Our Budget Zoo Warlock deck list guide for the Saviors of Uldum expansion will teach you how to play this budget list. This 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. The deck always revolved around low-cost minions (the deck can have a low curve because of Hero Power that lest Warlock draw more cards whenever they need) 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.
Saviors of Uldum has introduced quite a lot of new Zoo Warlock tools, and luckily – most of them are cheap. The biggest change compared to the previous expansions is a new Lackey support. While EVIL Genius has seen play in the deck already (just because it was good), we now have an extra way to generate Lackeys (Sinister Deal) as well as a massive pay-off card (EVIL Recruiter). There’s also a new self-damage mini-package with Neferset Thrasher and Diseased Vulture. Sadly, the second part is Epic, which means that it’s not a budget option, but it’s the best upgrade you can make for the deck (and Thrasher is still good enough even without Vulture).
Budget Zoo Warlock Mulligan Guide
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
- Flame Imp – The most classic Zoo 1-drop, Flame Imp is still strong. 1 mana 3/2 are incredible stats for a 1-drop, and all you need to sacrifice is 3 health, which is irrelevant in most of the matchups. Always keep it!
- Voidwalker – Your second best 1-drop, 1/3 stats are always good and you get an extra Taunt on top of that. Taunt can come handy sometimes if you want to block a smaller minion from trading into something, or it can just stop some damage from getting to your Hero.
- EVIL Genius – Bread and butter of this build, EVIL Genius is just amazing on all fronts. While the 2/2 stats aren’t that powerful, giving you TWO lackeys is great. Sacrificing a minion is usually a downside, but in this deck it might not be in many cases (your run Eggs that you WANT to kill off). Always keep it.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Mecharoo – You always want to open with a 1-drop, but you prefer either Flame Imp or Voidwalker. However, if you don’t get those, you still want to keep Mecharoo. Also, keep Mecharoo with EVIL Genius, since it’s a good one to sacrifice – you’d rather sac a 1/1 that Deathrattles into another 1/1 than a 3/2, for example.
- Sinister Deal / EVIL Cable Rat + EVIL Recruiter – You don’t want to keep those cards individually. Both Sinister Deal and Cable Rat are a bit too slow in the early game, and Recruiter is just a 3/3 if you can’t sac a Lackey. So keep them only together. Note that you can also keep Recruiter with EVIL Genius in your hand already.
- Serpent Egg OR Scarab Egg – Eggs are great, but only if you can sacrifice them. Against slower decks, keep them only with EVIL Genius already in your hand. Against faster decks, you can also keep them with Abusive Sergeant, since you will most likely have a minion to bump them into.
Budget Zoo Warlock Play Strategy
Zoo was always in an interesting spot, to the point of some players (incorrectly) calling it a Control deck. That’s mostly because despite its aggressive nature, the deck was focused on board control to the point of making trades any other Aggro deck would ignore. While it might no longer be true with the current decks, some of this is still relevant. Zoo is one of the most board-focused decks in the entire game, and your goal is to keep your board alive while killing whatever your opponent drops. Since Zoo doesn’t really have a lot of reach from hand or with Hero Power, but it can generate lots of extra resources with it, the deck mostly focuses on keeping the board up and dealing damage that way.
And that will be your basic game plan – keep your minions alive so they can dish out as much damage as possible. Or let me rephrase that – keeping your BOARD alive, not individual minions. Zoo is one of the decks that doesn’t really care about individual minions – they are disposable. There is basically no minion that you want to protect. Your minions will be traded, sacrificed or removed all the time, but the goal is to constantly have some refill, put something on the board and ultimately deal damage.
Games vs other fast decks are much more demanding in this matter. It’s the game of getting ahead of board – since those decks don’t really have amazing comeback mechanics, once one player takes the lead, other will most likely end up losing. Which means that you want to be the one in control. Tempo – that’s what you really need in those matchups. Doing slow plays is a big no-no. Going for value moves too. You want to put as much on the board as possible, even if it means that you run out of cards in your hand. Why? Because you’re so much more powerful when you’re ahead, and then you can afford to start Hero Powering to refill your resources again. You want to have a strong, proactive curve. Eggs are the only exception, but when you can actually trigger them. If you can’t trigger an Egg from your hand, don’t play it – you’d rather play a 1-drop on Turn 2 than an Egg that you might not be able to activate for the next X turns. Don’t be afraid to use Soulfire aggressively – killing a 2-drop or a 3-drop with it is amazing. Even if you deal just 2-3 damage and not full 4, that’s still worth it, because it lets you get ahead. If you go second, try to match your minions to whatever your opponent already has on the board. Let’s say that they have a 2/1 up – then you’d much rather drop a Mecharoo or EVIL Cable Rat than Flame Imp or Dire Wolf Alpha. Sadly, going second in those matchups is a big disadvantage, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t win. Try to make a meaningful tempo push with the Coin – e.g. drop a Neferset Ritualist on T2 to contest their early game, or play Lackey + Coin + EVIL Recruiter on T3 to get the Lackey’s effect and a 3/3 + 5/5 on board.
