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Legend Hunter/Zoo-killer Control Warrior

  • Last updated Oct 14, 2014 (Naxx Launch)
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  • 17 Minions
  • 9 Spells
  • 4 Weapons
  • Deck Type: Ranked Deck
  • Deck Archetype: Unknown
  • Crafting Cost: 11340
  • Dust Needed: Loading Collection
  • Created: 10/13/2014 (Naxx Launch)
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Hello everyone! This is my first guide, so any constructive feedback is appreciated :) If you enjoy it, you might also enjoy my interactive stream: www.twitch.tv/flyingwhale_hs  :D

So I hit Legend today with this anti-Hunter/Zoo Control Warrior, having an overall winrate of 60% from rank 5 to Legend.

Additional winrate info: vs Hunter 73% (22-8); vs Zoo 75% (9-3); vs rest of decks roughly 50% (29-28)

So this version of Control Warrior is made to be relatively fast, to counter a heavy aggro meta. The hardest match-up is by far the mirror, because pretty much any other Control Warrior plays slower than we do. We also struggle against other control decks. That's okay though, because we face mostly aggro and as long as the control match-ups are above 40% we keep a positive winrate (since we dominate when we face Hunter/Zoo). Note: This deck was made to counter the current NA ladder. It'd obviously need changes to survive a more control-oriented meta.

Also keep in mind that Control Warrior is unfortunately not a good deck to run on a budget. You can make some replacements of equivalent quality (Sylvanas for Cairne, Ysera for Ragnaros), but those replacements are awkward and you will lose efficiency extremely quickly.

Notable Card choices

Wild Pyromancer: Everyone likes to play with fire. This guy wins games if you use him properly, and he's pretty versatile. You can transform any spell into Swipe (Shield Slam, Execute, Cleave, Slam) or Whirlwind (Shield Block). Extremely useful to get rid of Snakes and Spectral Spiders. Worst case scenario, you cycle him through the Acolyte or you use him when you have spare mana to have a body in a control match-up. It's usually a midgame clear though, and I rarely or never keep him in my starting hand, even against aggro. He's a combo card, and combos don't happen before T4. When playing him early against aggro, I'm trying not to kill him by playing 2 spells.

Baron Geddon AND Brawl: Yeah, there's a lot of aggro. Brawl is pretty much always useful anyways, and Geddon, even though weak vs control, can be used to force removal and keep the initiative and a clear board while waiting for Ysera on T9. 

Harrison Jones: Heavily increases our odds against Handlock (Jaraxxus) and Miracle Rogue. Also a good nail in the coffin against Hunter. It's a meta card though, and he could be replaced by Cairne, Sunwalker, Ragnaros or BGH depending on the meta.

Ysera: Extremely greedy card, but she makes up for the lack of Ragnaros and Alexstrasza in control match-ups, where she heavily increases our odds of winning. The deck would not be viable in such a fast version without her as we'd almost automatically lose to control.

Spellbreaker: A good value card against aggro (silence eggs), Hunter (Silence Highmane or Mad Scientist), Deathrattle priest (silence Sylvanas, Dark Cultist or any buffed minion) and control (silence Cairne, Sylvanas or taunts so we can lethal). It's a meta card, but since Naxx Silence has been extremely useful so I don't expect the Spellbreaker to get replaced until the meta shifts away from Deathrattles.

Cleave: very good against aggro, and excellent Wild Pyromancer trigger (Pyro + Cleave kills a 2/3 and a Haunted Creeper! Amazing value). One is enough as it's very situational.

Slam: Kills Undertakers/Knife Jugglers, weakens minions, triggers Pyromancer or Execute. Pretty straightforward, but we don't want two of it because it's situational and the deck is already low value against control.

2x Fiery War Axe, 2x Death's Bite: There's a lot of aggro, and we NEED early weapons to crush them. Also, if you draw 3 weapons early against control, you can just play aggressive and go face while hoping for a good follow-up. The War Axes aren't that good vs Control, but they're basically extra slams or extra reach. Death's Bite is amazing against control as it triggers Execute and Grommash Hellscream.

The Black Knight: Since we're a fast control deck, we'd lose against other controls if we didn't have this amazing value card. He's insane to keep or get back board control and initiative or to reach for lethal. Vs aggro, any turn where you get value with him is good, as long as you won't take a lot of damage from the rest of the board.Vs control, don't be afraid to play him as an expensive Yeti if it's unlikely that he'll get a target and you're setting up for lethal. He's still 4 damage and can help you get through that taunt while having enough mana to play Grommash Hellscream.

No Alexstrasza: I ran her for a while before realizing I never used her against aggro; most of the time I either stabilized and didn't need her or didn't stabilize and lost to the board after healing my face. Dealing 15 to the opponent's face is useless because we win as soon as we stabilize (opponent can't come back thanks to the hero power). All in all, I prefer to run cards that will let me stabilize instead. Not having Alex makes control (and Deathrattle Priest) slightly harder, but our goal is to crush aggro and do decent against control; we can still keep a decent winrate by keeping the initiative and using Ysera at the right time.

