Deadly Decks: Warlock Zoo
Warlock Zoo has been a staple of Hearthstone for a long time. Earlier this year we saw the deck vanish from competitive play with the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion, but recently the deck has been making a comeback. I piloted this version of the deck with great success recently in the Insomnia LAN where I finished first (and the deck went 8-1).
Deck Code: AAECAf0GBKQDkbwCl9MCnOICDTD3BKgFzgflB8IIvLYCl8ECn8ICysMCm8sC980Cps4CAA==
What is the objective to making this deck work?
The deck still operates the way classic Zoo did, gain board control early with efficient minions and take efficient trades to keep growing your advantage. Prince Keleseth provides a potential massive power spike in your games, but don’t worry: you can win without him too. The inclusion of the Death Knight means you can sometimes even win late game! Be mindful of when to go for all-out aggression and when to hold out on playing your discard cards to secure Gul’dan.
How does the deck stack up against the main builds?
Zoo has 1 real weakness in the metagame right now: Rogue. Tempo Rogue has the ability to get the board early on and often sustain it until turn 7. If they land a Bonemare buff on their minions, they get a huge lead in the game. The matchup isn’t too bad, but rogue tends to have a small edge.
The reason Zoo can perform so well in the metagame right now is its slightly favoured match ups versus Druid and Priest. This deck list specifically is built to have some additional power versus those decks in particular. A card like Cairne can help play around Shadowreaper Anduin versus Priest and helps guarantee your Bonemare landing on a good target versus Druid.
Mulligans are often the most important part of any Hearthstone game and this is especially true with Zoo. Let’s start by getting the obvious statement out of the way. Always keep Prince Keleseth. With that out of the way we can look into some of the harder mulligan strategy with the deck. Always be mindful of what your opponent can easily answer, what minions they are likely to play, and what your overall win condition is versus the deck. None of these decisions exist in a vacuum, and you should always make decisions knowing the context of the other cards in your hand.
For example, Vicious Fledgling is an excellent card vs Priest and Druid in the mulligan: If it goes unanswered, it often just snowballs out of control and wins you the game, and the ways it gets dealt with are not punishing to you in the least. But what if you have no coin and no 1 mana minions in hand? The ways your minions can get removed increase dramatically and it becomes a much worse card.
Versus rogue, on the other hand, a single Backstab or activated SI-agent will finish off your Fledgling without gaining you any board presence. But what if we have a perfect curve with plays leading up to the Fledgling? It becomes harder and less efficient to deal with and it is again worth considering.
Hopefully this example helps give some insight into how to approach your mulligan decisions as there are far too many different scenarios to go through them all here.
How can I tech the deck to do better against the meta?
This is an easier question to answer. If Priest and Druid are rarer on the ladder you can easily choose to cut cards like Cairne in favour of additional 1-drops and aggression. If you find yourself not having time to play for late-game Death Knight value you can remove slower cards like Saronite Chain Gang etc. and build a faster list with Crystalweavers, Blood Imps, and Bloodfury Potions. If you keep having your pirates eaten by unfriendly beach-goers, consider swapping out your pirate package for other cards (although I generally advice against this as it is very powerful).