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The New Standard: Frozen Control Warrior

What ever happened to Control Warrior? This is something I’ve discussed multiple times over the past few months, and while I’ve dipped into that well a few times, most of the slower lists I’ve covered have not really gotten back to the core of the class. That changes this week, when we look at the […]

Tez Gaming Jan 10, 2018 6:47 pm

Introduction

What ever happened to Control Warrior? This is something I’ve discussed multiple times over the past few months, and while I’ve dipped into that well a few times, most of the slower lists I’ve covered have not really gotten back to the core of the class. That changes this week, when we look at the list that Frozen took all the way to top 10 legend. Control Warrior has long lost its identity. Though some decks have popped up here and there, most of them have revolved around things like Fire Plume’s Heart or Woecleaver. This list gets back to what Warrior is good at, which is stalling the game. Some of you may be used to big, flashy finishers, but the way you win with this one is simple: stay alive.

Key Cards

Cornered Sentry

One of the strangest choices in the deck, Cornered Sentry is a deceptively powerful card that has a ton of uses here. This deck has double Whirlwind, double Blood Razor, and Scourgelord Garrosh. That means the two drop is typically going to come down and you are going to Whirlwind the raptors away, giving you a two mana 2/5 with taunt. Not bad. In addition, this card is wonderful with Brawl, creating a messy board that will often leave your opponent with a lone 1/1. If your opponent is playing around the AOE, this helps you force their hand. The two drop also has nice synergy with Scourgelord because it gives you something to hit with your weapon if your opponent is only trying to give you a big thing to face tank. There have been many games where I’ve used sentry to hit a raptor next to a large threat in order to set up Execute for the low, low price of one health.

All of the above uses are strong, but the number one reason the two drop is in this deck is because of how well it works with Drywhisker Armorer. The two drop Kobold is one of the strongest Warrior cards from the recent set, giving you a huge amount of versatility and armor in a small, affordable body. However, the problem is that it won’t always trigger. Not only can decks play around it, but control builds simply never have enough minions to get you a high amount of value. Cornered Sentry instantly fixes that problem by giving you three extra bodies, meaning the 2/2 is almost always going to net eight or more armor. Always try to play to this combo if you can afford it. Even if you don’t have a Whirlwind effect, the extra armor is almost always going to be worth it.

Dead Man’s Hand

Dead Man’s Hand is the most important card in this entire deck because, quite frankly, it’s your win condition. As you will have noticed, this list does not contain any classic finishers. Yes, I have added Geosculptor Yip to give it a bit more late game power, but most of the time you are going to win games by running your opponent out of cards. That may be hard to envision, but most of the time this deck is going to win where you have a few cards left in your deck, your opponent has none, and you steadily pick off their last few threats as they burn up in fatigue. That is a solid gameplan, but it is weak if you go to fatigue at the same time or ahead of your opponent. Dead Man’s Hand fixes that problem by giving you a way to make sure you always have more cards, regardless of what archetype your up against. All it takes is a few extra draws to go long.

The trickiest part about Dead Man’s Hand is deciding when to play it. You want to get value from the spell anytime you have a window, but there are certain cards you want to hit with it. For example, I always try to wait for Scourgelord Garrosh if possible. This is not a card that you need to rush to play. It only protects you from fatigue, which means you don’t need to play it until you have your whole deck. On the flip side, there are also going to be certain cards you don’t want to play until you draw Dead Man’s. You only want to think about these situations against control decks, but they come up quite a bit. When facing down Warlock or Priest you need to try to double up on your finishers as much as possible. In addition, as noted in the video, always hold this card for the end of the game against Warlock (like I did not). That will allow you to play around Rin, the First Disciple by letting you shuffle cards back after your opponent drops down Azari.

Stonehill Defender

When it comes to creating a versatile deck list, Stonehill Defender is going to be king. The reason this deck does not run a big finisher package is two-fold. One, big threats don’t help you against many of the faster lists running around. The over reliance on large threats has long been a problem for slow Warrior decks, and it was the main reason Elise Starseeker was so good for so long. The 3/5 made it so that you did not have to ruin your curve or make yourself weaker against aggro. Rather, you could pack everything you had into fighting the early game. Dead Man’s Hand lets you go long, and Stonehill Defender supports it by giving you a way to play finishers while also teching in early game slots. The three mana taunt is strong against things like Tempo Rogue and Paladin, and the ability helps you fill out curve in any way you need. Sometimes this is a giant threat against control, sometimes it is a midrange threat, and sometimes it is just another cheap taunt to soak up extra damage. Versatility has always been king of this game, and this is yet another reason why that is.

