Choosing a Control Deck in The Witchwood
As a fan of slow, grindy decks, I've recently had to face some harsh realities about the current meta. Part of me wants to play some pure form of control decks. Unfortunately, with the power level and sustain of some of the cards in aggressive and midrange strategies, it is difficult to play a control deck without a way to win the game quickly. Some of the recent deck lists from the early days of Witchwood got me thinking about deck construction in general, and I thought today I would spend a bit of time discussing possible deck choices for control decks and why they may or may not work.
Aggressive decks are capable of putting enormous tempo and pressure on a control player, but that's par for the course. The problem, recently, is that it isn't uncommon to see a Lich King shoved into an aggressive decks to give them a high-end threat that's a better draw than a late-game Lost in the Jungle. Moreover, the rise of Baku decks means that control decks cannot simply grind out games without risking serious board control or life total problems. The Paladin decks are able to produce consistent threats and chip damage via upgraded hero power and Vinecleavers, making it important for slower decks to close out the game quickly. If you take too much time to close out a game, a Paladin deck will be able to rebuild their board, diminishing your potential answers over time with their seemingly endless stream of Silver Hand Recruits. Hunter, on the other hand, will simply Steady Shot you to death.
Ultimately, I feel this is why we haven't seen decks like Quest Warrior perform well at the top of the game. The deck has a lot of strong qualities, but fails to consistently and quickly threaten to end the game. I would wager a guess that the success rate of any control deck in the current meta is much higher if it is able to close games quickly. For this reason, I think that if you are on the fence about which Warlock variant to play (control with or without Cube), the Cube option is a strictly better choice. Even though Priest has fallen off a bit, I think the Mindblast Priest deck that Theo hit rank 1 Legend with from a few weeks ago is one of the best options for any form of control Priest deck. I'm not convinced the list is perfect, but I think the overall strategy is the correct approach to the metagame. At the beginning of almost every format we see aggressive decks do very well, and I think this form of control deck was able to capitalize on this. At the time it was mostly Hunter decks, which have died down a bit on ladder but still linger around. Having said that, the Paladin and Rogue decks don't seem to be going anywhere. Therefore, I think it is necessary to choose a control deck that can threaten to end the game the minute you have control of the board or game-state.
Also, as a general rule, I think control decks that can end immediately or very quickly are the superior choice for ladder. If your goal is to climb, having to slowly map out each of your opponents potential threats and your answers to them can become tedious and difficult. I suppose what I am saying is choose the easier or safer option. There is less risk of error and loss. These kinds of decks have a safety valve in that they let you have some "free wins" when the opportunity presents itself as opposed to grinding out games with Bloodreaver Gul'dan's hero power alone. Obviously, I encourage everyone to play optimally, but I think for ladder control decks that give us "free" or quick wins is the better option.
I would love to see a ladder meta where I can take my time and grind through every game slowly with something like Quest Warrior, but what am I supposed to do when my opponent plays The Caverns Below on turn 1? I mean, we're going to lose most games to that deck with control decks, but at least if they have a rough draw or we buy enough time, Mindblast or Cubelock can kill them immediately.