Gameplay

Deck of the Week 12 - Naxx Warrior Contol Deck

By Byron Mudry -
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Welcome again to the Messiah's series of weekly articles that looks at some of the popular, powerful, or just plain interesting deck builds that are out there for the Hearthstone Constructed Deck format.

WARRIOR – NAXX CONTROL DECK

This week I look at a deck that I have started to see being played in the last little bit since Naxxramas cards have been being added into the game.  I am sure that there will be additional changes to it as the remaining wings open up, but as of right now, this deck is doing pretty well, especially against agro, zoo, and even against rogue and mage which are common in the meta right now.

This Warrior control deck makes heavy use of legendary cards and brings in several Curse of Naxxramas cards to fill in some of the holes that existed in this style of deck before.

One interesting thing with this deck is that it continues the trend that I have seen lately to include single cards rather than double cards.  This trend aims to supply multiple different options to decks rather than fewer options but an increased chance of getting the one you need.  As the card base increases I expect this trend to continue.

Deck List

  • Warrior Cards:
    • 2x Execute
    • 2x Shield Slam
    • 1x Whirlwind
    • 2x Armorsmith
    • 2x Cruel Taskmaster
    • 1x Fiery War Axe
    • 1x Slam
    • 2x Shield Block
    • 1x Kor’kron Elite
    • 1x Brawl
    • 1x Gorehowl
    • 1x Grommash Hellscream
  • Neutral Cards
    • 2x Unstable Ghoul
    • 2x Acolyte of Pain
    • 2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta
    • 1x Loatheb
    • 2x Sludge Blecher
    • 1x Cairne Bloodhoof
    • 1x Black Knight
    • 1x Ragnaros
    • 1x Alexstrasza

KEY CARDS

The deck works by having a strong balance of early and mid-game control cards, and then several late game win options. Just a few of the key cards of both types are as follows:

Armorsmith - A great early game card that can help you clear up weaker minions with it’s 4 health, all the while boosting your defense through its ability. This minion works well with several other cards in your deck, such as Whirlwind, Unstable Ghoul, and Shield Slam.

Shield Slam and Shield Block – These two cards help out in multiple ways.  Shield Slam helps clear out enemy minions and can deal huge amounts of damage.  Shield Block helps power up your Shield Slam, while protecting your health with 5 armour and providing some solid card draw.

Unstable Ghoul – An awesome early game minion earned in Curse of Naxxramas, and one that is especially good when mated up with an Armorsmith or an Acolyte of Pain.  For 2 mana you get a 1/3 minion with taunt and a build in Whirlwind.  This card helps against Zoo and Agro decks significantly.

Sludge Belcher – Another great Curse of Naxxramas card for this deck. Deathrattle abilities that summon replacement minions are always powerful, but this one that summons a new minion that also has taunt is better than most, especially to control the pace of the game.

Loatheb – This is another solid Naxx card that can really spoil a miracle Rogue or Mage’s day.  When either of these deck has a full hand and enough mana to put their combos into play, it is time to summon Loatheb and shut them down for turn.  While not a hard stop to those decks, it really hurts them by delaying them a full turn and leaves you with a great 5/5 minion.

Gorehowl and Brawl – These two cards are in the deck to control the pace at any point in the game, if it gets away from you.  Gorehowl, lets you remove multiple minions, starting with very powerful ones and then progressively weaker ones.  Brawl lets you clear everything other than one random minion.  Brawl can be very strong when you have minions in play with deathrattle abilities as they will trigger if that minion is not selected as the one that will survive.  Unstable Ghoul, Sludge Belcher, and Cairne Bloodhoof are all good examples of minions that work well with Brawl.

Grommash Hellscream  - Many times this monster of a minion will be your win condition in the late game. It is important to remember to keep an extra card in hand though to trigger his enrage condition. The best 2 being Whirlwind or Cruel Taskmaster. Using either of these means keeping Grommash in hand for an extra turn or two, however it is far better to do this in most cases as you can then deal 10 or 12 damage all at once before your opponent can do anything about him.. If you summon him without waiting, then you may only get 4 damage before your opponent kills him off.

Alexstrasza and Ragnaros – These two minions are alternate late game win condition cards.  A turn 9 Alexstrasza can drop your opponents health significantly, putting them into kill range the next turn.  Alternately if you suffer a lot of damage early, Alexstrasza can be used to give you a health boost in the late game if needed.  Ragnaros is good at any point, but even better teamed with Alexstrasza. 

IDEAL OPENING HAND CARDS

This deck can come out strong with a huge number off different cards in its opening hand. You will almost always want to get defensive cards so that you end up well protected to last to the late game were you can win.

