Our Zoo Warlock deck list guide for the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion will teach you how to play this board control-centric Warlock list. This Zoo Warlock guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Warlock Zoo
Warlock Zoo is a deck with a long history in Hearthstone. In the past, the deck ran an extremely low curve, often topping out at 5 mana with Doomguard. At this time, Blood Imp, Young Priestess, and even Shieldbearer all found a home in this early game focused deck.
Even as the deck transitioned to Discard variants during One Night in Karazhan, the key strategy of the deck remained the same: trade minions efficiently, snowballing board presence into a victory.
More recently, the deck has become heavily-centered around demon synergies. The deck still has a slew of early-game minions, but also contains some potent mid-game threats in Despicable Dreadlord and Bonemare. At the top end, Bloodreaver Gul'dan provides a powerful finisher unlike any we’ve seen in Warlock Zoo, giving it a bit more longevity than past iterations.
Warlock Zoo Card Choices
- Flame Imp – A 1-mana 3/2 can often be the difference in getting ahead on board and playing from behind.
- Kobold Librarian – With many low-cost minions, Warlock Zoo tends to run out of cards very quickly. Librarian draws a card and develops a minion on board.
- Malchezaar's Imp – While less aggressive than its Flame companion, this Imp does offset some of the downside of Discarding cards with Soulfire or Doomguad.
- Soulfire – Four damage for 1 mana can make for a huge tempo swing. While losing a card from hand is less than ideal, Warlock has Life Tap to replenish quickly.
- Voidwalker – Voidwalker is another low-cost Demon that’s difficult to remove in the early game. Against Aggro, especially, this card offers a powerful turn 1 play.
- Darkshire Councilman – Councilman provides a stable body that slowly becomes a legitimate threat thanks to all the efficient minions in this list.
- Despicable Dreadlord – In the all-out war for board control in the early turns, opposing minions are frequently left damaged. On turn 5, Dreadlord can clean up any that were left on 1 health and swing the board back in your favor.
- Doomguard – Dumping two cards from hand never feels good. That said, playing a 5-mana 5/7 with Charge feels great!
- Bloodreaver Gul'dan – Zoo has, in the past, been a deck that lacked much in the way of sustain. Bloodreaver Gul’dan can give you some staying power to recover a lost board or finish a slower deck.
- Fire Fly – Fire Fly isn’t necessarily the greatest opener, but offers a reliable body that replaces itself in hand and fills out your curve.
- Patches the Pirate – This 1-mana Pirate has been working his way into nearly every board-centric deck since his release. Zoo is no different in it’s desire to shoot Patches into play.
- Prince Keleseth – Early in the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion, players were having success without running Prince 2. After things have settled, however, it seems strictly better to include him in Zoo lists.
- Southsea Captain – What’s better than a free 1/1 with Charge? A free 2/2 with Charge! The lone member of Patches the Pirate’s crew, Southsea Captain can bring 5 stats into play for 3 mana.
- Saronite Chain Gang – How long can this go on? Saronite Chain Gang helps stabilize against aggressive decks and pairs well with Prince Keleseth.
- Spellbreaker – In the current metagame, there are several premium Silence targets, warranting the inclusion of at least one Spellbreaker in most board-centric decks.
- Bonemare – Bringing 9/9 stats into play on turn 7 is great value. The fact that 4 of that power can attack immediately is potentially crippling for opponents.
- Corridor Creeper – A deck as reliant as Warlock Zoo on maintaining a board presence is very weak to board clears. Corridor Creeper helps ease the pain of losing minions from play.
Warlock Zoo Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The mulligan section into two parts – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
VS Fast Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Voidwalker – Landing a 1-drop is critical against aggressive decks. Of the 1-cost minions in the deck, Voidwalker is the most defensive and resilient to Patches.
- Malchezaar's Imp – While Machezaar’s Imp lacks the taunt that Voidwalker offers, it has the same statline, making it a good keep.
- Flame Imp – It may seem counterintuitive to keep a card that damages your hero against fast decks, but Flame Imp has the stats to battle for board.
- Prince Keleseth – There is never a matchup or situation where you want to mulligan Prince Keleseth. The win rate associated with this deck skyrockets when he’s in the opener.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Corridor Creeper – Creeper provides a massive tempo swing against decks looking to fight you for the board. That said, you don’t want to risk falling behind so far that even a free 5/5 isn’t enough.
- Fire Fly – Although you always want a turn 1 play, with so many 1-mana minons, it isn’t always necessary to keep Fire Fly in hand when better options are available.
- Southsea Captain – With a 1-2 curve already in hand, Southsea Captain can provide big swings when pulling a 2/2 Patches from your deck.
VS Slow Decks
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Flame Imp – Against slower decks, the aggressive nature of Flame Imp makes it the best turn one play.
