Since the release of the Scholomance Academy Hearthstone expansion, Darkglare Warlock reigned the Wild format. Darkglare Warlock is a unique top-tier deck capable of generating overwhelmingly powerful board states early on in the game, often leaving their opponents with no way to fight back.
Despite the nerf to Darkglare back in patch 18.2, it’s still considered one of the most oppressive decks available today. The only thing that changed is that the deck doesn’t rely as heavily on Darkglare anymore, making the name sort of obsolete. While the power level of Darkglare Warlock is higher than many would like it to be, the skill ceiling is incredibly high, making it difficult for most players to grasp just how strong the deck is.
*Editors Note* Some of you may be unfamiliar with Hijo and his qualifications when talking about the Wild format. Simply said, Hijo is one of the best players in the world when it comes to Wild Hearthstone. And Darkglare Warlock is one of the many decks he regularly pilots to Rank one legend.
More editors notes: Since we published this guide, Darkglare Warlock saw another major nerf. This time to Pen Flinger. However, despite that, the deck is still in the top three decks to play in the Wild format. The current best performing list is the code below, the gameplan overall hasn’t changed much. The guide will be updated where needed as we learn more about the new meta!
New Darkglare Warlock: AAEBAf0GBNID+g6PggPy7QMNzgbcCvLQAvH3AteJA8u5A5XNA5vNA9fOA8HRA4vVA5PkA+egBAA=
What are the core aspects of the Darkglare Warlock deck?
Building Darkglare Warlock is rather straightforward. There’s a solid core that makes up the deck engine that you don’t alter under any circumstances. In addition to the deck’s engine, there are several cards every build of Darkglare Warlock includes. However, these aren’t nearly as important to the overall strength of the deck.
Some of the top Wild players in China replace the more optional tools with more one-off’s to defeat a larger variety of opponents. However, that isn’t something I believe to be the most optimal build of Darkglare Warlock, as it mostly just makes the deck less consistent rather than able to beat everything.
The build of Darkglare Warlock I would recommend you play.
Hijo #1 Legend Darkglare Warlock (Outdated list, Penflinger Nerfed) See new code below: AAEBAf0GAvoOj4IDDs4GxAjcCvLQAojSAvH3AteJA8u5A5XNA5vNA5/NA9fOA8HRA5PkAwA=
Before we continue to the strategy of Darkglare Warlock, let’s briefly go over the cards in this list.
Pen Flinger, Mortal Coil, Spirit Bomb, and Amethyst Spellstone
(Note, Pen Flinger got recently nerfed, as such no longer viable).
Mortal Coil allows you to fend off aggression against the faster decks in the meta. In addition to that, you can also use Mortal Coil on your minions to enable your Raise Dead to continue your combo or to find more copies of your useful cards. Another benefit of Raise Dead and Mortal Coil is that enabling Raise Dead early on in a game allows you to pull off the Darkglare Combo a turn earlier. Using Mortal Coil is something you likely need to do in the slower matchups, where your opponents may choose not to kill the minions you want to replace.
Spirit Bomb again combines two aspects in a single card. First, a one-mana deal four to a minion is an incredible tempo removal tool. However, the card also triggers Darkglare and helps you play your Molten Giants at a much faster rate.
Amethyst Spellstone fills the role of a strong healing tool in the Darkglare Warlock deck. The card significantly improves your matchup against the aggressive Kingsbane Rogue and Secret Mage decks, making it a required inclusion when those decks are popular on the Wild ladder.
Backfire, Power Overwhelming, and Cheaty Anklebiter
A recent addition to the Darkglare Warlock deck is Backfire from the Darkmoon Faire mini-set. Backfire is simply a strong cycle tool that gives you the consistency you want to find Amethyst Spellstone or Loatheb more often. Something worth noting is when you draw Amethyst Spellstone with Backfire or Kobold Librarian, it upgrades right as it comes into your hand.
Power Overwhelming is a fantastic card in Darkglare Warlock. Whether you use it to find lethal on your opponent or simply as a removal tool, it just works well. Something worth keeping in mind is the synergy between Cheaty Anklebiter, Power Overwhelming, and Animated Broomstick. Using these tools in combination sometimes helps you survive in a pinch.
Cheaty Anklebiter is our control tool against aggressive decks. Finding some extra life in a matchup where both players are reducing your health is invaluable. In addition to that, Cheaty Anklebiter allows you to reduce Flesh Giant’s cost by two mana if you shoot your hero.
My thoughts on the alternative options for the deck.
The burst options, Leeroy Jenkins, Wolfrider, and Soulfire, fell off a lot in priority for me since the addition of Backfire. The main matchup these tools performed well in was against Reno Priest, which we simply don’t need as much with the added consistency of Backfire to draw us our Giants and Loatheb. In general, Leeroy Jenkins would be the better option to include if you want a burst-minion. However, you can make a case for including Wolfrider as it performs better in the mirror match in particular.
Cult Neophyte previously was a common inclusion with the three-mana Darkglare. However, now, I wouldn’t recommend playing Cult Neophyte simply due to how expensive it is. While two mana doesn’t sound like much, it’s too high of a price to pay for a card that doesn’t impact the board, refresh with Darkglare, or reduce the cost of your win conditions, the Giants.
To me, Enhance-o Mechano is a bit of a bait card. While it looks fantastic on paper since Enhance-o Mechano does something good in any matchup you can think of; it just doesn’t play out that way in the actual game. In many situations, it is too expensive to help against aggressive decks, and if you want to use it as a finisher, there are just better alternatives like Leeroy Jenkins. Though, I have to admit that pulling off Windfury on a Giant alongside Power Overwhelming feels fantastic.
I would consider Malchezaar’s Imp, alongside Soulfire and Wicked Whispers, to be a package since they are almost always together. The package’s idea is that Malchezaar’s Imp is good enough to play into the faster decks on turn one, and then the cycle it provides helps you find your giants and Loatheb. However, the strategy is too unreliable from my experience and just doesn’t hold up compared to Backfire.
In my opinion, there just isn’t a place for Area of Effect clear spells in Darkglare Warlock. The deck fights for control of the board effectively enough, early on. And after turn three to four, the cards effectively lose any value they once had. Just to repeat that Defile and Rain of Fire do not belong in Darkglare Warlock right now.
Sunfury Protector is a helpful tech card against weapon-based aggressive decks. While the card is a bit expensive, as similar to Cult Neophyte, it doesn’t reduce your Giants’ cost. Sunfury Protector fills a role against decks like Kingsbane Rogue and Pirate Warrior whenever they show up on the Wild ladder, but otherways shouldn’t be a priority for building your deck.
Crystallizer is a bit of a double-edged sword. The effect is incredibly helpful at times but also comes with a lot of downsides. The main downside that matters is the fact that you can’t play it early in a game, as damaging your Armor doesn’t discount Flesh Giants. In addition to that, if you play it too early before it significantly impacts your Molten Giants’ cost, it effectively does nothing positive for you.
The general strategy of Darkglare Warlock
The general strategy of Darkglare Warlock is simple. You want to damage yourself to make your giants cost nothing or close to nothing at a very early stage of the game. One major advantage of playing your Giants early in the game is the lack of options to answer them from your opponent’s end.
The whole deck revolves around the cheap-giant concept. Spellstones benefit from that strategy since they get stronger with each damage you deal to yourself. Do note that Flesh Giants require you to be the one doing the damages, unlike Molten Giants, meaning if the opponent gets your HP low too early, you won’t be able to play out your Flesh Giants. Therefore, Molten Giants are generally stronger against aggressive opponents, while Flesh Giants are better against the slower decks on the Wild ladder.
Playing Darkglare Warlock against aggressive opponents.
Our gameplan as Darkglare Warlock against aggressive revolves around controlling the board early on. We should attempt to control the board early to avoid getting overwhelmed and taking too much damage to recover. In a perfect world, you want to set up a turn where you get to play your Giants and recover your health at the same time to minimize the risk presented by your low health total. However, that isn’t always possible.
Consider being a bit greedy on your healing tools early on in the game against aggressive decks, as healing after your Giants come into play is much more important than before. Taking the risk at the right moment and figuring out your way to recover is vital to learning the Darkglare Warlock deck.
How does our approach change against slower decks?
Against slower wild decks, the trick to success is to draw as many cards as possible. The key to closing out the game is creating a board state they can’t answer, whether through playing your Giants before their spells allow them to answer it or by combining it with Loatheb. Either way, drawing cards is one of the most important things you can do.
The rule of thumb for Darkglare Warlock against slower opponents is that you press Life Tap every turn, unless you are setting up for lethal, or if you spend your mana more efficiently through Backfire.
Another gameplan worth considering is to spread out your Giants in an attempt to make your opponents run out of removal tools. The strategy of spreading out your threats is especially worthwhile against decks with the ability to survive your Loatheb turn. A deck like Reno Priest, using Wave of Apathy is the most common situation where our attempt at killing our opponent may not work. Another situation is when you simply don’t find Loatheb early on in the game. When that happens, we can’t guarantee to close out the game, and the alternative game plan needs to come into effect.
A simple mulligan guide
The main two, the Cycle one-drops Tour Guide and Kobold Librarian, are simply the most important cards to find, and are the only ones you keep no matter what. The cycle one-drops grant you board presence, replace themselves in your hand, reduce your Giant’s cost, and activate Raise dead early on. All in all, these two cards do everything you want to do in the early game. In addition to that, Darkglare and Raise Dead are cards you want to keep if you already have a cycle one-drop in your hand to go alongside them.
In addition to this, there are several more matchup-specific tools you want to keep in addition to those. These tools include:
- Against burst-aggressive decks like Secret Mage & Kingsbane Rogue, cards like Amethyst Spellstone and Molten Giant skyrocket in priority.
- Against the more board-oriented aggressive decks, such as Odd Paladin or Aggro Druid, a card we are looking for is Animated Broomstick. Mortal Coil is also worth holding onto if you go second against Odd Paladin (and pirate based decks) to cycle it right away.
- In the mirror match, there are several things you should do. The first is to hold onto Backfire, as drawing is very important for the matchup. In addition to that, you can hold onto your Giants if you already have access to a cycle one-drop that we discussed earlier.
- One of the most important cards against the slower decks is Loatheb. Because of that, I recommend holding onto Loatheb and Backfire against these opponents. Your Giants are also worth holding onto if you already have a cycle one-drop like in the Darkglare Warlock mirror match.
Six tips for Success
- Always think about how your opponent can lethal you/clear your board and play around it accordingly. Good meta-knowledge is required to find success with Darkglare Warlock, but don’t give up too much to play around it either. Sometimes taking risks is necessary to win the match.
- If you find yourself with both of the cycle one-drops in your hand on turn one, which one should you play first? While it may seem minor at first, let’s think about how the choice affects my options.
First, does the extra attack make a difference against what your opponent is likely to play next?
Second, do I already have an Amethyst Spellstone in my hand, and do I need to upgrade it soon?
Third, what is my curve looking like in the coming turns? Should I fit in more hero powers in the coming turns, or is that not a consideration?
Fourth, what about Raise Dead? Can I activate it early on? Can my opponent deny my Raise Dead through a card like Potion of Madness?
These decisions are very, very situational, so use your best judgment. In general, Kobold Librarian is a better play first, but one of the above may change your mind.
- If you have no self-damage one-drop on turn one while being on the coin, it’s almost always correct to coin the Life Tap. While that may sound strange at first, remember that you use the coin to reduce the cost of many cards in your deck, which is pretty much the best case use for the Coin in our deck anyway.
Another way to look at it is that you avoid wasting mana early on. With our deck playing as fast as it does, wasting a turn or mana is a big deal.
- Don’t be afraid to use Raise Dead very early on in the game. Even if you only recover a single minion. Sometimes recovering a minion to fill out your curve or to cheat out that early giant is the best option. As long as it accomplishes something powerful, go for it!
- Backfire is often best when you play it the first chance you get on turn three. Don’t be afraid to hold off on fighting for tempo for a turn. The extra three cards usually allow you to set up a swing turn through your Darkglare and Animated Broomstick shenanigans.
- A common mistake in the Darkglare Mirror match is when people deal face damage too early on in the mirror match. All you accomplish is giving them access to their Molten Giants faster, which is the main goal for both sides of the Darkglare mirror.
If you enjoyed reading Hijo’s Guide to Darkglare Warlock, or if you simply want to tweet him a question, follow his Twitter and Twitch! For more Wild Hearthstone content, be sure to read LaboreSangre’s latest guide, covering Scimitar Rogue!
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