Against slower decks, you gameplay is way more straightforward. In general, you want to flood the board and start pushing damage from the early turns. Most of your boards are disposable, so if it gets AoE’d just play a few more minions. Don’t try to keep your small minions out of range, because it will most likely be useless. However, you can still play around AoEs quite well. Eggs are amazing vs slow decks. While you DO want to trigger them in the early game to snowball, once you get to the mid game, you can just drop Eggs without popping them yourself if the rest of your board is already good. Your opponent will be forced to AoE anyway, but you will end up with 3x 1/1 or a 3/4 afterwards. If you face damage AoEs (not “destroy” AoEs like Brawl), dropping a Neferset Ritualist or 5/5 from EVIL Recruiter is also a good way to play around them. On that kind of board, if your opponent AoEs, those will still survive to dish out more damage, and if he decides to kill them first with single target removal, it might mean that he won’t have enough mana to AoE clear the rest of your board.
Given that the deck is built around flooding the board, Grim Rally is a very powerful tool. Just keep in mind that the buff will occur before Deathrattle, so if you decide to sacrifice Scarab Egg, you will end up with 3x 1/1 and not 3x 2/2. If you have some other minions it might still be worth it, but keep that in mind. Defender of Argus, a very oldschool choice, is also pretty good in this list. Not only the buffs might make your trades better, but putting Argus between two Eggs will do wonders against Aggro. You will end up with two small Taunts that they HAVE to clear, but don’t want to, because you will get an even bigger board after they do. SN1P-SN4P is a good target for a similar reason, and then there’s Neferset Thrasher. Turning it into a 5/6 Taunt on Turn 4 can make his downside hurt you way less. Even though you will still take 3 damage per hit, your opponent won’t be able to just ignore it and try to rush you down – he will have to kill it first, and 5/6 Taunt might not be that easy to get through in the mid game.
Future Card Replacements for Zoo Warlock
Zoo Warlock could always be built on budget without making too many sacrifices, and this expansion is no different. The current build is pretty close to the actual, full meta one. There are still some ways to improve it, but even then you won’t have to spend 10k Dust like you have to on some other decks. But first things first – I’ve decided to include SN1P-SN4P because he was given out for free to every player recently. If you, however, missed the promo (because you’re a new player or came back after a longer break), no worries – the deck can still be played without it! Just throw in a second Mecharoo or Beaming Sidekick in there, and it should be fine. But if you do own it, here are some ways you can improve the deck in:
- 2x Defender of Argus -> 2x Diseased Vulture – As much as I like Argus, Vulture can often be your mid game MVP and snowball you against most of the decks. T3 Thrasher into T4 Vulture curve is amazing, because the 3 damage you take from Thrasher will summon a 3-drop immediately. Then, your Hero Powers will also summon 3-drops on top of drawing you a card, not to mention that T5 Vulture + Flame Imp is a great play too.
- 1x SN1P-SN4P -> 1x Leeroy Jenkins – This part is really optional. SN1P-SN4P is perfectly viable in the deck, but I just like having more reach to close out the games. A slower deck will just keep on clearing your board over and over again once you get to the late gam, so killing them through normal ways might be hard. Leeroy, however, adds some serious burst damage potential. Leeroy + Soulfire is 10 damage from hand, and it can often close out games that you wouldn’t win otherwise. The only bad thing is that the card is very weak in your opening hand and during your first turns, while SN1P-SN4P can also be dropped on T3 and it’s still okay then.
Alternatively, you can try a Magic Carpet version of the deck, but for that you will need to make a few more changes. Stats indicate that they’re both very similar in terms of power level right now, but Carpet version is more expensive. But check it out if you want to play something slightly different: