Since I first read what Life Tap did in early beta, I was drawn to Warlock. Like many others I have spent a lot of time in Hearthstone inciting fury with Zoolock, and balancing on the edge of being killed playing Handlock. Lately however, I have been getting burnt out on these two archetypes. Goblins VS Gnomes was supposed to usher in a massive change in the way we play Hearthstone, yet these two ways of playing Warlock haven’t shown any sign of retirement. But maybe the change in Warlock just has not been discovered yet. This is why I paid a little more attention to a deck that made it to the top of the Hearthstone subreddit than I usually would have.

The Midrange Warlock. Redditor TeslaEUNE posted this deck, and I am in love. The first Warlock deck I gravitated towards in the Hearthstone beta was the buff-lock that was very popular in early tournaments. For those who may have missed beta if a minion gave another minions any stats, they were played. Shattered Sun Cleric, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus were considered required minions in most decks and they were the backbone of this variation of Warlock (and were all nerfed as a result). While this midrange Warlock deck only has the Dark Iron in it, it seems to have captured the feel of ye olde BetaLock.

I’ll admit I was skeptical at first of some of the card choices, but after taking this deck out for a spin I was completely wrong in a lot of my assumptions. The best example is probably Dire Wolf Alpha. Dire Wolf is a card that sees plenty of play in Zoo, but I immediately wanted to toss it out with the thought of a strong mid-game in mind. Why not take two of this card out to make room for some mechs and get a little more synergy out of your Golems? Because this type of minion interaction is what made buff-heavy Warlock so strong in beta. Dire Wolf can be easily thrown down for 2 Mana in between a Voidwalker and a Harvest Golem, allow for some great Turn 4 trades, and still have 2 Mana left to add Haunted Creeper to the board (preferably in between the Golem and the Wolf after the Golem swings for better Attack distribution).

Turn 6 can be a lot of great fun with this deck thanks to Imp-losion. This requires a bit of an exercise in patience, but if you can hold on to Knife Juggler until Turn 6 and play him with an Imp-losion it’s one of the best feelings in Hearthstone (and if you roll a 4 it IS the best feeling). Imp-losion gets some flak for it’s random element but I feel that this spell combined with a Juggler is a great example of what is great about RNG, adapting your play. With this combo I always target the minion I want to remove the most with Imp-losion and then let the knives juggle where they may. Then I utilize my minions that can attack to clean up any enemy minions that may have dodged a knife-induced demise. The board control nature of this deck means there’s a good chance friendly minions will stick to the board between turns.

Speaking of patience, Shadowflame and Power Overwhelming require plenty as well. There are only one of each of these cards in this deck but they have such huge swing potential. The preferred course of action is to Power Overwhelm a minion, attack your opponent’s face, and then Shadowflame that same minion to clear your opponent’s board. This rule can and should be broken in some instances. You can’t just let a huge minion sit on the board for your opponents hoping to draw into Shadowflame for maximum value. Sometimes you just need to use Power Overwhelming to trade your minion for theirs.

One card I did swap in that was not in the original deck was Ironbeak Owl, in place of Spellbreaker. While I really like having a minion that can silence and has more than 2 Attack and 1 Health, I like Ironbeak Owl as a precaution against Undertaker/Deathrattle decks. Yes Darkbomb can easily end an Undertaker’s party before it gets started, but I like the extra insurance in case I don’t draw one.

The thing to keep in mind if you are used to playing Zoo is that this Warlock deck has a higher end to it’s mana curve. This means there is the potential for an awkward starting hand if luck is not on your side. There are however enough 1 and 2-drops to bend the odds into your favor. The other big downside for this deck is the Control Warrior. The weapons a Warrior wields alone are enough to take out just about every minion in your stable. And the rage that I’ve experience from rolling 2 on Imp-losion against an Acolyte of Pain or a 3 against an Armorsmith is legendary. My advice is to save your Darkbombs for Acolytes and buff a Harvest Golem with Dark Iron Dwarf or an Abusive Sergeant to take care of Armorsmiths.