The full Fractured in Alterac Valley set has been revealed and it's time to look at all the new cards and look at how Warlock will be doing this expansion. We'll be breaking each of the Warlock cards down.
- You can see all the new cards in our Fractured in Alterac Valley guide.
- Our deckbuilder will let you theorycraft your own decks using the new cards before the expansion arrives.
- You can simulate pack openings in our Fractured in Alterac Valley Pack Opening Simulator.
- Don't forget to take part in our Tavern Crawl to earn on-site cosmetics!
Keep in mind that this is an early look at the class before we've been able to play with the new cards, so while we try to be as accurate as possible in our predictions of what is to come, no one can perfectly predict the Hearthstone meta.
Warlock Deck Themes in Fractured in Alterac Valley
Warlock got support for a couple of themes: Fel and Sacrifice Zoo
- Fel - Dreadlich Tamsin, Felfire in the Hole!, Full-Blown Evil, Seeds of Destruction, Felwalker, Grave Defiler
The Fel theme seems oriented towards a slower midrange/tempo game plan, with Cast When Drawn effects and AoE damage. While I am excited for a new style of Warlock to potentially emerge, The Demon Seed is a powerhouse and serves as tough competition. Since it's relevant for the Fel synergy, all the Warlock Fel spells in standard will be: Felosophy, Shadow Council, Unstable Felbolt, Imp Swarm (Rank 1), Seeds of Destruction, Fiendish Circle, Full-Blown Evil, Demonic Assault, The Dark Portal, and Felfire in the Hole!.
The Sacrifice Zoo theme really puts an emphasis on the ‘Sacrifice’ portion of the archetype, with very few cheap minions to support Zoo’s typically swarm-iness. Adding more mechanisms for sacrificing while introducing some cool payoffs is an interesting direction to push the archetype, but it might be too finicky to workout.
*Insert Tamsin glow-up meme*
Tamsin seems to have graduated from Shadow spell synergy and moved on to Fel synergy. This card is honestly kind of bonkers. 6-mana to deal 3-damage AoE, draw 3, and gain 5 armor is baseline pretty nuts, but shuffling in Fel Rifts and essentially purely upgrading your hero power is the cherry on top. This lets it fit into Control or Midrange decks pretty well, and can even work well in a Zoo deck that runs through the deck very quickly. Although it doesn’t directly synergize with The Demon Seed, Dreadlich Tamsin’s ability to draw 3 can get you to fatigue faster, although you give up the 2-damage from Warlock’s base hero power. As an extra bit of synergy, Hullbreaker can draw the Fel Rifts for some pretty nice tempo.
Dreadlich Tamsin has direct synergy with Seeds of Destruction and other cards that shuffle Cast when Drawn effects into the deck, such as Soul Fragment cards and Mankrik. While these are the cards that most directly synergize with Tamsin, this is an exceptionally flexible card that can be slotted into a great deal of decks with minimal build-around.
Scented with 'Souls of the Damned'
By contrast, Tamsin's Phylactery necessitates a great deal of build-around. You first need to have worthwhile Deathrattle minions die, thus limiting the total number of Deathrattles you might run, as well as need an ability to swarm the board. Thankfully, Wicked Shipment can fill the latter requirement, leaving the former to be toyed with. Some Zoo decks can already run some worthwhile Deathrattles, such as Nerubian Egg or Devouring Ectoplasm which immediately come to mind.
However, the Discover effect also enables consistency in utilizing some wackier cards, such as Kanrethad Ebonlocke, Envoy Rustwix, or the new Korrak the Bloodrager, prodding some seriously creative (and meme-y) deck building opportunities. Bonus point for being a Shadow spell, enabling some potentially dream scenarios with the OG Tamsin Roame. The absolute wild potential for this card makes me very excited for deckbuilding, even if the card itself won't see much meta play.
Felfire in the Hole!
I love the smell of Felfire in the morning
In another meta, this card might be good enough to see play. As it currently stands however, 5-mana to draw a spell and deal 2-damage AoE is not quite there, especially compared to the other AoE capabilities Warlock has access to. There are simply too many board states that by turn 5 or later will out-pace 2-3 damage AoE. The payoff for drawing a Fel spell being 1 extra damage is not quite enough for how few good Fel spells there are.
