Control Warlock Deck List Guide (September 2017, Frozen Throne) – Season 42

Class: Warlock - Format: mammoth - Type: control - Style: meta-deck

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Deck Import

Control Warlock, Handlock, or Demonlock is a popular deck list in the early stages of the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. Check out our deck guide that features mulligans, strategy, and card replacement suggestions!

Introduction to Control Warlock (Handlock)

Contol Warlock decks have been regularly present in the Hearthstone meta since its release: first in the form of Handlock, which abused the Warlock hero power Life Tap to ramp giant minions, and then as Renolock, which was a Highlander-style toolbox deck. Lacking the necessary healing cards to compensate for Life Tap, Control Warlock has been largely unseen since it lost Reno Jackson to the 2017 standard rotation. However, with the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, Control Warlock gains Bloodreaver Gul'dan, giving the deck consistent healing and late game pressure. This, combined with its other new tools that complement Warlock’s already impressive board clearing ability, has made the deck relevant again.

Update – Frozen Throne Control Warlock September 2017, Season 42

Unfortunately it seems Warlock is still at the bottom of the barrel in terms of class strength. The dominance of Druid is currently casting a shadow over the class, and it remains to be seen if a nerf to Druid is coming anytime soon. For now only play this deck for fun and if you have the cards because it would be a rough climb.

Control Warlock Mulligan Strategy & Guide

VS Fast Decks

Your opening hand needs to have cards that keep you in the game and remove minions from the enemy board.

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Mistress of Mixtures – Great to trade with early minions and makes using Life Tap on your second turn less punishing.
  • Voidwalker – Great to trade with early minions and for absorbing weapon charges.
  • Defile – Amazing at clearing early aggressive boards.
  • Mortal Coil – Allows you to simultaneously finish off a minion and dig deeper into your deck; also helps set up numbers for defile.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Hellfire – Very efficient at clearing early minions. Keep with The Coin or if you have higher priority cards already.
  • Earthen Ring Farseer – Gives you an early minion to play and helps heal off early damage. Keep with The Coin or if you have higher priority cards already.
  • Twilight Drake – Great at trading with early minions, but is too slow to count on if you don’t already have earlier answers. Keep with The Coin or if you have higher priority cards already.

VS Slow Decks

Your opening hand needs to have cards that establish hard to remove board presence.

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Twilight Drake – If you can Life Tap on the first few turns, Twilight Drake‘s health is enormous. This is a very difficult minion for most control decks to answer on turn 4, especially Priest.
  • Mountain Giant – Much like Twilight Drake, if you can Life Tap on the first few turns this gives you a large minion to play on turn 4. This is a very difficult minion for most control decks to answer this early.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Hellfire – While generally efficient at clearing early boards, Hellfire is especially great at slowing Priest decks down, as most of their early minions have 3 health. Keep against Priest or if you already have higher priority cards.
  • Defile – If you can set up the math right, Defile clears boards at all stages of the game, so it’s good to have in your hand as early as possible. Keep only if you already have at least one Twilight Drake or Mountain Giant.
  • Voidwalker or Mistress of Mixtures – If you have The Coin, you can play a 1 cost minion on turn 1 or 3 and still be able to Life Tap every turn before playing one of your big turn 4 minions. Keep only if you have at least one Twilight Drake or Mountain Giant already.

Control Warlock Play Strategy

Control Warlock decks aim to play large, hard to answer minions on turn 4 by repeatedly using Life Tap, and to keep control of the board until the late game, when it can play Bloodreaver Gul'dan to close the game out.

Vs Aggro

Against aggressive decks, Control Warlock throws out its strategy of Life Tapping into big minions and focuses exclusively on survival. Having abandoned excessive Life Tapping, your excellent board clear cards become the stars of your deck. If you can manage to gain board control in the mid game with a decent amount of life left, the match looks good for you.

With the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, Warlock gets its best early game survival tool ever in Defile. It can be played on turn 2 if your opponent is playing pirates, or it can be played at pretty much any point in the game to clear an aggressive board. Something to remember with Defile is that it hits your minions too, and attacking one of your minions into an enemy minion changes two health totals, so look at your own board as well before you play it.

