MUA: Discard Zoo Warlock vs Control Warrior

This is a part of the MUA series for Discard Zoo Warlock deck. MUA (short for Matchup Analysis) is a guide focused on a specific matchup – mulligan, most important points and quick strategy summary. Click here for the full guide: Beginner Guide (Overview, Mulligan, Strategy Tips) Advanced Guide (Setting up a clock, Positioning, Playing Around Removals, […]

Introduction

This is a part of the MUA series for Discard Zoo Warlock deck. MUA (short for Matchup Analysis) is a guide focused on a specific matchup – mulligan, most important points and quick strategy summary. Click here for the full guide:

  • Beginner Guide (Overview, Mulligan, Strategy Tips)
  • Advanced Guide (Setting up a clock, Positioning, Playing Around Removals, Alternate/Tech Cards)

The decks posted in MUAs are example ones – there are different versions of each deck on the ladder and so playing against them might vary a bit, but it’s impossible to cover all of them. I try to pick the most common one at the time of writing.

Matchup Overview

With the rise of Midrange Shaman, Control Warrior has became more popular recently because of having a positive matchup against best deck on the ladder. This affects the rest of the meta too – sadly it’s not a good sign for the Zoo Warlock. While the Control Warrior matchups were always back and forth, in favor of one deck or the other, the lists tinkered specially to counter the Shaman also happen to work well against this deck, with A LOT of AoEs being played.

There are two popular Warrior builds – N’Zoth, the Corruptor one and Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End one. You honestly don’t care that much, because playing against either of them is quite similar in the end.

Mulligan

High priority (you always keep):

  • Possessed Villager
  • Argent Squire
  • Voidwalker
  • Dark Peddler

Medium priority (you situationally keep):

  • Flame Imp
  • Malchezaar’s Imp
  • Imp Gang Boss
  • Darkshire Councilman

Your mulligan tries to go around the Warrior’s early game removals – most notably the infamous Fiery War Axe. That’s why you want to prioritize minions that don’t get killed so easily – Possessed Villager and Argent Squire. You also like minions that give you some value even if they’re killed – Dark Peddler in that case. Voidwalker is also a good card against Warrior. Even though it dies to a single hit of Axe, you can strategically play it alongside a more important minion (e.g. Flame Imp or Dire Wolf Alpha) and make it survive.

When it comes to situational keeps – other 1-drops like Flame Imp or Malchezaar’s Imp have one big weakness – they die to FWA without getting you any real value early in the game. While it’s still important to open with a 1-drop as a Zoo and have them as a curve filler, the Imps are easier to kill for the Warrior, so you should generally keep them only if you don’t have others, better 1-drops (e.g. if you only have Imp + another 1-drop, you can still keep it, but I wouldn’t keep it with 2 other 1-drops). Among those two, Flame Imp gets a higher priority.

You can also keep the bigger minions – 3 drops – because Warrior is not the fastest matchup and having a smooth mid game is very important. Imp Gang Boss is hard to kill off completely, because of 4 health and the fact that it spawns 1/1’s whenever it takes damage. And Darkshire Councilman might hopefully snowball the game, because Warriors don’t keep Executes in Mulligan and 5 health might be hard to deal with.

Strategy Tips

For more general tips, check out the Beginner part of the guide. Here are few matchup-specific tips:

  • Early game is very important. You need to put pressure on the Warrior quickly, long game is definitely not in your favor. Always assume Warrior has Fiery War Axe in the opening hand – they always hard mulligan for it. If he doesn’t have it, it’s good for you, but don’t make your plans around that. Control Warriors generally don’t have many early game minions – Acolyte of Pain and Ravaging Ghoul are most likely all you’re going to encounter up until turn 4. Some of them have teched in a Doomsayer, because it works great against Shaman, so keep that in mind. Try to make a clear trade into Acolyte of Pain (attack buffs might help) and try to not leave all your minions as 1 health if possible. Don’t let Warrior draw too much.
  • Most important and challenging part of this matchup is playing around AoEs. You need to do that EVERY TURN since turn 3. The most common things you need to play around are 1 damage – Revenge and Ravaging Ghoul and Brawl. You play around Whirlwind Effects by not leaving all of your minions at 1 health and trading them off instead. You play around Brawl by having 3-4 minions, enough to put pressure and force the Brawl, but not enough to immediately lose the game after Brawl. You also want to keep some ways to refill the board in your hand in the mid game, so after enemy Brawls you can flood it. You don’t generally play around second Brawl unless you’re in great spot and you can afford to do so. You need to remember that Revenge becomes 3 damage once Warrior gets below 12 health, so play around that. If you have a lot of < 3 health minions on the board, try to leave Warrior at 13+ health and then kill him in one go. Warrior still might play a weapon, hit something and then Revenge, but that's less likely – Warriors usually use their weapons right away to immediately control the board. There is also a Baron Geddon you need to have in mind – that's 2 damage AoE. So once you get to turn 7 and/or get Warrior below 12 health, Defender of Argus is your best way to ensure your minions survive. Instead of buffing the 1 health minions, buff the 2 or 3 health ones against Geddon/Revenge respectively – this way you get them out of range and you have higher chance of them surviving. Some builds run Yogg, but you don't play around it than you already play around different AoEs – since it can do anything, you can't really predict that.
  • Try to Life Tap as much as you can in the mid/late game to maximize your resources. Your life total is not important up until the very late game when you might want to play around Grommash Hellscream + activator (10 damage burst).
  • Try to not needlessly discard your cards. Tempo is important, but running out of cards quickly will most likely make you lose the game. Try to set up Silverware Golem in your hand before discarding and/or playing Malchezaar’s Imp before doing so. But remember that games against CW might take a while, so cycling TOO MUCH with Imp is also not advisable, as you might really run out of cards.
  • If you’re in a bad spot, stop playing around things, just go all-in. It’s one of the best advice in this matchup – if Warrior has good game, the longer you wait, the more his advantage is going to snowball. You can’t come back as a Zoo against Control Warrior. So if you’re in a bad shape – flood the board, go all-in, don’t mind AoEs. There is a chance that Warrior won’t have what he needs and you will just kill him.

Closing

That’s all folks. Thanks for reading this MUA. If you want some matchup to be covered next, you have any questions or other suggestions – feel free to leave your comment in the section below.

Good luck on the ladder and until next time!