With the reveal of Spirit Jailer, Demon Zoo Warlock was one of the first decks that came to mind for me for the new standard format. Going off with Kanrethad in Ashes of Outlands was one of the most explosive ways to start a game, and I expected the move from six demons to eight at one mana to give the deck a modest increase in power. As Blizzard revealed more cards, a new route for Zoo became more apparent.
By forgoing the Discard package and embracing new tools like Felosophy and Demon Studies, Zoo Warlock can transition from an aggro deck with staying power into something that more resembles a combo deck. These are some examples of what this deck can do:
If this looks more fun than playing honest Hearthstone, then you’re in the right place. Demon Zoo Warlock is a blast to play, and it’s a force to be reckoned with in the current meta.
Demon Zoo Warlock
General Strategy of Demon Zoo Warlock
While this deck is nominally a Zoo Warlock deck, it plays more like a combo deck in some respects. Several small combos combine to form Demon Zoo. The deck wins by executing one of them before turn four and putting absurd amounts of stats into play.
Darkglare, Diseased Vulture, Felosophy, Imprisoned Scrap Imp, and Kanrethad Ebonlocke all cheat mana and generate an advantage that most decks can’t recover from when fully built around.
Unlike most Zoo decks, you are not looking to curve out; instead, focus on progressing the combo you find in your opening hand. You can then reload with Voracious Reader and your hero power, eventually banking on Disciplinarian Gandling and Brittlebone Destroyer to make a final push.
This deck also is not playing burst damage out of hand, like Soulfire. Excluding these cards helps you more consistently go off, but it comes at a price. The deck can only win from the board, making it susceptible to freeze effects and repeated board clears.
In general, you are looking to keep your best payoff cards; as I mentioned before, developing on turn one is a lower priority than building a massive board on turns two or three. Kanrethad Ebonlocke is your most powerful early tool. With eight one mana demons, it is usually correct to mulligan hard for them if you have Kanrethad in your initial draw.
If you start with Imprisoned Scrap Imp, prioritize Felosophy, Magic Carpet, and your cheap demons. Darkglare is another powerful enabler, synergizing well with Flame Imp, Demon Studies, and Raise Dead; look for those cards if you see it.
Diseased Vulture is the last of your power start options, and keeping a Neferset Thresher and planning to curve out can work with this opener. As a final tip, don’t be afraid to mulligan your whole hand if you don’t have one of these openers; the odds of finding one are in your favor, and leveraging this consistency with aggressive mulligans is the key to snowballing the early game into victory.
Matchups & Meta
With the meta still settling after the launch of the expansion, Demon Zoo is at its best against decks that start slow on the board, such as Highlander Mage, Guardian Druid, and Control Warrior.
Most answers that come down before turn five fail to clear the board when properly played around. For example, leaving one health minion to beat a Bladestorm or positioning around Combustion and Lake Thresher can secure a win. Demon Zoo also performs well against board-focused midrange decks, such as Libram Paladin.
Your strong starts will generate a board that requires an immediate answer, such as an early Libram of Justice, and heavily impede your opponent’s development. Freeze-based control decks and burn decks, such as Combo Mage and Stealth Rogue, are challenging. They punish your lack of reach and self-damage, respectively, and leave you unfavored. This deck is at its best in a midrange meta, and in the given field, it seems well-positioned for wins.
Build Options & Tech Cards
Unfortunately, this build is somewhat inflexible. Demon Zoo leans hard on its synergies, and removing them will fundamentally change the deck. Adding Expired Merchant and Hand of Gul’dan, for example, fundamentally changes the deck’s goal. They are great cards, but you should look at a more traditional Zoo list like NoHandsGamer’s Zoo Warlock build if you’re interested in this style of Warlock deck.
Otherwise, the flex slots in this list are Voracious Reader and Disciplinarian Gandling. While they have their advantages, you may not always need the reload from Reader or necessarily want Gandling’s effect. Instead, you can try one of the following options:
Additional tech cards for Demon Zoo Warlock
Animated Broomstick can act as an additional copy of Magic Carpet, giving you tempo on an Imprisoned Scrap Imp swing turn by letting your huge minions clear the enemy board.
You know it, you love it, it’s Soulfire. In exchange for the damage out of hand, you give up some potential reload and powerful starts. If Mage’s play rate climbs or you find yourself short just a few damage points, this is an excellent option to include.
While I deemed Flesh Giant too slow for the initial list, it has many synergies with the current build of the deck and could be worth testing. If you reduce the cost just right, Magic Carpet can give this Rush, and self-damage ensures that it won’t be too expensive once the midgame hits. Including this card sacrifices early game consistency for tempo later, and you might find that exchange to be favorable.
Last but not least is Tour Guide. Tour Guide pairs very well with Darkglare by eventually gaining two mana, adding more fuel to your explosive starts. However, it is difficult to keep Tour Guide in your mulligan without access to Darkglare. Without Darkglare, the card is simply not strong enough to be worth holding. The way this deck plays this deck because it is difficult to keep in the opening hand without Darkglare, but it’s not worth writing off. Tour Guide is an excellent tech substitution if you feel the need to go under midgame strategies and are comfortable with your life totals.
Thank you for reading the guide, and I hope you have as much fun with it. If you would like replays from some games or have some other decks you want to see covered, please reach out in the comments. You also can check out some of our other deck guides, like SteemedMuffins’s Introduction to Aggressive Demon Hunter. Enjoy your high rolls, and see you next time.
Written by DankestDad