Our Handlock deck list guide features the best Rise of Shadows deck list for Season 69 of Hearthstone (December 2019). Our Handlock guide also contains Mulligan advice, card combos and strategy tips.
Handlock is a Hearthstone deck that has had a place in the game’s meta for a long time now. It may no longer be the powerhouse it once was, but it certainly caused problems when Genn Greymane refreshed the archetype for The Witchwood expansion. Since that card was doomed to the hall of fame, however, we've seen some level of resurgence for it.
Descent of Dragons has added some exciting new cards to the Hand Warlock archetype, including a brand new Dragon package and a couple delightful Legendary minions to play around with. Zzeraku the Warped and Valdris Felgorge are particularly interesting, and can both swing games in different ways.
In our latest Handlock guide, you can find the top deck list currently seeing play in competitive Hearthstone. You’ll also find some in-depth strategy advice on how to pilot the deck, Mulligan tips, and a closer look at the key cards and combos in the deck.
UPDATE - DECEMBER 2019 #1
We've updated the deck list for Descent of Dragons here thanks to the brand new cards added. We'll keep you updated when we know more about the deck's place in the meta!
Handlock deck list and strategy
This is the iteration of Handlock that is having the most success in Hearthstone right now. It appears to be settled right now, but if any tweaks are made we’ll be sure to update this list.
|2 x Mortal Coil||2 x Sunfury Protector|
|2 x Soulfire||1 x Frizz Kindleroost|
|2 x Nether Breath||2 x Twilight Drake|
|2 x Dark Skies||2 x Big Ol' Whelp|
|2 x Crazed Netherwing||1 x Zilliax|
|2 x Abyssal Summoner||2 x Khartut Defender|
|1 x Lord Godfrey||1 x Alexstrasza|
|1 x Valdris Felgorge||1 x Malygos|
|1 x Twisting Nether||2 x Mountain Giant|
|1 x Zzeraku the Warped|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0GCLQDxQTbBpz4AqCAA/CsA/GsA4iwAwv7Bs4H4QeNCMQIoaED5awD66wD7KwD7qwD57ADAA==
If you’ve been a fan of Handlock from back in the day then much of what you’ll see here will be immediately familiar to you. The loss of Genn Greymane makes the list slightly different from Even Warlock from the Year of the Raven, but this version is played similarly in principle and more akin to the original Handlock. You’ll need to Life Tap to fill your hand with cards, drop big minions on the board, and then overwhelm your opponent with them.
Descent of Dragons has added a few more pieces to the Handlock puzzle, so it's a fun deck to try out again if you've missed it.
Early game: Life Tap. Life Tap. And Life Tap. That’s most likely going to be your play during the early turns. Mortal Coil and Dark Skies can help get enemy minions out of the way, and Frizz Kindleroost works well as a future value generator, but you want your hand to be getting as large as possible.
Mid game: Always slam down a Mountain Giant or a Twilight Drake on turn four if you have one as they’ll be the most impactful plays at this stage of the game. It’s especially good if you can pair either of those big drops with a Sunfury Protector to give you some excellent early game protection, or a Big Ol' Whelp to keep your deck ticking over. Abyssal Summoner and Khartut Defender are also solid drops at this stage of the game.
Elsewhere, Lord Godfrey and Twisting Nether are your main AOE board clears. If you’ve taken a bit of a beating in the early game you can look to heal up with Khartut Defender and Zilliax.
Late game: Continue planting big minions on the board and taunting them up where possible to overload your opponent with giant threats. Alexstrasza helps activate your Dragon synergies whilst in hand and if you've discounted her with Frizz Kindleroost will only cost 7 mana. She can heal you up to 15 if you've taken a beating or knock the enemy down to 15 if needed. Malygos is here too, as a decent finisher if you need that extra reach. Soulfire and Nether Breath are cheap damage spells and can go face, so as long as you've got the discount or if Malygos can survive for a turn you can end the game with burst damage if needed.
Here are some thoughts on dealing with aggro decks:
- 1. Control the early game with your cheap removal cards such as Mortal Coil and Dark Skies.
- 2. If you’re not holding any removal try to save your Sunfury Protector to set up the strongest wall of taunt minions you can.
- 3. Using Life Tap frequently in the early game may seem dangerous against aggro but you have taunts and healing to keep you safe going into the mid-to-late game.
