Our Zoo Warlock deck list guide features the best deck list for The Witchwood (May 2018). Our Zoo Warlock guide also contains Mulligan advice, card combos and strategy tips.
Zoo Warlock is one of the oldest decks in Hearthstone, and has been helping new players learn the ins and outs of the game since the very earliest beta phases. It's a deck that's focused on maintaining gentle early-game control, before snowballing into the kind of broad threat that the opponent will often struggle to overcome.
Although Zoolock struggled to catch up with the pack at the start of 2017, it grew in strength considerably throughout the second half of the year. Right now it's not quite in the top tier of competitive decks, but it may well rise higher during the Witchwood era. Let's hope so, as it's a great deck for newcomers to use to learn the ins and outs of Hearthstone's various mechanics and make ladder progress at the same time.
In our guide to playing the new Witchwood version of Zoolock, we've highlighted a deck list that's about as good as it gets right now, and should prove a pretty effective way of climbing the ladder. We've also got some strategy advice about how the deck functions, a bit of advice on the Mulligan process and we've also updated our combo tips to suit the latest version of the deck.
UPDATE - 3rd MAY 2018 - THE WITCHWOOD
No changes for Zoo Warlock in our latest update to the archetype, but please make sure you're running the latest version as it changed a fair bit in the early weeks. Just grab the new Deck ID, brush up on the new combos and you'll be set to go!
Zoo Warlock deck list and strategy
The following deck list is seeing the most competitive play right now, and we've updated the rest of our guide to reflect its make-up:
|2 x Flame Imp||2 x Acherus Veteran|
|2 x Kobold Librarian||2 x Fire Fly|
|2 x Mortal Coil||1 x Prince Keleseth|
|2 x Soulfire||2 x Tar Creeper|
|2 x Voidwalker||2 x Saronite Chain Gang|
|2 x Duskbat||2 x Sea Giant|
|2 x Hooked Reaver|
|2 x Despicable Dreadlord|
|2 x Doomguard|
|1 x Bloodreaver Gul'dan|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0GApfTApziAg4w0wH3BM4HwgjECOvCAsrDApvLAvfNApXOAvLQAv3QArjuAgA=
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Zoolock has varied in power over the years but players always seem to return to this old favourite with the release of every expansion. The Witchwood adds a few new cards to the familiar deck archetype and some potentially exciting new interactions in the process.
The strategy remains the same as it always has though: efficient trading, building a strong board of minions, and eventually overwhelming your opponent before they can get a foothold in the game.
Here’s how the different phases of that strategy look in The Witchwood era.
Early game: There’s one golden rule to playing Zoolock in the early game: if you have Prince Keleseth, play it. The quicker you can buff all of your minions by +1/+1, the better chance you’ll have in the match. It won’t always outright guarantee you the win if played on Turn 2, but it feels pretty close.
Aside from that, you’ll want to start developing your board with Flame Imp, Fire Fly and Voidwalker. Kobold Librarian is an excellent minion to cycle, while you can use Acherus Veteran to buff any of these early plays to make efficient trades against your opponent. Throw Soulfire at any particularly troublesome cards too, as long as you don’t risk discarding anything too powerful.
Mid game: With your board established you can start ramping up to more powerful plays. Saronite Chain Gang can offer some protection for your early game minions and allow you to use them more aggressively. Chances are Sea Giant is at a much more reasonable cost now too, and dropping a big minion like that can spell the end for your opponent if they have no answer to it.
Late game: As you creep closer to late game the power of Zoolock dwindles a little. By this point you’ll want to be in a position where a Doomguard or two gives you that last burst of damage you need to wrap things up. Don't forgetting the summoning strengths of Bloodreaver Gul'dan in this context either.
Some advice for when you come up against aggro decks on ladder:
- Zoolock is not a face deck, so be willing to trade minions efficiently where possible and then go for their life total when you have the clear advantage.
- Tar Creeper, Voidwalker and Saronite Chain Gang are great at slowing down aggro decks, so consider playing them if you’re falling behind.
- Your opponent going wide on the board can actually benefit you too by reducing the cost of Sea Giant. See if you can play him first before trading off minions.
- Despicable Dreadlord can help keep a handle on your opponent’s minion count too. Don’t forget that its one damage AOE attack triggers at the end of your turn.
- Use Soulfire aggressively to slow your foe down in the early game and limit their minion count.
A few tips for beating control opponents:
- As with most aggro decks, be mindful of playing too hard into board clears. You always want your opponent to be in a position where they feel it might be a waste using it now, but if they don’t then they could soon be overwhelmed.
- Sometimes a risky Life-Tap is the difference between winning and losing against control decks. If there’s a card still in your deck that can win you the game if you draw it, it’s often worth the gamble to prevent your opponent getting back in the game.
- Your taunt minions have far less value against control decks, so if there’s a choice between a Tar Creeper and three one-drops, the latter option is usually more worthwhile.
- If your opponent plays one large minion against your wide board, it’s often worth just ignoring it and going to their face. You don’t want to lose too many resources killing it, and the time it would take to individually attack each of your minions gives you the opportunity to push further ahead.
Zoo Warlock Mulligan guide
Some of the most important cards you’ll want to look for in your opening hand include:
- 1. Prince Keleseth: Always keep this. Giving all your minions +1/+1 from the start of a game is extremely powerful.
- 2. Kobold Librarian: Excellent value: not only does the learned critter have two attack but he’ll also draw you a card.
- 3. Flame Imp: Still remains one of the strongest turn 1 plays in Zoolock just by stats alone.
- 4. Fire Fly: A solid one-Mana minion with the added bonus of receiving an extra copy back into your hand.
- 5. Voidwalker: Another regular feature of Zoolock since the deck’s inception, and a decent first turn play.
Zoo Warlock tips, combos and synergies
Zoo may be one of the oldest archetypes in the game but the new expansion has shaken the formula up a little. Make sure you're up to speed with all of the following combos before taking this deck to the ladder.
- Don't even begin to worry about the negative Battlecry effects of Kobold Librarian. You're a Warlock after all, and so you should be well used to sacrificing a little bit of Health for an advantage elsewhere!
- Plan the maths carefully when Despicable Dreadlord is out on the board. Remember he'll do an extra point of damage to the enemy minions as soon as you hit End Turn, so don't sacrifice any minions you don't have to.
- Acherus Veteran provides a permanent one-Attack boost to another friendly minion on the board.
- Consider all of your self-damage options before fielding Duskbat onto the board, as you may be able to bag yourself some extra minions.
- If the target of your Mortal Coil dies as a result of casting it, you'll also gain an extra card for your hand.
- Once Prince Keleseth has been fielded, all of the minions remaining in your deck pile gain +1 / +1 of stats. This is a huge tempo advantage, and so you should aim to get this character out in play as early as possible in every match.
- Hooked Reaver gains +3 / +3 stats and taunt if you're at 15 Health or lower when he's put into play. Again, consider any self-damage options that may make sense in this context.
- Tar Creeper only gets its bonus Attack strength on the other player's turn, so make sure you factor that in as you mess around with the board state before hitting End Turn.
- Sea Giant costs one Mana less for each minion on the board. This includes the minions you're opponent has active at the time.
Zoo Warlock card choices and substitutions
These are some of Zoolock’s most important cards, as well as some potential substitutes if you need cheaper alternatives:
- Kobold Librarian: A one-Mana 2/1 minion is already quite good. Add in a free Life-Tap and you’ve got one of the game’s best one-drops.
- Soulfire: It’s a shame it no longer costs zero Mana but it can still offer a big tempo swing in the early game. Or a cheeky finishing blow.
- Prince Keleseth: A ridiculously strong buff for all your minions should you play it as early as possible. Nothing will quite match its power, although other minion buffs such as Dire Wolf Alpha and Defender of Argus can at least try and compete with it on a budget.
- Doomguard: Best used as a finishing move or when you’ve completely emptied your hand to avoid discarding too many valuable cards. Can also be used to trade in a pinch.
- Sea Giant: Considering how many minions you’ll have on the board at any one time (and not including your opponent’s too) a Sea Giant can be played at a heavy discount. We’ll take an 8/8 minion for nothing all day long.
- Flame Imp: At 3/2 those are stats usually reserved for two Mana minions, but the hero damage cost is worth the extra power.