2x Shield Slam
2x Fiery War Axe
2x Cruel Taskmaster
2x Shield Block
2x Acolyte of Pain
Big Game Hunter
2x Death's Bite
2x Sludge Belcher
The Black Knight
Ragnaros the Firelord
Hello, my name is Synthex and this is a guide to my Control Warrior variation. Before its final form, I always wished for a deck that would perform well on ladder and especially in tournaments. Observing how the meta changes, what decks people play on ladder, but also competing myself in daily tournaments I managed to figure out what the best list should look like. Pulling out Warrior in a meta full of aggro is the best decision you can make because the hard removal can easily carry you through tough games and what used to be for you a bad matchup if used appropriately.
I hope that this guide will prove to be of great use and make climbing an easier and more pleasant experience since its gameplay and mechanics are so catchy!
This is pretty much a standard Control Warrior but the cuts and changes I’ve made are definitely notable and usually made most matchups go in my favor. The purpose is to maintain early board control and then dominate the late game with your sticky legendaries, tempo swings, and game winning plays: this part hasn't changed.
You have early card draw with Acolyte, sticky midgame minions such as Belcher-Shieldmaiden, and then going into the late game you have big legendaries. In the early game you might feel that you are losing control over the situation and board state sometimes but this is where the fun and exciting part comes in. Using your removal as efficient as possible with the right mulligans is definitely the key to success. You can lose control or just throw the game away by a single misplay. On the other hand, you can easily stabilize and gain full control over the game. Making the correct play is in my opinion this is what makes Control Warrior such a complex deck.
One Armorsmith: this card can win you the game in so many situations simply by having it protected by a Belcher. I’m not even sure who protects who in this situation but it’s definitely a good play. You will gain a bunch of armor if your opponent is forced to clear your Belcher and this can gain you a lot of advantage because most of the time you are going to use your Health as a resource.
I believe that two copies are too much in a lot of matchups and drawing it in late game situations is pretty bad. You only need it when you’re facing aggro -- Hunter and Mech Mage -- which is pretty much the whole ladder right now. Against Paladin and Shaman it can work out even providing that you draw it in the first three turns. Combined with a Cruel Taskmaster you can gain early board control by removing small minions and gaining armor. Overall a strong card but it remains too situational.
One Whirlwind: I was a great fan of Whirlwind in Warrior for a long time because of the opportunities it gives you. You can combine it with Acolyte, Grommash at turn nine, or with Death's Bite for a possible board clear. Right now this is a must have because of the current Deathrattles such as Haunted Creeper and Piloted Shredder summoning one Health minions, Muster for Battle, or allowing you to Execute a target. The inclusions of Death's Bite, however, means that we only really need one.
Black Knight: The Black Knight was not a needed card in Control Warrior before GvG came out and Taunt Druids started to appear. The main reason why I added this card to the deck is because it makes the Druid matchup a lot easier for you and it can give you a lot of momentum by sniping an Innervated Ancient of War.
Black Knighting an Annoy-o-Tron against Mech Mage can sometimes be the best play. This helps you deal with Mage's board provided you have a weapon equipped. You might be wondering what was my card choice before Black Knight and the answer is second Whirlwind. I recommend this swap unless you are encountering a lot of Hunters and you’re having trouble dealing with their board. Personally, I’d keep it if I’m facing Paladin and Druids because Tirion and other big Taunts can be really annoying for Warriors.
Brawl is one of the most powerful cards in the deck. When used correctly, it can rescue you from board states which no other card in the deck can. The decklist is very tight, however, so we only get to have one Brawl. Making sure you maximize it is key.
When facing aggro, you shouldn't be afraid to use Brawl turn five if the board is full of threats . You can even early Brawl on three minions if they are all very strong -- Mechwarper, Spidertank, and a Snowchugger for example -- provided that you can remove a minion afterwards. Same goes versus Hunter, they pretty much have all one Health minions right now so your Cruel Taskmaster can clear a Brawl leftover.
In control matchups, it's more about value and threats. I'd recommend forcing your opponent overextend and take the damage for one more turn before Brawling to make sure that you're getting full value off of it. Make sure to count their key finishing combos before making the decision not to Brawl. Against Paladins and Druid, however, you need to be wary of combos rather than just straight value.
Paladins usually overextending themselves into Brawl by just playing dudes and threatening Quartermaster. Versus Ramp Druid, I'd recommend using an early Brawl when needed because there is the high probability of Loatheb being played or a double Savage Roar to kill you. It's better to play it by the book and go for the safety versus Druids.
This is your haymaker. Use it wisely.
Matchups and Mulligans
You want to keep Execute and Shield Slam because of Innervate. Keep Taskmaster if you already have Execute and Acolyte.