- Kobold Librarian – A 2/1 on turn 1 is already a good play against decks without Patches. The fact that Librarian replaces itself in hand makes it a great keep against Control.
- Prince Keleseth – In slower decks, an early Prince Keleseth can accumulate even more value. Keep this card.
- Corridor Creeper – It may seem weird keeping a 7-drop, but board clears can be devastating for Zoo Warlock. Holding Corridor Creeper in hand against slower decks helps alleviate some of the pain of losing your minions.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Fire Fly – Again, not the ideal turn 1 play, but does offer some valuable refill against slower decks that look to remove your minions.
- Southsea Captain – Getting 10 stats for 3 mana is pretty good against slower decks. If you haven’t yet pulled Patches from your deck, that’s exactly Captain does for you.
- Voidwalker – While the taunt is less relevant than against Aggro decks, dropping a minion on turn one is still good.
- Malchezaar's Imp – Malchezaar’s Imp isn’t aggressive enough to be a priority keep against slower decks.
Warlock Zoo Win Rates
Warlock Zoo Play Strategy
Warlock Zoo’s primary concern is maintaining control of the board. While this game plan may seem singular, actualizing is very different when facing Aggro and Control.
The Play Strategy section of this guide will take you through the details of both Aggro and Control matchups.
The first few turns set the tone of the matchup against Aggro decks. During this critical early game, there is typically an intense battle for the board. More than likely, the player than wins the board wins the game.
Do what you can to win the board, sacrificing value if necessary. Most likely, if you can get to the mid-game ahead, you’ll have the tools to keep the lead. Losing cards to Soulfire and Doomguard is rarely as important as the tempo gain from playing them. Usually, Life Tapping after you gain a lead will give you enough staying power.
That said, use Life Tap sparingly against hyper-aggressive decks, especially those with burn. Your life total is meant to be used as a resource, just don’t expend so many hit points that you fall into the range of burn.
Bloodreaver Gul'dan on turn 10 can lock opponents out of the game, both because of the board state it creates and the Lifesteal from the Death Knight hero power.
Against Control Decks, the challenge is toeing the line between pressuring the opponent and overextending on the board. This deep into a Standard rotation, board clear options are numerous, so be aware of AoE spells your opponent has access to.
In the first few turns, you’re probably safe loading up the board with minions. However, as you start approaching 4-5 minions in play, you may need to hesitate before committing more. Beginning around turn 4, you want to start weaving in Hero Powers to maintain a full hand. Doing so will allow you to refill if you board is dismantled.
Continue pressuring your opponents through the mid-game. Landing a Bonemare can be devastating for your opponent in many situations. Likewise, an early Prince Keleseth can protect you mid-game board presence from crippling damage-based AoE.
Bloodreaver Gul'dan can often close out games that go long enough. Still, be cautious of the timing of your Death Knight. Playing it with an empty hand into a Psychic Scream or Twisting Nether can leave you with few options moving forward.
Warlock Zoo Card Substitutions
There is no direct replacement for Prince Keleseth in this deck. Removing him alone leaves a gaping hole in your mana curve that cannot be filled by a single card. Warlock Zoo can certainly be successful without Prince Keleseth, but it reshapes the build quite a lot. The list provided below would be a good option for players lacking Keleseth in their collection.
Without Patches the Pirate, the deck is still playable. That said, missing out on the charging 1/1 takes the wind out of the sails of the Pirate Package. The substitutions below should be made as a whole (rather than individually) if you don’t have Patches.
- 2x Southsea Captain > 2x Vicious Fledgling – Flappy Bird offers the potential to snowball out of control very quickly. However, this pink bird is a little weak to removal, so it doesn’t quite make the cut in the main list.
- 1x Patches the Pirate > 1x Mortal Coil – Mortal Coil can’t quite make up for the lack of Patches, but it does help finish off weakened minions and dig deeper into your deck.
General Card Replacements
- 1x Bloodreaver Gul'dan > 1x Spellbreaker – While there is no direct replacement for the Warlock Death Knight, a second Spellbreaker would be a welcome inclusion in this deck.
- 2x Corridor Creeper > 2x Tar Creeper – If you’re not yet ready to jump on the Corridor Creeper bandwagon, this other Creeper is a suitable replacement.
About the Author
A card game veteran, Roffle has been infatuated with Hearthstone since closed beta. These days, he spends most of his time tinkering with decks on ladder or earning gold in Arena (f2p btw). In particular, Roffle has a wealth of experience in competitive Wild Hearthstone, including a top 16 finish in the inaugural Wild Open Tournament and numerous high end of season finishes since the format’s inception. Follow him on Twitter or check out some of his articles on Roffle.net.