Blood Razor

I know we’ve talked about Blood Razor in the past, but the four mana weapon has a ton of synergy with this build. You only run one Brawl (something we will touch more upon below), and that means AOE is harder to come by than in the past. Razor fixes that problem by giving you a way to two damage to the board without spending multiple cards. It also gives you a free trigger for Sleep with the Fishes, which is vital when you need to conserve your other removal. This deck is basically all removal and armor gain with some extra tech and tool cards thrown in. As a result, you want to be able to kill things as efficiently as possible. Razor is one of the best ways to do this, and you should always instantly run it out against a wide board.

The second charge on this card is extremely important and you should always wait to get specific value out of it. Being able to get a free Whirlwind may not seem great, but it is fantastic in a ton of situations, especially if the game goes long. Tearing down the raptors from Cornered Sentry is great, but getting card draw off of Acolyte of Pain, triggering Execute, and setting up a huge King Mosh are all powerful as well. You want to maximize your value across all of your plays, and this card helps you with that immensely. Free effects are hard to come by in Hearthstone, so be careful with this one. The first charge should always be used at removal, the second is more for advancing your plan.

The Techs

In my opinion, there are four cards in this build that can be switched around: Spellbreaker, Skulking Geist, Geosculptor Yip, and King Mosh. These cards are all tech choices that give you some power against the current meta. I slotted in Yip because it allows you to double up on finishers when going long, King Mosh is a great way to get some extra late-game punch, Skulking Geist is the only way you beat Jade Druid, and Spellbreaker is a must-have in a world of Cube Lock. The first card you could cut here is geist, and I would not play it if you aren’t seeing much Druid. From there, Yip is second (it was a Battle Rage in the original list) and Mosh is third. Spellbreaker is the only card I would not cut right now. There are simply too many good targets to hit throughout the ladder.

There are a ton of cards you could run in these slots. A second Brawl is likely the first one that comes to mind, but Harrison Jones is also great as well. Weapons are common these days, and the 5/4 is an amazing way to gain tempo against lists you wouldn’t normally be able to overcome. Eater of Secrets can be a good one if you’re seeing a lot of Mage, and I could even see Mind Control Tech if you’re predominately going up against aggro. You can also slide in cheaper cards to lower your curve or more armor gain plays like Ironforge Portal. The way to think about these slots is that you’re already tuned against Control simply due to the existence of Dead Man’s Hand. As a result, you want to skew against aggro when possible or tech against specific decks you’re facing a lot.

Deck Code

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Matchups

The four decks I see the most while playing the ladder.

Kazakus Priest

Some things just don’t change (until rotation, that is). Priest is still number one, and they have all the tools they’ve ever had. This is a game where you simply need one thing: armor. Lots and lots of armor. Going long against Anduin is easy because they run relatively minor threats and only have one or two things that can actually push damage. The new builds are more focused on Raza the Chained than ever. That is a problem for most decks that cannot climb above thirty life, but you can get way, way above that mark. Take full advantage of that, and never miss an opportunity to get your health up. Your opponent will be able to do around thirty damage with their full combo, but once they spend those resources they are going to be extremely limited. The most important combo here is Cornered Sentry and Drywhisker Armorer. Most of your armor cards are fixed, but the two drop can hit way below its limit. Always try to get at least ten armor from it, but look for twelve and fourteen as often as you can.

Do not worry too much about Dead Man’s Hand in this one. It may seem like you need the card (and you do) because this is a control vs. control game. However, your armor is going to a much more pressing matter. Yes, you want to go into fatigue second, but you typically don’t care about what you’re putting back into your deck. As long as you can heal throughout the game, any extra cards are going to be pure value. On that note, also try to stay away from turning into Scourgelord Garrosh. The Death Knight is great against board-focused decks, but it does nothing against Shadowreaper Anduin and his free hero power. You’d much rather take the ability to gain armor. Hit your hero power whenever you have the opportunity to do so.

Cube Warlock

Cube Warlock, despite what happened in the video, has become vastly more popular than its less-combo-ey cousin. The goal of this game is going to be similar to Priest, except Dead Man’s Hand is extremely important. Your opponent is going to quickly plunge themselves into fatigue, which means if you can shuffle a lot of cards back into your deck you are going to always win the long battle. You need to play around the combo as best you can, which means killing demons on sight. Save your big removal for Voidlord or Doomguard, and try to find alternate removal for other big threats. Sometimes that is not an option, but most of the time you should be able to pace your opponent for the entire game. Just remember, save Dead Man’s for as long as possible. Being able to drop it down after your opponent plays the final seal is vital (as you saw in the video).

