The New Standard: Season 2, Episode 4 (Beast Druid)

Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first three installments of the this month’s The New Standard. One, Two, Three We made it to week four, and my how does that gold shine! The final push is for the top of the meta, and we have […]

Hey guys, if you’re just tuning in for the first time, you should check out the first three installments of the this month’s The New Standard.

One, Two, Three

Introduction

We made it to week four, and my how does that gold shine! The final push is for the top of the meta, and we have really been doing some moving. Of course, part of it was my testing for Weekly Legends, but I’m not going to discount Beast Druid’s part (which got me to six and then pushed me through four to three to two). This list does a very good job at tackling a lot of the meta and can hang with the best of them. In that way, the deck feels like it has a lot of punch and enough removal to justify the card choices. Your job here is going to be pumping out a solid minions until you control the board or pace of the game. Once that’s over, you start with the haymakers. This has been a really fun ride and a deck that seems familiar but also has enough going for it that it does feel like I’ve created something to be proud of.

Where We Are Now

Well my…this is awkward. I do not believe this has ever happened before, but we are playing almost the exact same list we were last week. I am not sure what to make of that, but I think it means I am truly happy with the list. Of course there are some tweaks that could be made (as always) but at a certain point you have to stop making changes and you need to start climbing. This list has proved to be solid and I see no reason to change that now.

I don’t want to go over too many things that I’ve already covered, but it is worth noting that the deck plays in two distinct parts. One, you are an aggro board tempo list (think Dragon Tempo Warrior) and then you rapidly ramp into big threat after big threat. Your early minions play the aggro game well, but you almost want to use them to just control the board and clear out before you start really going for the throat. If you can play a minion each turn and use that to steadily advance your curve you should be able to take down just about any game in the meta.

I also should note that I kept the single Savage Roar. I know. I didn’t like it last week and, to be fair, I still don’t. However, it has won me too many games to cut and I have also drawn it at too many inopportune times to want more. This is going to be the sweet spot. Humph.

Though there are two very large end-game cards here along with a solid string of midrange threats, you probably could get away with playing one more out-of-nowhere minion. Cenarius is the first one that jumps to my mind, but I think there could be others out there. You really want the kind of finisher that gives you immediate board presence and helps you recover against control. That may bring the curve up to much, but it is something worth thinking about.

Before moving on I want to cover one other direction you could take this deck in. You could cut all of the lategame and play a bunch of early game beasts to go pure aggro. Now that Silithid Swarmer has become a beast there are even more strong options to get the beats going early. This is just food for thought, but there could be a very powerful aggressive list in here somewhere. Power of the Wild probably wants to be in that version too.

The Cards

This section will help to explain some of the cards I found to be the most interesting throughout the season.

Living Roots

Though I discussed this card last week, Living Roots is such an important card I wanted to look at it from a slightly different angle to show what it can teach you about the list overall. No matter how many times you hear it, it can be really hard to understand just how important building board presence is in a midrange-tempo list like this one. You absolutely need to play a minion each turn or you will fall behind. Dragon Warrior, Tempo Mage and Midrange Hunter are all very popular decks these days and losing the board to any of them can very easily be game over. As a result, being able to have a one drop is huge. Yes, Living Roots is not necessarily a one drop, but most of the time having two 1/1’s on the board do a great job or trading and allowing you to stall. The deck’s winrate skyrocketed once I added this card, and it was solely because I could do something on turn one before moving to turn two. Just remember you should always play a minion from your hand if you have one, even if you cannot use its ability. The roots is a perfect example of why that is so key. Of course, the ability to pick off small minions doesn’t hurt either.

Darnassus Aspirant

Between Alexstrasza’s Champion and Fiery War Axe, it’s a hard world for Darnassus Aspirant. Warrior is everywhere and they can murder this card left and right. So, you may ask, why is this card in the deck? Because there are many decks that aren’t Warrior, and sometimes Warrior doesn’t draw their early removal (as we saw in the video). Unlike something like Ramp Druid, your deck has a low curve. That means you can get immediate value from your Darnassus if it even lives one or two turns before dying. That one mana bump can just allow you to swing a four drop into another four drop or a three drop into a three drop. In that way, a temporary Wild Growth is more than fine.

The other important part of Darnassus Aspirant is that, unlike something like Huge Toad, it has to be removed right away. This may seem unfortunate, but it actual is a big advantage. Every competitive deck in the game is going to have ample forms of removal at their disposal. That means your minions are going to die. Your goal with this deck is to get your opponent to not play minions so you can have priority on the board. Aspirant does that because it almost always forces your opponent to use a turn two removal spell rather than playing a minion and letting your panther-rider live. That then gets you to three on an empty board, allowing you to put down one of your strong three drops. And, if they do let Aspirant live, you can simply use the extra mana to power out a four drop and then trade it in.

Mulch

As strong as this card has been, I think that Mulch could be replaced. It is still there due to the prevalence of Control Warrior and Yogg Druid at the higher ranks, but the curve has become much more important than removing minions. You really need to cement your minions, and if you do that well the removal actually isn’t all that important. Most of my wins have come pretty handily or as a result of one of my big finishers. Having that extra removal slot would not have really changed the way those games worked. In fact, there are many times where if I had Mulch over a minion I may have ended up losing, which is a red flag. If you see a lot of control I would keep this, but if you are seeing lower or more swarm-based decks I would probably get this one out.

I think there are two potential replacements for this card are going back to The Black Knight or a second Wildwalker. Those are probably the two best cards at your disposal that are not in the deck, as they both help your board presence immensely. The more I play Wildwalker (or the Wildwalker/Druid of the Flame combo) the more I love the four drop. If you ever manage to proc it you feel like you are so far ahead. It feels very similar to Houndmaster in that regard. While not as strong as the Hunter option, it still helps a lot of your cards trade effectively and can surprise your opponent out of nowhere. In terms of tech cards, The Black Knight is the best for you because it both removes a threat and drops a body. Harrison Jones is also worth considering, but you usually aren’t going to lose the game to weapons like you will to taunts.

Druid of the Claw

A Druid classic and one of the beast staples, Druid of the Claw is worth noting because of its inherent versatility. It is very easy to look at this card as your aggro beater. And truthfully, a 4/6 with taunt can win you a lot of games when playing against things like Shaman and Zoo. However, this card’s charge is really what puts it over the top for this deck. A 4/4 charger for five is not great, but it serves a very important purpose. I would view this as your deck’s Kor’kron Elite. It can both add pressure and also clear a huge number of minions in this game. Do not get caught up on the fact that the five drop can or “should” have six health. While it may not feel great using this card to race down a 3/3 (leaving you with just a 1/1) that is often a fantastic play because it both gives you a body and removes a threat. Even something with 1 health is a card your opponent has to deal with and spend resources on. Most of the time you are going to set this is taunt form just to put down a big body, but always look if you can get immediate value form the panther form. That goes double if you are ahead on board, pushing for lethal or racing towards a finishing Swipe or Savage Roar.

Matchups

Control Warrior

It has been a long time since Warrior has been this strong. While all iterations of the class are good, Control Warrior is the head honcho. Though that can be scary, it is honestly pretty good news for us. This deck has a lot of ways to put the squeeze on Warrior, using your string of threats to perfectly set up your end-game finishers. Just understand the many ways they can clear your minions and always try to bait them into making sup-optimal plays before committing bigger minions. Though it may not feel good to let them Slam/Fiery War Axe one of your midrange threats, them taking damage with the weapon is much better than a simple Execute.

You want to play this game by tracking your opponent’s removal and baiting out their clears. For instance, getting them to use a Shield Slam or Execute on your Druid of the Claw so they have no answer for a surprise Ragnaros the Firelord. The biggest rule of this game is to make sure that you bait out at least one Brawl (preferably both) before slamming down N’zoth the Corruptor. The Old God is your trump card and you want to make sure Warrior has no recourse for it when he comes. Beyond that, just do what you can to stack up pressure since you are usually going to need Savage Roar to break through their armor and end the game.

Tempo Dragon Warrior

Sitting right below its slower brother, Tempo Dragon Warrior is an incredibly fast deck with a surprising amount of burst and consistency. I would say this is much harder to pilot against that Control Warrior because the goal of the game changes based on the opening. That is to say, if your opponent comes out of the gates swinging you need to play a more conservative role and if they struggle you need to hit them hard and fast. This entire game is going to be dictated by board state, but the way you play the board is going to change from situation to situation. As with most tempo decks, Dragon Warrior loves to apply early pressure and then build off of that to set up their giant minions. Clearing their early plays cripples that strategy, as does pushing for damage. Anytime you can get them to play defensively you should be in a good position.

As noted, you always need to watch out for your opponent’s burst as well as damage potential. Though Tempo Dragon starts fast and then slows down, they have a lot of ways to finish you off. Ragnaros the Firelord, Malkorok and Grommash Hellscream all do damage, but they also have a good string of weapons and charge minions. Understand their damage potential and always track the cards they have played before going face. That being said, understand that Tempo Dragon only has two hard removal options in their Executes. They cannot do much beyond that, meaning that your large threats are going to do some serious work if you can get their removal out early.

Aggro Shaman

With its ever-present burst and “crush you” openings, Shaman falls right beneath Warrior in terms of popularity. This is one game that is really swingy and it usually depends on the first two or three turns. If Shaman gets rolling with no opposition the game is rapidly going to slide away but if they are a turn behind you should be able to clean this up quite well. While Thrall comes equipped with a ton of powerful burst options, they don’t have too many ways to take over a board besides their above-curve minions. As a result, once you start attacking them and keeping their board clear, you should just be able to out-tempo them. Just remember you always want to clear their board to limit the value of things like Flametongue Totem and Abusive Sergeant.

The only card you need be hyper-aware of is (as always it seems) Doomhammer. The weapon not only represents ten damage out of nowhere, but it also puts you on a clock and instantly forces you on the back foot. Once the hammer comes down you need to try to get as much use out of your hero power as possible and push hard to get lethal before your opponent. Due to the windfury weapon’s presence, Druid of the Claw is your best minion in this matchup because it is your only source of taunt. You should be very careful when playing it and try to get your opponent to spend one of their few high-damage spells before putting up the 4/6 wall. Also note that a 4/4 with charge is a great way to both put on pressure and clear out totems.

Deathrattle Miracle Rogue

The most popular version of Rogue right now is the Miracle shell mixed with the deathrattle base. This deck is very interesting to play against because they have a lot of removal and draw, but they also do a great job of generating board presence and solid card drops. You need to be the aggressor in this matchup, using your large and sticky minions to run Rogue low on cards and force their hand. Though they had added some deathrattle cards and a fancy finisher, Rogue is still the combo deck that it always was. As with any combo deck, you just need to put some pressure on their life total so they cannot comfortably get set up. If Rogue gets to play a Gadgetzen Auctioneer with little resistance into an empty board, it is going to be hard to comeback. However, if they think they are in trouble of succumbing to damage on turn six, they will often hold back their combo and give you more time to push.

What makes this game tricky is that you cannot simply kill all of their minions to control burst like you once could. In the past, you would beat Rogue by never letting them get a minion to stick. This would stop their burst of Cold Blood and often force them to use other damage on clearing the board. However, now that they are packing N’zoth you need to try and end the game before the Old God can come down and put this out of reach. Like before, you do want to clear when possible and cut down on the damage that Rogue can do, but do not be afraid to hit them hard. Rogue runs limited amounts of burst damage these days, and you want to make what little they have go to the board. Beyond that, always be careful about using buffs while your opponent could have Sap in hand.

Midrange Hunter

Though it may be surprising, I would say Hunter is by far the hardest matchup for this deck. The reason is that almost all of your tricks do absolutely nothing against Hunter and his burst. Where you can simply outlast a lot of deck by controlling the board and then trumping them with big minions, Hunter does the same thing but they have Savannah Highmane and Call of the Wild. Those are two cards that are almost impossible to come back from. As a result, if you are behind at any point of the game and Hunter has either of them on curve the game is over. Period. Due to the inherent difficulty those cards pose, the only way you are going to win is by putting a quick clock on Rexxar. Aggression is not always going to be your main priority with this deck, but in this matchup it most certainly is. You have to start out fast and try to find ways to maximize your hits. Hunter has a lot of powerful minions, but most versions these days run less removal in favor of more threats. That means your board is often going to stick. Build quickly and make them trade into you. If they do not want to blink, you do want to clear their early minions to limit their potential for things like Houndmaster and Kill Command.

Mulligan Guide

As covered in the video, mulliganing is pretty straightforward. As with any tempo-based deck, you want to keep to your curve and do what you can to make it so you hit a removal spell or minion each turn (with priority over minions). Innervate, Living Roots, Darnassus Aspirant, Wrath and Druid of the Saber are your “must keeps”.  Mulch can be kept against Druid to stop an early Innervate or Shaman if you have a strong curve, while you can keep your three drops if you have the coin or a two drop coming before them.

When it comes to situational cards, you typically only want Swipe against swarm decks (Hunter, Druid, Zoo) and only if you have some early action to go with it. The only exception to that is you always want it against Zoo. Your four drop minions should only be kept with the coin and good early curve. Finally, play to your ramp as best you can. If you can get some extra early mana you can keep later cards depending on how they fit into your plays and help smooth out your turns.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it. My take on Beast Druid did quite well and took me up the ladder. While I did start off slow the first two weeks, that quickly changed once I found the final version. This is a competitive deck that I will most likely take to legend over the next nine days. Looking at set classes and doing something different is always fun, and this was no exception. Let me know what you want to see next season in the comments. Until then, see you next season!