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Hearthstone Basic Decks: A Beginner's Guide to the Warlock

Starting out in Hearthstone can be a little daunting. We've got the skinny on making the best of the warlock's basic cards!

The warlock received quite a few interesting cards from The Grand Tournament. Each requires careful, tactical play -- perhaps more so than other classes -- but can be devastating when carefully used. Like the shaman, Hearthstone's warlock class is on the underplayed side. If you'd like to get started down that path towards learning, then this basic warlock deck should help you get to grips with the class.

This decklist comes from Trump, a professional Hearthstone player who streams frequently and has several videos available designed to teach basic concepts to new players. The design of this deck emphasizes what he calls fearless tapping -- not being afraid to deplete your hero's health to gain an advantage.

I thought my health was important, though!

Your hero's health certainly is important. After all, you will lose if it falls below zero. Until that time, it's a resource, to be exploited like any other. Classes who use weapons make the choice of exchanging health for board control. As a warlock, you'll be using your health in exchange for massive card draw throughout the match.

The Decklist

Perhaps to compensate for their excellent hero power, warlocks find themselves with an underwhelming selection of basic cards. Don't worry -- things get better later on.

This basic warlock deck is control-oriented, and tends towards the lower end of the mana curve. Playing it involves frequent use of your excellent hero power, Life Tap. Life Tap does two damage to your hero, then draws a card. A deck that favors cheap cards, therefore, allows you to use this power often and gain an advantage over your opponent by doing so.

Once you fall under 15 health, even if the opponent's board is clear, you'll want to use Life Tap (just "tap" hereafter) a little more cautiously. It's in this zone that burst spells become plausible -- a pair of Fireballs and a Fireblast from a mage will set you back 13 damage, a hunter with only a single beast on the board is capable of doing 10 damage by using both of their Kill Commands. Additionally, you'll need to be mindful of some of your warlock cards. Hellfire and Dread Infernal will damage your hero, but we'll discuss them both in more detail soon.

Minions

The lackluster nature of many of the warlock's basic cards means that this deck is weighted in favor of neutral minions by necessity as well as design. That leaves plenty of room for the stalwarts of the basic set. If you've read any of the other Hearthstone basic deck guides, you'll see more than a couple of familiar faces here.

First up comes the Bluegill Warrior. Its poor stats are compensated for by the fact that it has charge. Playing one can allow you to quickly shut down many of the shaman's totems, or trade for a potentially dangerous card like the Knife Juggler, before it is allowed to deny you control of the early game.

The Chillwind Yeti and Sen'jin Shieldmasta also make another appearance. Both are great choices for a 4-mana drop. The Chillwind Yeti defies many easy removal spells and has potential to bait out a player's transformation cards -- Hex or Polymorph -- early. With a solid stat distribution and nothing to lose through being silenced, the Chillwind Yeti is a reliable performer who has a place in many basic or budget decks.

An excellent taunt card, the Sen'jin Shieldmasta is also able to survive damage-based forms of removal from full health. At 3 attack, however, it is vulnerable to Shadow Word: Pain from priests. For this reason, care should be taken when playing this card against a priest. Otherwise, it's a great choice to hide this basic warlock deck's squishier minions behind.

If frequent tapping isn't enough, the Gnomish Inventor is also included in this deck. In the late phase of the game, when you might be looking for a Soulfire or Shadow Bolt, the Gnomish Inventor can be played and still leave you with enough mana to play the majority of this deck's cards -- even with Life Tap also used.

An assortment of smaller minions sometimes won't be enough to get the job done. That's why this basic warlock deck comes with two big hitters -- the reliably bulky Boulderfist Ogre, and the warlock's own Dread Infernal. Packing a battlecry that does 1 damage to all other characters, it is much like playing the warrior's Whirlwind spell at the same time as a minion. When playing, make sure to look before you leap, so to speak. It might be possible to trade enemy minions down to 1 health before playing the Dread Infernal, or the presence of 1 health minions on your side of the board might not make it a wise decision.

Spells

The warlock's spells can be a little situational, but very fun to play. Mortal Coil is a mainstay of many warlock decks, as it allows you to finish off a weakened minion, or punish an opponent that carelessly plays a minion at one health. If Mortal Coil shuffles a minion off the board, it will allow you to draw a card. Of note is that this spell can be played on one of your own minions. If there are no good plays for your Bluegill Warrior to make, for example, it can be finished off in exchange for a card. If one of your minions has already attacked tis turn and has been reduced to 1 health, it's a candidate for Mortal Coil. If you want to play your Dread Infernal, and you have a minion at 1 health... Mortal Coil. There's a lot of potential bundled up in this 1 mana card.

Soulfire deals direct damage very cheaply, and can be targeted at either the enemy hero or one of their minions. It's a risky play, though, as you must discard a card to use it -- accounting for its minuscule cost of 1 mana. With the phenomenal drawing power of this basic warlock deck, it's possible to play out your hand before using this card, and then quickly refill it through tapping. At 3 mana, Shadow Bolt also deals 4 damage -- but is restricted to minions only.

If your side of the board is empty or filled with your bulkier minions, Hellfire can help clear your opponent's side of the board and turn the balance of the game around. It deals 3 damage to all characters -- yours and the enemy hero included -- and is especially satisfying to play against aggro Hunter decks or paladins who have just used the Muster for Battle and Quartermaster combo.

Upgrades

There are two popular warlock decks out there to work toward. Firstly, there's the zoo or zoolock deck, which focuses on putting forth a variety of smaller minions and demons. It has the advantage of generally being very cheap to craft -- seen on Tempostorm, for example, costing as little as 1,500 dust. This deck in particular has the added strength of not requiring any cards from Hearthstone's two single-player expansions, meaning that it's well within reach of those who don't want to spend the money on them.

The other type of deck is known as handlock, and is perennially popular. It involves a risky early game in order to fill the warlock's hand and then play giant minions at an extremely low cost, often in combination with Sunfury Protector and/or Defender of Argus.

For this deck in particular, it's worth looking at making some substitutions. Adding minions that buff spell damage, such as Kobold Geomancer or Azure Drake, will allow you an expanded range of opportunities to use Mortal Coil effectively.

Synergistic cards like Power Overwhelming, Void Terror, and the relatively new Dreadsteed have enormous potential. In particular, no one type of deck has yet emerged that makes use of this interesting card.

Conclusion

If this is your absolute first time playing Hearthstone, you might be better to stick with playing mage for the moment. If you're familiar with collectible card games or up for a challenge, however, warlock is a potential-loaded class that boasts excellent draw power and rewards risky, tactical gameplay.

Published Oct. 27th 2015

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