Control Warrior Deck List Guide (March 2017, Standard) – Season 36

Control Warrior is making a comeback into the meta. Stonekeep goes into detail with this Control Warrior deck list guide that covers Mulligans, Gameplay & Strategy, Combos, and Card Substitutions!

Introduction

Control Warrior is one of the oldest Hearthstone archetypes. For the last 2-3 years, most players talking about Control decks had Warrior in their mind. The deck was never really dead – while it had its highs and lows, it was always somewhere in the meta. This has changed in Gadgetzan, where Warrior has become the most popular class – but not Control Warrior. Every Warrior on the ladder was Pirate. On the other hand, there were nearly as many Reno decks to fight against. Warrior has struggled in this meta, because the deck isn’t really flexible – you can build it to do well against Aggro, against Control, but not really against both. Meanwhile Reno decks were working quite nicely against Aggro while still having a lot of high value cards for the Control matchups.

Recently, Control Warrior is making a comeback. It’s still not a very popular deck, but players have decided to focus on one aspect – Aggro decks. Current CW lists run multiple early game removals, Taunts, AoEs, Armor gain etc. in order to fight well against the very popular fast decks. While they can still win the Reno matchups, the deck’s win rates are very polarized – it has 60-70% against fast decks, while 30-40% against slow decks.

Control Warrior got most popular on the Legend ladder and in tournaments. The main reason for that is the popularity of Questing Miracle Rogue, against which Control Warrior has good matchup. In the lower ranks, it’s still a questionable choice, but if you play against a lot of fast decks, you should consider trying it out.

The list I’ll cover is the one Vlps used on the top 100 Legend ladder and in his tournament lineup last season.

UPDATE – CONTROL WARRIOR IN MARCH 2017, SEASON 36

It’s really hard to update the Control Warrior list when it’s one of the most underplayed and one of the weakest decks in the meta. With Aggro Shaman nerfed, meta has shifted a bit from Aggro. While there is still Pirate Warrior and Aggro Rogue, those two decks combined are less than 20% of the meta. Even if you add decks like Zoo Warlock, which has raised in popularity a bit, it’s still not enough  – good matchups for Control Warrior are maybe around 35% of the current meta, which is way below the threshold required for the deck to work. Maybe the best Control Warrior players (like Fibonacci) will be able to figure a decently working CW list after the meta stabilized, but right now the deck is in a hopeless position. Jade Druid is at it’s all-time high strength, Priest is very popular (between Dragon and Reno it’s around 10% of the meta), the most popular Shaman archetype by far is Midrange Jade, which is not a good matchup for CW + RenoLock is also pretty popular. To make the long story short, in the previous meta the good/bad matchups for Warrior were much closer to 50/50 popularity-wise. In the current meta, the figure is closer to 35-65, which is generally not enough.

I don’t recommend playing this deck in the current meta. But if someone comes with a new, working deck list, I’ll update this and let you know.

Control Warrior Mulligan Strategy & Guide

I’ll divide the mulligan section into two – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Aggro Shaman) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Dragon Warrior). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.

Vs Fast Decks

Higher Priority (keep every time):

  • Fiery War Axe – The highest priority keep in all the fast matchups. While you sacrifice some health, you remove 2 minions with it, getting very necessary tempo. If you keep every early game minion dead, you most likely win the game and FWA is a great way to do so.
  • Cruel Taskmaster – 2 mana 2/2 with a ping attached. Since Aggro decks tend to run some low health minions, you should be able to kill something with it. Can also be used to finish off the minions damaged by your other early game removals.
  • Revenge – You often need Whirlwind effects against Aggro. Not to mention that it’s a good emergency card in case you couldn’t stop their aggression and they’ve rushed you down. Once you’re below 12, Revenge is 3 damage AoE for just 2 mana, which should clear most of the board.
  • Slam – Might be useful in combination with FWA or Revenge, but also as a standalone removal. It’s okay to just kill a 2 health minion like Small-Time Buccaneer with it.
  • Bash – Another early game removal. 3 damage should be enough to deal with most of the early game plays, if something’s at 4 you can possibly finish it next turn with Whirlwind effect or Cruel Taskmaster. Plus the Armor is good, because the longer you survive the higher your chance to win is.
  • Ravaging Ghoul – Whirlwind effect (great against Aggro) on a 3/3 body. You always keep it.

Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):

  • Shield Slam – You can keep it with Bash or Shield Block (you don’t keep Shield Block alone). You rarely have enough Armor to use this card against Aggro, so you need some ways to gain Armor to make it useful.
  • Brawl – You can keep Brawl on the Coin, especially against Shaman. I keep it depending on the rest of my hand – if I start with FWA I never keep it, because I’m pretty sure that I will be able to keep board control. But if my hand is really bad, I keep Brawl as an emergency option.
  • Alley Armorsmith – It’s one of the strongest cards in the deck against Aggro. If you have a pretty solid start, especially on the Coin, you can keep it.
Check out our List of the Best Standard Un'Goro Decks for Hearthstone Ladder

Vs Slow Decks

Higher Priority (keep every time):

  • Fiery War Axe – FWA is generally still a great keep, even in slow matchups. You’re most likely to find some solid targets in the early game and it can make your other removals better (e.g. you can kill a 6 health minion with FWA + Bash).
  • Elise Starseeker – Since it’s your only 4-drop, you keep it. Shuffling the map early doesn’t really matter that much, but sometimes a very early Monkey can win you the game.
  • Shield Slam – Unlike against Aggro, you should Armor up for the first few turns. So you should have enough Armor to Shield Slam whatever big threat comes out when you need it.
  • Bash – Just like FWA – to deal with the potential early game minions.
  • Ravaging Ghoul – Whirlwind effect can come in handy sometimes, let’s say to activate Execute or finish a minion after the FWA attack.

Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met):

  • Execute – I’d say that Execute is generally worse in the early/mid game than Shield Slam, because you have to combo it with something, but it’s still solid against decks like Control Shaman or RenoLock, who can drop a big threat relatively early.
  • Acolyte of Pain – You keep Acolyte in matchups where you aren’t going for the fatigue win condition at all. So for example, you should keep it against RenoLock or Jade decks (because you want to draw against those), but you don’t keep it in the mirror or against Reno Priest.
  • Justicar Trueheart – On the contrary, you keep Justicar in the matchups where you go for the fatigue win condition. The earlier you start getting 2 extra Armor each turn, the more you end up with by the time fatigue hits (turn 6 Justicar vs Justicar as one of the last cards in the deck is often ~30 Armor difference in total).

Control Warrior Matchup Win Percentages

Here’s a look at how Control Warrior stacks up against other decks in the meta. Thanks to Metastats for allowing us to provide these statistics!

Winrates provided by Metastats

Control Warrior Play Strategy

Current versions of Control Warrior are mostly built to counter Aggro decks. This is reflected by the deck’s curve and strategy quite well. With a lot of early game removals, small AoE, big AoE, weapons, Taunts, Armor gain etc. the deck is optimized to play against Aggro Shaman, Pirate Warrior, but also Miracle Rogue. However, there is a single card that makes Control matchups winnable – Elise Starseeker.

In fast matchups, your general strategy is to survive. You don’t need to overwhelm them on the board or rush them down. Play the game slow. Since you can gain 2 health every turn + you have a lot of other ways to do it with your cards, as long as you stabilize and clear everything they play, you should win the game. Besides minor decisions, games against Aggro decks are generally very straightforward. There is not much strategy involved, because you just try to clear a minion after minion after minion. A few harder decisions might be whether you want to hold onto the Brawl for one more turn, whether you want to Revenge for 1 or keep it for the stronger clear or maybe how much burn you need to play around. However, I’d have to say that most of the games are decided by draws – if you get your early game and your opponent doesn’t get the most insane start, you generally win.

Slow matchups are much more complicated. First, you want to identify the matchup and your win condition. It’s really important, because you know whether you want to draw cards or hold onto them (to not fatigue + have more Legendaries from Elise Starseeker‘s Golden Monkey). Playing against a deck like RenoLock or Jade Druid, you want to play as fast as possible. Cycle through your deck, draw with Slam etc. Those are the matchups where you can’t take the game too slowly. RenoLock will outdraw you anyway, so you aren’t afraid of drawing. And Jade Druid is unbeatable in fatigue. You need a very specific strategy to win against those (I’ll explain it in the matchup section below).

On the other hand, against more generic slow decks like let’s say Reno Mage, Reno Priest or Control Warrior mirror, you don’t want to draw cards. Those matchups are very, very likely to go to the fatigue. The more you draw, the sooner you will get there and fatigue damage really starts to pile up fast. If you’re 5 cards further than your opponent, once he’s at 5 fatigue damage you took 10 already, which is 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 = 40 more damage. You even want to force them to draw cards, if that’s possible. Your opponent plays Sylvanas Windrunner? You can play your own Acolyte of Pain before killing her to force a steal, and then possibly follow-up with a Ravaging Ghoul – that’s extra cards they have to draw.

However, there are also times when drawing is the correct option. If you’re in a desperate situation and you know that you can’t win in fatigue, because your opponent drew nuts, you have a bad hand etc. then you can try to go all-in on the early Golden Monkey. That’s another strategy in slow matchups. Try to shuffle the map as soon as possible, then shuffle Golden Monkey and if you can manage to draw it with still 10-15 cards you can change into Legendaries, the game can be yours simply because your opponent might not have enough removals to handle your stuff. But I’ll talk about it more in the specific cases below.

Control Warrior Combos and Synergies

Even though the deck doesn’t have too many huge synergies or impressive combos, it has a lot of small ones I have to mention.

Acolyte of Pain synergizes with all the Whirlwind effects. In the matchups where you want to draw, you can easily draw the 3 cards from a single Acolyte in the mid game. If you really need to draw, you can also Slam your own Acolyte – it draws you 2 cards immediately + 1 more once Acolyte takes the final point of damage.

Grommash Hellscream + an activator is your main win condition in some of the matchups where you need the burst. Grom + Slam/Revenge is 10 damage, but the best one is Grom + Cruel Taskmaster – that’s 12 damage burst with 2 cards. Remember that you might want to pre-equip a weapon the previous turn so you can add even more damage to your combo!

If you keep your Coin, you can perform one of the best board clear combos in the game. Sylvanas WindrunnerBrawl clears the whole board and leaves you with the initiative. If the surviving minion is Sylvanas – that’s good. But if any other minion survives, Sylvanas immediately steals it. It’s great combo when you absolutely have to clear the board and you don’t want to lose any tempo doing so. Sadly, the only way to activate it is holding onto the Coin (but holding onto the Coin is good in the slow matchups, because the Coin can also be transformed into a random Legendary with Golden Monkey!)

Dirty RatBrawl is also a solid 7 mana combo. If your opponent has a big enough board, he might hold onto his big minions instead of dropping them so they won’t die to Brawl. With Dirty Rat, you might force one of them on the board and then Brawl everything. Since you played one minion too, whatever you pull out has a very small chance of surviving. It can potentially be bad if you pull out something big AND that big minion wins the Brawl, but it should be a calculated risk.

If you’re just outside of the 3 damage Revenge range, you can attack a minion with your weapon or even Bash your own face. The second move might seem stupid, but it won me a game or two against Zoo Warlock back in the day – if the opponent has full board of 1-3 health minions, it’s okay to “waste” Bash like that if you can clear the whole board thanks to the move.

Control Warrior Matchup Advice

In this section, I’ll give a few quick tips on how to play in the most popular matchups.