- 4. As soon as your opponent extends too far on the board you can go for a Lord Godfrey to clear them, if you have enough mana.
- 5. As soon as you’ve dropped you giant minions on the board you can start ignoring their weak little minions and go straight for the enemy's face.
Here are some tips on handling more control-orientated players on the ladder:
- 1. You have even more freedom to Life Tap in the early game against control as they’ll have a slow start too.
- 2. Control decks are more likely to be able to remove your big threats, meaning a Malygos combo at the end of the match might be required to seal a win.
- 3. Valdris Felgorge increases your hand size to 12, meaning you can activate your hand size effects even more strongly.
- 4. Be prepared to lose your first couple of big minions to their removal effects, but make sure you have another larger play to follow up with on later turns.
Handlock Mulligan guide
Different matchups will require different priorities in the Mulligan but there are a few you should definitely look out for:
- 1. Mountain Giant: As you’ll be spending many of your early turns using Life Tap you should be able to get a Mountain Giant out very early.
- 2. Frizz Kindleroost: Discounting your Dragons is extremely useful once you start drawing them, and since you keep using your Hero Power, you'll draw them eventually.
- 3. Dark Skies: Against aggro, Dark Skies can clear off their entire early board if you play it at the right time.
- 4. Mortal Coil: Use this to finish off your opponent’s early weaker drops while also ensuring that your hand remains full.
Handlock tips and card combos
Keep all of these potential card combos in mind when playing Handlock.
- Mortal Coil will draw you a card if the damage is used to kill a minion, which is a huge bonus as it maintains your hand size to get the full use out of Mountain Giant and Twilight Drake still.
- Twilight Drake gains an extra point of Health for each card you have in your hand when you play the Dragon onto the board.
- Mountain Giant costs one Mana less for each other card you have in your hand, and can be reduced to 1 mana if you have a 12-card hand from Valdris Felgorge.
- Zzeraku the Warped summons a 6/6 every time you take damage, making hitting that Life Tap button even more valuable than usual. You can often benefit from Crazed Netherwing's Battlecry as a bonus too.
- Malygos beefs up your spell damage by 5, meaning Soulfire can deal 6 to face for 1 mana, whilst Nether Breath can deal 9 with Lifesteal.
- Abyssal Summoner can get you a huge minion while you have a large hand. It has Taunt too, protecting your face from damage.
- Lord Godfrey is like having a super-powered Defile that also gives you some board presence after the effect. Ensure you double check your maths to see how many times the two damage effect will repeat as it’ll trigger again on each minion kill.
Handlock card choices and substitutions
A handful of key cards make up the Even Warlock deck list and there isn’t much room for alternatives. This is still a relatively cheap list to craft though.
Sunfury Protector: The only way in this new list to give the deck’s big minions Taunt. You’ll want to try to save it so it hits two minions, ideally the big targets such as Mountain Giant or Twilight Drake.
Doomsayer: A perfect way to stall your opponent in the early stages of the game so they don’t stretch too far into the lead as you work towards your bigger drops.
Earthen Ring Farseer: With all the Life Tap uses you can quickly work through your Health so this bit of extra healing is nice to have to top you back up.
Twilight Drake: With all the cards you’ll be holding in your hand this can get a substantial buff to its Health that many opponents might struggle to deal with efficiently.
Faceless Manipulator: Using this to create a copy of one of your big minions, sometimes the turn after you’ve played them, can put you into a strong lead in the game.
Omega Agent: Gives you a way to re-establish a board presence should you reach the late game finding your opponent has answers to everything.
Zilliax: Can help you catch up on the board if you’ve fallen behind thanks to the Rush keyword while also providing some very useful healing.
Arch-Villain Rafaam: Whether this card stays in the list for long remains to be seen but for now it offers a fun if risky late game option to fill your deck and hand with legendary minions. Only to be played if you’re desperate, really.
Lord Godfrey: Has some ludicrous board clear potential so is a great card to have in case you fall very far behind.
Twisting Nether: This spell is another option to look to if you’re being overwhelmed by your opponent as it’s essentially a big reset button for the board.
Mountain Giant: Synergises so well with your hero power that it’s mandatory to run two. As soon as you give them taunt they become significant obstacles for your opponent.