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Complete ShocLock Aggro Deck and Guide

by - 8 years ago

Want to know what the best deck in the format is?  Want to know what that decklist would look like?  Want a guide on how you might play said deck?

If you’re still around, I presume that you’ve answered yes to all of the above; I’m here today to present:

Warlock Aggro!

Wh-what? I did?

Oh yeah, I did already write about this before; you may have even noticed the guide/video that Force Strategy Gaming posted about the deck.  You’re absolutely correct.

This article is going to be my chance to finally provide a somewhat updated list as well as some new tech that I’ve been incredibly pleased with.  In addition, I’m going to break down the top decks that you’re likely to face right now, what you’re specifically looking for in your opening hand, what you want to look out for, and how you win each and every matchup.

Let’s start out with that decklist:

Shoc Warlock Aggro by shoctologist

Class: Warlock

Cards sorted by Low Cost

Minions (25)

Spells (5)

So here we see Sunfury Protectors and Defenders of Argus in a Warlock deck; obviously, the next card on our list is Molte… wait, where are the giants?

Yes, I’m playing an aggressive deck with the dynamic due of Sunfury Protectors and Defenders of Argus; I’ve never been happier with the list either.  Allow me to explain; in fact, let me cover the cards in the deck again so we’re all on the same page.

The one drops are still the engine of the deck, the foundation, if you will; without them we can’t build-a-better-board state, which is what our chief goal is.  Our cards want to be played onto a board where we have some action (with the exception of our high end threats, which I’ll cover a bit later); look at cards like Shattered Sun Cleric, Defender of Argus, Abusive Sergeant, and Sunfury Protector.  We need to get on board early.

If our opponent isn’t on the backfoot, we’re giving them the initiative; that’s Hearthsuicide for this deck.  Once we lose initiative, we either need to close out the game the next turn or sit for 3 turns while our opponent kills us.  The one drops allow us to seize that initiative and never let it go.

The Knife Jugglers are, as they’ve always been, awesome.  If you’re being aggressive, you’re playing the best aggressive two drop in the game; what’s great is that, in this deck where we want to continue building our board while keeping theirs in check with our cheap minions, Knife Juggler just fits so well… like a glove.

Once we get above those cards, the deck starts to take its unique identity.  Whereas people like Reynad and those who enjoy the company of murlocs prefer to flood the board and overwhelm the opponent, that aspect of this Warlock deck is a mere portion of what it’s capable of.  Sure, you will have those draws where you coin out a Voidwalker and Flame Imp followed by another Flame Imp and Voidwalker and your opponent is fairly dead on the spot, but this deck is capable of getting wins even when our opponent has “all the answers” for the first couple of turns.

In fact, we don’t mind at all when our opponent does that; you see, we’ve planned ahead for this exact scenario:

Chillwind YetiIn the event that our opponent clears out our board on turn three (and, because we mulled to get an aggressive start, they had to use their entire turn to do so), we have a veritable giant ready to drop on their face.  If I haven’t made it clear before, I think Yeti is the perfectly designed minion for the cards seeing play in the game right now.

It dodges both Power Word kill spells from Priests.

It can’t be Eviscerated (cleanly) without additional help (a dagger attack, meaning you got a card out of their hand and four damage in).

It can’t be Swiped without, again additional help (and if you drop it on turn four, Swipe just gives them the chance to kill Yeti the next turn and took their entire turn, giving you even more time to build your board state).

It can’t be Soulfire’d.

It can’t be Hammer of Wrathed or killed by a Truesilver Champion.

Warriors have to spend either a Shield Slam or Execute on it, unless its an aggro warrior, and even then you get four damage and a charge from Arcanite Reaper if they want to kill it (and if they don’t they’ll regret it when you drop a Defender of Argus/Sunfury Protector next turn)

Shamans have to spend a Hex on it usually, meaning there’s no Hex ready for Doomguard/Argent Commander.

It can’t be killed by an attack from Cairne Bloodhoof, Druid of the Claw, Twilight Drake, other Chillwind Yetis, Azure Drake, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, etc… and it dominates anything played before turn four in combat.  For you Magic: the Gathering players out there, think of it like the Hearthstone Tarmogoyf; cheap enough to come down early and dominate the board while still just being a really big, textless minion.