No Ragnaros the FirelordJust like Alexstrasza, feels like a win more card against aggro. I really miss him against control, but still doesn't matter if we crush aggro.

No Big Game HunterNot worth it since he wouldn't have a target in more than 25% of the games. We want to reduce the amount of dead cards vs aggro.

No Cairne Bloodhoof: Too slow! I already told you we want to crush aggro, and Cairne is dead to freezing trap. Sylvanas Windrunner is better as we can Shield Slam her.

No Faceless Manipulator: Too slow! It's win more vs aggro since you most likely won if your big minion stayed alive for a turn.

No Unstable Ghoul: Although it's a great card to stall the game against aggro, it's a TERRIBLE card against control. We're looking for anti-aggro cards that let us stand a chance vs control, and the Pyromancer is doing better in that regard.

Note: This deck only has Grommash, Baron Geddon and the occasional Emerald Drake as Big Game Hunter targets. So basically only Geddon, and greedy control players will try and save  the BGH for Rag, which we don't have. What a bluff!


Hunter: Mulligan aggressively for weapons, Cleave, Armorsmith and Slam. Only keep the Pyromancer if the rest of your hand is awesome. If you already have a Fiery War Axe or an Armorsmith, you can consider keeping a Cruel Taskmaster to kill a Leper Gnome. Make sure to save an answer to a T6 Highmane (Spellbreaker, Sylvanas, Execute, Belcher or 2nd Death's Bite hit if theres nothing better) if you can (you often won't be able to) and try and keep the board clear. Make sure they won't ever get a Houndmaster buff! Watch out for T3 coin or T4. 
Also, don't be eager to finish the game. You win as long as you live, and clearing the board is more important than setting up for lethal. Your hero power is there to make sure you stay ahead in the long run, so keep armoring and trading efficiently; your opponent will run out of cards. In the late game, you can use Loatheb to buy yourself a turn if you're afraid of a Kill Command combo for lethal.
The usual game will be a struggle for board control from T1 to T6-9, then you manage to take the board and stack armor until the end. The armorsmith is insane value in this match-up! She buys you a lot of time and is a good trap trigger. Abuse her effect, even if she dies in the process.
Speaking of traps, don't ever feel obligated to trigger a trap by default. You trigger a trap when you feel safe doing so, and you're able to deal with it (Snakes is the most dangerous one, but you have a lof of answers: minions on board, Death's Bite, Pyromancer, Geddon, Brawl). Be especially cautious about triggering a trap when your opponent has a bow, as triggering that trap means 3 extra damage to your face. Don't be hasty, don't trigger it if you don't have to and wait for when you have Jones or a taunt before triggering it.
In practice, you'll sometimes be forced to gamble with traps though. Those are the 25% of games you might lose.

Zoo: Mulligan aggressively for weapons, Cleave and Slam. If you have a Fiery War Axe, you can consider keeping an Armorsmith. Once again, only keep  the Pyromancer if the rest of your hand is awesome. Never keep an Acolyte of Pain; your average card is already better than the average Zoo card, so you don't need early draw.
Just like against Hunter, you win as long as you stay alive. You're looking to starve him, not kill him. Just keep his damage low and try to always have an answer for a Doomguard (save an execute or a Shield Block/Shield Slam, for example).
You usually stabilize later than against Hunter, but as long as you keep the board clear they can't burst your face for more than 9 damage (Doomguard + Soulfire, and it's unlikely). Unless it's a Charge Zoo, then you play more conservatively with your HP. These tap more frequently in the early game and run Wolfriders and Arcane golems.

Note: Against aggro, it's quite important to use your mana efficiently; plan your turns ahead and see if you can sneak an Armor up! by playing your turns differently without taking extra damage. This 2 armor might save you from lethal or allow you to kill a unit with Shield Slam. (i.e. playing Death's Bite + Armor on 6 and Belcher + Armor on 7 instead of Belcher on 6 and DB + Armor on 7)

Handlock: Mulligan for Death's Bite, Shield Slam, Execute, Spellbreaker and Shield Block (when in doubt, mulligan for Zoo). Keep the initiative by putting pressure, prevent your opponent from being low enough to play a Molten Giant and removal in the same turn, use Loatheb to buy your board a turn, finish the game with a Grommash burst. Ideally, try and bait Siphon Soul before playing Ysera. Try and save the Shield Slams and Executes for Giants and Drakes, and Jones for Jaraxxus (even if you'll discard some cards, it's huge). This match-up is decent if you manage to force him to taunt instead of removing/playing threats and if you get a good Brawl that kills 2 taunts for "free". Keeping Spellbreaker and The Black Knight for giant taunts is greedy, and you might not always get away with it. My rule of thumb is to keep them for big value unless I'm about to lose board control if I don't use them (killing a belcher or silencing a Drake can be enough).

