Mirror matchups are going to happen with any popular deck in Hearthstone. They are also one of the best ways to fully understand the deck that you are playing. When you matchup against your own deck you start to understand its strengths, its weaknesses, and the different ways that it can react to certain situations. Knowing these are all part to mastering a deck. In this guide we are going to break down the mirror match between Aggro Druid vs. Aggro Druid to see what it can teach you about using the deck overall.
Aggro Druid is a list that has twenty or so cards you must play. However, even that gives you wiggle room to fine tune or tweak the deck as needed. One of the most important parts of playing any deck is to understand you don’t have to play the exact same list that someone else did. Yes, with Aggro Druid you are going to need the combo as well as your early pressure, but there are plenty of small changes you can make to better suit your style. To give you an idea of the base lists, which you can then alter, two decks have been linked below.
This is a quick game where the minions are fast, the board is flooded and the damage really starts to add up. Innervate and Darnassus Aspirant are by far the most important cards in the matchup. You need to get early pressure and board presence. Your sticky minions will be important for that, but powering out something huge is the best way to win. The only two things you care about when mulliganing are your turn one or two minions and ramp. Everything else is just about irrelevant. There are games where you can keep removal (such as Swipe) but never value that over an early curve.
Cards to KeepInnervate Leper Gnome Living Roots Knife Juggler Darnassus Aspirant Druid of the Saber
Shade of Naxxramas can be kept if you have a play before it or early ramp.
Swipe can be kept with the coin or a very strong opening, but you never want to value it over minions.
Piloted Shredder can be kept with the coin and a good curve.
Keeper of the Grove should be kept if you have the coin, ramp or a good curve.
How to Win
This matchup is a game of damage and pressure. Board control plays a big role in each of those, but the opening is very important. Hearthstone has largely shifted from a game of combo decks to a game of tempo. That tempo builds from placing down a minion, using it to trade and then moving to a bigger one next turn. Aggro Druid is predicated on that concept. Understanding this is absolutely fundamental to playing this matchup. You want to control the board at all costs, which will then enable you to set up large chunks of damage.
For all of you Hunter players out there, this should be played very similarly to how face vs. face goes. That means you want to try to find a balance between trading on board and hitting the face. Sometimes it is right to clear your opponent’s minion, but other times it doesn’t matter. The way you figure this out is by weighing how much damage an opponent’s minion can do versus how well it trades.
For instance, Knife Jugglers should be killed on sight, while you can often let a Keeper of the Grove or sapling live. However, this heavily depends on board states as well as life totals. You usually don’t want to Swipe a keeper, but if you have a bunch of small trades you should as a way to keep up the tempo. In addition, always be aware of your opponent’s Savage Roar. Trading is always the right play if you are in range of the three mana spell.
Early Game Strategy
This is a matchup centered around board control, and that begins on turn one. You need to do everything you can to make sure you don’t let that slip away. While you do not have that much removal, always make sure your trades count. Druid of the Saber is a great way to charge down early threats like Knife Juggler, while a ramped out Keeper of the Grove can pick off most of the small minions.
Innervate is the most powerful card Druid has, and that is even more true here. The mirror match is often going to be spent trading away most minions and getting in small hits in when you can. However, anytime you can play a trump card you should. Even innervating something like a Fel Reaver or Druid of the Claw one turn ahead of time can lead to a victory down the road.
The most important card in the first turns is Darnassus Aspirant. You want to play as aggressively as possible in order to make sure you have an answer to that card. A turn one Living Roots or coined Knife Juggler is always the right play because they trade with it. In the same vein, you should do everything you can to protect your own aspirant.
Finally, never be afraid to use Savage Roar to trade if you don’t have a good answer to something early on. That is how important getting ahead on board is. Being able to wipe away your opponent’s early minions with your face or by trading up can give you some key leverage.
The only real catch-up mechanism in this matchup is minion trading and direct damage, which makes the middle turns vitally important. In a lot of matchups the middle game is going to be spent trying to push damage through. Here it is going to be fighting for board.
Fel Reaver, Druid of the Claw and Piloted Shredder are the three biggest minions you can play during these turns. You want to get them down as soon as you can, because they are good catch-up mechanisms. Even if you are behind on board, putting down a big threat will most often force your opponent to trade since they cannot afford to take the hit.
You want to be ready for their big threats, and plan to remove them accordingly. Fel Reaver is the card that you absolutely need to kill, since taking a hit is almost always going to lead to a loss. However, you want to try and take as little damage as you can. The best way to do this is to pressure your opponent and force them to trade.
Always Swipe when you can. You want to try to play something every turn, but if you are ahead or need to take out a large minion, pull the trigger. You will only have one small window to play the removal, and once that’s over it will either be a tempo loss or sit dead in your hand.
Never forget these turns are going to be building to the combo. Druid of the Claw is your only taunt, which means every hit you take (or that you give your opponent) is going to bring you closer to fourteen. That is always the threshold. Stay above it at all costs.
Late Game Strategy
Both players are going to be pretty hurt heading into the final stages of the game. That means you need to very, very careful. However, your opponent needs to be very, very careful as well. The later turns of the game are going to be dominated by the combo; either bluffing it, trying to set it up or doing what you can to not die to it. Constantly keep track of your opponent’s potential damage and always be aware of what you can topdeck.
Dr. Boom follows the same rules of the other big minions. He is the mac-daddy of this matchup, and should be pushed out whenever you can. This goes for whether you are ahead on board or not. If you are not in immediate danger of dying, put him down.
Some games will not go your way and you will lose the board. If you do fall behind, you just need to do what you can to force as much damage through as possible. Damage is your only real catch-up option and you need to utilize it. Aggro Druid is a deck that is very good at keeping board. That means once you are behind, you most often won’t come back with minions. Rather, hit your opponent as much as you can (charging Druid of the Claw, doing two damage with Keeper of the Grove) to set up a come-from-behind combo.
Get in your Savage Roar‘s when you can. This is a matchup, like all board control based matchups, where you are most often not going to have a board for very long. If you have a chance to get in a huge chunk of damage with the roar, you should do so and save the second one for the combo.