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Deck of the Week#16: DKMR Zoo

by - 7 years ago

Every Friday legendary player [DKMR]Kisstafer breaks down Don’t Kick My Robot’s “Deck of the Week” . These decks are seeing a lot of play either in constructed ladder or tournaments. Team DKMR explains the deck lists and how to play them. Make sure you check out Don’t Kick My Robot if you want to become a better player or check out their premium services if you would like them to do a 1 on 1 coaching session with you to help you better your game. View past Deck Lists of the Week.

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[DKMR]Kisstafer here to bring you the Deck of the Week. The deck we showcase this week is our take on a warlock board control deck. Like last week, we’re going to go over another deck that has historically been one of the most dominant decks in the game, but has recently taken a more backseat role due to the rise of miracle rogue. Board control warlock; though maybe not suited for duking it out for a high legend spot in the current meta-game, it has a few niche roles. It is one of the best decks for achieving legend because it takes advantage of weaker players ability to deal with consistent board pressure and it also tends to have shorter games than other decks which makes it excellent for grinding ranks. Aside from that, it also has a strong presence in tournament play because you can target which decks you use it against to seek out favorable matchups.


The goal of the board control warlock deck is to consistently drop minions every turn with the hope of running the other player out of removal spells, and having minion-buff type effects that can render efficient minion-minion trades for the warlock player. In this way, the warlock player can develop small board advantages each turn which snowball the game into a landslide victory. Normally a deck would run out of minions to play if it was using this type of playstyle, but the warlock hero power suits this strategy very well. We have added a few cards like “Lorewalker Cho”, “King Mukla” and “Cairne Bloodhoof” which punish the other player for losing control of the board more heavily. While on their own they are greedy cards within the context of a deck that needs board control, the deck almost always achieves early board control except against god-hands that a board control deck would likely lose to anyways. These cards, as well as the “Faerie Dragon” are a metagame call that we think do well at the present moment vs the variety of decks that people are commonly playing.

The Deck

zoo (2)2x Soulfire: Soulfire is vital to the deck because it gives the Warlock a free lease on board control. If the enemy drops an early minion, you can simply ignore it and gain board control by removing it for no mana cost in the same stroke that you develop your own minions. The discard cost is later offset by life tapping as mana allows. This card is also crucial vs decks like Druid that run large minions, as it lets you to take care of larger minions less expensively.

2x Argent Squire: This card is nice because it is difficult to remove and provides a cheap body to apply buffs to later down the road. A 2-2 with divine shield and taunt is worth way more than 2 mana, for example a 3-3 with divine shield without taunt costs 4 mana. Argent squire can be looked at as a 1-1 minion that comes with a 1 damage spell minimum, with the potential to be turned into a 1-1 with a 3 damage spell (or more) depending on how many buffs you apply to it.

2x Flame Imp: Generic minion, helps attain board control by offering the stats of a 2 drop a turn earlier which lets you get board control earlier than any other class. The life cost never becomes relevant because a board control deck will win the game before his life total becomes relevant – if your life becomes so low that you are at risk of dying you have likely fell too far behind on tempo and have already lost.

1x Shieldbearer: This minion is a nice addition because the 4 HP is a bit of a break point, it acts as a decoy that lets you develop other minions safely. At the same time, it can also be buffed to be able to deal damage as well with cards like Dire Wolf Alpha or Dark Iron Dwarf.

2x Voidwalker: Similar to Shieldbearer, it is a decoy that allows you to safely develop other minions with the boon of having 1 attack which allows it to kill small minions like argent squire or damaged golems, thereby gaining board control early on.

2x Dire wolf Alpha: This creature is nice because it can be used to garner better minion trades, or can be used to simply bolster the damage you output onto the opponents life. It is on the fragile side so is best used in tandem with a Shieldbearer or Voidwalker.

2x Faerie Dragon: This creature is a nice metagame call because so many decks that are popular right now have a hard time dealing with early creatures without using spells. They can certainly be killed, but the chance that a Faerie Dragon is removed early on is much less likely when you can rule out a number of their outs.

2x Knife Juggler: This is your standard aggressive 2 drop, he has the potential to snowball if not removed as the knives he puts out can deal a substantial amount of damage over the course of a couple turns, and can sometimes be clutch in taking out 1 hp minions in clutch scenarios.

1x Lorewalker Cho: Along the same lines as the Faerie Dragon, this card punishes decks that rely on using spells (See: Backstab, Eviscerate, Lightning Bolt, Wrath, Swipe) to remove creatures. He is best used when you have already attained board dominence, and cannot simply be killed by an opposing creature. He kind of seals the deal if you can put him down successfully. His 4 health make him awkward to remove, which means opponents will often struggle with dealing with a loaded board without donating spells to the warlocks cause.

2x Harvest Golem: One thing you will notice about this deck compared to other zoo decks, is that there is a lack of 1 health fragile creatures. Minions like Harvest Golem do better in a meta that is filled with cards like Fan of Knives, Blade Flurry, Lightning Storm, Swipe, Hellfire, etc. Not only is he a solid minion that plays around area of effect damage, he is an excellent buff-reciever as he often has enough HP and attack to survive a minion interaction when buffed while also killing theirs.

1x King Mukla: This guy punishes the opponent for losing board control. Sure, he gets 2 bananas, but since you usually only drop Mukla on an empty board your opponent will have no minions to play them on. The bananas also cost 2 mana to be played, so it costs the opponent almost an entire early turn if he even wants to use them. Not only that, but often even if the enemy does use the bananas it isn’t enough to kill Mukla. He can definitely backfire in some situations (See: Wild Pyromancer, Big Game Hunter, Gadgetzan Auctioneer) but those situations are very rare compared to the situations where having a 5-5 on turn 3 simply wins the game. TL;DR Mukla gains tempo by providing a 5-5 on turn 3/denying mana on bananas.

2x Scarlet Crusader: Along the same lines as the Harvest Golem, this creature is in the deck to provide another tough-to-remove body. The theme of this deck I’m featuring is more sturdy creatures so that I’m stronger against AOE and to force more removal cards out of my opponents hand so that they run out of cards in the face of my relentless life-tapping and minion spam. Scarlet Crusader fits this theme perfectly.

2x Shattered Sun Cleric: While granted, Shattered Sun Cleric is one of the more aoe-vulnerable minions, the minion-trading advantages often mean even if you do end up on the wrong end of AOE it often is only a break-even trade for them. Not only that, but if you feel your opponent has AOE you can simply choose to play another 3 drop since the deck features so many of them you should have other turn 3 options.

2x Dark Iron Dwarf: This minion is a sturdy 4-4 body, and helps get insane trades off where you can often kill a 4 or 5 drop with something as measly as a 2-drop or half of your 3 drop (see: divine shield, harvest golem deathrattle).

2x Defender of Argus: This creature is simply amazing in any deck that uses a plethora of low-drop minions. One of the main weaknesses of running a deck with so many small creatures is that AOE simply destroys everything, but by using a strategically placed Defender of Argus you can time it so that your minions HP are all buffed right before the opponent can play his area of effect damage spells. Argus is also good at getting board advantage through minion trading, as the +1/+1 often is enough for a minion to trade-up or walk over an opposing minion while staying alive at 1HP (see, a 3-2 being buffed to a 4-3 and killing a 2-3, or used on a naked board to escape consecration range).

2x Doomguard: This creature is the best card in the deck by far – while at first the 2 discards seems like a steep cost, when you consider the a)tempo advantage/board advantage, and b) fact that the Doomguard often goes 2 for 1, and c) a warlock can lifetap to even out card advantage, the Doomguard almost always ends up being a profitable investment. Consider the case where your Druid opponent plays a Yeti on turn 1, your Doomgaurd pitches 2 cards but kills the Yeti (a 3 cards for 1) and then the opponent has to then invest another card to finish the doomgaurd (3 cards for 2). This means that you have net lost 1 card advantage, but that is easily offset by life-tapping the following turn while reaping the boons of the board advantage the Doomgaurd paid for.

1x Cairne Bloodhoof: I have started using Cairne in board control Warlock recently because he punishes opponents for running out of removal extremely hard. Players are often easily forced to use cards like Eviscerate/Sap or Shield Slam/Execute on early minions when faced with a board full of early creatures. so come turn 6 when you drop Cairne they often have nothing left to deal with him and simply break under the pressure.


You’ll want to look for a solid mana curve during the mulligan phase, and synergetic combos (such as Argent Squire + Shattered Sun Cleric, or Shieldbearer + Direwolf Alpha). Most of the time you just want low-mana creatures, but we like to keep Doom Gaurd against decks like Druid or Priest who I know will be using single large creatures to try and stave off damage, which the Doom Gaurd excels at killing. If you have the coin it is ideal to have a 1 drop, and two 3 drops. If you are going first it is ideal to have a 1,2, and 3 drop in your opening hand. We almost always keep soulfire in my opening hand as it gauranteed that you will attain board control, especially in the mirror match. Against decks like Miracle rogue or druid that play more spells early on than minions and lose board control easily, we favor cards like Faerie Dragon, Lorewalker Cho, and King Mukla. Against decks that use weapons, we favor cards like Voidwalker because they excel at protecting your other more valuable creatures. Against decks that are known for their devastating AOE (See: Shaman, Paladin), we keep creatures like Defender of Argus + harvest golem because they perform better against AOE.

