Some of you may recognise the name of the deck, some of you may not. Token Druid is a deck that originated early in the beta, and was one of the top decks for a very long time. Unfortunately, it has fallen out of favour nowadays. The only Druid decks that regularly see play competitively are Ramp and Combo Druid. Fortunately for us, this gives us a big advantage over opponents expecting those slower decks. That’s right, Token Druid is an extremely fast, tempo-based deck, fighting for board control until you can get a crazy good savage-roar off.
Token Druid is in nature a board control deck with plenty of early game cards and some really strong combos to cheat out a big blood-knight or a strong board with violet-teacher and power-of-the-wild. It’s also a very cheap deck to craft, playing only one legendary card, dr-boom, that’s completely optional as well. The only must-have card that has a higher rarity then rare is ancient-of-lore, and every card in this list is a fairly good card in general. Therefore i would argue, if you either just started playing Hearthstone, or have been thinking about crafting some cards to make a new deck, this is the deck for you. Not only is it cheap to make, it’s easy to learn how to play with and teaches you a lot of basic concepts in Hearthstone such as tempo and board control. In fact, it’s actually the deck I used when I started playing the game back in closed beta.
In this part of the article I will go over almost all the cards I use as seen in the decklist on the right, with my argumentation for said cards.
innervate is included in almost every constructed Druid deck, this has been the case since early beta and will probably remain so for the rest of the game. You sacrifice a card in your hand in order to speed up the game immensely. For example: being able to play a druid-of-the-flame as a 2/5 on turn one is a great opener, as your opponent will almost always have no way to remove it, and minions that cost only 1 or 2 mana will trade unevenly. Playing an azure-drake on turn 3 is also great, since Azure Drake draws you a card, this means you basically get to play a 3 mana 4/4 with spell damage. This is because using Innervate to get another card out costs you an card, but since you draw one card from your deck it’s as if you’re playing a 2 mana discounted Drake without draw. Innervate is especially good in Token Druid for its natural synergy with violet-teacher. Since Innervate is a spell, it activates the Violet Teachers effect. Playing the Teacher on turn 4 and playing Innervate with power-of-the-wild meaning you will have a 4/6 Violet Teacher and two 2/2’s at the end of your turn. If you add the stats of those cards together, then it’s better than a turn 4 mountain-giant that Handlock plays, while not dying to big-game-hunter.
power-of-the-wild, this card is where the idea for Token Druid originally came from. Play a whole bunch of small minions to get a lot of value out of this card. If you have 4 minions on board, which is not that hard to do with this deck, then you can get this card to give a total of 4/4 in stats. Don’t forget that it’s usually a good idea to trade up your haunted-creeper before playing it, because this way you get an additional minion to buff. Keep in mind that violet-teachers effect activates before the effect of a spell comes in, meaning that if you play power-of-the-wild, the Teacher will spawn her violet-apprentice, and after that the effect from Power of the Wild will come in, giving the buff to the newly spawned Apprentice as well as all other minions.
savage-roar is your win condition in this deck. This card is insane! If you compare it to fireball in terms of finishing potential, Roar can deal that 6 damage if you only have two minions on the board by giving both minions and your hero +2 attack. If you have four minions on the board it quickly becomes a: “deal 10 damage” effect for only 3 mana! I’ve bursted opponents down from over 20 hp on turn 5 with the help of this card and a relatively full board on my side. Savage Roar is also a great combo with force-of-nature. On an empty board, this combo can deal 14 damage to the enemy hero. If you have minions on the board this damage increases even more.
keeper-of-the-grove is an excellent card, it’s seen in every Druid deck, and for good reason. The body itself is solid, a 2/4 can trade up really well, and the ability is great. Dealing 2 damage is really strong against knife-juggler or flame-imp, while the silence can help you get rid of a mad-scientist without repercussions or allows you to push through a taunt for lethal. Overall amazing card, can’t live without it.
