Hey guys. Thanks for the great response to my first guide on midrange Hunter! Well, so I finally hit Legend rank for the first time this month. It feels really great to have found the time to push for once.
Anyway, the decks I used to get there this season were Midrange Hunter and Zoolock. I kept alternating between the two decks during the lower ranks, then exclusively Hunter and then made the final push with burst Zoolock. The version I used was my own but inspired somewhat from Chakki’s list which he took to Dreamhack Austin. I kept the core of the deck intact and made changes according to my playstyle and the ladder environment and there on it was an easy ride to legend.
Let’s get to it then, shall we?
Zoo in Whispers of the Old Gods
The Zoo decks we are seeing nowadays are totally different from the ones we had before the new expansion came out. The playstyle has completely changed and so have some of the card choices. With the likes of Nerubian Egg and Voidcaller gone, your deck isn’t that sticky anymore and neither can you get that Doomguard out with ease without hurting yourself. The deck is much more vulnerable to board clears now and you can be in a lot of trouble if the game drags into late game. Hence, an aggressive approach seems to be the best way to pilot the deck.
The expansion gave Warlock two amazing cards which fit in here like a charm – Forbidden Ritual and Darkshire Councilman. These two only solidify the argument the deck needs to be played in an aggressive manner. The synergy between the two cards is so good and your Councilman can easily get out of hand for easy early kills.
While you don’t care about the board as much as you used to, you still need to grab it in the early game. Board presence in the early game is actually very important if you want to see out the game and emerge victorious. With a good board presence using your strong low mana minions you’ll be able to push constant face damage and also keep the opponent from doing so, if he is playing an aggressive deck himself. It’s advisable to make optimal trades, but sometimes it’s also fine to ignore if you have a taunt up and it is very unlikely that he will have something in hand that will let him get an optimal trade. Very easily you will find yourselves with enough burst damage in hand to ignore the board and start going face. I’ve managed to pull off Leeroy + 2 x Power Overwhelming + Soulfire so many times!
I basically took Chakki’s list from Dreamhack Austin as the core and made a few changes. Firstly, I replaced the Gormok with the Dark Iron Dwarf. Call me conservative or whatever, but I just like the dwarf more. It’s easier to get value out of it consistently. Then I replaced a Mortal coil with a Dire Wolf Alpha. In my opinion, the little doggie is just too good a card to not play in a Zoo deck. Only playing this deck on ladder made me realize how powerful Crazed Alchemist was. Hence, I removed the other coil for a second Alchemist as I was rarely getting value out of Coil itself. Also, you have the Peddlers to get you those coils, if you ever need them!
Well then. Let us go over the card choices! As you can see, much of the list is standard. Still though, there are some unique additions that are actually working out wonders.
Flame Imp – Possibly the best 1-drop in the game. Gives early board presence and trades up with most 2-drops.
Possessed Villager – Sticky 1-drop like Argent Squire, only better. You can hit into an opponent minion to respawn a tentacle which gives an extra attack to your Darkshire Councilman. Unlike Squire, it is also immune to some board clears like Brawl.
Voidwalker – the 1/3 stats are amazing on this one drop, given the fact that it is also a taunt. Combined with Abusive Sergeant and Dire Wolf Alpha, this can assure you board dominance by the second turn itself. It is only going to steamroll from there!
Abusive Sergeant – Not to be played as a 1-drop in itself, but to be used as extra damage or simply to trade up.
Power Overwhelming – This card is the most flexible card in the game. And additional 4/4 is huge for 1 mana, even for a single turn. With Voidterror not being played anymore, the health doesn’t matter much; but that extra attack can be used either burst face damage or simply trading up.
Soulfire – Many people don’t like this card and others just run a single copy. True, two of these in hand can be a little bit problematic at times but the card is simply too good in this deck. Mostly you want to save it for burst face damage, but emergency removal to get the board back isn’t bad either.
Dark Peddler – Easily the best 2-drop in the deck. Most of the cards you are offered by peddler have insane value and this card alone will win you the game many times. This can get you that extra Power Overwhelming or Soulfire for extra burst or Mortal Coil or Elven Archer for that ping or simply a tempo 1-drop like Flame Imp.
Knife Juggler – This card still finds a place in the list despite getting nerfed. With the large amount of low mana drops and Forbidden Ritual in the deck, Knife Juggler can still provide insane value in this deck.
Dire Wolf Alpha – Helps your Imps/Tentacles and other low mana minion get efficient trades. Other times, just acts as extra face damage!
Crazed Alchemist – This is one of the most unconventional additions in this deck. This is simply amazing in the current Meta. With lots of Shamans running around, this card is simply too valuable. Killing that Flametoungue or Mana Tide totem without having to attack is simply too good a tempo swing. Also, a lot of decks have been playing Doomsayers as board clears. Alchemist, as it turns out, is also the most efficient wat to kill a Doomsayer. Hence, the two copies. If nothing else, this card is just an amazing trading tool or extra damage.
Imp Gang Boss – One of the best 3-drops in the game, this card has gotten even better than before. The extra imps generated can be used to buff up your councilman now. Also, the deck could use something that can actually stick to the board.