The Game Plan

Play minions early and often, make favourable trades when possible and hit their face when you can’t. Play around AOE and follow a nice mana curve. Life tapping is important but it is more important to play minions if your mana allows (unless you think they will use aoe). Life tapping should be done when you have no other way to spend your mana (or you want to avoid pitching a certain card with DoomGaurd/Soulfire).

Alternate card choices

1x Abusive Sergeant: This card is good in metagames that don’t feature a lot of AOE, as he is an extremely cheap way to get an efficient minion trade while developing a body on the board.

1x Young Priestess: This card is nice because she can make other minions more sturdy and hard to remove, so if you’re facing a warrior who uses war axe to kill your void walker and it’s buffed to a 1-4 it can be really nice. But she provides a flimsy body herself so she is kind of weak in metagames that feature a lot of AOE.

1x Argent Commander: This is a nice 2 for 1 card that can be used as an alternative to Doomguard if you don’t want to use the discard mechanic, but it comes down a turn later and doesn’t leave behind as large of a body.

Final Thoughts

Create the deck on Hearthstats.net and then keep track of your wins and losses. Be sure to try it in a tournament as well! Let us know how you’re doing with it.

[DKMR]Kisstafer streams weekdays http://www.twitch.tv/kisstafer. You can find all of DKMR’s streamers on their website with the days that they stream!

Written by [DKMR]Kisstafer

Discussions about this topic brought to you by Team [DKMR]

JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.

0 responses to “Deck of the Week#16: DKMR Zoo”

  1. Trey Castle says:

    I feel like amani berserker has enough synergy with cho, ssc, and argus that he should be considered for this deck. Do you just find him too slow? What would you consider replacing for him?

    • [DKMR]poach says:

      We do run him in some of our Zoo decks, can you post your deck so that we can see it?

    • Christopher Ogilvie says:

      You would have to replace a 2 drop, so probably a Faerie Dragon. Amani is good at surviving some forms of AOE, and then punishing them with his improved attack. He’s also good against backstab since if they have to attack him afterwards to finish him off they take 5 damage. -Kisstafer

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      You would have to replace a 2 drop, so probably a Faerie Dragon. Amani is good at surviving some forms of AOE, and then punishing them with his improved attack. He’s also good against backstab since if they have to attack him afterwards to finish him off they take 5 damage. -Kisstafer

  2. Hugo says:

    “Consider the case where your Druid opponent plays a Chillwind Yeti
    on turn 1, your Doomguard pitches 2 cards but kills the Yeti (a 3 cards
    for 1) and then the opponent has to use another card to finish
    the doomguard (3 cards for 2).”

    If a Druid plays a Chillwind Yeti on the first turn he must spend 2 cards (Innervate+Innervate
    or Coin+Innervate). So, 3 (Doomguard + 2 discards) for 4 (Yeti+Innervate+Coin+Removal).

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      That was actually a miscommunication, I just missed editing that part. I meant a hypothetical turn where doomgaurd is played would be “turn 1” and a hypothetical turn where doomgaurd is played is “turn 2” but I missed editing it. It’s a worse error than it should have been because a yeti can actually be played on turn 1, lol. Sorry!

  3. I can’t believe I never thought of using Cho in my Zoo deck. He’s one of my few legendaries. Pretty pumped to try it out tonight.

    • [DKMR]poach says:

      Good luck!

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      He probably fits best in zoo since it uses hardly any spells so doesn’t have the chance to backfire very often ! Plus most classes use spells to keep the board clear.

  4. MissPlay says:

    Been using this deck for a couple days, climbing from 20-10 very quickly. The legendaries are interesting, and sometimes quite punishing. Getting Mukla out on turn 2 or 3 is devastating if the opponent has no minions on the board, and Cairn is, well, Cairn. I’ve been a little iffy on Cho. I usually have difficulty finding the correct time and place to play him effectively. However, I just played against a Handlock, and play Cho on turn 2. By the time the Molten Giants came down, my opponent (via Cho) had given me everything I needed to deal with them; a Hellfire and 2 Soulfires. I was also able to “activate” Cho with a Defender of Argus a turn earlier, so I could kill him on command and not give back the spells I had stolen! It was a very interesting turn of events that I believe won me that game.

