Hearthstone’s Journey to Un’Goro expansion cards have all been revealed, and now is the time to really start theorizing over upcoming decks.
(Edit: This article is pre-release speculation. I have also written about a playtested Budget Zoo after the release of Journey to Un’Goro. You can find the details here.)
While the Warlock legendary quest and legendary minion both guide the class towards discard gameplay, that is not all there is to Warlock. In fact, Journey to Un’Goro gives some good tools for regular Zoo to make a comeback, also on a budget!
To demon or not to demon
Discard Zoo has been the top-performing variety of the archetype, and in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan meta, Demon Zoo was the next best thing if you wanted to play Zoo. With cards such as Crystalweaver giving good support for the Demon archetype, it was a viable deck, even if it was not exactly top tier.
However, the Standard rotation and Journey to Un’Goro will reverse the fortunes of Demon Zoo and Regular Zoo. With the loss of Imp Gang Boss and no new Demons to support the archetype, Demon Zoo is about to lose a considerable amount of its power. In Un’Goro, even new Warlock class cards tend to be Beasts instead of Demons!
With fewer demons in the pool weakening the effect of Crystalweaver and Demonfire, we have two ways to go: either Discard Zoo or Regular Zoo.
Discard Zoo is undoubtedly the favorite here, but could a regular Zoo list still compete? That would be a big question for any budget players as well, because Discard Zoo will require the One Night in Karazhan adventure for Malchezaar’s Imp and Silverware Golem, as well as the new Warlock class legendary Clutchmother Zavas.
New support for Zoo
Luckily, there are several interesting cards in Journey to Un’Goro for a regular Zoo build.
Devilsaur Egg is a perfect fit for Zoo. A 3-mana 0/3 that summons a 5/5 Devilsaur as a deathrattle, this little guy can give Zoo a big tempo swing. Too bad Power Overwhelming is rotating out, as that was one of the main activators when Zoo wanted to both trade and kill off one of its own minions. Luckily, Zoo is not out of tricks yet.
We even get a new trick to play on the unsuspecting egg! Ravenous Pterrordax is a 4-mana 4/4 that as a battlecry destroys one of your own minions in order to Adapt twice. Turn 3 Devilsaur Egg into a turn 4 Ravenous Pterrordax is huge – double adapt can even turn this beast into a genuine 4-mana 7/7!
A 2-mana 2/2 that Adapts if you have two or more minions on the board, now that’s a good fit for Zoo. You can even turn this into your personal Shielded Minibot by picking up Divine Shield (Shield is only offered 30% of the time though).
This Warlock class card, a kind of replacement for the rotating Dark Peddler, might be a bit more difficult to appreciate, and definitely requires some testing before the final verdict. It is a 3-mana 3/3 with a battlecry to discover a spell (from your own class) and deal damage to your hero equal to the cost of the spell you choose.
That said, Warlock has some really good cheap spells available, so this can help bring a little more flexibility to your gameplan. Spells such as Corruption, Forbidden Ritual, Mortal Coil, and Soulfire can all be great at the right time.
Zoo is in a bit of a bind when it comes to 2-drops. Dark Peddler is rotating out. Flame Juggler is rotating out. It is really hard to find an unconditional 2-drop right now, as you do not always want to drop that Knife Juggler or Dire Wolf Alpha on the board on two.
Some options include Bilefin Tidehunter, Faerie Dragon, and Golakka Crawler. Or you could just go for more one-drops and play two of them on two. Fire Fly could even act as a pseudo two-drop.
It has to be noted that Golakka Crawler is a tech card. It is a 2-mana 2/3 with a battlecry to destroy a pirate and gain +1/+1. The 2/3 statline is not abysmal, but not really worth playing either, unless there are lots of pirate in the meta. Assuming that multiple classes will continue to play Patches, Golakka Crawler can provide a big swing for Zoo against aggressive decks, where that early swing is needed the most. If the meta turns out to be something else, you can go for some other option.
Bringing it together: Un’Goro Zoo
Here is what I imagine an Un’Goro era Zoo deck could look like. It is sticky, it generates tokens, and it has some really powerful minions coming out on turns three, four, and five.
Un’Goro Budget Zoo
This kind of deck can also be turned into a budget version quite easily. There are eight rare cards that are absolute core cards of the deck: two copies each of Knife Juggler, Devilsaur Egg, Defender of Argus, and Doomguard.
Chittering Tunnelers can be replaced with Harvest Golems, or maybe with Kabal Couriers if you have any around and want to maintain a little bit more unpredictability. Edit: The ideal 3-drop might also turn out to be Tar Creeper.
Golakka Crawlers can be replaced with Faerie Dragons or Fire Flies.
All the big power cards of the deck are either rares or even commons in case of Darkshire Councilman and Ravenous Pterrordax, no epics or legendaries needed!
In the middle of all these new legendaries and legendary quests, it is good to note that Blizzard has not forgotten about budget decks and offers some support for them as well.