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Weekly Legends: Recruit Warrior

So many archetypes, so little time. While the meta is shaping up a bit, it is still wide open. That means we have a lot of different builds to look at in the coming days. One of those is Recruit Warrior, a deck type that plays with classic Control Warrior tools and uses them to […]

Joe Russo Dec 18, 2017 9:27 am


So many archetypes, so little time. While the meta is shaping up a bit, it is still wide open. That means we have a lot of different builds to look at in the coming days. One of those is Recruit Warrior, a deck type that plays with classic Control Warrior tools and uses them to survive until it can power out a number of gigantic threats. Those threats differ from list to list (we’ll get to that in a bit) but the idea is generally the same: go big or go home. It has been a long while since Control Warrior has had what it takes to fight the meta, but there is no doubt there is some power here. The deck we’re looking at today hit number one legend, and is a solid choice for the current meta.

Key Cards


A big part of Control Warrior is doing nothing. That may sound odd, but any slow Warrior deck is about preserving resources and only using them at the right time. This is something we have touched on in the past, but it is even more important right now. Aggro Paladin, Zoo, Hunter, and Tempo Mage all want to get on the board quickly and want to swarm as fast as possible. In order to beat them, you need to fight back in a way where you don’t stretch yourself too thin. It is easy to just kill something because it’s there and it is going to do damage, but that may not necessarily be the best line of attack. Typically, if you’re not under a ton of pressure, you want to always try to wait an extra turn to see what else your opponent has. Of course, this does not apply to high-quality threats that need to die right away, but it is a good way to pace the early part of each game.

Always plan your turns. In order to play a deck like this one well, you need to carefully sculpt out how your future turns are going to play. Every spell in this build has a purpose, and you need to know how that changes from match to match. Whirlwind against Zoo? What turn are you going to play it and why? Turning on Sleep with the Fishes is strong, but you may also need to combine it with Slam on turn three to take down a Kobold Librarian and Southsea Captain. Those type of decisions matter. If you read your opponent’s deck and know where each spell is supposed to go, you are going to have a much better time choosing how to play out your hand. Rather than simply reacting, know what’s coming.


You are a control deck, but the days of Elise Starseeker are long past. That is to say, you can (and should) be aggressive. Many people playing a list like this one will get caught up in thinking they are a slow build, and then allow that thinking to cripple good lines of play that revolve around damage. Let’s quickly count the number of weapons this deck has: double Blood Razor, Woecleaver, the 5/2 from Unidentified Shield, and Scourgelord Garrosh. That is a lot of damage. Having a surplus of weapons can seem like an issue at times, but it often does not matter because you can go face with something and then replace it. Hitting your opponent with Woecleaver may not seem great, but that’s nine damage (which puts on pressure) on top of three big threats that also bring pressure. There are many games where you have a winning line through damage, and it can be easy to miss them if you are not actively thinking about it.

As with the old Big Druid lists, this is a deck where you can simply go face with your threats. You have a lot of powerful minions, and most of those minions have big bodies or strong abilities that need to be answered. That means that when you recruit something out, you are generally going to be in control. That goes double when you’re rolling with the Deathwing package. It can be your natural reaction to chip away at your opponent’s board, but the only time you want to clear is against aggressive decks when you need to protect your health. Most of the time you should just point your minions (and weapons) at your opponent’s face and let them deal with them. Once they use resources to take it out, you slam down another.

Gather Your Party/Woecleaver

Gather Your Party and Woecleaver get lumped together here because they both pull minions from your deck. Recruit is a strong mechanic, especially when you’re pulling out gigantic game-ending threats. The power of this list is that you’re always getting something good. There is no dead draw like Barnes to mess up these two cards. Rather, they are always going to instantly put you ahead on board. As such, you want to work hard to get them into positions where they can take over a game. Getting Sleepy Dragon or The Lich King is always going to make your opponent react, but there are a lot of finishers that don’t have taunt. That means it is important to clear before the recruit cards come down. Getting an empty board is the best case scenario, but setting recruit up against one small minion is typically fine as well. Be aware of the turn you want to recruit on and carefully take everything down before it.