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      Yea he works really well with all of the buffing effects in the deck like dark iron dwarf, shattered sun and argus! His high HP makes him super awkward to kill so decks that rely on spells often can’t help but donate spells even if they didn’t want to.

  5. Ronin says:

    This is way too slow for a Zoo deck

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      is that a first impression or did you try it? I’ve used this deck card for card in tournaments and I’m the #1 ranked player in ESL

      • Pavel Šimek says:

        Heh, maybe that’s the problem. This deck is really great vs. tier 1 decks. Could be really frustrating though, vs. reynard zoo and similar budget decks.

  6. Peloquin says:

    I’ve been playing Reynards classic Zoo spiced up with Cho for quite some time myself. I like to coin him turn 1 because it then punishes my opponent for using Backstab, Frostbolt etc. Totally throws off their game which makes it easier to establish board control 😀

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      Yea, if there’s a deck where Cho fits it’s definitely in Zoo because they tend to not use spells themselves so it rarely backfires, and the spells you can steall can be really clutch sometimes.

  7. AlphaLackey says:

    I’d like to point something out with all seriousness: Lorewalker Cho is a backbreaker against Miracle Rogue if played the turn before they try and “go off” and can be protected; the spamming of card animations chews up plenty of their turn timer.

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      Pretty much; I’ve done some crazy things with shadowstep + doomgaurds/conceal lol. It’s also good to play him the turn where the opponent would want to play a bunch of removal spells like lightning bolt or lightning storm, backstab/evis etc.

  8. cajujoe says:

    I´m in Rank 6 at the moment with Freeze Mage and a differente Zoo variation, but I really liked your Zoo with Lorewalker Cho. It´s possible to achieve legend status with this deck?

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      You can definitely get legend with this deck, it will just take a bit of grinding (same as any zoo deck).

  9. AlphaLackey says:

    Hello Kisstafer,

    I’ve tried it four times so far (rank 10-ish) and I thought I’d give you a brief rundown to maybe get some guidance.

    Firstly, compared to my traditional zoo deck, I find that never having the coin-double-one-drop opening is a HUGE handicap. I played a Handlock deck and was way too slow, then ran into a zoo deck and got steamrollered, both Abusive Sergeants making a huge difference.

    Against druid, I went
    1 * Coin Cho (which got hero-powered, undoubtedly ready for a wrath turn 2
    2 * Knife Juggler (which got the Wrath)
    3 * King Mukla

    And I laughed all the way to the bank.

    The 4th game was another zoo deck, I went second, had a 1-1-2-3 hand (imp – void walker – juggler – crusader) and won handily.

    Thoughts on what I may or may not be doing wrong? I mean 2-2 isn’t bad with a new deck but it seems like a lot more of a struggle to steer than standard zoo.

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      It definitely takes a higher mastery of the game because it doesn’t have AS early of a curve, and there are some key cards like Cho/Mukla/Cairne that have to be used with great precision. When I have the coin usually what I do with this deck is I’ll keep a 1 drop, and then two 3 drops. So on turn 1 I’ll drop a flame imp for example, and then on turn 2 I’ll coin a 3 drop (harvest golem perhaps), and then on my natural turn 3 I’ll play another 3 drop (mukla?). When you’re in your mulligan phase it’s all about just trying to get a solid mana curve, you don’t neccesarily need to have two 1 drops on turn 1. You just need to wear down the opponents resources by using all of your mana every turn.

  10. chrisprugh says:

    What’s a good alternative if I don’t have Mukla yet?

    • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

      If yiou don’t have mukla you can just put in an abusive sargeant or something like that, or maybe armani berserker. Any cheap minion that fits with the deck can be argued to be put int. It’s just that Mukla wins games by himself some times. Good luck!

      • AlphaLackey says:

        What do you think about Wounded Blademaster (closest in offensive power at same cc) or Mind Control Tech (to help you against zoo decks that are faster than you are)?

        • [DKMR]Kisstafer says:

          There’s already a lot of three drops, if I’m replacing Mukla I’d rather just put in a card of a lower mana cost.

  11. Carl David Ashton says:

    Hi just a quick question. Im relatively new and so only have certain cards available to me so far. I really like the Elven Archer, Power Overwhelming and Raging Worgen combo, wud it work in a Zoo deck? I feel like maybe but there doesnt seem to be enough room to fit it in. Any thoughts? What are your opinions on my Zoo deck?