A class for the masochists, Hearthstone's Warlock takes a reckless approach to both gaining additional cards and fielding low-cost minions. The Warlock's Hero Power is an offensive one with a twist, as activating it will grant the player an extra card at the expense of two health. Minions like the Flame Imp allow the Warlock to fire off a strong early minion for next to nothing, while taking a few damage to the face as a penalty. All things considered, it's great fun to play if you can hold your nerve, and don't mind dipping into your own health pool to get ahead in the long run.
The Warlock has also established itself as the aggressive class du jour at the time of writing, and in most encounters you'll find yourself looking down the barrel of a steady stream of low-powered, soon-to-be buffed minions that can end a game before even half a dozen turns have been completed. While it's true that not every Warlock currently favours this aggressive style of play, it generally pays to Mulligan your starting hand aggressively to ensure you have plenty of low-cost removal spells and creatures in your starting hand. If you can kill off the early rush, these minion-heavy Warlocks can run out of options very quickly indeed.
Popular Warlock cards
This zero-mana card is a great finisher, particularly if you can play it from an otherwise empty hand and avoid its randomly targeted penalty - you really don't want to lose that nice big minion you have in reserve, just as you're approaching the finishing line. If you're on the ropes, it's also a great card for getting rid of low-health taunt minions - just make sure you've played your hand out before putting this spell into play.
Don't think you can't get any value out of this card as the passive opponent in the exchange. The card the Warlock sacrifices in exchange for this free damage is flashed very briefly at the top of the screen. Keep your eyes peeled for when this happens, and you'll gain insight into both the type of deck the Warlock is running, and where they now have a weakness. And let's be honest, it's always a good laugh to see an opponent's Legendary card fizzle out of existence.
The low cost of this stealthy little healer makes it perfectly suited to any rush deck you care to play. If you have The Coin and another single-mana minion in your hand, you can leave your first turn knowing that your weak, light fighter is guaranteed to receive a health boost. Combine this card with the Flame Imp in your opening hand and you'll be off to a great start.
There's not a huge amount you'll be able to do against this card in the early stages of a match. If it remains stealthed, you'll have to rely on area-of-effect or randomly targeted damage for it to leave the board. This pesky little creature is just another excuse to Mulligan your opening hand aggressively until you have plenty of low-cost removal cards.
The Warlock's core area-of-effect spell comes with the same kind of masochistic caveat you'd expect from the class. Many a Warlock player has wiped their own minion along with their opponent's, and even put their Hero into the grave by misreading the text of this card. Both heroes and every single minion takes three damage - you've been warned.
You won't see Hellfire played that often in aggressive rush decks, but if your opponent appears to be aiming for stronger minions later on in the game, you can be pretty sure that this devastating spell will make an appearance at some point. Just as it is with the Mage and the Priest, resist the urge to over-extend your minions on the board, and always keep a little something back if you can still maintain pressure with what you have in play.
The Flame Imp may take its first swipe at your own face, but you can feel pretty confident that you can hit your opponent with it at least once. It's a fantastic turn-one option, and it's guaranteed to send your opponent racing through their hand to spend whatever they have to kill it. A great, high-pressure opening card - if it's part of your deck, always keep it in the hand you're initially dealt.
If you've found yourself staring down the barrel of this little blighter, look for the most efficient method in your hand to take it out. Just keep one eye on the next turn, and make sure you have something left over to lay down if you can, otherwise you're going to be playing catch-up for the whole match.
The best basic Warlock deck
There are many variations on the so-called Warlock "zoo" deck, and while this aggressive playstyle is considered cheap by many Hearthstone players, there's no denying its effectiveness at both climbing up the rankings and farming Daily Quests and Gold. Once again we're turning to Hearthpwn for a version of the deck that you can play using only the game's basic free cards.
The strategy behind this deck is pretty simple. You use the many low-cost minions in your arsenal to eliminate your opponent's early minions, while maintaining an - admittedly fragile - stall of your own. If you have enough minions on the board to boost your Frostwolf Warlord up to seven health and damage - or more - then play it. You can also use your Stormwind Champion to put a twist on things, and give your weak minions more power and survivability.
It's worth holding back on playing your Wolfrider or Bluegill Warrior if you have an alternative play available. You might well wish you had these in your back pocket if you suddenly find yourself overpowered on the board and in need of an immediate fix.
You can find the rest of our round-up of the best basic Hearthstone decks from the index page of this article.