Even Warlock (Handlock) Deck Guide – Post Nerf: Witchwood – May 2018

Class: Warlock - Format: Raven - Type: Control - Style: Meta Deck - Meta Deck: Even Warlock

Our Even Warlock (Handlock) deck guide focuses on increasing your skill level with this newly popular Witchwood deck. Our guide features a mulligan guide, play strategy, card substitutions, deck win-rates, and goes through the ins-and-outs of slow and aggressive matchups!

Introduction to Even Handlock

Handlock. Now that’s a blast from the past. Once upon a time, Handlock was one of the dominant decks in Hearthstone, but it had not been seen for a while prior to The Witchwood.

Handlock got its name from the huge hand size it maintained for cards that benefited from having other cards in hand, Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant. Because the Warlock Hero Power trades Health for cards, it was also natural for Handlock to use cards that benefit from losing Health, especially Molten Giant. Opponents needed to plan carefully when to lower the Health of a Handlock, because once you got them low, the swing of Molten Giants and either Defender of Argus or Sunfury Protector meant that next you would be facing a huge Taunt wall through which you could not finish off the Warlock, and those Giants would promptly proceed to smack you in the face.

The downfall of Handlock came from two sources. The obvious one was the nerf to make Molten Giant cost 25, which was later reverted when Molten Giant was moved to the Hall of Fame and removed from Standard format. The second source was the increased power level of the game itself: toying with your life total is risky business if many of the meta decks are able to burst you down from 15 Health or more.

However, now we are at the start of a new Standard rotation, and the overall power level of the game is lower than it has been for a while. Molten Giant is no longer around, but Hooked Reaver is somewhat of a replacement. Still, what can Handlock possibly offer in the world of Carnivorous Cube?

The answer is Genn Greymane and turn three Mountain Giants (when on the coin)! The defining feature of Even Handlock is that it is the fastest deck to play big minions, and while that may not be enough to prosper, it is definitely an ability worth paying attention to. Even Handlock also makes good use of the classic Taunt-providing cards, which makes it feel like Handlock, even though it is not quite the same deck anymore.

Deck List

Deck Import

Even Warlock (Handlock) Card Choices

At the very core of Handlock is the threat and Taunt package. You want big minions on the board, and you want them to have Taunt if needed:

  • Mountain Giant – The main threat of the deck, coming to a board near you as early as turn three.
  • Twilight Drake – The secondary early-game big minion.
  • Hooked Reaver – Swing-providing four-mana 7/7 Taunt, when your Health gets low. Sometimes a plain 4/4 for tempo.
  • Sunfury Protector – Cheap minion that gives Taunt.
  • Defender of Argus – A more expensive minion that gives Taunt, so more difficult to use, but you need more than two.
  • The Lich King is kind of the odd one here, but it is a core card. It comes down a little later than the others, but it is a big Taunt minion with an upside, and the deck needs enough big minions to keep applying pressure. In the current card pool, there are no serious alternatives to the King.

Another package that you need is the removal package. All of Warlock’s good removal pieces are even-cost cards, so there are plenty of options to choose from.

The core removal package:

  • Defile – Key early-game removal piece, especially great against Paladin.
  • Hellfire – Flexible removal piece that also provides some reach through face damage.
  • Lesser Amethyst Spellstone – Removal, and a lot of it when buffed, together with healing.

These removal pieces are simply too good not to include and form the basis of your control capabilities.

Next we arrive at a more controversial territory. Choices need to be made, as there is not enough room for everything.

The optional removal pieces:

  • Drain Soul – Early-game removal and some healing. Especially good in Face Hunter / Odd Rogue type of meta.
  • Shadowflame – Removal piece that can be used to clear Taunt walls, so it can also be used while on the offense. Effective use requires including Ancient Watcher in the deck as well, old-school Handlock style.
  • Siphon Soul – Powerful single-target hard removal. Snipes away Taunts or big threats.
  • Twisting Nether – Full board clear. Unfortunately, also wipes your own board, and you’re playing a proactive deck that relies on minions for damage, so you don’t really want to do that.

There are another two core cards left:

  • Genn Greymane – Needed to reduce the cost of the Hero Power. Also a reasonable threat itself, even if it is nothing special.
  • Shroom Brewer – Seriously, this card is incredibly important for the archetype. Not only can it be used to heal your Hero, but it can also be used to heal your major threats, preventing the opponent from removing them as easily. Healing a Mountain Giant with Shroom Brewer is perfectly fine.

After the threats, removal pieces, and other core cards are in the deck, all that remains is to fill up the list with some more defensive tools and tech cards.

Defensive and tech toolkit:

There are two cards I have not mentioned here. While both cards can see play in Even Warlock, I believe their inclusion and the related choices change the way the deck plays so significantly, that I would hesitate to call the deck a Handlock anymore. It would be a more control-oriented deck, but whether such a deck could be better than a Control Warlock not limited by mana costs is debatable at best.