Aggro Shaman

  • You’re a favorite against Aggro Shaman. It’s one of your best matchups, but it’s not a matchup you can’t lose. If Shaman gets the right curve and you don’t get enough answers, you lose. If Shaman plays Flamewreathed Faceless and you have no way to kill it for more than a single turn, you probably lose. Prepare for a lot of frustration when Shaman topdecks burn for lethal when you’ve already stabilized on the board and had a lot of Armor gain in your hand.
  • Generally, you prioritize your early game answers over anything else. I’d say that Revenge is slightly weaker in this matchup than against other Aggro decks (at least until you get down to 12). Cards like Fiery War Axe, SlamBash are best – if you can kill whatever Shaman plays, minion after minion, you’re in a great spot.
  • Unless Shaman gets absolutely perfect Pirate opener, Aggro Shaman starts aren’t AS fast. You can sometimes afford to pass a turn or two if you have a way to comeback on the board (Brawl). If your early hand sucks, it’s a solid option. Just try to not COMPLETELY pass – Armor up + pass on turn 3, on Coin, is like a clear tell that you have a Brawl in your hand. Play Acolyte of Pain, or Ravaging Ghoul even if it’s not that good, or maybe Bash something. If Shaman doesn’t predict you have a Brawl, then he might play more into it. And one Brawl can win you a whole game if something small wins.
  • After you stabilize on the board, Shaman has to rely on the burn damage to kill you. Try to Taunt up to play around weapon damage + potential charge minions (some builds play Southsea Deckhand or Argent Horserider, others use Leeroy Jenkins) – the latter can really hurt with Flametongue Totem. Try to Hero Power every turn and get out of immediate burn range as quickly as possible. Shaman would need a miraculous chain of burn draws to outperform your every turn Hero Power + other Armor gains.
  • Try to clear the totems. Especially the Spell Damage totem – but you should clear everything, because each totem increases the chance that Shaman rolls Spell Damage. And Aggro Shaman really synergizes well with it – not only does it activate the +2 damage from Spirit Claws, but makes each burn spell better. One Spell Damage totem can mean extra 4-5 damage you take, and you can’t afford that. You win the long game anyway, there is no reason to try to rush the Shaman down.
  • If you’re close to 12 health, you can deliberately go down to 12 before armoring up (even if it means you take 2-3 more damage) if you have Revenge in your hand. 3 damage Revenge is incredibly powerful in this matchup. For example, one of the most common board refills Aggro Shaman can do is Tunnel TroggFeral Spirit + Hero Power/another small minion. A single Revenge should clear the whole board (or leave a 1 health Totem Golem, which you should be able to kill with something else).

Pirate Warrior

  • Another good matchup for Control Warrior. Unlike Aggro Shaman, Pirate Warrior is all about face rushing. They don’t care about what you play, they won’t likely trade (outside of some early game trades with the weapons). But at the same time, they rarely play around stuff, because they simply can’t afford to – they slow down when playing around things, and when they slow down you win.
  • Just like last time, kill every single minion they play. And I mean it. Don’t even leave a single 1/1 (until you stabilize with Taunts). Every point of health matters.
  • Try to preserve as much health as possible. Of course, you still want Fiery War Axe, but after the early game, try to kill minions with spells and your own minions instead.
  • In this matchup, surviving literally means winning. After the initial minion onslaught, Warrior will be limited to the weapon damage, Charge minions and Mortal Strike. Slow minions are weak in the mid/late game, pretty much dead draws for Pirate Warrior. If you survive until turn 5-6, possibly drop an Alley Armorsmith, the game is over.
  • Dirty Rat is very useful in this matchup. Don’t drop him right away on turn 2. In mid game, when Warrior has 2-3 cards left in his hand, he most likely either holds extra damage – Charge minions like Kor'kron Elite or Leeroy Jenkins, maybe Bloodsail Cultist (which you also want to pull out, because it adds A LOT of damage when played on Arcanite Reaper). Pulling those out and killing them on your terms means that you save yourself quite a lot of face damage. Then, there is also a chance that Warrior doesn’t have anything – which is also great, because Dirty Rat is a 2/6 Taunt for 2 mana, insanely strong against Pirates (6 health is just outside of the range of Arcanite Reaper, so he most likely needs 2 things to kill it).
  • Try to play around Mortal Strike by keeping Warrior above 13 health. It’s not necessary if you’re at a solid health amount (like 20+), but if you’re low, the difference between 4 and 6 damage might be huge.

