Our Budget Zoo Warlock deck list guide for the Rise of Shadows expansion will teach you how to play this nostalgic Warlock list. This Budget Zoo Warlock guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!
Introduction to Budget Zoo Warlock
Zoo Warlock is an archetype that dates back to the early days of Hearthstone. In the past, the deck revolved around low-cost minions and various means of leveraging a favorable board state to trade up into opposing minions before making a lethal push.
Because of its low-curve, Zoo Warlock has long been a favorite of budget-minded players sacrificing very little for the sake of keeping costs low. Additionally, the deck has long served as a powerful teaching tool for new players eager to learn about core Hearthstone concepts such as Tempo, trading up, and timing a push for lethal.
In The Year of the Dragon, Zoo Warlock can once again return to its roots. Now free of the requirement of including Prince Keleseth–as well as various other powerful, high-curve Neutral minions–the old archetype can once again favor a curve skewed heavily towards one and two drops. This shift gives the deck a familiar feel for anyone returning to Hearthstone after a long hiatus.
Rise of Shadows
A handful of budget-friendly cards from Rise of Shadows fit perfectly with the Zoo style of gameplay. Most notably, EVIL Genius meshes with Grim Rally, the potent one-mana spell introduced in Rastakhan’s Rumble. With these sacrifice effects, these board spam Zoo Warlocks can take advantage of numerous low-impact minions on board and turn them convert them into legitimate threats.
Budget Zoo Warlock Mulligan Guide
High Priority Keeps
- Flame Imp – These days, it’s hard to find a better turn one play than Flame Imp. The damage this card deals to your hero is a perfectly fine exchange for the stats is places on board.
- Argent Squire – Zoo Warlock benefits from resilient early-game minions and Argent Squire fits the bill perfectly. The Divine Shield on this one-drop makes Argent Squire a quality target for attack buffs from Dire Wolf Alpha or Abusive Sergeant.
- Mecharoo – Just like Argent Squire, Mecharoo provides a sticky body that can make favorable trades in the early turns. Because of the Deathrattle, Mecharoo is typically a little better with a Grim Rally in hand, but otherwise pretty comparable to Squire in the early game.
- Saronite Taskmaster – Early turns are critical for Zoo Warlock and, like Zombie Chow in the past, it’s hard to top Saronite Taskmaster. The downside can be rough, but manageable with the board lead this one-mana minion card provides.
Low Priority Keeps
- Voidwalker – Against aggressive opponents, Voidwalker is tough to beat in the first couple turns and an automatic keep in such matchups. When facing slower, control decks its value decreases a bit but is often still worth a spot in your opening hand.
- Witchwood Imp – While turn one minions are important, there are better options than Witchwood Imp. Still, this card can be worth a keep without any other one-drops in hand.
- Dire Wolf Alpha – With one mana minions already in hand, Dire Wolf Alpha can be an effective tool to help these minion trade up into opposing two drops.
- Grim Rally – If you have a likely setup into a wide board, Grim Rally can be an effective keep. As one of the primary payoff cards for this deck, it makes sense to hang onto this card if you already have turns lined up.
- Scarab Egg – Even though Scarab Egg doesn’t have much of an immediate effect on the board, there are plenty of tools in the deck that can be used to leverage this zero attack minion on the board and generate token minions.
- Knife Juggler – In a deck with so many low-cost minions, Knife Juggler is likely to get good value. At worst, it’s a fine follow up to a one-mana minion on the first turn.
- EVIL Genius – Many of the Lackeys play well into Zoo Warlock’s gameplan so the ability to generate them early is helpful. Paired with a Scarab Egg or sticky one-drop minion, EVIL Genius is a reasonable keep.
Budget Zoo Warlock Play Strategy
As any Hearthstone veteran will tell you, piloting Zoo Warlock is about one thing: board control. With a favorable position on board, Zoo Warlock can quickly snowball into an easy victory. Should it get behind, however, it struggles to regain its footing.
Early turns are typically spent making favorable trades to preserve a board lead. Fortunately, Zoo Warlock has numerous early-game minions that can be difficult to remove and frequently trade two-for-one. Going into the mid-game, attack buffs can be utilized to solidify your board state and continue applying pressure.
Grim Rally can really help cement an early advantage by adding stats to a wide board. Even if you don’t have a Scarab Egg to sacrifice, you can make attacks (including value trades) with a minion before destroying it to buff up the rest of your board. Several cards in this deck go wide on the board or generate token minions, creating the perfect targets for your Grim Rally turns.
Should you fall behind on board, Knife Juggler and token generation, such as Scarab Egg, can be used to snipe opposing minions and swing the board back in your favor. Still, a more proactive approach is typically preferred.
Budget Zoo Warlock Future Card Replacements
- 2x Witchwood Imp > 2x Crystallizer – While Witchwood Imp plays into the sacrifice gameplan, Crystalizer offers a more stable body in the early game.
- 1x Soul Infusion > 2x The Soularium – With so many one cost minions, Soularium is likely to cycle hard through the deck and get great value.
- 1x Witchwood Imp > 1x Arch-Villain Rafaam – Even with Life Tap, one of Zoo Warlock’s biggest weaknesses is running out of steam. Arch-Thief Rafaam helps solve that problem.
- 2x Soulfire > 2x Magic Carpet – Soulfire is great to extra reach, but with so many one attack minions, Magic Carpet meshes a bit better with Zoo Warlock’s gameplan.
- 2x Doubling Imp > 2x Sea Giant – Zoo Warlock has a tendency to go wide on board and Sea Giant fits nicely with that strategy.
Budget Zoo Warlock General Replacements
Here’s a list of cards you can add to this deck if you happen to have them or are missing anything in the decklist.
- Hench-Clan Hogsteed – Paired with the Deathrattle, Rush on Hogsteed can be useful in swinging a board back into your favor.
- Dark Iron Dwarf – Like Abusive Sergeant, Dark Iron Dwarf helps early minions trade up into an opponent’s board, albeit at a higher cost.
- Defender of Argus – Defender of Argus plays well into Zoo Warlock’s gameplan of generating tokens and spreading wide onto the board.