I like to imagine my games as the scene from (the original) Sin City where Dwight McCarthy nearly drowns Jackie-boy in the toilet; our initial turns are that first thrust where Jackie’s in shock and awe and doesn’t an immediate reaction/answer; after frantically scrambling to get out of that situation, Dwight just gives another firm thrust to keep Jackie in place.  Chillwind Yeti is our “second thrust”; just when our opponent thinks they’re out of the woods, yeti sends them right back.

We have Harvest Golem as a great card to make sure that we don’t lose our foothold on the board state, even in the event of a board wipe.  It seems innocuous at first, but you’ll be very happy when you start playing them.  What makes Harvest Golem truly shine is the next set of cards I want to focus on:

Sunfury

 

This is the newest change to the deck and, the very first game I played after I added it, it confirmed my faith in it (it involved accurately anticipating a Truesilver Champion and giving a minion other than my pumped Knife Juggler taunt.  Those points were the difference in my win).

The theory behind this card is this: Defender of Argus is incredible, and not just because it gives adjacent minions the power/toughness boost.  The Taunt it gives is just so incredible in almost every matchup, as even control decks typically use some number of minions/weapons to kill annoying minions.  The ability to control combat is huge in a deck that wants to have the more advantageous board state, and that’s exactly what cards like Defender of Argus and Sunfury Protector provide.  It also pushes you so far ahead on momentum, initiative, and tempo, as your opponent has to wade through the maze you’ve just created before they can continue their game plan.

Reynad plays Shieldbearers, but I don’t want to have to play Dire Wolf Alpha to make my cards work; each card should pull its own weight.  Without help, Shieldbearer is as bad as you’ve always thought it was.  At least we get a 2/3 out of Protector.

It’s a two drop with two power, so even though it’s not the most aggressive costed minion, you’re still getting a reasonable amount of attack power from your two drop; the really nice aspect of the size on Protector is the fact that it has three toughness; this means that, if you can drop a Protector on a board, have your opponent pre-occupied with those minions for a turn or two, then drop a Defender of Argus beside the Protector, you now have a four toughness taunt minion that an opponent, who just dealt with two other taunt minions, has to deal with.

It’s also the perfect size/cost to be played, followed by a Shattered Sun Cleric then Defender of Argus to allow you to build your own Chilldwind Yeti (albeit with taunt).

Finally, we have our top end.  Each and every one of these threats is there because it has the chance to push through the last bits of damage after we’ve lost initiative  (if we’re still ahead on initiative, it can provide the final points, but they’re not really there for those situations since we were going to win regardless).  This is why you don’t see The Black Knight anymore; it was great at times, but for six mana, I needed something that would have an immediate impact all of the time.  A 4/5 when you’ve lost all momentum as your only play on turn six or seven is just asking to be killed.  (By contrast, Yeti is great because it can come down while you still have momentum.)

And yes, before you ask, you definitely want to play Doomguard.  It’s an incredibly tough card to deal with, you get to pick what you discard the vast majority of the time (and, if you’ve cleared your hand, you don’t have to discard a thing), and even if you discard two cards, your opponent is likely going to have to spend more than one card getting rid of it anyway.  Against decks like the mirror match, Murlocs, and Druids, it’s a nice clock that’s hard to kill.  It’s my one of my two favorite midgame cards against Hunters (fast clock without a ton of minions and hard to kill).  Yes, you definitely play Doomguard.

Legendary Concerns (Budget Discussion)

I got questions about some cards and possible replacements, so I want to address those now.

LeeroyJenkinsI’m going to be blunt: there really is no replacement for Leeroy Jenkins.  If you plan to ever play an aggressive deck, make it a priority to grab yourself one of these.

However, that doesn’t really help you until you get to that point, does it?  Well, let’s look at our options.

