Mastering the Midrange (Demon/Zoo) Warlock: Advanced Guide

This is Part 2 of the Mastering the Midrange (DemonZoo) Warlock extensive deck guide series. It is split into 3 main guides: Part 1: Beginner Guide Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards and Tech Choices Part 3: Matchups and Mulligan If you want to read about the basics: what is DemonZoo Warlock, what are the deck’s strengths and weaknesses, the […]

This is Part 2 of the Mastering the Midrange (DemonZoo) Warlock extensive deck guide series. It is split into 3 main guides:

Introduction

If you want to read about the basics: what is DemonZoo Warlock, what are the deck’s strengths and weaknesses, the overall strategy and card choices, check out the General part. This guide is gonna cover thing like budget deck list, combos, matchups, mulligans, tech choices and alternate cards.

Budget Deck List

Here is the budget version of the deck list we’ve made. The deck only costs 1360 dust (plus cards from Naxxramas), compared to the original 5240. It might be a big difference for new players.

The deck is faster than the original one. It has no really big drops (since they’re the expensive part of the deck). It means that you want to finish the games a little faster compared to the original one. The first change was adding second copy of flame-imp. The card is great, but it barely didn’t get into the normal list because of aggressive ladder meta. If you face too many Aggro decks, (especially Hunters) you might want to switch it for mortal-coil. Mortal Coil gives you a good way to get rid of 1 health creatures without sacrificing your own. It makes your early turns against Aggro much easier.

We’ve added 2x dire-wolf-alpha, which was used for a long time in the normal Zoo. The card has great synergy with the deck, gives you another way to buff your small creatures and activate the nerubian-egg. It also works nicely with imp-losion. Unlike buffing an Imp with abusive-sergeant, where only 1 gets buffed, Dire Wolf Alpha might be used to buff all of them if you trade. 4 Imps with Dire Wolf Alpha give you a total of 8 damage, and that’s what you want in the Zoo.

The last change was teching in loatheb. Since budget version is faster, you want to start your aggression sooner. Loatheb is great at sealing the game once you get a good board. It protects it against AoE, so you usually have two turns to push. With addition of some reach, you might easily finish enemy off by turn 6-7.

Otherwise, your game plan as budget deck is similar to the original. You want to keep board control in the early game (which is even easier with Dire Wolf Alpha), and slowly start pushing in the mid game. This deck has no big-game-hunter targets, which means that opponent is less likely to swing the tempo in his favor. It also means that you should avoid making a 7+ attack Void Terror, unless you have to.

If you still lack some of those cards, write the comment and we’re gonna help you with a replacements!

Combos

DemonZoo has surprisingly a lot of different possible combos for a Mid-Range deck. We’re going to go through the most used ones, explain when they’re good and how you should use them.

Card with the biggest combo potential is nerubian-egg. It’s a really slow 2-drop that does nothing when it’s played. It gives you the possibility to use it on many different ways. The most basic combo is Nerubian Egg + abusive-sergeant. You want to use it in order to kill enemy 2 health minions. It’s a really fast combo and can be used as early as turn 2. It’s really strong, because you basically kill their 2-drop for free AND switch your egg for a 4/4 minion. Against 3 or 4 health minions, you might use 2x Abusive Sergeant, it also works out.

Next way to activate Nerubian Egg is power-overwhelming. This one can deal up to 4 damage, but doesn’t put a 2/1 body like Abusive does. The next downside is that it spawns the nerubian at the end of your turn (unless the buffed Egg died), so it’s impossible to Taunt him on the same turn.

The next activator is void-terror. The strong point of this card is that you might activate two Eggs at once – it’s often a great turn 3 power play when you start with the Coin. The dream scenario is turn 1 Coin + Egg, turn 2 Egg, turn 3 Void Terror. It leaves you with 2x 4/4 and a 3/7 on turn 3, which is the strongest board you might get so early with this deck. Another Void Terorr’s strength is that from turn 5, you might activate the Egg on the same turn you play it. It means that enemy has no way to Silence the egg, or for example steal it with cabal-shadow-priest. It means that you put a 2 mana 4/4 and 3 mana 3/5, both of which are incredibly strong for their mana slot.

