Welcome back, travellers. With The Witchwood finally at our disposal and filling our collections, its time to deck build. Join us as we explore each class and see how the Year of the Raven will fair for each one. To start things off, we talk about Druid Deck Building.
Before we get into the crafting new decks for the next format, we need to talk about the cards leaving Standard. With the coming of a new year in Hearthstone, only the past two years worth of sets and adventures are used within Standard. If you like to use all cards at your disposal then don’t worry, the Wild format will keep you happy. The sets that will be rotating out upon The Witchwood’s release are Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetztan. So what does this look mean for Druid? Let’s take a look.
There are three main decks that are circulating at the moment in the competitive circuit and ladder. These are Aggro, Spiteful, and Jade Druid. Since the release of Old Gods, Jade Druid has been a major presence in high-rank play and has stuck around since then. Its entire Jade engine will be lost to the vines of Wild coming April 12th so, needless to say, the deck will be lost too. The days of infinite, every growing Jade Golems are coming to an end.
The next deck, which rose in popularity from Karazhan onwards, is Aggro Druid. Utilising early game minions and pressure combined with a plethora of buffs, this deck has been piloted by the best. The cards they lose include Enchanted Raven, Mark of the Lotus, and Mark of Y’Shaarj. The early game presence and follow up board buffs will be a hard loss for this deck. With only two 1 cost minions replenishing the pool from The Witchwood, it will be hard for Aggro Druid maintain its power.
The last deck that we are going to talk about is the fairly young Spiteful Druid. Utilising Spiteful Summoner and Grand Archivist, this deck summons big minions from Ultimate Infestation. But, it helps when the early game control is available. Losing Enchanted Raven and Mistress of Mixtures decreases survivability against faster more aggressive decks. Also, the useful ramp from Mire Keeper will no longer be a tool. But, this can be replaced by the Kobolds and Catacombs card Greedy Sprite. All in all, the deck still functions but, it might have to reconstruct the early game tactics.
Now we shall briefly discuss the tools and themes from the new set for the Druid class. There are two main themes that ring out for the class which are the Odd-Druid deck and Hand Druid deck. The former possesses a fair amount of ammunition to play with. With six new odd cost cards for the class, it will be fairly easy to construct something functional. Especially when combined with the multitude of cards from the rest of the standard card pool.
By loading your deck with 1 cost minions such as Dire Mole, and FireFly, the new Legendary Baku the Mooneater will allow you to support your even turn plays with a more powerful Hero Power. The following odd turns can make use of the new minions such as Druid of the Scythe, Gloom Stag, and Bewitched guardian to control the board and apply pressure to the opponent. Once you have a respectable board, finish them off with a Savage Roar or two. There are plenty of spots to fill in with this idea, whether for fun or competitive play.
For the Hand Druid deck, you can utilise all of your cards, not just the odd cost ones. The new cards Ferocious Howl, Forest Guide, Witchwood Apple, and even Raven Caller allow you to keep your hand a respectable size. This allows for easier use of Mountain Giant as well as bigger Bewitched Guardian threats mid to late game. Hand Warlock decks have been around since the beginning and they are a force to be reckoned with. There is no reason why Druid can’t join in on the action.
Considering everything we have discussed above, let’s put it all together. We shall briefly outline the core components for some new decks to try for both the new/casual and competitive players alike. Keeping with what has been mentioned above, let’s have a look at both versions of Odd-Druid and Hand Druid decks.
For the budget deck, we shall mainly be using Basic, Classic, and The Witchwood cards. This allows for easier acquisition for newer players and those who don’t play the game all that often. For those interested, this will equate to no more than 1000 Dust worth of cards. We shall also recommend the cards to get next once your collection expands with time. So, let’s get into it.
As mentioned above, Odd-Druid has a lot of tools at its disposal regardless of whether it can’t use even cost cards. Consider early game cards such as Swamp Leech, FireFly, and Argent Squire. Establishing a board early will allow you to keep the pressure on and pave the way for more powerful plays. If you have pulled the new Odd-Theme Legendary, Baku the Mooneater, your even turns will be supported by an upgraded Hero Power. This will continue to provide excellent value trades for subsequent turns and protecting you with armour.
Moving into the mid-game and beyond, stocking your deck with tanky, pressure, and trade minions are helpful. Minions such as the new Druid of the Scythe and Gloom Stag, as well as Druid of the Claw from Classic, will allow for greater board control. Keep a mind on how much damage you have on board. Knowing the potential damage each turn is valuable information. Keep squeezing in damage when you can. This way, you can more frequently blast out a Savage Roar to seize the game. If not, then a well placed Witching Hour to randomly summon one of your Beasts that died could help you out.
For the competitive circuit, you will have more freedom with a greater card pool, naturally. Consider an Azalina Soulthief to replenish your hand with powerful tools from your opponent’s hand. It might give you the last push in the right direction going into the late game. Also, Elise, the Trailblazer, the Druid Deathknight, Ixlid, Fungal Lord, and Zola the Gorgon are all powerful Legendary minions to fill in the gaps which are all odd cost. For consistency, Nourish is a must to keep the cards coming. In addition to this, Countess Ashmore can also provide much delight as you replenish your hand with powerful Rush, Lifesteal, and Deathrattle minions.
Onto Hand Druid now. Working from the budget side of things, you might not have the resources to splash out on a pair of Mountain Giants. But, don’t despair, there are a plethora of cards to supplement such choices. From the looks of the new Druid cards, Hand Druid can be quite versatile in terms of construction and tactics. By using Witchwood Apples and Raven Caller, you can allow for big board swarming turns, cheaply. This provides opportunities to Savage Roar some brutal turns.
Keeping your hand count high is also not a problem. By playing cheap, both mana cost and dust, minions such as Phantom Militia, Walnut Sprite, and Fire Fly, you can keep the pressure on whilst enabling your other cards. Cards such as Bewitched Guardian and Ferocious Howl. Dropping a 5 mana 4/10 with Taunt seems too good to be true. It’s not, even for those on a budget. If you pulled the Druid Legendary, Splintergraft, from the three free packs on launch, which a Legendary is guaranteed, you can add a 10 cost 10/10 copy of the Guardian to your hand. This equates to a possible 10/20 Taunt minion. That’s insane.
For those on the ladder, there are many improvements and additions to this deck, aside from the obvious Mountain Giant. This also depends on the state of the meta upon release and beyond. Baleful Banker, a 2 cost 2/2 from Witchwood, will add a copy of a friendly minion to your deck. Want another Mountain Giant, sure, there you go. How about another Azalina Soulthief or The Lich King to keep the good times flowing? I don’t see any problem with that. Other than that, Nourish and Ultimate Infestation are obvious choices for the deck.
And there we have it denizens of Gilneas. Keep checking back as we shall provide more deck building with the release of The Witchwood. Next up will be the Hunter class. Also, please check out our previous Hearthstone articles if you haven’t done so already. Until next time, smile and game.