Detailed Commentary 1: Zoo vs Token Druid
Hello! This is intended to be a series focusing on a very detailed, step-by-step look on some of my games. While I haven’t broken Legend yet, I consider myself a decent enough player to be able to provide some informative – and hopefully entertaining! – commentary. I hope you’ll find this both fun and educational.
I’m currently playing a modified version of Trump’s Divine Zoo deck (I’m running Wolfrider instead of Mortal Coil because screw re-draws; also Shieldbearer instead of the Harvest Golem because I found them more cost-effective).
If you’re not familiar with it, the idea behind the Zoo deck is to play nothing but efficient minions with relatively low cost, with the buffs and the Warlock’s Life Tap ability helping you stay relevant in the late game. It’s a very strong deck that has been consistent throughout all the past seasons.
The idea of Divine Zoo is to include two Blood Knights in order to a) help the Zoo versus Zoo matchups by eating up the other player’s Divine Shields and b) help your other matchups by eating up your own Divine Shields.
I recently dropped down from Rank 3 as I was trying to experiment with the aforementioned Hunter deck, so I returned to this tried and tested Warlock goodie and searched for a worthy opponent.
When I face a Druid (especially on higher levels, as there are some… interesting concepts on the lower ones), my first question is: is this Token or Watcher? (Token being a deck that uses the Violet Teacher and lots of spells to generate 1/1 minions, Watcher being one that runs Ancient Watcher and silences/taunts them to great effect. Contrary to others, I actually prefer playing against the latter as Zoo, as I often find myself getting spelled to death against the former.)
But first things first, let’s see what cards I get and if I get my hands on the coveted coin!
Excellent, I go second! I think it is beneficial to go second with Zoo, mainly because you almost always get the chance to play two one cost minions on your first turn. The dream start is 1+1/2/3 (as in two one cost minions on turn 1, a two cost minion on the next one, and then a three cost to cap off a strong opening): I may have some of the ingredients for that in my hand already but I think this recipe needs some changing.
For starters, there is no point keeping the Blood Knight in my hand at the moment because I have no cards with Divine Shields to feed it. I also only have a single one cost minion which is something that I’d like to change. (With ten cards fitting the bill in my deck, I have a very nice chance of drawing one either after mulliganing or after the druid makes his first move.)
As such, I’m saying goodbye to the bloody knight but about the two 2s? I will obviously only need one for the early game so I might as well get rid of the other one to increase my chances of getting something like a Flame Imp. If I do get what I’m looking for, a decent minion hidden behind a Voidwalker’s Taunt, the Dire Wolf Alpha’s buff on both will go a long way in the early game. If I only draw into too expensive cards, the Voidwalker followed up with the wolf would help me trade into a 3/2 if need be.
So the decision is made: goodbye, Knife Juggler! See you soon!
Well, I got what I wanted! The Argent Squire probably won’t be played anytime soon, but it is nice to have around for later. This is essentially as good as my opening could get: Voidvalker + Flame Imp followed by a Dire Wolf Alpha. And Druids rarely play anything on the first turn, right? I mean, what is he going to pull out, a Leper Gnome? Right?
Well, that’s a pretty good answer to the turn I haven’t even committed yet, I must say! I consider playing Flame Imp+Squire for a moment but then I realize that – of course – he won’t be able to kill the Voidwalker with just the golem. As such, I stick to my guns and stick to my plan.
By the way, this turn makes it pretty likely that I’m playing against a Token Druid, which makes me a bit concerned. If my opponent has a Wrath in his hand, uses it to kill my Voidwalker, then kills my Flame Imp, then I will a) be sad b) have to alter course and most likely have to go for a Voidwalker+Squire play.
So what I’m trying to say is “please don’t have Wrath”.
After a relatively long time, my opponent busts out something I didn’t expect.
This turns that golem into a taunted 4/5 which would be able to shut me down if I didn’t have the wolf in my hand. Sadly for him, I do. However, I will have to suffer some serious casualties in removing this stupid thing and my opponent will still have a 2/1 on the board when I’m done, which will simply just kill the poor animal I will be playing. But it’s not like I have a better option: the Knife Juggler I received will not help things here.
So out comes to wolf, I tell the imp that it is really necessary and I end my turn, not particularly satisfied the results of the first skirmish.
Turns out: my opponent actually had a Wrath! (Note that if you weren’t convinced before that this is a Token Druid, you should be now.) He uses it to kill my wolf and then uses the damaged golem to damage my face. I would have been more worried if he used this on turn 2 instead of now and then used Mark of the Wild on the damaged golem, but this works too. He has a board advantage, but I will have a knife to juggle. A very important knife.
This draw is on curve, but there is no point to playing the cleric at the moment: not only would I waste the buff but it would also die to Stupid McGolemface. I will instead play the Knife Juggler, then the second Voidwalker: if I get lucky, the knife kills the golem, if it hits his face, the Voidwalker will finish it off and will stay alive. If everything goes right, I can play the cleric and the squire on the following turn. But first things first: let’s see the million dollar knife!
What was I expecting? It’s turn 4 against a Druid. (On a general note, it is vital to remember the mana cost of each class’ AoE, because that is usually the turn of death if you overcommit, especially with an aggressive deck: as a rule of thumb, 7 against a Mage, 5 against a Priest and Warrior, 4 against Druid, Paladin and Warlock, 3 against a Shaman, and non-stop against Hunters.
In any case, I need to get some board presence going again, so I buff the Voidwalker, play the Squire that’s been waiting in the wings ever since the beginning of the game, then hit him in the face for two damage because we really don’t have any other targets apart from his stupid weird green beard.
