All cards from Madness at the Darkmoon Faire have been revealed and in this article, I’ll take a look at what the future holds for Warlock!
Demons have been part of Warlock’s class identity for a long time, but even though Demon buffs like Demonfire have been around since Classic, there have rarely been enough Demons in the Standard format simultaneously to make Demonlock a viable archetype. To be honest, this new push, even though it takes up most of the new Warlock cards, might not get there either.
The new set also brings a bit of support for Zoo in the form of Wicked Whispers and some Neutral cards that might also find a spot in the archetype, such as Wriggling Horror and Darkmoon Statue. It might not be much, but a board-wide minion buff has traditionally been vital for Zoo’s success, so the support is carefully targeted to help Zoo.
Control Warlock has not been forgotten, either. The Old Gods themselves are some sweet win conditions for slower decks and the Warlock class cards add Tickatus and Cascading Disaster to the mix. There are multiple potential ways to build Control Warlock in the new expansion!
Finally, there are Deck of Chaos and Revenant Rascal, which are more difficult to accurately place. Deck of Chaos promises sweet things with cards such as Malygos and Batterhead, but the inability to tutor for it makes it extremely difficult to pull off and probably more of a meme than a real thing. Revenant Rascal, on the other hand, could find a place in a very low-curve aggro deck that likes to operate at low mana totals, especially in a control meta, but it is difficult to see how it could be consistent enough to actually be played.
Tickatus Control Warlock
Tickatus is one of the most interesting new Warlock cards. It could be used as a six-mana 8/8 with a downside in an aggressive deck, but the more likely use is as a win condition in a control deck: while Tickatus cannot mill the opponent in the sense that it would generate a lot of immediate fatigue damage, it can turn the fatigue battle into Warlock’s advantage. Five cards are already something, and if you can play Tickatus multiple times, the opponent will have to operate with significantly fewer resources and at a fatigue disadvantage: you may even manage to disrupt any potential combos.
In this deck, I have opted to go for double Tickatus with the help of Y'Shaarj, The Defiler. There are other ways to play multiple copies of Tickatus in a game, such as Felosophy and Youthful Brewmaster, but two copies should be enough and Y’Shaarj can also generate lots of value with other Corrupted cards.
The plan is fairly straightforward: survive, Corrupt Tickatus with Soulciologist Malicia, Twisting Nether, Alexstrasza, or even an uncorrupted Strongman, play Tickatus, and play Tickatus again from Y'Shaarj, The Defiler. Keep surviving and wait for the opponent to die to fatigue, unless your minions can finish the job.
Note that Circus Amalgam is also a Dragon, which gives you a good chance to activate Crazed Netherwing and Nether Breath, the latter of which you can also combine with Mo'arg Artificer for some additional healing.
Quest C’Thun Warlock
I really like the selection of win conditions available to Control Warlock in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire.
The core of the deck is good old Quest Warlock: Supreme Archaeology ensures that eventually, you will start to get some zero-cost cards, and you heal your way there with Soul Fragments, Plot Twists, and Aranasi Broodmothers. I have played a lot of Quest and Control Warlock in Scholomance Academy, and one of my main takeaways has been that in a Quest deck I like Soul Fragments but I don’t like Soulciologist Malicia. You often go through your fragments too quickly for the Soulciologist to have a chance, whereas in a non-Quest, non-Plot Twist list, Soul Fragments get to stay in the deck a while longer.
The deck has two late-game win conditions: C'thun, the Shattered can devastate the opponent, especially if you get it or a Twisting Nether from your Hero Power so that you can play them on the same turn, and N'Zoth, God of the Deep provides an alternative, board-based win condition. N’Zoth resurrects a Dragon (Crazed Netherwing or Alexstrasza), a Demon (Aranasi Broodmother or the Taunt Demon from Abyssal Summoner), a Beast (Fleethoof Pearltusk), and any Circus Amalgams you have played as Pirates, Totems, or Mechs. If you happen to land on a zero-cost N’Zoth or a zero-cost Sathrovarr, you can do it multiple times – or you can do C'thun, the Shattered multiple times!
While a Tickatus Warlock waits to win the game, this C’Thun/N’Zoth list takes matters into its own hands and just goes ahead and wins the game.
Overall, I am truly excited for Control Warlock in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, as the archetype has so many win conditions to choose from and there are multiple ways to build the removal package as well. These theorycrafts are just some of the potential ideas for the archetype that hopefully demonstrate where its strengths can lie.
There are more Demons in the Standard format than ever before: in addition to the Warlock class Demons, there are also several Neutral Demon minions in the game. Warlock also has a number of spells than synergize with Demons, such as Felosophy, Demonfire, and Free Admission.
Surely, some form of Demonlock has to be possible with all of these tools? Unfortunately, I am not certain whether Demonlock can really be a thing in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, but I believe that it has a chance.
First, what is Demonlock? Is it a Zoo deck? A Control deck? A Midrange deck? The available Demons do not form a coherent whole: some are expensive late-game cards, some are cheap, aggressive minions, whereas others are somewhere in between. Many Demon minions can also be awkward to use: For example, Midway Maniac has a lot of overall stats, but as a 1/5 it would desperately need more Attack to be meaningful. Ring Matron, on the other hand, is a Taunt minion with a lot of Attack and not much Health, the exact opposite of what you’d typically look for from a Taunt minion. Nonetheless, the pure strength of cards such as Man'ari Mosher and Fire Breather promise that if you go Demons, it will all work out somehow.
The above Demonlock deck is a midrange deck with Imprisoned Scrap Imps: you try to get your Scrap Imp, and then use your buffed-up minions to wrestle control of the board. If you cannot find a Scrap Imp, a simple Midway Maniac with Demonfire and Man'ari Mosher might do. Felosophy can copy a wide variety of minions if you use most of your cards, and Demonic Studies can give you some different Demons to play with and help you get stuff on the board faster. The minions in the deck are fairly cheap but not the cheapest possible to maximize the tempo gain from Free Admission.
Can this type of old-fashioned midrange deck work in the current meta? I admit that I am uncertain, but it seems to me to be the strongest style for a pure Demon list.
Zoo can never die. Even during Scholomance Academy, when Zoo has been at its weakest, it has still managed to survive as a tier-three deck that can be played successfully, even if it is not easy. The mixture of cheap minions and the Warlock Hero Power is a strong one no matter the card pool.
Wicked Whispers is almost certainly a key card: board-wide buffs have always played a major role in Zoo. The thing that intrigues me the most about it is whether it can make Boneweb Egg playable. Discarding Boneweb Egg with Wicked Whispers and summoning two 3/2 Spiders for free is a very attractive proposition. This synergy has motivated me to build this Zoo deck in the good old Egg style: there is also Serpent Egg in the deck, and the Eggs can be activated with Wicked Whispers, Wriggling Horror, Imprisoned Scrap Imp, EVIL Genius, or Darkmoon Statue – in other words, there are lots of ways for the deck to make good use of them.
Wriggling Horror and Darkmoon Statue offer more opportunities to buff minions on the board, and Darkmoon Statue is a huge minion for its mana cost if it can be Corrupted: in this deck, you would generally do so with Nightshade Matron.
Of course, the modern Zoo draw engine of discarding Hand of Gul'dan with either Expired Merchant or Nightshade Matron is present in this deck as well, and with all the Health coming and going, the deck features a pair of Flesh Giants to bring some power to the board.
Warlock has not been a top-tier class in Scholomance Academy, and it is uncertain whether that can change in Madness at the Darkmoon Faire. Control Warlock gets some sweet new tools and there are so many ways to build it now, so I expect at least some variant to be successful. Demonlock gets a lot of attention, but it starts from a poor position, so I am not certain the tools provided for it are enough even now. Zoo gets a couple of good pieces, and that’s all that Zoo needs to stay in the game, even if it cannot reach the top tier either.
Overall, I expect there to be other classes that can play a better aggressive game than Warlock, but Warlock has a good chance to be one of the top control classes.