MUA: Patron Warrior vs. Zoo Warlock

Despite the nerfs, Patron Warrior is still a very powerful midrange deck that is capable of both strong board control and late game burst. That combination makes it one of the strongest decks in the current Hearthstone meta, and a great option for climbing the ladder. When choosing to team up with the dwarves, you […]

Introduction

Despite the nerfs, Patron Warrior is still a very powerful midrange deck that is capable of both strong board control and late game burst. That combination makes it one of the strongest decks in the current Hearthstone meta, and a great option for climbing the ladder. When choosing to team up with the dwarves, you need to know how to combat other popular decks you might see. One such deck is the ever-popular aggro Warlock deck, Zoo. This guide will break down the matchup between Patron and Zoo, and analyze how Warrior can use its combo pieces and strong AOE to come out on top.

Sample Decklists

Patron Warrior is a deck that has gone through many changes. Some lists are much more focused on board control, while other tend to put more stock into finishers or charge. Some also run bigger minions, while other decks are more centered on the combo. Each version has its good matchups and its bad ones, but the most important thing is to play a version you are most comfortable with or that you best understand. To help you make this decision, three decks and a guide to Patron Warrior have been linked below.

One, Two, Three

Guide

Mulligan Guide

When facing Warlock you just want to play for Zoo. While you may be facing Renolock, it is always better to adjust to a control deck that to get run over by aggro. Look for all of your cheap minions, early removal, and keep all of the weapons you find. These cards are essential as they will clear out the early game and help you slowly build toward your bigger combo.

Cards to Keep

Whirlwind Fiery War Axe Armorsmith Unstable Ghoul Slam Cruel Taskmaster Acolyte of Pain Death’s Bite

Situational Keeps

Inner Rage is can be good to combo with activators like Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain.

Frothing Berserker is a good keep if you strong cards to go along with it.

Piloted Shredder is strong keep with the coin and a strong early curve.

Grim Patron is a strong keep if you have a solid opening to set it up.

How to Win

Zoo is a deck that desperately needs board control to win games. Without it, they cannot make use of their buffs and lose a lot of burst potential. As such, you are going to spend most of this game using your minions and spells to keep their board clear. This both sets up your finisher and lets you play the midrange game. Unlike other matchups, Zoo will eventually bring themselves down into your burst range through Lifetap. You just want to stay alive long enough for that to happen.

The most important part of this game, in the vein of clearing, is using your AOE. While Zoo runs a lot of minions, almost all of them are small. All of your countless Whirlwind effects can be stacked together for complete clears. One health minions are very easy to remove, but when you get multiple triggers you should be able to take care of two and three health minions no problem. Try to save up for big turns if you can.

The final part of this matchup is knowing is how and when to use Execute. Sea Giant is very popular in Zoo these days, but they also have access to a lot of big cards ranging from Dr. Boom to Loatheb to Mal’ganis. Each of those threats, due to Zoo’s burst, is very important to deal with as soon as you can. As a result, save your premium removal for big threats only, and try to remove everything else with AOE or your own minions.

Early Game Strategy

In the start of this game you are going to operate much like Control Warrior. Zoo is going to play their early threats, and you are going to either challenge them with your minions or remove them with weapons. They are a archetype that builds off of themselves extremely well, and you want to do everything you can to halt that process.

Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith are your two best openers, and you need to get them both down as soon as possible. Even if they get removed (which they most often will), they are going to slow your opponent down, force them to use resources, and get your either cards or armor (both of which are pivotal to winning the long game). While Fiery War Axe should be priority number one, these are a close second.

Do not be afraid to use Slam as a kill spell. Drawing cards can be very tempting, but you never want to let any important early minions like Dire Wolf Alpha or Knife Juggler live.

The final part of the opening is setting up Death’s Bite. This card is fantastic against Zoo because it deals with all of their midgame threats you don’t want to use Execute on, and also clears a lot of their fringe minions like Abusive Sergeant. The only rule is to always have a plan for the deathrattle. A free Whirlwind is very strong, and you want to make use of it by either setting up Grim Patron, triggering Battle Rage or just drawing cards off of Acolyte of Pain.

Midgame Strategy

The middle of the game is where Zoo starts to get big. To combat that, you need to push for your combos and put out your larger threats. Your finishing burst makes most of your cards threats, which means your opponent is going to have to spend the time to take down anything from a Piloted Shredder to Dr. Boom to Loatheb.

Save an answer for Imp-losion. The four mana spell is very easy to deal with if you are prepared, but it is a nightmare if you use your AOE too early. An unanswered Imp-losion can just dominate the board and take the game out of your hands.

You want to try and go off with Grim Patron whenever you are facing an empty or a nearly empty board. Besides Imp-losion, Zoo has no clears out of their hand. That means they are going to have to get rid of your Patrons with their minions, which are usually too small, and require buffs to clear. Because of that, once you get two or three patrons down the game is largely over.

Piloted Shredder (if you run it) is another important card because of how sticky it is. The four drop can even be played into a crowded board because it is most likely going to take down two minions before it dies. It gets even better when you can back it up with weapons or other minions.

Another part of Zoo running small minions is that you can easily have a lot of damaged minions on your side of the board. Always look for opportunities to use or set up Battle Rage. Take a bunch of chip damage to draw three or four cards can be a good use of time, even if takes up your whole turn.

Late Game Strategy

This is part of the game where you need to make good use of Execute to stop any large minions Zoo has. In addition, you also need to be very careful about your life total. Armorsmith, if you still have one, is very strong here because it is one of the only ways you can gain health. Setting up two turn lethal is fine during these turns, just don’t ignore a board that you can easily die to.

Dr. Boom is one of your powerful options. Not only does it halt Zoo in their tracks and force them to come up with answers for the 7/7, but the Boom Bots are almost always removal spells. In that way the seven drop is a full, or mostly full, board clear. It is a great tempo play that also does very nicely when setting up a turn eight Grommash Hellscream

The end of the game is going to be built moving towards Grommash Hellscream. Zoo loves to Lifetap. That, combined with the damage your push through across the game, means they are almost always going to be within range of the charging orc. Once Zoo falls into the low teens you should just focus on pushing them into Gromm range.

Final Tip

Never forget about your hero power. While your main focus is on the board and pushing for combos, you need to remember that Zoo is an aggro deck capable of enormous amounts of burst damage. Every piece of life matters, especially as the game goes long. Always look for ways to get two extra armor when the opportunity presents itself.