Running Wild: KnC Demon Warlock
Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to another installment of ”Running Wild”, the article series where I cover just about everything related to the wild format. Unfortunately, shceduling and life got into the way so I’ll have to skip the last wild review and do something that I haven’t done in a loooooong time. I’m going to write deck guides again, but first I’ll cover the various deck themes, such as demon warlock for this article, and I’ll post all the lists in a separate article once they are fine tuned. It is still too early to share decklists and claim that they are ”optimized” and ”effective”.
With all that out of the way, sit back, relax and let’s just jump into this
Class Direction In KnC
With every new set, each class gets a new direction, a new theme, that it follows for that set. If you’ve been playing Hearthstone for some time now then you’ve more than most likely noticed this. Sometimes the developers make this very clear like with the quest druid in Journey to Un’Goro and sometimes it is a bit less clear like with warrior in Whispers of the Old Gods. Warlock’s theme for this set is demons and I’m absolutely loving it. Demons are the trademark of warlocks and I’ve been trying to make a ”Burnning Legion” demon deck for quite a while now but there we never had enough good demons to make that deck a reality. Luckily, this time we’ve been given some very sweet new toys.
This theme is heavily supported in this expansion, though there are some tools for other warlock decks as well. Discard warlock, a deck that is seemingly always struggling to perfectly function, got a new card in the form of Cataclysm and we got a buff for almost every warlock deck in the form of Kobold Librarian. However, since the demon theme has been so pushed with this set and since it is the one with the most cards behind it I think that it is only logical that we focus on it and see what impact will it have on the wild ladder.
First and foremost I want to talk a bit about this weapon. I’ve unfortunately passed the opportunity to talk about the new warlock cards in my previous article series so this is the first time that I’m giving my impressions of this card. When I first saw it I thought that it was going to be awful. Nothing better than another pile of dust. However, I did get to play with it quite a lot in the recent two days and while it still has its problems it is performing a lot better than I had expected. To be honest, this is most likely because I haven’t run in a lot of weapon removal (surprisingly little of it) in these last two days. Once more weapon removal starts seeing play, if it does and that is a big if because most of the legendary weapons are trash, the true weakness of this card will come to light and that weakness is that the effect triggers at the start of your turn, not at the end, what makes this card significantly worse.
Will this card see play?
If you’ve asked me that question a week ago my answer would have been a resounding no but after playing it I’ve decided to change it a bit. It is complicated. You see, there are not many ways that one can build a demon deck and the weapon won’t fit into all of them. If you’re looking to build a demon zoo deck then this is not a card for you because it costs way too much. However, if you’re playing a really, really demon heavy control warlock than this card might have some benefits. If your opponent doesn’t remove it then they will get overrun by your army of demons. However, this is once again a double edged sword which goes in line perfectly with warlock’s philosophy of power at any cost. You want to pull out strong demons with this card but you will be sacrificing the battlecry effects in return which, most of the time, won’t be something that you’re aiming for.
How NOT to use this card?
Continuing what I’ve just said, this card will negate the battlecry effects of minions that it puts into play. Great, now you might think that this will go great with Doomguard or Pit Lord and while yes, it would go great with these cards, you should not try to build a deck around it. You only have one Skull of the Man'ari in your deck and a 1/30 chance to draw it. It can also easily be removed by one of many weapon removals out there leaving you to have to deal with negative battlecries. While you’re trying to draw this card you will need to deal with all those negative battlecries that your deck is trying to avoid. You’re just making it harder for yourself by suffering the one thing that you’re trying to avoid. Do not do this!
Control or Zoo?
Ok, now we come to the true meat of the article. Thanks to a much larger pool of cards in the wild format it is a lot easier to make various decks around a certain theme such as demons. As you might have noticed by now, not every demon minion is good for a control deck, same as not every demon minion is good for a zoo deck. The direction that you will want to take while constructing your own demon deck is up to you, but what I can do for you is to provide you with some tips and tricks to help you along the way.
Tall or Wide?
The first think that you need to determine before you head into a deck construction is whether you want your deck to go tall or to go wide. What does this mean? Going tall means that you’re going to have a bit slower playstyle and that you’re going to focus on playing larger and more powerful minions. Your individual minions have a lot of value on their own, they truly shine in the late game, and one of your many goals is to protect yourself until you get to play them. Ramp druid is a perfect example of going tall. You’re sacrificing your early game board development and speed in return for playing huge minions that are extremely powerful on their own. Going wide is the exact opposite of this. You want to go fast and you want to build your board during the first four turns and then just continue to snowball from there. Wide decks focus on minions that are sticky, less powerful individually because they are quite small, but provide great board efficiency and are dangerous when in large numbers. Egg druid, for example, is a wide deck. You play as much minions as you can during the first four turns of the game and, if you’ve managed to retain board control and have a strong board presence, you can just snowball from that point onward.
Each type of deck has its own pluses and minuses. Tall decks run a lot of removal spells to keep themselves and their board alive while wide decks play little to none spells unless they are minion buffs. Tall decks are a lot more powerful in the late game while wide decks are a lot more powerful in the early game but lose steam in the late game. Because we’re talking about warlock, a control deck is a tall deck and a zoo deck is a wide deck. Both of these decks are viable but you should not try to mix them together because you can’t decide on what type of deck do you want to play.