Mistress of Mixtures, and to a lesser extent Earthen Ring Farseer, are extremely helpful with making it through the early turns. If you’re going first, and sometimes if you’re going second, a turn 1 Mistress of Mixtures play allows you to Life Tap care free on turn two, which helps you dig for Hellfire.

Despicable Dreadlord and Abyssal Enforcer are the minions you want to see leading up to turns 5 and 7 respectively. What’s great about these minions against aggro is that they’re both board clears and board presence at the same time. If you play one of these minions to clear your opponent’s significant minions then you’re in a good spot, as long as you’ve managed to protect your life total well enough.

Vs Control

Against control decks, Control Warlock tries to both get out enormous minions and keep board control as much as possible before playing Bloodreaver Gul'dan.

When you’re up against slow decks, you can afford to be pretty greedy with your Life Tap, which is good because it’s the reason you’re running Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant. If you’re going first, the maximum health of a turn 4 Twilight Drake is 9, and the lowest Mountain Giant can cost is 4; considering this, if you want to get the most value possible from your turn 4 Twilight Drake, or if you want to play Mountain Giant on turn 4 at all, you can’t play any cards during the first three turns (unless you’re killing a minion with Mortal Coil on turn 3). If you have both Twilight Drake and Mountain Giant in your hand, playing Twilight Drake on turn 4 is optimal in most situations, as you can Life Tap and play Mountain Giant on turn 5.

Going second you have a little more freedom. With The Coin in hand, and an extra card from your mulligans, you’re two cards ahead of where you would have been going first. This means you can play a Voidwalker or Mistress of Mixtures on either turn 1 or turn 3 (but not both), while still being able to Life Tap twice and maximize your large minion value. Remember, if you Life Tap on turn 3 but don’t play a 1 cost minion on turn 1 or 3, you’re going to overdraw going into turn 4.

After turn 4, try to get out as many Demons as possible leading up to your 10 mana turns, as Bloodreaver Gul'dan becomes a much safer play with each Demon you’ve played during the game. While it might not seem that impressive, Voidwalker ends up being very important on your Bloodreaver Gul'dan turn, as it helps protect your life total before you can start using Siphon Life to build it back up.

Control Warlock Card Substitutions

  • Corrupting Mist – If you’re seeing mostly aggro decks on the ladder, this is a card to strongly consider adding in. It acts as a third (or fourth) copy of defile on turn 2 for clearing pirates, and can be valuable throughout the game.
  • Tainted Zealot or Bloodmage Thalnos – These 2-cost Spell Damage minions can be super handy with your board clearing cards, especially DefileTainted Zealot survives the first Defile cast, and Bloodmage Thalnos draws you a card when it dies. Both have their merits, so which one you add is up to you.
  • Drain Soul – If you’re having trouble with aggro decks, this card gives you another minion removal tool while also giving you some marginal survivability. If you’ve opted to add a Spell Damage minion to your deck, this card scales very well with it, and helps set up numbers for Defile. However, if you’re not seeing a lot of aggro Drain Soul is a dead card a lot of the time.
  • Spellbreaker – Silence is very good right now. Obviously great for disabling taunt minions, there are also a few decks running cards that buff their minions, and removing those buffs can be game changing. If you’re running into a lot of Quest Mage, Spellbreaker can be a good option to unfreeze one of your big minions.
  • Leeroy Jenkins with Faceless Manipulator – While not as strong as it once was, this combination still pushes 12 damage from hand, which is a lot of burst damage for Warlock. This combo is a mirror match winner, and can be helpful in other matchups where your opponent is hanging out at low life totals.
  • Dread Infernal – While this card doesn’t make the initial cut, Dread Infernal is an excellent card to either replace Legendaries you might not have or to fill in your minion curve, as it comes back with Bloodreaver Gul'dan and you don’t otherwise have any 6 cost minions.
  • The Black Knight – Bonemare and The Lich King are seeing a lot of play right now, and The Black Knight is an excellent answer to both these cards.
  • Eater of Secrets – If you’re running into a lot of Quest Mage, this card is arguably a necessity. Not only do they run double Ice Block, but who knows how many they’ll generate through random effects. Considering your board pressure doesn’t really start until turn 4, the turn you would pop Ice Block the first time might be your only chance to win the game.  Much like Spellbreaker, this card probably takes the place of one of your other tech options, so consider which other decks you’ve been up against the most before you make the switch.

