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Welcome to the Hearthstone corner. We will be having a look at Druid – one of the strongest classes in the game that makes a frequent appearance in competitions. I have been a big fan of the class because of the ramp mechanic and a large number of different deck archetypes that have become viable on the Ladder as each released Expansion introduced new strong cards.
We will first look at the most useful cards that a Druid can use. I will then mention my views on card crafting, as well as a short analysis of the usefulness of each Expansion for the budding Druid player. From there we will move on to look at a free basic deck for a starting player looking for the opportunity to learn useful Hearthstone skills while having the chance to compete against opponents with a larger card collection. We will finish up with a quick look at the various types of decks that are popular in the current meta, and I won’t forget to mention the Arena as well.
Are you ready?
What does a Druid want?
Druid’s hero power is both offensive and defensive. A class power that affects the board is useful in Constructed play, as well as in Arena. The ability to deal 1 point of damage consistently without the need to play a card works well against fast, aggressive decks that field Minions with 1 health. In Arena, where decks do not always curve perfectly, this ability becomes even more important.
Druid is very strong on class-specific cards and has been since the beginning of the game. This is the reason that Ramp Druid never fell out of favour on the Ladder.
Let’s have a look at some of the class-specific cards that make Druid shine.
Wild Growth is the main vehicle through which Druid jumps 1 turn ahead. It’s most often played on turn 2 or turn 1 with the coin. If you can field stronger Minions than your opponent, you will be able to make favourable trades and that’s a sure way to victory. From turn 10 onward, Wild Growth draws a card.
Darnassus Aspirant is a less certain but more aggressive way of earning free mana. More often than not, it will be removed straight away, but if it isn’t, it allows for a turn 3 Piloted Shredder and similar plays. Druids like to stay at least a turn ahead.
Innervate increases mana in a different way – allowing for very expensive cards to come out sooner. It can also bring about a Druid combo 2 turns earlier. It tends to be a good idea to think twice about the best card to throw out sooner. Turn 1 Shade of Naxxramas never disappoints.
Mounted Raptor is the newest addition to the Druid stables that functions as an early Piloted Shredder. This makes it a valuable sticky Minion. Having to remove a single Minion twice tends to be problematic for most opposing classes.
Keeper of the Grove is a unique card as most classes do not have a strong class-specific method of silencing Minions. This card functions both in this capacity, and as a Minion that survives for a while with its 4 health. Sometimes the ability to deal 2 points of damage can be more useful than the silence effect.
Savage Combatant is both savage and useful. Given that Druids tend to use their hero power, the Inspire mechanic sees use and having 3 points of damage each turn for 2 mana is very strong. Even though it is a turn 4 Minion, it can pay off to play it on the same turn that 3 points of damage are exactly what the Druid needs.
Druid of the Claw is very versatile. It can stop an opponent’s stream of Charged Minions, or deal an unexpected 4 points of damage the same turn that it is played.
Ancient of Lore is another excellent card. More often than not it will be used for the card draw, which comes very cheap at 2 cards for 2 mana. Whichever way it is used, it is very unusual to have a strong Minion that also offers card draw or healing. Usually, stats of such Minions are far below 5/5.
Ancient of War tends to see play in slower Druid decks, but it functions well as a nearly impenetrable wall for the opponent. 10 health is a lot to go through and 5 attacks will take out most Minions up to 6 mana cost. Luckily it’s also out of Big Game Hunter‘s reach.
Living Roots can be used in 2 different ways – to deal a little bit of damage, or to drop 2 tokens early in the game. For some classes, this can be an issue to deal with. Druids can buff their entire boards, so this card can be the beginning of a synergy.
Wrath is one of the few removal Spells that Druids consistently employ. Three points of damage tend to be adequate for early game threats while the card draw comes in handy at other times.
Swipe is the only strong AOE effect that Druid has. This means that most opponents will try to place as many Minions on the board as they can, unafraid that the Druid player will be able to remove them all at once. This is a particular weakness of Druid. Swipe is pretty good against classes that drop a lot of very low health Minions (Paladins, Demon or Zoo Warlocks, Hunters). It tends to be a good idea to wait for a good moment to play the card, for example by waiting until your opponent plays Muster for Battle, Unleash the Hounds or Imp-losion.
Force of Nature and Savage Roar don’t always have to be played together but they synergize very well, making for a frequent finishing move. Opposing players will always guard against the possibility of 14 points of damage as soon as you have 9 mana available. Equally, Savage Roar is such a boost that simply having more Minions on the board can grant you a win. Cards like Cenarius and Dr. Boom work very well for this.
What about the Legendaries? Cenarius sees some play, as it can delay an opponent with the 2 Taunts. The buff is useful for Token Druids. Also, 3 Minions work well for Druid if he is running something like Savage Roar.
Aviana allows for some interesting plays where a strong late-game Minion gets dropped the same turn as Aviana. Next turn, the entire hand can go down if Aviana survives, which is very rare with her low health. Given that Druid decks that contain a lot of late-game Minions are not very common or strong given how much early play you need nowadays to survive against faster decks, she sees next to no play.