The Fel Rift that is generated by both Dreadlich Tamsin and Seeds of Destruction being Fel spells is nice, making the card a '5 mana 3/3 deal 3 damage to all enemies and draw a card, which sounds really good, but the setup required is still a bit iffy. Something to note is that this card is one of the few spells Warlock has that directly deals damage to the enemy hero, potentially giving some late-game ending potential, albeit very expensive and janky ending potential.
Evolve's creepy cousin
Zoo decks that run Nerubian Egg and Boneweb Egg are gaining some popularity and Sacrificial Summoner would slot into that just fine, but I honestly don’t think it makes the cut. If you sacrifice a 1/1 Imp, you get a 2-drop such as either egg or Bloodbound Imp on a high roll, which is honestly pretty good. Sacrificing either egg gets you a 3-drop, possibly hitting Man'ari Mosher and losing its powerful Battlecry in place of tempo.
It's nice to see Warlock getting more ways to pop eggs that help widen the board, with previous ways including cards like Grimoire of Sacrifice and Void Terror. There could also be some hidden applications that I am too small-brain to figure out right now, such as combining this with more expensive minions or Dark Alley Pact to cheat out some specific big minion from the deck. While the tempo generated by the card can be strong, the conditions might be too niche to be effectively used, but I will be happily proven wrong.
She went full evil. Never go full evil.
Top-tier name for a card and brings back fond memories of my precious Dark Skies. While Skies had a more powerful potential for its mana cost, it also could only be slotted into Control decks whereas Full-Blown Evil could fit into Control or possibly some new Tempo deck since it only targets enemy minions. Unfortunately, many current decks would have a hard time slotting this in, since many Quest Warlock lists are pretty tight and it isn’t quite the right fit for Zoo.
This is definitely one of the stronger Fel spells out there and it might be strong enough to warrant some level of build-around with other Fel cards. Also, unfortunately, Warlock does not have any ways to cheapen spells like Mage does, so there isn't any way to abuse the repeatability effect, nor is there a large Fel payoff like Demon Hunter has in Jace Darkweaver.
Players asked and Blizzard listened, they added a Graveyard.
Another good fit into sacrifice-style Zoo decks very reminiscent of Disciplinarian Gandling. The tempo on this might be a bit too slow though, requiring a small enough minion on board and also spending 3-mana initially is a tall order that some Zoo decks might not be able to afford. It requires a minion on the board to create any amount of tempo or value, which is not something that is necessarily guaranteed by turn 3 when the opponent has a chance to remove your minions. That said, you can build around the card with sticky minions such as Possessed Villager to ensure a minion is around to kill.
Thanks to the cards targeting, it will almost always kill any egg you have on board, which is handy, but hitting any 1/1 minion also nets you a 3/3 stat increase in board presence. A meme-ier use-case is its synergy Korrak the Bloodrager, since hard-removal is not an Honorable Kill. I think this ultimately might be hard to justify in a deck, since it always kills something, punishing some board states or plays such as killing a lone Man'ari Mosher after trading, but there's enough potential value here to warrant consideration.
Seeds of Destruction
What is it with Warlocks and seeds this year?
2-mana for 12/12 in stats across four bodies is pretty nice, it just comes down to drawing through your deck enough. Warlock certainly has no shortage of card draw, with Hand of Gul'dan, Backfire, or Dreadlich Tamsin, but this might be too slow. I have some hopes for a Fel-based midrange/tempo deck that could be born from these new cards, summoning waves of 3-attack imps and pressuring down the opponent through swarm-y inevitability.
Unfortunately, I am not sure the archetype would outpace Zoo or have the same inevitability of The Demon Seed, neither of which would likely slot Seeds of Destruction. The unpredictability of when the 3/3 Imps arrive might be too inconsistent for the current standard meta, where Aggro decks are able to easily rush you down and Combo decks demand constant pressure. While I do enjoy a good shuffle mechanic, I’m not quite sure this is it.
Fel froze over
Another potential piece to the new Fel puzzle. Warlock’s selection of Fel spells is unfortunately not great, with Demonic Assault and Felfire in the Hole! being the largest ones you could hit with this, although the former might hit your own things. Felwalker being more expensive than literally every Warlock Fel spell in Standard at the moment means it can’t really do any cheeky mana-cheat shenanigans and would provide a mediocre tempo-play at best.
