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Hi, everyone! My name is Daisyx and this is a guide to my control Demonlock deck. I wrote a guide recently on how to play Dragon Warlock which has lately become a very popular deck. While this deck has existed in some form or another since Voidcaller was released in Naxxramas, it has lately seen a lot more play with Darkwonyx and Kolento really pushing it. While the builds have evolved since Naxx, the core tenets remain the same.
This is a control deck with a play-style similar to the Malygos Dragon Warlock. This is because your main goal is to win by having more value in your cards and combos than the opponent. This causes your opponent to run out of cards and allows you to slowly take over the board. While the archetypal control deck, Control Warrior, relies on cheap removal and big legendaries, this deck mostly relies on the Warlock Hero Power Lifetap and the use of Voidcaller to summon expensive demons for free. While this deck doesn’t run notable demon buffing cards -- such as Demonheart, Demonwrath, or Demonfire -- there are still plenty of demon synergy to go around. Since this deck relies very strongly on the value that Voidcaller provides, it is often advisable to try and bait out silences. For example, try using a Nerubian Egg before playing Voidcaller to encourage the opponent to spend those silences. Similarly, you want to make sure to clear the cheap demons out of your hand before you play Voidcaller in order to ensure that you get the right demon from the Deathrattle.
Now this is an often debated topic: when do you play a Voidcaller without actually having a demon in your hand? My answer to that question, though some other prominent Demonlock players have disagreed, is almost never. The only time you want to do this is when the opponent already has a threatening board and you need to quickly apply a band-aid in order to prevent the game from snowballing out of control. On higher rankings, the vast majority of players will ignore a Voidcaller simply because killing it can give the Warlock player a huge demon that is often very difficult to clear. In lower-level play, I feel that bluffing is more dangerous since people simply don’t realize how big of a threat might be hiding behind that Deathrattle; therefore, they just kill the Voidcaller essentially calling your bluff by accident.
When to Play Big Demons the Hard Way
While you are obviously hoping to get your big demons out through your Voidcaller, sometimes this simply isn’t going to happen. This could be because either the Voidcaller becomes silenced, is at the bottom of your deck, or because there are three big demons for your two Voidcallers. In this case you need to make an evaluation as to which you want to manually play versus which you want to play through Voidcaller.
Most of the time, you want Jaraxxus as a 3/15 on the board: especially when you can Taunt him with Defender of Argus. Against classes like Warrior, Rogue, or Priest, which have plentiful hard removal, however, it is often better to use him as a tool to win the late game or to heal.
Mal'Ganis plays out in a similar fashion. You ideally want to summon Mal’Ganis only at a point where you either need the hero immunity or you already have demons on the board that you can buff since Mal’Ganis is vulnerable to BGH. If your Dr. Boom has already eaten a BGH, you can be more liberal with playing Mal’ganis.
You only really want to play Doomguard when you are either going to only discard a single card or bad cards for the matchup. Since your deck relies on having more cards than the enemy to win you often can’t afford to throw away two of them.
Notable Cards and Synergies
Abusive Sergeant on an enemy with five or six Attack can allow you to BGH it. This is very convenient against decks such as Dragonlock or Patron Warrior that intentionally run no BGH targets.
Voidcaller-Doomguard /Jaraxxus / Mal’Ganis:This is essentially your mid-game win condition. If you can get nine to twelve mana worth of demons on the board very early into the game, this often gives you a large enough tempo swing to completely dominate the board.
Shadowflame works off the attack of the destroyed minion, temporary buffs to that attack increase the reach of your board clears.
Nerubian Egg-Power Overwhelming / Argus / Hellfire:Most Zoolocks keep Nerubian Egg as some sort of insurance policy against board clears, so they usually won’t pop it unless the opponent does it for them or their board is threatened. In this deck, the Egg serves no such purpose. Once you get control of the board -- especially against a deck that is more aggressive than yours -- the game is already over. You always, therefore, want to pop your Eggs as soon as possible.
Shadowflame can combine with Sylvanas, Abusive Sergeant, or Power Overwhelming for some very powerful effects.
