The Definitive Guide To Druid
”Apparently, many things grow on trees. Bigger trees, dire animals, treants, worshipers of ancient evil gods and now even jade statues. Nature has indeed taken an interesting course.” – Malfurion Stormrage, 2017
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of the ”Definitive Guide To” series where I will be covering the 3rd out of 9 classes, the druid, Malfurion Stormrage. Keep in mind that every article is someone’s first so for those of you who are joining us for the first time, the ”Definitive Guide To” is my own weekly series of articles where I cover different deck archetypes that are currently played in the standard format. Since I’ve ran out of deck archetypes I’ve decided to switch gears and move to writing guides on different classes. At this point I’ve already covered warrior and hunter and you can check those two, along with my other articles, simply by clicking on my name on the right. Now, with that out of the way, I’m happy that I finally get to cover druid, the most flexible class in the entire game and one out of my 3 missing golden portraits 😛
Sit back, relax, and let’s dive right into this!
As always, this guide will be divided into three sections. The first section, this one, will cover the basics behind the druid class including a brief history of the class and the cards and in which directions can you take druid decks. If you’re looking for a more in depth analysis and/or decks and are not interested in these very basics then feel free to skip ahead to the next section where you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
Oh boy, for those of you who are joining me for the first time, I’ve been playing Hearthstone since the very first day of the open beta and I’ve lived through what I call the ”golden age” of the druid class. This is a period between the release of open beta up until the April of last year when the standard format was introduced.
When I began playing Hearthstone people had surprisingly ignored the Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo and went straight to my most favorite type of druid deck, the ramp druid. My first metagame was one where the ramp druid was the only druid that you saw on the ladder and that druid ran two copies of Ancient of War and two copies of Sunwalker and if you didn’t have the means of getting rid of those minions then you were in a pretty bad position. Those cards may seem like a joke now, especially the Sunwalker, but I’ve played the game when the metagame was very different from what it is now and back then control warrior, face hunter and ramp druid where some of the best decks in the game. Decks that most of you are familiar with today like miracle rogue, handlock or Renolock, tempo mage, midrange shaman and freeze mage didn’t even exist at that time. You were either playing warrior or hunter or druid. Even priest was decent back then. Needless to say, if you weren’t playing then you were doing something wrong.
The next druid archetype that came about, still before the dreaded combo druid, was token druid. It is another deck archetype that you aren’t going to see today because it is pretty weak when compared to other druid decks. The token deck ran two copies of Violet Teacher and the point was to get as much tokens as you could before buffing them with Power of the Wild and either swinging for lethal immediately or on the next turn after playing Savage Roar. For its time the deck was pretty successful and although it fell in popularity as time went on another deck had evolved from it and that deck would be the egg druid which has a very similar play style of filling your board with cheap minions and tokens before playing powerful buff cards and then ending the game with Savage Roar.
I will briefly mention another druid deck archetype that came into being with the release of Goblins vs Gnomes and one of my favorite druid deck archetypes, the mill druid. The mill druid uses cards like Coldlight Oracle and Naturalize to fill its opponents hand and then burn all other extra cards which can quickly turn into an alarmingly high amount of cards. Youthful Brewmaster is always here to bounce back those Coldlight Oracles back into your hand and Clockwork Giant is here to punish your opponents for having too many cards in their hand. I’ve actually ran a mill druid deck for quite a while but mine had both Clockwork Giant and Mountain Giant along with Twilight Drake in it as the general idea was that if I’m already filling my hand as well than there is no point in not playing minions that would benefit from it. Sadly this deck had never became a truly competitive deck and was phased out rather quickly.
Another druid deck that had appeared briefly after the release of Goblins vs Gnomes was mech druid. Mech druid was sort of a midrange deck which utilized mech minions and really came out of nowhere one day before taking the ladder by storm. It was also the first step towards the creation of the combo druid. The deck simply ran a huge variety of different mech minions ranging from Mechwarper to Spider Tank. The goal was to get the board control via effective trades with your mech minions but at the same time attacking your opponent in the face to set up a lethal with either Dr. Boom and Savage Roar or Force of Nature and Savage Roar. By the time this deck came out ramp druid was already slowly phasing out of the competitive ladder and combo druid was slowly taking shape. In the end this deck didn’t really phase out as much as it had simply transformed itself into a combo druid deck.
The most popular druid deck for a very long time was the combo druid which had evolved from the mech druid. It was sort of a combination between token druid and mech druid and I was honestly surprised that it took us this long to discover this deck. The deck had played more aggressively than its counterparts because the goal was to end the game either by turn 7 with the help of Innervate or by turn 9 with the Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo. This deck was so popular that it hadn’t only took the ladder by storm but it also became the one competitive druid deck that was literally everywhere. Things eventually got out of control and the developers had decided to nerf the deck by nerfing Force of Nature into the version that we have today and effectively killing the deck in its entirety.