The two cards are Rin, the First Disciple and Bloodreaver Gul'dan. Both are great cards, but the Handlock game plan is far too active for them to conveniently fit into it. You can build an Even Warlock with them included, but it will be a slower, more passive deck.

Even Warlock (Handlock) Mulligan Strategy & Guide

You really want to find your early threats. Even in the matchups where you are on the defense, you need to turn things around and start hitting face with big minions, you cannot stall indefinitely. Look for the appropriate removal pieces, but do not ignore the importance of your big minions.

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Mountain Giant – Your main game-winning tool.
  • Twilight Drake – Your secondary big minion. Against slow decks, you keep as many Giants and Drakes as you can find.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

Even Warlock (Handlock) Win Rates

Winrates provided by Metastats

Even Warlock (Handlock) Play Strategy

Even Handlock is not a fatigue deck. Do not be fooled by the control cards in the deck. This is a deck that wants to win games by being active and hitting the opponent in the face with huge minions. No matter the matchup, that is your ultimate goal.

When you’re on the coin, you can play Mountain Giant as early as turn three: Hero Power on turn one, Hero Power on turn two, play Mountain Giant on turn three or optionally coin Twilight Drake on turn three.

When you’re on the play, you can play Mountain Giant on turn four: Hero Power on turn one, Hero Power on turn two, Hero Power and play a two-cost card on turn three, and either Hero Power and play Mountain Giant on turn four or play Twilight Drake on turn four.

This early-game power makes all the difference and is the reason to play Even Handlock in the first place. Even though you do not get to play Mountain Giant until turn four when you’re on the play, the same as other decks, the cheaper Hero Power allows you to weave in a two-drop on turn three without compromising your ability to play the Giant.

Once you have your big minions on the board, you can Taunt them up with Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus – or you can Taunt up other minions to prevent the opponent from hitting back at your big ones. You can also heal them up with Shroom Brewer to keep them out of reach of the opponent’s removal.

VS Aggro Decks

In the current meta, aggressive decks do not run out of steam easily. You need a plan on how to take the fight to them. Sometimes, the Mountain Giant plan works: you rush for your Giant, clear the board afterwards, and proceed to hit them in the face and Taunt up your big minion (also doable with Twilight Drake to an extent) or play a buffed-up Hooked Reaver to take the heat.

However, sometimes the pressure is too much to get to that Giant and you need to improvise an alternative game plan where you do not tap as much. DefileDrain Soul, and Vulgar Homunculus are often the cornerstones of the alternative early game, where you focus on stabilizing without the big minions and look for a swing a little later in the game. Hooked Reaver can be that swing card if you drop to 15 health or below.

Pay close attention to your Health total and the opponent’s expected reach. Especially Leeroy Jenkins can be scary if you have no Taunt minions up, even more so in combination with something like Cold Blood. Odd Paladins want to Level Up! their Silver Hand Recruits, and Hunters have other Charge minions too, such as Wolfrider. Silence effects are also extremely common in the meta.

Heal as needed, but if you have a Hooked Reaver available, it may be desirable to temporarily dip to under 15 Health to play it, and heal up afterwards.

VS Control Decks

Against slow decks, you want to tap, tap, and tap at the start. You do not have to worry about your life total, your worst fear is not finding Mountain Giant early. Get big early and protect and heal your big minions so that they can push damage. You need to self-inflict damage to get Hooked Reaver buffed up, but sometimes it can also get the job done as a 4/4, adding a bit more power to your push.

Play around the opponent’s key removal pieces, such as Duskbreaker and Defile by healing your minions. Avoid going too wide into a Psychic Scream and keep track of which minions return to your hand and which ones die if the opponent plays Vanish. On the other hand, against opponents with individual removal but no board clears, go for multiple big minions at once.

You are the beatdown. You will inevitably lose a long game, but try to prevent the game from going long in the first place. Spellbreaker is your friend against Taunt minions, use it.

Even Warlock (Handlock) Card Substitutions

At around 6,000 dust, Even Handlock is a medium-cost deck. It cannot really be made cheaper, as the expensive cards are core cards.

  • Mountain Giant and Genn Greymane – The main reasons to play the deck in the first place. Remove one, and it becomes some other deck.
  • The Lich King – Not quite as core, but there is a severe lack of alternatives in the current Standard card pool. GruulPrimordial Drake? None of the main options are cheap, and none of them are nearly as good either.

Old Guardian

Ville "Old Guardian" Kilkku is a writer and video creator focused on analytic, educational Hearthstone, and building innovative Standard format decks.

Check out Old Guardian on Twitter or on their Website!

22 Comments

Discuss This Deck
  1. Motikop
    May 23, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    I’ve been running this deck -rin +geist, since i felt like the meta isnt slow enough to run rin

    Reply
  2. THor
    May 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Why not using Glenda crowskin and add more removals and geist to counter taunt druid and cubelocks?

