Deck Revival: Aggro Druid!

The Old Gods brought a lot of fun and new cards with them, but also took away a lot of cards from the players who love to play Whack-a-Mole with the opponents face. For Aggro Druid, it has been a tough few weeks – , , , and everyone’s favorite,  were all huge hits to Aggro Druids arsenal […]

The Old Gods brought a lot of fun and new cards with them, but also took away a lot of cards from the players who love to play Whack-a-Mole with the opponents face. For Aggro Druid, it has been a tough few weeks – Fel Reaver, Force of Nature, Piloted Shredder, and everyone’s favorite, Dr. Boom were all huge hits to Aggro Druids arsenal of threats. It is quite safe to say, that with these cards gone, Aggro Druid is dead.

… or is it?

Overview

Aggro Druid’s strategy revolves around building a really wide board, akin to Zoolock, and finishing the game soon with cards that capitalize on the wide board, such as Savage Roar and Power of the Wild. The deck has efficient low cost threats such as Mounted Raptor, Druid of the Saber and Druid of the Flame and strong midgame (which to be frank, is by the time the game is almost over with this deck) threats in Savage Combatant and Druid of the Claw.

While Standard took away lots of core cards from Aggro Druid’s lineup, it also introduced three really strong cards that help the Aggro Druid’s strategy – Mire Keeper, Mark of Y’Shaarj, and the insanely strong, Fandral Staghelm, all cards that take advantage of the strong suits of Aggro Druid – Beasts and Boards.

The deck is an fairly effective counter to the meta due to the high number of Rogues, Hunters, and Midrange C’Thun decks on the ladder, both of which this deck absolutely demolishes. I’m currently using this deck in the Legend ranks and am at an astonishing ~68% winrate with it over 56 games.

The Deck

The sad part about Hearthstone is the restriction of 30 cards per deck. This makes the process of deckbuilding quite interesting as corners have to be cut, which is why building Aggro decks is so hard, as you have to choose between numerous cards. Let us try to understand the inclusion of each of the cards in the deck.

Living Roots: An amazing card and inclusion in this deck. A great card to play on turn 1, a great card to play before the turn you want to use Savage Roar for lethal, and an amazing card to play when you’re 2 damage off lethal. It also has amazing synergy with Fandral.

Argent Squire: This card is here due it being simply the best neutral 1-drop in the game. It has really nice synergy with a lot of cards, such as Mark of Y’Shaarj, Dire Wolf Alpha, and Savage Roar, and is just a really solid card.

Sir Finley Mrrgglton: The druid hero power, Shapeshift, can seem quite underwhelming at times. While it does help in trading, it’s serves as a worse Fireblast for this deck. This is where our favorite English murloc comes in. It helps out in several situations. The best hero powers to take, generally speaking, are:

  1. Life Tap – Turns the deck into Zoolock with Savage Roar. Absolutely bonkers.
  2. Reinforce – Being able to consistently summon a 1/1 works quite well with this deck.
  3. Totemic Call – For the same reason as above. Minions = good.
  4. Steady Shot/Dagger Mastery/Fireblast – All of these are good situationally and should be picked accordingly.

Mark of Y’Shaarj: An amazing card to have. While just a 2/2 buff is quite strong, the synergy this card possesses with 12 of the cards of this deck is simply crazy. Drawing a card is huge for aggro decks and this situation is no exception. Works really well with the 2/5 Druid of the Flame and with the stealth of Druid of the Saber.

Power of the Wild: This card against synergises really well with the idea of the deck. You use it to buff when you already have a wide board, but it can also be used simply as a 2 mana 3/2. Also works with Mark of Y’Shaarj. Already a 4/3 when used with Fandral, even better when you have a board.

Darnassus Aspirant: Arguably one of the best 2-drops in the game. While wild growth is simply too slow to be run in this deck, this card baits out removal like crazy and also helps you curve out better. I’ve had opponents use Fireball on this little guy.

Dire Wolf Alpha: While at first this might seem like an odd pick, the more you think about it, the better this card seems in this deck. Wide board? Check. Beast? Check. What more can a man ask for?

