When playing on ladder you always need to have a game plan. You want to know how to face the matchups that you are great against, and you want to know how to face the matchups that aren’t so great. There is always something to learn whether you win or lose, and every matchup, no matter how tough, is winnable. Going off of that theme, this guide will analyze Aggro Druid, and then study how to pilot it during its hardest matchup: Control Warrior.
Every deck in Hearthstone is going to be different from person to person. Each deck has its “core” cards that you need to pilot it. However, never be afraid to tweak a card here and there. Many cards in Aggro Druid are there because they have to be. There is no substitute for the combo, and you cannot run the deck without the power of Fel Reaver or Druid of the Claw. Even so, there are a good amount of flex spots. Always adapt your list to best fit your style and to battle the decks you are seeing the most. To give you an idea of the template you should work off of, two Aggro Druid lists have been linked below.
When playing against Control Warrior you want to start out as fast as you can. Slipping up is not really an option against today’s super armor Garrosh. That means you want to mulligan hard for your one and two drops. This will allow you to build a very fast curve and force their removal out earlier than they would like. The other rule to remember is that both Darnassus Aspirant and Innervate will alter the cards you keep. Always play to your ramp, even if the other cards in your hand don’t fit a traditional 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 is one of your best early options. It should be kept if you have the coin, ramp or a good curve.
How to Win
Control Warrior, once a tempo-ish control deck playing to their finishing combo, is now a deck that has evolved to be all about armor. Most Warrior decks these days are built with fatigue in mind, and they have a ton of tools to carry out that game plan. As an aggro deck who is built around killing people very quickly, that’s not great news for you. However, there are also ways around it.
Sticky minions are the key to this matchup. Almost all of Warriors removal is built to kill something once, and they do not do well when something comes back from the dead or leaves a minion behind. Piloted Shredder is the best card you have in this matchup for this reason, but also be aware of your stealth minions.
Warrior only has one way (Brawl) to interact with Druid of the Saber or Shade of Naxxramas. Each of those cards allow you to play a threat that is almost always going to be able to hit face. That pressure can force Warrior into some very bad situations, such as forcing them to make defensive plays they don’t want to make. In addition, they can be a great way to bait out a Brawl if you want to try and flood in the board in future turns.
Another important part of this game is tracking Warrior’s removal. Execute and Shield Slam are their “big” removal spells, while Fiery War Axe, Death’s Bite and Bash are for the early game. They only have so many of those, and chances are they won’t have all of them at the same time. Try and bait out their premium removal before dropping your huge threats. An example of this is playing Druid of the Claw on turn five to eat a Shield Slam, which then lets you play your Fel Reaver on turn six.
The final rule of playing this matchup is to never forget what you are. While you may get something to stick here and there, and in some games you might even build up your early pressure to critical mass, you are going to primarily win with the Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo. It is the best tool against Warrior since they cannot react to it. Getting them into range is not an easy task, but that is the way you want to end this.
Early Game Strategy
The first turns of the game are fairly quick and fairly easy. Aggro Druid is a deck that wants to get board control straight out of the gate and then build on that with pressure and bigger and bigger threats. While many classes threaten this with a slew of different minions, Control Warrior primarily relies on removal to carry them into turn four.
Fiery War Axe is an annoying card but it is not something you can play around. The same goes for Bash. You are going to stick to your guns here, doing your best to put and keep things onto the board. Yes, it is unfortunate when they remove your Darnassus Aspirant, but that does cost them two life. Play your next minion and plan for their other removal.
Cruel Taskmaster is still played in some Warrior lists. As such, if you can drop something down that has more than one health you should. Their only other two early minions are Armorsmith and Acolyte of Pain[/card]. Both of them should be killed but not traded into. That means you want to remove them if you can (Wrath works really well for that) but you don’t want to lose too many minions in the process.
Get Shade of Naxxramas down as soon as you can. This is a key card in pressing for lethal or killing a problem minion. You want it to grow as big as possible, and playing it early is the only way to do that.
The middle of the game is where your large minions and their premium removal comes into play. Druid of the Claw and Fel Reaver are two of your best threats and way to push through the most damage. However, they almost always get killed on sight. If they don’t die you will be ahead, but you mainly want to play them in a way where Warrior has to spend their good kill spells to get rid of them.
On the subject of removal, if Warrior does not have a weapon, you should try to get Execute or Shield Slam to hit one of your smaller threats like Piloted Shredder or Savage Combatant. This will put a lot of strain on them later on when your huge threats come to town.
During these turns you want to be aware of when to unstealth your Shade of Naxxramas. Most of the time Brawl will kill the shade, which means you don’t want to keep it stealthed too long (unless you are trying to bait a Brawl). You mostly will use it to just hit face hard, but it is also a great tool to knock out a Sludge Belcher or the like. Just try and think of when Warrior is setting up a Brawl and get some damage in before that happens.
Your big minions can do some real damage, but Justicar Trueheart is your biggest threat. If they get her down during these turns you need to turn up the heat fast. Justicar will pull them right out of the game. This means you want to start racing to the finisher faster than you normally would, even if that means charging a Druid of the Claw instead of taunting it. Know when you need to crank up the pressure and when you need to build up a board.
Late Game Strategy
This game is almost always going to come to an end around turns nine or ten. This is either where Warrior pulls away through Alexstrasza, board control or armor, or when they die to Savage Roar, direct damage or a hoard of small creatures.
As stated, you are playing to the combo. That plan becomes more and more apparent as you get closer to turn nine. If you know you want to kill them on nine, try your best to set it up on turn eight with a stealthed or sticky minion. Two turn lethals are very possible in a deck like this, and you should always look for them. Many games it is right to Swipe face, but only if you have a guaranteed lethal the following turn.
If the game is going longer, do everything you can to keep them within combo range. You are going to lose the card battle in the long game, which means each turn that goes by is worse for you. A certain point comes where you need to ignore the board and just go face hard. Recognize that turning point as it will be your only chance in the very late stages.
Never be afraid to double combo in this matchup. Warrior has an almost endless supply of life, and you never want to wait around for them to armor out of range. The first combo might just bring them in range of the second, or it might be to clear the board while also getting some extra hits in. Either way, you never want to be idle here.