My Greetings! Newton back here today to review and discuss an awesome Hobgoblin Token Druid brew that reached top 50 on EU ladder in December 2014. After hitting top 40 legendary rank last season with my signature GvG Divine Wisdom deck, I wanted to focus my efforts on brewing another cool new deck. For me, the logical choice was constructing a deck revolving around the unique ability of Hobgoblin as I had just opened my second copy of the card! Woot woot!
As a Tinkertown Technician, I really enjoy the exercise of trying to create brand new decks from un-played and/or underplayed cards. However, a quick Google search told me that TwoBiers on reddit.com had already beaten me to the punch! Because I felt his Hobgoblin Token deck had a lot of potential and seemed very fun to play, I piloted it myself (with a few small modifications) to rank 3 this January 2015 season before completing the climb to legendary rank with my [unchanged] Divine Wisdom deck.
Perfect Fit for Hobgoblin
Hobgoblin makes a lot of sense in Druid because you have access to Innervate and possibly even Wild Growth. This allows you to cast Hobgoblin earlier in the game when establishing/maintaining board control is vital. Other aggressive decks may have issues maximizing Hobgoblin’s ability because they naturally want to play out each of their 1-attack minions during the first few turns of the game. By the time Hobgoblin is drawn however, they risk not having any remaining 1-attack minions to play alongside it.
One of the design constraints of playing a combo card such as Hobgoblin (yes this is a combo deck) is that the deck should still have a reasonable chance of winning without it. As seen from past combo decks in the history of Hearthstone, maintaining consistency is very important. Two prominent ways of improving consistency include maxing out on card draw and having alternate paths to victory (i.e. secondary win conditions).
In the past, Gadgetzan Auctioneer allowed Miracle Rogue to consistently draw into the Leeroy Jenkins + Shadowstep combo. Meanwhile, Alexstrasza enabled Freeze Mage to consistency deal enough damage while doubling as a healing effect against aggressive decks. As a combo deck, you often steal games you otherwise should not be able to win by having the right cards at the right time. With that said however, you should still be able to grind out victories even if the namesake card(s) aren’t drawn at opportune times. Violet Teacher allows you to do this.
My Favorite Hearthstone Card
While many of you might not realize this, Violet Teacher is actually my favorite card in all of Hearthstone! For this reason, I have even brewed entire [legendary] decks (i.e. Bloodlust Shaman) in the past around utilizing her unique ability. For a long time, Gadgetzan Auctioneer got a lot of attention for being the centerpiece of one of the strongest decks in Hearthstone due to his ability for generating card advantage with each spell played. I’m glad people are now finally giving Violet Teacher some respect as well as she currently sees a lot of play in Rogue in addition to Druid.
Violet Teacher not only generates card advantage but she does so while furthering your board state. Therefore, the [virtual] card advantage you gain as a result of playing Violet Teacher does not cost you anything in terms of tempo. Assuming at least one spell played in conjunction with Violet Teacher, she already presents a board state of a 3/5 and one 1/1, totaling 10 points of stats. By comparison, the definition of value, Chillwind Yeti, only totals 9 points of stats. Moreover, her ability to snowball causes her to be a soft-taunt minion so at worst she is still a Sen’jin Shieldmasta without the vulnerability to The Black Knight.
With regards to complementing Hobgoblin in this deck, Violet Teacher turns each 1-attack minion into a legitimate threat due to the amazing burst potential with Savage Roar. Therefore even in the absence of Hobgoblin, the presence of Argent Squire, Annoy-o-Tron, Haunted Creeper, and Echoing Ooze in play may still represent a potentially threatening board state. Moreover, each of those individual cards are solid in a vacuum and therefore do not dilute the power level of the deck.
Because I feel TwoBiers did a good job explaining his card choices [and match-up analysis], I only wanted to high-light the few changes I made in order to accommodate my personal play-style/preference. In my opinion, a dedicated combo deck should not include any situationally-good cards. Due to the inherent variance in a playing a combo deck, I feel the deck-list should be as optimized as possible to prevent additional losses to Random Number Generation (RNG). Listed below are the three cards I removed from his original list and the reasons why I chose to do so:
Blood Knight – Blood Knight definitely has blow-out potential against Annoy-o-Tron and Shielded Minibot decks. However, I don’t believe 4 minions (two Argent Squire and two Annoy-o-Tron) provide high enough of a divine shield density to warrant the inclusion of Blood Knight. Therefore, Blood Knight unnecessarily increases the variance of this deck.
Soul of the Forest – The concept of using a card to hedge against sweeper effects is nothing new. Zoo players have utilized nerubian-egg to great success in the past and continue to do so today as evident by Xixo’s accomplishments. Because Soul of the Forest costs 4 mana to play, it should theoretically provide at least 9 points of stats (see above Chillwind Yeti example).
Each additional minion on your board represents another 2/2 based on the resolution of its deathrattle effect. Therefore at least three minions would need to be on board in order to net good value out of Soul of the Forest. However, accomplishing this on a consistent basis is not always trivial and therefore makes Soul of the Forest too situational. Last but not least, it is often a liability when you’re behind on board.
Dr. Boom – Now you may be thinking, “Why would you take out the strongest legendary from the GvG expansion?!” The rationale for this is actually pretty straight-forward when you look at the entire composition of the deck. This deck actually does not have any other minion with attack power greater than 5. As a result, the deck would completely blank Big Game Hunter by removing Dr. Boom from the deck.
In this scenario, it is important to remember that Druid decks already have the ability to blank meta-dependent cards such as Harrison Jones. My decision not to include Dr. Boom furthers this strength. Note: With that said, I do believe Dr. Boom is actually a great fit for the deck (if you choose to use him) due to the synergies mentioned in TwoBiers’ reddit post.
Acolyte-of-Pain – Acolyte of Pain fills three primary roles for this deck. With the removal of Soul of the Forest from the deck, I wanted to add some way of hedging against sweepers. Acolyte of Pain does this by providing card advantage against damage based sweeper effects such as Consecration. Please note that Acolyte of Pain does not hedge against Brawl from Control Warrior.
The second contribution from Acolyte of Pain is that he increases the density of 1-attack minions (10 total) for Hobgoblin. In my experience, a 3/5 Acolyte of Pain is a HUGE target for removal and should still draw you a card [if not multiple] in the process.
Finally, Acolyte of Pain allows you to aggressively cycle Wrath for not one but two additional cards to dig further into your deck for whichever combo card (i.e. Savage Roar or Force of Nature) you’re missing. This line of play is also instrumental in generating card advantage [and apprentice tokens] when you have Violet Teacher in play but no opposing minions for Wrath to target.
Loatheb – Despite all the accolades Dr. Boom has been getting since the release of GvG, Loatheb is still considered by many the best legendary card in the game. Similar to Acolyte of Pain, Loatheb hedges against sweeper effects by preventing your opponent from playing spells the turn following Loatheb hitting the board. In addition, Loatheb preemptively stops signature combo turns (i.e. Muster for Battle + Quartermaster on turn 8, Force of Nature + Savage Roar on turn 9, etc.) from your opponents. As evident through his popularity with professional players, this blockade Loatheb provides can often swing the tempo of the game in your favor.
If you want to try playing a fun and innovative new deck that is also competitive, take Hobgoblin Token Druid out for a spin. I took the leap of faith myself and it proved to be a very fun ladder season as a result! Let me know your thoughts or any questions you may have in general. Until next time, may your Innervates come early and good luck on your climb to legend!