Written by @F2K_Dethelor
Every week the pros from team Fade2Karma break down the “Deck of the Week” . These decks are seeing a lot of play either in constructed ladder or tournaments. Team F2K explain the deck lists and how to play them. View past Deck Lists of the Week.
Zoo, originally known as Board Control Warlock, is a deck that has its roots back in the closed beta. Abusing a plethora of overpowered and sticky minions (most of which are now nerfed) and the infamous old Blood Imp (used to give +1 hearth to every minion in the way Stormwind Knight does), the Warlock deck was the deck to beat. In February 2014 Reynad (TempoStorm) popularized a new version of the deck, including cards like Shieldbearers and Scarlet Crusaders. Zoo became even stronger after the first wing of Naxxramas: by taking advantage of the new Deathrattle Creatures – Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper. After being one of the most dominant decks in the Naxxramas, Zoo continued to be the deck to beat in GVG with the inclusion of Imp-losion which Xixo (Team Archon) managed to pilot the deck to #1 Legend in 3 servers simultaneously. In the following months we witnessed a decline in the use of the deck but BRM brought Imp Gang Boss, a card which fits perfectly into the deck. Voidcallers and Mal’Ganis found a spot in the deck as well, and made the Midrange DemonZoo a powerhouse.
- Power Overwhelming x2
- Flame Imp
- Voidwalker x2
- Imp Gang Boss x2
- Void Terror
- Imp-losion x2
- Voidcaller x2
- Bane of Doom
- Doomguard x2
- Abusive Sergeant x2
- Dire Wolf Alpha
- Haunted Creeper x2
- Ironbeak Owl
- Knife Juggler x2
- Nerubian Egg x2
- Defender of Argus x2
- Dr. Boom
Because of Warlock’s hero ability (Life Tap), we can afford to sacrifice some consistency in favor of having more options: by playing more 1-ofs. I enjoy having a variety of options, and drawing the same card twice is something you want to avoid. Cards like Abusive Sergeant and Nerubian Egg are really good though and you should run 2 of each.
Darkbomb – I have tried 1 Darkbomb in the slot of the 2nd Creeper. It’s nice against early Jugglers and can be also used for reach. However missing a t2 can be crucial, so you have to think before putting this in.
Annoy-o-tron – Excellent against aggro. It can replace a Haunted Creeper if you encounter a lot of Paladins/Hunters.
Bane of Doom – Running 1 copy of the card is totally fine. Add the 2nd copy and you risk drawing both, or having way too many 5-drops.
Mortal Coil – Until recently I used to play 1 Coil instead of the 2nd Creeper. However I feel that Haunted Creeper is good in the match-ups as Mortal Coil but is more consistent.
Acidic Swamp Ooze – It’s very good against Warriors and can surprise Rogues and Hunters. You can add this for a tournament if you expect your opponent will bring at least 2 weapon classes.
Sylvannas Windrunner – Good against midrange decks and in the mirror match. Can become very good if the meta becomes slower.
Shadowflame – This card used to be more popular a few months ago. It can turn the mirror match around and can start a comeback against Patron Warrior, but is mildly situation so it does not make the cut in my opinion. Still a very nice surprise card though!
Ideally you want to curve with a 1-drop into a 2-drop into an Imp Gang Boss. You should keep at least one 1-drop in your opening hand. We always want to keep minions that deal the best against our opponent’s early game. For example: Haunted Creepers are perfect against Hunters but weak against Priest, Flame imps and Knife Jugglers should be preferred instead against the latter.
Against fast decks, keeping a hand with only very cheap minions is totally reasonable. Against slower decks, we want to keep hands so we can always play on curve and prioritize deathrattles.
Control Warrior – Slightly Favorable
Warriors in general have a very hard time dealing with our minions if they don’t find an early War Axe. Apply maximum pressure and be mindful of brawl after turn 5. Force them to use their weapons in the less efficient way and you will be able to eventually outrun them.
Patron Warrior – Unfavorable
The matchup is much easier if the Warrior doesn’t find a weapon in the early game. You should be able to race them, ideally kill them before they are able to spawn any patrons. Sometimes you will be able to still clear the patrons and win with your late game threats but normally we are having a hard time if the Warrior player manages to stabilize. Voidcallers are vital in this matchup. Try to use Imp-losion after they used their AOE effects and use Defender of Argus wisely on 1/1’s to protect them.
The mirror match is all about board control and trades. The early game is vital here; the tempo gained by a trade with a Nerubian Egg can turn the game around. The same applies to Imp-losion; a lucky 4 roll can snowball the game for one player, since there is no efficient way for any deck to deal with the 1-1’s. Running Hellfire or Shadowflame in the mirror match will give you the edge.
Handlock – Fair
This is the one of the toughest to play perfectly in my opinion. This matchup mostly depends on whether the Handlock player will find his Molten Giants in the late game. Deathrattles are vital in this matchup; you should usually trade with your active creatures and keep the Eggs/Spiders unhatched. Voidcallers are also amazing in this matchup because of the tempo swings they offer. Ironbeak Owl and Loatheb can seal the deal for you. Depending on the quality of your hand you should decide whether to keep him around 14-15 hp or go all in. Normally if your hand is weak and your board is strong, you would rather “gamble” that he does not have both Moltens. Remember that it’s better to lose because he had the answer rather than lose because you played it too safe.
Oil Rogue – Fair
Although some players claim this match-up is Rogue favored, I believe it can go both ways. Nerubian Eggs are amazing here since they discourage the Rogue’s board clears. Do not taunt deathrattle creatures so they can’t attack them and Blade Flurry in the same turn. Kill Violet Teachers asap as the 1/1 army can grow out of hand!
Midrange Paladin – Slightly Favorable
Haunted Creepers, Voidwalkers and IGB are really strong in this matchup. Play around their swing cards (Truesilver, Concentrate) and save Owl for Tirion if the game lasts long.
Control Priest – Fair
Priests tend to have a lot of answers for our threats but we can simply win a lot of games if they don’t have the exact answer in the right moment. Use Loatheb to seal the game. Keep Flame Imps and Knife Jugglers and ditch Voidwalkers unless you have another 1-drop. Never keep Haunted Creepers.
Aggro Paladin – Slightly Unfavorable
Before GVG, Aggro Paladin used to be one of the easiest match-ups but this is not the case nowadays. Muster for Battle is insane, since we have no efficient way of dealing with 1/1’s. However, we have plenty of cards that deal efficiently with their threats, Voidwalkers, Haunted Creepers and even Nerubian Eggs can ensure a smooth transition into the mid-game.
Tempo Mage – Favorable
This matchup is pretty easy since Flamewalker doesn’t harm our deck as much as Hunter. Trading a Nerubian Egg into one of their early minions is a simple play and the tempo boost gained by it can give you a bit advantage. Don’t give them the space to come back into the game with a t7-8 Doctor Boom/Antonidas and you should be fine.
*Mech Mage plays very similarly – just make sure to always clear their mechs! It’s a board control fight.
Face / Midrange Hunter – Slightly Unfavorable
Hunters are generally pretty tough for our deck. However, we tend to do better against slower Hunter decks since we are able to rush them and force them to trade instead. You should try to become the aggressor in this matchup because we can’t keep up with the Hunter if we are forced to do all the trades. Play around Unleash only if you can afford to – usually you should just go all-in and pretend they don’t have it. After all, if the Hunter has the perfect hand there’s not much we can do. Playing a t5 Doomguard can be pretty good since it’s very efficient in the race.
Druid – Very Favorable
Druids have trouble dealing with our early game minions. If they don’t find an Innervate in the early game, our deck easily can snowball out of control by turn 4-5. This is one of the match-ups where you should constantly fight for board control as hard as possible and ensure that you will never lose it.
Freeze Mage – Unfavorable
Keep Ironbeak Owl and Loatheb, they are your best bets in winning this matchup. You should pressure them as much as possible and not allow them to stabilize. Playing Loatheb in their t5-7 is vital. Nerubian Eggs are very strong against their board clears. Don’t forget that Boom Bots will not proc Ice Block if they play Doomsayer; I have won this matchup several times in this way.
Thanks for reading the guide! I will be definitely playing more Warlock in the following days and I will try to include the new cards in the deck. I would like to read your feedback. Don’t hesitate to tweet me @F2K_Dethelor. I will be also streaming Warlock among other decks on twitch.tv/Dethelor