Control Warrior: Mulligan for weapons, The Black Knight, and Harrison Jones. Acolyte of pain and Armorsmith will die to weapons so they're not amazing early. You're playing this match-up from behind as you're most likely the faster deck. Try and not lose board control; you might win if you get Ysera/Brawl value, but be ready to answer a faceless'd Ysera next turn.

Control Priest: Mulligan for weapons, Armorsmith, Acolyte of Pain and The Black Knight(when in doubt, mulligan for Deathrattle Priest). This match-up is funky as your opponent can't kill you without your own minions. You can easily take care of the board with your weapons and midrange minions, and then you just want to armor until you can set up lethal without losing to your own big minion through Mind Control. So the plan is just to stall the game, armor and start applying pressure only when you know you can push through. Make sure you don't let your opponent Cabal Shadow Priest a 1/3 Acolyte of Pain! Card advantage is HUGE in this match-up. Also be careful about giving your opponent a good trade with Shadow Madness (like suiciding a Belcher into something else).
Ysera is extremely good on T9 when going first, as he won't be able to MC her right away (make sure you have the board control on that turn! Clear on T8, play minions and equip a weapon if you have the spare mana so you can clear what he plays); if you're second or don't have Ysera on T9, keep track of your opponent's cards so you can play Ysera when you know he didn't hold a card for a while or after you've baited the Mind Control. Make sure you don't give your opponent Ysera or Grommash unless you have lethal if they spend their whole turn doing so.

Deathrattle Priest: This is a bad match-up. Mulligan aggressively for weapons and try to break their tempo. In the late game, make sure you don't lose the board to Auchenai + Circle of Healing, and don't lose Grommash or Ysera to Mind Control unless you win if they spend their whole turn Mind Controlling. Don't let your opponent gain any card draw, be it by using Northshire Cleric + Circle of Healing or by stealing an Acolyte of Pain with Cabal Shadow Priest or Shadow Madness.

Miracle Rogue: Mulligan aggressively for weapons. Don't have a lot of experience in this match-up, but I've been told we're favored if we play it right. Get Jones value, kill all the minions, hope she doesn't have a concealed Auctionneer and Preparation combos. Don't try to put pressure early unless you have a hand full of weapons. I've been told that drawing early Saps and dropping double Belcher on T10 is the way to go. 

Secrets Mage and aggro Mage: Mulligan aggressively for weapons. Clear the board, play around secrets as wisely as you can (but take gambles when you have to), hope you get the right answers and that she doesn't get the right combos. There's not a lot else to say.

Freeze Mage: Easy matchup. Mulligan for weapons and Armorsmith so you can kill the Loot Hoarders and the Mad Scientists (you can keep an Acolyte in this match-up), Armor up!, play some minions to force freezing (but still armor as much as possible!) and make sure you keep answers for Alexstrasza and Antonidas.
The theoretical maximum damage you can take is 71 dmg. Alex + 5 Fireballs + 2 Frostbolts + 2 Ice Lances + 2 spellpower from Thalnos + Pyroblast= 71 dmg. That's dealt over 5 turns though, 4 of which she can't freeze or secret. (1: Alex; 2: Antonidas + Coin + Frostbolt + Ice Lancex2;  3: Thalnos + Fireball x2; 4: Fireballx2, 5: Pyroblast, 6: Fireball) 
In practice, you'll kill her in those turns so you don't have to worry about all that damage. Just make sure you kill the early minions so you can start stacking armor, play armorsmiths so you gain more armor during Blizzard/Flamestrike, don't commit too many minions at once to the board. Focus on armoring and dealing with her minions and putting slight pressure so she can't have 5 free turns to kill you. She should also have to Fireball at least one minion at some point, which buys you extra time and HP, and you can always buy a turn with Loatheb. Be patient and let her fatigue to death or take lethal when handed.

Token Druid: Mulligan aggressively for weaponsClear the board and be careful of the Force of Roar combo. You win in late game, just wait until he runs out of stuff. A well-timed Brawl helps a lot.

Ramp Druid: You're the defender in the midgame and the aggressor in the late game. Try and keep board control past T7 and set up a clear board for Ysera. She's impossible to deal with efficiently; she's likely to get silenced, but you drew an extra card and you have a 4/12. If he BGH'd your Geddon, you can use Grommash as removal or to put pressure as a 10/8 is insanely hard to deal with for Druid. Might also get silenced, but you still have a 4/8 and you'll outvalue your opponent.

**Any questions? Did I miss something? Got any feedback? Please tell me below! :D**

 **If you want more info, I stream on www.twitch.tv/flyingwhale_hs and I offer pay-what-you-want coaching!**