After Blackrock Mountain was fully released, a lot of players tried their hand on dragon-themed decks for different classes. blackwing-corruptor and blackwing-technician are really strong neutral cards, but their mana cost is only really worth it when their battlecries can be activated. The requirement: “holding a dragon” before their battlecries trigger made it hard to create a proper dragon-themed deck for each class. I personally tried to build a Dragon Druid deck, with the thought that innervate and wild-growth would help get a lot of tempo, since that was the key factor most dragon decks missed at that point in the game.
For example: Before Blackrock Mountain was released, a lot of speculation was going on about the new cards, and people feared that Dragon Paladin would be overpowered and control the metagame. It turned out that Dragon Paladin was way too slow of a deck, it got rushed down too fast by aggressive decks. This was the case with most dragon decks that got created. A while after the release of Blackrock Mountain, the only dragon decks present in the meta where Malygos Warlock and Dragon Mage. The Druid deck created by me was strong, it took me to rank 2, but it struggled a lot in the fact that not enough dragons were run in the decklist. The consistency of the “Holding a dragon” cards was too low. But with the release of the newest expansion: The Grand Tournament, more support arrived for my beloved dragon cards in the form of chillmaw and twilight-guardian. Both cards added more taunt minions to the deck, which increases survivability while being dragon cards themselves. Increasing the total amount of dragons in the deck allowed for more flexibility.
This Dragon Control Druid deck features taunts, healing, dragons, mind control effects, late-game legendaries and ramp cards to play all these cool cards on earlier turns then one normally could.
This deck is, in every sense of the word, a control deck. There is no massive burst damage in the form of the infamous combo: force-of-nature and savage-roar. There isn’t a lot of early game minions in the decklist, so there is a certain need for ramping cards. innervate and wild-growth help with getting more mana on early turns. Against other Control or Midrange deck you try to remove their cards and take control of the board. As soon as you have a couple of minions on the field you should be able to hold board control. Against Aggro it’s a fight for tempo. Get on that board and stay on it. There is only a limited amount of heal in the deck from both ancient-of-lores, so try to use your taunt cards to your advantage. Hunter is the most dangerous aggro matchup for this deck, since they have a lot of ways to get past taunts with their direct damage spells. When playing the Druid class, board control is always very important. As long as you have minions on the board and your opponent doesn’t, you can make favourable trades and/or use removal spells. The win condition of the deck is not a combo with a lot of damage burst, it’s controlling the board. There are enough value cards to outlast your opponent most of the times, and there’s also a couple of cards at your exposal that function as emergency buttons. chillmaw and deathwing come to mind. Both cards feature a massive body with a board-clearing effect. Deathwing is a bit more extreme, but can really save your ass in a zoo or mech mage matchup, while also being insane against other control decks, like Control Warrior.
This part of the article will explain why certain cards are found in the decklist. Core Druid cards like wrath, swipe, keeper-of-the-grove and druid-of-the-claw are all in there. The most overpowered Druid card, ancient-of-lore, is there for its flexibility. Wether it’s used to draw cards in a midrange or control matchup, or restore health to put yourself out of lethal range, the card is always very good.
Now for the neutral card choices: At least a couple of dragons are needed in a deck where one runs blackwing-corruptor and blackwing-technician. Partly for this reason you see azure-drake and twilight-guardians in this list. I say partly because both cards are not only dragon-type minions, but also very strong midrange cards. A 4 mana 3/6 taunt is great to stop any early game aggression, especially if it’s followed by a 5 mana 4/6 druid-of-the-claw the turn after. azure-drake cycles a card, while also giving you spell damage +1 to improve the damage wrath and swipe deals. Other standard cards like big-game-hunter, sylvanas-windrunner and dr-boom are included.
Now for the more exotic card choices in this list, we look at mind-control-tech. This card seems like an odd inclusion, but with Druid not having any really consistent Area of Effect damage (AoE) the card can become very useful. Against Paladins and Zoo decks the card is really good. The only spell that deals area damage is swipe, and that deals only 1 damage to all enemies. Of course, if you can get to turn 9 or if you can let the drake live for a turn, azure-drake and swipe can become a deadly combination of 5 targeted damage and 2 points of damage to all other enemies. This combo is usually too slow to be played against aggressive decks, so you can’t count on it to save you. The other card that deals damage to the entire board is chillmaw. Unfortunately, this card costs 7 mana and has a condition for the area damage. This card is in the deck to help beat aggro, but only to a certain extent. It’s not a card you’re extremely happy to see in your hand when you’re up against a face hunter. This cards strength lies in the exact 3 damage to the full board, making it a hard counter against grim-patron Warrior. Having these 3 conditional board removal effects helps when a match isn’t going in your favour, and can help you make a comeback. It’s usually more important to take control of the board then to try and lure your opponent into playing more minions for your swipe value.
