Control Warrior: A Pilot’s Guide

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The metagame has stabilized somewhat since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, and a few decks have achieved (temporary) dominance. The aggro decks (Shaman, Rogue, and Warrior) present a deadly threat that must be defended against, while control lists (Jade Druid, Reno decks, Dragon Priest) lock down the endgame with inevitability. One solid option for those who want to fight back on both fronts is Control Warrior, and that will be the subject of this guide! We’ll begin with a look at the decklist and talk through its basic gameplan, then jump into some matchup and individual card discussions!

Decklist

This is the list I’ve been running recently with success.

Decklist

General Advice

This deck can present two very different responses, depending on what your opponent is trying to do. Against aggro decks, you want to remove as many minions as possible with spells like Shield Slam, Execute, Brawl, etc. Then play Justicar Trueheart and you should be able to stabilize and win from there! Against slower decks, you should get Elise Starseeker and Justicar Trueheart out as early as possible so you can build a giant Armor advantage to survive Fatigue rounds and win through The Golden Monkey!

Dirty Rat is a key card in numerous matchups for its ability to bait and neutralize a minion from the opponent’s hand. If you’re facing a straightforward aggro beatdown and your opponent is low on cards, you can take a risk in playing it for the beefy Taunt. Against control and combo, it can swing the matchup on its own if you can remove a win condition like Edwin VanCleef or Malygos.

Golden Monkey

Mulligans

Some brief advice regarding which cards to keep…

Against Aggro

Keep your efficient removal: cards like Fiery War Axe, Slam, Ravaging Ghoul, Bash, and Brawl (especially vs. Shaman)! Acolyte of Pain is a great minion in these matchups.

Against Control

Fiery War Axe is still good to manage early minions, but otherwise dig for Elise Starseeker and Justicar Trueheart! Try to get this combination online as early as possible!

Matchups

Favorable

Aggro Shaman: A great matchup for us since we have tons and tons of removal, as well as Brawl to clear the board. Harrison Jones on Spirit Claws (or even Doomhammer!) will win you the game most of the time!

Harrison Jones

Midrange Shaman: Another good matchup. Mulligan the same way as if facing Aggro Shaman so you can handle their minion flood, but Justicar should be prioritized as the game will often go to Fatigue rounds!

Pirate Miracle Rogue: This is a favorable matchup, but you have to be conscious of how to approach it. Rather than winning in tempo, we want to simply remove all their threats. If you’re able to deal with Azure Drake, Tomb Pillager, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Edwin VanCleef, and Questing Adventurer (as well as play around Leeroy Jenkins combo), the Rogue will have nothing left capable of beating you. The best way to ensure you can handle all these minions is with timely use of Dirty Rat. Snagging a 2/2 VanCleef, Questing Adventurer, Auctioneer, Leeroy, or Azure Drake can lead to big swings if you have something ready to handle them.

Pirate Warrior: Another aggro matchup where we have plenty of responses to their measly minions. Fiery War Axe, Ravaging Ghoul, Bash, and Harrison Jones are the silver bullet answers here!

Reno Priest: This is debatable, but I feel like this matchup favors us because you generally only have to worry about one copy of Shadow Word: Death and one copy of Entomb: once those are out of the way, you can flood the board with giant minions from Golden Monkey!

Justicar Trueheart

Even

C’Thun or Malygos / Kun Druid: Regardless of which version you face, if you’re able to deal with the opponent’s finisher then you win the game. This is another matchup where Dirty Rat can completely shut down the enemy, especially if you can use it at the right moment!

Control Warrior Mirror: Whichever deck hits Elise and Justicar first will have a big advantage in the mirror. Remember to try not to draw many cards since it will inevitably be a Fatigue game.

Unfavorable

Reno Warlock: Hard matchup, but winnable if you can bait your opponent into using using some removal and burst from 15 with Grom + Cruel Taskmaster. Some of the Dream cards from Ysera can help you with finding enough damage as well.

Reno Mage: Basically the same as Warlock.

Jade Druid: Nightmare matchup! You can’t hope to win in Fatigue rounds because of the inevitability of Jade Idol. Your only chance is to rush the Druid down before his Golems become too hard to overcome!

Dragon Priest: They get incredible value from Netherspite Historian and Drakonid Operative. They also have good removals with multiple copies of Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death. Our best win conditions are to outlast the Priest in Fatigue or get Golden Monkey out improbably early.

Cruel Taskmaster

Individual Card Discussion

Shield Slam

Use it on big minions. Good combo with Bash or Shield Block in the same turn!

Execute

Excellent removal, with numerous effects in our deck to damage minions without losing our own!

Cruel Taskmaster

Good to remove 1-health minions or set up an Execute. Most of the time it’s saved for the Grommash Hellscream combo.

Dirty Rat

Dirty Rat

Very good disruption card, capable of outright making your opponent lose their win conditions. Sometimes you’ll get unlucky, but usually will be a positive presence!

Fiery War Axe

Just a classic at this point. Always good to have on curve, and a great way to remove two minions with one card!

Revenge

Sets up Execute, but also very effective when you are at 12 health or less as a mass removal spell.

Slam

Good to help remove a minion through trading up, and replaces itself to boot!

Acolyte of Pain

One thing Warriors typically lack is card draw, and this guy helps dig deeper into your deck for answers.

Bash

Generically good removal that works well with our slower deck.

Ravaging Ghoul

More setup for Execute, as well as capable of wiping the board against many aggro decks.

Shield Block

Good to set up the combo with Shield Slam, or if your health is dipping dangerously low.

Elise Starseeker

A cornerstone of the deck, and key to winning slower matchups. Also presents an efficiently-costed body to help with board control.

Alley Armorsmith

Really excellent card in aggro matchups! Helps turn the game around if it sticks, and can usually munch a few smaller minions before dying.

Brawl

Brawl

Amazing in conjunction with Dirty Rat to wipe the board.

Harrison Jones

Used most often vs. Shaman and Warrior in this meta so far. A bit slow, but when he finds a target it’s usually game over!

Justicar Trueheart

The other “core card” to this deck. Play her out as soon as possible to get more value in the late game!

Gorehowl

Gorehowl

There’s a lot of weaker minions in the current metagame, and Gorehowl can easily justify itself if you can use even just three or so charges.

Grommash Hellscream

Used mostly as a win condition, but can also remove a high-value card like Azure Drake.

Ysera

Really good to play and you can get a lot of value from it if it sticks around. However, it is too slow vs aggro decks and will sometimes be a dead card. Definitely one to look at replacing if the meta (somehow) speeds up further!

Tech Choices

Acidic Swamp Ooze

This is the obvious swap if the metagame is too aggressive for Harrison Jones.

2x Revenge

Similarly, I would trade Ysera for a second copy of Revenge if there is too much aggro on ladder.

Sylvanas Windrunner

If the metagame swings the other way, we could swap an anti-aggro card for Sylvanas to better combat the control matchups!

Whirlwind + Bloodmage Thalnos

Anti-aggro cards mainly to target the Pirate decks and Aggro Shaman.

Deathwing

A surprise finisher that your opponent may not play around. If you can bait your opponent’s removal and get them to flood the board, you’ll have a good chance of winning off a well-timed Deathwing.

That wraps up my guide to Control Warrior! This deck is definitely capable of competing at Legend ranks: I recommend booking me for some coaching on advanced plays since it requires a lot of skill to master. I hope that you guys enjoyed this article, and keep an eye out for more deck guides and card reviews from me in the future!

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