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New Zoo (Budget Zoolock)

  • Last updated Oct 15, 2016 (Yogg Nerf)
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  • 25 Minions
  • 5 Spells
  • Deck Type: Ranked Deck
  • Deck Archetype: Zoolock
  • Crafting Cost: 1500
  • Dust Needed: Loading Collection
  • Created: 8/5/2016 (Old Gods)
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A case study in deckbuilding with a limited collection.  The genesis of this deck is bottom up evolution ("approach 1"), i.e. taking a basic-card-only deck and carefully substituting in stronger cards to make a more competitive deck.

Current version: 1.20

It started life as this deck:

Basic "Zoolock"
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Minion (24) Ability (6)
Loading Collection

The subsequent changelog is:

  1. River Crocolisk x2 -> Flame Juggler x2 (strict upgrade)
  2. Murloc Tidehunter x2 -> Bilefin Tidehunter x2 (strict upgrade)
  3. Shadow Bolt x2 -> Power Overwhelming x2 (cost reduction)
  4. Raid Leader x2 -> Darkshire Councilman x2 (cards that take advantage of tokens)
  5. Dragonling Mechanic x2 -> Forbidden Ritual x2 (tokens)
  6. Razorfen Hunter x2 -> Imp Gang Boss x2 (token minions)
  7. Chillwind Yeti x2 -> Dark Iron Dwarf x2 (sturdy mid-game bodies, but adds a further source of buff)
  8. Sen'jin Shieldmasta -> Defender of Argus (taunt, but I only own the one DofE)
  9. Mortal Coil x2 -> Possessed Villager (ping, of sorts, introduced with Flame Juggler, arguably freeing a slot.  Zoo traditionally has 1-drops - the biggest issue with the basic "zoo" was their lack)
  10. Shattered Sun Cleric -> Lance Carrier (Improved buff, playable earlier.  2-drop particularly important to make weak 2-drops work.  Unfortunately only own the one.  Poor man's Abusive Sergeant)
  11. Bloodfen Raptor -> Flame Imp (Tempo.  Unfortunately only own the one.)
  12. Frostwolf Warlord x1, Stormwind Champion x1 -> Voidwalker x2 (Cut Voidwalker from the basic deck due to lack of adequate buffs.  This is no longer an issue.)
  13. Stormwind Champion x1 -> Lord Jaraxxus x1 (Big nasty finisher.  Not sure the shouty one is entirely consistent with the strategy of the deck, but I have him and I can't resist.  The most optional "upgrade" so far however - 1600 of this deck's crafting cost of 2500 is due to this one card.  The more traditional finisher of Doomguard - I don't own one, sadly - is rare, and therefore 400 dust.  Or leave the deck as-is for a truly budget 900 crafting cost total.)
  14. Shattered Sun Cleric -> Dire Wolf Alpha (Buff.  This substitution logically occurs earlier in the sequence, but I forgot.  Catching up now.  Only own the one however.)
  15. Bloodfen Raptor x1, Acidic Swamp Ooze x1 -> Dark Peddler x2 (at least one of those slots is "reserved" for a second Flame Imp, should I open one, but I'll worry about where it will fit when I do.  Reluctant to take out Acidic Swamp Ooze - it's an excellent tech card vs the current Warrior dominated meta - but it is situational and too slow otherwise.)
  16. Soulfire x1 -> Argent Horserider x1 (Often end up with both Soulfires in hand (and often with nothing else - making only one playable), and it's inherently incompatible with Lord Jaraxxus as he's also often sitting in the hand for a long time and thus the most likely discard target.)
  17. Sen'jin Shieldmasta x1 -> 2nd Defender of Argus (The case study is done now.  Changes from v1.17 onwards (inclusive) are taking advantage of packs opened since - a second DofE to begin with... )
  18. Frostwolf Warlord -> Sea Giant
    2x Dark Iron Dwarf -> Soulfire, Abusive Sergeant
    Argent Horserider -> Dire Wolf Alpha
    Bilefin Tidehunter x2 -> Argent Squire, Flame Imp (Deck also renamed "New Zoo" from this point on as it's both significantly different and becoming more expensive.  It's also more conventional, with the - significant - exception of the finishers).
  19. Lance Carrier x1 -> Abusive Sergeant x1
  20. Lord Jaraxxus (was fun but pointless - see "grumble" below) x1 -> Dark Iron Dwarf x1
    Forbidden Ritual (weaker since Maelstrom Portal, too slow) x1 ->Lance Carrier x1
    Acidic Swamp Ooze (weapons are generally less effective vs. this dec anyway) x1 ->Argent Horserider (need charge, should really try to fit in two) x1

Resulting (v1.16) deck sense checked against these lists:

Will be dropping (v1.20) this deck from my roster soon.  As an exercise in evolving a zoolock, on a limited collection, without crafting, it was a success only in that it proved this approach was a failure.  Conclusions:

  • Crafting to make your first competition strength deck is a priority, even if it means crafting commons and rares to achieve it.
  • Ranked play is generally not worth the trouble unless you are able to field a competition strength deck as well.

Although I won't be playing it any more, I will keep the decklist alive and update it with new cards as they are opened in packs (no crafting rule still applies...).  I'm curious to see how long it takes to evolve the decklist into a competition list net-deckable elsewhere (I've been playing since Feb 2016, F2P).


The Welcome Bundle, presumably targeted at new players, beginners and other folk with negligible collections is, IMHO, at least in part, a failure.

While the packs are extremely good value - and worth it for that reason alone - the class legendaries are more-or-less impossible for new players to use: they only fit in expensive decks.  

Those 9 class legendaries are:

It would have been far better, and more generally useful to new players, to have included neutral legendaries.  Thus, I would argue, they don't achieve their original purpose for existing (and instead serve to give a boost to players with already established, but not yet complete collections - i.e. players who have already made a commitment to the game).

The brief sojurn of Lord Jaraxxus in this deck was done in the full knowledge that it was quite likely to be terrible in it.  It turned out to be even worse than expected, even despite that full knowledge.  Of the 9 class legendaries, it seems the only one that had a chance of (half) working in a cheap deck... and it didn't.  So I contend at least one of the primary purposes of the Welcome Bundle is a failure.