This is one of the hardest matchups for Warrior because we run out of resources and they keep playing big minions. Try to keep removal for as long as possible. You shouldn't mind Executing a Lore or Druid of the Claw if they Innervated it or if you are in danger. If you have Brawl in hand with Shield Slam and Execute against two minions on board just make sure you aren't dead to combo and play out a minion maybe you can bait out a Brawl. This play means you don't have to waste Shield Slam and Execute. If you manage to stabilize and stop the Druid's aggression you can easily win in a few turns with Alex and Gromm.
As a bit of an aside, I like keeping Black Knight on coin but this play can be a bit risky so it depends on the rest of your hand.
Aggressively mulligan away for Fiery War Axe, Cruel Taskmaster, and Armorsmith.
On the coin, you can hang on to Death's Bite and Shield Slam to Coin out the Weapon or Armor Up-Shield Slam a Knife Juggler. If you already have a Fiery War Axe and a Taskmaster you can keep Harrison on the coin. If you have Fiery War Axe and Taskmaster you can keep Whirlwind or Shield Block. With these mulligans done correctly you shouldn't have any trouble crushing any Hunter.
You should not rush your turns and always count Unleash-Kill Command damage and see if it’s safe to play more minions. It is very important to Armor Up as much as possible rather than playing out a big minion. Their Hero Power means nothing if you keep Hero Powering.
Don't take too much damage with your face removing minions but don’t be afraid to do so if that's the only play. The Hunter matchup is usually won by mulligans right now because there is just one Hunter deck being played right now consists of Chargers: Wolfrider dies to Cruel Taskmaster, Whirlwind, or Armorsmith; and Arcane Golem which ramps you into Shieldmaiden. Belchers should help a lot by absorbing Kill Commands or simply forcing them to trade their whole board.
Here is an example of a Hunter game . I managed to stabilize in some later turns after having a hard start and awkward hand. Double Shieldmaiden helped me survive until my Alexstrasza turn when he was out of gas.
Mulligan for Armorsmith, Acolyte,Cruel Taskmaster if you have Armorsmith or Acolyte, Fiery War Axe, and Death's Bite.
I'll start with discussing Freeze Mage: all you need to do is Armor Up over anything else and there is no way you are going to lose.
You can even keep Coin to Alexstrasza sometimes, but Armor Up is all I can say in this matchup . It’s really hard for a Mage to kill a Warrior and close to impossible right now because Shieldmaidens were introduced.
Cycling Shield Blocks is correct in the early game, but make sure that you have a way to remove the big minions like Antonidas and Alexstrasza.
Secondly there is Mech Mage. You want to mulligan for Fiery War Axe, Armorsmith, and Cruel Taskmaster. Keep Death's Bite and Shield Slam on coin.
This matchup really depends on the draws. If you draw your Shield Block-Shield Slam in time for their Blastmage, you should be fine. Belchers are here to help you out and buy time to get some armor. If you have weapons in your hand make sure to kill chugga chugga first before anything else so you can get some work done with weapons afterwards.
Don’t forget to count the Fireball-Frostbolt before you play out a minion instead of Armoring Up.
Finally, there is Fatigue Mage. You will want to mulligan for Armorsmith, Fiery War Axe, Death's Bite, Execute, and I'd keep Shield Block and Shield Slam.
Never play Acolyte early game. You should try to empty your hand and take an aggressive position. Hit face with weapons and pressure the Mage down because he will eventually have to give you cards so you can keep on the aggression.
The amount of armor the Warrior can stack make this matchup feel like you are facing a Freeze Mage at some points because they will have a plateau when they can't play anything.
Mulligan for Whirlwind, Acolyte, Armorsmith, Taskmaster, and Death's Bite. You basically want one damage clears so you can instantly deal with their Muster for Battle. If you have an Armorsmith-Whirlwind or Acolyte you can also keep Fiery War Axe for Juggler or the Minibot. Don’t throw away Fiery War Axe if you already have it, just mulligan everything else to get what’s needed.
Taskmastering a recruit on turn two is a decent play because you can keep killing the rest that will be summoned.
Coining Acolyte on turn two can also force them to not to play something for a couple turns so it’s also a good play. Acolyte doesn't even die to Truesilver if coined and can force an Owl which makes your Sylvanas turn much stronger later on.
I like holding on to my second Death's Bite charge for a while not only because it’s annoying for them but because they will try to bait you to use your weapon on weak minions so they can play their stronger ones.
I wouldn’t suggest Black Knighting anything but Tirion.
Mulligan to find Fiery War Axe, Death's Bite, Shield Slam, and Execute. Always keep Shield Slam and Execute if you already have them with Death's Bite.
Even though many people are afraid of this matchup it is likely because they don’t know how to approach it.
The key for this matchup is to keep Alex, Rag, and Grommash in your hand until you have all three and play them out in this order: Alex into Rag into Grommash. This represents too much damage for the Priest and most of the time he won’t have a Belcher available to buy time until you break through his Taunts with your weapons and finish off with Grommash.
Usually you can deal with their board pretty easily only with your weapons but Shield Slamming a 4/7 Blademaster is a good play. If for some reason he played the Blademaster as a 4/3 just weapon it down or Execute if you don’t have a weapon.
With a lot of life, Priests can’t burst you down. You usually have the resources to deal with everything they play; and if you play the Alex-Rag-Gromm combo there is no way the game will go in their favor.
Try and find Fiery War Axe, Death's Bite, Acolyte, Shield Slam, and Execute. Keep Loatheb on the coin only.
This matchup can go either way , its a 50-50 most of the time but it surely depends on some key turns. I added Loatheb to the deck because of the turn four Prep-Sprint and I usually play it then to give me some tempo advantage. Locking them off a turn four Sprint will usually result in them attacking and Hero Powering. Keep Harrison for buffed up weapons because Rogues run double Blade Flurry nowadays and you want to prevent them from clearing your board.
If you have three or four weapons in your hand you can start going face with them but make sure you have Shield Slam or Execute as removal for something big. Racing a Rogue with weapons can be good but you need to have the Weapons and removals available before you can start on this line.
Mulligan for Fiery War Axe, Death's Bite, Acolyte, Cruel Taskmaster, and Shield Slam.
This is a pretty easy matchup if you get your weapons to remove his board in time. You have Big Game Hunter for Neptulon or Fire Elemental-Flametongue Totem, Shield Slams and Executes for anything else. Overall this is a really good matchup for Warriors. Geddon is missing because there aren’t actually any Shamans on ladder right now but Brawl is just enough to get you out of trouble and they lose tempo if you fully remove their board because they cannot build anything that fast. Removing totems in order to prevent a strong Argus turn is something that you should watch out for.
Keeping Cruel Taskmaster in order to kill a 1/1 Searing Totem is a really good play because your 2/2 minion will be a totem killer for quite a while.
Against Handlock mulligan for Shield Slam, Execute, and Big Game Hunter only.
You need Shield Slam and Execute as soon as possible in order to win this matchup. If you have a Shield Slam in hand you should maximize your armor because you need to have the necessarily armor in order to remove his first threat by turn four. Instead of turn two Armorsmith, go for turn four Armorsmith-Armor Up.
You need to draw most of your removal in order to win this match-up but it is still a good matchup for the Warrior in my opinion .
Brawl is the card that shines this time and should get you out of trouble if played correctly. Before using Brawl you should ask yourself if you can take damage one more turn. Usually a good Brawl consists of around 2 big threats.
Try to draw as much as possible, cycle through your deck, and find answers for his threats. Harrison should be kept until the late game but if you have five cards left in your deck you should also play it before the Jaraxxus turn otherwise it will probably just kill you.
The Zoo matchup is exactly the same as the Hunter one. The mulligans are super important and decide the game most of the time. Fiery War Axe, Death's Bite, Acolyte, Taskmaster, Armorsmith, and Shield Slam.
The most interesting matchup to study in my opinion. The Warrior who gets the most value off of their removal wins this matchup.
I'll start discussing about using Health as a resource instead of removal. Since Warriors have so many legendaries and threats, Shield Slams and Executes have to be used on proper targets. Even if I gain board control by Shield Slamming a Belcher, for example, it’s still a really poor play and I’d rather weapon it down twice and use my Health instead of a Shield Slam. Same goes for the Shieldmaiden, a Shield Slam shouldn’t be used on a Shieldmaiden unless there is no other way for you to remove it in two turns so playing a minion and seeing what happens is simply better.
If you are getting to really late game, and Alexstrasza is in your bottom few cards, it is most of the time better to keep it for the fatigue game. The same generally goes for Sylvanas: it’s a really game changing card especially in Fatigue wars when your opponent usually doesn’t have that much removal left.
Card drawing: Acolytes are really important in this matchup so you should never play your Acolyte on empty board without drawing the exact same turn. Play Acolyte when you can use it with Death's Bite, Cruel Taskmaster, or Whirlwind.
Never use Grommash unless it is a finisher. The exception to this rule occurs when you are battling in fatigue already because then it’s good burst added to the fatigue damage your opponent is taking.
Here is an example of a game where I was behind on both Health and cards but my opponent chose to randomly throw his Grommash at me. I ended up winning that match because I didn’t’ have to worry about dying to a combo.