Hearthstone: Heroes of Free to Play is a series in which I document my adventures starting off fresh with a new account and playing the game without ever paying any real money. In my first week, I unlocked all the basic class cards and got a few choice pulls from packs that helped decide what class I’ll start off playing. Previous parts: One. Two. Three.
This week, since I am busy grinding gold for packs and expansions and have no interesting stories to tell, I’ve decided to write up a more in-depth guide to playing Zoolock from last week. Although it seems like a simple, aggro-go-face type of deck, there is actually suite a bit of strategy involved in playing Zoo to its full potential. The biggest challenge in playing Zoo is answering the question:
When do I trade and when do I go for the face?
Simply, the answer is to trade whenever the trade favors you, such as trading a boosted 2/2 haunted creeper with the opponent’s 3/2 Knife Juggler. However, most situations aren’t that simple. Often, you’ll have to consider the opponent’s possibilities for the next turn as well as your own. Will leaving a minion alive for the Druid on turn 8 allow him to finish you with combo on the next turn? Then it may be a good idea to trade into that minion to prevent that from happening. If you are playing against a Mage, will trading a 1 health minion be better than losing it to a ping? Those are the types of decisions that you’ll need to make every turn.
However, the second factor is even more important and relates directly to the first. Positioning is the true secret to playing Zoo, and by getting it down, your ability to win games with the deck increases dramatically.
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Let’s point out the importance of positioning in zoo: you play the following cards: Dire Wolf Alpha (+1 atk to adjacent minions) and Defender of Argus (+1/+1to adjacent minions). You need to realize what minions you ideally want taunted up or getting attack buffs for trading purposes and what minions you never want buffed because you don’t want them to get targeted. After realizing those positions, you now have to consider repositioning when placing minions around your Dire Wolf Alphas. What minions do you want to be the focus, or what minions will be the focus based on effects, and position them on the outside of minions next to Dire so they appropriately reposition themselves for buffs when the initial minions die. The minions that are ideal to be next to Dire are taunt minions and deathrattle minions since your opponents have to deal with them, and you position around those minions so that the buffs transfer accordingly, barring the removal of Dire Wolf Alpha.
Once you get the basics down, Zoo is more than a simple aggro deck, it is a powerful deck that takes a good amount of skill to play.