Every Animal in the Zoo – A Look at the Different Faces of Zoo

deemies-zoolistHistory and Current status:
Recently rising to the #5 spot on Tempo Storm’s prestigious Meta Snapshot, Zoo has not only maintained its power within the realm of Hearthstone as the meta changes, but increased dramatically with each expansion going all the way back to Naxx when Nerubian Egg put it on the map. Zoo’s ability to take cheap, easy to craft, cards and carry players to Legend in a relatively fast manner makes it a popular choice amongst Free to Play and Pay to Win players alike. They will be able to save all that dust and money for more expensive decks such as Freeze Mage, which will easily set someone back 4-6K dust to craft.

The Species/Variations
Although all Zoo decks general play the same in regards to basic strategy, not all are created equal and have the same matchups and win rates.

Traditional Zoo
The traditional Zoo deck (which is currently on Tempo Storm) utilizes cheap and synergistic minions to overwhelm the opponent and command the board. As the game continues, cards such as Sea Giant or Doomguard anchor the later stages of the game and take over as the main damage concern (apart from the full board). Playing against zoo is relatively straightforward. You either have the cards and mana to counter the ever-increasing board presence, or you take an escalating amount of damage that usually ends in a GG.

How to play

You OWN the early game
Due to its plethora of early game and synergistic capabilities, you almost always can start with a good hand. Curving out is everything with zoo as well as keeping in mind your opponent’s board clears and deck archetype. You may have a full board with guaranteed lethal, but if it’s turn 6 against a secret paladin, a bad time is imminent. Remember that THIS IS NOT CANCER. You want to maintain board presence and keep giving that sweet damage, but remember that nothing should be kept alive on your opponent’s board unless it’s close to harmless. Armorsmith can lead into upwards of 15 armor gain in a single turn if combo’d correctly and Mana Wyrm and FlameWaker are win conditions for a tempo mage. A clear board is a happy board.

Keep things in order
Remember that the order in which you play your cards make or break the game, but remember to never be too greedy. Having Nerubian Egg(s) on the board, especially with taunt, is one of your best moves against the control cards and board clears. Knowing that their entire turn and allotted mana may not empty the board of incoming damage is a huge worry for your opponent and will definitely affect their next couple of plays. Tempo Mages are scared of comboing off FlameWaker if it’ll only give your Imp Gang Boss more homies to attack/trade with. Rogues think twice before using Blade Flurry with Nerubian Eggs on the field and it feels even worse when your opponent has to use their only silence on a 2 drop that is still on the board, waiting for an Argus. But never be too cocky; an empty hand is only a good thing once you’ve seen their clear cards and big minions. Save your Owls for Tirion, and Loatheb for Combos, mana efficiency if one thing: winning the game can be another.

Demon Zoo (my “Deemies” list above)
The demon-heavy variant of zoo is a more expensive, yet sometimes sturdier listing with a few different strategies and threats. Whereas traditional zoo can be faster, the demon zoo has more of a late game, and more burst potential (but I am slightly biased).

How to Play
184px-Voidcaller(7733)One of the biggest pluses for the demon zoo is that it has a bunch of demons in it. While this sounds overstated, it’s true; having Voidcallers and especially things that Voidcallers can pull down for free is a HUGE benefit. Especially if that thing is Doomguard or Mal’ganis, aka a win condition. Knowing these added threats, and your opponent knowing you have these added threats only adds to the fear you instill as you taunt up that Voidcaller and make them give you a free Mal’ganis in exchange for their minion.

You have more time
Knowing that you have cards like Mal’ganis and Doomguard to swing games means you should be WAY MORE BOARD CONSCIENCE and stay smart when curving out and playing into clears. Know your matchups and adapt to them. It’s almost impossible for zoo to win any kind of late game against control decks so your only option is to SmORC, whereas against other board heavy decks and cancer you have the time and curve to keep trading and still poke damage. You will never be faster than cancer so don’t even try to race; clear their Knife Jugglers and use Defender of Argus to make them trade as well. Keep calm and get your value on, that’s what this deck is about. Mal’ganis does exist and is in fact immortal.

Thanks for reading! My name is Sam (TopHat Demon), and I am a multi-legend zoo enthusiast! I am a regular shoutcaster for Vicious Syndicate’s Tuesday Night Hype, the best tournament around! Don’t forget to sign up for the next one! https://strivewire.com/tournament/3276/detail