Our Zoo Warlock deck list guide features the best Rise of Shadows deck list for Season 61 of Hearthstone (April 2019). Our Zoo Warlock guide also contains Mulligan advice, card combos and strategy tips.
Zoo Warlock is a Hearthstone deck that we see crop up at the start of each expansion time and time again. What is it about the archetype that makes it so popular, though? Well, it tends to be a very cheap deck to put together so new or returning players tend to gravitate towards it. It’s also great for beginners to try out as it teaches you many of Hearthstone’s fundamental skills and mechanics while still remaining competitive.
The deck may not reach its glory days of yore, but that still doesn’t stop Zoo Warlock from finding a spot in the meta once again. The deck hasn’t received all that many new tools in Rise of Shadows – and has actually lost the heavy-hitting Doomguard – but a couple of new cards and the Lackey mechanic can slot into the list perfectly to round it out as decent replacements.
So, whether you're a new player, or you've not sampled Zoo for a while now, we've put together a guide that features the best deck list being played on the ladder today. Given that Zoo will always have some relevance in the meta it’s generally worth investing your dust in.
Further on you’ll find loads of strategy advice on how to play Zoo well, pick the best cards during the Mulligan phase, and we've broken down the card combos too.
Zoo Warlock deck list and strategy
This is the version of Zoo Warlock that players have settled on in the Rise of Shadows meta:
|1 x The Soularium||2 x Mecharoo|
|2 x Voidwalker||2 x Crystallizer|
|2 x Flame Imp||2 x Abusive Sergeant|
|2 x Grim Rally||2 x Argent Squire|
|2 x EVIL Genius||2 x Saronite Taskmaster|
|1 x Arch-Villain Rafaam||2 x Dire Wolf Alpha|
|2 x Knife Juggler|
|2 x Scarab Egg|
|2 x Magic Carpet|
|2 x Sea Giant|
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAf0GAo+CA5eXAw4w0wHyAfUF2QexCMII9v0C+v4C3IYDxIkD7IwDiJ0DtZ8DAA==
- 1. Tier List - Hearthstone Tier List (Rise of Shadows)
- 2. Plot Twist Warlock - Plot Twist Warlock deck list guide (Rise of Shadows)
- 3. Zoo Warlock - Zoo Warlock deck list guide (Rise of Shadows)
- 4. Handlock - Handlock deck list guide (Rise of Shadows)
- 5. Best Decks - Best Rise of Shadows decks
- 6. Budget Decks - Budget Rise of Shadows decks
Zoo Warlock is all about taking control of the board with cheap minions in the early game and taking sensible trades with your opponent’s creatures in order to maintain that lead. By using the Life-Tap hero power, you can ensure your hand is full of resources to continue that constant pressure. With a lot of powerful early game drops, you can storm out into a lead early on and either overwhelm your opponent before they have a chance to respond, or close out the game with some final burst damage in the late game.
While some players are already climbing to Legend in the new Hearthstone season with Zoo Warlock, the deck always seems to do well during the first few days of a new expansion launch. Don’t expect this dominance to last much past the first month or two of the new set release.
Contest the board with your powerful early drops and make sensible trades where possible. Remember, Zoo Warlock is a board control deck and not one for rushing face damage. Look for ways you can trigger dagger throws from Knife Juggler to get extra damage out either as face damage or to finish off your opponent’s minions. Similarly, any minion buffs can be used to trade up or push for extra damage to your opponent’s life total early.
Continue applying pressure with your minions. Pairing them up with the effect from Magic Carpet is an excellent way to get more value out of those cheap drops, or you can buff a particularly wide board using Grim Rally.
At this stage, you should consider weaving in a Life-Tap every turn where possible to ensure you don’t run out of resources or cast The Soularium to dig deeper into your deck. Just remember cards pulled from the latter are discarded if you don’t play them on the same turn so watch your mana costs!
If you’ve stormed out into a lead then the game may already be over at this point, or you’ll at least be looking for that last extra chunk of damage. If you can, drop discounted Sea Giant and your opponent will have to find an answer for it soon, otherwise their life total will evaporate. If the game has reached turn seven, Arch-Villain Rafaam can be a fun way to look for the win if you get some particularly strong legendary minions from his Battlecry!
We’ve put together a few tips to deal with other aggro decks you may face on ladder:
- 1. It’s even more important to trade cleverly against aggro decks, as Zoo Warlock has very few comeback mechanisms if you fall behind on the board.
- 2. Knife Juggler is particularly good against aggro if you get a couple of lucky dagger throws to finish off their equally low health minions.
- 3. Be cautious with Saronite Taskmaster, as the token it gives your opponent on death can be more impactful in a aggro deck that’s capable of many buffs.
