This is the matchup analysis of C’Thun RenoLock versus Zoo Warlock. The goal of this MUA is to supplement my general C’Thun RenoLock guide you can find here with mulligan, strategy etc. against specific decks you can often face in the current meta.
If you still have any questions concerning this matchup, feel free to ask them in the comment section below!
C’Thun RenoLock deck is my own list, you can read about it more in the article I’ve linked below.
The Zoo Warlock list I’ll be basing this MUA on is the one I’ve been playing against most commonly on the ladder. If you have any questions concerning other versions, just ask and I’ll try my best to answer them!
Cards To Keep:
- Mortal Coil – Good against Zoo in general, because of the amount of 1 health minions they have.
- 2-drops: Dark Peddler > Beckoner of Evil > Acidic Swamp Ooze – Turn 2 plays, having a good curve is very important against Zoo so they won’t snowball the board in the early game. You want to keep only one of those to look for a smooth curve.
- Doomsayer – One of the best cards you can get against Zoo. If they don’t have the Crazed Alchemist tech, it will either go off killing 1-2 minions and preventing Zoo from developing the board or it will eat an early Power Overwhelming/Soulfire which is still fine.
- Demonwrath – Even though Zoo runs some Demons, a lot of their early game drops don’t have a Demon tag (e.g. Dark Peddler, Dire Wolf Alpha, Knife Juggler) so the 2 damage AoE should come handy a lot of times.
- Imp Gang Boss, Disciple of C’Thun > Twilight Elder > Brann Bronzebeard – Just like with 2-drops, you want to have a good curve and follow-up of your 2-drop. You probably want to keep two of those (especially with Coin), because even dropping one of them on t4 is better than passing and then you can curve out again with Tap + 3-drop on t5 or 2-drop & 3-drop. Imp Gang Boss and Disciple of C’Thun are the best – Imp Gang Boss can be difficult to trade off in one blow, so it can generate more value through the 1/1’s. Disciple of C’Thun is great, because it immediately takes down a 2 health minion (so it can get rid of huge threats like Knife Juggler or Dire Wolf) and then it might still get another trade on the board. Twilight Elder is also okay, but slightly worse than Imp Gang Boss (because 3 attack is only better against Voidwalker and you don’t get any 1/1’s when opponent hits it). Brann is the worst one, because not only it’s just a 2/4 for 3 with no effect (because enemy will kill it immediately before you get value), but also you want to save it for later turns to combo with other cards.
- Hellfire – Another card I always keep against Zoo, because of how important are the board clears. Turn 4 Hellfire is often a matter of life and death. It usually clears most part of the Zoo’s board, as they try to tempo as hard as they can in the early game. Even if you won’t cast it on turn 4, it’s always good to have it. Trust me, you’ll encounter tons of situations where it’s useful.
- Reno Jackson – Yeah, our beloved Reno. Most of the Zoo builds right now are very aggressive. It means that they often nearly kill you by turn 5-6, especially if you didn’t curve out too well. Reno is amazing in this matchup, you should start stabilizing around turns 5-7 and if you drop Reno after that, the game is nearly won already. I keep Reno in nearly every matchup, but in this one it’s one of the most key cards.
- Shadow Bolt – While not necessarily impressive, it’s better to remove something than pass turn 3. Imp Gang Boss might be hard to deal with in the early game and Shadow Bolt almost kills it (leaves 1/1 behind, but that’s not a huge deal). Keep it if you have no actual 3-drop.
- Twilight Drake > Refreshment Vendor – If your curve is good, so already have 2-drop and 3-drop, keeping Twilight Drake or Refreshment Vendor is okay. You follow the “curve out” pattern and those have pretty high health, so should get at least 2 or maybe even 3 trades (Twilight Drake). I prefer Drake over Vendor, because Vendor is better later in the game where you need healing more and you can also combo it with Brann for 8 points of healing (it’s important than 2x health on the Drake once you try to survive). Other 4-drops are weak in this matchup – either too situational (Spellbreaker, Defender of Argus) or too easy to kill (C’Thun’s Chosen).
This is the matchup where you need to play defensive role. As long as you survive, you win the game in the long run. In the late game you will outvalue Zoo easily – you both will be able to draw 2 cards per turn, but the average quality of yours will be MUCH higher. It means that your top priority is board control and trying to not lose too much health. To achieve that, you absolutely need your early game minions OR some board clears to come back. Generally you prioritize clearing the board over healing yourself. Clearing the board removes damage permanently, while healing yourself while enemy still has minions on the board just stalls. Stalling is sometimes fine, especially if you’re in danger of dying, but it’s often not enough. That’s the same reason why you should prioritize putting Taunts over healing yourself. To go through the Taunts, enemy has to sacrifice his board – if you heal, he can just ignore that minion. Playing vs Zoo is a constant struggle to clear their board and to balance above the lethal range.
I’d say that this matchup is slightly in RenoLock’s favor. The slower Zoo build you encounter, the better this matchup is. But pretty much everyone plays the very fast, high burst Soulfire build, which I’d rate at 55/45 (Reno/Zoo).
