MUA: Deathrattle Rogue vs. Zoo

Deathrattle Rogue is a deck that thrives due to how strong it is against most of the decks on the ladder. It can play the early game really well, but also play the midrange and late game if need be. As such, it makes a great choice to combat the current meta. One of the […]


Deathrattle Rogue is a deck that thrives due to how strong it is against most of the decks on the ladder. It can play the early game really well, but also play the midrange and late game if need be. As such, it makes a great choice to combat the current meta. One of the most popular decks these days is Zoo, which also can play the early game but last into the later stages. Both decks have some amount of burst, and both operate on board control. This guide will break down this matchup and look at how Deathrattle Rogue takes on Warlock’s early swarms of resilient minions.

Sample Decklists 

There are several ways to build Deathrattle Rogue, and understanding them is key to understanding the deck overall. There are two types of deathrattle minions in Hearthstone, and you can choose which ones to incorporate into your deck. If you play the slower, more powerful cards the deck runs a lot more midrange, but if you choose to put in faster minions the decks can kill people very quickly. Choose the play style that you best understand, and that in turn will give you the best chance of winning. In order to help you construct the deck a link to the core cards as well as a link to a building guide have been placed below.


Mulligan Guide

Though Zoo is no longer an aggressive deck, you want to mulligan against it in the same way you mulligan against decks like Aggro Shaman and Hunter. That means low cards to fight their early push. That will allow you to slowly build up your board to help answer their big threats when they come down. Remember, Zoo fights your powerful curve with a strong curve of its own. You are one of the few decks that can match them punch for punch, but you need your starting cards to make that happen. Zoo is a deck that depends on minions to operate, and you should do your best to keep any removal that you see.

Cards to Keep

Backstab Leper Gnome Abusive Sergeant Haunted Creeper Eviscerate Loot Hoarder

Situational Keeps

Unearthed Raptor is good with the coin or with a strong opening.

SI:7 Agent should always be kept with the coin or Backstab

Piloted Shredder is a good keep if you have the coin and a strong opening curve.

Defender of Argus can be kept only if you have sticky deathrattle minions (Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper) to play before it.

How to Win

As mentioned earlier, Zoo is an aggressive deck that depends on board control and resilient minions to win games. As such, you need to do what you can to make sure they never get an early board presence. Every turn Zoo grows bigger and bigger, trading up and adding down beefy minions. The way to beat that is to interrupt their curve and force them to react to you in ways they don’t want to.

While Zoo is an aggro deck at heart, it has become a lot more midrange in the past few months. That means they have very few ways to do damage outside of buffs or Doomguard. This is important to note because it will help you know when and how to be aggressive. If Zoo has a full board (or even one minion) you have to be very careful not to die to a Power Overwhelming or other suddent burst of damage. Clear every single minion they have if you are ever getting low on health.

The biggest advantage you have in this matchup is that Zoo does not do well when facing down deathrattle minions. Board control decks need the board to win, and it is hard to anchor down a board when facing a bunch of sticky minions. For this reason you always want to play your minions that replace themselves over ones that don’t. This will give you more ways to keep something on board.

Early Game Strategy

Zoo needs a curve to win and they love to start out one-two-three. While you are not going to be able to interrupt that without the use of some of your early removal, you can answer it extremely well. Deathrattle Rogue has one of the best openings in the game between things like Nerubian Egg and Unearthed Raptor. For that reason you should use your first turns to get minions onto the board as a way to set up the middle and late game.

The most annoying card to deal with early on is Imp Gang Boss. Not only does it usually end up leaving one or two imps behind, but the only real clean answer you have to the demon is Eviscerate, which should be saved for much larger threats. Instead just trade into it when possible and clean up as quickly as you can.

Unearthed Raptor is an absolute all-star in this match. As aforementioned, you want to have a critical mass of deathrattle here to shut Zoo down before they really get rolling. Not only does the raptor come down on turn three and copy one of the great two-drop deathrattles in the game, but it also a 3/4. Those stats can really give Zoo fits and force them to use an early buff to keep up their tempo.

Midgame Strategy

It does not matter what style you or your opponent is playing, Defender of Argus is incredibly important here from both sides of the board. The unassuming four drop not only pumps up two minions, but it also has the added ability to give reach and win races. You typically want to use this card to lock down the board by either stalling Zoo, protecting your strong minions or trading out.

Also be careful about playing around defender. Zoo, just like you, has a lot of small minions that it can buff with argus. If they get that at the right time in the right situation the game can very quickly slip out of your hands.

These turns are where Zoo attempts to get big. It does this by trading up as much as possible to put down larger and larger minions. That can bury many decks, but you can fight back with one of the most resilient midrange tools in the game. While your deathrattle is strong to start out, it just keeps getting better and better as the game goes on. Piloted Shredder challenges anything they could play, while things like Sludge Belcher and Sylvanas Windrunner start to take over if they aren’t immediately answered.

While every Zoo build is different, there are some key cards you want to look for during these turns. Loatheb and Voidcaller are both very popular, but some decks run Sylvanas Windrunner instead. All of those cards are important to them winning and you should plan for them during turns five, six and seven.

Late Game Strategy

You want to have a strong board when these turns start to come around because if you don’t you will most surely die. Zoo runs a couple of large minions, but the most popular currently are Sea Giant and Dr. Boom. Each of those behemoths hits for massive amounts of damage that you cannot afford to take against a deck like Zoo. While they can be tough to deal with, if you have board when they come down you should be able to clear them quite easily.

Sea Giant is a card you need to be constantly aware of. The 8/8 only gets strong when there a lot of minions on the field, which means you can try to control how much it costs. Never flood the board here and always kill your opponent’s small minions unless you can quickly deal with a surprise 8/8. Every turn look at the mana-to-creature ratio to help understand how and when the giant can come down.

Remember, due to the inherent power of life tap, you will almost never win a topdeck battle with Zoo. A lot of their cards do a decent amount of damage, and that can add up really quickly when they are drawing two a turn. If you start to slip behind or feel the game getting away you should go face as much as possible to keep their focus on the board rather than your face.

Final Tip

One of your best tools is Sylvanas Windrunner. While her ability in innately really powerful against deathrattle decks, she is also one of the strongest proactive cards at your disposal. That means, instead of playing her the turn a large minion comes down, you can play her the turn before. This will take your opponent off curve and force them to delay their giant Dr. Boom or the like.