Hi guys, I really like to play warlock zoo in arena and I decided to write a guide about it, because there is not that much information about it out there. It may not be the most effective way to play arena (if you just want to win pick rogue and mage every time), but it’s very fun and different from your average arena play style.
Most cards which are used in constructed zoo are also really good in arena zoo (reynad’s deck for reference). Not a huge surprise. The only exception is Shieldbearer which I explain below. What you are looking for during the draft are minions with good stats for their mana cost, minions which buff other minions and most importantly cards which fill out your mana curve. Also consistent cards are better than situational cards, e.g. Ogre Magi is slightly better than Spellbreaker, because the one additional health of ogre magi is always useful while the silence sometimes isn’t.
I haven’t figured out the ideal curve yet. What works well is
2 0 mana cards (as many Soulfires as possible)
9 1 mana cards
7 2 mana cards
6 3 mana cards
4 4 mana cards (I feel like this slot is the most flexible)
3 5+ mana cards
Don’t pick 1/1 or 1/2 minions. Usually they don’t have enough impact, they just don’t trade well. (elven archer and argent squire are obvious exceptions)
I think it’s okay to have like two or three 5+ mana minions, if you pick them it should be tanky minions with high stats, like ogre, stranglethorn tiger or sunwalker. Any more than three and you’re running into the risk of having bad hands. And it can be fatal if you are not using your mana efficiently in the first few turns.
I’m not gonna tell you about every card, but only about those which are a lot more/less useful than in a normal draft. I assume you know that a card like Worgen Infiltrator is really great here and that stuff like drain life is crap.
In the best case it’s holy smite and a 1 drop in one.
Great here because they combo so well with low cost minions.
Really powerful here. It’s not hard to get it out as a 4/4 on turn 4 (turn 3 with coin) and if the opponent doesn’t have an immediate answer then it’s almost a guaranteed win.
Always pick these. It’s best to use them as the last card, but it’s okay to discard cards if you get good trades out of them. You might think that it’s a mistake to draft too many of these because you will discard too many cards, but that is actually wrong. Two of my best zoolock arena runs were when I had 3 and 4 soulfires respectively.
It may not look like the greatest card, but when I tracked my stats I noticed there was a high correlation with me having this card and reaching a high amount of wins. I guess it’s because warlock usually struggles with removing 1-health minions (loot hoarder, damaged golem, scarlet crusader etc.) and this card helps a lot, because it gives you a mana- and card-efficient way to deal with enemy 1-health minions.
Has some anti-synergy with flame imps, but is still a decent pick. You should be controlling the board so losing health isn’t quite that bad. If the 5 health brings you into dangerous health levels you were probably losing anyways.
It’s basically 4 damage for 1 mana. Holy fuck, that’s mana efficient. What holds the card back is that it is relatively situational. So having more than 1 in your deck can be risky.
He’s a great pick when you can combo him with buffs or ping cards like elven archer and mortal coil. Otherwise he’s pretty meh and there’s a high risk he just gets eaten by a 3/2 minion for free.
They are not top picks but they are a nice way to fill out your curve. they kinda suck when you are up against a mage but it’s not the end of the world, because they have to use 2 mana (hero power) to kill your 1 mana minion.
It’s some really nice removal. However I would take an average 3 drop like Ironfur Grizzly over it every time. The reason is that you can always throw out your Ironfur Grizzly while with Shadow Bolt you will have to wait for a good target.
I’m torn on him. Sometimes he buffs just the right minion and allows you to make great trades. Other times he feels useless because you are mostly trading small minions into bigger ones and I’d rather have a minion that can trade and pressure my oppenent. Definitely don’t pick more than one because two blood imps are as effective as one.
Clearly the best card for the 4 slot, but I would rank it slightly higher in zoo decks because it survives any aoe (I don’t think I have to mention that yeti and tazdingo are still better picks).
Any Card draw minion (e.g. Loot hoarder, Gnomish Inventor (but not Cult Master))
These quite a bit worse than in a normal deck. They make you lose tempo and drag games out, which you don’t want. Also you don’t need them as much because of your hero power. On the other hand they make it a lot less painful to get hit by aoe, so they got that going for them.
Venture Co. Mercenary
Rated quite a bit lower because our decks are so minion heavy.
Demolisher It hits face way too often IMO and it’s extremely useless when you are not ahead already. Maybe it is a good card but I didn’t have a lot of luck with it. It’s an okay pick I guess.
I rate them a lot lower because the battlecry is so anti-tempo and you don’t have too many minions which you want to bounce back into your hand.
Less valuable than usual, because you just want to play out your hand as fast as possible and very often you have to wait for a while to get a good opportunity to use his silence.
Great in constructed, not so great in arena because you can’t ensure that he gets buffed
Bane of Doom
Disappointing more often than not. There’s a 50% chance to summon one of the 1-mana demons which is a significant tempoloss.
No! Your curve should be low enough to not need this
The negative battlecries are not worth the body.
Zoo in arena and zoo in constructed don’t play too differently. The most important thing is using your mana efficiently, if you use more mana than your opponent then that usually translates into a board advantage which leads to a life advantage which leads to winning the game.
Trading vs hitting face: Usually you want to trade because that way you limit your opponent’s options and extend your board lead. If you let your opponent’s minions live it can really bite you in the ass if the opponent buffs them or gets a good aoe spell off. Also you want to be the one to control which way the mininos trade, e.g. you should run your bloodfen raptor into the opponents leper gnome, if that means your knife juggler lifes. Hitting face becomes more viable the later you are in the game and especially when you can threaten lethal for the next turn or the turn after.
About MC Tech: Maybe 10% of decks run him. It hurts when he steals one of your minions, but you just gotta suck it up. You can’t afford to play around MC Tech, because it would hurt your winrate too much against the 90% of decks which don’t have him.
About AOE like Flamestrike: You gotta gamble a little and hope they don’t have too many. I always try to develop my board in such a way that at least 1 or 2 minions would survive the opponents board wipe, because then it doesn’t matter if he uses his aoe, because I still have the initiative afterwards (and card advantage is not that important here). Sometimes you can’t play around certain aoe, like if the opponent has cleave and you have only 2 health minions in your opening hand. If you play too afraid of aoe and tap too much that just means you will lose more slowly.
About the coin: Use as early as possible to put pressure on your opponent, but being able to use all your mana every turn is even more important. So plan ahead.
Don’t tap before turn 4/5 and only if you’re ahead and can afford it.
Mulligan: You can be a bit more risky with your mulligan because the curve is so low. Often you can afford to throw back all your 3 drops and bad 2 drops.
That’s it. Here are my last three drafts to give you an idea how a zoolock deck can look:
(they were 7,5 and 6 wins respectively.) (they were not my best drafts ever but I didn’t want to cherry pick and give you an unrealistic impression)
and here is my deck when I reached 12-0: