Heal Zoo Warlock Mulligan Strategy & Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Kobold Librarian – Solid, aggressive stats. It cycles. It damage yourself, so activates the ability to heal your Hero. It’s one of the best 1-drops in the game. Always keep it.
- Flame Imp – Comparable to Kobold Librarian in this deck. Instead of cycling, it gets +1/+1 in stats. Both are amazing cards to drop on Turn 1, though.
- Prince Keleseth – There is no matchup or situation in which you want to mulligan Prince Keleseth away. The win rate associated with this deck skyrockets when he’s in the opener. If you have it – keep it. If not, look for it!
- Happy Ghoul – A great card if you can get it out for free, and you should be able to, since you have six cards that potentially heal you. You should usually get it out between Turn 2 and 4, unless you draw really poorly.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Lightwarden – You can keep it with a healing card, although unless you have a perfect hand, such as Flame imp + Lightwarden + Voodoo Doctor, I’d mulligan it away.
- Voidwalker – Keep against Paladin. 1/3 stats and Taunt are good against small dudes, but it’s not great against majority of the meta. You have better 1-drops you can look for, and the chance that you won’t get any is incredibly small.
- Voodoo Doctor – Keep with Happy Ghoul or Lightwarden.
- Despicable Dreadlord – Keep against Paladin. It might seem weird to keep a 5-drop in a deck like that, but trust me, Dreadlord wins the game against Odd Paladin.
Heal Zoo Warlock Win Rates
Heal Zoo Warlock Play Strategy
When you play Aggro vs Aggro mirrors, the most important thing is tempo. If you utilize it correctly, even a small tempo advantage can translate into a big board advantage over time and eventually into value too. Right now, slow matchups are more common than Aggro, but Aggro are still a thing on the ladder – mirror matchups, Odd Rogue, Odd Paladin. This deck generally works okay against Aggro, because of your early game tempo swings and the ability to value trade and then heal up your minions.
The most important thing against Aggro is to not fall behind. Your only comeback mechanic against wide board is Despicable Dreadlord, and it only deals 1 AoE damage. It will work only if your opponent isn’t careful or simply can’t play around it, which isn’t often. This means that you can’t afford to make slow, low tempo plays in the early game. You want to drop minions instead of going for value. Life Tapping is generally a bad play unless you can’t do anything else. Even on Turn 2, if you can choose between tapping and dropping a 1-drop, you generally should go for the 1-drop (especially if that’s a Kobold Librarian, then you might even topdeck another).
Dealing damage to your opponent is not important. I mean, ultimately it will be – but not in the early/mid game. Here, you want to take control over the board. Try your best to value trade – clear a minion while keeping yours alive. That’s also why opening with Prince Keleseth is perfect – your minions will have +1/+1, which means that it will be easier to trade. At the same time, you want to do your best so your opponent won’t be able to value trade into your minions. Let’s say that you clear a 1/2 with your Flame Imp, leaving it at 1 health. If your opponent has a 1/1 minion, he will now be able to clear it. But, you can always try to prevent that by placing a Taunt (Voidwalker, Tar Creeper) in between them, buffing it out of range (Fungalmancer) or even healing it up.
When it comes to healing, it is very important to use it correctly. First of all, Voodoo Doctor. It’s the only healing you can target, and the target plays a big role. If you have a Happy Ghoul in your hand, you should generally heal yourself – this will let you drop Ghoul for free. The only exception is when you can heal something to value trade, and then you have another healing card you can drop next turn anyway alongside Ghoul. This is especially useful if you can keep a bigger minion around, such as the Dreadlord. Another thing when it comes to healing is ordering. I know that it sounds obvious, but I’ve already seen people making this mistake. Play your Lightwarden before dropping a healing card. If you play to drop Fungal Enchanter, try to get as many value trades first as possible. Like I’ve mentioned, board control is most important against Aggro.
Despicable Dreadlord is often an MVP of the Aggro matchups. It deals 1 AoE damage every single turn, and they might have a hard time removing it. Ideally, you want to protect it the best you can – drop it behind a Taunt, make it clear the board etc. Then, the most common answer is Silence, but even then it’s a tempo loss for your opponent, which is a win for you. If you need to trade with your Dreadlord, try to heal it afterwards.