Against most Agro and Zoo decks you should be using your mulligan to try and get Armorsmith, Unstable Ghoul, Slam, and Whirlwind.  You can also make use of Fiery War Axe and Shield Block, but only if you are going second and have at least 2 of the primary cards already in hand.

The cards against Mage and Rogue remain fairly similar, however you should also be looking at an Acolyte of Pain since both decks tend to deal single points of damage early on and you may be able to get multiple cards.

Against bigger minion decks like Druids, Handlock, and even some Control Warriors, or against slower decks like Priest decks, you need to grab a few different cards.  Against these decks you should be aiming to ensure you have Shield Slam, Slam, Fiery War Axe, and Execute.  Loatheb is also an option, just so that you have it ready, but only if you have several of the primary cards already.

STRATEGY

This deck has so many solid cards in it and so many ways to hold off your opponent that playing it at times is fairly simple.  You do however need to keep the overall strategy in mind so that you play to your end goal.

At the start of any match you will want to play this deck defensively.  To do that you need to control the pace and keep your health up. You have several options on how to do this, starting with Whirlwind, Fiery War Axe, Unstable Ghoul, Shield Slam, and even Cruel Taskmaster if needed.  You also have many great taunt minions that can slow down any opponent.  Between Unstable Ghouls, Sen’jin Shieldmasta and Sludge Belcher’s you have 6 very strong minions with taunt to slow down any opponent.  Better yet, the Sludge Blecher’s death rattle puts out additional minions with taunt, giving you a total of 8, 2 of which are free.

Once you have survived the early and mid-game, you can then go on the attack.  Use all the same cards to keep control, but also start mixing in your strong damage cards.  Loatheb does both at once, slows your opponent down and provides a very solid 5/5 minion.  Other big minions at this stage will be Grommash, Cairne, Ragnaros, and Alexstrasza.

If at any point the game is getting away from you, you have cards like Execute which lets you take out any enemy no matter how strong. You also have Brawl that can clear all but one minion, the Black Knight that can get rid of a big enemy taunt minion, and Shield Slam that can deal significant damage.  Because the deck does not have a lot of card draw, do not feel that you have to play a card all the time.  It is perfectly fine to armor up instead of spending those last few points of mana.

OPTIONAL CARDS 

There are many other cards out there that can be put into this deck as substitutions for the cards listed above that you may not have or that may suit your play style a little better. Since there are so many Legendary cards, it is likely that some players will need to swap something else in for a card they do not have.  Here are just a few that would work in the deck.

Big Game Hunter - If you end up running into to many large minions late in the game to deal with normally, then the Big Game Hunter is a solid card to add as it allows you to kill them off quickly and easily.

Faceless Manipulator - This epic minion lets you copy any of your minions or a minion that your opponent has.  Works extremely well with Ragnaros or Grommash!

Sylvans Windrunner – Ok, this minion is another legenday one, but one that matches up with the deck very well.  In fact while playing I keep bouncing between Sylvanas and the Black Knight as I am still undecided which is better in the deck.

Abomination – Another solid taunt minion that can work well in this deck.  I ended up taking it out though as it seemed to be overkill.

Azure Drake or Gnomish Inventor – If you are running into issue with not having enough card draw than either of these cards can help you out.  Azure Drake is obviously the better choice as it has more attack as well as spell damage, however many times a Gnomish Inventor will last longer in play since players are not as threatened by it.

HOW TO PLAY AGAINST IT

Playing against this deck is all about getting by it’s defenses and then finishing off the player.  That is not very easy to do though since a Warrior can add so much extra health in the form of armour.

Your main strategy will be to get past the various taunt minions.  This can be done with damage to remove them or silences to just remove the taunt effect, and in some cases the very nasty deathrattle abilities.  However since there are so many taunt minions, and since you really need to save some silence and removal for the late game it is hard to get them all. 

If you are a class with removal abilities like Hex or Polymorph, or control abilities like Priests have, then those are all great ways to deal with these minions. 

Once past the Warriors taunt minions, you should be focusing on getting the Warriors health down before the late game.  This can be done with minions or direct damage abilities.  Once the match gets to the late game, this deck has a lot of power, and therefore you will be at a big disadvantage.  Unless you are playing another deck that focuses on the late game like Priest or Druid you will be in serious trouble.

COMMENTS

This deck is still very new to the meta and while expensive to craft, has been well worth it.  If you have the cards to make the deck, give it a try and let us know how it works in the comment section below.

 

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About The Author

Byron "Messiah" Mudry
Byron has been writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years, and currently has a not-so-secret love affair with Hearthstone and Diablo III.

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