This is a deck I ran into one late evening piloted by none other than famous Starcraft caster Artosis! I kept queuing up and played against him repeatedly. My guess is that there wasn’t that many people online at the time playing so I had a little fun trying to alternate decks. I played my Beast Aggro deck, my Murlock deck, and Brewmaster Control but nothing came even close and I was unable to take even one game off of him! I’m sure his deck list has changed since but I managed to put together most of it from memory.
At the core of it, this deck is designed to control the board. The reason why control decks are called control decks are because you get to have a say on whether the cards your opponent has will stay on the board or not. This isn’t a cheap deck to play though since it has Al’Akir, Ragnaros, Doomhammer, Cairne Bloodhoof, and Sylvanas. It relies on assorted damage spells that usually hit two or more targets for quick controlling efficiency. No other card options? That’s okay as you can make some totems to help! Let’s go through the decklist, shall we?
- 2 x Earth Shock
- 2 x Forked Lightning
- 2 x Rockbiter Weapon
- 2 x Stormforged Axe
- 2 x Feral Spirit
- 2 x Hex
- 2 x Lightning Storm
- 2 x Mana Tide Totem
- 2 x Defender of Argus
- 2 x Sen’jin Shieldmasta
- 2 x Twilight Drake
- 1 x Doomhammer
- 1 x Bloodlust
- 2 x Azure Drake
- 1 x Gadgetzan Auctioneer
- 1 x Sylvanas Windrunner
- 1 x Cairne Bloodhoof
- 1 x Al’Akir the Windlord
- 1 x Ragnaros the Firelord
Earth Shock, Forked Lightning, Hex, Lightning Storm: These are your bread and butter removal spells. The Earth Shock is great at shutting down Questing Adventurer, or Twilight Drake or other creatures that have that type of effect (since it silences, then deals damage). Forked Lightning is cheap but has a one turn penalty. You can use it early on if you need to. Keep Hex in reserve against larger threats. Never know when your opponent is going to have a legendary of their own especially in upper divisions. The thing about using Hex is to remember to attack first (assuming your opponent has no taunt cards in play) before playing the Hex. Otherwise you have to waste damage killing it before getting through to your opponent. Lastly, Lightning Storm is your board clear. It’ll do the job against most minions especially if you happen to have an Azure Drake or a Wrath of Air Totem in play.
Rockbiter Weapon: It’s a cheap spell that gives Thrall the ability to clear out any innocuous threats (like a low health Questing Adventurer. Or I can combine it with Doomhammer for a total of 10 damage back to back. Or put it on Al’Akir. Either way, the Rockbiter makes whatever creatures I have on the board just a little stronger to go after minions that might normally be beyond reach.
Feral Spirit: I like the Feral Spirits because it gives you two 2/3 wolves with Taunt. It’s enough to stave off an early rush. The extra 1 toughness lets the wolves walk away from Kobold Geomancers, Ironbeak Owls, and Starving Buzzards.
Defender of Argus: Helps make your totems actually useful. If you happen to have a few of them up, it’ll let totems intercept any attacks coming your way. Sometimes I’ll follow up the Feral Spirits with a Defender and turn them into a 3/4 if I have nothing else on the board.
Sen’jin Shieldmasta: Only included this as a 1 of because of the lone taunt. It’s mainly used to help mitigate any early aggression, just like the Feral Spirit Wolves.
Bloodlust: Great card as it lets you just rush and overwhelming your opponent. If you happen to have a field with totems, it can be a surprise finisher.
Cairne Bloodhoof: Cairne is a basic insurance card against most removal spells. Even if Cairne is killed, Baine will show up to take over from his dear ol’ dad. The only way to really mitigate Cairne is with a Hex or a Polymorph of some sort. You can silence him to remove Baine from showing up, but you still need to deal with the fact that he’s a 4/5 who can go head to head and trade well with other minions.
Sylvanas Windrunner: I’m still not quite sold on Sylvanas yet. I’ve managed to put her Deathrattle effect to great use in maybe 20% of my games. Still, 5 mana for a 5/5 is pretty decent and depending on what my opponent has on the board, it’ll make them think twice before taking her out.
Ragnaros the Firelord: Essentially 8 free damage per turn! If you really need to win the game and focus his efforts, you can Earth Shock your own minions. I’ve played against a number of players who used an Ironbark Owl against Ragnaros to silence him only to realize that instead of the 8 damage getting randomly fired at one of their minions, I can end the game by directing Rag straight to the opponent’s dome.
Al’Akir the Windlord: Great card! The Divine Shield means it’ll survive first contact with most minions. The Windfury allows it to strike twice for six damage off the bat coupled with the Charge. Or you can keep it there as a defender until the next turn when you play something even more dangerous since the Divine Shield basically means it’ll soak the first bit of incoming damage for free. Only real way to deal with Al’Akir is a silence or an outright polymorph type spell.
Twilight Drake: If you can get this out turn 4, great. If you can whip out the Drake earlier in turn 3 with a coin, even better. This forces your opponent to react to a minion that’s at least going to be 4/4 or more. In the later parts of the match, remember to play it first before your other cards to take advantage of the Battlecry effect.
Azure Drake: Cycles for a card and is a 4/4. The Spell Power effect will help buff up your Earth Shock, Forked Lightning, and Lightning Storm spells. Plus, y’know, dragon.
Mana Tide Totem and Gadgetzan Auctioneer: Both of these cards should be played in the middle or late game. You might not need cards early on but as you approach the later stages, you still want that card advantage over your opponent so you can draw into more threats or removal. Ideally, by that stage, if you have a few taunt minions up, you can protect them long enough for them to supply you with a few more cards.
Doomhammer and Stormforged Axe: Both of these turn Thrall into another source of damage. You can use him to clear out any annoying taunts or aim them straight at your opponent’s face. Doomhammer alone represents 16 possible points of damage and has Windfury meaning you can clear out minions. Yes Thrall will take damage the other way, but sometimes it’s worth it to take early damage back in order to prevent taking massive damage later.
Playing the deck
Much of your early game is going to be spent controlling the board. It’s not uncommon to pass the first turn and generate a totem on the second turn. Ideally, you want to set up for Drakes between turns 4 – 6 as they provide a nice threat and allow you to start setting up your attacks. It’ll also draw removal spells towards them as you slowly migrate to the end game and start getting in range of dropping your legendary bombs. Keep making totems if you can afford to. Bloodlust is your ace and you might have the opportunity to finish a game by attacking with all totems. Don’t drop a Mana Tide or an Auctioneer until you can protect them with a few taunts like your Frost Wolves or totems buffed by Defender of Argus. Your weapons should be used to help maintain board control or to go after your opponent.