It’s me! Fireflyer! And I’m back with another LEGEND OF REDDIT who goes by the name of Nethervex. Last week he posted up a deck that he was able to achieve Legend with for the month of August and it utilizes one of the new cards from Karazhan, Zoobot. With the right setup this card allows you to buff multiple minions at once and create quite a strong Zoo of creatures to attack and defend yourself with. It follows the theme of the new Menagerie Zoo in Karazhan which uses Murlocs, Beasts and Dragons but mainly focuses on the dragons since most of the cards require dragons to be in your hand to activate whereas the murlocs and beasts do not.
The deck has great tempo and uses a lot of cards that give you great value per card to gain a quick and large board. The goal is to curve out perfectly, keep a few of your diverse minions in play, Zoobot to pump them up and keep them alive or trading into big threats that are being played.
If you like Zoo style decks then I definitely recommend giving this one a try as it’s a lot of fun to quickly drop a few small minions and then boost them into bigger ones. Because of how Nethervex streamlined his version, there is a lot of room to adjust and use alternate cards. He addresses some of these and I will add those comments in the section where we talk about potential alternate cards but for now, let’s quickly go over how to play a typical Zoo deck and take a look at what made Nethervex, a LEGEND OF REDDIT!
How to Play Zoobot
This version of Zoo is a little difficult to play. Unlike typical Zoo style decks such as the obvious Zoolock and the not so obvious Aggro Shaman, this deck doesn’t have much direct damage to finish an opponent off when they’re low on health. Warlock has Soulfire, Power Overwhelming and Leeroy Jenkins while Shaman has Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst and Doomhammer. All we really have is Consecration and Truesilver Champion and most of the time you’ll be using them to control the board.
This style of Zoo revolves more around card value. The theme of the deck is dropping a 3 mana 3/3 Zoobot that also pumps at least two of your other guys which gives you a 3 mana 5/5 value. Same with things like bilefin tidehunter and nightbane templar, they are both a single card that give you multiple minions out of it, thus giving you good value. The minions in this deck are some of the best 1-3 mana drops you can run because they have to be in order to control the game and curve out. By getting more value for your cards it’s easy to overwhelm an opponent early in the game and get some good damage in.
Remember, you don’t have finishers and you don’t have charge minions to end the game if you get them low so preserve your minions on the board as carefully as you can. If your opponent gets control of the field and starts limiting your minions and not allowing you to use their Zoo synergy, it’s very easy to lose.
Original Decklist: Nethervex’s Zoobot Dream
This is the original decklist that Nethervex used to reach Legend last month. I’ve made a few modifications for the version I’ll be running but I’ll explain those changes below. First, let’s take a look at all the attractions we have at the Nethervex Zoo.
Argent Squire: One of the best 1 drops in the game. It’s near impossible to kill on Turn 1 except for maybe a well placed (and wasted) Arcane Missiles but otherwise he’s staying out and creating some trouble. We don’t really have any pump effects like abusive sergeant so I usually attack the face with the Argent Squire unless he can kill a minion. So far, he’s a bit iffy without the pump effects. Mostly he just gives you a small threat early in the game but you can’t do much with it besides attack and sometimes trade if you get a lucky knife juggler or something. Good turn 1, could be replaced with another good turn 1 drop but I couldn’t find one.
Selfless Hero: Another great turn 1 drop but this one is easily killed. You usually never want to play it on turn 1 anyways because you don’t have anything to drop its divine shield on. I tried using this card but during the time I decktested this I couldn’t face anything but mages. They were able to easily handle this minion and it never really got a chance to put a divine shield on anyone important. During one of my first revisions I took this out and replaced it with a Sir Finley Mrrgglton and an extra Bilefin Tidehunter because the Bilefin helps with Knife Juggler and Finley is just… well, Finley.
Knife Juggler: One of the key components to any Zoo style deck. By being able to drop constant minions, especially as a Paladin with the hero power, you can get some easy damage by abusing the Knife Jugglers ability. Nightbane Templar goes great with this guy on Turn 5 and so does Bilefin Tidehunter which is why I put an extra one of them in for my version. Also don’t forget that you can use your hero power to get a knight, cast Vilefin Inquisitor and use your hero power again to get 3 minions for 5 mana and ping 3 times if Knife Juggler is on the board, all at the cost of 1 card.
Vilefin Inquisitor: At first I wasn’t impressed with this card, even though it didn’t let me down the few times I was using it in the original version of the deck. I took them out to see how it would react and they are definitely a vital source when it comes to having Murlocs in play for Zoobot. It’s hard to set up for Zoobot but when your hero power is 2 mana put a 1/1 murloc into play, it becomes a bit easier to get the Zoobot effects off! You almost always have a dragon in play, so for 5 mana, you drop a 2/2 Murloc, a 3/3 Mech, and give +1/+1 to your Dragon, not too bad. Also like I mentioned above with Knife Juggler, you can hero power and cast Vilefin Inquisitor to hero power twice in a turn, don’t forget!
Bilefin Tidehunter: There was only 1 of these in the original version but it works so well with Knife Juggler that I had to add another one. Surprisingly the taunt ooze also helps keep your bigger minions alive so they can get even bigger with Zoobot effects! Original deck only has one but I would say before you start tweaking, find a way to bump this up to two!
Huge Toad: Huge toad is just a great early game minion. He trades well with big stuff, he poses an early threat and deals some great early damage. There isn’t much to say about this card, it’s just strong for its mana. He’s great to Zoobot into on Turn 3 but most of the time I use him to trade early.
Stampeding Kodo: What a great control minion. His battlecry is amazing, killing things like Knife Juggler, Doomsayer and Flamewaker. He’s also amazing because he has a good amount of health which means that he usually lives to get Zooboted once or twice and quickly becomes a huge threat. My version runs Menagerie Magician and even one battlecry to make Stampeding Kodo a 5/7 will take control of the board very quickly.
Faerie Dragon: Great card for early game. Hard to remove unless they get lucky with Arcane Missiles or maybe a Disciple of C’thun if they’re a C’thun deck. He’s great to attack their face with because since they can’t remove it with spells they’ll be forced to attack into it with their minions. One of the best targets to Zoobot.
Nightbane Templar: One of the best cards in the deck, I love using one card to get 3 minions. Very easy to trigger since you have a lot of dragons in your deck and remember, Nightbane Templar is a human so the turn after you get your dragons go ahead and trade her into anything, she won’t be pumped up by Zoobot so let her die and keep their board in control while yours gets bigger.
Twilight Guardian: This defense tank will keep your other small minions alive while you peck away at your opponent’s health. Play it as early as possible because it deals a good amount of damage while forcing your opponent to use spells or trade minions into it. Also a great target for Zoobot and Menagerie Magician because it’s like you’re healing it while also making it stronger.
Azure Drake: A must have for any dragon deck. A strong minion that also replaces its own card value by drawing you a card. Comboing Azure Drake with Consecration is good sometimes but usually won’t make much of a difference so drop your Azure Drake as quick as possible and force your opponent to remove it. As long as they lose a minion or a spell to it, you’ve already gotten the value out of the card.
Dragon Consort: I wasn’t a fan of this card. Nethervex uses them and likes them for tempo but I wasn’t able to ever really make much use of the cheapened dragon cost. You’re not using huge dragons so you’re not accelerating into them and usually all this card does is make your next Faerie Dragon free or make an Azure Drake cost less but not enough to make a difference in one turn. I think these are the easiest things to replace if you’re looking for other stuff like big fun dragons or in my version, Menagerie Magician.
Zoobot: The theme of the deck. This guy lets you tempo out really easily if you have a few minions in play already. I try to only cast him when I have two types in play, like a murloc and a dragon, but every once in awhile it’s okay to drop him as a 3/3 and buff only one Zoo minion. He’s mana efficient on his own, 3 for a 3/3, and as long as you get one +1/+1 effect he’s worth casting. If you can get two, you should really cast him, and if you can hit all 3 types in one turn, CAST HIM NOW. The value of basically Mukla’s Championing your entire field for 3 mana is so crazy, he’s definitely what makes the deck good.
The Curator: The King of the Menagerie. This guy will refill your hand with a bunch of zoo minions when you start to run low, while also being a big threat himself. He taunts and keeps your big Zoo minions alive or absorbs damage from going to your face. You don’t need to mulligan for The Curator but around Turn 7 you’ll hope you have him so you can draw a bunch of new threats. Basically, he’s card draw AND a big minion all bundled into one card. He CANNOT be replaced.
Truesilver Champion: There are only two removals in this deck, most of the time you’ll trade minions in order to remove their important ones but Truesilver Champion is a great removal card that takes out two strong minions while also giving you a little bit of healing. Curve out with your board and if you start to have trouble on Turn 4 or Turn 5, hold your Zoobots and Menagerie Magicians in your hand, use Truesilver Champion to take care of a big threat, and then cast your minions the next turn when you can remove another threat with the same weapon.
Consecration: This is your only defense versus another Zoo deck. For the most part, your minions should be able to handle trading against most Zoo decks if you have a good Zoobot buff, but every once in awhile you’ll have to set up for a good Consecration to wipe their field and start over with your curve. Pretty self-explanatory, use it when you can wipe a good portion of their field because you only have two of these and not much other removal so save them for important board clears.