Dragon Priest

  • One of the worst matchups for Control Warrior. Even though the Dragon Priest won’t rush you down, it’s a deck with TONS and TONS of mid game threats. Since you run an anti-Aggro build, you run a lot of small removals, but they’re not enough to kill the mid game Dragon Priest plays. Dragon Priest can also get a lot of value while putting pressure at the same time. Drakonid Operative is the card that makes this matchup incredibly hard – Priest can put a big body on the board that you have to deal with and at the same time he pulls out something good from your deck. And the fact that you often see 3-4 Operatives per game thanks to the Netherspite Historian makes you miserable.
  • If you don’t want to instant concede, you should probably prepare for a hard game. You generally hope that Priest will draw mostly his early game and won’t have his mid game pressure cards. You can deal with the early game quite easily, but mid game is way more problematic. Removing the minions one by one can be hard, but that’s what you have to do. Priest won’t likely play hard into the Brawl.
  • Alley Armorsmith is nearly useless in this matchup. If not the Shadow Word: Pain, Priest will likely have a Book Wyrm to deal with it.
  • Gorehowl is one of the key cards in this matchup. Try to bait Ooze with Fiery War Axe – sit at one charge for a long period of time. Good Dragon Priests might still keep Ooze for Gorehowl, but you can’t help that. If you don’t bait it, you need to hope that he doesn’t run it or didn’t draw it.
  • Since the game is mostly about removing everything as efficiently as possible, Justicar Trueheart is great. 4 Armor per turn means that Priest might actually need to play more stuff onto the board to pressure you. Then your Brawl becomes stronger.
  • Talking about Brawl, it’s also one of the key cards in the matchup. You want to make Brawl as good as possible. Priest won’t likely play more than 3 minions to not play into it, but you can Dirty Rat something out. If you hit a key target and then get a good Brawl outcome, it might be a way to win the matchup.
  • Dragon Priests rarely run big Dragons like Ysera. I mean, I’ve seen some greedy lists in the lower ranks (running 2-3 big Dragons AND Entomb) but those decks get punished by Aggro hard, so most of the good players don’t do that. So generally don’t save removals for a huge Dragon and use it on Operatives or something. They might, however, pick something huge from Netherspite Historian – if they’re holding onto their Historian Dragon it’s probably a big drop.
  • Sylvanas Windrunner is another great card in this matchup. Try to play her on a board where she can’t be cleared easily and you’re sure to steal something. So, for example, don’t play her into 2/4 and 3/4 minions – she will just get killed and Priest will refill the board. But if he would have another at least mid-sized minion on top of those, you’ll most likely end up stealing something.
  • One way to win the matchup is the early Golden Monkey – since you want to cycle as much as possible (you don’t really care about fatigue), you sometimes draw an early Monkey. And you want to play it – Dragon Priest should crumble if you drop a big Legendary every turn. Unless the Priest had a huge board advantage, Golden Monkey is most likely a win. However, it’s hard to draw it consistently – you usually get is as one of the last cards of your deck and the game will most likely be over by that time.

Jade Druid

  • Another bad matchup. The most efficient way to deal with Jade Druid is putting pressure. The problem is that this deck can’t really put pressure. If you let Druid do whatever he wants, he’ll end up with a board full of huge Jade Golems sooner than you can imagine. So even though you can’t put pressure, you try your best to play minions and have some ways to threaten his life total.
  • The most important part of this matchup is to not let Druid cycle too much. Summoning big Jade Golems isn’t really a problem – you have ways to answer multiple. The biggest problem is when Druid cycles through nearly his whole deck and can start shuffling Jade Idols into the deck. If the game lasts until that point, it’s most likely game over.
  • To not let Druid cycle, you need to put some pressure on the board. If he will be busy removing your stuff, he won’t have enough mana to cycle. And if you have some board pressure and then he spends his turn cycling, you can punish him by playing even more stuff. In theory, because in practice this deck is pretty low on minions, especially mid game minions.
  • Try to play for the tempo. Don’t worry about fatigue at all, Druid won’t even hit fatigue because of the Jade Idols. So try to draw as much as possible.
  • A well-timed Sylvanas Windrunner might be a way to win the game. If Druid goes for a pretty big Jade Golem turn, play Sylvanas and hope to steal the biggest guy. If he decides to ignore her, Brawl is a great option too.
  • Since Druids often don’t run any ways to remove big minions (Mulch is semi-common, but it’s not in every list), Grommash Hellscream might be your win condition. If you manage to charge him into Druid’s face when he has no board, without Mulch it might be too much to handle. Connecting 2 times with Grommash + dealing the rest of damage with weapons or other minions might make the win possible.
  • Dirty Rat is really solid in this matchup. Druids run a lot of Battlecry minions – you can deny the Jade Golem from Jade Spirit/Jade Behemoth/Aya Blackpaw, card draw from the Azure Drake, you can deny extra value of the Fandral Staghelm, but maybe most importantly if you hit the Gadgetzan Auctioneer it will make cycling through the whole deck a little harder, which is good for you.
  • I’d say that overall you need to hope for the bad draws from Druid. The matchup is obviously not unwinnable – if Druid hits ramp, but doesn’t hit his cycle cards, you might be able to pressure him in the mid game. I’ve played a fair share of Jade Druid myself and something like turn 6+ Hero Power + pass happens when you have really terrible hand.

RenoLock

  • RenoLock was always a hard matchup for the Control Warrior. Over the last year, I’ve mostly played this matchup from the RenoLock’s perspective and not much has changed. I have about 90% win rate against Control Warrior with RenoLock and at least half of the loses were because I’ve misplayed. The matchup is really hard skill-wise from both sides. A great RenoLock player should win against Control Warriors most of the time. However, you’re lucky that only a minority of the ladder players are “great”. Your easiest way to win this matchup is through RenoLock misplaying.
  • It’s another matchup where you don’t mind cycling through your deck, because fatigue isn’t your win condition. Even if you draw hard, RenoLock will most likely draw more – for the biggest part of the match, they Life Tap each turn, resulting in a huge card advantage.
  • I’d say that outside of a potential turn 4/5 threats in a form of Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake, the matchup should be pretty slow. You really want to start with an Execute, because turn 4 huge minion is scary, especially since it can be copied with Faceless Shambler, which might lead to some turn 6-7 wins from RenoLock. But outside of that – he plays stuff – you remove it, you play stuff, he removes it. Try to not play into AoE. Not like you really can, but hey.
  • Try to stay above 20 health, or even above 24 if possible. Not every list runs the combo (Leeroy JenkinsPower OverwhelmingFaceless Manipulator + possibly Soulfire), but a lot of them do. You should have easy time playing around that as a Warrior. If you see Warlock trying to pressure you with minions, it might be a tell that he runs the combo.
  • You generally should have a decent shot in this matchup, if not for one card – Lord Jaraxxus. Remember when Warlock wants to play this card. Not too early, because he won’t likely have the necessary cards yet. He wants to play Emperor Thaurissan first so he’s able to Hero Power on the Jaraxxus turn. He can’t play Jaraxxus when you have minions on the board, because it would be too easy to kill him. It means that he most likely wants to Jaraxxus when he has the board lead OR after a board clear + Doomsayer. If you suspect that Warlock wants to play Jaraxxus soon, you try to pull it out with Dirty Rat. You have up to 2 shots and if you hit, you have a solid shot at winning. However, if you won’t, prepare for the Jaraxxus.
  • You can’t outvalue Jaraxxus, you can’t handle 6/6 every turn. Sure, with enough Armor and stuff like Brawl (which you really want to keep for after Jaraxxus, if possible) you can survive for even 7-8 turns, but it’s surviving, not winning. That can be a viable strategy if Warlock has played Jaraxxus really late – with only 15 max health, if he gets into the fatigue, each draw will really hurt him. However, it’s not always the case and against a more early Jaraxxus you simply have to burst him down. And here’s the RenoLock player’s skill that comes into action. Good RenoLocks will have everything prepared for post-Jaraxxus. Enough removal to handle the pressure, healing to handle the weapon/Bash damage and Taunts to play around Grommash. However, not every RenoLock player is good and you need to find a gap in his defense. Fiery War Axe pre-equipped + Grommash HellscreamCruel Taskmaster is exactly 15 damage and that’s what you aim for. If you have Gorehowl with 5+ attack (rarely happens, because they generally keep Ooze for your Gorehowl) instead of FWA you can go for any other activator, not only Taskmaster. If you find a way to OTK him, that might be your best shot. That’s also why you like to keep Brawls for after Jaraxxus – if he plays 2 minions and Taunts both of them, Brawl can be a solid way to deal with the Taunts.
  • Another way to win this matchup is to Golden Monkey before he plays Jaraxxus. Now, you will be the one putting constant pressure. RenoLock has a lot of removal like Twisting NetherSylvanas WindrunnerShadowflame etc. but he still shouldn’t be able to handle a big Legendary every turn. However, this is risky because you lose your own removals and if you get pretty poor Legends, now you won’t put enough pressure and RenoLock will win. Not to mention that it’s very rare to get Golden Monkey before Warlock plays Jaraxxus. So Grommash burst should be your best bet.