First, we have one that most people seem to like to recommend: Reckless Rocketeer.  As a 5/2 minion with charge, aesthetically it’s the closest thing to Leeroy that we can find.  Unfortunately, the mana cost is actually an issue here.  Six mana is quite a bit in this deck, meaning you won’t have the plays where you play it, Abusive Sergeant, and Power Overwhelming in the same turn.  It’s even missing a point from the damage column for two more mana.  It is a replacement option if you’re looking for another fragile charge beater, but the thing that makes Leeroy great is the power-to-cost ratio and the charge.  While Rocketeer has one, it’s sorely lacking in the other department.

Let’s explore a minion that has a much better power-to-cost ratio: Arcane Golem.  This is the second option most give to the “Leeroy Replacement Quandary”.  Here’s why I don’t like it in this deck, though: we’re trying to get ahead on board and stay there.  A minion that gives an extra mana crystal is actually very bad when you’re trying to do that.  Whereas with Leeroy, you can have games where you drop Leeroy, attack for six, and let it die (because you can follow it up with more stuff and you’re trying to push through lethal); with Arcane Golem, not only is that less damage you’re putting out, but the extra mana crystal is much worse than a couple of 1/1 minions.  You’ve just boosted your opponent to their late game or given them the mana to play the multitude of spells/minions needed to catch up, making that four damage irrelevant.  I don’t like it as a replacement in this deck, but that’s only because of how I play the games out (keep the board under control, not just faceroll as much damage as possible.  If you’re playing a faceroll deck, you’re probably already playing Arcane Golem anyway).

My solution (for this deck)? A card that people who’ve been playing Warlock Aggro since the Blood Imp days should be familiar with…

DARK IRON DWARF

While not being a perfect replacement for Leeroy (again, there is none), this is the best of both worlds right now.  It gives you a boost in power for a turn while still leaving behind a pretty intimidating minion on the board.  I’d still play Leeroy 101 days out of 100, but this should fit this slot for those of you who don’t yet own the overexcited paladin.

As for those of you who asked about replacements for Bloodmage Thalnos and The Black Knight after last article, it simple: take them out.  While there are metagames where I would definitely want TBK, this isn’t it; there just aren’t enough decks that I’m worried about taunt minions from at the moment that would warrant its inclusion.  Bloodmage Thalnos was just a two mana cycler, a weak minion I hoped would draw me a card 90% of the time.  It’s so much better as a Sunfury Protector.

Matchups

 

Warlock Aggro Variants (Murlocs, Reynad Zoo, Mirror)

Soulfire

What you want in your opening hand: one drops, Soulfire, Mortal Coil

An Optimal Opening Hand: Voidwalker, Mortal Coil, Soulfire, Knife Juggler

How the games play out: The onus, as always, is going to be on the first couple of turns in the game; however, in this case, you don’t have the time to slip up, even a bit.  Whereas in other matchups, a Leper Gnome into Knife Juggler is still sufficient in a lot of cases to get ahead, if that’s all you do in the first two turns, you’re dead.

A lot happens in those first couple of turns: cheap minions trade, Mortal Coils are sprung, and Soulfires as blasted.  When the dust settles, both players are typically either very close to being, or are, empty-handed.  You need to be the person with the remaining board presence when all that is said and done.  And yes, it is correct to burn that Soulfire early; board presence is infinitely more important than a random card in your hand.

The reason I like this deck in these matchups is: once all that goes down, you get to draw Harvest Golems and Chillwind Yetis; other decks are drawing Murloc Raiders and Shieldbearers.

 

Handlock

LordJaraxxus

What you want in your opening hand: One Drops

An Optimal Opening Hand: One Drops

How the games play out:Do you have the Hellfire?

That is the question we must ask ourselves (our opponent?).  While I don’t think all (or even most) of the HandLock decks run Hellfires, as they’re too painful (and bad) against the likes of Hunter and Warrior Aggro decks, the ones that do pose a pretty big threat.  You see, against decks that want to deal as much damage as fast as possible, an opponent playing a Hellfire is actually quite welcome, as even though it kills some stuff, it just helped you get them lower on life.  In this deck, we want to get (and maintain) a superior board state; most of our minions die when Hellfire is cast.