About the Author

Martian has been playing Hearthstone regularly since early 2014, and consistently makes it to Legend in both Standard and Wild. Slow control decks are Martian’s favorite ones to play, and traditional Handlock was his go-to for a long time.


Martian's favorite hobby has always been card games. He's been playing Hearthstone regularly since early 2014, and is a consistent Legend player in both Wild and Standard.

Check out Martian on Twitter!

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Discuss This Deck
  1. Diego
    October 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Replacement for lich king and second mountain giant?

    • Hello
      January 4, 2018 at 4:39 am

      Instead of Lich King you could try Elise, Twisting Nether, or maybe a second earthen ring. Any big threat might work. Second mountain giant is really crucial and if you like the deck, you should probably craft it. Until then, just add another big threat or control tool.

  2. Ayushi
    September 30, 2017 at 3:50 am

    How good is this deck in current aggro rogue meta ?

  3. Tomas Zeitune
    September 27, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Anyone know s about putting a dirty rat in the deck? it supposedly helps against exodia mage and razakus priest, does it work well enogh to remove 1 other card from my deck?

  4. VanDamme
    September 24, 2017 at 6:39 am

    I have real trouble deciding what version to play, considering there are tons of options for tech cards, how many taunt activators you need, what spells to play and if you want to include one, two or even three spell power cards. For example I love Doomsayer but isn’t the deck already good vs aggro ? are the sundfury protectors really useful ? I’ve seen them in early versions of the deck but seem to have disappeared then came back in this list. Twisting Nether is really good versus most matchup but I would have to remove Alexstrasza, good for healing and as added pressure.

    This version has no silence, no Geist and no Ooze ???

    • tomas
      September 24, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      it depends on the meta/matchup you got, you can put happy ghoul against more agro, with more spells, or you can go full hand lock

      about the techs, skulging geist it depends if you see a lot o jade driud mainly,if not, its not worth it, and eater of secrets the same with quest mage

    • tomas
      September 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      also you can got other value routes, like elise with the pack or medith and twister nether, which i run, i recoomend this one

  5. M.
    September 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Any ideas for replacement for Mountain Giant, Thalnos and Faceless Shambler? I can’t afford them so I have to use “cheaper” cards.

    • 8BitBrain
      September 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      not sure, I guess doomsayers, zealot, (which can arguably be better) and faceless manipulator or spellbreaker plus dread infernal 😛

  6. Mike
    September 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    How important is faceless shambler? Is it required or can I sub it out?

    • Martian - Author
      September 3, 2017 at 10:40 am

      It’s strong but not required. You can sub it out.

  7. Warlockplayer
    August 19, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I replaced: 1x Skulking Geist, 1x Mortal Coil, 1x Faceless Shambler, 1x Ooze for 1x Twisting Nether, 2x Doomsayer and 1x Sunfury Protector.

    The skulking geist didn’t do much for me so I removed it, I like having a second nether which you can combo with a doomsayer to gain board control. Imo there aren’t enough pirate warriors to run ooze. Many people seem to be running silences to counter paladins so sunfury protector is probably better.

    • gerwinni
      August 20, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      oh damn dude I don’t know the countless jade druids i screwed oer with skuliking geist today make the card worth for me haha

      • eaglestrike
        August 31, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        Yeah, the whole Meta right now is full of Jade Druids and with skulking geist your winrate in this Matchup goes almost to 90%. 🙂

  8. Jakuval
    August 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Can someone explain to me why no one is playing Shadow Bolts anymore? I feel like it’s a relevant spot removal card right now. Am I missing something?