Yet another, more defensive way to activate the Egg is defender-of-argus. It puts a 1/3 taunt, which is not big, but stops at least 1 attack. Good thing about this play is that enemy doesn’t want to activate your Egg, so he often doesn’t attack at all. It means that you get to pick the trades and do them in most efficient way. It makes the Egg even worse against Silence, though, because you not only lose the Deathrattle, but also the Argus buff.

There are also 2 more weird ways to activate your egg, Warlock players often forget about them. You can either imp-losion or bane-of-doom your own Egg. Both of those guarantee the activation and also spawn minions on your side of the board. Those are good if you need to push for damage but you have no other way to activate the Egg.

Another card that gives you potential to combo is knife-juggler. The most obvious interaction is Knife Juggler + Imp-losion. It deals 2-4 damage, spawns 2-4 Imp and throws 2-4 knives. On the one hand, it makes the spell even more RNG-dependant, because the discrepancy between lowest and highest roll becomes even bigger. However, it increases the chances you actually kill your target. If you throw Imp-losion on a 4/3 minion when enemy has nothing else on the board, and it hits for 2, you have additional 2 chances to hit it. It’s also great if enemy has a lot of low health minions. The chances that your knives hit them are bigger then.

Knife Juggler also combos with all your minions that spawn something, the deck runs a lot of them. While you usually get one juggle from each minion (when you play it), those minions have the potential to get you 2 or more juggles: haunted-creeper, nerubian-egg, voidcaller, imp-gang-boss, dr-boom. Juggler might get a great value in this deck. Each knife you throw into their minion makes your trades easier, and that’s exactly what you want.

Next card with a good combo potential is Void Terror. Besides the previously explained combos with Nerubian Egg, it has great synergy with power-overwhelming. If you eat the creature that has Overwhelming effect on, you get the buffed stats but it cancels the negative effect. It’s great way to benefit from the buffed creature that would die at the end of the turn anyway. On the other hand, it makes him vulnerable to big-game-hunter. Void Terror is good at forcing Deathrattles. For example, you have a Knife Juggler and Haunted Creeper on the board. You need 2 additional juggles from its Deathrattle, but you can’t kill it off. You might Void Terror on Haunted Creeper to get them.

You can force voidcaller‘s Deathrattle. It makes Void Terror a 6/7. Perfect stats, it’s really big, but doesn’t die to Big Game Hunter. It also summons a random Demon from your hand. You might also eat your 1/1 Imps. You do that to play around certain cards, like unleash-the-hounds or warsong-commander + grim-patron combo.

Those are the most popular combos you can use in DemonZoo Warlock. If you want to reach Legend, you need to use synergies between all your cards properly. Sometimes you need to think outside the box and do the unexpected plays. Most obvious play is not always the best one, so try to use your combos to their fullest potential.

Alternate & Tech Cards

DemonZoo deck list is pretty flexible. You can switch out some cards and fit others depending on your needs, play style or the opponents you face.

AoE

AoE may seem to have negative synergy with the deck. You want to keep the board clear all the time, so enemy doesn’t have time to play bunch of stuff. However, sometimes you happen to lose the control. Then it’s really hard to come back. AoEs are best against Aggro and Mid-Range decks, but they have their uses even against Control decks. Warlock has three different AoEs, and all of them make sense in your DemonZoo deck.

Hellfire is the first one. It affects the whole board, not only the enemy’s side. It also deals damage to both your Hero and the enemy. Depending on the situation, it may even be good for you. It might be used as yet another way to activate nerubian-egg or voidcaller. It might also give you lethal. On the other hand, it might kill you, and you don’t want to use it when you have some non-Deathrattle minions on the board. It has the biggest backfire potential, but also some synergy with the deck.

Unlike Hellfire, Shadowflame doesn’t affect your whole board or health of the Heroes. However, you need a minion on the board to play it. Strength of the AoE depends on the minion’s attack. It means that you might easily get 5+ damage AoE. Shadowflame synergizes with abusive-sergeant and power-overwhelming, because both significantly boost minion’s attack, making your AoE bigger. If you manage to buff the Nerubian Egg and sacrifice it, you get almost free AoE and Egg activation. Another good target for Shadowflame is voidcaller. Shadowflame might not only clear enemy board, but also force doomguard (to finish off whatever survived) or malganis (to protect you further).

