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Deck of the Week #5, Handlock

by - 10 years ago

Every Friday legendary player [DKMR]Alchemixt breaks down Don’t Kick My Robot’s “Deck of the Week” . These decks are seeing a lot of play either in constructed ladder or tournaments. Team DKMR explain the deck lists and how to play them. Make sure you check out Don’t Kick My Robot if you want to become a better player or check out their premium services if you would like them to do a 1 on 1 coaching session with you to help you better your game. View past Deck Lists of the Week.

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[DKMR]Alchemixt here from team Don’t Kick My Robot to bring you this week’s Deck of the Week. The deck that we are going to highlight this week is a Warlock deck called Handlock. This deck is quite different in playstyle compared to almost any other deck out there and it can be quite difficult to play with and against. If you like playing with large threats, tons of cards, and living on the edge then you are going to love this deck.

The Deck List


  • Soulfire – This card is primarily used as a removal spell. It can also be used as a finisher in some sort of Leeroy Jenkins or Power Overwhelming combo.
  • Mortal Coil – Not a very flashy card but it certainly smooths out the deck and keeps your hand full of cards which is always a plus.
  • Power Overwhelming – Mostly used as a finisher but it also combos quite nicely with Shadowflame.
  • Ancient Watcher – A core piece of the deck. We have 5 ways to enable this card between taunts or silences. Worst case scenario is that you just Shadowflame it away to clear the baord.
  • Bloodmage Thalnos – Some people have recently cut this card to make room for more late game creatures. However, this card has good synergy with Mortal Coil, Soulfire, Hellfire, and it replaces itself.
  • Ironbeak Owl – Silence effect to be used on your opponents cards or to enable your Ancient Watcher to go aggro in the early game.
  • Sunfury Protector – Taunt enabler.
  • Earthen Ring Farseer – This deck manipulates its life total in a way to play out Molten Giants so being able to heal back up after deploying your giants can be nice. Also, with all the taunt enablers, you will often find yourself healing damaged creatures back to full health.
  • Hellfire – Mass removal which also brings you closer to Molten Giants (by lowering your health).
  • Shadowflame – More mass removal and it works particularly well with the giants, watchers, and Leeroy.
  • Defender Of Argus – Taunt Enabler
  • Leeroy Jenkins – Finisher
  • Twilight Drake – This is one of the key cards you want to mulligan for in many matchups. Since you usually Life Tap the first few turns anyways this card is commonly a 4/8 or bigger.
  • Faceless Manipulator – Copying giants is always good as well as having the option to copy your opponents creatures. Another neat trick is Leeroy Jenkins, Power Overwhelming, and Faceless Manipulator. These add up to 10 mana for a WOMBO COMBO 20 damage.
  • Siphon Soul – This is the decks primary hard removal for killing large threats. It also serves a similar role as Earthen Ring Farseer in bringing your life total back up to either buy time to play out your big threats or bring your life back up after playing Molten Giants.
  • Alexstrasza – Acts as another giant but also used for survival because as mentioned multiple times already you bring your life total down quite low.
  • Lord Jaraxxus – Another survival card but the difference is that if the games drags out for a couple more turns you will probably just win because of the hero power and the weapon.
  • Mountain Giant – Key card which is ideally played on turn 4.
  • Molten Giant – Key card which is generally played for close to 0 mana along with a taunt enabler to protect yourself from dying and giving you the chance to land a killing blow the following turn..Now that you have a general idea of why each card is in the deck we can get into some gameplay tips.


Life Tap, Life Tap, Life Tap – In many cases you will use your hero ability more often than not throughout the game. You need to maintain a large handsize (handlock) in order to play out your Mountain Giants on time and to make sure your Twiligh Drakes are large enough to be threatening. The cool thing about this deck is that since your Life Tap so much you generally get to see most cards in your deck during the game. This means that you can count on seeing the specific cards you are searching for.

Playing against slower decks – I like to mulligan aggressively for Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant by throwing back almost anything else. If you are playing first then using your life tap for the first 3 turns and playing nothing else will allow for a turn 4 Mountain Giant. If you have the coin then you will usually need to play out a card before turn 4 in order to not burn a card by then. In these slower games you should be at a pretty big advantage because you get to play very big threats early in the game before your opponent can usually have a good way to react to them. Sometimes it may be correct to lead with a Twilight Drake before a Mountain Giant in order to force an answer such as a Shield Slam or Execute from a Warrior. Another advantage that you gain over playing a longer game is that you can usually set up huge combos with Leeroy Jenkins or Alexstrasza.

The one downside of playing a slower match is that it may be harder to turn on cheap Molten Giants when your opponent isn’t bashing your face in. A smart player will generally not bring you too low right away if they cannot deal with a Molten Giant easily.