Darkshire Councilman – The sole reason that makes Zoo one of the best decks post Whispers of the Old Gods. This new gift to the deck has the capacity to bonkers if it stays on the board even a single turn. Can also be used to bait removal so your Sea Giant goes uncontested.
Dark Iron Dwarf – Same effect as Abusive Sergeant but comes with a decent sized body, which can be much helpful towards the mid game.
Defender of Argus – Even with the likes of Egg and Voidcaller gone, this is still too good a card not to play here. With the correct placement of minions, you’ll be able to get amazingly optimal trades and push more damage to the face. Sometimes also provides that crucial health to get out of AOE range.
Leeroy Jenkins – The chicken loving star of the deck. A charging 6 attack minion for a mere 5 mana is amazing in itself, but if you can combine it with multiple buffs like Power Overwhelming and Abusive Sergeant, you get insane burst potential. Many a times, you’ll find yourselves dealing 20 damage to the face just from your hand.
Sea Giant –The way this deck spams the board, you’ll almost always summon this using less than 5 mana. It is even more amazing in the mirror match, where you can easily get it for as low as 0 or 1 mana. Pretty good, I’d say.
Other Possible Inclusions
Argent Squire – Same functionality as Possessed Villager. Play if you feel like having an extra 1-drop.
Mortal Coil – Good against aggressive decks. Cycles itself efficiently and the ping can be crucial at times.
Wrathguard – Another solid 2-drop if you need one. Works really well against Shamans, contesting that Totem Golem and all. A really strong early game card against many classes. Beware of that control Warrior though! He can Shield Slam your guy for lethal.
Brann Bronzebeard – Works well with Abusive Sergeant, Dark Peddler and Defender of Argus. I do think that this card is a bit slow for the deck, but you can surely go ahead and try it yourself.
Doomguard – With Voidcaller gone, it is a real pain to bring out Doomguard sometimes. You cannot even use it for burst damage because it will most probably end up discarding the cards you needed for that. Leeroy is much more preferable.
Gormok the Impaler – With the way this decks spams, it is very easy to get value out of this beast. I still prefer Dark Iron Dwarf though, it being more consistent and all. DID does provide less value sure, but it provides it with just one minion on board.
Matchups and Key cards
You always want to curve out aggressively. Try to go for Flame Imp, Possessed Villager, Voidwalker and Dark Peddler most of the times.
Keep Abusive Sergeant only if you already have a Possessed Villager or Voidwalker. Same goes for Dire Wolf Alpha. Crazed Alchemist is worth keeping in many matchups, especially against Shamans and decks you know to be running Doomsayers.
You can keep Darkshire Councilman/Imp Gang Boss against slower decks if you have the coin and a good 1-drop already.
Let us take a look at some specific matchups.
Rogue – This is probably the toughest matchup for this deck. The rogue has simply too many good low mana tempo plays to stop you right in your tracks. You can still manage to beat them if you are able to stall the game enough to burst them down.
Warlock – The mirror match is usually won by whoever gets a better start and establishes board dominance earlier. It is advisable to keep Sea Giant in the hand for this matchup as you will be able to get it out for very low cost easily. Also, it is difficult to remove and usually whoever gets that Sea Giant out in a close encounter wins. Against Reno Warlock, try to finish them as early as possible using burst damage. Pile up your damage if you can to avoid the possibility of a Reno.
Hunter –Midrange Hunter is easy if you manage to get on the board and are able to deal with their Doomsayer, if they are playing one. It is advisable to keep Crazed Alchemist in hand for this matchup.
Priest – You definitely need your Flame Imps to lead here. Try to get as much face damage as possible while keeping the board. It is almost an assured win if they don’t draw Excavated Evil/ Holy Nova. Even if they do, if you have managed to push some damage, Leeroy burst combos will do the trick for you.
Warrior – This is another tough matchup, especially tempo warriors with all their whirlwind effects to wipe down your entire board. Again, try to push as much damage as possible early on and you should be able to finish them off with burst damage.
Shaman – Board presence is paramount in the early stages here. You need to force the Shaman to trade badly while trading optimally yourself. Crazed Alchemist and Defender of Argus are the key cards in this matchup. It is still not advisable to keep Argus in the opening hand because you desperately need that good opening with your 1 and 2 drops. Definitely keep Alchemist though as there is assured value in this matchup.
Paladin – You need to burst down the Paladin as soon as possible. Put them in a position where they can either heal, or answer your threats, but not both. The game is yours from that point on. The multiple board clears might be brutal if the game drags on and you don’t draw your burst. Keep Alchemist because these lists run Doomsayers as well.
Mage – If the mage has the coin and can pull of a powerful Flamewaker turn, it might be difficult for you from then on. You can easily remove the Flamewaker suing wither Soulfire or attack buffs or simply switching it’s stats with Crazed Alchemist. Either way, Flamewaker is the priority target. If you know it is a tempo mage you are facing, keeping a Soulfire might just not be bad.
Druid – This is again a favorable matchup. You might need to use your buffs to clear his taunts. Also, play around Swipe and mostly trade in your 1- health minions whenever possible. Crazed Alchemist can help to switch those taunts, reducing their health.
Well, that’s all about the deck! Try it out on the ladder and let me know if it worked out or you. Also, any feedback and suggestions welcome. You can contact me on Twitter (ManveerS_07) or just add me at Mighty#1147. Cheers!