If you're starting to find all of the new content and deck archetypes that are beginning to trickle in with the release of Gadgetzan just a little overwhelming, then we have some very good news for you. A tweaked version of our Warlock Zoo deck list - retaining all of last year's best refinements - remains somewhat viable on the ladder, even if it's not quite as powerful as it once was.
The latest cards to affect the format of Zoo Warlock came in the form of Malchezaar's Imp, Darkshire Librarian and Silverware Golem - plus the return of that old stalwart Soulfire. These Discard-orientated spells and minions provide an extra twist to a deck archetype that's been around as long as Hearthstone has.
In this next deck guide, we're going to walk you through every stage of understanding the latest take on Zoo Warlock, from the broad strategy that defines the deck, to Mulliganing sensibly, and also understanding all of the most important combos contained within the deck list. We think it should give you a pretty good grounding on the archetype - handy whether you're piloting the deck yourself, or just facing an awful lot of it on the ladder.
Editor's note - February Update: For just about the first time in Hearthstone's entire history, Zoo Warlock currently sits at the bottom of the pile of competitive decks. We think that's a bit of a shame really, as it's a relatively inexpensive way for newcomers to both compete and learn some of the fundamentals of the game. Hopefully this archetype's fortunes will improve at least a little with the next expansion.
(For the Wild version of this deck, make sure you take a look at our Wild Zoo Warlock deck list and guide)
BREAKING! - Don't miss our Lost Secrets of Un'Goro guide, which contains everything we know about the rumoured next expansion for Hearthstone!
Zoo Warlock (Standard) deck list and strategy - February 2017
|2 x Flame Imp||2 x Abusive Sergeant|
|2 x Malchezaar's Imp||1 x Acidic Swamp Ooze|
|2 x Possessed Villager||2 x Dire Wolf Alpha|
|2 x Soulfire||2 x Knife Juggler|
|2 x Voidwalker||2 x Defender of Argus|
|2 x Dark Peddler|
|1 x Darkshire Librarian|
|2 x Darkshire Councilman|
|2 x Imp Gang Boss|
|2 x Silverware Golem|
|2 x Doomguard|
While there's an undeniably aggressive side to the Zoo style of deck, your win-rate will be much higher if you use your early board presence to take a controlling position, before escalating your threat on the board. Certainly if you compare it to the likes of Face Hunter, Zoo seems almost serene in its cautious contemplation of the board.
In the early game, you should make use of cards like Flame Imp, Voidwalker, Knife Juggler, Dark Peddler and Possessed Villager to assume a strong starting position, while the likes of Imp Gang Boss and Defender of Argus can be used to ramp up your board strength as you move towards the mid-game. From here it's a case of strength-in-numbers, and building an overwhelming force for your opponent to deal with. Understanding the new Discard interactions introduced with Karazhan is vital too.
This is an extremely fluid deck, with no clearly drawn lines about what might be useful at each stage of the game. For this reason, it's important that you acclimatise yourself with all of the card synergies thoroughly, and do so very early on. Take a look at our synergy section further down the page for an extensive round-up of the most critical combos available when playing this deck.
More great guides:
Zoo Warlock (Standard) Mulligan guide - February 2017
There are some cards that you always want to keep with Zoo: Flame Imp, Possessed Villager, Voidwalker, Dark Peddler and Knife Juggler. If you can curve out nicely in the opening turns, you'll be very well set up to take a controlling position for the rest of the match.
Build an actionable plan for your first few turns and you'll be right where you need to be. Don't forget about cards like Abusive Sergeant and Dire Wolf Alpha when planning your early game - they'll help your weak early minions do much more work.
Zoo Warlock (Standard) combos and synergies - February 2017
While Zoo may be as old as the hills at this point, there are some relatively new Karazhan cards featured here which introduce some subtle changes to how the deck is played.
We've updated our list of all of the most important combos, so you should find it easy enough to catch up.
- If Soulfire, Doomguard or Darkshire Librarian discard Silverware Golem from your hand, it'll actually be summoned onto the board for you!
- Malchezaar's Imp will replace whatever you discard from your hand with something else in your desk. You should of course try to reduce the impact of the discard effect as much as possible.
- Defender of Argus, Dire Wolf Alpha and Abusive Sergeant can be used to boost up even the feeblest minions in your deck, including the imps spawned by Imp Gang Boss.
- They can likewise be used to give Doomguard a bigger finish, although you risk discarding the first and last one of these minions in the process of playing him!
- All minions that spawn on the board increase the power of Darkshire Councilman - including the imps from Imp Gang Boss and the Deathrattle version of Possessed Villager.
- These same spawns, as well as direct plays from your hand, will also cause Knife Juggler to shoot out a single point of damage for each one.
Popular streamer Trump returned to his Teachings series of videos last year, in order to bring them right up to date with the latest developments of Hearthstone's Standard metagame. They're essential viewing for any newcomers to the game, and are pretty useful even for those of us who have been playing for years now.
Zoo is one of those decks that's simple to grasp at first, but requires some careful consideration to be played effectively. Zoo Warlock's been a favourite of ours since the game launched, but we still caught a valuable tip or two from watching.
Keep in mind that the deck list Trump's using will likely be different to the most powerful version in the current meta. The broad strategy should remain the same though!