Malorne was built for a very slow deck that would benefit from a repeating late-game Minion, as well as extra cards to postpone fatigue. While there is a viable Fatigue deck for Druid, Malorne doesn’t do well in it, making it another interesting but mostly useless Legendary.
What about those Neutral Minions?
There are far too many Neutral Minions that a Druid deck can benefit from for me to be able to list them all. My fingers would drop from all the typing. I will list some of the most popular ones.
Spectral Knight (can’t be removed by spells, making it a very strong Minion against some classes)
Loatheb (Legendary Minion that protects from AOE, other spells and prevents board wipes – it can protect your board in order to set up for lethal next turn)
Goblins vs. Gnomes
Piloted Shredder (the most popular 4 mana Minion in the game, stickier than bubble gum)
Dr. Boom (the best late-game Legendary in the game, useful in most decks)
There are other cards that are essential for specific types of decks, but they tend to only be useful in a single deck archetype – for example Fel Reaver in Aggro Druid or Coldlight Oracle in Fatigue Druid.
To craft or not to craft
With each new Expansion, of which there have already been 5, the number of cards that Druids can use rises. Most of the useful cards come from Classic packs so this is where a beginning Druid player should start. Naxxramas holds a large number of useful cards, including Legendaries that can be used instead of other more appropriate late-game cards if you are lacking in those. Blackrock Mountain‘s first wing holds one of the best Legendaries that a Druid player can use – Emperor Thaurissan.
The rest of the cards that can be of use depend on the type of deck that a player wants to play. Blackrock introduces lots of Dragons, Goblins vs. Gnomes lots of Mechs. Both GVG and TGT introduce lots of new Beasts, making a Beast Druid deck possible.
As far as crafting is concerned, I prefer to collect dust until I can afford a Legendary card. I tend to prioritize Neutral Legendaries that are useful across several decks and classes, before purchasing class-specific Legendaries. I will sometimes spend dust on Epic cards as those can also take a lot of opened packs to find. Given how expensive it is to craft new cards, I find it best to wait for cards of a lesser rarity until I find them in an opened pack. They tend to come sooner rather than later.
Of course, if there is a particular deck that you really want to play, you may need to do some crafting first, as some decks won’t work without specific cards. Also, if you plan to play Druid exclusively, crafting some of the class cards may not be a bad decision.
Now let’s take a look at a basic deck that will get you started.
Going in for the first time
Once you reach level 10 with Druid, you will have access to all of the basic cards. This allows for an adequate basic deck that won’t take you beyond rank 15 but will give you a good chance against players with access to better cards. Best of all, the deck below will teach you a lot about Hearthstone strategy. As better cards become available, it is very easy to replace some of the cards below with better cards.
- 2x Innervate
- 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
- 2x Claw
- 2x Bloodfen Raptor
- 2x Mark of the Wild
- 2x Ironfur Grizzly
- 2x Wild Growth
- 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
- 2x Swipe
- 2x Chillwind Yeti
- 2x Starfire
- 2x Gnomish Inventor
- 2x Ironbark Protector
- 2x Sen’jin Shieldmasta
- 2x Boulderfist Ogre
This is the most basic form of a Ramp deck. It uses Wild Growth and Innervate to drop stronger Minions than the opponent. Consequently, both cards should be kept when mulliganing. It’s a good idea to throw these cards on the table early, although Wild Growth can be used after reaching 10 mana in order to draw a card. Other cards to look out for when mulliganing are Claw and Bloodfen Raptor, followed by 3 mana cards.
Getting out stronger Minions than the opponent, as well as using spells like Claw, Swipe and Starfire to kill off enemy Minions (only attacking the face with them if it finishes the match) should lead to a situation where late-game Minions are too much for your opponent to handle. When playing against aggressive decks, make sure to pick the right moment to use Swipe and be aggressive in removing your opponent’s Minions.
Shattered Sun Cleric is best played when it will surprise your opponent – allowing you to keep a Minion that would otherwise die in a trade or raise your Minion’s attack power to take out an enemy Minion that was previously safe.
Acidic Swamp Ooze destroys weapons so it’s best kept until a weapon comes into play, which is only against Warriors, Paladins, Rogues, Hunters and some Shamans. Against classes that don’t use weapons, it serves as a standard 2 mana drop. Knowing when to play this card is important as some decks carry more than 1 weapon and some carry none at all. The trick is to learn how to identify what type of deck you are facing.
It’s a very good idea to utilize the hero power to take out Minions with 1 health rather than wasting your own Minions.
Look what I found on the Internet
With each new Expansion the number of possible builds increases. Ramp Druid has been around since the beginning, speeding up along the way, as the meta sped up with aggressive decks like Face Hunter or Aggro Paladin. Ramp Druid uses cards that increase its mana over their opponent’s, bringing stronger Minions out sooner. They will often use the traditional Druid combo to finish (it is also possible to use strong late-game Minions instead), along with several staple cards like Shade of Naxxramas and Emperor Thaurissan and strong Druid cards like Ancient of Lore, Druid of the Claw and Keeper of the Grove (opponents should watch out for the silences). When playing against them, it’s best to take advantage of the lack of AOE (Swipe only) and board clears.
Aggro Druid is made possible by several sticky Minions like Mounted Raptor and Piloted Shredder, the standard combo finishers, and double Fel Reavers, who have become more prominent in aggressive decks. Surviving until they run out of resources and aggressively clearing everything they put down is the best way to beat them, as they can deal a lot of damage very quickly, but lack card draw and late-game cards. Watching out for the combo is a must, as with most Druid decks.
Token Druid is one of my favourite ways to play Druid. Power of the Wild will buff the entire board, which is quickly filled up with cards like Living Roots, Haunted Creeper, and Dr. Boom, or tokens created by Violet Teacher. In this deck, Savage Roar tends to be enough on its own, without the need to use Force of Nature. Playing against this deck, it’s best to clear the board quickly so that the Druid player doesn’t have an opportunity to buff too many Minions, or create too many tokens.
Fatigue Druid is one of the more fun decks in the game but it requires skill and patience as games go all the way to fatigue, which then kills the opponent. Druids will use cards like Coldlight Oracle, Grove Tender, or Mulch to fill the opponent’s hand, making him lose cards. They carry lots of removal, some taunts and lots of healing, including Tree of Life to come back to full life close to the end of the match. The way to beat them is to play as many cards each turn as possible, never having a full hand, always pressuring the Druid to remove and be afraid for his life total. Decks that carry a lot of expensive cards may have a hard time against this deck.
There are a few specialist Druid decks. Beast Druid has been on the verge of becoming playable for a while – each Expansion brings about a few new Beasts that always make me feel like it’s time to get beastly, but sadly the time has not yet come. This deck uses Beast synergies made possible by cards like Druid of the Fang.
Dragon and Mech decks are also possible. I have even come across Highlander Druid. Each of these types of decks rely on a large number of cards from a specific Expansion that introduced cards of a specific type. None of these decks are currently very popular.
As for Arena, Druid is somewhere in the middle in terms of his competitive strength. The class power is useful as it affects the board, allowing Druid to easily remove single-health Minions. Druid also has a lot of strong class cards, many of which are of a lesser rarity, so they come up more often in drafting. Druids tend to be only playable in Control fashion – playing for the board and finishing the game in later turns with heavier Minions. Druids don’t do well in the Arena when played aggressively.
I have been a fan of Druid since the beginning of my time with Hearthstone. It’s a versatile class, available for a number of play-styles. It’s friendly to beginners with the large number of very strong starting class cards, and the huge number of useful cards in the Classic set. I never get bored of finishing games with the Druid combo.
I hope that you will have as much fun with Druid as I have had and that this guide can help you jump into Druid’s shoes smoothly, or play him a little bit better than you did before. I will look forward to running into you on the Ladder.
- The term comes from Magic: The Gathering. It refers to the ability to accelerate mana and summon expensive Minions faster than your opponent, a specialty of the Druid class. Druids use Wild Growth, Darnassus Aspirant and Innervate to gain access to extra mana.
- Ranked play where players compete against each other, trying to reach higher ranks. The climb begins at rank 25, going all the way to rank 1, Legend rank and beyond.
- Currently there are 5 – 3 Adventures (Curse of Naxxramas, Blackrock Mountain, and League of Explorers) and 2 card Expansions (Goblins Vs Gnomes and The Grand Tournament).
- Meta refers to meta-game. This is the level at which we think of which decks or cards work best when we take into account what other people are playing. For example, the Hearthstone meta has been very fast in recent history, meaning that fast aggressive decks were prevalent in the game.
- Mana curve refers to the cost of individual cards in the pack and the subsequent chances of having cards to play at each turn. Most decks count on having an adequate number of cards for each part of the game – beginning, middle and end.
- Druids have a unique way of finishing games. They play Force of Nature followed by Savage Roar for definite 14 points of damage the same turn.
- Being sticky refers to staying on the board for a long time. In Mounted Raptor‘s case, this is achieved by dropping a 1 mana Minion right after dying.
- In Hearthstone tokens refer to small weak Minions, most often 1/1s. Paladin’s class power produces tokens. Some decks take advantage of utilizing a large number of these, for which they are called Token decks.
- The combined effect of 2 or more cards that brings about a stronger effect than the individual use of each.
- Area of effect – affecting the entire (opponent’s) board.
- Refers to the finishing strike that defeats an opponent. If a player has the cards and mana to deal enough damage to end an opponent, he has got lethal.
- Choosing which cards to keep at the beginning of the game.
- A deck that uses LOE‘s Reno Jackson to heal up to full health once critical health is reached. It tends to carry only 1 copy of each card or a small number of duplicates. It’s called Highlander because ‘there can only be one’ of each card.