ancient-of-lore. This card is insanely strong! I would put this card in almost every single deck if i could. Unfortunately, it’s a Druid class card. Why is this card so good, you ask? It’s because a 5/5 is a solid body, but it’s power lies in it’s ability. Healing for 5 is great against aggro decks, and drawing 2 cards is great against every other type of deck. In Token Druid, it’s almost always correct to draw 2 cards. Replenishing your hand is great in a topdeck situation, or just whenever a game lasts to turn 7 or later. Games usually tend to end around or before turn 6, and the games that don’t last that long leave you with empty hands rather quickly. It’s also a great play to innervate, or even double innervate, to play this card. You spend cards in order to play this 7 drop earlier, but you replenish your hand by drawing 2 cards again while still developing a 5/5 on the board.
haunted-creeper Is a solid minion, both for trading and giving you bodies on the board to either buff or use for a massive damage burst with Savage Roar. This card is just too good to pass up on in a deck like this.
violet-teacher is one of the cornerstones of this deck with its ability to create tokens and a great synergy with Power of the Wild. Notable combos are: Violet Teacher + Innervate + Power of the Wild. Sometimes it’s okay to keep Violet Teacher in your opening hand if you have either Innervate or Power of the Wild in your hand, but don’t risk keeping these cards when you think it’s an aggressive deck you’re up against.
annoy-o-tron is a card that has multiple uses in this deck. It protects your other cards on the board from decks like Control Warrior, where it stops them from using their weapons on other minions. Against pure aggression decks, like Face Hunter, playing this card slows them down massively, since they can’t keep going for your face but need to clear the small, annoying robot first. This while almost all their minions will have only 1 or 2 health, meaning you the Annoy-o-Tron trades up favourably next to being great for stalling. Finally, it provides synergy with blood-knight, as you can remove the divine shield from your own minions for a buff on the knight, providing a 6/6 on turn 3 in certain cases.
wrath is great removal. Can take out any minion with 3 or less health, and allows you to cycle when you either need only 1 damage, or when you’re low on cards in your hand. When you have an azure-drake on the board, the choices will be: “Deal 4 damage or deal 2 damage and draw a card.”, giving you even more choices when trading.
druid-of-the-flame is an overall good card. A 3 mana 2/5 is great, and in some cases (opponent has an empty hand, you can Innervate this on turn 1 against a Priest etcetera) the 5/2 is really strong. Not one the most exciting cards in the deck, just a pretty good value minion.
This deck runs only one copy of force-of-nature, since the full combo of Force of Nature and savage-roar costs 9 mana. This combo is really strong, especially in this deck, where you will almost always have minions on the board. The reason to only include one Force of Nature is as follows: There are so many situations where you want or need to play Savage Roar without the combo, or without finishing your opponent, and Force of Nature is only really good in the combo. Therefore, to increase the chances of drawing the full combo instead of ending up with parts of it in your hand, we only play one Force of Nature. A lot of games also tend to end in you either winning before turn 9, or you running out of cards in your hand and on the board, meaning that having a Force of Nature in hand doesn’t do much besides being pretty terrible removal.
blood-knight is great in this list. In decks that fight for early board control, cheap powerhouses are insane. If you’re up against a zoo deck, and they play their power-overwhelming on a minion, and play void-terror before it dies, you’re gonna be sad. Comparable to that situation is playing argent-squire and/or annoy-o-tron on early turns, and then playing a Blood Knight either in the same turn with innervate, or the turn after. The comparison lies in that both of these decks, Token Druid and Zoo, both play a lot of small minions, and basically flood the board. These small minions need dealing with, because if the board gets too out of hand the value of cards like power-of-the-wild or savage-roar gets insane. If you manage to not only play a bunch of small minions, but also play a 3 mana 6/6 or 9/9, it’s gonna be really hard for the opponent to deal with that. A minion with such a big body is great for trading up, but also for dealing massive amounts of damage to the opponents hero in these early turns, making it more likely for you to be able to get a game-winning combo with Savage Roar. If you don’t have a divine shield, playing it as a 3/3 is fine. But if you have other plays, especially on later turns, it’s usually wise to keep it hand to see if you draw a minion with divine shield, so you can play both the shielded minion and the blood knight for a buff.
All of this talk about buffing Blood Knight from your own minions, but this card can and will also take divine shields from opponents minions. This is great against 3 decks in the current meta. Midrange Paladin, with their shielded-minibot, Zoo and even the occasional Hunters with argent-squires in their lists. This situation will not rise to often, but when it does it’s so good. It’s as if you’re instantly won the game at that point, that’s how much value you get.
azure-drake is one of the few cards in this deck that has card draw, therefore i would argue it’s one of the core cards in here. I still didn’t place this card under the section auto-includes for a reason. You can make the deck work without it. The card draw and spell damage are too good to pass up on in this list though.
dr-boom is an optional card, the only late-game card that is an absolute powerhouse. Big body with 2 additional small minions for synergy with the token-like playstyle this deck has. I run it because this card can win games by itself. Sometimes you never get to play it, sometimes it’s too slow, but if you get to drop it, it’s usually is really strong.
One last card i would like to discuss is swipe. You may have noticed this deck does not run it, whereas almost every Druid deck ever has played this card. The reason it’s not in this list is because area of effect damage is usually not needed. Sometimes it’s great, but with as many small minions you can use to trade, it’s really not a needed card. I used to run it for the longest time but decided to swap it out and the deck’s performance has gone up without it. Swipe just ends up as either a dead card in your hand or as a generic 4 mana: “deal 4 damage” card.
I would argue that this deck is very cheap. Yes, there is a legendary and 4 epics in it, but of those expensive cards, only 2 epics are necessary and those are great in any deck. So it’s not a bad idea to craft them. The unmissable ones I’m talking about are the ancient-of-lores. The cards that are not essential and can be replaced are discussed in this section of the article and suitable replacements are advised.
As i mentioned shortly before, dr-boom is a really strong card. For one card you get 3 bodies, one of which is a 7/7, making this card really strong. If you for some reason do not own this card, no problem, it’s not needed in this list at all. While it does make the deck generally stronger, it’s plenty easy to win without it. If you need a replacement slot there are multiple options for you as to replace Dr. Boom with.
- Adding another 1-drop. This deck only runs 2 argent-squires as one mana cost minion. Adding another can make the early game better. This is a valid suggestion if you face a lot of aggro decks. A good card to put in is abusive-sergeant, since this card can assist your minions that have 1 attack in trading up with bigger cards, making it a great tool. It also puts a 2/1 body on the board, which is acceptable for a 1-drop.
- A second force-of-nature is good as another late-game card, allowing you to either use this for trading with minions, or to combo with savage-roar for some really massive amounts of burst damage.
- Some other notable cards that work well in this deck, either by generating tokens or benefitting from them: knife-juggler, imp-master, or a hobgoblin since this deck runs plenty of 1-attack minions.
blood-knight are the epics in this deck that are really nice to have and pretty strong cards, but can be replaced with other options if you don’t have them. hobgoblin is a suitable replacement, since this allows you to get some really big buffs out of you cheap cards in a way equal to Blood Knight. Be alert though: Hobgoblins effect won’t activate with spawned tokens like the violet-apprentice. His effect only activates after you play a minion with 1 attack from your hand. The reason I play Blood Knight over Hobgoblin in this deck is that Hobgoblin is a card that needs to be protected in order to get more value, while Blood Knight gets his full buff on hitting the board. It’s tricky to play a Hobgoblin without it dying during your opponents turn. The value in a Hobgoblin on the other hand is that it’s easier to get its buff (there are 4 minions with divine shield in this deck, and 6 minions with 1 attack), and he can keep buffing your minions if you manage to keep him around. If you decide to run him in this deck, then playing more minions with 1 attack is always an option. Some extreme suggestions for a more aggressive list:
- Replace ancient-of-lore with acolyte-of-pain.
