Miracle Rogue Matchup Analysis: Vs. Zoo Warlock
Welcome friends! My name is Blackacre and I piloted the Miracle Rogue to Top 20 NA. After receiving numerous requests for a guide on how to mulligan/play each of the major matchups in the metagame I have given in and created a comprehensive guide, containing 11 matchups analysis.
I’ve broken up the match analysis into multiple guides (it’s too much for one guide/sitting). This guide covers the matchup analysis of going against a Zoo Warlock, as a Miracle rogue.
For the deck list and core deck guide, please find it here.
To understand this matchup you need to understand how Zoo wins games. Zoo is a board control deck, but the way it gains board control is through something I call mana debt. What exactly does this mean?
Well, consider a card like Voidwalker. A 1 power 3 toughness minion is not an imposing body, so what exactly makes this card powerful? What makes it good is that it only costs 1 mana to cast, but it is very difficult for most decks to remove it from the board without using 2+ mana to do so. So if you spent 2 mana to remove the 1 mana Voidwalker you are in 1 point of mana debt. That alone doesn’t sound too bad, but Zoo runs many minions which add to the mana debt like Argent Squire, Flame Imp, Shieldbearer, Scarlet Crusader, Harvest Golem, etc… So once Zoo has you in mana debt, what happens next? Well Zoo aims to take advantage of that mana debt by buffing the minions you don’t have the mana to remove from the board with cards like Abusive Sergeant, Dire Wolf Alpha, Shattered Sun Cleric, Dark Iron Dwarf, Defender of Argus, etc… To make this situation worse Zoo has cards that offer huge tempo boosts in the form of Soulfireand Doomguardto expand on the mana debt even more. So now that we understand how Zoo works, how do we beat it?
Well, we know that Zoo wants to use mana debt to build a board position, so our goal should always be to disrupt their game plan. We want to do whatever is necessary to clear the Zoo player’s minions every turn of the game. This is a very effective game plan because Zoo doesn’t have a large amount of reach. Newer players may be wondering what I mean by “reach.” This is just a term to describe cards that allow you to do damage to the opponent in a game where you have lost control of the board. Modern Zoo lists only run 4 cards that count as reach, 2x Doomguard and 2x Soulfire. There are variations that run cards like Leeroy Jenkins and Arcane Golem, but those lists are generally worse, and therefore will see less play. So with the limited amount of reach in the Zoo deck establishing control of the board is a highly effective strategy.
As long as we stabilize the board at a life total that is outside of that range there is very little that the Zoo player can do to win that game at that point. So now let us take a look at the cards that help us achieve this goal.
This is an auto-keep in the matchup regardless of the other cards in your hand. Backstab is a pure tempo boost and that is exactly what we need to help fight against the mana debt that Zoo is trying to put us in. Being able to remove a Flame Imp, Knife Juggler, Dire Wolf Alpha, or even Shattered Sun Cleric in the first few turns at 0 mana cost is incredibly powerful in this matchup.
Taking face damage to remove minions is not ideal in a matchup where your opponent is trying to pressure your life total, but even with that downside Deadly Poison is a must keep in this matchup. The reason for this is that Deadly Poison is mana efficient and as we have noted previously mana efficiency is of utmost importance against Zoo. We need to wrestle control of the board from the Zoo player. Additionally, Deadly Poison has an extremely useful synergy with Blade Flurry that can often win the matchup outright if timed properly.
Cards that do damage to multiple minions are extremely useful in recouping mana debt. If the Zoo player is controlling the board Blade Flurry is a 2 mana card that can often remove 2 or 3 times that much mana investment from the board. Because this is the case, keeping Blade Flurry is often correct, especially if you have a Deadly Poison to combo with it.
The Zoo player has 3 early game minions with 2 health that are very important to remove in Flame Imp, Knife Juggler, and Dire Wolf Alpha. Eviscerate allows us to avoid taunts to remove these important minions from the board.