- 4. Ensure you Life-Tap when you can, but be careful of doing so too aggressively and putting yourself on a dangerously low amount of Health. A fast aggro deck can reduce that to nothing out of nowhere.
- 5. The sooner you can drop a Sea Giant, the better, as aggro often forgoes a lot of hard removal for more minions.
Keep these tips in mind when you come up against control decks:
- 1. Definitely play more aggressively against control, as you want to finish them off before they get a chance to stabilise.
- 2. At the same time, be cautious of over-extending into board clear if you know one could be coming on the next turn. Make sure you have some resources saved in reserve, just in case.
- 3. Be cautious of going all-in with a big Sea Giant play. All the hard removal in control decks may see it deleted in the blink of an eye.
- 4. You may need to rely more on Arch-Villain Rafaam for the win in longer control games. It’s not only a solid Taunt creature but you might find the right legendary or two to carry you to victory.
Zoo Warlock Mulligan guide
As you might expect from the fast-playing Zoo deck, you’ll want to get your one-drops into your hand in the Mulligan phase. Here are the specific ones your want to see:
- 1. Flame Imp: Still one of the best one-drops in the game based on the stats alone and well worth the hit to your Health.
- 2. Voidwalker: A decent one-drop that can protect some of your other minions while slowly chipping away at your opponent.
- 3. Mecharoo: Another perfectly fine one-drop to start off the game with, plus it leaves a minion behind on the board when killed.
- 4. Argent Squire: A good sticky minion to drop at the start of the game so you can build and maintain your board presence.
- 5. Saronite Taskmaster: Similar to Flame Imp, there’s a downside to this card but it’s well worth playing for the stats to Mana cost ratio.
Zoo Warlock tips, combos and synergies
It’s one of the game’s oldest archetypes but the Zoo Warlock formula does change a little with each set release. Make sure you know all of the following combos available in the deck before you jump into your first match:
- Use Grim Rally to kill your weakest minion once you’ve gone wide enough on the board. If you can hit three or more creatures with the buff then you’ll start to see some value from it!
- The Soularium is a great way to refill your hand if you don’t want to risk a Life Tap, but remember you need to use all three cards on the same turn or you’ll Discard them.
- Make sure you drop Dire Wolf Alpha in between two minions so they both benefit from the Attack bonus. Aim to do the same every time with Defender of Argus, too.
- If Magic Carpet can survive for a turn after it’s played you can get some excellent value out of it as it’ll buff all your one-drop minions when played with one extra Attack and grant them Rush.
- With all the cheap minions you’re playing in the deck you should be able to reduce the cost of Sea Giant significantly to set up a huge tempo play.
- When you play EVIL Genius you’ll get two random 1/1 Lackeys for 1 mana with powerful Battlecry effects added to your hand. These include:
- Ethereal Lackey - Discover a Spell
- Faceless Lackey - Summon a random 2-cost minion
- Goblin Lackey - Give a friendly minion +1 Attack and Rush
- Kobold Lackey - Deal 2 damage
- Witchy Lackey - Transform a friendly minion into one that costs (1) more
- Both Grim Rally and EVIL Genius are ideal ways to crack Scarab Egg as its strength comes from being killed off – and these two cards give you bonuses.
- Remember that when you play Arch-Villain Rafaam that ALL of the cards in your deck and hand will be converted into legendary minions. Make sure you’ve used everything else you want to first.
Card choices and substitutions
These are some of the key cards in the current version of Zoo Warlock. As most are so cheap in terms of dust you shouldn’t need to look for replacements.
- Flame Imp: Strong stats for a one drop that you’ll happily take three damage for in order to assert yourself on the board early.
- Crystallizer: The negative isn’t too bad to get this solid drop on the board as it’s just a straight Health for Armor replacement. You can run Soulfire in its place if you don’t own this epic or want more burst damage.
- Grim Rally: Zoo Warlock often goes very wide on the board, so you can remove a weaker minion from the field to give everything else a significant buff for very minimal cost.
- The Soularium: Vital card draw to keep the pressure up as Zoo Warlock. As many of the deck’s cards are super-cheap you should be too worried about not having the mana to play everything you draw.
- EVIL Genius: A nasty downside but it’ll give you two one-drop minions with powerful effects that work well in Zoo Warlock.
- Knife Juggler: With all the cheap minions in Zoo Warlock you can get a lot of dagger throws off that can be hugely helpful as extra Health or minion damage.
- Magic Carpet: Offers a very nice buff to your one-drops that can ensure they have an more substantial impact on the board more immediately.
- Arch-Villain Rafaam: By the late game a lot of your early minions will have lost a lot of their potential so replacing them with random legendaries can often lead to hugely positive results if you get lucky.
- Sea Giant: You should have a wide board very often, so you’ll see substantial discounts on Sea Giant that mean you can drop it much earlier than intended. It demands an immediate answer from your opponent.