Playing against aggressive decks – You will likely not be given the luxury of doing nothing until turn 4 to play out a Mountain Giant. In the more aggressive matchups I am more willing to play out cards instead of life tapping. This also means that in matchups such as Hunter I actually do not want a Mountain Giant because there is a very realistic chance that I will never play it throughout the whole game. Instead, you want Molten Giants and taunt enablers. The best case scenario against hyper aggressive decks is that you get to play very cheap Molten Giants early on and back them up with taunt enablers. Ancient Watchers are also quite good in stalling out the game long enough to set up bigger plays or make a comback with something like Alexstrasza or Jaraxxus. Cards such as Shadowflame and Hellfire can be mvp’s especially against the Warlock aggro decks or even Shamans and all their totems and Spirit Wolves. The downside of playing a fast game is that if you lack taunt enablers or Molten Giants you can get run over very quickly.

We have played games where we do not see mass removal or taunt enablers and we just die on turn 6 having done almost nothing all game. That is a risk you have to take even though it may not happen very often.

Overall, this deck has a very strong matchup against the field on the ladder and in tournament play. Also, you get the Warlock advantage of being able to stealth what you are playing. A warrior might mulligan his Executes in search of Fiery War Axe, Cleave, and other removal because he thinks he is playing against aggro. Little does he know that he is really going to need that Execute cause you are playing turn 4 giants.

Before we end the article we are going to provide a small list of cards that could give this deck some problems which you can either use to combat this deck or be aware of if you choose to play this deck.

Cards to Watch Out For

Sacrificial Pact – Not very common but this card does actually kill Jaraxxus and will instantly win the game for the person who used it. If you are playing in a tournament that allows sideboarding than you may want to side out Jaraxxus because you opponent will most likely bring this in if they are playing Warlock.

Big Game Hunter – With Tinkmaster Overspark falling out of favor this card may be used alot more.

Silence Effects – Make your Twilight Drakes 4/1’s as well as being able to remove your taunt effects.

The Black Knight – Sometimes you want to play around this by choosing to not taunt your giant and instead just taunt an Ancient Watcher or something else.

Hunter’s Mark – Not much to do about this card we just thought we would let you all know how much it sucks to play against it.

Equality – Very easy way to kill all of your early large threats so it may be wise not to throw out every threat that you have until you bait out at least one Equality.

There are many other cards that we could mention that potentially can cause some trouble but overall we think the few that we mentioned pose the biggest threats. I hope you all enjoy the Deck Of The Week.

Track your stats with this deck on Hearthstats.net
Guide written by [DKMR]Alchemixt
Discussions about this topic brought to you by Team [DKMR]

JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been involved with Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. JR was also a co-host for 6 years on the Hearthstone podcast Well Met! He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013.

0 responses to “Deck of the Week #5, Handlock”

  1. Derek_Sye says:

    Interesting article. I have to disagree with the inclusion of Jaraxxus though. I can’t understand why this card sees play. Let me explain what I mean by looking at the different matchups and how useful the card is in each.

    Vs. Aggro Decks: Jaraxxus is completely horrible against aggro decks. The game will be over before turn 9, so Jaraxxus essentially has no text.

    Vs. Mid Range Decks: The game might go long enough to cast Jaraxxus in these matchups. However, unless you are ALREADY WINNING you won’t be able to play him on turn 9. If you are already winning, then Jaraxxaus could be exchanged for any card that increases your lead.

    Vs. Control Decks: This is supposed to be the situation where Jaraxxus shines and sometimes he does. In those games that go EXTREMELY long AND the board is at parity then Jaraxxus can win the game. However, most control vs control matches don’t go to the super late game either. So even in this best matchup Jaraxxus will only be useful a portion of the time.

    As cool as Jaraxxus is the card is simply too situational. I would argue that he is only truly useful in about 5% of games, and that simply isn’t enough to merit inclusion in my deck.

    • ZenStyle says:

      It seemed to become popular as a response to Druid Midrange, and Jaraxxus is horrifying for that specific deck to deal with. Against decks I’m seeing now, I’m not sure Jaraxxus is super effective, but what he does is pretty hard to replace. It feels like the strategy of aggressively Life Tapping doesn’t work if you don’t have him.

      • Derek_Sye says:

        The healing portion of Jaraxxus is extremely overrated. Most of the top tier decks in the game have burst potential which makes the difference between 5 life and 15 life fairly negligible (savage roar & FON, Leeroy & Shadowstep, etc…). So it is very easy to play Jaraxxus and then die on the next turn. You are much better off by giving yourself virtual life in the form of big taunts that also affect the board. What do I mean by this? Well think of it this way. When you cast a molten giant and then throw a taunt on it, you have effectively added 8 points to your health because you opponent needs to either kill the giant or remove it to end the game. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, such as direct damage spells, but there is very little of that in the high end meta. In addition, by adding that minion to the board you have increased the pressure on your opponent. Which makes you life less important because you can simple kill your opponent instead.

    • Goob says:

      It’s pretty key in this deck given the play style and guaranteed speed at which you lose health.

  2. Drothvader says:

    This deck is like flirting with death! =O

    I LIKE IT!!!! The thrill of winning a game with under 5 health for half of the game is immense!

  3. Inari says:

    I realized something interesting while playing this deck : Using Power Overwhelming on a damaged minion, having him attack, then silencing him with an Ironbeak Owl keeps it alive while having the +4 health counted as a heal.

  4. Johna230 says:

    Very informative article post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic. gdbbdagdfced