Druid of the Saber: Strictly better Twisted Worgen? Yes please. Just how much better this card is than Twisted Worgen is crazy. It’s a 3/2 stealth rather than a 3/1. It can be used as a 2/1 charge. It is a beast. This card is just too powerful to not be used. Even stronger with Fandral. 

Savage Roar: The card that the whole deck is based around. You use this as a finisher usually, but can also be used before that. You can use it even if you don’t have lethal but already have a wide board if you anticipate a board clear from your opponent soon. You can use it in the early game to trade up and get extremely value trades. Really diverse card.

Druid of the Flame: On of the best 3 drops in the game, especially for this deck. Also a strictly better Carrion Grub AND a strictly better Ice Rager. You use this card as a 2/5 about 80% of the times, to get good trades early on, but can also be used as a 5/2 when you already have a board and trades aren’t a concern. Also really good with Fandral, a 5/5 for 3 mana is no joke. Strictly better King Mukla (except in mill decks I guess).

Mounted Raptor: The 3 drop form of Piloted Shredder, this card helps out this deck by being extremely sticky and resistant to AoE. Also is a beast.

Swipe: Really versatile card. Can be used as reach. Also drastically improves one of our worst matchups, Zoolock.

Mire Keeper: 99% of the time you’re going to be summoning a 2/2 slime, and while that may seem underwhelming, it again, synergizes really well with this deck. Also pretty sweet with Fandral, though nowhere near as good as the other cards.

Savage Combatant: This is the card that everyone rated as the 2nd best 4 drop in the game in standard, right after Piloted Shredder, but it never saw any play, mainly because of the popularity of Shredder and it having an extremely poor trade against it. Now that Shredder is gone, this card becomes viable again. It can be used as both a 4-drop and a 6-drop. It is also a beast and hence works with Mark of Y’Shaarj.

Druid of the Claw: The Big Daddy of the deck, this card is amazingly versatile and amazing strong. Mostly used as a 4/4 with charge due to the Aggro Nature of this deck, this card can also be used a 4/6 when you need to protect your board or simply your face. This is the second best card to use with Fandral. A 4/6 with Charge and Taunt? That’s some value right there.

Fandral Staghelm: And finally, the man, the myth, the legend. This card is like Brann Bronzebeard especially tailor-made for Druids. The card Druids always wanted but never got, this card wrecks absolute carnage is not dealt with immediately. Disgustingly strong.

Tech Decisions

Since the deck size is limited to 30 cards, some cards had to be cut out. You can choose to include them depending on the decks you’re facing.

Violet Teacher: This card is really strong, and definitely works towards the agenda of building a wide board. However, I feel that it performs better in the more midrange versions of Druid, where you have cards like Innervate, Wild Growth, and Wrath, since our list of Aggro Druid features only 6 spells that are good on an empty board, and those too conditionally.

Wrath: This card, admittedly, was a difficult card to justify cutting. However, something that needs to be remembered is that we are the aggressor in most matchups. Playing reactively is not going to win us games, and while the card does synergize really well with Fandral, I didn’t think any of the other cards were worth cutting for it. Also not being able to target the face really hurts this card in this deck.

Huge Toad: This card is just a really solid 2 drop and synergizes with Mark of Y’Shaarj. Can be run over Darnassus Aspirant if the card is not performing well.

Wildwalker: I used to run this card, but I realised that it really does not help the idea of the deck. If the card buffed the attack along with the health or just simply attack, I would run it without any doubt, but since it only buffs the health, it seems like a really underwhelming Houndmaster.

Soul of the Forest: While this card does have some merits, the deck simply does not have enough flood to justify running this card. It belongs in the sticky omelet version of Druid and nowhere else.

Matchups

In all matchups, the mulligan remains the same. You want to look for 1 and 2 drops, while keeping 3’s on coin and keeping Mark of Y’Shaarj if you have Argent Squire or Druid of the Saber on coin.

Druid:

Ramp/C’Thun: Favorable matchup. You gain early board control and work your way up from there. Keeping a wide board is really helpful is really good in this match since the only board clear they have is Swipe, which is really easy to play around. Being greedy with your Savage Roar is completely fine in this matchup.

Hunter:

Midrange: Another favorable matchup, given that they do not get value from their Doomsayer. If they do, try to get back on board ASAP. Otherwise, we keep going face while always trying to clear all their beasts to play around Houndmaster and Kill Command.

Face: Since this deck is not popular on ladder, I have not gotten the chance to play against it. However, this matchup should also be favored, given that we can dominate the early game 9/10 times against this deck, simply because our deck trades really well against theirs, due to our focus on high health minions such as Druid of the Flame and Druid of the Claw.

Mage:

Tempo: One of our weaker matchups. Early board control is really important and because of Cult Sorcerer, Tempo Mage has a far stronger early game than before. Getting value trades using Mark of Y’Shaarj is really important. If you can get value trades, make sure to play around the rare Flamestrike and you should be able to get a victory.

Freeze: Generally a good matchup. You want to push for as much face damage as possible as fast as possible and seek to quickly finish the game with a big Savage Roar. Try to get a sticky board using Mounted Raptors and always remember to Charge your Druid of the Claw.

Paladin and Priest:

N’Zoth: Generally a really good matchup. You want to play around AoEs such as Consecration and Excavated Evil as much as possible while developing a wide board simultaneously and use a big combo with Savage roar to clean up the game to render their Forbidden Healing/Flash Heal useless.

Rogue:

Miracle: Due to the highly aggressive nature of this build, this is also a favorable matchup. You want to remember to only go for value trades and try to go face as much as possible. Try to bait out their Shadow Strike before you play Fandral and try to squeeze out as much value as you can from him. Always try to keep a swipe handy for their unavoidable Violet Teacher flood or Gadgetzan Auctioneer

Shaman:

Aggro/Midrange: Our absolute worst matchup. This game is almost an insta-concede, simply due to the overwhelming early game pressure that Shaman puts on the board, something that we ourselves are trying to do. With cards like Totem Golem and Thing from Below, it is nearly impossible to get in a board state from where we can snowball. Furthermore, in the midrange build, the inclusion of Lightning Storm, the game is almost impossible to win, since sooner or later they’ll push you off the board and simply outvalue your deck. You need for them to have a terribly slow hand and for you to have a really smooth curve to get anything close to resembling a win.

Warlock:

Zoolock: Similar to Shaman, Zoo is a deck that can very easily beat our early game presence. However, this cause is not as lost as Shaman. With a really powerful swing turn using Mark of Y’Shaarj for value trades or a Swipe right after they use their Forbidden Ritual, this matchup can quickly turn from unfavored to favored.

Renolock: This matchup is highly volatile, with it sometimes seeming like the easiest matchup of all time, or the most mind-bogglingly difficult matchup ever. We attempt to play around Hellfire and Twisting Nether as much as possible while trying to close out the game as fast as possible, hopefully before they have a chance to draw into Reno Jackson, though we can also beat them after the heal back up to 30 health using our extremely broken Savage Roar, provided that we have a board.

Warrior:

This deck is generally really poor against Warriors, be they Patron, Tempo, or Control. This is because of their really efficient removal in the early game in the form of the ever so overpowered Fiery War Axe and the newly added Ravaging Ghoul, both cards that manage to deal with our boards really efficiently, with also the eternally looming threat of a heartbreaking Brawl. We try to play around AoE as much as possible but the game is really difficult to win without a strong early game followed by an even stronger Savage Roar combo.

Conclusion

While definitely not as strong as earlier, Aggro Druid remains to a contender for one of the more consistent Aggro lists out there. Druid is my third most played class and I definitely had a lot of close games that I won simply due to the really strong synergy that the deck possesses within itself. The deck relies not on strong minions or efficient trades, but on the covalent nature of the cards and how they interact with one another to act as a cohesive unit rather than individually strong cards. With this, I can safely declare that Aggro Druid is not dead.

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comment section below and I’ll answer all of them to the best of my abilities. GLHF.