speed up your Azari, the Devourer clock at all. The next thing to remember is that Azari is a Demon for Skull of the Man'ari, which means that Skull is capable of interrupting your Azari Battlecy trigger. Try to avoid playing Skull if you Rin is your "Plan A", or attempt to set up a turn where you can play Demonic Project into The Final Seal in a single turn to give yourself a 50% chance of keeping the Azari in hand (or 66% chance with double Demonic Project).
6.3. Void Contract
Against Combo decks you will have one more additional tool at your disposal, Void Contract. Void Contract is a very niche card that seems like it causes almost equal damage for both players, but vastly favours the Control Warlock. As the majority of the deck is built up of tech cards to stall and disrupt your opponent, losing them to Void Contract is very negligible whereas it can be devastating for opponents reliant on very specific cards, especially combo decks. The one exception to this is Bloodreaver Gul'dan, which is a very powerful card for the deck. Where possible you should try to hold off playing Void Contract until you have drawn Bloodreaver Gul'dan, the exception to this is if you are playing against a combo deck and time is of the essence to disrupt their plan.
7. Control Warlock Variations and Card Swaps
7.1. Budget Considerations
Bloodreaver Gul'dan, Lord Godfrey, one copy each of Voidlord, Doomsayer, and Twisting Nether are necessary for Control Warlock to function at a high level. This means that Control Warlock is not a budget-friendly deck, nor is it a beginner-friendly deck to its heavy meta-knowledge requirements.
Rin, the First Disciple is our best card for beating control decks, but it can be replaced by another late game card (such as The Lich King) for budget reasons or for personal taste. Skull of the Man'ari, Skulking Geist, and one copy of Sacrificial Pact can be replaced by two copies of Possessed Lackeys and a single Dark Pact. Gnomeferatu can also be replaced by a defensive 2 drop (such as Plated Beetle) for budget reasons. Zilliax is very strong in the current meta (and is widely considered to be a safe craft), but can be swapped out for a Giggling Inventor for budget purposes.
7.2. Flex Slots
As previously mentioned in the mulligan section, the majority of the cards in Control Warlock can be swapped out as needed to take on the metagame at hand. There are numerous tech cards, removal spells, and powerful late game minions that did not make the cut in this list, but many of these cards will still have their opportunity to shine in Control Warlock when the time is right.
I highly recommend that you test and tune the list I provided above to take on the metagame which you are currently facing on the ladder. To help you do so, I have compiled a brief list of potential cards which could find their way into Control Warlock in the right meta:Anti-Aggro Cards
- Mortal Coil: At its best when played alongside Voodoo Doll, Mortal Coil is strong in metas which are heavy on 2/1 minions.
- Hungry Crab, Golakka Crawler, and E.M.P. Operative: Though we have not seen hate cards like these show up on the ladder in quite some time, Control Warlock would be happy to run these cards if the meta every shifts too heavily towards a single minion-type.
- Plated Beetle: Excellent for contesting early boards, Plated Beetle can come in for Gnomeferatu or be played alongside it in aggro-heavy metagames.
- Spirit Bomb: An excellent tech choice for when Rogue is popular, Spirit Bomb is perfect for gobbling up Fal'dorei Striders, Hench-Clan Thugs, and Vicious Fledglings.
- Second Doomsayer: Without freeze effects, Doomsayer is at its best against aggro decks that lack burn damage and are unable to buff their on-board minions. If Void Ripper and silence effects become less popular than they currently are, look to squeeze a second copy of Doomsayer into this deck.
- Tar Creeper and Lone Champion: Certain aggro decks can apply pressure and play around Defile at the same time, increasing the need for minion-based answers in the early game.
- Voodoo Doll: The first copy of Voodoo Doll is probably better than the second copy of Siphon Soul if you are looking for additional removal for large minions. Plays well with Dark Pact and Mortal Coil.
- Ironbeak Owl and Spellbreaker: Perfect for countering Magnetic decks and powerful Deathrattle triggers, Ironbeak Owl plays a bit better with Defile while Spellbreaker is stronger when played on curve.
- Despicable Dreadlord: Another target for Skull of the Man'ari, and great against token-based aggro decks.
- Harrison Jones: If you are facing nothing but Malygos Druids on the ladder, a second weapon removal card would make the matchup highly favorable for Control Warlock.
- Skulking Geist: Many popular Control Warlock lists are running Skulking Geist to gobble up cards like Naturalize, but I felt that 2 copies of Demonic Project were doing a good enough job of beating combo Druid decks on their own. If you need additional help against combo Druid, Skulking Geist is the first card you should try to make room for.
- Treachery and Howlfiend: This fun combo is even better at beating opposing control decks than Rin, the First Disciple is. Treachery also does double duty as an instant activator for Doomsayer.
- Big Game Hunter and The Black Knight: 2 for 1s are a great way to pull ahead against other control decks.
- The Lich King: Provides a bit of extra late game power and utility in control-heavy metagames.
8. Wild Control Warlock Deck
Reno Jackson and Kazakus give Wild fans a strong incentive to go the Highlander route with Control Warlock. N'Zoth, the Corruptor joins Bloodreaver Gul'dan as another "I Win" button in the late game, while a wide variety of cost-effective removal spells and sweepers fill out the remainder the deck:
|Warlock Cards||Neutral Cards|
9. Quick Tips and Tricks
- Using Sacrificial Pact on your own Voidlord adds 2 additional Taunt minions to the board and gains you 5 life. This can potentially prevent a number of lethal setups from your opponent, especially if you suspect they may be running a silence effect. This play also strong against Polymorph and Hex.
- Stonehill Defender has several incredible hits in Warlock, including Voidlord and Rin, the First Disciple. Against other control decks, many games will come down to whether or not you can find an additional win condition off one of your Stonehill Defenders.
- Shroom Brewer can be used to heal your own minions. When done at the right time, healing one of your own minions can often gain you more life than healing your face.
10. Similar Hearthstone Decks
If you enjoyed playing this deck, you may also enjoy other control decks. Big Spells Mage is another fun and interactive control deck which is packed with board clear spells and powerful late game cards like Frost Lich Jaina and Dragoncaller Alanna.
- 04 Dec. 2018: Deck updated for the Rastakhan's Rumble expansion. Removed 1x Demonic Project for 1x Void Contract.
- 26 Oct. 2018: Swapped the Giggling Inventor for Zilliax.
- 02 Sep. 2018: Swapped a Dark Pact for a Sacrificial Pact and a Possessed Lackey for a Skulking Geist.
- 09 Aug. 2018: Deck added.
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