Ok, so we’re going with a tall deck here aka a control deck. What minions are we looking for here? We’re really not that interested into anything that costs below 5 unless it is really good. We can’t expect every opponent to play a deck like ours so we need to get ready to clear the board. Despicable Dreadlord, Dread Infernal and Abyssal Enforcer are our minion+board clear bread and butter. They are all demons that can easily clear the board that is filled with less powerful minions. The best part is that they cost 5, 6 and 7 which allows us to play them in succession just to make sure that nothing ever survives our onslaught.
We’re entering the late game phase. Up to turn 5 we’ve been surviving, from turns 5-7 we’ve been taking back the board and now we need to establish our demonic dominance. Unfortunately, warlock still doesn’t have too many powerful demons in slots 8, 9 and 10, specifically 8 and 10, so we’re going to have to make due with what we have. We just got one of the most powerful demons in the entire game, Voidlord, and the value that it provides is crazy. It is an extremely powerful defensive tool that has enough health to stop almost any minion in the game dead in its tracks. It can tank almost every spell in the game, it has enough attack to kill a bunch of small minions before they take him down and the only really efficient way of taking it out is by a direct removal aka a destruction effect. However, once it dies it spawns three Voidwalkers which is even more annoying for your opponent.
Another demon that I would like to remind you of is Mal'Ganis. Yes, this card still does exist and its effects are still as powerful as ever. It costs a lot, I’ll give you that, but the immunity and the buff that it provides makes it a good inclusion as your last huge demon. Wait, last huge demon?! Aren’t I forgetting something? Honestly, I’m currently in the middle of experimenting with Lord Jaraxxus in this deck and I will tell you why. I’m still torn between Lord Jaraxxus and Bloodreaver Gul'dan. Both are amazing late game tools than can end the game on their own but I’m still not sure should I tell you to run just one of them or both of them. I would love to hear from you on this topic.
Ok, so we’re going with a wide deck here aka a zoo deck. What minions are we looking for here? We’re really not that interested into anything that costs 5 or above unless it is really good. There are still not enough demon minions to make a full demon zoo deck and there probably never will be. Ok, that came out wrong. Even if there are enough small demons for us to make a demon warlock deck, the main problem here is that those minions would be competing with much more powerful neutral minions. This is why we will most likely never have a demon only zoo warlock deck. Nevertheless, we can still make this deck as demon filled as possible, right?
What we’re looking for is a strong early game and we have a lot of that. Voidwalker and Vulgar Homunculus are the best early game taunt minions in the entire game. A 1/3 for 1 has always been powerful but an unnconditional 2/4 for 2 is really, really good. sees play because it is a strong early game taunter and not even it is a 2/4 for 2 unless you’re meeting a special condition. We also have Flame Imp which is one of the most powerful 1 drops in the game. The only real problem here is that playing Flame Imp and Vulgar Homunculus eats up 8 of your starting life total (if we play both copies). We also have enough early game that we don’t need to include Kobold Librarian because although it is a very good card I’ve been testing it in my zoo decks and more often than not I cut it out. I don’t feel that another 1 drop is necessary when you’re considering your early game. My conclusion to this is that you should play 1 copy of Kobold Librarian but not two because two is really unnecessary.
Our 3 drop demon is, as always, Imp Gang Boss and our 5 drop is Doomguard. But wait, what about our 4 drop? It is a little bit tricky. 4 drop is a really competitive slot in a zoo deck. Trust me, it is the deck that I play the most and I’m always having trouble with this slot because you’re running a lot of things there. You’re already running Imp-losion, Defender of Argus and Ravenous Pterrordax. I found it really, really hard to include something into my regular zoo deck so now, at the moment, I’m squeezing in a single copy of Hooked Reaver to see how it goes. However, my zoo deck is not a demon zoo deck and here I’m supposed to talk about demons, right? Ok, if we’re going with a heavy demon deck than toss out your Defender of Argus and your Ravenous Pterrordax and squeeze in two copies of Hooked Reaver and two copies of Crystalweaver. You also want to run a second Kobold Librarian for an earlier chance of hitting that 15 health to buff your Hooked Reaver.
Why would you want to run a Crystalweaver? Normally I would advise against it because the card is whatever in a zoo deck but if you’re running a really demon heavy zoo deck than this card is amazing. Most of your minions are going to be demons anyway, you can produce more of them with Imp-losion and Imp Gang Boss so you will always have something to hit with your Crystalweaver. A normal zoo deck has no use of it but this one has a lot. A lot of your minions up to turn 4 are demons so it will always hit something. I gave it a shot, it had worked well for me and I advise you to give it a shot too as it might surprise you.
We’ve reached the end of this article. For those of you who were expecting some decklists at the end of the article, I unfortunately have none for you at the moment. I want to provide my readers with the best content and I want to finalize and test my decks to the point where I am comfortable sharing them with you. Don’t worry, I will soon publish my new decks article where you will find copies of both of these decks. With that out of the way, we’ve reached the end of this article. What type of warlock do you like to play? Remember to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below and don’t forget to answer today’s article question. I’m very curious to see your opinion on that one. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can!