Most of the time this game is going to long, and that means you need to be able to deal with Warlock’s big end-game threats. They are rarely going to be able to set up their gigantic all-in combo against you, and even if they do you should have more than enough health to absorb the hit. The bigger problem is going to be Bloodreaver Gul’dan, which you absolutely need to save a strong AOE for. Brawl is option number one, but Sleep with the Fishes alongside a Blood Razor, King Mosh, or double Whirlwind works as well. Pace your opponent as much as possible, and only try to take over the game once they’ve used up their flashy finishers. Also note that Skulking Geist destroys Dark Pact, and this is another game where Scourgelord Garrosh is often a burden rather than an aid. Bloodreaver will chip you down, and you want your armor to counteract that.

Aggro Paladin

Aggro Paladin still continues to hold its own in the meta, but that hold is admittedly slipping. Some of the powerful midrange lists of old are creeping back onto the ladder, which does not spell good news for Uther. Even so, this is a matchup that you need to be ready for. Fortunately, you are. Whirlwind effects blow Paladin out of the water, and your constant string of removal will also crush any big threats they can string together. This is the only game where your only focus is controlling the board. Everything else is largely inconsequential, and will only matter in certain situations where games go extremely long. Most of the time you just want to kill everything your opponent runs out. They put down threats, you answer, then ready for the next batch. Don’t overthink this one or get into your own head. Your removal should carry the day.

Even with all of your tech, Paladin has a lot of power. You are going to win this one with your AOE cards, but you need to use them wisely. Always save one Whirlwind effect for Call to Arms, and always wait a turn to pull the trigger when possible. Scourgelord Garrosh is typically going to be game over, which makes getting to turn eight vital. This is also a matchup where Drywhisker Armorer does a lot of work. However, just gaining armor against a big board and then immediately losing the health is rarely worth it. Rather, try to play the rodent into a clear. The last two final parts of this are playing around Divine Favor when you’re behind (you rarely mind your opponent drawing when you’re ahead) and being careful of buffs. Almost every strong Paladin list these days packs ways to boost their minions. Never fall into burst range, and never let something live if you can’t handle it becoming a big threat.

Tempo Rogue

There is an old adage in card games that says you can only keep good decks down for so long. That appears to be the case with Tempo Rogue, which seems to be back to Kelesething at full force. This game, like most minion-based affairs, is largely going to be in your favor as long as you know how to properly conserve and use your spells. The reason Rogue is so hard to play against is because of how quickly it can get out of hand. They only need one or two minions to bring the pain. Like Paladin, you need to clear as much as possible to avoid any inter-minion interactions. However, you also cannot pull the trigger too early, because doing that could allow your opponent to get out ahead. Tempo Rogue is a deck that can do a lot with a little. Things like Bonemare and Cobalt Scalebane are extremely powerful and only require two bodies on the board to get a lot of value. You need to force your opponent to play multiple minions and burn their cards. The best way to make that happen is to instantly take down their midrange bodies and armor up as much as possible. Once you get to a lot of life, it is going to force your opponent to react. That then makes it so they have to extend into your removal. Never miss an opportunity to clear or give them a weak board.

Mulligan Guide

Mulliganing with this deck is the same mulligan you are going to see with any Control Warrior. That means you need to aggressively look for all of your early removal cards. Shield Slam and Shield Block should be kept together (and block is good on curve) and Whirlwind is for aggro. Slam is the only must-keep in this one. Sleep with the Fishes is great with an activator against an aggro or midrange deck, while Acolyte of Pain, Shield Block, Stonehill Defender are all great on curve or with the coin. Spellbreaker is a must keep against Warlock, Blood Razor is great on curve or against aggro, and Brawl can be good when you have a strong opening against aggro or midrange (especially if you have the coin).

Conclusion

What can I say? I love me some slow control. Everyone knows that I am all about extremely cool aggro decks, but I am also a fatigue man. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that I’ve covered, at one point or another, every single fatigue-based deck that has ever existed in the history of Hearthstone. That still holds true here. This deck is a blast to play, and you have so many options that you almost never run out of steam. It makes you plan, it makes you stress, and it makes you think. At the end of the day, isn’t that the goal? Until next week, may you always Drywhisker for fourteen.


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