    Reply
  3. Levi
    May 23, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    I think it’s a strong and fun deck, but I really struggle when playing against cube taunt Druid. How do you beat that deck? Cause neither can you rush them down before they put up the taunt walls, nor can you play Rin as a win condition, cause they will just pressure you with board so you can’t play the seal. Besides your removals are limited and you can never put value them since they have two witching hour to revive Hadronox and then to cube them. I really don’t know how you can beat that deck

    Reply
    • Matthew
      May 24, 2018 at 6:44 am

      Get Rin and hope they don’t draw hadronox. You can also tech in Geist to help d

      Reply
  4. Azure
    May 20, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Is it worth to craft rin or gul’dan?

    Reply
    • GlosuuLang
      May 23, 2018 at 4:32 am

      Gul’dan is one of the most powerful cards in the game, and will probably stay so in Wild too. Safe craft. Rin is not that necessary, although it provides a win-condition vs very greedy slow decks.

      Reply
  5. MrStrategy
    May 12, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Hi, I’ve watched your yt video in which you demonstrate this deck in practice. I must say, the deck really pleased me there, but you didn’t play against any control warlocks, which (I think) might be this deck’s weakness to play against. Could you perhaps show a victory or two with this deck against control warlock, just to completely persuade me of its strength? Anyway, thanks a lot for uploading it, it’s really nice against odd pallys 🙂

    Reply
  6. alex
    May 12, 2018 at 1:59 am

    TBH cubelock runs giants, and can get them out on turn 3 (if starting with coin). You just need kobald librarian turn one.

    Reply
    • Nils
      May 13, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      How do you get a giant on board on turn 3 in cubelock?
      Turn 1: 5 Cards in Hand (CIH) – Mountain Giant at 7
      It doesn’t matter if you play librarian or not. You will still be at the same Handsize
      Turn 2: 6 CIH – Hero Power – 7 CIH – Mountain Giant at 5
      Turn 3: 8 CIH – Mountain Giant at 4
      And since you only have 3 Mana on turn 4, you can’t play Giant. And please don’t suggest Coin into Giant 😀

      Reply
  7. Dalen Miles
    May 6, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    I have found Rin as a great addition at around rank 4. DO you think it will perform as well on the road to legend?

    Reply
  8. Mirza
    April 27, 2018 at 7:30 am

    I have been enjoying the deck so far. However, here are two of the weaknesses of the deck that I have noticed.
    1) The deck can’t pressure the opponent enough with only 4 real threats, so it’s not consistent. I’ve been thinking of running Pit Lord. Though it pales in comparison to both Flame Imp and Vulgar Homunculus because it puts you in a more vulnerable state, the fact that it deals a lot of damage to your own hero allows it to synergize really well with Hooked Reaver. And that makes Bloodreaver Gul’dan almost good enough to run for the late-game burn with the new Hero Power too.

    2) The direction of the deck is unclear. Is this meant to target aggro or control? Of course huge minions on turns 3-4 are good against everything, but what about the mid-game? Do we really need Spellbreakers against aggro? I think even Dread Infernal would make more sense. And if that’s right, then again, it only makes sense to run Bloodreaver Gul’dan as well. If we decide to go for an anti-control approach, then unfortunately I don’t think this deck is meant to do that, because as I have said, the deck is very draw dependent in the early game against control. If you don’t pressure your opponent fast enough, he will deal with a few huge minions with ease using strong single-target removal such as Polymorph or AoE removal such as Dragon’s Fury. It just doesn’t work.

    Well, that’s just my two cents on the deck. I really thank you for sharing this deck. It has been really fun in this stale metagame.

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 27, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Because of all the card draw, the deck has around 85% chance to draw at least one of its four main threats by turn four against control decks.

      Reply
  9. fuegonamja
    April 25, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    is gnomeferatu a good tech for this deck?

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 25, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      No. The deck tries to deal damage, it never attempts to go anywhere near fatigue.

      Reply
  10. Pepijnboompit
    April 19, 2018 at 6:57 am

    genn greymane worth crafting?

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 19, 2018 at 7:04 am

      Both Genn and Baku open a lot of new archetypes to try, and so far some of them have been pretty good as well, but it is still early. Thing is, they also cut half of your collection from deck-building, so you generally need a fairly decent overall collection to effectively use them.

      If you want to play Handlock, yes, you need to craft Genn. Regular Handlock does not have any advantage over Cubelock. Handlock is decent but not a top-tier deck, so performance-wise not a great investment just to play this archetype. Then again, Genn Even Paladin is really good right now, and you can use it in that one too.

      Reply
  11. Drmengueche
    April 19, 2018 at 4:22 am

    Old Guardian! So nice to see you here, love your youtube videos man

    Reply
  12. GlosuuLang
    April 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Well Ysera is not even an option, since it costs 9 mana.

    Reply
    • Old Guardian - Author
      April 18, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      That’s true. I guess it shows how much I was grasping at straws while trying to come up with any alternatives.

      Reply
  13. TheChiv☢ (@TheChivGaming)
    April 18, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    This deck is just amazing. 10/10

    Reply

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