    • yep
      August 18, 2017 at 4:07 am

      I agree, replace blastcrystal potion with shadow bolt

      • 8BitBrain
        August 18, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        I’ve played handpick a lot (just casually) but I think shadow bolt nearly always has a 1 for 1 or worse trade, while blast crystal at least can take out a much king or tirion thus it is slightly better

    • tommy
      August 26, 2017 at 6:23 am

      everyone is playing shadowbolt basically?

  9. MomoKIID
    August 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

    my changes to deck is Eli for Alex and 1 Twilight drake for Eater of Secret. So I can counter all 3 deck types.

  10. Me
    August 16, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Can I play without bloodreaver?

    • MomoKIID
      August 16, 2017 at 9:46 am

      that card is whole point of the deck, so no, you can’t replace it =)

    • Martian - Author
      August 16, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Bloodreaver gives the deck its staying power; you could still play the deck without it, but it probably wouldn’t be as good. You could try falling back on the Defender of Argus/Sunfury Protector style of play, and if you have it you definitely want to put Jaraxxus in.

      • DeadlyRaptor
        August 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        How essential is Alexstraaza to the deck? I could craft it if I want, but I’m not sure if it makes the deck better.

        • Martian - Author
          August 18, 2017 at 10:23 pm

          Not essential, but it’s definitely worth having in the deck. It helps put your opponents in range, especially the the turn after you play Gul’dan, but it also really helps keep you alive. There’s a lot of self damage in this deck. Alex is an extremely safe craft; If you craft her and don’t like her in this deck she’ll be useful in others.

        • 8BitBrain
          September 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm

          jaraxxus can be an ok replacement

    • Funkdat
      August 16, 2017 at 11:04 am

      I wouldn’t bother. It is the main win condition and the reason you are running so many demons. Alexstrasza into Bloodreaver is usually game.

    • dab
      August 17, 2017 at 8:47 am

      gul dan or jaraxxus pretty much required

  11. Naveed
    August 16, 2017 at 3:56 am

    can i replace Ooze with Harrison Jones É

    • no
      August 16, 2017 at 6:15 am

      You can’t, draw doesn’t matter for warlock since they have the hero power, and life gain is more valuable

    • Martian - Author
      August 16, 2017 at 9:57 am

      You could, Harrison might be a bit slow, and the deck has lots of draw already. If you don’t have Gluttonous Ooze, Acidic Swamp Ooze is probably the best replacement. Also, if you’re not running into a lot of weapon-heavy decks you could run something else entirely.

  12. xxxcycero
    August 16, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Deck seems pretty strong and fun to play. So far made two changes:

    faceless shambler -> big game hunter
    skulking geist -> dread infernal

    faceless shambler was dead card most of the times (no time to play it), and BHG works like a charm (so many lich kings flying around…).

    Also Im not a big fan of skulking geist, seems useless to me. Dread infernal on the other hand is a big body that can be brought back to life with guldan 😛

    • Bazz0r64
      August 16, 2017 at 5:00 am

      Interesting insides, i like your version but skulking geist can be a useful card, that might develop in a game changer against jade druids, and lyra priests no inner fire anymore they have to get lucky to have drawn it very early and have played it. I rly like the addition of tainted zealot combined with defile u can pull off crazy board clear combos that are rly fun to play when being overrun by a token or aggro player. Faceless Shambler may be a bit clonky but having 2 giants a lich king 2 drakes this can rly work out well a low cost/high stats taunt.

  13. MisterEpic
    August 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Replacement for alextraza?

    • Warlock
      August 15, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      I think Kolentos version is more consistent and i replaced alex with elise for more late game, imo alex is not really necessary tho

    • Martian - Author
      August 15, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      Personally I would put in Spellbreaker. There are a lot of juicy silence targets out there right now, primarily Spikeridged Steed. Dread Infernal works as a big minion that has synergy with the deck, and Corrupting Mist would help with the aggro matchup.

      I wouldn’t say Alex is absolutely necessary, but it’s great tool to keep you in the game against aggro if you’ve made it past the early game with low life. It also helps race control decks.

  14. Maaarrrr
    August 15, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    You mention leeroy, but he is not in the deck list on the top.

    • Evident
      August 15, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Leeroy is mentioned as a substitute for other cards in the deck.