includes naxx cards, synergies, and alternatives
Mulligans and Matchups
Hey Guys! Welcome to NEL Deck Guide #3. This time I’m going to be covering the return of Control Warrior. Why did I choose Warrior? Before Naxx was full released, Control Warrior wasn’t the best deck to play on ladder: it was good, but never really the best. On the China server, the meta pre-Naxx was mostly Zoolock, Midrange Druid, and Miracle Rogue in Legend Rank and was referred to as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Control Warrior didn’t seem to have a favorable match against any of those three, and as one of the most expensive decks, Control Warrior was unfortunately also hard to pick up and learn. Naxxramas was a turning point in Garrosh’s destiny. In terms of new loot, he picked up:
- Death’s Bite, considered here to be the best Naxx class card.
- Sludge Belcher, a cost efficient Taunt minion that makes it way easier to outlast Aggro.
- Leotheb as his new ally could give Miracle Rogue quite a hard time.
This deck is characteristically slow; unlike Control Paladin however, I rarely won a game after the fatigue phase starts. This deck has the ability to draw a lot of extra cards to refill my hand; therefore, I play my cards out faster than my opponents into the later stages. The cheaper spells and card draw also give me a better chance at taking the board control. This deck also has cards like Alex, Grommash, Faceless Manipulator, and weapons to do some burst damage which Control Paladin didn't have access to. This deck is strong in late-game, but I usually try to win before it gets “too late”.
When versus other control decks, I would sometimes get more than 30 Armor and I have never lost a game when I have more than 50 health in total. Warrior’s removal cards like Execute and Shield Slam are just too cheap. My high value Legendaries also easily outnumber my opponent’s during the mid to late game.
This deck works well on the ladder. When versus the two most popular classes, Hunters and Warlocks, our Hero Power really shines. The Naxx cards also really help Warrior’s survive the early aggression in these matchups, but I will get there later.
Fiery War Axe: I personally would like to keep maximum four weapons in any of my deck. Gorehowl and Death’s Bite are just too good to pass up, so that leaves only one Fiery War Axe.
Acolyte of Pain: I usually don’t play this card on turn three: I always want to combo it with something to at least draw one card immediately. This card and Harrison Jones are Warrior’s Miracle engine. They are the only cards in this deck that have the potential to gain raw card advantage. I always keep it in my opening hand when I am facing another control deck. You can combo this card with Death’s Bite, Cruel Taskmaster, and Whirlwind.
Spellbreaker: Silence have gone up in utility since Naxx’s released. There are so many targets now running around: Sylvanas, Cairne Bloodhoof, Nerubian Eggs, Sludge Belcher, etc. Spellbreaker is always good against any deck.
Harrison Jones: Good against Midrange or Secret Hunter, Miracle Rogue, and Aggro Rogue. If you guys have heard about the Chinese Token Rogue(TaleNT Token Rogue), you should know that Harrison Jones destroys them. Harrison is also good against other control decks which run weapons.
The Black Knight: Since every deck now runs at least one Sludge Belcher, The Black Knight will always have a valuable target.
Gorehowl: Gorehowl is great because you can gain a huge card advantage from this single card. You can use it as a multiple removal spell at the cost of hero’s health points. This card alone guarantees Warrior a better late-game against Paladin and Shaman. That said, you need to play it around Harrison Jones. I know some of the Warrior decks don’t run Gorehowl anymore, so as your opponents, they probably would play Harrison Jones right after your second Death’s Bite play. Once they do, feel free to Gorehowl it away
Grommash Hellscream: Warrior’s finisher which can also double as removal in a pinch. Grommash can at least trade 2-for-1 and sometimes even score a 3-for-1. If he survives to your next turn, Faceless Manipulator and a Weapon to tje face can hit for about 23-27 damage.
Alexstrasza: If a Warrior deck doesn’t have Alexstrasza, I wouldn’t call it a Control Warrior. She is the only card that can win me a match against a Control Paladin. This card is basically 10-15 damage to face plus a 8/8 body. I usually use it only when I have a weapon that ensures lethal on my next turn. In desperate situations, however, Alexstrasza can always be used to heal yourself.
Thanks to Death’s Bite and Sludge Belcher, Control Warrior is now good both on ladder and in tournaments. Control Warrior before Naxx didn’t have many good choices for four and five drop slots. Now we have the perfect cards to fit into our game plan.
Death’s Bite: On your first swing, Death's Bite hits for four; on your second swing, it is an even better version of Swipe. Swipe was and still is considered one of the best spells in the game and the Warrior version of Swipe certainly lives up to the hype. In most cases, I can use the Deathrattle combo with my Acolyte of Pain to draw a card; and unlike Unstable Ghoul, I have full control over when to trigger the Deathrattle.
Sludge Berlcher: The only Taunt minions in my deck. I used to worry a lot when I faced an aggro deck, because I didn’t have places for Taunts in my old Control Warrior deck. Sludge Belcher is the perfect fit for our five drop slot, there’s no reason not to be using it. This card can do a great job by sticking to the board. It helps Warrior to survive the early-game aggression and is the best turn five play to counter a Hunter’s turn five Buzzard-Unleash.
- Slam (Whirlwind / Cruel Taskmaster / Death’s Bite) + Execute = Cheap Removal
- Whirlwind + Acolyte of Pain = One damage to the board without losing card advantage
- Sylvanas + Brawl = Twisting Nether 2.0
- Weapon + (next turn) Alexstrasza + Weapon to face or Grommash plus Cruel Taskmaster = game over
Unstable Ghoul: It has a same Deathrattle as Death’s Bite and it is a Taunt: now that’s a card you need to counter Zoolocks and Hunters. I personally don’t like in tournaments because I don’t want to give options to my opponent. What if they have a Silence to mess my whole plan up? I don’t feel good if sometimes I’m counting on “Unstable” as part of my plan. I want to keep as much as possible under control, so that I can calculate the moves and make sure nothing goes wrong.
Cairne Bloodhoof: This card was really hard to remove because I liked it so much before Naxx. The problem is that now the other two six drops are just better. A 4/5 body isn’t that much of a threat and it’s very vulnerable to Sap or Silences.
Baron Geddon: Since Warrior doesn’t run any efficient board clears, Baron Geddon can do some work. It is a great card against Shaman and Paladin. Against other classes, however, it’s not that good. It costs too much and five Health is too weak in late-game. To fill the seven drop slot I either run this or Gorehowl but I prefer Gorehowl.
Deathwing: In my opinion, Warrior is the only class that can run Deathwing. In late game, if I am running out of cards, I can just throw it on board and watch if I can win. Deathwing is a great card for comebacks. I personally don’t like a comeback or “let’s see if my opponent can deal with it or not”. I prefer a style of winning every turn and inching towards lethal.
Fiery War Axe, Cruel Taskmaster, Armorsmith, Brawl (very important)
vs Midrange Hunter: Fiery WarAxe, Spellbreaker, Death’s Bite, Armorsmith, Sylvanas
vs Shaman: Fiery War Axe, Armorsmith, Death’s Bite
vs Miracle Rogue: Fiery War Axe, Sludge Belcher, Leotheb
vs Handlock: Acolyte of Pain, Execute, Brawl
vs Secret Mage: Armorsmith, Cruel Taskmaster, Acolyte of Pain, Fiery War Axe, Death’s Bite
vs Aggro Rogue, Aggro Warrior, Aggro Hunter: Cruel Taskmaster, Fiery War Axe, Sludge Belcher, Armorsmith
vs Priest, Ramp Druid, Control Paladin, Control Warrior: Acolyte of Pain, Fiery War Axe, Death’s Bite
vs Tempo Rogue: Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith, Cruel Taskmaster, Fiery War Axe, Death’s Bite
Vs Zoolock: 50/50
- Early-game depends a lot on whether or not you have Fiery War Axe.
- Death’s Bite is good card to remove the early threats. I maxmize its Deathrattle.
- After turn five, Sludge Belcher or Brawl, I would usually take back the board control slightly.
- I always save Execute for Doomgurad or Void Terror.
- I would save Spellbreaker for Nerubian Egg or Void Terror.
- If I can find a way to clear Zoo’s board even once, the game is almost over. The only way for Zoolock to win is to rush me down, if he has done some great damage to me in early game. I just need to survive by using cards like Sludge Belcher or Alexstrasza.
- I always try to kill all the beasts that my opponents plays. Fiery War Axe helps a lot.
- How to deal with Savannah Highmane?
- Best solution: Spellbreaker + Shield Slam.
- Second best: Spellbreaker + Execute. I know that Hunter doesn’t have many high value minions. Savannah Highmane is pretty much the only target for Execute.
- Third option: Spellbreaker + Death’s Bite’s 2nd charge
- If I’m sure that I’m facing a Freezing Trap, I would not let my Sludge Belcher trigger it to make my opponent gain one more charge of his weapon. I would just stay behind Taunt and play things like Armorsmith.
- As long as the two Highmanes are gone, the game’s pretty much over. The only way for Hunter to win is to rush me down. I just need to survive by using cards like Sludge Belcher or Alexstrasza.
- If I feel I have too many minions on board, I will play Leotheb to counter Unleash. If you don't have a Loatheb available, better not have more than two minions on board.
- The key cards are still our weapons.
- Fiery War Axe for the wolves.
- First charge of Death’s Bite for Azure Drake and second for Fire Elemental. Try to draw some cards from Acolyte of Pain.
- The best situation is turn nine Alexstrasza to Shaman’s face. Since Shaman cannot heal himself so he has to play Taunts every turn after that or risk dying to Grommash.
- Another way to win would be a perfect timing Brawl. As soon as Shaman loses his full board, Gorehowl can deal with everything he’s gonna play next. After that I am likely win by chaining the Legendaries one after another.
- Very peaceful early game. I would just try to gain as much armor as possible.
- Turn five Sludge Belcher can be a problem for Rogue.
- The first Gadgetzan has to be taken care of right away: even a 50-50 Brawl worth a try. Otherwise it would be 10-90 for you to win.
- Play Leotheb after Conceal + Gadgetzan.
- I would keep armoring. Rogue has no way to deal more than 30 damage in one turn.
- I would keep playing big threats so that they can take the damage for me.
- I would always be calculating the lethal turn from both sides. If he cannot kill me next turn, and I’ve got my Grommash combo ready. I also will always keep an eye out for Earthen Ring Farseer + Shadowstep.
This is a rather typical situation against Shaman: I’ve got Alex, Grommash, and Taskmaster in hand. My plan was, Alex his face, then Grommash + Taskmaster + last charge of Axe for exactly 15 damage. This plan only works because I know Shaman cannot heal himself. The problem was that Shaman could have Taunts, the Taunt totem and one Feral Spirit were left. So should I use the last charge of Axe and Grommash to clear the board somehow? The answer is no. I have to hold them for the ultimate purpose of finishing the game. I knew he ran a BGH and Faceless since I saw them last game. This means my Grommash won't survive if I used it as a removal. If Grommash gets Facelessed by Shaman it’s GG. I must, therefore, play other cards to remove his Taunts until there are no other options. This line ended up costing me one Geddon, one Ysera, one Brawl, one Execute, one Whirlwind, and half of my life. They were all used or traded inefficiently but they served me very well and won me this game. In the end, the combo mentioned above pushed through for the lethal damage.
Hold the Finisher
This was a tough choice. My Sylvanas was first played so if I traded, the Deathrattle on my side would trigger first and grab a totem, then Deathrattle on her side would trigger after, and grab the totem back. The Black Knight would be an awful play. Here was the other choice: Shild Slam one totem, Sylvanas kills one totem, then Shild Slam my own Sylvanas to steal her Sylvanas. It was basically two Shild Slams for her Sylvanas and board control. In the end I went with option three and I think it was worth it.
The Sylvanas Puzzle
I could use The Black Knight’s battlecry to remove her Sunwalker: that is obviously a good turn six play. But yet, I didn’t do it. I chose to play the Acolyte of Pain, then Whirlwind to kill the token, remove the bubble, and draw me a card. After that, Death’s Bite hit Sunwalker for four, the Deathrattle killed it and drew me another card from Acolyte. I thought this move is way better than The Black Knight line. I drew two cards, got a clean board, and was able to save The Black Knight for Tirion.
The Black Knight
I’ve got so many options. Here're my choice: Death’s Bite hit face, Deathrattle killed the Soulpriest, then Execute the Rag and coin out the Grommash at last, without being enraged by Death’s Bite. Why not Rag? I realized that it was turn eight and she definitely could have a Shadow Word: Death to kill my Rag but she couldn’t Mind Control my four Attack Grommash. It would cost her a lot to deal with this 4-9 body.
vs Shaman, Paladin, Priest
Deck in Action
vs Shaman(start at 45m18s):
What is the “NEL 3x3 Format”? One team, three players, and three different Classes each. This means each team must have decks for each class and they all get played. First created and used in Hearthstone NEL.