- A lot of the games against Zoo are decided in the early game. If enemy gets a perfect start and curves out perfectly with all the small drops, you probably aren’t winning that game unless you will get Hellfire. You can’t really influence their starting hand. The best you can do is to mulligan heavily for the early drops, trying to get good curve.
- Doomsayer is a game winner against Zoo. Drop it on turn 2, don’t be too greedy with it. The only situation I wouldn’t drop it on turn 2 would be against an empty board, even against a single 1-drop it’s still worth it, especially if you have turn 3 follow-up, because then you force enemy to skip a turn. And that’s big against Zoo. The only way to punish it is Crazed Alchemist, which is a semi-common tech card in the Zoo, but you can’t really play around it.
- When it comes to removal priority – Darkshire Councilman has the highest priority, because it can snowball out of control. Then Knife Juggler and Dire Wolf Alpha, because they both allow to get efficient trades against you. With those on the board, Zoo can both outtempo and outvalue you in the early/mid game. If I had to pick one of them to remove, it would be Knife Juggler if enemy had 0-1 minions besides it. And Dire Wolf Alpha if enemy had 2+ minions on the board (besides Wolf itself).
- Overall you don’t have a lot of things to do in the early game, just try to drop your minions and make a trade or two.
- Most important thing in the mid game is adjusting your plays depending on the cards you already have in your hand. Reno Jackson is a huge example – if you already have Reno, you don’t have to protect your life total that hard and you can drop a strong minion instead of a Taunt for example, because you know that you will heal up anyway. If you have AoE clear in your hand, you might make a slow play and let enemy develop the board just to clear it next turn.
- It’s also important to know when you can afford to lose some tempo to gain some benefits in the future. For example, when you can afford to drop Sylvanas Windrunner or Emperor Thaurissan – those are very slow in the beginning, but can gain much more value over time. Enemy is somehow likely to ignore them and just go for your face, especially if you’re pretty low already, so you need to have a way to comeback on the board after.
- If you already have Twin Emperor Vek’lor in your hand, try your best to get to 10 Attack of your C’Thun before late game hits. So for example, sometimes it might be better to play C’Thun’s Chosen instead of your other 4-drops just because it will activate your Twin Emperor. Turn 7 Twin Emperor against Zoo is a really huge deal, you put 12 health in total that enemy needs to get through. It pretty much always fights very well against their board and possibly pushes Zoo to use their burn like PO/Soulfire to kill them.
- Keep Big Game Hunter or Siphon Soul vs Sea Giant. While not every build runs it, some do and it can be hard to kill without those two cards.
- Brann Bronzebeard starts working really well in the mid game. Try to drop it on the empty board or when you’re in the board lead. If he won’t die, you can start doing magic next turn. Argus, Refreshment Vendor, Kodo, Twin Emperor – they all have amazing synergy with Brann and if it sticks to the board, you’ll most likely just win the game in a few turns.
- Try to constantly clear everything Zoo plays. Clear every last 1/1 if you can. While they might seem harmless, Zoo can’t do anything without board and even one minion means a target for Abusive Sergeant, Defender of Argus, Dire Wolf Alpha or Power Overwhelming.
- If you got past turn 7, the game should be relatively easy right now. Zoo should be out of steam already and their 2 cards per turn won’t be that meaningful. Especially since they can draw pretty bad cards like Voidwalker or Power Overwhelming (which is useless if they have no board). The thing you’re worried about most is the Leeroy Jenkins burst. Zoo can quite easily pull off 14 damage from their hand with Leeroy + 2x PO/Soulfire. Keep track of how many cards they are keeping in their hand. If they keep a card even though they have mana to play any minion they draw, it’s almost surely part of their burst combo. Without the board, that’s their only way to win the game if you took the board control. So stay over 14 health (or even 18 to be extra safe) if you can, and if you can’t try to keep a Taunt on the board all the time. Only Soulfires can go through the Taunts, so his Leeroy + PO is useless against any kind of Taunt.
- Another tricky card is Forbidden Ritual. While Zoo usually struggles with refilling the board in the late game, one Forbidden Ritual can flood the whole board. If you have 2-3 minions on the board you can clear some, but the rest will be there to push for damage. I’d advice you to keep at least one AoE against those, especially if you’re at dangerously low health.
- Keep Lord Jaraxxus as a way to heal up. You don’t really want to play it unless you have, because it’s a big tempo loss and more often than not it actually hurts you. Yes, the 6/6 every turn is nice, but if you will get down to 15 health and lose tempo, enemy might kill you before you can take advantage of your new Hero Power. Plus reducing your max health to 15 is pretty bad in case you draw Reno Jackson. So avoid playing Jaraxxus and drop it only if you’re at very low health or that is literally the only play you can make.
- C’Thun is usually game over against Zoo. Even if it’s just 10/10, it’s a great answer to Zoo’s last effort to refill the board. And then with 10/10 body on the board you should put enemy on like 2 turns clock.