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Control Warlock deck list guide - Forged in the Barrens - Hearthstone (April 2021)

How to play the most powerful version of Control Warlock in the new Forged in the Barrens meta.

Control Warlock isn’t anything new when it comes to deck archetypes. The class has always been in possession of a load of great board control tools, as well as end-game value.

These days, Forged in the Barrens has done a big ol’ boost to Control Warlock’s power level though. New Legendary minions along with the Core set rework mean Control Warlock is back to being the go-to long-game deck, and here’s how to play it.

Control Warlock deck list and strategy

To play Control Warlock best, you’ll need the best deck for the job - here’s the cards you should ideally be playing.

2 x Spirit Jailer2 x Armor Vendor
2 x Soul Shear2 x Luckysoul Hoarder
2 x Drain Soul2 x Hysteria
2 x School Spirits1 x Taelan Fordring
1 x Free Admission2 x Ogremancer
1 x Tamsin Roame2 x Strongman
2 x Cascading Disaster1 x Y'Shaarj, the Defiler
1 x Envoy Rustwix
1 x Tickatus
1 x Soulciologist Malicia
2 x Twisting Nether
1 x Lord Jaraxxus

Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.

Deck Import ID: AAECAf0GCM/SA5XeA/zeA87hA/bjA/LtA6iKBIWgBAusywPM0gPN0gOO1APG3gPm4QP14wP44wOS5AODoATnoAQA

More great Warlock guides:

General strategy

Your late-game is absolutely ridiculous with Control Warlock. The main struggle is just about getting there.

Early Game: Your one-cost minions are extremely important to getting a decent start. Spirit Jailer offers healing for later on in the game when you’ll desperately need it, and Armor Vendor is basically healing you for a single mana point. Sure, the enemy gets it too, but it’s far more valuable to you in most matchups.

Don’t be afraid to use your early-game removal as and when you need to. Soul Shear and Drain Soul can be great for killing off your enemies before they can snowball into something scary. Even Hysteria can be a huge boon if your opponent puts a couple similarly-sized minions on board. You have bigger removal cards for later if you need them anyway.

Mid Game: When using these mid-cost spells in the mid-game, consider playing them alongside Tamsin Roame, who gives you an extra free copy of them to use. Overall, just stay alive for this bit of the game. Your opponent might not have much ammunition after the next few turns, so continue removing their stuff until your deck can stabilise. For slower games, Ogremancer is a decent drop, but it’s probably one of the weaker cards in this deck. If you happen to be somewhat safe from lethal on turn five though, it’s well worth bringing out for further stalling.

You also have other minions available to contest if board-clearing isn’t a pressing need. Taelan Fordring will always draw your Y'Shaarj, the Defiler when he dies, and Envoy Rustwix shuffles a bunch of ‘Prime’ minions into your deck, all of which provide a major impact when played later.

Late Game: Now, this is where things get saucy for Control Warlock. You have Soulciologist Malicia, who’ll flood your board with Rushing 3/3s - yet another board clear. You have old faithful Twisting Nether to completely wipe the entire board, and you even get Y'Shaarj, the Defiler to replay all your Corrupted cards.

Oh yeah, and there’s also the infinite value machine, Lord Jaraxxus. Since his rework, you no longer have to go down to 15 health to play him, and you still get that 2 mana 6/6 every turn. There’s even the option to play Jaraxxus into a 0-mana Strongman, meaning it isn’t even a wasted turn anymore! If you have this and start being able to heal up, you’ve successfully taken control. A Corrupted Tickatus accelerates your enemy’s downfall even further.

Control Warlock Mulligan Guide

For your mulligan, you need to be thinking long-term. Here’s what you need at the start:

1. Spirit Jailer is obviously a great pick here. It can trade into enemies, bonk your opponent’s face if they haven’t got any minions, and even shuffles you some healing for later.

2. Armor Vendor is the other cheap minion in this deck, and it’s great for preemptively slowing aggressive players. Lots of early aggro minions can be traded into by Armor Vendor, and the armor you’re giving them doesn’t even help them that much unless you’re up against another super-grindy control deck.

3. Soul Shear is a really strong single-target removal spell, which also heals you for 4 health later in the game. What a treat.

Control Warlock tips, combos and synergies

Here’s some advice on more specific aspects of Control Warlock:

- Envoy Rustwix can give you one of many options when it comes to ‘Prime’ minions. Here’s what you could get:

  • Solarian Prime
  • Kanrethad Prime
  • Reliquary Prime
  • Zixor Prime
  • Murgurgle Prime
  • Akama Prime
  • Kargath Prime
  • Vashj Prime
  • Msshi'fn Prime

- Lord Jaraxxus Corrupts your Strongman when you play it. Yes, this is such a strong effect we’re mentioning it twice.

- Soulciologist Malicia is surprisingly powerful card to have at the start of the game. Once your 7-mana turn rolls around, you’ll almost definitely need a bailout, and with Soul Fragments in your deck, a board of 1/1s with Rush is perfect.

- It’s a specific case, but against Mage decks running Devolving Missiles, remember that your Corrupted Strongman will devolve into other 0-cost minions like Tinyfins, rather than go down to a six, five, and four mana minion. That’s because the actual cost of the card changes when Corrupted, so it doesn’t happen when you play the minion for 7 mana.

- You can play your Luckysoul Hoarder without Corrupting it if you want, and that’s often the best play available. Drawing cards is sometimes not a problem for this deck, as you’ll often be playing very few cards early in the game.

- You can replay Tickatus for 0 mana after playing Y'Shaarj, the Defiler. This means you’ve removed up to 10 cards from your enemy’s deck, putting them closer to fatigue, which shortens the amount of time you need to survive for.

- This is another rare-but-important situation to take into account. If Life Tap would kill you, but you happen to draw a Soul Fragment, you won’t die thanks to the Fragment’s healing ability.

That’s all you need to start grinding out Control Warlock wins! Check out more Hearthstone goodness too, including our Hearthstone Battlegrounds hero tier list, and the Hearthstone deck tier list.

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James Law avatar

James Law

Former Guides Writer

James was part of Rock Paper Shotgun's guides team from 2020-2021, bringing his expert knowledge about FPS games, Hearthstone, Path Of Exile and more from his time at Metabomb. He's also a dab hand at Hitman 3, and making his own jam - things which may or may not be related to one another.