Miracle Rogue

  • Even though historically this matchup was in Miracle Rogue’s favor, now Control Warrior is a solid favorite. After Gadgetzan, Miracle Rogue lists have became much faster thanks to the cards like Small-Time Buccaneer (+Patches the Pirate) and Counterfeit Coin. Right now Miracle is more about the aggression and burst. While the deck still cycles like crazy, it has less mid-sized threats than it used to have. As a Control Warrior, you should be able to stop the Miracle’s early aggression and eventually deal with every threat they play.
  • Your goal is to, generally, kill everything they play. Current Miracle lists run only 3 big threats – Edwin VanCleef and 2x Questing Adventurer. Rest of the minions have 4 or less health, so should be quite easy to kill. You try to keep at least one Execute in case Rogue drops a big VanCleef, that’s probably the main way they can win this matchup. 10/10 or bigger is usually out of range of Shield Slam, so Execute is the only way to kill it.
  • Gadgetzan Auctioneer should, obviously, die as soon as possible. You can’t really kill it in Stealth – theoretically you can try to go for a Brawl, but I wouldn’t do it unless you’re desperate. You’d rather keep Brawl for after the Auctioneer – Rogue will try to flood the board and Conceal it, then you want to Brawl.
  • Remember that Sap is a thing. This makes Sylvanas Windrunner nearly unplayable unless Rogue has used both Saps or unless you’re ahead on the board (or well, you drop her on the empty board). Alley Armorsmith is also generally too slow against Sap. On the other hand, Grommash Hellscream is amazing – you can deal with one of their 4 health threats (Tomb PillagerAzure Drake or Auctioneer) and still have a huge minion they have to kill. Sapping it is much less effective because of the Charge.
  • Dirty Rat is AMAZING in this matchup. The only bad minion you can pull is Tomb Pillager. If you pull out Questing Adventurer, VanCleef or Auctioneer on your terms, it’s one less threat you have to deal with and much less value for the Rogue. And pulling out Leeroy Jenkins means that they can’t burst you down from the empty board.
  • Rogues rarely run weapon destruction, so your Gorehowl should be safe.
  • Try to play around the burst. Most of the lists run Leeroy Jenkins with both 2x Cold Blood and 2x Eviscerate. Generally keep track of the Cold Bloods/Evis already used. You should at least try to play around Leeroy + 2x 4 damage + 1 damage from the dagger = 15 damage. Stay above 16 health. If possible, also play around 1 extra 4 damage and stay at 20 or above. That is most safe and you won’t likely die from that.

Control Warrior Card Substitutions

Even though a lot of Control Warrior variations are incredibly heavy on Legendaries, this one is quite light. It still runs a few of them and they’re pretty necessary. However, I will still try to go through them and offer some replacements.

  • Elise Starseeker – This single card is a huge improvement to your win rate in Control matchups. There is no direct replacement for it – if you don’t want to run Elise, you need to run at least 2 extra big Legendaries instead (like Ysera and Ragnaros the Firelord). With only Sylvanas and Grom, you don’t have enough big threats to win the slow matchups. But since it’s an adventure card, it should be easier to get than the non-adventure Legends. 
  • Justicar Trueheart – If you want to run Control Warrior quite seriously, you need to get Justicar Trueheart. While Justicar is rarely seen, it’s one of the key cards in this deck – improving your Hero Power to 4 Armor per turn instead of 2 is a big difference. It helps with surviving against faster decks and it gives you a huge edge in fatigue against certain slow decks. The fact that you can get 4 health per turn also means that your opponent has to play more minions to pressure you, playing into the Brawl at the same time. There is once again no direct replacement. While far from optimal, you might run another way to gain armor in her place if you don’t own her – Armorsmith should be a good replacement in Aggro matchups, while Ironforge Portal might be better in slower ones.
  • Sylvanas Windrunner – One of the best all-around Legendaries, if you don’t have her, you should probably craft her. But as an immediate replacement, I’d probably say that you want to play Emperor Thaurissan, maybe another big Legendary like Ragnaros the Firelord. There aren’t really any more budget options, because the big Commons/Rares are generally weak and don’t fit Control Warrior.
  • Grommash Hellscream – Similarly to the previous ones, this card is pretty crucial in this deck and there is no direct replacement. There are some matchups where burst finisher is pretty important (especially against RenoLock, which is quite popular, but it can also come handy against decks like Miracle Rogue or Reno Priest) and Grommash is the best option. It can also be used as a board control tool. Probably, once again, another big Legendary minion if you’re missing it. If you want to focus on the board control aspect, but reduce your win rate against RenoLock quite a lot, you can try playing a second Gorehowl.

I would like to remind you, however, that Legendaries are pretty important in most of the decks and replacing them might reduce the given deck’s quality/performance significantly.

Closing

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. If you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.

Good luck on the ladder and until next time!

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