Legend with Standard Control Warrior: Thoughts on a hostile meta

Note: This is a meta discussion post from the perspective of a control warrior more than a deck guide. My performance with the deck is not amazing, and I do not keep detailed statistics. However I will be sharing the list for those interested.

I just hit legend EU with a Control Warrior list. Not a good rank, but a solid climb once the meta had settled Normally this wouldn't be worthy of comment; but the current meta we are in is one of the most hostile I've seen for Warrior for a while. Between Mage's burn and highrolls, Paladin's infinite value and insane secret tempo, and Warlock's deck-burn, every deck seems to both out-tempo and out-value the traditional Control Warrior playstyle.

However, there are ways to strategize against these classes. Control Warrior is a flexible deck, and here are the strategies and deckbuilding mindsets I've come to that allows me to struggle against the tide.

Beating Mage

Mage is the most popular deck right now, so priority number one for any Warrior deck to beat. It's a hard deck to fight because they have two gameplans. One is a burn playstyle using the deck's absurd amount of raw damage. The other is the Deck of Lunacy highroll. This will usually end up flooding the board with powerful minions, with unpredictable buffs and burn over the top.

The first gameplan is relatively straightforward to beat. Mage has 2x Fireballs, 2x Runic Orb, 2x Mask of C'thun, 2x Apexis Blast and occasionally C'thun for their main damage. This means that they have a total burn from hand of around 50 (80 with C'thun). This is a lot, more than most decks can handle, but Warrior can match it with armorgain. With 2x Armor Vendor, 2x Shieldmaidens, a Kargath Prime, Alexstrasza the Lifebinder and judicious use of the hero power button, you can reliably outlast them, so long as you don't take too much minion damage. The key is not running out of removal for their random minions, and drawing enough cards without taking too much damage.

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This is also the strategy for their Deck of Lunacy. Occasionally they will highroll you with Nagrand Slams into Nagrand Slams, but most of the time if you prevent them building wide boards to Survival of the Fittest (no invocations before lunacy) or always have answers for the Libram of Hope (1x invocation before lunacy), they're pretty manageable.

All mages draw through their deck like nobody's business, even with C'thun. If you draw cards, kill minions, keep 1x or 2x minions on the board every turn, it's very hard to lose outside of massive highrolls and you will win in fatigue and with Rattlegore.

Beating Paladin

Paladin is harder. Their tempo with the secret package is obscene. Oh My Yogg is the hardest to play around, followed by Avenge. However, you can win. If you tech in answers for Librams (I personally run 1x Ironbeak owl and Ysera), and get decent early tempo, you can just about scrape through. This is a matchup, like the Warlock, that becomes a lot easier if you manage to get a Rattlegore down. Unlike mage, you don't need to clear every turn to avoid taking chip damage. You want to ensure you have answers for Librams of Hope and save silence for a really juicy target. If you can't play around secrets, stall until you can rather than buffing their minions and taking more damage.

Beating Warlock

Warlock is essentially impossible to beat in fatigue. They also have too much lifegain to reliably burn down with grom. To top it all off, they have Jarraxxus and infinite 6/6s to kill you with. The way to beat Warlock is simple. Play Rattlegore and pray they don't run silence. If they don't, just smack them in the face until they die. If they do; well, gg, you were never going to win anyway. Draw tons of cards, keep Rattlegore off the mulligan, and pray you don't hear a hoot hoot.

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Deckbuilding thoughts

My decklist is as follows. I don't think this is the best, and there are a lot of optimisations to be made. However, the core philosophies of the deck work well against the 'big three' of this meta (Mage, Paladin, Warlock).

Standard Control

Class: Warrior

Format: Standard

Year of the Gryphon

2x (1) Armor Vendor

2x (1) Athletic Studies

2x (1) Shield Slam

2x (1) Stage Dive

1x (2) Corsair Cache

2x (2) Minefield

2x (3) Bladestorm

2x (3) Coerce

1x (3) Ironbeak Owl

1x (3) Lord Barov

1x (4) Kargath Bladefist

2x (4) Outrider's Axe

1x (5) Brawl

1x (5) Faceless Manipulator

2x (5) Stonemaul Anchorman

2x (6) Shieldmaiden

1x (7) Overlord Saurfang

1x (9) Alexstrasza the Life-Binder

1x (9) Rattlegore

1x (9) Ysera the Dreamer


To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone

Broken down into packages, it looks like this:

Removal Package:

2x Shield Slam
2x Minefield
2x Bladestorm
2x Coerce
1x Lord Barov
1x Brawl

Core of any Control deck, you gotta kill stuff. I prefer Bladestorms over Rancor as they are better against single-target minions, with are more common right now. 1 instead of 2 Brawls for the same reason.

Lifegain Package

2x Armor Vendor
1x Kargath Bladefist
2x Shieldmaiden
1x Alexstrasza the Life-Binder

Vital against all decks but especially Mage. Keeps you alive. Alex is flexible removal and potential burn for lethal, and the others activate your Shield Slams. Kargath obviously goes amazingly with the Rush package.

Rush/Frenzy Package

2x Athletic Studies
2x Stage Dive
2x Stonemaul Anchorman
1x Overlord Saurfang

I really really like Stonemaul Anchorman. It's a solid drop that removes and cycles. You can tutor it with Stage Dive which reliably makes Saurfang great. Saurfang is good with only 1 Anchorman, and amazing with 2. I think this will be a strong addition to many Warrior decks regardless of meta. Athletic Studies flattens your curve and the small card pool reliably gives you strong options. Stage Dives also helps you find Kargath Prime early. Card draw is good and unlike Outrider's Axe, this is card draw that doesn't require taking damage.

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Weapon Package

1x Corsair Cache 2x Outrider's Axe

Weapons are not great right now. However, there's very few Oozes about and Outrider's Axe is an amazing card. Just don't over-trade vs Mage and lose all your life. Only trade with Axe on low-health minions vs Mage and other burn decks, save the cycling for your Anchormen.

Greed/Tech Package

1x Ironbeak Owl
1x Faceless Manipulator
1x Rattlegore
1x Ysera the Dreamer

Owl is meh in most matchups but potentially gamewinning vs Paladin. Also handy when Mage's random Initiation or Soul Mirror copies your Rattlegore.

Faceless is to double your Rattlegore but can also be good vs Libram of Hope (Faceless their Libram and then play Coerce is a huge board swing).

Ysera is strong vs Paladin (Dream's sap effect is really good when they overload Librams on one target) and gives you extra resources to deal with Mage's random nonsense/eat C'thun or mask of C'thun damage. This is the most flexible part of the deck, and I would happily cut any of these (except perhaps Rattlegore). Just remember that you need hand space and the order you get the cards is always the same, so it can be worth to burn an Emerald Drake to keep your chance to get Ysera down.

Rattlegore is your main win condition. Wait until both Devolvings are gone and the board is clear or small and Mage loses to it. It is obviously vital against Warlocks. And it's great against the odd Priest. Dead card in many matchups, in an aggro/flood meta this is a cut.


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