- Replace druid-of-the-flame with demolisher.
- Find room for another 2-drop, echoing-ooze by taking out druid-of-the-claw.
If you don’t have Blood Knight or Hobgoblin and do not own enough dust to craft epics, harvest-golem is a good replacement by being a solid card with a deathrattle spawn, making it hard for your opponent to instantly deal with the entire card.
If you do not have an ancient-of-lore in your collection, and no need and/or dust to craft it, I would suggest putting in any card that gives you draw, so you don’t run out of cards too quickly. This is a key card to the deck though, and if you want to play Token Druid to its fullest extent, this card is needed.
Matchups & Mulligans
For detailed matchups and mulligans, check out part 2 of the guide.
History of Token Druid
As mentioned in the introduction of this article, Token Druid is a deck that originated in early beta. I looked up some old decklists and this is an example of what the deck used to look like. It’s quite interesting to see how the metagame has changed in so long and it seems like a nice addition to this article. If you were to try this list right now, you would probably get absolutely destroyed for numerous reasons. For example: leeroy-jenkins has been nerfed some time ago. It used to cost 4 mana, now it costs 5. Another example is that decks like Face Hunter and Zoo simply did not exist. Therefore you could easily play using a deck like this, where you have almost no minions to play on turn 2. Also, new expansions that have come out over time offer more cards and therefore more options to build a deck. Cards like claw and imp-master were seen in almost every list. Now these sub par cards can easily be replaced with more value minions in order to smoothen out the curve.
When Naxxramas came out. Much more options where available, especially for token druid. haunted-creeper and echoing-ooze are great 2 drops and both have synergy with this deck by creating multiple minions for 1 card. A very notable deck is the Sticky Naxx Control Druid created by Strifecro. This deck was created shortly after the release of Naxxramas and was quickly taken to top legend by Kolento, and grew in popularity very quick. A decklist is posted on the right below. By memory, this deck is the first Druid deck that ran double combo and was seen so much in the meta.
This deck has quite some similarities with Token Druid. You can tell by 4 minions being run that costs 2 mana, and the absence of wild-growth. This shows that the deck is more tempo focussed in comparison to a Ramp Druid deck. The idea of this deck was playing sticky minions. These are minions that:
- Are hard to remove, like spectral-knight or shade-of-naxxramas. Loatheb also counts here, since your opponent can’t really cast spells to get rid of your minions, so you can set up a combo next turn.
- Have a deathrattle spawn, like haunted-creeper, harvest-golem and cairne-bloodhoof.
- Exist out of multiple bodies, which echoing-ooze achieves with it’s effect.
A notable card in this list is defender-of-argus. This card was a great tech card in Early-Beta Token Druids, and in this deck it fulfills a very specific role. Playing this card in combination with echoing-ooze is great, since the copy spawned at the end of your turn gets a buff as well as the original card. Getting a taunt effect on the card spectral-knight is a really strong effect as well. You have a 5/7 with taunt, and it can’t be targeted by spells! This means that the opponent has to use minions to trade in order to get rid of the card, giving you time to set up a finishing combo.
My recollection of the meta before Naxxramas was that Ramp Druid was very prevalent, but the double combo being ran in a single deck happened for the first time in this control variant of Druid, popularizing the double combo being ran in Control Druid decks. This later turned into the double combo ramp deck that sees a lot of play nowadays. So before Naxxramas released, there where 2 main Druid decks, Ramp Druid and Token Druid. After Naxx this evolved into Ramp Druid and Double Combo Control Druid, which later turned into Double Combo Ramp. Interesting to see how decks changed so much, and that one archetype, Token Druid, was completely forgotten while still being viable from cards released in new updates.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, and I hope you’ll enjoy Token Druid just as much as I do. If you have any questions about anything, feel free to post them in the comments below.