Yogg Saron, Hope’s End was touted as a card that would be perfect for fun games but its viability was always in question when the card was first announced. Regardless of viability, the card seemed to be fun to play and everyone started running it in all kinds of lists. People have gone as far as to run the card in Patron Warrior with great success! Among all the decks that run our favorite Old God, this insanity themed card probably fits the Token Druid archetype best. Thanks to the large number of spells and cycle cards that generate other spells like Wild Growth (on turn 10 or later) and Raven Idol, you can get quite a bit of fuel for Yogg and win games that you have no business winning.
But the best thing about Yogg Druid is that you do not even need Yogg Saron to win games, it’s just a card that can help you come back in specific situations or outright win you the game because he likes you! Token Druid is a deck that is most definitely not new and it has been around forever. It never became dominant because Combo Druid was just way ahead in terms of quality. Before we get into how to play the deck let’s check out card choices.
Token Druid can be built around the meta very easily and there are plenty of flex slots that you can change around to shake up your matchups. There is no ‘best’ variant of the deck, it all depends on what you are facing and how you change your deck. After tinkering with the deck, it became one of my favorite decks of all time because of how much it has to offer in terms of deckbuilding. As someone who loves building decks and changing cards around to make them better, this felt like an empty canvas where you have just some core cards that you need and the rest can be changed to your liking.
Innervate: it is easily one of the strongest cards in the game since Hearthstone Beta and there is no doubt about the fact that Innervate can win games on its own without through swing turns and early tempo gain. Being able to pull a Fandral Staghelm on turn 1 into other cheap spells and buffs can be devastating and it’s very unlikely people mulligan for large minion removal early in the game and some classes cannot even deal with a turn 1 Violet Teacher or Fandral at all. However, be careful about the turns that you choose to speed up your curve and ramp out big threats. Sap and Deadly Shot are very powerful cards that can be dangerous, so make sure you do not fall prey and lose the game outright. Taking risks is a part of Hearthstone and if you are in the mood for it – go for that turn 2 Ancient of War!
Living Roots: I consider this to be one of the best cards that The Grand Tournament had to offer to us, it is just too flexible. Early board presence? Check. Token synergy for buffs? Check. Removal? Check. This simple 1 mana card can offer a lot and it’s most definitely an auto include in pretty much every Druid deck in existence. You can get to that pesky Knife Juggler or Flame Imp behind a taunt or even use it for face damage when you need to for that extra bit of damage. It works very well with cards like Violet Teacher, Fandral Staghelm, Soul of the Forest and Power of the Wild. You can combo it with Azure Drake or Bloodmage Thalnos for targeting 3 health minions as well.
Wild Growth: Wild Growth on turn 2 might not be a very proactive play but getting ahead of the curve and cheating out mana for your bigger threats to come out and simply overwhelmiing your opponent in cases makes it worth it. Also, when you’re at turn 10 you can simply use it to get ‘Excess Mana’ which draws you a card for 0 after you play Wild Growth for 2. Since Excess Mana is a spell too, it allows YoggSaron to play an additional spell as well! Using Wild Growth versus unfavorable matchups is not easy however, you need to spend your turn using removal instead of ramping up. Managing your health pool while giving yourself time to ramp up is crucial. If there’s a Flame Imp on board and you have the choice between a Wrath and a Wild Growth into a taunt or something like a Violet Teacher/Fandral + spell combo it is advisable to sacrifice the 3 health and opt in for the ramp instead so you can take back the board and generate some board presence in exchange for some health.
Power of the Wild: With so many one damage AoE effects being easily available at the disposal of most classes you need this card to make sure you get value out of your tokens and prevent them from getting killed too easily. Do note that Power of the Wild is one of your win conditions and you need to be careful how and when you use it. Try to get as much value out of the spell as possible and you mostly want to combo it with Violet Teacher or Fandral Staghelm.
Violet Teacher: Violet Teacher is your best shot at gaining sustained board presence all game long and you will be able to get quite a bit of value out of the small tokens because they can deal with aggressive minions quite efficiently without forcing you to hero power each and every turn. They also work well with buffs and a large Soul of the Forest trigger on your tokens can be devastating for classes that run AoE effects as well. Make sure you are greedy with your Teacher in slower matchups but dropping her on turn 4 versus aggro is never wrong just to make sure you do not fall behind too hard.
Raven Idol: It is based on arguably the best mechanic in the game, Discover. I always appreciate the fact that I can get access to an additional removal spell or even a Savage Roar off the top to end the game. Now one thing you need to keep in mind when using the card is that, playing it on turn 1 if you already have your early game spells is actually wrong. Unless your hand is dry and you need specific cards to counter your opponent’s potential plays, you should save it for situations where you know what you need. It is a great combo with Fandral or Violet Teacher and can help you get out of sticky situations.
Wrath: Easily one of the best 2 mana removals in the game, Wrath sis very flexible and if you have spell damage minions or Fandral Staghelm you can get great value out of the already versatile spell. You can use it for both cycling through your deck as well as use it to remove 3 health minions.
Swipe: It might not be the best AoE in the game but it does a great job with so many 1 health minions floating around. The spell also has great synergy with all your tokens because they can take care of the weakened enemy minions after you Swipe them. I heavily recommend using Bloodmage Thalnos or Azure Drake in your deck to push out even more damage and get better clears.
Mire Keeper: It is one of the best cards Druid got in WOTOG. You generally want to ramp up hard versus slower decks to generate massive board pressure. It is fine to lose ramp and go for the additional 2/2 Slime if you are behind versus aggressive decks. Planning out your ramp is also essential. For example if you are on turn 6 and you have Ancient of War as a follow-up on turn 7 and you do not need the extra ramp then you should just push out the additional token instead. It is also great for setting up Savage Roar, Power of the Wild or even Soul of the Forest as well.
Fandral Staghelm: This card is more crucial to Yogg Druid than Yogg Saron himself! You won’t believe the sheer number of times you can force your opponent to just helplessly concede when you get too much value out of him. Sometimes he can create massive swings to the game with just a few cheap spells. He’s easily your biggest threat in the game in any matchup because if Fandral is left unchecked, there’s going to be mayhem!
Nourish: With Ancient of Lore gone, Nourish is a fairly good replacement and it does wonders for the deck when used for ramp as well as draw because you are able to cycle through your deck and get to important cards quite easily. The flexibility of the card is underrated and it surely does the job well. Be careful when you play the card though, you need to make sure you do not lose too much tempo in the process. You’re better off spending some removal in your hand on turn 5 to kill high threat minions in aggressive decks instead of drawing cards or ramping up.
Fueling your Win Condition: The ‘Other’ Cards
Now that we have talked about the core cards that you need to have for building your Yogg Druid deck, here are the win condition cards or the support cards that you can use for your deck. If you have paid attention to the list above you might have noticed that I did not add Yogg Saron to the list of core cards. Here’s why:
Yogg Saron Hope’s End: Yogg Saron is not a must have in a Yogg Druid deck. It might sound insane but most games are won without him because of the high value minions you have or simply through bursting down your opponent. If you have been following the competitive scene you must have noticed that players like Lifecoach and Thijs did not even have Yogg Saron in their Yogg Druid decks just to have consistent minions. But, Yogg Saron is one of those cards that help you win games that you do not have any chance of winning. Most importantly, it’s a fun card to play that can do great things. It is well worth adding it to your deck because there have been too many times where it saved me from unwinnable spots and got me the initiative a lot of times.
Wisps of the Old Gods: This card might seem like an underwhelming card that you’d rather not use but it isn’t. One of the first popular decks was by J4CKIECHAN and he has taken token Druid with Yogg Saron to legend multiple times. The card is most effective if you are not facing too much of Aggro and being able to flood your board multiple times means that you will always have the upper hand. After all, it’s more than likely your opponent will not have that many AoE clears for your minions. It can also double up as a finisher when you already have dominating board presence.
Druid of the Claw: If you want to take a more defensive or mid range approach then you can consider using taunts instead of Wisps of the Old Gods. Coupled with other big taunts like Ancient of War, you can nullify aggro decks quite well. With Silence being very rare in constructed and Purify not being able to target enemy minions, you can manage your health pool well enough with Druid of the Claw or Ancient of War quite easily and take out quite a few small minions with them.
Savage Roar: A lot of people stopped using Savage Roar but I like to think of this card as my primary win condition in most games. A lot of players do not play around Savage Roar and the surprise factor hits them real hard as you end games in one turn. It’s particularly good versus decks like Zoo and Aggro Shaman where you want to win as fast as possible by bursting your opponents down out of nowhere.
Ancient of War: Not much to say here, it’s a classic taunt that’s efficient and the 10 health can help you keep your tokens safe or prevent your opponent from killing you. It’s also one of the best counters to Aggro Shaman. If you are able to ramp up and drop an Ancient of War or two you can win on the spot because they often end up throwing multiple cards and sacrifice their board to deal with it.
Doomsayer: It has been tried and tested in various decks but it did not work too well for me because it’s a dead card if you draw it later in the game. Getting the card early in the game might gain your initiative but it’s not something you can play when you have a lot of tokens in your board.
Bloodmage Thalnos: If you have Bloodmage Thalnos in your collection, try it out for once. It’s one of the best tools to use with all your cheap spells that help you deal with aggressive early game without requiring you to hero power to finish off minions. It’s a good card to use over Azure Drake because you’re better off having a Swipe combo with it on turn 6 than an Azure Drake + Swipe combo on 9. Roots and Wrath work very well with it and it can also be used for quick cycling.
Azure Drake: One of the best Rares in the game, you should consider adding this if you are running the Wisps version because you will be able to cycle into your token combos much faster. The spell damage and the draw in one body makes it one of the best minions in the game and it is very versatile in the deck overall.
Cenarius: You can replace Cenarius with Ancient of War if you don’t have it but it works particularly well with your tokens or simply stalls a turn on turn 9 until you can Yogg or find removal. Cenarius is one of the best tools you have access to in the late game and it works both defensively and offensively.
Mulch: It is one of the best removals in the game. Being able to deal with a 4 mana 7/7 on turn 4 despite handing out a Deathwing (sometimes) is a fair enough trade-off. While you might end up giving something really dangerous to your opponent, it is a fair trade-off and 3 mana is quite cheap for removing anything at all.
Feral Rage: One of the more flexible tools you have access to. Being able to heal up for 8 or simply dealing with a Frothing Berserker or Totem Golem can help you stall until you get your threats out. It’s a great card and something Druid really needed to deal with 4 health threats, one copy of the card surely helps out the deck a lot.
Onyxia: A card that saw almost no play in decks pre-WOTOG, it has become a powerhouse of a card in Yogg Druid. You can finish off games quite easily with her. The only drawback is you have to wait a turn or have a discounted hand using Emperor Thaurissan to buff those tokens. I usually try to bait out 1 damage AoEs as soon as possible before dropping her. You have plenty of flood mechanics earlier in the game to bait out AoEs so you should not have much trouble making her stick.
Soul of the Forest: One of the best cards against Warrior. Having a large board and playing Soul of the Forest insures your minions and not too many classes can efficiently deal with a high value Soul of the Forest without sacrificing multiple cards in the process. It is really strong in the deck and has helped make things awkward for opponents quite often.
Replacement and Tech Cards
Harrison Jones: I run a copy of Harrison Jones over Azure Drake. Warrior, Shaman and Hunter were quite popular when I was climbing and I almost always got value off the card if I had it in hand. A 5 mana 5/4 without any effect isn’t particularly bad either since you ramp early in the game quite often and it trades up favorably with most early game threats in the current meta.
Ragnaros the Firelord: If you do not have Cenarius or Onyxia you can opt in for good old Ragnaros, and he will surely swat some insects for you. I do not recommend running him if you face too many Zoo decks however. He’s great in slower matchups and can easily snipe some big threats or just go face and end games.
Emperor Thaurissan: It is a pseudo ramp card that helps you bring out lategame threats early and also allows you to have more impactful Violet Teacher or Fandral turns later in the game. Emperor also serves as a taunt and forces awkward trades and removals if you are ahead or in an even spot versus your opponent.
Sylvanas Windrunner: Thijs was seen running a version with Sylvanas in his deck and it’s worth a shot if you are facing control decks. It is particularly effective against C’thun Warrior and other slow decks.
Cards you can try
Bog Creeper: good replacement for Ancient of War and also 360 dust cheaper!
Elise Starseeker: If you are running a ramp heavy variant and see yourself hit fatigue quite often in slower matchups then you can consider running Elise. I’ve played Elise on a friend’s account where I didn’t have access to Yogg and it worked fine.
Acidic Swamp Ooze: Replacement for Harrison Jones if you want weapon removal.
Understanding the deck – Styles of Play
There are some key elements in the deck that help you win seemingly unfavorable matchups. Just because someone told you Druid is unfavored versus Dragon Warrior doesn’t meant you cannot have a good winrate versus them. Using these strategies can help you win even the worst of matchups and maintain a near 50% winrate at the very least. There are various ways you can play out the deck and here’s a closer look at some styles of play you can adopt in specific matchups.
Ramp: As long as Innervate continues to exist, Druid will always be able to achieve incredible feats. Combined with cards like Wild Growth, Mire Keeper and Nourish you can start dishing out the pain! Sometimes an all out ramp into an Ancient of War might seem crazy but in specific matchups that have no hard removal, you can manage to shut down your opponent. I recall playing Wisps of the Old Gods on turn 2 into Power of the Wild, followed by Savage Roar to finish off a game on Turn 4. Now it might have been suicide versus Warrior (AoE effects) or Hunter (Unleash the Hounds), but I knew my opponent was playing Zoo and I could finish him off before he could make in impact in the game.
Burst: Savage Roar is your best bet at finishing off games you know you cannot prolong for long. Having a sticky board and using various tools like Power of the Wild, Druid of the Claw with Charge, Wisps of the Old Gods and Savage Roar you can sneak in wins quite easily. Soul of the Forest might seem like a clunky card but it’s one of those elements of the deck that can help you push out some insane burst damage. If you run the Wisps version, dealing over damage to your opponent can become a regular affair. I did run double Savage Roar in the Wisps version, which can be a dead card but it helped me steal a lot of wins against control warriors sitting at 50+ health. Onyxia is also a great asset in any Token Druid deck. Being able to combo Savage Roar or Power of the Wild with it the following turn can end games easily.
Flood: This is the primary goal of the deck versus most classes. Generate overwhelming board presence and use spells to keep the minion train going. Even versus classes that have lots of board clears if you manage to set up a Soul of the Forest on multiple minions you can have permanent board presence and keep chipping at your opponent’s health pool.
The general mulligan is the same for nearly all classes, except you can be greedy versus Priest or Druid. Do not try to get greedy against warriors by keeping 4 drops in hand however, Dragon Warrior can punish you hard for it! Look for:
- Living Roots – Bait out Ravaging Ghoul versus Warriors as early as possible
- Wrath: Flexible removal, always keep.
- Innervate: Keep 4 drops if you have Innervate in hand. I generally avoid keeping double Innervate in hand because you can lose tempo heavily if you do not have follow ups.
- Wild Growth: You can keep Mire Keeper/other 4 drops if you have Wild Growth on curve.
- Raven Idol
- Harrison Jones: If you have ramp and your early game spells are in hand then you can consider keeping it.
- Bloodmage Thalnos
Swipe is particularly good in the mirror matchup and versus Paladins, Warlocks and Shaman. Consider keeping it in your hand.
Freeze Mage: I’ve been able to win matches against Freeze Mage using ramp and Feral Rage effectively to pressure them hard. Soul of the Forest is one of the most important cards in this matchup. Aggression is the only way you will win!
OTK Warrior: If you are running a taunt heavy version you should try to bait out Execute as soon as possible and save your taunts on possible OTK turns. OTK warrior is very good versus the deck but not if you can bait out their removals and drop taunt after taunt or simply finish them off fast enough.
You should never play Yogg when you are very ahead on board, you might end up clearing your own board and lose the game. It’s meant for comebacks or turns where you have no better play. Trust me, Yogg Saron does more good than harm on an average and even the stats available online prove it. Worst case, he clears random stuff and draws you some cards. If you are about to lose and he kills you, you would have probably lost anyway if you had no other outs and you should just move on. The deck isn’t too easy to play and allows a lot of deckbuilding possibilities. It’s a lot of fun playing the deck and you’ll love the little synergies the deck has. If you do not have Yogg Saron, it’s fine too! I do hope you open it or craft it soon though because of the amount of fun it brings to the table.
Changes in Karazhan
I do not see too many changes to the deck when Karazhan comes out since 2 out of 3 Druid cards are focused on the Beast archetype. However, one of the cards I am keen on adding is Arcane Giant. You have enough spells to make it really cheap and it can serve as a lategame threat. The fact that Innervate out the giant, it means you can effectively reduce its cost by 3 instead of 2 (since Innervate is a spell), you can create massive tempo swings with the card and I really hope to find success with it.
I’ve played the deck exclusively and climbed to legend in under 7 days. Even though it looks like a fun oriented deck it’s highly competitive and surely does well if you tech your deck right and there are enough flex slots in the deck to make small changes and make it work out for you. I peaked top 500 on the Europe server and I constantly make changes to the deck depending on what I am facing. I switch between the Wisps version and the Taunt variant based on popular matchups to keep pushing on ladder.
Hope you enjoyed the deck guide and if you have any queries just let me know below. If you need any help with the deck you can leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!