If your opponent has the coin and just Life Taps on turn two (and doesn’t use the coin), slam on the brakes.  You don’t want to let them Hellfire, clear the board, then drop a Twilight Drake after you just had the entirety of your resources destroyed.  If you’re on the play and have a very aggressive hand, I’d say go for it, as the three life can actually be relevant when you hit turn four.  The weird dynamic of this matchup is that you want to get them low early (taking away the ability to continue life tapping and getting more resources) in spite of the threat of Molten Giant.

First, they have to actually have a Molten Giant in hand for your concerns about life total to matter.  Second, the less you pressure them, the more chances they get to actually life tap to draw that Molten Giant.  Third, every other card in their deck makes you want to end the game as soon as possible; you can’t play into 93% of their deck because of your concerns over 7% of it.

You just have to have a plan once you cross the 15 point threshold; can you actually handle a Molten Giant?  If not, will dropping more minions on the board help?  If not, perhaps you should life tap to try to draw into cards that will help you take care of that giant instead of just adding another Leper Gnome to the board.  These are all things you should be thinking about.

 

Faceroll Hunter

UnleashTheHounds

What you want in your opening hand: A decent curve of ascending costed minions

An Optimal Opening Hand: Leper Gnome, Knife Juggler, Chillwind Yeti, Mortal Coil

How the games play out: Play your minions conservatively.  Coin-Flame Imp-Leper Gnome might actually be the worst possible opener you could have.  You have four cards that you’re most concerned with here: 2x Unleash the Hounds and 2x Explosive Trap.

Flooding the board plays directly into both of those cards. Don’t do that.

The best card, I’ve found, in this matchup is Chillwind Yeti.  It seems odd, as one would think that a big non-taunt beater would be bad, but the way I want the game to play out is that I want to play a one drop and trade that with something.  Play a two drop, do the same.  I want to let my minions trade off as removal spells until I can drop a yeti.  That Yeti is going to put so much pressure on my opponent without giving them value with Unleash or Trap.  If you can resolve two Yetis while at 20 life or more, you’ve won as long as you don’t play another spell.  Their cards just aren’t equipped to deal with a 4/5, meaning they’ll typically try to ignore them and you can save up for that big Leeroy/Doomguard turn to finish them from 15 life or so.

Using this gameplan, I’ve raised my Hunter matchup percentage above 50% and, even though I still don’t like playing the matchup, I’m comfortable in my gameplan enough to not hate seeing the matchup anymore.

 

Druid Variants

Swipe

 

What you want in your opening hand: One Drops

An Optimal Opening Hand: Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Knife Juggler, Young Priestess

How the games play out: There are actually a couple of different flavors to be wary of: Token Druid and Watcher Druid.  They play out incredibly differently, and you have to know how to identify them early.

Token Druid decks typically play Argent Squire and Power of the Wild; seeing either of these early is a dead giveaway.  Same for Ancient Watcher. Recognize these decks early and plan your plays out accordingly.  For a sample token druid list, check out the DKMR Guide posted here on Blizzpro last week.

Against Token Druid, you have to look out for Argent Squires; they suck to deal with.  They take out 3/5 of your one drops with a single attack and stick around for more.  When combined with the Druid ability, Shapeshift, they can take out Flame Imps and Knife Jugglers too.  They’re annoying, and if your opponent has the coin and plays double Squire into Power of the Wild, you’re probably already dead.  Outside of that, they’re like you in a way, in that their cards depend on them having a board presence (though less so, as they still have independently powerful cards like Ancient of Lore to deal with); Savage Roar and Power of the Wild are great cards, but when your board is empty (and you can’t afford to play Force of Nature first), they become Bloodfen Raptor and a really bad reverse Drain Life (that sucks against taunt minions).

Against token druid, make sure to kill their Imp Masters on sight; ditto for Violet Teachers.  I saw one running an Illidan Stormrage (Which was actually excellent in the deck).  Kill all of these the moment you see them.  If you can’t efficiently kill them, then you kind of have to ignore them, but recognize that you’re about to get dominated if you allow them to live (as their cards build on the advantages gained from those minions living).  Be aggressive, as always, and try to make it so that they have to just throw out the Imp Master with no hopes of it living or the Violet Teacher without a backup spell.  Your aggression should dictate their actions; if they’re allowed to set up, their board will be superior to yours (and you will lose).  Be very wary of the Force of Nature/Savage Roar Combo (in fact, be wary of Savage Roar period; Token Druids play two, so even if you see one, that doesn’t mean the terror is over yet).