The cleric is dead, long live the cleric! He may have slain the first one, but there is a new day, a new turn, and a new buff to be delivered. There is still a problem though: I cannot kill the Keeper without hitting it with the buffed Voidwalker and the Squire, which I’d prefer to avoid. (That Divine Shield is too good to be wasted on something like this!) On the other hand, I have no intention to play the Shieldbearer at the moment as I already have a taunt on the board, so let’s just Life Tap and see what we get. Who knows, maybe it is going to be a better option that the cleric?
Bingo! My innermost desires fulfilled, I gleefully play the Blood Knight and then proceed to ignore the Keeper completely as a) I cannot kill it this turn without the buff anyway b) it also cannot kill my Voidwalker. A 6/6 on turn 5 is pretty damn good, and I’m a lot happier about the situation now than I was after the death of my poor wolfie a little while ago.
Well, my opponent just played a card that essentially has 10 health but I also got something that deals 4 damage. This is a crucial decision now: do I want to kill Cairne (and Baine) or do I want to rely on my taunts to keep it away from me as I try to go for his face? Well, after some consideration, I concluded that I am way too far away to swap to rush-down mode as he is on 25 health currently. Not to mention the fact that all those spells I am bound to face as the game goes on (not to mention the probable big druid taunts) also discourages a rush.
I’m on six mana and I’d prefer to avoid discarding something with this Soulfire so I’ll just play both of my minions, buffing the Shieldbearer, then the Blood Knight+removal+Squire combo will get rid of the annoying legendary. As for the Keeper, I might as well trade in the Voidwalker as it won’t survive the next turn anyway: I’d rather it dies taking down an enemy minion than to the hero power of my opponent.
Also, Life Tap. Because an extra card cannot hurt. Too bad it’s my second Blood Knight as opposed to something like a Doomguard. Anyway, let’s see what my opponent has to offer.
Well, there is now a 4/3 on the board but I can easily dispatch it with the Cleric. On the other hand, I still have seven mana and two cards that cost five so let’s tap.
And this is why I run these instead of the Mortal Coils.
Well, I’d much rather use this to kill the Druid of the Claw! The rest of the turn is pretty straightforward: I play the Knife Juggler first, then the Wolfrider. If I’m lucky, the knife hits the druid because otherwise it’s just a waste. The Wolfrider rides his wolf into the DotC and the rest of my minions put him down to 16 health. The knife hits the enemy minion but I still have no right to complain about the way this game is going so far.
Well, shit! This makeshift Fireball of the forest completely wipes my board and I don’t really have much to build up a new one. My opponent uses the rest of his mana to shapeshift and then deal one damage to me, as I really hope that I get a good card to respond.
I was hoping for a Doomguard but this is also fine! Before I do anything, however, I tap to see if I get something even better.
Well, there goes my board again, and the Druid also has the nerve to hit me for one damage. This, mind you, means that I actually have less health than he does: 13 to his 17 HP. That does not mean that I can stop using Life Tap though: I have no chance of winning if I keep playing one card each turn as most of my cards either costs one or three mana and, as such, they aren’t really relevant in the late game on their own. Case in point: the Wolfrider in my hand.
I also got myself a Soulfire, which is nice, but also presents me with a conundrum. Do I want to keep this to hit something on his board or do I just shove it in his face? Since I only have 13 cards left in my deck, 4 of which being Doomguards and Argent Commanders, I want to minimize the chance of having to discard something valuable. The decision is made: the Wolfrider and the Soulfire deal 7 damage to him, then I tap and hope for the best as the Wolfrider is way too fragile to rely on later.
I’m on 11 health, my opponent is on 10. I have a 2/1 and a 3/2 on the board, he has nothing. He used both of his Swipes and Wraths, I’ve already seen a Force of Nature… on the other hand, the clock is ticking as his hero ability will keep getting him health while I can’t really say the same about mine. Let’s see what he comes up with!
My opponent has managed to demolish my board once more, while also putting a beefy taunt between me and his face. It also doesn’t help that I’ve managed to draw my second Young Priestess. Eleven hit points may not be a lot, especially with seven damage facing me, but I absolutely must tap if I want to have any chance to win this. I still have my four juggernauts in there somewhere so it isn’t impossible to pull this off, but it really is now or never for them to show up.
The Doomguard got an extra hitpoint so it is now outside of Keeper+Shapeshift range. I know that there are no more Swipes for me to worry about, but this is far from a guaranteed victory.
The Keeper of the Grove kills my Priestess and I finally get my hands on an Argent Commander. This would let me kill both taunts of my opponent but that is just not enough: the 4/2 would get killed by the Sunfury Protector and I have no time to start playing catch-up. I need to tap again. There are not that many cards that can help me, as I will only have two mana to spare after playing the Argent Commander, but at least I’ll have more options next turn, right?
Perfect! This is literally as good as it gets here! While a Shieldbearer would have brought some solace as well, this card is huge because it lets me use the Argent Commander to kill the Ancient of Lore – which means my Doomguard stays alive. I clear off his defenses and end my turn – we’ve both had the habit of constantly topdecking the perfect answer so I’m still a bit worried about what could come next.
My opponent didn’t have an immediate solution but this is still what it all comes down to: he kills my Doomguard and puts two minions on the board. He also hits me again, putting me down to six health. He is on 11 health now thanks to the armor: if I can’t kill him now and trade my minions for his, I will not be able to recover.
I have to tap, as ridiculous as it may sound. I could put this next to the wolf, put him down to 4 health and let the chips fall where they may (and then he’d have to make some difficult decisions about trading), but I don’t want to rely on what he draws. I’d much rather rely on what I draw, and with both Sunfury Protectors, an Argent Commander, a Soulfire and some other goodies waiting to spring out from the darkness of the remains of my deck, I go for it. Life Tap.
Article by Luci. Note the game is from Season 1. Zoo Warlock is still a dominant and common deck in Season 2.