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Retro Warlock Zoo Standard Deck

Last updated on Jul 11, 2016 at 16:29 by Sottle 8 comments

Table of Contents

The following deck is an old-school Zoo deck that returns to many of the cards that were popular in the deck as far back as the Beta. It moves away from the token focused nature of many current Zoo decks and instead relies on more individual aggressive minions and greater damage output.

This deck was created by Greek player Cursed who used it achieve top 50 Legend at the end of Season 27.

1. About the Author

This deck is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams on Twitch and explains all of his moves. Watching him is a good opportunity to see how this and other decks play out in practice, and how decisions are made in real time.

2. Retro Warlock Zoo Standard Deck

Our deck costs 1,260 Arcane Dust and it is made up of the following cards.

Warlock Cards Neutral Cards

2.1. Mana Curve


3. Strategy

The general strategy of Zoo is to aggressively build a board with small efficient minions and use your numerous buff cards to create favourable trades into higher cost minions. Combining this with the Warlock's Life Tap Hero Power, you can quickly overwhelm your opponent with card draw and create an imposing board state that they will not be able to answer.

This version of the deck goes back to the roots of the archetype by including many of the cards that were seen in the very early versions of the deck such as Soulfire, Argent Commander, and Young Priestess. Due to this deck building decision, many of the core cards that you might be used to seeing in Zoo are not included. Power Overwhelming is not included due to the lack of Deathrattle minions. Similarly Argent Squire is preferred to Possessed Villager since it has stronger synergy with cards like Lance Carrier and Defender of Argus. Lastly, since the deck is not particularly focused on tokens, many of the token synergy cards like Forbidden Ritual, Knife Juggler, and Darkshire Councilman are left out of the deck.

A common mistake for newer players with this deck is to prioritise attacking the opponent’s life total directly. Instead you should focus on making favourable trades to maintain minions on the board and create more damage over time. Choosing the right moment to attack your opponent directly and push for the win is a skill you can develop over time, not just with this deck, but with Hearthstone in general. As a general rule with this deck though, you are looking to trade and create an advantage over time.

Another key to playing this deck at a high level is minion positioning. When playing minions onto the board always consider cards like Defender of Argus which rely on minion positions to apply their unique effects. For example, if you intend to apply a Defender of Argus buff to a Argent Squire you will want to place the Squire in the middle of your board to maximise the options of which other minion to taunt. Other positional concerns with this deck are Dire Wolf Alpha and Imp Gang Boss. When positioning for Dire Wolf, keep your opponents expected play for the next turn in mind at all times and plan in advance how you would most efficiently trade into it using Dire Wolf, placing your minions accordingly. Also keep in mind that Imp Gang Boss will spawn tokens immediately to the right of it, and keep that it mind when factoring in Defender of Argus and Dire Wolf Alpha on following turns.

The early game is extremely important with this deck, so in the early turns you want to quickly establish a board advantage. The key cards to facilitate this are Flame Imp, Argent Squire, Young Priestess, Voidwalker, and Abusive Sergeant. Using combinations of high health minions, Deathrattles or Divine Shields alongside the buff from Abusive Sergeant you can begin to remove your opponent's early minions whilst keeping your own alive, creating a board advantage that you can compound on in the later turns.

Dark Peddler is a card that introduces a ton of flexibility to your early-game turns. If you have a Peddler in hand, you have the option of using it directly on turn 2, or playing an alternate 2-drop on turn 2, and following up with the Peddler on turn 3, safe in the knowledge that you will get a 1 Mana card to fill out your curve. This level of flexibility brings a lot of security to your mulligan process. As long as you have a Peddler in your opening hand, you are almost guaranteed to get a smooth opening. The power of Dark Peddler in the deck is amplified even further by the fact that so many of the Warlock 1 Mana cards are valuable for this deck. Power Overwhelming, Soulfire, Mortal Coil, Voidwalker, and Flame Imp are all valuable.

This deck is capable of being more aggressive than a standard Zoo deck. Since you are not trying to defend a board to activate cards like Gormok the Impaler or Sea Giant you are more comfortably able to push damage through to the opponent and not worry too much about losing your board in response. This is only really viable if you have damage in hand to back up this strategy though, or if your remaining deck is heavily loaded with damage cards. To make this strategy possible, the deck does play an increased amount of cards that can create damage from hand such as Soulfire, Argent Horserider, Argent Commander, and Doomguard. Remember that cards like Abusive Sergeant and Lance Carrier might be more valuable to hold in your hand to pair with a Charge minion if they cannot be used to push damage immediately.

This deck returns to using Doomguard as a finisher as it is playing less situational cards that can get discarded when compared to the versions of Zoo being run before Standard format. Doomguard is a powerful minion that can both be used for board Control and for burst damage. Do not be afraid of using Doomguard early and discarding cards from your hand if it provides you with an overwhelming advantage on the board, or if there is a key minion that needs killing that you have no other answer to.

3.1. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

Although it may be temping to simply keep any 1 Mana cards you are offered, maximising your winrate involves looking for the specific 1-drops that are best for the matchup. Against other aggressive decks like Shaman and other Zoos then Argent Squire or Voidwalker are your best options, especially alongside Abusive Sergeant or Lance Carrier. This will allow you to trade up efficiently into their opening minions will retaining your own. Young Priestess is a strong opening against classes that cannot do 1 damage easily like Hunter or Shaman, especially if you can Coin it out with another 1-drop. Against slower decks, you will want to maximise pressure with cards like Flame Imp. With The Coin, a hand of multiple 2-drops is excellent, as you can use The Coin to play a 2-drop on each of the first two turns. Without the coin a more standard curve of creatures costing 1-3 Mana is preferable. Dark Peddler is another excellent card to look for in your opening hand as it creates a huge amount of flexibility with how you can choose to play your opening turns.

Against Warrior specifically, you will be wanting an opening that mitigates the threat of Fiery War Axe. Argent Squire or Young Priestess and Voidwalker with The Coin are the best ways to do this.

4. ChangeLog

  • 11 Jul. 2016: Moved to Unique Decks.
  • 07 Jul. 2016: Deck added.
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