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Zoo Warlock Karazhan Standard Deck

Last updated on Sep 03, 2016 at 19:59 by Sottle 9 comments

Table of Contents

The following guide outlines how to play a Standard build of the popular Warlock Zoo deck. Zoo lost a lot of powerful Deathrattle minions in the switch over to Standard but also gained a lot of powerful cards to synergise with their token focused strategy meaning that the deck is still in a very strong place overall.

The Karazhan Adventure introduced Malchezaar's Imp to the format, which encourages you to play additional Discard cards in your deck. This deck adds in extra Soulfires, but still tries true to the consistent Zoo strategy instead of moving towards a full Discard based strategy.

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. Zoo Warlock Karazhan 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.

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, Possessed Villager, 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. Malchezaar's Imp is another potential 1-drop that you can play out early, but unless you have no other options, it is usually better to attempt to get value from this card later with a Discard combo.

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.

Moving into the mid-game your Token generation becomes extremely powerful through usage of cards such as Forbidden Ritual and Imp Gang Boss. Building a board quickly like this has incredible benefits for cards like Knife Juggler, and Darkshire Councilman. Darkshire Councilman in particular is a card that can easily snowball out of your opponent's control if they are unable to deal with it immediately. Despite this fact, your board state is a lot more fragile to AoE effects in Standard since you lose access to most of of the powerful Deathrattle minions that previously acted as your insurance policy. Because of this, it is important to keep in mind your opponent's AoE options and adjust your board accordingly to play around the amount of damage their relevant cards can do.

Forbidden Ritual is a slightly awkward card to use effectively in this deck. Since it mandates the use of your entire Mana pool on any given turn, it can be hard to use Discard cards while this card is in your hand, since it will be difficult to empty your hand first. With this in mind it is usually worth using Forbidden Ritual at the earliest opportunity even if it is only for 2 or 3 Imps.

Your goal with this deck is to maintain board dominance and to defend cards like Darkshire Councilman to maintain pressure. This makes trading as efficiently as possible extremely important for the deck as it will limit your opponent's options in terms of how to deal with your board. If you start being too aggressive too early, your opponent will have more flexibility in terms of how to clear your board, and since this deck plays very few recovery mechanics you are depending on being ahead on the board at all times. It is important to make an aggressive push at some point however, as without doing so you can find yourself being outvalued by your opponent's late-game minions if you have spent too much time trading. Generally the right time to start pushing damage through to your opponent is when you are confident that they have no realistic way of clearing your board and when you have extra damage in hand to back up your aggression.

As mentioned previously Malchezaar's Imp should often be held onto until you get immediate value since it is such a powerful engine for digging through your deck to find power cards like Doomguard. This is also true in the late-game where Malchezaar's Imp can be used to cycle useless late-game cards like Flame Imp by discarding them and looking for something more powerful. The goal of the additional cycle in your deck is to allow you to dig through a higher percentage of your deck and pick up more power cards like Darkshire Councilman, Doomguard, and Soulfire to be able to end the game.

3.1. Synergies & Combinations

Darkshire Councilman can be buffed very quickly in this deck since it gains attack from all summoned tokens such as those from Forbidden Ritual and Imp Gang Boss.

Power Overwhelming is excellent when used on a small token minion, or especially Possessed Villager.

Malchezaar's Imp can be used to turn discarding cards into a positive thing by replacing weak cards in your hand.

3.2. Mulligans & Matchup Specific Strategies

General mulligan strategy involves pushing aggressively for a Flame Imp and other 1-drops. 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 other aggressive decks that look to have a fast start such as Hunter, Tempo Mage, or other Zoos, your best opening is Voidwalker, Possessed Villager, or Argent Squire as they are both key cards early against aggro. These minions can trade very favourably into opposing small minions, especially when targetted with an Abusive Sergeant buff.

3.3. Card Swaps

Forbidden Ritual can be cut from the deck in favour of Mortal Coil. If you make this change, you should also replace Knife Juggler with Flame Juggler.

Power Overwhelming is another card that can get stranded in your hand easily and can be cut from the deck for additional minions like Darkshire Librarian.

Crazed Alchemist is a tech choice that can be used if you are encountering a lot of decks running Doomsayer.

4. ChangeLog

  • 03 Sep. 2016: Deck added.
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