Demonwrath is something like a combination between last two. It’s safer to your board and you don’t need any minion to cast it, but it also activates your Egg. It’s also 1 mana cheaper. You run a lot of demons in your deck, so often it’s just gonna be a 3 mana consecration. The bad deal, however, is that dealing 2 damage is much worse than 3 in the current meta. It’s fine against hyper-Aggro decks like Face Hunter or Aggro Paladin, which tend to run a lot of small creatures. But many popular cards tend to have 3 health. If you play against Mech decks, mechwarper and piloted-shredder are both 3 health. The card’s also really bad against Patron Warrior, with all their combo pieces being 3+ health. If you use it on the board with full health grim-patron you just spawn another one. The card is also nearly useless in a mirror matchup, because enemy also runs a lot of Demons.

The AoE choice is really hard. If you’re looking the one that’s safest and will work against most types of the decks, you should definitely use shadowflame. Both hellfire and demonwrath have their strengths, but can also put you in an awkward situations and be dead cards for a long time.

Possible switches: Bane of Doom, Sea Giant

Loatheb

The card is present in many versions of Zoo Warlock. It’s really good in the deck that wants to keep the board control at all costs. It makes enemy unable to clear your board with spells for one turn. If he wants to cast their AoE like lightning-storm or holy-nova, they’re gonna cost them a whole turn. Enemy is completely unable to cast 6+ mana spells or any spell combos, so no flamestrike or equality + consecration can clear your board.

Loatheb is good at stopping combos. Most of the combos in game rely on spells to some extent. For example, Mid-Range Druid won’t be able to use force-of-nature + savage-roar and Patron Warrior won’t OTK you with his frothing-berserker without enough whirlwind effects. Loatheb gets incredible value against spell-heavy decks like Oil Rogue or Freeze Mage. The Rogue completely relies on the spells to get a board control / tempo. Freeze Mage needs to keep your board frozen to not die and relies on the spell burst to kill you. If you face a lot of Control and Combo decks, you might want to add Loatheb into your deck.

Possible switches: Bane of Doom, Doomguard

Sylvanas Windrunner

Another minion that shows up in a lot of Zoo lists. She’s a good way to come back into the game. If enemy has no way to negate her effect (Silence, polymorph), he’ll often sacrifice all his minions so you won’t steal anything. Sylvanas has a lot of potential to combo with your deck, as you have some ways to force the Deathrattles. The easiest way is power-overwhelming. If you have Sylvanas on the board, you can use the spell, trade into one minion and at the end of the turn steal another random one. If she’s not on your board yet, you might do the combo from your hand for 7 mana. It ensures that at the end of your turn, you steal one random enemy minion. Obviously, it’s best when enemy has only a single strong minion that you would have a hard time dealing with otherwise.

The best way to activate her in your deck is probably void-terror it’s a 9 mana combo that, besides mind control effect, leaves you with a 8/8 on the board. If you want to include some AoE into the deck and you use Sylvanas already, shadowflame is your best bet. For 10 mana you get a 5 damage AoE, which also steals whatever survives (either one of their Deathrattles or a big minion). The card, however, is really slow and is much better in Mid-Range and Control matchups.

Possible switches: Bane of Doom, Doomguard, Sea Giant

Dire Wolf Alpha

If you want your deck to be faster and more aggressive, you might include this card. It usually goes into the void-terror position. It serves as yet another temporary buff. It synergizes well with a lot of small minions, especially 1/1 tokens and your Nerubian Egg. It makes getting through Taunts much easier and your trades more efficient.

You don’t have to sacrifice your minions when you play it. We recommend it to less experienced players, because it’s much more straightforward and easier to use than void-terror. It allows better trades, but you can’t really make any “cool” moves thanks to it. You also can’t force Deathrattles when there are no enemy targets, which may sometimes be crucial. Because the card is faster and has immediate impact on the board, it’s better against Aggro decks.

