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This week we have a classic Control Warrior with some Naxxramas twists that has been springing up on the ladder recently. The strength of Control Warrior is it’s ability to outlast Aggro decks by throwing up taunts and armoring up, while also having weapons to efficiently remove minions turn after turn. Warrior has a lot of very inexpensive, yet very strong removal which allows us to fit a lot of high mana threats into the deck, with the result being the following decklist.
2x Execute: Execute is in the deck because it’s an incredibly powerful hard removal card for only 1 mana; this is unrivaled in any other class (see: Assassinate costs 5 mana, Naturalize has an immense downside). It can be comboed relatively easily using cards like Cruel Taskmaster.
2x Shield Slam: Shield Slam is another incredibly powerful removal spell. It is at minimum 3 mana for 2 damage when you factor in using the warrior hero power, but can easily be 5+ damage with use of Shield Block. Accrued armor through repeatedly using the warrior hero power makes this card very efficient.
2x Fiery War Axe: Fiery War Axe may be the best card in the game. It guarantees board control in the early game and the health loss can be made up for later on in the game by armoring up and playing taunts. By keeping the board clean with the axe early on it sets up a board state that is conducive to dropping high mana threats. It is also nice to have a weapon out so you can remove minions while simultaneously playing your own minions.
1x Cleave: Cleave is great in metagames where there are a lot of low-mana minions being played, such as in warlock aggro or in hunter decks that like to play cards like Starving Buzzard and Haunted Creeper. It is also good at cleaning up when a Hunter plays Houndmaster or for killing the remains of a Savannah Highmane.
2x Slam: Slam is a good way to trigger execute without losing card advantage, and is also a good way to buffer the opponent’s minions health into a range that your minions or weapons can kill them from.
2x Armorsmith: Armorsmith is a great tool for stalling the game, because the enemy knows they have to kill the armorsmith before they are able to start damaging the hero (because leaving it alive can often result in the warrior gaining immense amounts of armor). With 4 HP, it can be difficult to kill early in the game, and later on it can be comboed with other cards. Both scenarios result in massive life gain.
2x Cruel Taskmaster: Cruel Taskmaster is great because it gives a convenient way to trigger Execute, as well as being a nice tool to finish off enemy minions if spells like Slam or Cleave aren’t enough. It is also great at fending off rush decks, because the 1 point of damage is enough to slay an opponents Leper Gnome, etc. while also developing your own presence on the board. The taskmaster can also be combined with Armorsmith to gain a lot of armor while pressuring the opponent at the same time, or even with Grommash Hellscream for a 12 damage burst.
2x Unstable Ghoul: This card is great for fending off aggro because it often trades with one minion and then weakens, if not kills, the rest of their small minions. It can be used as a clutch cheap taunt late game to stop high damage burst combos from coming in. Aside from that, it is usually best played in combination with the Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain to give the enemy nightmares.
2x Shield Block: It is often best to save Shield Block towards the later stages of the game, and spend your mana on your other cards at the start. The best way to play the deck is to sacrifice HP using weapons to gain board advantage and play threats in the early stage, and then bunker down by playing taunts and Shield Block in the late game.
2x Acolyte of Pain: Warrior has a better late-game than almost any other deck, and as a result Acolyte of Pain has a lot of synergy. Most decks have to kill Warrior before it gets to the late game, or else the quality of the Warrior’s minions will simply grind down the opponent’s means to remove them. The reason Acolyte of Pain is so strong is because it forces the opponent to either spend mana or waste damage dealing with it, which can delay them an entire turn *with no cost to the warrior’s hand size*. The Warrior can then clean up the entire board with their efficient removal spells the next turn while remaining at a comfortable life total. On top of that, Acolyte of Pain has some synergy with cards like Whirlwind, Deaths Bite, or Cruel Taskmaster to trigger it to draw even more cards.
2x Deaths Bite: Deaths Bite is great because it gives warrior a wider range of the mana curve that they can control the board with weapons. You kill the first couple minions with the War Axe, and then the next few with Deaths Bite. On top of this, it synergizes very well with Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain, and even Execute. Regardless of these synergies, the primary benefit is that it keeps the board rid of tiny minions while also taking out one big one. It can almost be seen as a warrior version of Swipe.
1x Brawl: Sometimes Warrior can get a bad hand early on because they have so many late game minions, it is possible that the board becomes swarmed. Brawl is in the deck to make a comeback in the situations where you start to fall behind.