“Hey Thijs, you’re talking about board clears, but you don’t mention the fact that deathwing is in your list!” Well, Deathwing is such a special case that I wanted to do separate paragraph on it. The body itself is massive, but destroying all minions currently on the board while playing a 12/12 is insane! When you reach the very later stages of the game, it’s nice to be able to play a card like that when your opponent gets more and more minions on the board each turn while you just can’t take control of the board back. Playing Deathwing in this situation leaves the board with a 12/12 on your side and both players with empty hands. Not only does this move give you a great tempo swing, the card is also a dragon. This means that when you draw it early on in the game, you will always have a dragon in hand to activate card-effects that require you to hold a dragon in your hand. If you take your time and play this card carefully, when it’s needed, it will win you games.
nefarian has quickly become one of my favourite cards from the Blackrock Mountain expansion. A dragon card with 8/8 stats is pretty good, but the fact that it gives you 2 spells from your opponents class makes it great! In a lot of cases, spells are very strong. Even if you get weak spells like moonfire or blessing-of-might, or any other spell that you normally wouldn’t run in a deck, remember that these spells don’t come from your deck, these spells come from Nefarian’s effect. This means you don’t waste a draw on a very shitty spell, which is what would have happened if you ran these cards in your deck. Instead, you get the spells added to your hand. This effect is invaluable in a matchup against Control Warrior, where games tend to last to fatigue quite often.
This deck is a fairly new list, I created it myself and haven’t published it before. The decklist is strong, but for ranking up on ladder you need to tech your deck to have the best possible matchup against decks you see the most. For example: I’m currently player on lower ranks on EU due to the season reset. A lot of players that got high ranks last season decided to grind back up as fast as possible. These people tend to play Face Hunter and the new Secrets Paladin, due to the quick matches and high winrates those decks offer.
If you see many aggressive rush decks, like what is happening this week on ladder, a great tech card is healing-touch. This card can bump your health back up on an important turn against a rush deck, allowing you to stabilize the board and go for the win. The problem with this card is that it isn’t very good in control matchups. It’s still good, but the healing you get from ancient-of-lore, along with the damage protection taunt cards give you, should be enough to keep the opponent from pushing for lethal damage too fast.
When facing Control or grim-patron Warrior, Oil Rogue, and occasionally Midrange Hunters, teching in harrison-jones or acidic-swamp-ooze can be great value. Destroying their weapon can put a stop to their plans, while simultaneously developing the board and drawing cards in the case of Harrison Jones.
kezan-mystic is a niche tech card, it can win games by itself but is hard to fit in. If you face a lot of Hunters, Secret Paladins or Mages this card can be great. The problem is that the 4-slot is already crowded with great cards, so it’s hard to fit it in this list. My suggestion is to take out either one keeper-of-the-grove or a single twilight-guardian, in order not to mess up the mana curve too bad.
Matchups and Mulligan Guide
Before I dig into specific matchups and how to mulligan in each matchup, keep the following in mind: When playing this Dragon Druid list, it’s always good to keep wild-growth and innervate in your opening hand. I usually try to avoid having two copies of Innervate, since that can end up in having a lot of ramp but nothing to play, or playing 1 big minion on the early turns leaving your hand empty. If you have a wild-growth in your hand, it’s fine to keep a keeper-of-the-grove, blackwing-technician or a twilight-guardian. If you have an innervate and a dragon in hand. It’s normally a good idea to keep blackwing-corruptor, since the 3 damage battlecry is great against early game minions.
The new secret-themed Paladin deck that plays mysterious-challenger along with a bunch of secrets and low-cost minions makes for an excellent aggressive deck. Unfortunately for them, this deck completely destroys it. With a 77 percent winrate against the deck, I’m fairly confident in saying that this matchup is extremely favoured on the Druids side. It’s hard for the Paladin to get through all the taunts, while swipe and mind-control-tech deal very well with their low-health swarm minions. If they play mysterious-challenger, it usually pulls out avenge and noble-sacrifice, making it very easy to deal with the 6/6 body if you have a big-game-hunter in hand.
The play I’m suggesting is attacking into noble-sacrifice, activating avenge by doing so, and playing big-game-hunter on the 9/8 body left from the Mysterious Challenger.
If you’re up against a Midrange Paladin, the same rules apply, but try to keep keeper-of-the-grove in order to silence sylvanas-windrunner or tirion-fordring.
Overall great matchup, mulligan for swipe, wrath, keeper-of-the-grove or blackwing-corruptor. It’s important to grab these damage dealing cards for the reason of removing important aggro minions like knife-juggler.
The new Totem Shaman deck can be tricky to beat when using Dragon Druid. They can build their board up very quickly and make it hard for you to take board control. The rules in this matchup are simple: try to take board control, and destroy thunder-bluff-valiant as soon as it comes down. This card is crazy good, and you can only really play around it by removing as much totems as possible on turn 6 and after.
Mulligan for a perfect curve. Try to think your turns out. For example: If you go second, meaning you get the-coin, and you have a wild-growth in hand, think about what happens when you Coin out Wild Growth on turn 1. You will have 3 mana on your second turn, so try to get blackwing-technician. If you don’t get a good 3-drop, keep The Coin, play Wild Growth on turn 2 and play with 4 mana and a Coin on your turn 3.
Hunter can be kind of tricky to beat. If you see them a lot, take a look at the Tech Cards section of this article and put healing-touch in your deck. Constantly try to take as least face damage as possible. Since there is no force-of-nature + savage-roar in this list, you can’t burst them down. You need to win by taunting, healing, and exhausting the Hunters cards.
Mulligan for early drops. Toss every card that costs more than 4 mana unless you already have an innervate in hand.
Warlocks are hardly seen anymore. Handlock isn’t very strong at the moment due to Control Warriors and Face Hunters. Zoo is pretty strong but has fallen out of favour, I have only played one match against it since TGT was released. The new archetype, Dreadsteed Warlock, is pretty strong but hardly ever seen. Facing a warlock means it’s a mystery what you’re up against. Follow the same mulligan rules as against Shaman. Tempo always helps in Warlock Matchups.
Against grim-patron Warrior, still one of the strongest decks, you need to push for damage. Play a lot of minions and push for face damage to put pressure on the opponent. When the infamous grim-patron itself comes down, there is never one of it. Always a whole bunch. swipe by itself does nothing, since the Warrior just get more dwarfs. Try to find a chillmaw or deathwing. A move to remember is that once a grim-patron or a frothing-berserker gets charge from warsong-commander, the charge effect is added to the card. If you steal a minion using mind-control-tech, it will be able to instantly attack if it was given charge from warsong-commander
Control Warrior is an exciting matchup. Two control decks fighting in a massive battle of removal and legendaries. Keep in mind that Druids lack in hard removal, so the longer the game goes on, the better the chance for the warrior to win. Don’t use big-game-hunter when you can just trade your minions up. Keep pushing for damage but don’t overextend since brawl can be devastating. deathwing is a great answer to varian-wrynn
The matchup against mage can be really hard with this deck, but also quite easy. It all depends on what variation of Mage deck you are facing. Freeze Mage and flamewaker Tempo Mage are both good matchups. As long as you take control of the board and remove priority targets like sorcerers-apprentice or flamewaker you should be able to stabilize the board and win from that point. Against Freeze Mage you just push for damage until alextrasza comes down, be sure to save your big-game-hunter and healing effects for the specific turn that Alextrasza gets played.
Mech Mage is a much harder matchup. I only managed to win 1 out of 6 games I played against Mech Mage. Their Mech minions very effective minions, usually having enough health to be annoying to remove while the Mage also plays out her entire hand in a few turns due to mechwarpers powerful effect. If you see a Mechwarper come down, try to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Against Mage, expect tempo decks and mulligan for appropriate answers to early game threats. If it turns out it’s a Freeze Mage, which i’ve yet to encounter since the past 2 months, try to play aggressive while keeping the doomsayer and frost-nova combo in mind.
What I’ve seen on ladder this month, since the release of The Grand Tournament, is either very slow control warrior decks, or very fast aggressive decks. When facing those aggressive decks, one wishes he was playing midrange decks. When facing slow control decks, one wishes he was playing control himself. Dragon Druid features enough taunt and healing to survive Face Hunters, and can be slow enough to keep up with Control Warrior, and most important of all, it’s really fun to play.
This deck is very strong overall, there is no matchup where it is impossible for you to win. Massive dragons and big legendaries make this deck so fun to play. What other decks let you slam deathwing onto the board when your opponent has no cards left in hand?
I hope you enjoyed this guide, and I hope you’ll enjoy Dragon Druid just as much as I do. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to post them in the comments below.