Reasons to fear Cubelock
It’s no secret that Cubelock is a dominating force in the meta. But the Witchwood expansion, combined with the Year of the Raven rotation, may propel it to even more oppressive levels. Losing competitors, powerful new cards, and meta shifts all look favourable for Cubelock. If Team 5 are watching Cubelock as closely as they say, these factors are worth keeping an eye on.
Old decks lose a lot
Currently, a number of decks soft-counter Control and Cube Warlocks. By capitalising on Warlock’s few weaknesses, decks like Secret Mage, Spiteful Priest, Combo Priest and a few Aggro decks eke out a favourable winrate. But unfortunately for meta balance, these strategies are hit hard by rotation. Mage loses its integral Secret package, Priests will no longer have those vital Dragons, and core Pirates and Murlocs rotate. Meanwhile, decks that seek to simply curve out and high-roll with massive minions like Big Priest and Spell Hunter lose the integral Barnes.
It seems unlikely that any previously existing archetype will be able to stand up to the might of Cubelock; any challenge to Warlock hegemony will need to draw heavily on new tools. But new tools may benefit Warlock far more than they challenge it.
Cubelock loses little
There are only three card slots in current Cubelock lists that rotate out; N’zoth, and two Mistress of Mixtures. These cards are powerful, yes, but not core to the deck’s strengths. Losing the lifegain and early presence from Mistress hurts, but it’s easy to replace with a Plated Beetle or Shroom Brewer. Alternatively, one of the powerful new Witchwood tools might suffice.
N’zoth is more problematic, as its ability to revive a huge wall of Voidlords was a great way to close out games. But closing out games was never really Cubelock’s weakness. There are plenty of late-game options or combos that Warlock to include to fill the role left by N’zoth. If worst comes to worst, jamming a Lich King in there couldn’t hurt.
Warlock’s new legendary is incredibly potent. Many already know the power of extra spell damage combined with Defile (as those on the receiving end of Tainted Zealot into Defile can attest). This will clear almost any board, and leave behind a 4/4 to contest. This is often just game over versus Aggro, even without Voidlords coming down later to back it up.
To make matters worse, Lord Godfrey fits perfectly into Cubelock’s curve. The deck runs no seven drops, and was occasionally running one more clear card on top of two defiles and two hellfires. It seems to slot so well into the strategy and mana curve of Warlock that it’s hard to see how it would not be a defining auto-include.
One of Cubelock’s few weaknesses is a lack of efficient hard removal. But the new Neutral epic Voodoo Doll may change all that. This 3 mana 1/1 is a cheap hard removal for any deck, but must be combo’d with another effect to be better than Corruption. Luckily for Warlock, there are a plethora of ways to activate it. Defile, Dark Pact, Mortal Coil and Hellfire spring to mind. Even Carnivorous Cube is useful in a pinch.
This could erase what was previously a key Warlock weakness. Being able to easily remove big threats early (without losing a Mana crystal) is huge for a deck with as much late-game potential as Cubelock. If future decks seek to cheat out massive minions (as they are likely to do), this could be yet another tool to cement Warlock’s dominance.
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