1x Harrison Jones: Harrison Jones is in the deck because right now the metagame is filled with Rogues, Hunters, Paladins, Warriors, Shaman etc. these are decks that all rely on weapons where Harrison Jones can get a lot of value.
2x Sludge Belcher: Sludge Belcher is great at delaying the game for a turn, because it is so sticky and hard to get through. By having it in the deck it makes it easier for Warrior to get to the late-game where they can take over with their higher value cards. With a very reliable taunt in the deck, Warrior can avoid dying to Leeroy combos for long enough to either armor up enough to escape lethal altogether, or long enough to kill the opponent.
1x Cairne Bloodhoof: Cairne is great at burning the opponent’s hard removal cards like Hex, to make way for threats like Grommash and Ragnaros to stay on the board. He comes down early enough in the game that he is extremely hard to deal with, very commonly netting the warrior card advantage. He is a great investment to have on the board because he can do minion to minion combat for several turns after due to how sticky he is.
1x Sylvanas Windrunner: Post-patch Sylvanas is incredibly strong, as she can now mind control the deathrattle minions that are left behind from cards like Cairne, or Savannah Highmane. If used to maximum effect Sylvanas can always steal something of value and net some card advantage. One thing to watch out for though is getting too greedy with Sylvanas. If they play a huge minion your eyes may get big and cause you to play Sylvanas, but her weakness is that you often don’t have enough mana to play taunts or armor up leaving you exposed to a face-rush. Try to judge the situation and weigh whether or not you can get away with playing Sylvanas or if you have to remove their board due to being too low on life/not having a taunter.
1x Grommash Hellscream: Grom is the game ender, he comes down and hits for 10 to finish the opponent off. Against a lot of decks you can just play him on turn 8 because you will eventually win regardless if the game goes long, but against some decks like Hand Lock he is best saved for a finisher.
1x Ragnaros the Firelord: Ragnaros is similar to Cairne and Sylvanas in that he is a large mana investment that leaves you weak to your face being rushed down, but if you are healthy enough to get him down safely he can collect a lot of value over the course of a long game. Usually, if they cannot kill you they end up running a lot of their cards into him which gives you card advantage.
1x Alexztrasza: Since warrior is based mostly around self defense, you don’t have many opportunities to attack the opponent’s face. As a result, Alextrasza usually gets in for a significant amount of damage while also providing an 8-8 on board. Alternatively, (maybe even more commonly) Alextrasza is used on the warrior’s own face to stabilize back to 15 HP in the hyper late-game.
Against Aggro decks you want to be throwing everything back that isn’t one of the following: Fiery War Axe; Armorsmith; Cruel Taskmaster; Unstable Ghoul; Slam; Cleave.
Against Druid, you want to keep combinations like Cruel Taskmaster + Execute, Shield Block + Shield Slam, all weapons. Armorsmith and Unstable Ghoul aren’t particularly good against druid early on but they are at least something to play on turn 2, and if you get both at once they can be problematic.
Against Hunter you want the following: All weapons; all early minions; cleave; shield slam, sludge belcher (with coin). As an aside, against any decks that make use of weapons it is smart to keep Harrison Jones in your opening hand, especially if you have the coin.
The basic game plan with control warrior is to survive into the lategame in the most efficient and health-preserving ways possible. You will have turns where you invest in developing weapons so that you can strike their minions from the board while also developing your own threats the following turn. When you have no weapon available, you have to make choices between playing your own threats or spending your mana on removing theirs – it is often better to play your own threat unless you would take critical damage. Basically the goal of the warrior deck is to get all of its huge mana threats out of its hand safely, because the one weakness to investing so much mana playing threats is that it leaves your face exposed. There are a couple patterns you can follow that will lead to playing the deck well:
1) Play a weapon one turn, then play a big threat the turn after while keeping the board clear with the weapon.
2) Play a big threat one turn to bait them going for your face, then play a taunt/armor up the following turn to shut them down and win the value-game from complete safety.
The phrase “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” comes to mind, because playing warrior control involves a rhythm where you show weakness one turn and then come back on the following turn with overwhelming strength.
Create the deck on Hearthstats.net and then keep track of your wins and losses. Let us know how you’re doing with it.
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Written by [DKMR]Kisstafer
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