Against Watcher Druid, again, you just want to be as aggressive as possible early; if you can coin out two minions, try to make sure that its two minions that have more than one health (even if you have a Voidwalker); this applies to all versions of Druids actually.  If you can coin+Voidwalker+either Flame Imp or Young Priestess (making Voidwalker much harder to kill with Shapeshift/Claw), still go with Flame Imp.  If your opponent has a Wrath, you need to make sure that Wrath doesn’t draw a card; in both cases, Wrath will kill the non-Voidwalker minion, but you want to keep them from drawing that card.   It seems like a small thing to keep track of, but these are the small advantages that start building up over the course of the game.

If your opponent is able to coin and powers out a turn one Ancient Watcher, it means they either have an Ironbeak Owl to follow it up or an Innervate-into-Keeper of the Grove.  When this happens, you better hope you either have a decent board presence or Soulfire in hand.  If you’re caught off guard by this move out of the Druid deck and are unable to cope, you can fall irreparably far behind early.  Once you see that turn one Watcher, plan as if it’s going to attack the next turn.

Be careful with the toughness of your minions; for instance, if you have a Chillwind Yeti, Shattered Sun Cleric, and a 4/3 Flame Imp and your opponent plays a taunting Druid of the Claw, how do you handle it (presuming a lack of Soulfire or Power Overwhelming)?

I would actually attack both my Flame Imp and Shattered Sun Cleric into it to kill it; the reason is, if I do it the “right way” (that is, send the Yeti and Cleric, keeping two minions), I’ve just given that Druid an incredibly juicy Swipe target.  Keep that in mind when playing out one toughness minions as your opponent approaches four mana.  Also, keep in mind the potential “Bloodmage Thalnos+Swipe” play starting on turn six.  In order to be truly successful and reach the highest ranks, these are the types of things you have to start planning for in advance to avoid playing into the best cards out of your opponent’s hand.

Past that, just play this matchup like you would any non-aggro matchup: mull for one drops, get ahead early, and use that advantage to snowball your way to victory.  I put it in Warlock Aggro’s favor, though the Token Druid deck does pose problems.

 

Control Warrior

FieryWarAxe

What you want in your opening hand: One Drops that have more than 1 toughness, Soulfire

An Optimal Opening Hand: Voidwalker, Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Soulfire

How the games play out: Either they have the early Fiery War Axe or not; typically, in the “not” cases, you win.  If they do have it, that’s why you want double Voidwalker (I get that that’s not typical, but that’s why I included it in my optimal opening hand).  If they have Fiery War Axe and you have 0 Voidwalkers, good luck.  You’re basically going to have to send your minions out to be killed instantly, but once you start throwing out one toughness minions, you’re feeding cards like Cruel Taskmaster and Whirlwind (possibly Inner Rage, if they’re that brand of sicko), meaning they still don’t have to use a charge from their war axe to kill your minions.  Then, when you think your Harvest Golem will get you back on the board, a single axe attack plus Whirlwind wipes your whole board.

The way the games devolve when your opponent has the early war axe makes that the single biggest axis on which the game will turn in that matchup.  Granted, if you are good/lucky enough to have double Voidwalker, you’ve mitigated their best early card against you.

Warriors don’t play big taunt minions, they just try to drag the game out with cheap removal, a ton of armor, and high toughness sadomasochists (Armorsmith, Acolyte of Pain, Frothing Berserker).  I always joke that the deck is “armor armor armor, legendary legendary legendary”, as that’s how the deck feels.  Once you hit turn seven, start expecting the likes of Baron Geddon, Grommash Hellscream, Ragnaros, the Firelord, Alexstrasza, and Ysera.  If you aren’t very close to winning by that point, you’re probably not going to.  Be careful with your life tapping late, as even though you can usually spend as much life as you want to draw cards against control decks, the Grommash+Cruel Taskmaster combo can make things very bad for you very quick.