Recruit as a mechanic gets tricky in slower games because there are going to be things you don’t want on the board. For example, in my last game, I held back swinging with Woecleaver because I knew I would need Grommash Hellscream to kill my Control Warlock opponent. That is not always going to be a concern, but it is something that is going to come up against Warlock, Warrior (the mirror), and Priest. When facing midrange or aggro, you almost always want to go in because the more threats you have, the better. However, don’t get trigger happy just because you can. Always think about the different minions you have left in your deck and go through the ways they could be used. Even pulling Y’shaarj, Rage Unbound into Ysera into a Twisting Nether can end the game on the spot.

Unidentified Shield

The more I play with Unidentified Shield, the more I like it. This card, like Unidentified Maul, just oozes value from all of its forms. The five armor is always going to be relevant, especially in the current sea of Aggro Paladin, Zoo, Hunter, and Tempo Mage. Not only that, but this gives you a lot of ways to control the board. I often find myself using this on turn seven with a Shield Slam as a way to generate extra value. However, the weapon is also powerful (and the armor protects you from hits) while the Holy Fire mode is better at single target removal. Even the 5/5 can be a nice bit of board presence against slower decks. Surprisingly, I find the fifteen armor to be the best mode. Gaining that much life is extremely relevant against a lot of the meta. Not only can it be a good way to heal up once you stabilize against aggro, but it also sets back the burst from both Mage and Priest. This card is not going to set the world on fire, but it offers a lot of versatility. Just be careful about when figuring out when to play it. Six mana is a lot of mana (especially against faster decks), so always try to run this out anytime you have a window.

The Finishers

The most interesting part of this deck (at least from a building standpoint) is choosing your finishers. There are a ton of powerful cards you can run, with the most popular being the dragon package combining Sleepy Dragon and Ysera with Deathwing and Deathwing, Dragonlord. The reason I am choosing not to run the deathwings is because, while they are strong against control, I already believe you have a favorable matchup there due to the density of threats. Rather, I like Cairne Bloodhoof to lower the curve and give you something to do if you draw him during the middle game. I also am a fan of Geosculptor Yip because, like Ysera and The Lich King, he gives you a source of endless value. Slower opponent’s may be able to take down one or two of the value-generators, but three is often too much.

Out of all of the possible options, the only cards I think you absolutely need to run are Ysera, The Lich King, and double Sleepy Dragon. Sleepy is probably the best card to pull because, while it doesn’t give you a ton of value, it is a nightmare for most decks to deal with. Paladin and Zoo have absolutely no way to handle a 4/12, and a four attack dragon laughs all over Priest. Grommash Hellscream can be weak off of your recruit, but I also believe he is important as a result of the fact that he is so good as a finisher. As I said during my theorycrafting article, I do not believe that Y’shaarj, Rage Unbound is necessary for this list. The old god is fantastic in certain situations, but he can also over-extend you and set you back in slower games where you want to go one big threat at a time. Even so, there are many big minions you can experiment with. I have even seen people running Mountain Giants.

Deck Code

AAECAQcK0gKkA/wEogm oqwLCzgL2zwKf0wL95wLq6gIKS6IEkQb/B7IIxsMCz M0C5tMCz+UC6ucCAA==


The four decks I’ve seen the most early on.


As Priest is not fully fleshed out, I thought I’d just put all of the current builds in the same place. Anduin has gotten much better with the drop of Kobolds and Catacombs, but so has everyone else. This is a matchup where you are going toe-to-toe in a classic control vs. control kind of way. Getting things to stick is not going to be easy, but as long as you are in control you should be fine. That is to say, you want to be the one putting down large threats and having your opponent answer them, rather than the other way around. If you can keep that up, it is going to quickly run Priest out of removal options. Most of their spells don’t do much to your top end, and you are typically impervious to Psychic Scream, because you can bring your minions right back out. Put down big threats early and often.

The most important thing to note is, if you’re going up against Razakus Priest, you need to gain armor. This is so key that you should never turn into Scourgelord Garrosh unless you have lethal. Otherwise, push out threats (get those four cost dragons!) to tie up your opponent’s cards. Then, as they struggle to keep up, you hit your hero power as much as possible. You need to get above twenty eight health to survive Prophet Velen, but just because the 7/7 comes down doesn’t mean the game is over. Many times Priest will do their full combo, have you answer it, and then spend the rest of the game spamming their button. Never get complacent. Extra armor is always going to be powerful in this game and you should lean on it as much as possible.