Mortal Coil x1:This card really good for finishing off those pesky small enemy minions. That said, if your opponent’s minions fall more on the big side, these can become dead weight in your hand.
Dark Bomb x1:As with Motal Coil, this card is there to keep the enemy’s early game under control so you don’t get steamrolled. This might be a card that you cut in a control heavy meta.
Hellfire. Replacing this card with a second Hellfire might be a good idea when running up against Patron Warriors and Midrange Paladins.
Antique Healbot x1:This card is mostly to stabilize your life total against aggro decks. That said, if you are not meeting these decks often, then you might consider cutting this card.
Mistress of Pain x2:This card is essentially only here to stave off any Face Hunters and Freeze Mages. It’s very average against other decks.
Abusive Sergeant x2:As I mentioned before, this deck actually has a lot of situational uses for Abusive Sergeant. He can be extremely handy in some matchups, yet other times he just becomes dead.
Big Game Hunter x2:Running two BGHs severely improves the Handlock matchup and it ensures that you always have an answer when your opponent plays a big minion. If you are going to run two BGHs in this deck I would also advise you to run two Abusive Sergeants.
Zombie Chow x2:Improves the matchup against aggro/face decks.
Thaurissan is useless against aggro or face decks.
Haunted Creeper x2:This card provides a better early game.
A second Mistress of Pain can be helpful early in the season when aggro decks -- and Face hunter especially -- are most popular.
Matchups and Mulligans
- Zombie Chow - Always keep.
- Nerubian Egg - Always keep.
- Imp Gang Boss - Always keep.
- Voidcaller - Always keep.
- Darkbomb - Keep against Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Shaman, and Warlock.
- Hellfire - Keep against Hunter, Mage, and Warlock.
- Ironbeak Owl - Keep against Hunter and Mage in case of Mad Scientist.
- Power Overwhelming - Keep only if you have a Nerubian Egg in your hand.
- Abusive Sergeant - Keep only against Hunter or if you have a Nerubian Egg in your hand.
- Mortal Coil - Keep only against Hunter.
- Mulligan away all the other cards.
This is a strong hand, no matter what your opponent throws at you
Lightbomb Priest 60-70%: Pavel DecklistThis is a fairly easy matchup since it is hard for Priests to quickly finish you off and your card draw will be superior to your opponent’s. Try not to play Imp Gang Boss after turn six unless you can afford to lose it to Cabal Shadowpriest. You are going to want to play Mal’Ganis to improve the value from your Hero Power since Priests lack the tools to burst you down properly so try not to play it from Voidcaller. Play around Mind Control after turn ten and play Mal’Ganis only if you have the means to kill it. Just keep playing around all his AoE removal while constantly Lifetapping. Dropping below 15 Health against Priest is generally no problem because of the heal in this deck.
Freeze Mage 60%: Firebat DecklistTap in the early game to fish out your Healbots and Mal’ganis but make sure you don’t drop below 20 health pre-Alexstrasza. Save your silence for Doomsayer and don’t play Sylvanas when your board is full in order to prevent an unwanted Doomsayer steal. Always leave a spot on the board so you can play Mal’Ganis and Healbot. Similarly, try to save Mal’ganis for when you expect your opponent to go for lethal.
Save Mal'Ganis to hard cast the turn you think Mage will go for lethal.
Tempo/Aggro/Mech Mage 60% Daisyx DecklistTry to stall out the game for as long as possible and you will pretty much win by default. These decks are insanely vulnerable to Hellfire so make sure to put that to good use. If you get board control in the late game and you see cards in your opponent’s hand, make sure to play around the turn eight double Fireball. If you are having difficulties getting board control, be liberal with your Healbots since this matchup is all about tempo.
Demonzoo 40%: Savjz DecklistThis is one of the harder matchups for this deck since Demonzoo is very resistant to your board clears. Demonzoo also gets out to a very strong start. As usual against aggro decks, try to fight for board control, be liberal with your Healbots, and out-value them.
