From 2006-2008, I played World of Warcraft heavily, primarily as a Warlock. By the end of 2007, I was a member of one of the top arena teams on my server for both the 2v2 and 3v3 arena formats, earning a Gladiator title, a flying mount, and a top 10 end of season position in both formats. Needless to say, Warlocks and their life-tapping tendency towards self destruction, hold a special place in my heart. It was natural that I would pick one up when I started playing Hearthstone.
In Hearthstone, locks aren’t quite as tanky as I would like them to be (soul link addition, please), and you get yourself into some precarious situations with life tap, but they do have a number of tools that present some interesting opportunities for control strategy since they offer both single-target and blanket removal spells.
They also have Lord Jaraxxus who is not only fun to play but fills both stabilizing and finishing roles thanks to his “heal” on entrance and the endless infernal army at his command.
The build provided provided below uses a number of legendary cards, but most could be replaced without significantly affecting the deck.
Here’s the list:
*Note: I was unaware that Sacrificial Pact could be used on Jaraxxus at the time of writing this article because it had never happened in the 200 or so matches I’ve played with the deck. I personally think that this element is a mistake and that it diminishes the quality of the game for individuals using Jaraxxus (even if the situation never actually occurs, the possibility of it is distressing), and that it violates an internal logic that would demand that heroes be differentiated from minions, even if that hero happens to be a demon.
I view this “feature” as a flaw in design, and I would recommend removing the Sacrificial Pact, primarily due to Priest matchups, unless the mechanic is changed. However, I have left the reasoning for including the card and the original deck list intact.
1x Sacrificial Pact
2x Mortal Coil
1x Bloodmage Thalnos
2x Drain Life
1x Sense Demons
1x Big Game Hunter
2x Earthen Ring Farseer
1x Tinkmaster Overspark
1x Mogu’shan Warden
1x Sen’jin Shieldmasta
1x Harrison Jones
1x Stampeding Kodo
2x Siphon Soul
1x The Black Knight
2x Twisting Nether
1x Lord Jaraxxus
The Basic Idea:
Your primary objective with this deck is to survive until turn turn 9 or 10, at which point you will usually cast Jaraxxus, who provides both the mandatory win condition and a vulgar display of power. Once Jaraxxus hits the board, your opponent is on a fairly short clock, and as long as the board is isn’t overrun, you will usually win.
In the interim, though, you survive by keeping the board clear with both single target and blanket removal spells, while playing taunting minions in between wipes to buy more time.
Additionally, the deck provides significant life gain which not only makes up for a lack-luster early game board presence, but helps to stabilize both the mid and late games as you recover from life taps and any other damage you’ve sustained (or inflected through hellfire) throughout the match. The life gain is equally as relevant when Jaraxxus hits the board, as any damage is dangerous when you have only 15 health, and staying as close to 15 as possible is a necessary precautionary measure to ensure victory.
A Defense for (Possibly) Questionable Cards:
If you were to construct this deck, Sacrificial Pact would probably be something that you put on the chopping block as you considered tweaks. However, there are a few situations that arise that make this a valuable card. First, it is not uncommon to find that, by the end of the game, your opponent ends up with a demon, even if they aren’t a warlock. Your demons will often get copied, or stolen, and having a zero casting cost answer that heals for five is amazing in these situations.
Further, you are a Warlock that can’t help but hurt himself, and life tapping is an important aspect to this deck. Sometimes you miss a wipe, and you find yourself dangerously low on health in the mid-game. This card will sometimes remedy this. Also, you are always in a moderately precarious situation once Jaraxxus is on the board because of his 15 health. Keeping him as close to 15 health as possible will help insure your victory, and this card provides another way to do this.
Sense Demons often seems like a lackluster card in other Warlock decks I’ve tried. Granted, it can pull some strong cards, assuming they are in the deck, but it also whiffs at times, leaving you with a couple of Voidwalkers when you need mid or late game damage. In this deck, though, there are only four demons, so this card helps ensure that you’ve got Jaraxxus when you’ve survived long enough to cast him. If you hold it until you’ve pulled at least two of the demons, it will always get Jaraxxus, and if you drew him early (I always greet him, but remind him that he is early, the way you do with in-laws who show up before the scheduled time on the holidays), it will pull taunting minions, which are extremely important for survival with this deck.
If you’ve pulled all four demons, you’ll end up with a couple of Worthless Imps. I’d like to point out, though, that they aren’t worthless–with Sacrificial Pact, they are a tasty snack worth five health.
Bloodmage Thalnos is an extremely efficient card for its mana cost. While this deck isn’t trying to burn your opponent down with spells, it does rely on removal, which this will generally bump. Further, it is a high priority for your opponent to kill, and it will often suck up a card or a silence effect (or minimally absorb some damage and net you a card), which has further value to your late game.
I’ll have to be honest here– in part, I’ve included Doomsayer because I think he’s funny, but the card actually does some valuable work in this deck, which is terribly slow early game. Some things to note:
- He’s almost never board wipe the way you might think he is when you first start using him, but he will usually be an even trade that sometimes creates advantageous two-for-one situations.
- He is a great turn two response to an annoying card like Nat Pagle.
- He is a late game damage shield that will absorb seven damage (or a card), whether he destroys any minions or not.
- He can prevent your opponent from casting a minion on a turn, which will help ensure you reach your end game.
Okay, so you’ve got me here. Harrison Jones isn’t exactly a necessity in the deck. He’s just a beefy body with a solid battlecry. If you cut him, though, I would still recommend playing an Acidic Swamp Ooze. Weapons are simply too good to be ignored, and there is no reason not to have an answer for them.