Control Warlock

Zoo is definitely rising in popularity, but it still does not have the pull Control Warlock does. This is a game that is going to be an interesting mix between removal and pushing for priority. Despite their name, Control Warlock plays much more like a midrange deck. They have a lot of threats sprinkled throughout their curve, and many of those are demons they plan to bring back with Bloodreaver Gul’dan. However, as strong as the new builds are, they also do not have as much hard removal as they once did. That is the key to this matchup, and you need to play to it as much as you possibly can. Like Priest, you want to lean on Warlock as much as possible by running out big body after big body. They only have so many options, and once you get ahead you should never lose priority.

The most important card to watch out for in this one is Rin, the First Disciple. The taunt minion was laughed at a good while during spoiler season, but it has proven to be an insanely powerful Control Warlock tool. You have a lot of pressure, but it can also be easy to get caught up controlling the board. If the 3/6 does come down and your opponent is near full health, you need to work hard to push them back. Any time Warlock has five mana they are going to put down a seal, and those seals are going to ruin you if the game goes long. To fight back, you have to make Warlock spend their other resources each turn. Either they deal with your threats, or they die.

Aggro Paladin

Another archetype rapidly rising in popularity, Murloc Aggro Paladin packs quite the punch. This deck has an incredible amount of power tucked into it between their natural murloc synergy and Call to Arms, which has made them even more aggressive. This is the game where you really need to work to keep your opponent off of the board. Paladin makes a living off of minion synergy, but they also quickly crumble if they can’t get anything to stick (trust me on that one) Your goal is to constantly use AOE to ping down their threats until you can get a big body to stick. However, don’t rely on one taunt to close things out. Sunkeeper Tarim is a real card that will kill you if you let it. Also, don’t worry too much about pressing ahead. Rather, spend your time and energy running your opponent out of cards as much as you possibly can. Divine Favor may always hit you hard, but its better to have your opponent drawing for answers that killing you with their board.


As with Priest, there are simply too many Hunter builds right now to pick just one. All-Spell still has a great showing, but I have also faced a lot of Midrange Hunters packing things like Dire Mole and Lesser Emerald Spellstone. Hunter is a lot like your game against Aggro Paladin, except you have to be even more careful with your health. All Rexxar builds these days have a ton of damage that is going to be hard to keep up with, even with your armor. Try to use your hero power as much as you can and aggressively heal at all times. Clearing is important, and you need to recognize what version of Hunter you’re up against right away. If you’re up against midrange you have to be ready for beefy midrange threats and you need to stop plays like Houndmaster. If you’re up against spell, be ready for To My Side! and Call of the Wild.

As strange as it may sound, you can go minion-less for almost all of this game. Hunter is powerful, but they don’t have that many strong top decks once they start running low on cards. As such, you should focus most of your energy on removal more than anything else. This goes double when you’re up against Spell Hunter. Rather than play into their secrets, you can sit back behind a big taunt and steadily armor up. Then, once they’re low on resources, you can start chipping them down. Watch out for burst, but also know that your opponent is going to spend a lot of time using their key spells on their board. As long as you get ahead of swarm cards like Lesser Emerald Spellstone you should be fine.

Mulligan Guide

This mulligan is going to be the same as any classic Control Warrior build. That is to say, you go cheap and find every removal option that you can. The only must keeps in this one are Forge of Souls and Slam. Beyond that, you need to adapt to what you’re up against. Shield Slam and Shield Block can be kept together, while block works on its own against slow decks. Mulligan aggressively for Blood Razor and Whirlwind when you’re up against aggro, and Brawl works with a good removal-heavy opening against decks like Zoo and Paladin. Execute is not a great keep on its own, but I do like it with other early tools against any midrange-focused deck. Gather Your Party is also a solid keep against control.


Time to get huge. Though I don’t play too much Control Warrior on my series, it may well be my favorite deck of all time. I always love to see a good beefy build, and this, like so many other decks we’ve seen, definitely feels different than past builds. It is not always going to be a cakewalk with a deck like this (you are going to have games where you draw all of your big threats) but the power is almost always worth that pay off. Hope you’re enjoying the set as much as I am, and I hope you’re enjoying the holidays. Until next week, may you always recruit out your perfect answer.

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