Magical menagerie management – become a Zoo Warlock expert
Zoo Warlock – often shortened to Zoolock – has been a popular and competitive archetype since the early days of Hearthstone. It relies on a combination of the Warlock’s card draw ability and cheap minions to flood the board with a “zoo” of creatures, hence the name.
Early versions of the deck were very aggressive. It remains competitive in the current meta, but the existing version is more flexible. It has much more defensive potential and can close out longer games, as well as rush down opponents.
Plus it’s relatively cheap to build, so is a great choice for newer players.
Unusually, there are two quite distinct versions of this deck doing the rounds. The core cards for both are:
2 x Flame Imp
2 x Kobold Librarian
2 x Malchezzar’s Imp
2 x Soulfire
2 x Voidwalker
2 x Darkshire Councilman
2 x Despicable Dreadlord
2 x Doomguard
1 x Bloodreaver Gul’dan
2 x Firefly
1 x Tar Creeper
2 x Spellbreaker
Beyond that, the two versions diversify. The first, cheaper, version relies on demonic synergy.
2 x Demonfire
2 x Vulgar Homunculus
2 x Bloodfury Potion
2 x Crystal weave
Deck code: AAECAf0GAsrDApfTAg4w9wTyBc4Hwgj2CLSsAry2Ase7Asm7AuvCAvfNAvHQAvLQAgA=
While a more aggressive variant builds around Prince Keleseth.
2 x Glacial Shard
1 x Prince Keleseth
2 x Saronite Chain Gang
2 x Vicious Fledgling
1 x Cobalt Scalebane
Deck code: AAECAf0GBMrDAsrLApfTApziAg0w9wTyBc4Hwgi0rAK8tgKXwQKfwgLrwgKbywL3zQLy0AIA
As you might expect from a deck with two solid variants, you can get away with a lot of card swaps and substitutions. Almost any missing piece from one version can be substituted with a card from another.
Doubling up on cards like Tar Creeper and Cobalt Scalebane is also an option. Just make sure not to mistakenly use any 2-cost cards if you’ve got Keleseth in your deck.
Budget players rejoice: Bloodreaver Gul’dan is very much a peripheral card here. The deck ought to win (or lose) most of the time before you reach the 10 mana needed to play him. Feel free to run a substitution instead.
Any deck that runs Prince Keleseth wants to have it in their opening hand. So if it’s in your Zoolock build, mulligan for it. Toss anything else aside in your quest for the prince: he’s that powerful.
Otherwise, aim for cheap minions. Kobold Librarian and Flame Imp are particularly good early plays. Failing that, Firefly and Voidwalker are also worth keeping.
If you feel you may be facing an aggressive deck, it can also be worth keeping or mulliganing for the other Taunt cards in your deck, whatever they are.
Zoolock is all about keeping control of the board. You have a lot of cheap, high health minions. So early on, seek to push these out as fast as you can. Then trade them with whatever your opponent is putting down. Chances are, yours will come off better, leaving you in a position to snowball into a game-winning position.
The deck has a lot of self-inflicted damage cards. Don’t hesitate to use them, or to burn health for card draw if you need it. Zoolock is all about piling on the pressure and keeping it on. Played properly, your opponent won’t have much chance to exploit this weakness. They’ll be too busy defending against your sea of minions. Do be more careful against Mage builds with their slew of direct damage cards.
Your other big weakness is board-clearing cards. Oddly, the prime candidates for this right now are slower Warlock decks which use Hellfire and Defile. If you think your opponent might be holding such a card, try and keep a couple of cheap cards in reserve. They will re-establish your board presence right away, while you use your hero power to re-stock your hand.
Surprise damage is a huge boon in this deck. Soulfire and Doomguard can come out of nowhere to blow away an annoying enemy minion or even win you the game. Despicable Dreadlord also offers as a nasty shock: if you can’t kill opposing minions, leave them on 1 health for a Dreadlord to mop up.
The demon variant can gather board presence with incredible speed. Voidwalker followed by Demonfire leaves you with a 3/5 Taunt minion on turn 2, a tough position for an opponent to recover from. Bloodfury Potion on turn 3 will make it 6/8 which is almost irrecoverable unless it can be Silenced.
You can pull a similar trick with Malchezzar’s Imp. Even without the buffs it’s still a solid early-game play thanks to its high health. If you have other options, though, consider saving it to combo with a discard effect like Soulfire or Doomguard.
Speaking of which, while the ideal scenario is to play these cards on an empty hand to bypass their downside, don’t be afraid to play them as needed. The tempo swing you gain from them is usually worth the cost. Then you can use your hero power to recover the cards you lost.
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