Now we’re entering a period which is a bit more know to a majority of players and that is the start of the standard format. With the introduction of the standard format, most druid players were completely lost in the dark and didn’t know what to play because the previously druid combo deck was just nerfed. Ramp druid didn’t function for a very long time and mech minions were gone so mech druid wasn’t an option either. However, druid did receive a very good C'Thun card called so a C'Thun deck was eventually made. It wasn’t the strongest deck in the game but it was at least decent and it landed druid a decent spot on the ladder but it was nowhere near its former glory. Fun fact about me, I’ve personally really enjoyed the deck to the point where I’ve crafted a fully golden C'Thun deck.
Druid was in a very weird spot since the beginning of the standard year all the way up to the release of One Night In Karazhan when another druid deck was made. This new deck was Malygos druid and it had revolved around casting a lot of spell and then either playing very cheap Arcane Giants or Malygos or even Yogg-Saron, Hope's End to win the game. There was another druid deck roaming around a bit before this deck and that was Yogg druid but I didn’t mention it because it was largely similar to this deck. This deck saw a lot more success than the previously mentioned deck and it was even played on Blizzcon. The deck was pretty fun to play even after a certain legendary minion which was RNG incarnate was nerfed but it simply had vanished, without a trace, in December and it was replaced by the latest druid deck: Jade Golem druid.
Jade Golem druid is the latest druid deck and the one that you can see most often on the ladder. It revolves around playing a lot of cards that can summon jade golems and then overrunning its opponents in the late game with its huge golems. In case that someone doesn’t know already, jade golem mechanic functions in a way that once you summon a jade golem, every other jade golem that you summon will be bigger than the previous jade golem by +1/+1. The point of the deck is to simply create more and more jade golems and eventually win but what the deck seriously lacks is any real sort of win condition. It just keeps going and going and going until it either loses or wins. The deck isn’t doing to well on the ladder and maybe it is time to revisit the previously mentioned druid deck.
This leaves us in the present day.
Pros And Cons Of Druid
Why would you play druid? In truth, there are multiple different hunter deck out there but instead of focusing on each and every one of them I’m going to give you my opinion on the pros and cons of the class as a whole. Things that you need to know before you jump in and start making your own druid deck. The following is the same for both formats, standard and wild.
Ramp: Regardless of how you feel about ramping in Hearthstone, druid is the only card capable of doing it and it is an extremely valuable tool. You don’t necessarily need to make a ramp deck in order to take advantage of it as you will naturally get the advantage out of ramping simply by playing cards like Innervate and Wild Growth. Do not underestimate the value of playing your bigger minions several turn in advance as it can win you the game most of the time but you also need to learn not to overextend and put all of your eggs into one basket because you’ll probably get punished for it, your minion will get removed and then you’ll find yourself in a very uncomfortable position.
Extreme Flexibility: Druid cards are extremely flexible thanks to its choose one: mechanic which allows you to pick the better out of two options in any given situation. Outside of those cards the rest of the druid package is also very flexible and it allows for a creation of many different decks. Just check the history part and you’ll see that out of all classes that I have covered so far the druid has had the largest variety of decks. It is a very flexible class and probably the one that offers the most variety in deck building as you can make very viable decks ranging from aggro to midrange to control to combo. Due to this it is probably one of the better classes for complete beginners.
Lack Of AoE: Druid has a lot of flexibility which makes it an amazing class and, in my opinion, it has only one flaw but that flaw is so huge that it simply can’t be overlooked. Druid has no good AoE spells and thus no real boardclear options. This is a major weakness because if you fall behind in board control as a druid player then it is next to impossible to regain the board control and recover from that situation. Despite my love for the class I actually like this weakness because the class is just too good in everything else and it needs at least one big flaw which is big enough to keep the class in check but still small enough not kill its powerful flexibility.
Types Of Druid Decks
There are four different types of druid decks: ramp, jade, tempo and aggro.
Ramp druid is an old deck that barely sees any play anymore but it is a deck type nonetheless. Ramp druid seeks to play mana acceleration spells suck as Innervate and Wild Growth to gain the mana advantage over your opponent and thus be able to play your bigger minions quicker than your opponent gets to play his/her. The point of the deck is to outvalue your opponent by playing huge and powerful minions several turns earlier and thus placing your opponent in a board state with which he simply can’t compete with his/her smaller minions. Although one can take this deck in a lot of directions the common thing is to play a lot of powerful taunt minions to ease up the pressure and keep your HP well protected.
Jade druid, in my opinion, dances somewhere between control and midrange though in the end I would call it a control deck because, like other control decks, it is a very late game deck which only gets more powerful the longer the game lasts. Jade druid is infamous for killing one of the most powerful and most consistent decks in the entire game: control warrior. The idea behind this deck is to summon a bunch of jade golems and then just keep on making more and more of them and making them bigger and bigger until your opponent runs out of removal and ways to deal with them and simply loses the match. It is not one of the most powerful decks in the game but it is certainly quite powerful in its own right.
Tempo druid would be egg druid although it dances a very thin line between tempo and aggro and that is why I will label it as both because you can play this deck one way or the other and build it to suit either playstyle. It is very much like zoo warlock in a way that it seeks to establish a very stick board of semi powerful minions which are then used to either trade or to hit face. What makes this deck different from a zoo warlock is that it revolves around spells that buff all of your minions. The goal is to get as much minions on the board as possible before playing something like Mark of the Lotus and then finishing the game with Savage Roar.
In the second section of this article I will talk about all the cards that you need and why do you need them to construct the two decks mentioned above and how to play them. If you’re looking for decklists they will be at the very end of this section (there is a hyperlink to that part of the section at the article info box).
Constructing Druid Decks
Now that you know everything that you need to know about different types of druid decks it is time to check out how to make them, which cards to use and why. This isn’t a full deck guide, the decks will be provided at the end of this section, but more of a construction guide to help you understand how to craft those different decks and why are they made the way that they are.
So you want to make a ramp druid? Lucky for you it is very easy to do. Ramp druid revolves around mana acceleration and playing huge minions several turns ahead of your opponent. Ramping is the term that had originated in Magic: The Gathering and it stands for gaining resources in a quick fashion. In Magic: The Gathering the only one out of five colors that is capable of ramping effectively is the green color which is associated with nature and in Hearthstone druid is the equivalent of that color.
How to play: Playing ramp druid is fairly easy. You’re looking to open up with Wild Growth to get your early mana acceleration going and in some games that is all it takes in the form of permanent mana acceleration which means getting extra mana crystals and having them stick for the rest of the game. That would be permanent acceleration while gaining mana crystals through Innervate would be a temporary mana acceleration because the bonus is lost at the end of the turn. You’re going to be running two copies of Nourish and ideally you’re going to play one on turn 5, well, your turn 5, and then you’re going to go for extra mana crystals. This places you in a very good position when it comes to mana as now you are several turns ahead of your opponent and you can start playing your huge minions. There is an even more extreme version of this decks which revolves around Astral Communion and although this version is very fun to play it lacks in consistency and thus is neither too good nor competitive. When it comes to playing your late game minions you have a lot of choices. Ragnaros the Firelord is the most common choice but lately there have been some ramp druid deck which have been playing Aviana and Kun the Forgotten King.
Cards to play in ramp druid
Jade druid revolves around the Jade Golem mechanic which was introduced in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. It is the signature mechanic of the Jade Lotus gang which is based on ninjas and eastern culture. The idea behind jade golem mechanic is creating tokens, starting with a 1/1 token, and then making each other token bigger for +1 stat point in both attack and health for each other token that was summoned before it. This means that the first jade golem is always going to be a 1/1 minion, then the next is a 2/2 minion and the sixth is a 6/6 minion and so on until one of them somehow becomes a 30/30 minion.
How to play: First thing that you need to know about playing Jade golem druid is that you always, always, ALWAYS summon a jade golem with your first Jade Idol because you need to start somewhere with your jade golems and getting a 1/1 for 1 which will in turn make all of your other jade golem minions bigger is certainly more valuable than making a 1/1 for 3 with Jade Blossom. Use your next Jade Idol to get 3 copies of that card in your deck. From this point on the deck is pretty straightforward. You’re looking to play minions and spells that grant you even more jade idols and eventually you’re going to play your single copy of Gadgetzan Auctioneer which will then help you dig for those 3 copies of Jade Idol. Summon jade golems with your first two copies of Jade Idol and use the second effect with the last one. Repeat until you win.
Cards to play in jade golem druid
Standard and wild (because the list is the same)
Last but not the least is the tempo/aggro druid or the egg druid for simple. This druid deck is mostly played in wild so if you’re the type of player which doesn’t care much for the wild format than feel free to skip to the next section of the article. For those of you who are interested this is probably one of the better druid decks in the format. The deck is very similar to zoo warlock because it revolves around playing sticky minions and than either trading or hitting face.
How to play: You’re looking to get cheap minions onto the board very fast. Because druid doesn’t have the card draw that the warlock has it is very important to play minions which can stick around for a while longer. This is why you’re going to play sticky minions like Argent Squire, Dragon Egg, Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg. The goal is to get a lot of sticky minions on the board and then buff them with either Mark of the Lotus or Power of the Wild and finish your opponent off with Savage Roar. Some decks also run Jeeves because it can provide you with card draw which you desperately need. If you’re running Jeeves than you’re looking to empty your hand as fast as possible to get the most out of it because your opponent sure isn’t going to let it stick around for more than 1 turn.
Cards to play in Egg Druid (wild only)
This brings the 3rd out of 9 class articles to a close. I got to say, I enjoy playing druid a lot. I know that I forgot to mention beast druid but that is because I really have next to none experience with it and it was always this deck that was there out in the left field which doesn’t necessarily mean that the deck was bad but it didn’t really see much play. So, tell me, what is your opinion on the druid as a class? Which druid deck is your favorite? Leave your feedback in the comment section below.As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can.