Warlock has not received many ways to cheat spell cards out, which offers this an interesting niche in deckbuilding. Although I stand by this card being bad at the moment and that it probably won't see much Standard play, it is still a card that should be monitored closely if stronger and more expensive Fel spells come around.
Well, at least it isn't ticking
To put it frankly, this card looks awful. It doesn’t fit into any existing Warlock decks and it demands a very particular board-state to get even decent value. I don’t imagine this card will ever see competitive play and will remain awkward, unrewarding pack-filler for its entire existence.
Attempting to look at this from a positive perspective, it only needs to kill ~3 attack worth of minions to become a reasonable threat at 5/8 in stats. From there it could theoretically continue growing in power if it is able to consistently get more Honorable Kills. Warlocks have plenty of ways to manipulate minions health with varying damage spells, so just maybe there is hope for this card yet.
Aww, I just filed those graves!
This is honestly the best Fel spell payoff card. 1-mana to get a card you want to run in your deck and summon a 2/1 is very nice value. Zoo decks are currently running Demonic Assault and Fiendish Circle, which are pretty nice hits with this. As previously mentioned however, Warlock’s access to other Fel spells is somewhat lacking. The payoff might be good enough that Warlocks also start running Imp Swarm (Rank 1) or Felosophy to increase hits with this card.
From a Control perspective, this card also duplicates cards like Unstable Felbolt or The Dark Portal, which could be handy value generation while providing some additional early-game presence. Cases for control are a bit more niche since it also anti-synergizes with the said cards, getting killed by Felbolt and mucking up The Dark Portal's draw pool, but it is still an application that could see experimentation.
Theorycrafting Warlock in Forged in the Barrens
Warlock got a ton of support for a Fel archetype, which includes multitudes of AoE damage and spammy (if inconsistent) summoning effects. With these tools, I attempted to cobble together a rough outline for what a Midrange Tempo-style Fel deck might look like. In a meta where there are far more minions on the board than there are currently, this deck should be able to consistently deal with wide board states using the likes of Felfire in the Hole!, Full-Blown Evil and Fire Breather, all of which can keep your board safe.
Hullbreaker, Felfire in the Hole!, and Dreadlich Tamsin will be able to draw through the spells in your deck, ensuring you don't run out of steam while potentially developing the board via Fel Rifts from Tamsin or Seeds of Destruction.
The deck should then be able to close out games though a mix of direct damage via Demonic Assault and Felfire in the Hole! or through sticking demons to the board and buffing with Shady Bartender or Man'ari Mosher. Lokholar the Ice Lord makes a surprise appearance as well, utilizing the deck's many self-damage cards and lack of healing.
Closing Thoughts on Warlock in Fractured in Alterac Valley
The Warlock cards excite me mainly because they all support decks that are not exceptionally popular or promote new ways of deckbuilding. Tamsin’s Phylactery is especially interesting as a build-around card for some really wacky combo potential. The Sacrifice Zoo cards might give enough sacrificing potential to reach a sort of critical mass and enable Warlock to very accessibly kill off their own minions, but the payoff for killing still might be missing. Desecrated Graveyard tries to give a decent payoff, but I fear the tempo loss might be too severe. Regardless, I think it is an interesting direction to push swarm-y Warlock decks to better differentiate them from similar decks in other classes. The Fel synergy feels a bit lacking, with only a few Fel spells currently seeing play and none of the upcoming ones being especially compelling. I am hopeful that they can usher in a cool new style of Warlock decks with a greater emphasis on Cast When Drawn effects, but the current top-tier Warlock decks are going to be tough to beat. If nothing else, Dreadlich Tamsin is a very powerful and flexible hero card with sick art that I imagine will find its way into a great many decks.
What do you think about Warlock in Fractured in Alterac Valley? Let us know in the comments below!
More From Fractured in Alterac Valley
We've got more class reviews that you won't want to miss! Don't forget that you can see all the cards coming in the expansion in our Alterac Valley Expansion Guide and if you want to test your luck, you can head on over to our pack opener to crack some packs.