Possible switches: Void Terror

Kezan Mystic

This is a really specific tech card. It works against any kind of Mage and Hunter you face, so if you play against a lot of them on ladder, you might include this. Stealing every popular secret – mirror-entity, explosive-trap, freezing-trap gives you a nice advantage. Even though enemy knows what Secret it is and how to play around it, he still needs to sacrifice tempo or other resources to do so. However, Kezan’s main role is to boost your win rate against one of your biggest counters – Freeze Mage. If you include this alongside Loatheb, that matchup is suddenly much easier. Not only it will help when pushing for lethal, but stealing ice-block is often crucial to survive another turn.

Also remember to not throw it right away on turn 4. Wait for a good opportunity when enemy thinks he’s gonna win, start pushing for damage instead of freezing your board, feels safe behind Ice Block. Then steal it and make a final push. If you combine it with Loatheb, enemy has almost no chance to win anymore.

Possible switches: Void Terror, Bane of Doom, Sea Giant

Mortal Coil

Anti-Aggro tech. Besides the Knife Juggler, Zoo has no way to ping off 1 health creatures. Aggro decks tend to run a lot of those. Mortal Coil is good against all those leper-gnomes and wolfriders. Against slower decks, it allows better trades. If you’re 1 damage off of killing something, instead of sacrificing another creature, you might just use Mortal Coil. It’s only 1 mana and it cycles itself, so it’s usually worth.

In worst case scenario, it can be used to ping the Divine Shields (you lose the card, though) or on your own 1 health minion if you need certain card (e.g. you need defender-of-argus to survive). 1 mana cost helps at using your mana efficiently every turn, because it’s easy to fit it into your game plan.

Possible switches: Power Overwhelming, Void Terror, Bane of Doom, Sea Giant

Echoing Ooze

Really good card, even though it doesn’t have great synergy with DemonZoo. The only permanent way to buff it the deck runs is Defender of Argus. On turn 6, it’s possible to make up to 3 Taunts with a single Defender thanks to Echoing Ooze. Getting two 2/3 with Taunt for 2 mana is great value, but the main reason why this card is strong is how well it deals with enemy tokens. You get two 1/2 bodies on the board instantly. Thanks to a lot of buffs, they both can trade up. They are also a good way to kill all the small minions from the Aggro decks. But they’re absolutely best at taking out the 1/1’s.

They’re great against all the decks that spawn a lot of tokens – for example Paladin. It’s good against both his Hero Power and muster-for-battle. Echoing Ooze is also great in mirror matchup against all those 1/1 Imps. They can’t be removed with a single ping. Because of two bodies, they are awkward for enemy to remove with standard methods – for example Warrior has to waste both charges of fiery-war-axe to kill your Oozes. Echoing Ooze serves really similar purpose to haunted-creeper. It spawns both bodies instantly, they have 2 health and better Defender of Argus synergy. On the other hand, Haunted Creeper has 3 bodies and is better against AoE, because when the main body dies, it still spawns the 1/1’s. Echoing Ooze is definitely a reasonable card to include.

Possible switches: Haunted Creeper

Dark Iron Dwarf

It was used in most of the standard Zoo lists, but usually doesn’t make the cut to the DemonZoo one. The bigger version of abusive-sergeant. Much less flexible (harder to fit into your turns because of 4 mana cost), but has a bigger body. With no other good turn 4 play, you might just put him on the board as a 4/4 minion. Yet another way to activate your Eggs and let your minions trade up. It’s really hard to fit it into the deck, because you already have a lot of things you want to do on turn 4. If you want to make your deck a little slower and can find a way to fit him, Dark Iron Dwarf is a solid card in DemonZoo Warlock.

Possible switches: Power Overwhelming, Abusive Sergeant, Bane of Doom, Sea Giant

Argent Squire

1-drop that synergizes greatly with the buffs. Another fast card, you should include it if you want to be more aggressive or better against Aggro decks themselves. Divine Shield gives it a great potential. Buffing this minion and making trades with it is more efficient, because after the initial trade, only the Divine Shield goes off. The minion is still present on the board. Great in early turns when you combine it with abusive-sergeant. It has huge synergy with defender-of-argus. If you combo those, it serves similar purpose to annoy-o-tron – hard to get through and making your enemy turns awkward. Taunts with Divine Shield are much better, even if they’re just 2/2, because they absorb at least 2 hits instead of 1.

Possible switches: Haunted Creeper, Void Terror, Bane of Doom

More

Be sure to check out the other 2 sections of the Midrange Warlock guide: