It’s been a while since I played the Wild format of Hearthstone, but this month I decided to give it another shot. The meta changed a lot since I last competed for the top ranks in the format, back in 2018, that is for sure. For my climb, I got recommended a build of Discard Warlock by my friend Norwis, which is now one of my favorite all-time Hearthstone decks. The unique play style and risk assessment is something I had not experienced in Hearthstone for a long time.
As I had not played the wild format in quite a long time, I had to play from bronze 10 to legend with only a few games of two-star multipliers. Because of this, the climb took a total of 188 matches, with an overall win rate of 68%.
The general strategy of Discard Warlock
The strategy of Discard Warlock is quite straight forward in the majority of matchups. As is the case with all versions of the Zoo Warlock archetype, board control is the only thing that matters in the first several turns of the game. The entire deck is optimized to be as powerful out of the gate.
The average game plays out by quickly building the most durable board you can. Sometimes this means building up a minion such as Tiny Knight of Evil to avoid the board clears you inevitably face throughout your time on the ladder. In other cases, this means going as wide as possible to push as much damage as you can.
If I could give you only one piece of advice when playing this deck, is to consider whether or not you can beat specific board clears. For example, against Reno or Dragon Priest, there are times you simply cannot win against a Duskbreaker on turn 4. Try and think of how the following turns will go if a Duskbreaker does or does not come down, and decide the best course of action from there.
Another decision you have to make often is whether or not it is worth discarding cards in your hand. Throughout the games, one of the toughest decisions I had to make was whether or not to play Nightshade Matron when it meant discarding Doomguard. This decision is highly situational and takes quite a bit of experience to figure out properly. Looking back through some of my replays from when this decision occurred, I feel I made the wrong decision way more often than I realized with the experience I have now with the deck.
Decklist discussion – Lakkari Felhound vs. low-cost units
Standard List: AAEBAf0GAo+CA9a5Aw4w0AT3BM4HwgjEFNkVr6wC1LMCvLYCkccC/aQDtbkDtrkDAA==
Corbett List: AAEBAf0GAo+CA9a5Aw4w0AT3BM4HwgjEFNkV1LMCvLYC8tAC/aQD/acDtbkDtrkDAA==
Darkglare List: AAEBAf0GAvoOj4IDDtAE9wTOB8IIxBTZFa+sAtSzAry2ApHHAvLQArW5A7a5A8u5AwA=
The main deck I played throughout my climb, was the list popular on Hsreplay, popularized by the Wild Hearthstone streamer Pyramidenverleiher. I played a total of 162 games using this list, with a 70% win rate from Bronze 10 to Diamond 2. The other list I used for the remaining climb from rank 2 to legend is from the wild streamer Corbett. This list I used for the final few games, with a win rate of 62% in 26 games.
Throughout my climb, I faced a lot of mirror matches of the Discard Warlock deck. A lot of players brought unique versions of the archetype, which led me to consider many different cards for the deck. However, in the end, I only played these two decklists. The reason for this is that I simply didn’t know enough about the format to be confident in tech cards ahead of returning to the Legend rank.
What list would I recommend
In hindsight, even though the win rate of Corbett’s decklist is slightly lower, I do believe it is a better list. While my sample size is smaller, it felt like it all made more sense when I was playing through the games.
The main difference between the list is the change of Lakkari Felhound. Lakkari Felhound is a card I changed my opinion a lot of throughout the climb. The card is situationally great. The discard-two effect creates a lot of opportunities for you to get Hand of Gul’dan out of your hand. However, as I got higher up in the ranks, I was facing far more control-oriented decks, which made the stats Lakkari Felhound are merely worth less than it does at the lower rankings.
The card is high up on my list of “want to include’s,” but at the moment, it does not cut it. Low-cost units simply allow for a smoother playing curve, which is the primary goal of your deck. In addition to this, including Beaming Sidekick is vital. The increase in health for the right targets allows you to play around more board clear options. The main one this had an impact on for me was when trying to play around the mage secret Flame Ward.
A new version of the Discard Warlock
I recently got the opportunity to have a chat with Alpha from the Wild Hearthstone discord, Alphacord. He showed me a new version of the Discard Warlock deck, that is gaining popularity on the Chinese server. This version of the deck utilizes the card Darkglare to fight even more for the board control in the early game stages. There is currently one successful version of the deck available on HSReplay, utilizing Loatheb and strangely no Kanrethad Ebonlocke. This version of the deck I’m currently testing, after reaching the Legend rank, shows a lot of promise so far.
HSReplay vs. my experience in the mulligan
The Discard Warlock deck is quite popular in the wild Hearthstone meta. A sample size of 3500 games in diamond and above is available on Hsreplay.com. This sample size makes the stats quite a good indication of the playstyle. However, from playing the deck for quite some games, several statistics are somewhat misleading.
Several statistics prove people are making quite large errors before the game even starts. The most notable is the single most valuable card in the deck, Hand of Gul’dan. Hand of Gul’dan is a card that you should keep whenever you get the opportunity. The only exception for Hand of Gul’dan is that keeping two is often not recommended since that often ruins your first turns. However, at 66.7% held in mulligan, many players are missing out on what this card offers.
High cost cards in your starting hand
Other cards include Nightshade Matron, Lakkari Felhound (if you play it), and Doomguard. None of these cards belong anywhere near your starting hand. Too often, you play a discard effect before these cards come into play. The discard reason, in addition to the damage it does to your early game options, makes it an abysmal choice to keep these. The statistics also prove this as they are the three, by far, lowest win rate cards to have in your mulligan phase.
The final card I want to discuss is The Soularium. The Solarium is a unique card in Discard Warlock. The card fits so uniquely well into this deck that you are rarely sad to see this card show up in your hand. However, more than 40% of the time, players keep this card in the starting hand. It is sometimes right to hold the Solarium in your starting hand. However, to me, this is mostly in situations I already have access to a Tiny Knight of Evil.
Another unique scenario I liked keeping the Solarium, which came up several times, was with two copies of Malchezaar’s Imp in my starting hand. The ability to play two minions quickly and then draw through a lot of your deck sets you up for success. Playing with three fewer cards in your deck is rarely an issue. In addition to this, the chance of drawing Silverware Golem, Fist of Jarraxus, or even Hand of Gul’dan made this play strangely successful. From the four times, I had the opportunity to do this; each game was a decisive victory.
Potential legendary replacements
There are several legendary cards you can consider playing in this deck. The two most notable are the Solarium and Kanrethad Ebonlocke, as included in the decklists, as mentioned earlier. Replacing unique tools like these is honestly difficult. They each enhance the deck in important ways allowing it to function in the ways that it does.
I spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out the best replacements and I’m honestly still not quite sure. I think one possible path to take is to include cards such as Transfer Student. Transfer Students variety could make it a helpful tool to add. Another I considered is the Imprisoned Scrap Imp. Each brings in their issues as they somewhat conflict with the overall strategy of the deck.
In the end, though, If I HAD to play something instead of these legendary cards, I would include some additional 1-mana cards. Looking through some of my recent games, a card like Guardian Augmerchant or Blazing Battlemage would fit the overall strategy better than the other cards. These cards are just tough to replace, and if you want to improve your chances of making it to the legend ranks, I think these are worth the investment.
Final stats & thoughts about Discard Warlock
These are the final stats of my climb from bronze 10 to the Legend rank in the Wild format from scratch. It took almost 200 games to reach it, with a very above average win rate. I usually like to include more class-specific advice near the end of the guides I create as I did in the past. However, at this point, I think the sample size I have for the deck is simply not large enough to encompass all of the different archetypes the Wild format has to offer.
I do have a few thoughts and recommendations, though, for players looking to take this deck to the ranked ladder. Demon Hunter and Warrior are rough matchups. Even though I was playing against opponents far less experienced than me, I simply couldn’t beat many of them. Against either of these classes, I recommend taking more risks to try and maximize your overall chances to win. The risks I would consider are with discard effects & their interactions with cards such as Silverware Golem, or Fist of Jaraxxus.
That is all for this strategy guide. For more content, be sure to read all about Four ways to improve at Hearthstone outside of the game.