The Druid class has always been a consistent performer in Hearthstone. After enjoying a reign as one of the top classes in tournament play in the summer of 2014, it’s remained a consistent performer with solid strategies against all other classes.
One of the most popular brews of Druid has been the “fast Druid,” a deck which relies on cards like Wild Growth and Innervate to push out four or five cost minions earlier before using the Force of Nature and Savage Roar combination to burst your opponent down.
With the release of Goblins vs Gnomes, this deck has seen some tweaks and additions, but none as dramatic as the new variation created by Daniel “DTwo” Ikuta of Team IHearthU. Making liberal use of the new mech cards added in the expansion while retaining much of what made the deck popular in the first place, the deck represents a viable option somewhere between rush and control.
We spoke to Ikuta about the deck in depth, about what makes the deck good for the meta and why he made some of the changes that he did.
Climbing the ranks
“For ladder, you need your decks to either be not horrible against every deck or really good against a few meta decks—and hopefully both. Current midrange Paladin comes to mind as an example of that. This Druid is good against most control decks while competing pretty well against midrange decks, as well as doing relatively well against aggro compared to other midrange Druids.
A lot of the time midrange Druid just gets behind on tempo to aggro decks because there aren’t many low cost minions, and they don’t have the removal to catch up. If you put in smaller minions, it falls apart against control because you don’t have any sustain. The two Mech Warpers, along with the normal ramp, give it just enough consistency to deal with aggro, but they also scale relatively well into the late game if you have your mechs in hand.”
Say goodbye to spiders
“Something like a Haunted Creeper can be ignored, while a Mech Warper can’t. Haunted Creepers are decent at providing something sticky, but don’t do enough aggressively or defensively in my opinion. If you’re trying to push damage, one per turn isn’t very much.
“This deck can easily get any pro level player to legendary.”
“If you’re playing defensively, a lot of times you can’t kill anything with the first body and the tokens aren’t as useful as they are in decks like Zoo or Shaman. A lot of times the opponent will go out of their way, sacrificing whatever play they were going to make, in order to kill the Mech Warper. For good reason, because getting a minion out a turn in early can be devastating—particularly in this deck, where all the mechs are efficient. There aren’t any Annoy-o-Trons or anything.”
No room for Golems
“Harvest Golem is decent, but the three attack from Spider Tank is usually necessary to trade and it’s particularly useful against three mana minions.
Harvest Golem is a bit strange, because it can be seen as either a 4/4 or even like a 2/5, but in most matchups it’s a 2/4 which is significantly weaker than the Spider Tank. Shade of Naxxramus is also gone from the deck, but they probably would be included if they were mechs. Having the extra synergy with Mech Warpers gives Spider Tank the edge. With the Tanks you get good trades immediately with aggro and four health is very difficult for most classes to deal with on turn three.
I didn’t include Tanks and Golems or Shades because, if you get Wild Growth, your next play is a four-drop. Instead, I wanted to maximise that potential. I took out two five-drops (either Sludge Belcher or Spectral Knight, depending on the deck) and put in two mech four-drops that are really good on turn four or sooner. There are still enough five-drops to curve really well coming off a Wild Growth.”
The Paladin problem
“With post-Goblins vs. Gnomes Paladin, you basically have to out tempo it. It’s kind of a bad matchup, but your Mech Warpers will be hard for them to deal with unless they had an insane start. Zombie Chow into Coin into Muster for Battle, or something. They can Aldor Peacekeeper your minions which is annoying, but if you can get enough minions out that don’t die to Truesilver Champion, you can push for damage before they can recover. If they do have early minions to keep up, they’re going to run out of cards quicker than you because the Druid minions are more efficient.
“For ladder, you need your decks to either be not horrible against every deck or really good against a few meta decks—and hopefully both.”
That being said, if they are ever able to use the Muster for Battle and Quartermaster combo you lose the game. Keeping a Swipe in your opening hand is worthwhile in this matchup for that alone. In the later game, try not to give them the breathing room to play Lay on Hands or Tirion unpunished.”
Stopping aggro in its tracks
“Against both Hunter and Zoo you should keep cards like Innervate, Wild Growth and Wrath in your opening hand as usual, but definitely try and get Mech Warper – as I said earlier, because they will have to stop rushing you to kill it. Spider Tank is nice too because it trades really well. The rest of your minions are all about getting value from trades. In a nutshell, you deal with these decks the same way Druid has always tried to deal with them, but now you have better options in the early game and your hand will be less clunky.”
The win condition
“Aside from the Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo, midrange Druid has always been able to to just push damage with its strong minions that are hard to kill for control decks. If you just stay aggressive with your minions, they will find themselves having to play around the combo and not able to get momentum. It usually puts them behind, and allows you to play your other threats like Dr Boom.
Dr Boom is really good, to the point where people have continued to play it despite there being so many Big Game Hunters on ladder. The bombs deal with the Big Game Hunter anyway, and it forces your opponent to use three mana on turn seven which gives them a really awkward turn. That said, the fact that pretty much every deck is running Big Game Hunter has meant Dr Boom loses a little bit of value in this deck as it is the only target.”
With post-Goblins vs. Gnomes Paladin, you basically have to out tempo it.
Sky’s the limit
“This deck can easily get any pro level player to legendary, maybe even high legendary ranks depending on the level of the player and the state of the meta at that level. Most relatively proficient players can get to legend with it as well. It’s just really simple to use, so basic Hearthstone instincts and solid decision making can get you up there.”
Photo via ESL/Flickr