This card specializes in beating aggressive decks and Zoo is certainly one of those matchups. Having the coin definitely makes SI:7 Agent a keep every time in the matchup, but it is often right to keep even without the coin if you have a way to enable the combo at all. Even highly inefficient plays like using Preparation to start your combo without any follow up can be right in certain circumstances.
Earthen Ring Farseer
This card offers us a reasonable 3/3 body for 3 mana with a useful upside of 3 points of healing. While there are cards that are more powerful in the matchup, it is foolish to mulligan a consistent performer like Earthen Ring Farseer in search of those cards. I would only consider mulliganing this card if I had a hand that was clogged at the 3 drop slot with more valuable cards like SI:7 Agent and Edwin VanCleef.
Shadowstep has many uses in the matchup when combined with SI:7 Agent, Edwin VanCleef, and Earthen Ring Farseer, but those synergies can often be too slow if we don’t have other strong cards in hand to stabilize during the first few turns. So you want to mulligan Shadowstep in your opening hand unless you have strong cards to support it.
Fan of Knives
FoK’s ability to deal damage to multiple minions makes it a powerful card in the matchup, but is also mana inefficient, which makes it far from ideal in our starting hand. The only time where keeping FoK would be a consideration is if you also had a Preparation to allow you to cast it for free. Otherwise toss this back in search of more efficient cards.
Throw It Back
The tempo boost that Preparation offers makes it a strong card in the matchup, but it will do very little for us if we don’t have the cards we need in hand to take advantage of it. Because this is the case, it is usually right to mulligan it to look for more consistent cards in the matchup.
Cold Blood should never be kept in your opening hand, and Zoo is probably the worst matchup to have it so that rule applies here even more so than in most matchups.
Conceal is a card that is used to extract extra value from other cards. The Zoo matchup is not about value at all. So you will always want to mulligan Conceal in this matchup.
Sap is at its worst against decks like Zoo. Often the Zoo player will have a board that consists of only minions that cost less than the 2 mana it costs to play Sap, so we will be gaining little to no advantage from playing Sap. As this is the case, we should mulligan it without hesitation.
Shiv is a mana inefficient spell. It does 1 damage for 2 mana. The rogue hero power is double as efficient as it does 2 damage for 2 mana. Since the Zoo matchup is all about being mana efficient in our effort to wrestle board control from them, Shiv is a card that is not useful to us. Therefore we should mulligan Shiv every time.
VC is a very powerful card in the matchup because Zoo doesn’t run any non-damage based removal. However, it is only worth keeping if we have the cards to abuse its power. Obviously, having the coin is the most straightforward way to build his power level and it is often correct to keep VC when going second regardless of the other cards in hand. The decision is more complex when you don’t have access to easy combo enablers like Backstab, Preparation, and Shadowstep. When that is the case, it is often the best to mulligan him in search of more consistent cards.
Thalnos is a 1 power and 1 toughness minion for 2 mana. Those stats alone should tell you why Thalnos is not ideal in this matchup. While it can be useful in the mid to late game in combination with cards like FoK and Shiv to gain value once the board has been stabilized, it does very little in the first couple of turns to combat the mana debt that we are battling against. You should mulligan this every time.
Loot Hoarder’s value does not come from its ability to affect the board, and its 2/1 body is particularly bad in a matchup where your opponent has access to cards like Voidwalker and Mortal Coil. In this matchup we are looking for cards that have a more efficient effect on the board.
There are literally no matchups where I would keep Leeroy in my opening hand. As such, mulligan him every time.
Azure Drake/Gadgetzan Auctioneer
I group these two cards together because they suffer from the exact same problem. They both cost 5 mana and that is simply too expensive to consider keeping in this matchup. You need answers that will be able to interact with the board earlier or the game could be effectively over by turn 5.
Closing & Other Matchup Analysis
Hope you guys find this matchup analysis helpful! I’ll be adding and creating more guides of other matchups.