 

Other Matchups

There are plenty of other decks seeing play, but those are the biggest ones I’ve seen recently. Miracle Rogue is a deck that is still seeing play, but honestly that matchup is rather similar to Handlock in that you are aggressive enough to get them mostly dead before their “big turn”, you just need to make sure you can finish them off afterwards.  Have a big charge minion ready and you’ll be ok.

The midrange Rogue deck is a much different story; I find that matchup incredibly rough.  Between constant daggers, Backstabs, and the removal that they have (and are willing to use early, since they don’t want to save it for the Gadgetzan Auctioneer turn).  They can usually grind us out of minions and stay ahead of us, and cards like Deadly Poison and Backstab make it so that Voidwalker isn’t the protection it usually is.  Try to focus on getting minions with more than one toughness in play, prioritize setting up Sunfury Protector/Defender of Argus turns to protect your board.

As for Trump’s Mage deck… pray?  The Mage hero ability it brutal, they can play a turn one Mana Wyrm and just completely mess up your start, Water Elemental is brutal… that’s not even addressing Blizzard/Flamestrike.  You need some luck here.

 

Wrap It Up!

Welp, that turned into quite the book and my hands are tired and there’s still so much more I’ve left on the cutting room floor.  This is just some rough guidelines, this is by no means a complete Bible of Warlock Aggro, but it should get you started.  I was going to get into talking about when to attack the opponent vs. a minion, what to do on your turns, etc… but then I realized that that advice is applicable to each class in some way, so I plan on writing up a “Hearthstone Turn Triage” article that handles that soon.

If you like the content, make sure to comment/repost; if you’ve played with the deck (or try it out and come back), tell me how it worked out.

See you on the tabletops of Azeroth!

 

Michael “Shoc” Martin

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JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.


0 responses to “Complete ShocLock Aggro Deck and Guide”

  1. Tyfor says:

    Thanks for the great deck list + “Reader’s Digest” guide. This is one of my favorite Hearthstone sites. I can’t wait to put this deck together and take it for a spin. I anxiously await the turn triage article as well!

    • Shoctologist says:

      Yeah, the turn triage article is one I’m excited about doing. It’s going to essentially be a checklist you can use each turn to make sure youre making the right play.

  2. Adrien Branz says:

    excellent article

  3. Lorenzo Rossi says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I really enjoy playing this deck 😉

  4. Peter Iversen says:

    Shoc, let me start by saying, you’re awesome. Love this deck, but quick question: I really don’t love young priestess. I know in this deck there is lots of taunt to hide behind, and your opponent usually has to go out of their way to take care of her, but… I don’t know. I’m just not diggin it. It doesn’t seem to have all the utility it’s numbers would imply. Maybe, you’ve found different, maybe it’s personality… whatever. MY QUESTION IS THIS – if you had to, what would you replace it with? I currently have subbed in Ironbeak Owl since it doesn’t mess with the mana curve TOO much, still gives you 2 attack, and has greater utility (at least, again, that’s what I’ve found/how I feel)… but can you think of a better card? Look forward to the input, thanks so much!! And again, you rock 🙂

    • Shoctologist says:

      The reason I include it is that it gives me that extra bit of insurance that I’ll be able to maintain a board presence; that’s the chief thing I want to be doing in this deck. I DO like the Ironbeak Owl and am probably wrong for not having at least one, but the one drops are pretty much untouchable (as you need to get on top of your opponent early). I even went back up to 2, honestly, and dropped an Argent Commander.

      • Shoctologist says:

        Also, if i HAD to replace it, Worgen Infiltrator.

        • Peter Iversen says:

          Thanks for the input! Yeah, like I said, I can def see HOW it would be helpful, mine just never seem to last very long. And owl is especially good against legendaries. Infiltrators good too tho… much to consider, much to consider haha. Random question: Have you ever constructed a murloc deck? Specifically, I’ve been working on kind of a variant of druid tokens where the tokens are mostly just murlocs. It’s def in the R&D phase, but I was just curious if that’s anything you’ve messed with before

          • Peter Iversen says:

            UPDATE: wow. changing out the sargent for the 2nd priestess made a HUGE difference. Thanks!