Handlock 30%: Lifecoach Decklist
While the Malygos Dragonlock is designed to counter Handlock, this deck actually struggles since it usually starts off slow and contains very few options for dealing with big threats. It also lacks the Malygos burst combo finisher. Try to get some early board control and to push for damage and hope your opponent doesn’t have any Molten Giants or board clears immediately available.
Oil Rogue: Firebat DecklistI only faced this deck once with my Demonlock, so I am not going to give stats for this matchup. The goal, however, is the same as any other matchup versus Oil Rogue: keep clearing the board, play around sweepers, and stay above 15 Health. It is okay to get a Jaraxxus from a Voidcaller since your opponent will often sap it; if not, you can win by giving it Taunt.
Midrange/Ramp Druid 40%: Sjow DecklistThis matchup depends on the early draw of your opponent. If the Chow into Wild Growth into Shredder into Druid of the Claw sequence takes place, there is almost no way to win this. That said, if the Druid doesn’t draw into its early game and passes the first few turns, this matchup is easily winnable. Try to avoid Tapping too much in order to stay outside of combo range and you should generally be fine.
Mech Shaman 50%: Archon DecklistThis matchup depends how you deal with the Shaman’s early board. You are likely to win this matchup if you aren't dead by turn five.
Face/Hybrid Hunter 40%: Kolento DecklistThis is a pretty poor matchup generally. If you added some of the anti-face/aggro tech, however, your win percentage can go up to seventy. Try to clear the board and be liberal with your Healbots. Try to avoid activating traps since some Hunters have started running Freezing. Instead try to Taunt your minions. Only play Jaraxxus from Voidcaller if you have a way to give him Taunt.
Midrange Hunter 35%: Era DecklistThis is poor matchup for this deck since you get punished really hard for Tapping. It also stings since Midrange Hunters have a better late game than their Face/Hybrid counterparts. Play your early game and try to activate the traps via Imps created from Imp Gang Boss or Imp-losion.
Control Warrior 70%: Fibonacci DecklistThis is one of the better matchups for this deck due to the value situations that pop up as well as your card drawing ability. Make sure you establish early game board control and keep the Warrior’s armor low to try to bait out Shield Slam on low-value minions. Transition into the mid- and late-game by playing your bigger minions. Be conservative with BGH here since he often runs multiple targets for it and you only have one, so try to use your other removal options first. Play around Brawl and be sure to keep life tapping regularly.
Grim Patron Warrior 50%: Neirea DecklistThis is a worse matchup than Control Warrior since your opponent will contest the early board more heavily. Try to avoid playing minions that can create a Patron board after turn eight and try to save your Hellfire multiple Patrons. Try to avoid tapping too much since your opponent can combo you from 20+ health pretty readily.
Despite the Health discrepancy this game is looking good.
Midrange Paladin 65%: Xzirez DecklistFight for early board control and don’t let the match snowball out of your favor. Out-value your opponent by Lifetapping consistently since the Paladin burst options are very limited. Try to avoid playing Jaraxxus on the board since Equality will make him a sad panda. Rather use him to replace your hero (health is not an issue due to the limited Paladin burst options). Save your Owl for his Tirion and don’t be too greedy in case of the Equality/Consecrate combo. You will generally win this game, the longer the match goes. The exception to this is if the match goes to fatigue, which rarely happens.
- This deck is basically the bigger brother of the Demonzoo deck. Demonzoo includes drops before turn four such as Knife Juggler and Dire Wolf Alpha. Instead, you have later drops such as Healbot and Hellfire, so if you think that this deck is too slow, I recommend trying out that list.
- Positioning matters a lot in this deck because of Defender of Argue. Always keep in mind what you would like to do if you were to draw a Defender on the next turn.
- While Imp-plosion is an amazing card when it rolls high, always make a backup plan in case it only rolls two.
- There is no point to playing Zombie Chow in the late game against control decks, unless you are close to fatigue.
- f you don’t have a turn three play against an aggro deck that has very little chance of running a 7+ attack card, it is often a good move to play a tempo BGH
- Be conservative with your Owl. It is your only silence and needs to be saved in some matchups For example, you don’t want to silence a Shredder if you think there’s a possibility of of a Highmane drop later in the game.