Midrange Beast Druid ft. Deathwing: Cataclysm in the Menagerie

One of the biggest problems Beast Druid has right now is consistency when games are drawn out, you are just not able to grind out games for too long. People are going in for all out aggression because of this and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have always liked mid range builds […]

One of the biggest problems Beast Druid has right now is consistency when games are drawn out, you are just not able to grind out games for too long. People are going in for all out aggression because of this and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have always liked mid range builds a lot more than pure aggressive play styles since the Whispers of the Old Gods meta for classes like Druid, Shaman and Hunter where your comeback mechanisms aren’t all that great. I was trying out the aggro build a lot but I wasn’t able to get those wins where I fell behind. I chose to cut off all the 3 drops and went in for the trusty Wild Growth and Violet Teacher mid range build with some late game to boot.

This build that I am presenting to you was tested on EU’s Legend ladder where I had a score of 58-29 which amounts to a 67% win rate in almost 90 games. My highest rank so far was 465 with the deck and I am sure I can aim higher with it. It has been performing quite well for me and I hope you’ll love it too.

The deck does have a lot less beasts than the traditional Beast Druid variants but you do have a lot of stay power and you can get to your lategame quite efficiently. Violet Teacher is a lot better than Savage Combatant in my books because the tokens can help you clear off small minions and keep your health pool safe enough. You have consistent draw in form of Wrath, Azure Drake and The Curator. The Curator is a perfect card for this deck because it feels like it’s filling in the role of Ancient of Lore just like the old Druid days which was a powerhouse by itself.

The deck includes 3 dragons in form of 2x Azure Drake and Deathwing. While Azure Drakes are staples in most mid range decks and Onyxia has been getting quite popular in Token Druid decks, Deathwing is a dragon you do not see often in Druid. One of the biggest issues Druid has in the meta is that they do not have sufficient comeback mechanisms in the lategame. While you can easily deal with minions in the early game with Wrath, Roots and Swipe you just do not have efficient means of dealing with things like Call of the Wild or flooded Token Druid boards. It has never disappointed me and I’ve loved the inclusion of the card.

Mid Range Beast Druid versus Aggro Beast Druid

Many of you might want to go for a faster play style and prefer the aggressive variants that people are running but truth be told it’s kind of risky with so many classes that can drag you to their lategame where it gets difficult to win. Aggressive lineups are also low on card draw and you might not be able to gain back tempo if you fall back. While most of the cards between both the variants remain the same the focus on card draw and Wild Growth makes mid range builds a bit more consistent when facing other slower or mid range decks. Some of the noticeable exclusions in the deck are Druid of the Flame and Mounted Raptor. While these are good cards in aggressive lineups, if  you go back to the old days of combo Druid or mid range Druid you will realize that the decks hardly ran 3 drops and when the meta sped up in the Secret Paladin meta people had one Shade of Naxxramas or a Mind Control Tech thrown in at best. Since you are focusing on your 4 drops like Fandral Staghelm and Violet teacher the most and more often than not you want to ramp to your bigger drops, it is advisable to remove the 3 drops completely.

Now while the Mid Range Druid build can create a lot of pressure, I’ve noticed that many people have just cut out Savage Roar completely which isn’t too reasonable. If you keep playing minion after minion you will get overwhelmed at some point versus classes like Hunter or Warrior because their late game drops are a lot better and you can’t just keep adding big minions to compete without sacrificing your early game. You want games to finish fast and since you have the Token synergy going in the deck you should run Savage Roar in every beast build regardless of whether it’s Aggro or Mid Range.

Card Choices

When building this list I wanted to skip the 3 drops completely because of the age old problem Mid Range Druid always had. You just do not want them if you are looking forward to use Wild Growth on curve and get to your 4 drops or simply use removals on minions until you can drop your high value mid game threats.

Innervate: One of the best cards in the game and you can cheese out wins quite easily using the card simply through absurd turns. It’s an auto keep in most games and you can win on the back of the card quite often if your swing turns go unanswered.

Enchanted Raven: One of the cards that is quite polarizing to me. I sure like the card and it has a lot of synergies in the deck. What I don’t like is how awkward it is when you are going second and your opponent starts with a high threat one drop like Tunnel Trogg or Mana Wyrm which can most likely kill your Raven and you fall behind. It is a minion that performs a lot better if you are going first and it deals with most early game threats including Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem if you manage to combo it with Mark of Y’shaarj.

Living Roots: Easily one of the best early game removal threats and it also has great synergy with a ton of cards in the deck including Violet Teacher, Azure Drake, Fandral and Power of the Wild. I will discuss potential weaknesses cards of the card in mirrors and specific matchups later in a special tips section so you can get the best use out of the card.

mark-of-yshaarj: One of tools that beast Druid needed and the fact that you now have Raven on turn 1, makes this card a whole lot better. Do not shy away from using the buff on non Beast minions to get crucial trades out because getting ahead on tempo with the deck is all that matters.

Power of the Wild: It is a very flexible card and it not only helps you buff up tokens but also the Panther you can make is a beast as well. I generally use it for the buff effect but playing it on turn 2 as a minion is fine as well to avoid falling back versus fast decks.

Wild Growth: I love the card in this build because it helps you get to your expensive threats quickly and allows you to build pressure by losing some early game tempo. Ramp tools in the deck can quickly snowball the pressure on your opponent and there have been quite a few occasions I have been able to win through ramping into big threats alone.

Wrath: It’s a flexible removal that you can use to clear off threats or simply used to cycle for quick draws. It’s a great tool to remove early game threats and start curving out to your 4 drops and beyond.

Savage Roar: It is a card that you just need to include for closing out games. You cannot grind the long game too much with the deck since more often than not you will not be able to constantly deal with big threats or survive versus aggro if they are slowly creeping up against you on board. You can use it for trading up with bigger stuff or ending games out of nowhere. The burst potential of the deck is quite high if you get the Violet Teacher engine going. Sometimes you can take advantage of your Tigers and Druid of the Claws to burst down your opponent by setting up combos.

Fandral Staghelm: Probably my favorite class legendary in Whispers of the Old God, you have synergy with Living Roots, Power of the Wild, Wrath and Druid of the Claw. While the level of synergy for Fandral might not be as high as the insane potential he has in Token Druid it still is a solid choice for this deck nonetheless.

Swipe: Classic Druid bread and butter AoE. It’s great in matchups versus aggressive decks and with Azure Drake at your disposal and your Violet Teacher tokens to take care of the board once you play the spell, it’s a good tool to have in the deck – or any Druid deck for that matter.

Violet Teacher: The Violet Teacher – Azure Drake pair is seen in nearly every Rogue deck and it’s slowly becoming a staple card of choice for Miracle Druid, Token Druid and Beast Druid. The card has lots of synergy because of your cheap spells and the ability to clear out aggressive boards as well as blow out your opponent with Savage Roar or Power of the Wild on multiple tokens.

Azure Drake: One of most reliable 5 drops in the game and arguably the best neutral Rare in the Classic Set. Outside of The Curator and the slightly situational draw Mark of Y’shaarj can provide you, it’s one of your draw mechanisms and allows you to get to your lategame or keep the pressure going with your mid range minions going.

Druid of the Claw: It is one of the most reliable Druid minions and the level of flexibility it offers is quite good. You can choose to get aggressive or defensive with it depending on how your game is progressing. Planning out your turns is highly essential with the card and if you see lethal in a specific number of turns then you should always opt in to charge it to your opponent’s face.

Stranglethorn Tiger: One of the primary reasons to include the card is to get value out of Menagerie Warden on curve. The card is quite good on its own and allows you to trade quite well. It also ensures that you get value out of your Warden and prevents opponents from dealing with it except with few specific class cards that not everyone has access to like Deadly Shot or Brawl.

Menagerie Warden: The card that everyone thought would be downright broken. I was skeptical about the card, I know it is an extremely powerful card but this card alone won’t be pushing Druid beast decks to the top tier anytime soon. It will take time to find the right level of balance of aggression and late game to maximize the potential of this card. Druid of the Claw and Stranglethorn Tiger are your best bets when it comes to taking advantage of the card but if you are behind then do not wait for greedy turns, instead, just drop the minion as a 6 mana 5/5 to avoid falling back even further. Also, do note that the card copies the beasts with all of the text including buffs and damage so if you have buffed up beasts, they will be copied exactly the way they are on the board.

The Curator: The Curator is mostly in the deck to get to Azure Drake, Deathwing and to your beasts. It will draw you two cards more often than not which is quite good and it works like a better Ancient of Lore. The card is really cool and is one of the better legendaries in the adventure for sure.

Deathwing: I AM POWER INCARNATE! The number of wins Deathwing has handed me out of nowhere is beyond measure. One of the reasons I included the card is Call of the Wild and the dominance of Hunter. It helps me deal with nearly everything in the lategame and very few players have been able to answer it effectively. It has won be games versus Zoo, It has won me games versus mid range Shaman and you can see for yourself how good the winrates have been for me in the matchups section later in the article.

Deckbuilding Thoughts and Card Replacements

The Curator and Deathwing

If you want to make a mid range Druid deck but you do not want to run Curator and Deathwing you can always go in for 1 Ancient of War and ragnaros-the-firelord or any other lategame threat you have. It should work fine for you. If you want to cut Deathwing only then you can try out Onyxia.

Violet Teacher vs Savage Combatant

Sometimes Savage Combatant can snowball hard and keep pushing out damage but I feel the minion is kind of brittle and too easy to deal with, and sometimes it’s just too slow. The card does have the added advantage of having the beast tag on it and has synergies but I cut it out after trying in favor of Savage Roar.

Fandral Staghelm

Fandral is one of the replaceable cards in the deck and you can choose to run a variety of cards over him including Raven Idol, Mulch, Savage Combatant or an Ancient of War.

How to play – Mulligans and Tips

One of the toughest things in Druid decks that have Wild Growth and Innervate is that you tend to play cards quicker and end up emptying your hand real quick. You might want to be slightly conservative with this deck because it’s not a very top heavy deck. An all out Innervate into Tiger on Turn 1 might be really cool and you might win on the back of it but a Power Overwhelming or a Blood to Ichor and Execute combo can stop the tempo advantage right there once you go out of Stealth.

Mulligans: The key cards you are looking for are:

  • Enchanted Raven: Keep Mark of Y’shaarj if you have both in hand
  • Living Roots: You want to keep it in most matchups due to the high utility it offers
  • Innervate: Always keep a 4 drop if you have Innervate and if you have Power of the Wild as well, keep it.
  • Wild Growth, always!
  • Wrath

Specific Matchup Tips

  • Never play Living Roots as saplings versus Mage, they have too many 2 health targets and you might not be able to deal with them if they play Mirror Image. I’d rather save it to deal with their threats by forgoing the early game board presence.
  • Living Roots on Coin is not too good in the mirror matchups and versus Rogue. However, if you face too many Beast Druids then it’s a good keep to deal with Enchanted Raven.
  • Plan out your turns. You might have a turn 1 Fandral Staghelm or Violet Teacher but if you do not have anything in hand to take advantage of it, it might not be worth it and you should hold on to your cards for more impactful turns.
  • When innervating out big drops, think of possible removals that can deal with them and what your follow ups are.
  • If you see yourself smoothly curving into Stranglethorn Tiger into Menagerie Warden, it’s worth keeping them. This is if you have Wrath, Wild Growth and Coin or similar combinations. It also depends on the matchups as well; you can be greedy versus slower decks.

Matchup analysis

For the matchup analysis I will be using my own stats and you can check them out too in the image which has the number of matches played and the win and loss records versus each class. I had a 67% winrate on the Legend ladder with my highest rank peaking at 465. First I will quickly translate some of the numbers to rough percentages so you have a better idea.

Druid: 5-1 or 83%+

Hunter: 10-1 or 90%+

Mage: 7-3 or 70%

Paladin: 4-1 or 80%

Priest: 0-0 N/A

Rogue: 3-2 60%

Shaman: 10-7 or 58%+

Warlock: 9-3 or 75%

Warrior: 10-11 or 48%+

The deck does surprisingly well versus Shaman although I do admit I have been getting Innervate quite often in the early game for some insane turns with Fandral or Violet Teacher. Warrior is a concerning matchup and I’ve been mostly facing Dragon Warriors who just seem to outpace you more often than not. Faerie Dragon is also a concerning minion in the matchup because you cannot target it with spells and they go out of their way to protect it because they know it can push in quite a bit of chip damage and then drop a Drakonid Crusher which you almost always lose to if you are too far behind or end up spending too many resources to deal with it. I haven’t been facing Priest a lot on legend ladder and I faced none at all with this deck so I don’t have stats for the matchup.

The future of Beast Druid

While the deck has performed admirably for me, I feel there is room for some fine tuning and I’d love to make changes to boost the consistency versus decks like Dragon Warrior and Control Warrior which haven’t been the best for me. I hope the deck continues to perform well when the meta stabilizes and dominates ladder. Menagerie Warden might not be the most fun and interactive card in the game when you combo it with things like Stranglethorn Tiger but unfair cards are the ones that see play and it’s good to see Beast Druid coming out of the shadows and making an impact. Token Druid has become a lot more powerful thanks to Arcane Giant and their ability to perform well in most matchups through their ramp tools and crazy Fandral turns. I am inclined to believe that Token Druid will have the edge over Beast due to how consistent it is. If Beast Druid gets some late game beasts like Malorne, whih would actually be good in the meta right now considering the lack of Big Game Hunter or silence in general. Cards like Cairne Bloodhoof and Onyxia that were deemed to be too slow see play and there is no reason why late game beast Druid cards won’t see play either and it might get the deck to fire on all fronts!