Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first two episodes of this month to get caught up to speed.
Week three, and we are at quite the standstill. What I mean by that is the deck is very close to being done, with only a few minor tweaks being needed here and there. I am a huge fan of the curve and I really like all of the odd card choices. This has enough of a strong start to really get things going, but it also has the necessary late game push and large finishers to take over the game should things go long. A lot of the one-ofs are still doing their job quite well, and there are still enough early damage to control the board. The more I play this deck the more I realize how important controlling priority through the board is in today’s meta. Not only do a lot of popular decks like Hunter and Mage rely on their own tempo to win, but you need to get going quickly against control if you want to wear them down. Any midrange deck (which is what this is) needs a solid curve backed with real threats to take down the game, and I think this build does that quite well.
Where We Are Now
As mentioned, the deck is getting very close to the way that I want it. It sits in a very interesting place and fills the same space as Midrange Shaman. What I mean by that is you have your early minions building into some larger threats all tied together by a big finisher. However, in this deck you have a couple finishers (beyond your tempo) and they all carry you through in different situations. In a lot of ways this deck is a facade. You act like a honest midrange list that suddenly has some huge “you’re dead” spell or minion out of nowhere. That surprise in invaluable and really gives the deck some extra punch that is desperately needed.
In terms of finishers, N’zoth,the Corruptor has been an absolute all-star so far and is one of the strongest cards in the deck. I even tried cutting him for a short while, but there was just no way I could justify it. What N’zoth does, besides stretching out the curve, is that he allows you a way to win when all hope is lost. I think that is very important to have in the current meta and something that every midrange list needs from time to time. I would say this card works a lot like Call of the Wild where, even when you are out of cards, you are always one draw away from taking over.
Though it feels underwhelming, I have decided to go with Darnsassus Aspirant over Huge Toad. I am still not sure if this is the right move, but the 2/3 is so much more resilient than the 3/2 and comes with a relevant ability. While losing two deathrattles does make N’zoth worse, it doesn’t matter all that much in the long run. Darnassus does die to a lot of popular openings, but I do want the two spot to have an impact and come with deathratte. As a result, I’m taking the extra health. However, Loot Hoarder is worth considering as well.
This section will help to explain why certain cards are in the list, what I think about them, and how they’ve performed so far.
I have mentioned Living Roots more than a few times, and upon testing it I decided it was too good to ever be cut (especially with the inclusion of Fandral Staghelm. As it stands, I would say roots is one of the best cards in the meta. What this card represents is something that is very hard to come by, which is both board presence and damage. Just about every single deck in the current meta depends on having an early minion to control the first turns. This card shuts down all of those openings by giving you a way to pick off things like King’s Elekk and Flame Imp while also being able to stop multiple one drop stars like Argent Squire/Possessed Villager. Even if your opponent has no early minion, it is still two damage a turn that you can build off of.
In that way, Living Roots is both proactive and reactive. You can play it as two minions on turn one, or you can sit back and use it as removal should your opponent come out of the gates first. The fact that it is one damage also slots nicely into your curve and helps you play it with a lot of flexibility. For all of those reasons this works as an early game tool that is much stronger than Huge Toad was. In addition, while you are not an inherently an aggressive deck, the fact that this card goes face can also help you out a lot when pushing for damage. There are many game where you need a little bit more damage to seal the deal, and roots does that while also opening up your mana so that you can combo it with other quick hits.
Druid of the Saber
A card that I have skipped over in the past two weeks, Druid of the Saber is a very strong two drop that plays a very essential role in this deck. Cards that can play two roles are always very strong, and this one suits both modes you are going for. It can be used as an early two drop that helps cements the board and gives you a body that is guaranteed to stick, but it also works as a removal spell and a quick way to hit for two damage. A lot of decks these days (especially Shaman and Mage) depend on getting in a lot of hits of damage with their one or two drop that they can back up with spells. For instance, playing a Tunnel Trogg and then backing it up with a Lightning Bolt or a Rockbiter Weapon. Druid stops those plays from happening and gives you a strong way to trade in early. This then usually sets up your strong turn three, which you can then build from. However, if you have a lot of damage in hand you should not be afraid to drop this and just hit your opponent’s face during the middle stages of the game.
At this point, you had to see this one coming. After a lot of thinking and some rigorous testing, I figured that this card just seems better than The Black Knight. I suppose that is still up for some debate, but having the ability to kill any minion is much better than one with taunt. I think if this build were more aggro-focused the knight would have this spot, but this deck wants to be able to play the late and midrange game. As a result, a catch-all type of card is much better. There are a lot of taunt minions in the meta, but there are even bigger minions running around. Most notable are Ragnaros the Firelord and Grommash Hellscream, but things like Flamewreathed Faceless and Sea Giant can also give you a lot of trouble. You need some flexibility when dealing with those threats and this does a great job of that.
The other important part of Mulch is that it costs three mana. Yes, it does not put a body on the board, but the fact that it can be used with other plays so easily really helps you both remove something and add to the board. It is not wrapped up into one easy 4/5 package, but you are almost always going to have some extra things to do. In addition, you can use this on turn three, four or five. That can be a really big deal when going up against Shaman’s super curve or when fighting Druid who has an early Innervate. You do not want two bogging down your early draws, but one fits really nicely into this deck’s tempo-oriented style.
Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. While I had speculation that Fandral Staghelm would be able to do some serious work in this newest version of the list, I honestly had no idea just how good the 3/5 would be. Not only does he have one of the strongest abilities in the game, but he also slots into the curve and has a strong body that is pretty tricky to remove. Like Brann Bronzebeard, Fandral needs to die immediately or the game rapidly slips out of control. That is really good because it enables you to also use the 3/5 as a tempo card when you want to move into the next turn. For example, if you run the 3/5 into an empty board your opponent has to spend their turn removing it instead of playing a minion. Then, you get free reign to play a five drop. If they don’t remove it, then you can also punish them with a 4/6 charging Druid of the Claw or the like. That type of power is very strong and gives you yet another premium threat to add to your arsenal.
As with many cards that have incredibly strong abilities, it can be easy to get caught up in a card and try to get as much value out of it as possible. However, you don’t always need to make that happen. Getting to play Fandral with just one Wrath, Druid of the Saber, or Living Roots may not feel exciting, but it is often more than enough value to justify using him. You do not need a big turn where you play ten “choose one” cards and fill up the board with threats. He is simply a value card, and you should use him as such. Doing anything more than that comes as a bonus. Remember that you are a tempo deck that wants bodies more than anything else. Playing a 3/5 is usually much better than doing nothing. The only exception is if you have the tools to go big with Fandral and you are saving up.
I may have ignored it for a long time, but card draw was just too much of a problem in this deck. I needed ways to keep my cards fluid that also helped with the later curve. As a result, I turned to Azure Drake. The drake has always been good in Druid because of its ability to buff Living Roots, Wrath and Swipe, but the card draw is much more important in this list. In fact, it is so good that I really want to find a way to slot a second one in. Right now the deck feels very tight, which makes it hard to figure out how to cut any one card. One drake has been working fine, but I can’t help but feel two would probably be right. However, I would have to cut the curve in order to that, and that’s not really an option.
This card took the slot of Stampeding Kodo. While that may seem ambitious, I made the switch and have not looked back since. A few weeks ago Kodo was one of the best tech-cards in the game, killing a whole slew of minions from Bloodhoof Brave to Flamewaker. Since then, the meta has shifted away from the smaller minions and there are less juicy targets to hit. While Kodo still does a great job against a lot of premium cards (a reason I decided to keep one around) having that extra card is extremely strong. You always want to do your best to add to the board, but you also need to keep digging through your deck to get closer and closer to your finishers. N’zoth and Ragnaros are the way you win a lot of your games, so you want to get to them as soon as possible. The fact that you also get a beefy minion with spell power is simply icing on the cake.
Week 3 Thoughts
So far, I have had a very hard time nailing down this meta, and I think it’s because every good deck feels unfair. What I mean by that is every deck in the game has some giant “beat this” trump card that instantly swings the game in their favor. Yogg is the most noticeable, but just about every deck has a Call of the Wild or Deathwing-like card just waiting in the wings. We have the same in N’zoth, but it is not quite the same. You need to be more aggressive in a lot of games to nullify those trump cards. For that reason, I do wonder what an aggro version of this list would look like.
A big shape up that came from Blizzard out of nowhere is that Sithlid Swarmer is now a beast. I have longed talked about the importance of three drops in Druid. The reason they matter more for Malfurion is because you can instantly get to three turn one with an Innervate. That opening does not happen a lot, but it does so enough you should consider it. This list already has four very solid three drops, but the 3/5 is definitely worth testing.
Mulch has been ok, but I am not sure how important it is going forward. The removal is very nice, especially because it costs three. However, it still doesn’t feel all that great and I’d rather be removing something and adding to the board a la Stampeding Kodo. I will probably keep it in for now because of how strong it has been against the big minion meta, but I think there could be more options. Making the deck more aggressive could solve that problem since you could kill your opponent before the big minions drop.
The final note is I may go to two Savage Roars or none at all. One has been very nice, but there are some games where I want the second to act as an aggro deck and there are some games where I take it slow and wait until N’zoth comes down. That has me caught in the middle. The extra burst may be good, but I think I may want to pick a side depending on the decks I see the more I rise in rank.
Another week, another rank. Though we are not quite grinding at the rapid pace that I want, I think the deck really is starting to come together. We still have nearly twenty days of the season left, plenty of time to hit the ranks and move up. There is still some testing to do and individual tweaks to see how things shake up, but we’re finally getting close to a full ladder-ready build. Until next time, may the beasts lead your way.