Mastering the Midrange Druid: Beginner Guide

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections: Part 1: Beginner Guide Part 2: Advanced Strategies, Alternate Cards, and Tech Choices For mulligans and matchups, visit the Midrange Druid meta section and check out the MUA (Matchup Analysis posts) Midrange Druid (sometimes called Fast or Combo Druid) is […]

This is part 1 of this extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the other sections:

Introduction

Midrange Druid (sometimes called Fast or Combo Druid) is a very popular deck both on the ladder and in the tournaments. During the Beta people realized the strength of the force-of-nature and savage-roar combination and started creating decks around it.  The deck is much more aggressive than Ramp Druid, but slow enough that it can play the Control game against many of the decks.

The idea behind the deck is to ramp up (with wild-growth, Darnassus Aspirant or innervate), then fight for the board control and once you deal enough damage and get some board presence, finish enemy off with your combo. By running sticky minions, Midrange Druid increases his chance to have minions on the turn he uses the combo, because the bigger board he has – the more damage Savage Roar adds.

Most of the deck lists are really similar and only switch out some tech cards. To read more about the possible changes to the list, check out the Advanced part of the guide.

Summary

The deck is a mix between classic Midrange deck and Combo deck. On the one hand, you have the flexibility to play faster or slower game and you shine in the mid game due to a lot of strong minions. On the other hand, your main win condition is your combo – you usually want to stall the game until you draw into it to finish enemy off. If you enjoy “rampy” play style (cheating out the mana curve), flexible deck with a potential to deal a lot of burst damage, Midrange Druid is gonna be a good choice.

Strengths:

  • Wild Growth, Darnassus Aspirant and Innervate put you ahead of your enemy in terms of mana.
  • Potential to deal a lot of burst damage – 14 damage from empty board is really standard.
  • Strong mid game minions like Piloted Shredder and Druid of the Claw.
  • Druid has access to one of the best Taunts in the game: Druid of the Claw and Ancient of War.
  • You might put a lot of pressure on your enemy and not let him play any of his threats.
  • swipe is a great removal against Aggro decks.
  • Really flexible – not only it can play faster or slower, but many of the cards have multiple uses – living-roots, wrath, keeper-of-the-grove, druid-of-the-claw, ancient-of-lore all have strong “Choose one” effect.
  • The deck is very easy to learn, so may be a good competitive starting point for novice players.

Weaknesses:

  • Druid class has no hard removal that fit this deck (Naturalize or Mulch aren’t great in Midrange), so it’s tricky to deal with a lot of big minions.
  • Swipe is good against Aggro, but the AoE is almost non-existent against Control decks. If you lose the board control, you’re gonna have hard time coming back.
  • Combo pieces are dead if you draw them too early, some games may be lost just because you’ve drawn your Force of Nature and Savage roar in opening hand.
  • Your deck is proactive, so if enemy pushes you hard, Druid has a pretty hard time playing the reactive game. You need to be the one dealing damage in order for your combo to work.
  • Drawing into your ramp cards is really important – the game is often decided on whether you got the early ramp.

Favored against:

  • Handlock / Demon Handlock
  • Control Warrior
  • Freeze Mage
  • Control Priest

Equal against:

  • Face Hunter
  • Midrange Hunter
  • Zoo Warlock
  • Midrange Paladin
  • Dragon Priest

Unfavored against:

  • Secret Paladin
  • Aggro Druid
  • Tempo Mage
  • Mech Mage

If you want to learn more about the matchups, check out the “Matchups and Mulligans” part of the guide.

Card Choices

Most of the Midrange Druid deck lists look really similar. Two of three cards might vary, the biggest difference is usually whether you want to run the Ancient of War or not and some tech choices (like including the Harrison Jones or Loatheb).

Innervate

Innervate is your first ramp tool. The card is pretty straightforward – it gives you 2 mana for 0 mana. When you play it, you trade card advantage (because you use an additional card to play something) for tempo (because you play ahead of the curve). The card is really strong, because 2 mana is a lot in Hearthstone. For example, getting out druid-of-the-claw on turn 3 is insane, because it can contest anything enemy played until this point. Innervating out shade-of-naxxramas on turn 1 is a huge investment for the future. You use two cards and don’t gain any immediate threat, but your Shade is gonna grow much faster and get out of range of enemy AoE removals. Innervating out keeper-of-the-grove on turn 2 usually counters most of things Aggro decks might play. Generally, really strong card in the early and mid game. Its power falls later in the game, because 2 mana on turn 10 is not as much any longer. However, it allows you to do some crazy combos like force-of-nature + 2x savage-roar on turn 10.

Living Roots

The new TGT addition. Not every Midrange Druid decided to run it, but I think one copy is good enough. It’s another flexible card that might serve two purposes. First one is gaining the tempo on turn 1. You can summon 2x 1/1 instead of skipping the turn. The 1/1’s are great especially in the faster matchups, where they can contest enemy 1-drop or 2-drop, but even in slower matchups it’s a decent move. The 2 damage is mostly used as an early removal, but even in the mid game it might kill some stuff (especially if combined with Spell Damage from Azure Drake). Important thing to note is that the 2 damage can target enemy Hero – if you use your combo at 10 mana you might squeeze additional 2 damage thanks to the Living Roots, which might catch enemy off-guard (players usually play around 14 damage combo, not 16). If you decide to summon the 1/1’s later in the game, they have great synergy with Savage Roar. If both of those survive until next turn and you play the Roar, the card deals 6 damage for 1 mana. A very solid card that might find a lot of uses.

Wild Growth

The second card you use to ramp up. This one is much slower, because you sacrifice the tempo on turn 2 to gain more tempo on next turns. Probably one of the strongest turn 2 plays in the game, especially if you start first. When your enemy is using a 4-drop, you answer it with a 6-drop etc. It makes your plays much stronger and you might be able to get out big threats before enemy can answer them. Coining out Wild Growth on turn 1 is a decent play if you have a turn 3 follow-up and a smooth curve. For example, if your hand is Wild Growth, Shade of Naxxramas, piloted-shredder, Azure Drake, going for Coin + Wild Growth is a good play. You want to mulligan for it in every matchup, getting it is a really big deal. If you use your Wild Growth when you already have 10 mana, it gives you excess-mana card. It means that if you’re already close to turn 10 and you don’t need to use it, keep it and you’re just gonna cycle it for 2 mana.

Wrath

Your early game removal spell. Great at dealing with enemy small minions. The 3 damage is pretty good for the whole game, but in some matchups, especially the Control ones, you want to use it as a cycle. Think of it this way – if you’d rather have another card instead of Wrath and you have free 2 mana, you might just use it on any opponent’s minion to deal 1 damage and cycle it. Against Aggro decks, unless you’re at low health or your hand is really bad, you generally prefer to use your Hero Power instead of cycling Wrath. Wrath gets great value in Aggro matchups, it might serve as a way to deal with enemy knife-juggler or piloted-shredder, which can deal a lot of damage if left on the board. If you’re in desperate situation and need to draw, you might use it on your own minion to cycle and possibly draw into some answer.

Darnassus Aspirant

The second TGT addition into the deck. A great minion that made the deck Tier 1 once again. Midrange Druid always had the consistency problems. If it drew into the Wild Growth early in the game, it had great chance to push the hard enough that they couldn’t do much. But if he didn’t, he often was forced to Hero Power 2-3 turns in a row. Darnassus Aspirant adds more consistency – it gives Druid another way to ramp up. It’s a low risk, high reward card, meaning there is no reason to not run it. If it dies – you’ve just traded 1 for 1 (2-drop for a removal), which is fine. If it sticks to the board – not only you’ve got a 2-drop, but you’ve also “played” a free Wild Growth. Not to mention that if you have an opportunity to Silence it, you might actually go for it – this way the Wild Growth effect stays forever and doesn’t go away with the Deathrattle (it’s only an option, in a lot of matchups you don’t want to use Keeper this way). A good thing about Aspirant is that it gives Druid a turn 2 play that isn’t a tempo loss (besides Innervating out the 4-drop). In faster matchups playing Wild Growth on turn 2 was often too slow, because he could overwhelm you with the early drops. With Aspirant you can drop it on turn 2 and enemy will be pretty much forced to kill it, so it could as well have the Taunt. Even the fastest decks rarely can afford to leave it on the board. Great minion that boosted the Druid’s consistency by a lot, one of the best 2-drops in the game right now.

Savage Roar

One part of your combo. While it’s best when used alongside force-of-nature, it can get nice value even without it. Good when making trades (makes your minions trade up) and pushing for damage. It deals 2 damage at the base (your Hero is a character, so he gets +2 attack) and gets 2 more damage per minion on the board. It means that with 4 minions on the board, it’s 10 damage for 3 mana. Besides Force of Nature, it has good synergy with Druid of the Claw in charge mode. The combo deals 9 damage (including Hero Power), which is often enough to get lethal in late game. Another good synergy, the one that might come even earlier, is the one with Living Roots. Two cheap 1/1’s can deal 6 damage combined with the Roar. If you’re really desperate for removal or have no other play, you might play it for 2 damage on turn 3 in Aggro matchups. It feels very bad, but instead of passing you might kill their 2-drop. Calculate the possible damage every turn – with couple minions on the board and Savage Roar in your hand, it’s surprisingly easy to kill the enemy.

Big Game Hunter

Druid has really hard time dealing with big minions, because he lacks strong spell removals. Big Game Hunter helps him, because he counters a lot of popular big minions like dr-boom or Fel Reaver. Even though meta tries to stay out of Big Game Hunter’s range by running lower attack minions, there are a lot of matchups where Big Game Hunter is great. Handlock, pretty much any deck running Dr. Boom, the Mech Mage and the new Aggro Druid (both run Fel Reavers), even the Secret Paladin (buffs might get minions over 6 attack). On the other hand, he’s pretty bad in matchups like Face/Hybrid Hunter or Dragon Priest. A 3 mana 4/2 minion is underwhelming, but it’s still going to at least bait a small removal or get a trade.

Shade of Naxxramas

It’s a great tool to put enemy on the clock. Minion that grows every turn and has stealth. After couple of +1/+1’s, it’s gonna get out of range of enemy AoE removals. In faster matchups, don’t try to get maximum value and use them to trade with enemy minions. Keeping him in stealth is often a mistake. Just wait until he he can kill something and survive and go for it – getting 2 for 1 in Aggro matchup is enough. In slower matchups, however, you don’t want to reveal those too fast. Main role of your Shade is having a guaranteed, big minion on the board to boost your combo. Let’s say a 6/6 Shade makes your combo deal 22 damage. On the other hand, don’t be too greedy. If you suspect that enemy might have a way to get rid of it (let’s say Brawl or Lightbomb), you might attack with it before your combo turn. This way you put a lot of pressure on your enemy, which also might set-up a combo turn anyway.

Swipe

The only “AoE” you run in the deck. It’s great against decks flooding the board with a lot of small creatures (e.g. Face Hunter, Secret Paladin). The problem is that the 1 damage AoE is usually useless against slower decks and it’s mainly used either as spell burn or for the 4 damage on main target. The 1 damage part might be even unwanted against let’s say Acolyte of Pain or Armorsmith. In slower matchups, you usually use Swipe to deal with their mid game threats or damage their late game threats. You can also use it as another source of burst besides your combo – 2x Swipe + Hero Power is 9 damage. Swipe has insane synergy with the Azure Drake. It’s one of those cards where +1 Spell Damage matters a lot. The difference between 4 +1 damage and 5 + 2 damage is big. The second one might clear the board much more easily, being an upgraded version of Consecration.

Keeper of the Grove

Your defensive 4-drop. It’s great because of the versatility. As a Druid, you can easily run two Silence minions in any meta, because if you face someone with no good Silence targets, the 2 damage can always come handy. In the current meta, however, Silence is really great. Pretty much any deck runs couple of Silence targets. Keeper of the Grove gets great value in almost any matchup. Great against Aggro decks, because not only 2 damage usually kills everything they drop early, but also the 2/4 body can get good trades with their small drops. Against Control, you often want to save him for the Silence part – Silencing key minions like sylvanas-windrunner is really crucial. You might also use the Silence to bypass Taunt when you’re pushing for damage. The 2 damage sometimes comes handy when enemy Taunts up at low health and you need to finish him off.

Piloted Shredder

Really aggressive 4-drop. Most of the time has to be dealt with twice – first the 4/3 body and then whatever drops from him. It’s good at pushing the damage in mid game. It’s great against slow decks, enemy either wastes 2 removals or takes a lot of damage. Piloted Shredder is sticky and you want that for your Savage Roar. The only real downside of the Shredder is that he can’t really trade down – if you play the defensive game in Aggro matchup, you often can’t use him to kill a 2-drop or 3-drop without Shredder dying. There is a lot of RNG involved when it comes to Shredder. The 2-drop outcome may sometimes win you the game and other times lose it. Popular “extreme” examples are getting millhouse-manastorm and Doomsayer. Getting a 4/4 out of your 4/3 might straight win you the game, because both the tempo gain and value are crazy. On the other hand, if you have a full board and you’re pushing for lethal next turn, getting Doomsayer might completely ruin your plan and lose you the game. The average outcome, however, is good enough for Piloted Shredder to be the strongest 4-drop in aggressive decks.

Azure Drake

Solid, straightforward 5-drop. Azure Drake always gets value – it cycles itself, so you are not losing a card when playing him. A 4/4 on turn 5 is not that great, but it’s big enough that enemy has to kill it. If you trade it with something, you’ve got 2 for 1 in terms of card advantage. The +1 Spell Damage works great with all your spells – Living Roots, Wrath and Swipe. Living Roots become 3 damage for 1 mana, and the low mana cost makes it really easy to use on the same turn as the Drake. With Wrath, you might deal up to 5 damage (counting your Hero Power), killing most of the 4-drops and 5-drops. You might also deal 2 damage and cycle it (up to 3 with Hero Power), which is really strong against Aggro. Killing enemy 2-drop for 2 mana while cycling the card is insane. It gets even more value with Swipe – 5 damage to main Target and 2 damage AoE is suddenly a great spell in most of matchups. Great thing to topdeck in the late game, it gives more “fuel” to ou.

Druid of the Claw

One of the most recognizable minions in the Druid class. A 4/6 Taunt is big enough to stop Aggro decks in their tracks, and 4/4 Charge is good when you’re pushing for the damage. While most of players drop it in the Taunt mode (Bear Form), especially against slower decks, you should often consider using the Charge mode (Cat Form). You often care about 4 damage more than about 2 health on your minion. Also, against the decks that runs buffs, you might consider charing it into small minion. This way enemy can’t get the buff value. Let’s say you play against the Secret Paladin with a 2/2 on the board. If you charge your minion into a 2/2, you’re left with 4/2 and he’s left with nothing. If you play him in Taunt mode, enemy might use Blessing of Kings and then the board swings in his favor – you’re left with nothing and he has a 6/2. Obviously it all depends on the situation, but that’s a thing you should always consider. It has nice synergy with Savage Roar when played in Cat Form. The Bear Form, on the other hand, might be used to stop some combos revolving around Charge minions.

Force of Nature

The second part of your combo. This one summons three 2/2 minions with Charge. It hasn’t really got any synergy with your deck besides Savage Roar, but it may still be useful alone. The good thing about it is that you get three minions – you might distribute damage among couple of small drops, you might pop Divine Shields with it. It’s also a great way to pop enemy freezing-trap. The 6 damage might be sometimes useful when pushing for lethal without the Savage Roar. Even though you often rely on your combo to win the game – don’t worry about using it as a removal. The most important thing is to keep enemy minions in check, because once you completely lose board control, you lose the game. That’s why you run two copies of those, so you can use one more liberally in faster matchups.

Emperor Thaurissan

Really strong card. You aim to put him on the board with some of your combo pieces in the hand. The 5/5 body for 6 mana isn’t that big and will probably get removed easily. But even one discount on two of your combo pieces means that you can do the Force of Nature + 2x Savage Roar without Innervate. It does mean that you might push for 22 damage from your hand. It’s usually more than enough to kill the enemy. With just one minion sticking to the board, you might deal close to 30 damage in one turn – that’s a really big deal. Besides the combo, putting discounts on your minions means that you might play more of them each turn. Dropping let’s say 3 mid game threats onto the board in one turn means that enemy is gonna have a lot of problems with removing them. Since you rarely have an empty hand as a Druid, Emperor will pretty much always get some value. Still, in some matchups that require a lot of burst, you don’t want to drop him before you get your FoN + SR. The best case scenario is dropping him when enemy has no minions on the board – it forces him to have a spell removal or at least Silence. Two or more discounts may lead to a really explosive OTK turns. I’ve had one 2x Force of Nature + 2x Savage Roar situation after 2 Emperor discounts. It’s very uncommon, but might happen once in a while.

Ancient of Lore

If I had to pick a strongest Druid minion, it would be the Ancient of Lore. A 5/5 body for 7 mana is definitely not big, but threatening enough that enemy has to kill it. He can’t leave a 5/5 minion against Midrange Druid. Drawing two cards is absolutely insane. Not only it cycles itself, but it also gives you +1 card advantage. It’s like a 5-drop and an arcane-intellect for 7 mana in one card. It’s your main way to refill your hand. Another way to use it is healing for 5. The 5 heal isn’t really big, but it might save you against Aggro decks. It’s also targetable – so if you don’t need the heal on your Hero or card draw, you might even heal your minions. Healing an Ancient of War in the late game scenario is a valid play a lot of times. Innervating Ancient of Lore on turn 5 is also pretty big play, because it gives you a threatening minion without losing card advantage and you cycle through your deck, drawing closer to the combo.

Ancient of War

This big guy is one of the most recognizable Ramp Druid cards. It was never really used in Midrange, because of how slow it is. But we’ve seen some players adding Ancient of War to counter Aggro decks and Patron Warriors. Patron Warrior will soon no longer be a problem due to a nerf, but a lot of faster decks are still there. When you play against Aggro deck and they recognize you’re Midrange, they’re gonna use their Silences on your other minions, like Piloted Shredder or Druid of the Claw a lot of time. Ancient of War adds a huge late game wall, after enemy used his Silence the 10 health on this guy is really hard to get through. It means that if you already have some board presence going into turn 7, enemy will have to do a lot of work to both get through the War and kill rest of your minions. 5 attack means he can’t ignore it, it’s a big threat by itself. Great in the meta where no one runs the-black-knight anymore and Silence isn’t THAT popular. Just be careful against Paladin’s Repentance.

Dr. Boom

Your run Dr. Boom as a late game threat. One of the best legendaries in the game right now. Even though the main body is often gonna eat the big-game-hunter the boom-bots usually do a lot of job by themselves. Dr. Boom is really sticky – if not the main body, the 1/1’s often survive. Thanks to that, he has a great synergy with Savage Roar. Just a Dr. Boom, if nothing gets removed, can push for 17 damage on the turn after thanks to Savage Roar. Great proactive minion, you force enemy to have an answer or take a lot of damage. Great thing to top deck in slower matchups, even if removed, it might stall the game long enough for you to draw into the cards you need. Innervating it out on turn 7 is a powerful play that forces enemy to have an answer or literally just lose the game.

General Strategy

Midrange Druid is one of the more straightforward and easy decks to play. While there is some decision making, especially against Aggro decks, during most of your turns you have a one, clear best play. You play proactive, so you often completely ignore what enemy drops and play your own game. What’s really important for Midrange Druid is to play on the curve – even if you get a good Swipe opportunity on turn 5, you might prefer to play Druid of the Claw instead to not waste your mana. Using every point of mana is really important, because once you start playing behind the curve, enemy might out-tempo you. Even though the deck is rather easy, it’s also pretty flexible in the way that it might take different approaches. Against Aggro decks, you might play a slower, more defensive game with Taunting up and clearing enemy board, while against Control decks you might play the Aggro game, push them hard and force them to answer your stuff instead of developing their own threats.

Early Game

The most important thing when playing Midrange Druid is planning your curve. For example, if you have Innervate, shade-of-naxxramas, piloted-shredder and ancient-of-lore in your starting hand (going first). You might consider Innervating out your Shade on turn 1. While it’s not necessarily wrong, you skip your turn 2 and 3 if you don’t draw anything you might play. In other words, you rely on the top decks to fill out your curve. On the other hand, if you skip the first turn, you can Innervate out the Shredder on turn 2 and play the Shade on turn 3. Your curve is much more smooth, because you skip turn 1 (much less important for Druid) instead of 2 and 3. By the turn 4, there is a bigger chance that you’re gonna draw into something you can play (because you have 3 draws instead of 1). While this is just a basic example, it illustrates how you should think when playing the Druid. Skipping turns put you behind, so don’t do that.

TGT gave Druid much more flexible early game and some new options. Before, you relied on drawing the Innervate or Wild Growth in order to have something to do. Right now you even have a turn 1 play that doesn’t involve the Innervate. So, on turn 1 you can use the Living Roots. In most of matchups it’s worth to play the 2x 1/1 and not save the card. There are certain situations where it’s not good, but you should easily identify them yourself. For example, against Priest you don’t want ot play it into opponent’s Twilight Whelp or Northshire Cleric. In a lot of matchups 1/1’s give you a tempo advantage. If they play a 2-drop that you can kill with your 1/1’s, then you do that and play something yourself. You want to be the one playing a card first and enemy be the one who needs to answer it.

When it comes to turn 2 you generally want to get your ramp. With 6 ramp cards, it’s rare that you don’t have one. Innervating out a 4-drop is a high tempo play. You might do that if enemy plays a 2-drop and you have a Keeper of the Grove in your hand. Or you might Innervate out a Shredder against an empty board to start pressing enemy. When it comes to the Wild Growth vs Darnassus Aspirant, the big question is which one you want to play first. The answer really depends on the matchup you play. The most important thing is whether you think that enemy has a clear way to deal with it. For example, against Control Warrior getting it out on turn 2 is not that great. They can either Fiery War Axe it or Bash it. On the other hand, against Priest, the only answer they might have is Shadow Word: Pain and they often don’t even run it. In faster matchups, like against Hunter or Secret Paladin, you also prefer to open with the Aspirant. It gives you a body on the board and allows to make some early game trades, not letting enemy snowball the board. Wild Growth is generally a safer play, so if you don’t need a minion on the board and you want to guarantee a 4-drop on next turn, you should play it. The thing about Wild Growth is that it’s really weak in the mid game. It’s good on turn 2, it’s good on turn 10 (because you can cycle it), but between those (especially after turn 5-6) it’s not that strong anymore. On the other hand, Aspirant is still strong, because it’s a minion. You don’t care about ramp that much then, but it’s a 2/3 body that make your board presence stronger.

So, wild-growth or Darnassus Aspirant is probably the best turn 2 play no matter against what deck you play. Wrath is another option, but you can choose between your ramp and Wrath on turn 2, you should Wrath only when enemy has a high priority target you need to remove. For example, Knife Juggler against Paladin (he might follow it with Muster for Battle to deal a lot of damage if you don’t have the Swipe), [card]Mechwarper against Mech decks (it might snowball the game really hard) or Darnassus Aspirant in the mirror (you already know how strong it is).

If you didn’t Wild Growth, the turn 3 is going to be Shade of Naxxramas or Big Game Hunter. If you’re playing against deck which has no Big Game Hunter targets, or you can’t afford to lose even more tempo (because you for example Hero Powered on turn 2 already), you might drop him as a 4/2 minion. Not the best, but it might push for some damage or sometimes trade up. Shade of Naxxramas is much better. While it’s really slow, it’s like investing into your future – it’s only 3/3 on the turn you can attack with it, but 2 more turns and you have a 3 mana 5/5, which is great.

When it comes to turn 4, you have couple of possibilities. Against Aggro decks, sometimes a turn 4 swipe is great. If it’s gonna kill 3-4 minions, you should definitely go for it.  In some matchups, like Secret Paladin, you have to be pretty greedy with it. Don’t throw it on let’s say 2/2 and 1/1, because it might get much more value later. You need to determine if the Swipe is good in your current matchup or not – if yes, keep it, if not – go for it when you get a good opportunity. Another turn 4 reactive play is keeper-of-the-grove. It’s great when there is either a good Silence target (e.g. nerubian-egg, Mad Scientist) or a 2 health minion (e.g. Knife Juggler, King’s Elekk). One of the best cards in your deck against Aggro decks. Against Control, it usually won’t get value until later turns. But if you really don’t have another turn 4 play, you might consider using the 2 damage on enemy face and just playing him as a 2/4 minion. The most proactive and aggressive play you have is Piloted Shredder. Against Aggro, it’s not that good, but against slower decks it’s gonna push for a lot of damage and be pretty tricky to remove completely.

Your general early game plan is to curve out nicely. Against Aggro, you want to start removing their threats and playing defensively. Trading with your Shade and using Keeper of the Grove on 4 and typical plays against Aggro. And versus Control, you want to put the threats yourself and push your board presence. You don’t want to reveal the Shade and the best turn 4 minion is Piloted Shredder.

Mid Game

Your Mid Game game plan against Aggro decks is stabilizing. Turn 5 is where you can Taunt up. Druid of the Claw is insane against the Aggro. I mean, sometimes they have an easy way to get through it (e.g. Hunter’s Mark), but often it’s going to slow down the Aggro deck by a lot. Azure Drake is usually too slow as a turn 5 play vs Aggro, so drop him only if you don’t have any other option. It gains value, but the 4/4 body isn’t a great tempo play. You don’t worry about the value too much, because your deck is much slower than most of the Aggro ones. All you want is to survive. On turn 6, you might get some clears with force-of-nature. Your combo isn’t that important against Aggro, and if you can clear 2-3 minions with FoN, definitely go for it. Another turn 6 play is the Emperor Thaurissan. If you’re still at high enough health, it’s very nice thing to drop, because you force enemy to deal with it. Aggro decks might need to trade or use the burn to kill it and your next turns are still stronger. But since you don’t run a lot of 6-drop in this deck, turn 6 is often going to be something like 4-drop + 2-drop or another 5-drop. Innervate might help you to curve out into turn 7. Even though you waste 1 mana, if you don’t have any good play, getting out an Ancient of War or Ancient of Lore on turn 6 might be big.

Against Control Decks, you still want to push. You’re often gonna end up playing Druid of the Claw in Charge mode, just to get additional damage. Azure Drake is also a great turn 5 play. Even though it’s slow, enemy has to deal with it in some way, and you don’t lose any card for that. emperor-thaurissan is great against Control on turn 6, especially if you already have combo pieces in your hand. If you’re on the roll, you should have some board presence alongside him. Enemy is gonna be forced to remove it – and if he can’t, he’s in a really bad spot. Even if he does and you have something else on the board, you still are pushing damage and 1 discount is often enough of value from your Emperor. Try to not use Force of Nature as a removal, because against most Control decks you’re gonna need more damage than your minions can push by themselves. But if enemy is still at high health, drops a threat and you need to choose between using your minions and Force of Nature to clear it, you probably should go for the FoN. If he’s out of combo range yet, trading off your minions is a losing play, because you won’t be able to get him into the range anyway.

Your general mid game strategy is keeping the board control against Aggro and board presence against Control. Against fast decks, you’re gonna be forced to initiate the trades. Try to be efficient and let your minions stick on the board. On the other hand, against Control decks you want THEM to make the trades. But if you get a great trade opportunity, take it. You’re aiming for a longer game, so you don’t want to completely go for the tempo. Even though the tempo is most important against slow decks, some value is also fine.

If you didn’t use the Innervate yet, you might Innervate some of your late game minions on turn 5. All of them are really strong then. Also, if there are “holes” in your curve, you might want to fit them with your smaller stuff. For example, it’s very easy to float the mana on turn 6 if you don’t have Emperor in your hand. So you might go for the Piloted Shredder + Darnassus Aspirant or the Azure Drake + Living Roots. Remember that playing on the curve is still important.

Late Game

Against Aggro, you should have already stabilized or you’re just dead. If you survived until turn 7, you might consider using your ancient-of-lore to heal. If your hand size or quality is bad, drawing is much better. However, if you’ve already stabilized, your hand is good enough, but you’re nearly dead, the 5 health might save you. Another turn 7 play is dr-boom, which is great if you’re pushing against Aggro, because almost no fast deck runs big-game-hunter. The Boom Bots are also gonna get immense value against low health minions Aggro decks tend to run. The problem with Dr. Boom is that he makes no instant board impact, so if you’re behind on the tempo enemy might just ignore it and rush you down. At this point, you should combine the plays from earlier turns. For example, on turn 9 try to drop 4 drop + 5 drop if you can. Also, Hero Powering is really important. Every single point of Armor may matter, especially against Hunter, which has infinite source of damage with the Hero Power. Using Shapeshift three times against Hunter might sometimes give you two additional turns! While the combo is more important in Control Matchups, Aggro decks often run no defensive cards. They usually don’t have Taunts or ways to heal. It means that if you push a little damage in the mid game, you might usually finish them off with combo on turn 9. It means that surviving until turn 9 is your highest priority. Then, with some damage already dealt and/or some minion presence you should be able to seal the game.

Against Control decks, it’s much more tricky. In perfect world, you got a big enough push to kill them on turn 9 with combo (or even on turn 7 with Innervate + combo). It, however, doesn’t always happen. You often don’t draw into your combo, don’t have enough damage or enemy has Taunted up. If you need the combo, try to stop your push a little and play a slower game. Still put the threats on the board, but trade a little and try to stall the game to draw into the combo. If enemy is low enough that you might kill him without it – definitely try to go for it. Sometimes just one part of the combo, or things like Druid of the Claw / Swipe might push for enough to kill your opponent. Ancient of Lore is absolutely best card in the late game, because not only it puts a threatening body on the board, but also it draws you 2 cards – gives more options, puts you closer to drawing combo. Azure Drake is the second best topdeck most of time. Just like Ancient of Lore it puts a minion on the board without expending the card and cycles through the deck. Dr. Boom is another great late game play. Enemy used most of his removals earlier, on your mid game threats. If he has no Big Game Hunter, Dr. Boom may win you the game just like that. Enemy Control Deck should be stabilizing and putting their own threats, but you can afford to play a little into the late game. While your threats can’t really outvalue stuff like Ysera, you should have the tempo advantage. As long as you have the board presence, enemy is forced to deal with your minions, making his turns much weaker. Only when enemy clears your whole board and you don’t have any big stuff to put there, you probably lost the game. Even though the TGT made your early game much more consistent, it also introduced some very bad topdecks. Before TGT, only thing that was really, really bad to get in the late game was Innervate (and even it sometimes allowed you to cast the double combo). Now getting the Living Roots or Darnassus Aspirant when you’re in topdeck mode is also devastating.

While your deck has some late game potential, you’re not gonna last through the long game. With enough card draw and pressure, you might play a pretty long game, but almost any Control deck is gonna outlast you anyway. Remember to calculate your damage every turn if you have the combo in your hand. The base is 14 damage, and you add +2 for every minion on your side of the board (plus minion’s damage, obviously). Even with one or two minions on the board, you might easily deal over 20 damage. Don’t miss lethal because you didn’t expect that you can do so much damage. Missing lethal against Control deck can be easily punished, if he kills one of your minions, gains some life or Armors up, he can suddenly get out of lethal range.

Win Conditions

The Midrange Druid doesn’t have many ways to close the game. The deck might sometimes amass board presence strong enough to kill enemy without combo. However, it’s still your main win condition in most of the matchups, so keep that in mind.

  • Ramping up. While not exactly the win condition, it’s what can win you a game. If you get a Wild Growth on turn 2, Innervate the Emperor Thaurissan on turn 3 and then get Azure Drake or Ancient of Lore to refill your hand  – you’re gonna leave enemy so far behind that he has no way to catch up. It’s almost impossible to deal with threats that are 2-3 turns ahead.
  • Mid game push. Sometimes, you might win the game by sheer mid game aggression. Midrange Druid has really strong turns 4 to 7. If you play a big threat every turn and enemy doesn’t have enough answers, you might win the game before you even have an opportunity to play your combo.
  • Force of Nature + Savage Roar. It’s your main win condition in most of matchups. If you didn’t finish the enemy with a mid game push, you could still deal enough damage to kill him with your combo. 14 damage from empty board, 20+ damage with some board presence – it’s hard to survive that if you’ve been under the pressure for the whole game.

Closing

Midrange Druid is a strong deck that we can definitely recommend for novice players. It doesn’t require too much decision making, and playing it is pretty easy. It’s not the strongest deck in the current meta, but with proper tech cards is might beat every deck on the ladder.

If you like playing a proactive deck, dictating the tempo of the game and finishing most of the games in explosive style – Midrange Druid is gonna be a good deck for you. If you want to read more about the complex tactics, alternate & tech cards, matchups and mulligans – check out other parts of the guide! Feel free to ask any questions concerning the guide or the deck in the comment section below.