Void Ripper can be a really powerful tool in some scenarios. Against Aggro, you will mostly use it for efficient trading. Let’s say that you have a 3/3 minion and your opponent has a 3/2 minion. That kind of board is already a great Void Ripper target. Flipping your opponent’s minion means that you will be able to trade into it while leaving a 3/1 behind on your side. Just like with healing, order is important when doing a Void Ripper. First get your pre-Void Ripper efficient trades (e.g. a 2/1 into a 3/2), THEN flip and get the rest of the trades. Alternatively, if you’re going face, first attack with the minions that will have a lower attack after the flip, and only then drop Void Ripper.
This deck isn’t late game heavy. Without cards such as Doomguard or Bloodreaver Gul'dan used by the regular Zoo builds, you can’t really afford a very long game. Your main staying power is Life Tap – in the mid/late game, once you run out of steam, you will draw 2 cards per turn. That’s why it’s important to get ahead on the board earlier – if you’re ahead, you will be able to afford tapping. If you aren’t, Hero Power would only put you further behind. The ideal strategy against Aggro is to control the board until you get a solid advantage, then suddenly switch to the face race plan. Lightwarden is a perfect card for that. You can drop it one turn, do your usual trading, and then next turn drop a Fungal Enchanter and start going face. Lightwarden can be a 7/2 or 9/2 quite easily, so it’s a massive burst tool. Finish the game with Leeroy Jenkins, Soulfire or Lifedrinker – those are your extra burn from hand cards. You can also look for a Void Ripper lethal – especially if you have Tar Creeper on the board, you can get some extra damage out of nowhere.
As you can imagine, games against slower decks are completely different than Aggro mirrors. In this case, controlling the board will not be as important – especially since there is not much board to control in the early game anyway. You will nearly always get ahead on the board. What is important is to take advantage of that and kill your opponent before the late game. You don’t stand a chance against late game Control deck – some will grind you out of resources (Big Spell Mage), some will combo you (Shudderwock Shaman), some will put a massive wall of Taunts you will have no way getting through (Taunt Druid). Basically, you need to kill them before they can perform their own game plan.
That’s why tempo is also very important against Control decks, just for a different reason than against Aggro. The more tempo you have, the quicker you will be able to kill your opponent. In the early game, you generally want to go all in – drop as many minions as you can and deal as much damage as you can. There are only a few things you might want to play around, such as Doomsayer (dropping 6 damage on the board, like Flame Imp + Coin + Flame Imp, without having the ability to deal the last 1 damage can be devastating against decks running Doomsayer) or Defile (try to play around it, but it’s not the end of the world if you get Defiled – the card will get value against you at some point anyway).
Do you trade or not? That’s a very important, and difficult question. Ideally, you’d prefer to deal as much face damage as possible and let your opponent do the trades. But sometimes trading will actually give you more damage in the long run, and those are the situations you need to look out for. It all depends on the board state and situation, but there are three main scenarios in which trading is a good play. First scenario is your opponent dropping a high priority target. For example, you do want to trade away that Northshire Cleric or Mana Tide Totem unless you’re really close to killing your opponent. If you don’t, your opponent will draw 2-3 more cards and might find that AoE he needs to come back into the game. Another scenario is getting a value trade while having other, smaller minions on the board. For example, you have a 3/3 and 2/2 on the board, your opponent drops a 2/3. If you don’t kill it with your 3/3, he will get a free trade on a 2/2 and then either damage your 3/3 or maybe clear another minion. The last scenario is – obviously – playing around AoE clears. You generally want to trade in order to protect your higher health minions. Let’s say that you have a 4/4 minion on the board against Warlock who might drop a Hellfire. Leaving a small minion on his side lets him trade into your 4/4 and then AoE. If you clear it first with something else, his Hellfire will leave a 4/1 on your side of the board, and that’s important. Even if the AoE would clear your entire board anyway, it might still be worth to clear a minion, so your opponent won’t end up with a board advantage (assuming a non-mirrored AoE, such as e.g. Flamestrike). Against Druid, other than Taunt, you also might want to try to play around Spreading Plague, which is kind of like an AoE, but even more punishing. To play around it, try to trade off your smaller minions and keep only the bigger guys on the board. If you have some 4 attack minions, you might also save a Despicable Dreadlord to finish off the 1/5 Taunts.
While you want to go all-in in the early game, in the mid game you might want to try to manage your resources. Your board should be big enough to put pressure on your opponent, but not big enough to just lose the game to AoE. If you already have let’s say 10 attack on the board in the mid game, instead of going for the highest tempo play again, you might e.g. Life Tap + drop a small minion. Try to weave in Life Taps in the mid/late game for two reasons – first of all, so you will have a way to refill the board after AoE and second – so you can find your burst finishers. When it comes to playing around AoE, you can also utilize your Void Ripper. You can flip some of your minions to keep them alive after AoE, e.g. turn a 3/2 into a 2/3 against 2 damage AoE. You can also use it to keep your Lightwarden alive. E.g. you can buff it to 7 Attack, hit with it, and then if you suspect an AoE, flips it into a 2/7 minion. Now it will be out of range of most of the removals, and you will still be able to buff it. If you feel like your opponent doesn’t have a way to clear it easily, you might keep it as a 7/2, but flipping it is often correct. Notably, Void Ripper can also be used to deal with boards of Totems, Spreading Plague (especially when combined with Dreadlord) and Doomsayer.
Even if you’re going for some trades, try to deal as much face damage as you can, especially if you’re already holding onto some of your win conditions. Even though Zoo Warlock isn’t known for its massive burst, Soulfire can deal 4 damage, Lifedrinker – 3, Fungalmancer – 4 (assuming you have minions to buff) and Leeroy Jenkins – 6. You can sometimes combine them together, e.g. Leeroy + Soulfire is a very common burst finisher for 10 damage. Void Ripper is also a way to deal some extra burst damage. Flipping Voidwalker gives you +2 damage, while flipping Tar Creeper gives you +4 damage. You can also flip your opponent’s Taunt (it works best against cards such as Tar Creeper, Primordial Drake and Sleepy Dragon) it in order to get through it more easily, ultimately buying you more damage. Given that you should be able to deal quite a lot of damage in the early game, look for the opportunities to finish the game every turn. You’d be surprised how often you might be able to kill your opponent from ~20 health with some decent board.
Heal Zoo Warlock Card Substitutions
There is no direct replacement for Prince Keleseth in this deck. Just removing him from the list leaves a gaping hole in your mana curve that cannot be filled by a single card. I’d say that Keleseth is a vital part of the deck, but you can TRY to build it without him. If you do, you definitely need to fill your 2 mana slot in a meaningful way. The best three cards to do that right now are Vulgar Homunculus, Dire Wolf Alpha and Demonfire. The first one is a solid 2/4 Taunt with a Demon tag, it’s a well-rounded card and a good Turn 2 play in most of the matchups. The second one is a good 2-drop in board flood decks, since you will be able to buff your small minions / tokens and trade up. The last one, while not amazing, can be used either as a buff on one of your small Demons, or as a 2 damage removal if you need it. It’s a good follow-up to Turn 1 Demons such as Voidwalker or Flame Imp. You want to include at least four 2-drops.
In order to fit those cards (you’d want at least four 2 mana cards), you want to remove some of the other cards – Void Ripper or Lifedrinker would probably go away first. Tar Creeper is suboptimal if you don’t face many Aggro decks. Perhaps you could drop a Saronite Chain Gang, since it’s worse without Keleseth.
Other Card Replacements
Besides Prince Keleseth, Zoo Warlock is a deck that can be built on a budget quite easily. This build runs only a single more Legendary and a single Epic, and both of them can be replaced without hurting your win rate that much.
- Leeroy Jenkins – The most popular Heal Zoo builds run Leeroy Jenkins as its burst finisher. However, it’s not necessary at all. In fact, lots of players seem to be getting better results after substituting Leeroy with Doomguard. While it gives you less damage and you can’t reliably combo it with Soulfire to finish the game, it’s much better mid game play. Dropping a 5/7 (or even 6/8) with Charge can give you a massive advantage, and since the deck has some explosive openings, you might even be able to drop it without discarding anything (or discarding only 1 card).
- Void Ripper – It’s a tech card, which is pretty useful in the current meta. However, it’s not a must-have card and it can be replaced quite easily. You can use a second Doomguard (or first if you do have Leeroy), second Spellbreaker, Vicious Fledgling or Glacial Shard.