Our Zoolock deck list guide for the Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion will teach you how to play this explosive Warlock list. This guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Zoolock
While Zoo Warlock is a very old archetype, one of the Hearthstone’s classic, players have tried a new approach to the deck late in The Witchwood meta. Zoo is naturally a deck that takes a lot of damage. Usually, it doesn’t matter – if you’re the aggressive one, your health total is not a big deal. There seemed to be no point in playing healing before.
However, this build plays healing not only for the sake of gaining health, but also because of the synergies. Not only you can play a free Happy Ghoul after gaining health (and a free 3/3 in the early game is very, very strong in an aggressive deck like this one), but you can also burst your opponent down with a buffed Lightwarden. You can consistently make it a 3/2 (or 4/3 after Prince Keleseth), but a well-timed Fungal Enchanter can easily add 6 or 8 extra attack out of nowhere.
As for the Rastakhan’s Rumble, it yet remains to be seen whether Heal Zoo will remain the strongest version of the deck, or will the new Grim Rally synergies take over instead. Which means that there’s no point in updating an entire guide yet (because it might turn out that Heal Zoo without any changes is still the best version), but I’ll make a separate section for Rastakhan’s Zoo below – check it out if you’re interested in the new lists. If you aren’t, just skip it and continue to the “Zoolock Deck List” section and the rest of the guide.
Heal Zoolock Deck List
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)
- Voidwalker – Keep against Odd Paladin, or other decks flooding the board early with 1 health minions. 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.
Zoolock Win Rates
Zoolock 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. This deck generally works better against slow builds than against other Aggro. Zoo Warlock lives or dies by its early game tempo, and if your opponent takes that away from you, you might have a hard time.
The most important thing against Aggro is to not fall behind. This build does not run Despicable Dreadlord, which means that you have literally no way to AoE your opponent’s board, and thus often no way to come back into the game. In order to prevent that, you need to go for the tempo plays whenever you can. 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, Saronite Chain Gang) 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 a buffed Taunt. 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.
When it comes to swinging the tempo back, if your opponent’s isn’t that far ahead, it might sometimes be still possible thanks to the Soul Infusion. You absolutely want to hit either Doubling Imp or Saronite Chain Gang – some other targets are also okay, but not when you’re behind. And then, the tempo from two big bodies might be enough to come back into the game, especially if they stick. Chain Gang in particular is 2x 4/5 Taunt, or 5/6 Taunt if you also had Keleseth buff it. It’s very important that you stick something to the board, because otherwise your Fungalmancer and Fungal Enchanter are very weak. In the best case scenario, if 2 of your minions stay alive, you can buff them with Fungalmancer and make value trades, or you can first make value trades (if they’re big enough) and then heal them up with Enchanter.
This deck isn’t late game heavy. 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. Sometimes you might snatch more with The Soularium, but that’s still only a good play after Turn 4-5. 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 Doomguards, Soulfire or Lifedrinker – those are your extra burn from hand cards.
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 (all kinds of slow Druid, especially Big 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 Fungalmancer in your hand, try to keep some 3 Attack minions on the board – after buffing them, they can clear the 1/5 Taunts really easily, and Druid might have a hard time dealing with them after.
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, buffs are incredibly important. You need to know how much AoE damage your opponent can deal and try your best to play around it. Soul Infusion, for example, is very useful for that. Try to land it on higher health minions (if you can’t do it on Imp or Chain Gang, of course) so they will be more AoE-resistant. Similarly, use your Fungalmancer to buff your minions out of range. You can also, obviously, heal your damaged minions out of AoE range.
The Soularium works incredibly well in the slower matchups. While you have a very explosive early game, you usually slow down in the mid/late game. You run out of resources, and even though you draw 2 cards per turn, sometimes you end up only playing two 1-drops, and that’s not great. The Soularium lets you cycle through your deck and possibly play all, or at least most, of the cards you draw. It gives you a massive tempo turn. You can also use it to draw into lethal. If your opponent is low and you’re digging for some kind of damage (e.g. Soulfire, Doomguard, Lifedrinker), it increases your chance to find it immensely.
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 Doomguard – 5. You can sometimes combine them together, e.g. Lifedrinker + Soulfire is 7 burst damage that goes through a Taunt. You can also try to hit your Doomguard with Soul Infusion if you want more AoE – it increases his damage from 5 to 7 (6 to 8 with Keleseth buff).
Zoolock 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, Void Analyst 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 that sort of replaces the buff effect – sadly only on the minions in your hand and only on Demons (but Demons are majority of your deck anyway). 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 – for example, Voidwalker, Soul Infusion, Lifedrinker or Spellbreaker. Without Keleseth, Saronite Chain Gang is also getting much weaker, so you might cut that too. Generally the Keleseth version is better, but with the amount of 2-drops Zoo has access to right now, it’s possible to play it without. Still, keep in mind that the Keleseth version is better.
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 that is not vital to the deck and can be taken out quite easily.
- The Soularium – The only other expensive card in this deck. At this point we aren’t even sure if it will make cut in the final version, and some builds are already removing it, so you can easily do it if you don’t have it. Pick any of the replacement options: Tar Creeper, Void Ripper, Soul Infusion, 2nd Lifedrinker, Leeroy Jenkins.