Alternate Choices: Fireflyer’s Zoo
-2 Selfless Hero, -2 Dragon Consort
+1 Bilefin Tidehunter, +1 Sir Finley Mrrgglton, +2 Menagerie Magician
The reasons I took out the Selfless Hero was because I kept running into mages that could easily remove it. You’re playing that card early in the game so it’s hard to set up for the divine shield buff, and if you wait until Turn 3 or Turn 4 to use it, it ends up just being a weak card for tempo. I took them out and replaced them with more Murlocs, mainly Finley and an extra Bilefin Tidehunter. Sir Finley Mrrgglton is great because he controls the early game by having so much health while also giving you a new hero power, I usually aim for Warlock’s Life Tap.
I also took out the Dragon Consorts because they were dead cards. I mean sure, you can get a 5/5 on Turn 5 and then cast an Azure Drake for cheap the turn after but honestly, the battlecry effect did nothing for me. Nethervex said that he attempted using Menagerie Magician and found them to be clunky but I LOVE them. They fit with the Zoobot theme perfectly and they have won me a ton of games. Even if you only have two of the three target minion types, paying 5 mana for a 4/4 and also giving two other minions +2/+2 is a huge board change. The effect is much more noticeable than Zoobot who pumps guys but rarely makes them big enough to scare your opponent, just slightly bigger annoyances, like a Huge Toad becoming a 4/3 instead of a 3/2. But making a huge Toad into a 5/4 creates far more problems while also giving yourself +2 attack as if you had used an Abusive sergeant so you can trade better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used Menagerie Magician and made Sir Finley Mrrgglton a beefy 3/5 that controls the board for the next few turns.
In my opinion, run Menagerie Magician instead of Dragon Consort. You’re not trying to accelerate into the big dragons and with the way the deck is focused on the Menagerie minion types the Magician is honestly irreplaceable. When I made the change to the Menagerie Magician my win rate went from about 30% to 50%.
How to Mulligan: Curve
The key to this deck is curving out perfectly while also preserving your minions so they can be pumped up by Zoobot and (for my version) Menagerie Magician. This is hard to do because most of your early minions want to trade or will be traded by your opponent. Use your humans such as Argent Squire and Nightbane Templar to trade while leaving your other guys alive long enough to get pumped up. The reason I have two Bilefin Tidehunters in my version is because he’s a murloc who drops a small shield early on in the game to keep your guys alive as long as they aren’t a mage and can hero power your murloc away.
Mulligan Priority #1: Argent Squire, Vilefin Inquisitor, Sir Finley Mrrgglton: These 1 drops will help you establish early board control and the murlocs are great at surviving since they have 3 health.
Mulligan Priority #2: Huge Toad, Faerie Dragon, Bilefin Tidehunter: These are your basic 2 drops. Remember that you want to get them pumped up so most of the time, avoid trading with their 2 drops unless it’s something important like a Knife Juggler or maybe a Tunnel Trogg that hasn’t gotten bigger yet. Attack their face and let them decide if they want to trade minions and if they don’t, surprise them with your Zoobot.
Mulligan everything else. Even if you feel like you’re up against a Zoo deck and want to hold on to your Consecration, only do it if you have a guaranteed 1 drop and 2 drop like Vilefin Inquisitor and Faerie Dragon. It’s very very important that you curve out early and take control of the board because if you don’t, once you try to start up your Zoo army it’ll get picked apart before you can Zoobot them.
Conclusion: Personal Experience
I used the original version of the deck and was getting around a 25-30% win rate. I only played about 10-15 games before I had to make a few adjustments and make it my own style. I feel that most people will do the same and add their own variation because there’s so much in this deck that can be changed around. It’s very flexible and fun to mess around with the idea.
Once I added Menagerie Magician my win rate skyrocketed up to about 50-60% and I started having fun with this deck. It really surprises people when you have a nice board by Turn 3, use Truesilver Champion to control their field on Turn 4, and then grow your army HUGE on Turn 5 with Menagerie Magician.
All in all it was a fun deck idea. It’s definitely not as competitive as Warlock/Shaman Zoo or Dragon Warrior, but it uses a card that isn’t really used anywhere else and is strong enough to handle Ranks 10-1 (and Legend if you’re Nethervex). With the right kind of tweaking I’m sure I could have done better but it’s really difficult not having a finisher. Leeroy Jenkins was an idea for awhile but just like Nethervex I had issues where I would draw him early in the game and he would ruin my curve/tempo. It’s so important that this deck curves out well that if you don’t have a good Turn 1/Turn 2, it’s usually going to end in a loss.
I hope you liked this deck idea! Please leave me some comments below on changes that you would make to your own version; Do you like big dragons like Ysera? Are there other small minions that might work better like Abusive Sergeant? Let me know what you think!
Also you can catch me streaming at Twitch.tv/MrSlightly or follow me on Twitter at @HS_Fireflyer to stay up to date with my current Hearthstone or other games. In the next week or so I’m hoping to buckle down and throw together a competitive deck so I can grind out Legend so come follow me and join me on my journey!