Weekly Legends: C’Thun Druid

It is time! Whispers of the Old Gods is finally out, and that means new decks and archetypes here on Weekly Legends. While it has only been a few days (at least at the time I’m writing this) the meta is starting to take a little shape. There are a lot of different popular decks […]

Introduction

It is time! Whispers of the Old Gods is finally out, and that means new decks and archetypes here on Weekly Legends. While it has only been a few days (at least at the time I’m writing this) the meta is starting to take a little shape. There are a lot of different popular decks out there right now, but the first that has caught my eye is C’thun Druid. Due to Blizzard’s campaign strategy there was no doubt that C’thun decks were going to be popular, and my God are they popular. When one card can be played across multiple classes it is always interesting from a deck builder’s standpoint to see why certain decks rise to the top while others simply don’t work. In this case, I think it is pretty clear that Druid is the best fit for the old god, and there are several reasons for that which I will cover below.

While not as “out there” as some of the other lists I usually cover, C’thun Druid is one of the decks at the forefront of the new meta and that has to count for something. Many of the C’thun decks out there try and use a wide range of situational or gimmicky cards to win games, but I like C’thun Druid because it has a very solid core. An old rule of deck building is that, no matter how crazy your decks gets it can always be good if it has a stable foundation. For instance, while Astral Communion Druid is a pretty crazy archetype, it has a very reliable core in the usual ramp cards to help it in games where it doesn’t draw its combo pieces. This deck runs a lot of vanilla minions and odd C’thun buff cards, but it really is just a new take on an old staple. While there are many bells and whistles here, the deck is just the classic combo shell dressed up in a much more fun and engaging way. You still want to hit your smooth curve, and you still need to set up your finisher, but this is a lot more interesting than the Druid decks of the past.

Key Cards

 

Mire Keeper

Mire Keeper is a very interesting card that aims to fill the hole left behind by the absence of Keeper of the Grove. I’m not sure if it succeeds in that role, but it is an incredibly flexible four drop that really gives this deck a lot of early options. There are two modes to using this card, and both of them are equally important. The first thing that impacts the mode you are going to choose for Mire Keeper is ramp. This is important because if you can get the centaur out early you want to evaluate it based on what else you can do. For instance, when Innervateing it out you should take the mana crystal if you have another good turn four play coming next. However, if you already have a strong curve despite the Innervate then you should just make the 2/2. In the same vein, when playing this on turn four you want to ramp if you need to jump to six (for something like a Dark Arakkoa) but normally you should just make the token.

The second part of using Mire Keeper is understanding the deck you are playing against. For instance, unless you desperately need to ramp up past a mana slot of your curve, you almost always to play this as two minions against aggro. One of the biggest weaknesses of this deck is aggro decks, almost all of which swarm the deck in some way or another. This card puts down two stable bodies that can really help control the board. However, against control you typically want to ramp with this card, since the extra mana will help you push your curve up and force them to use their removal faster. This is a good way to pressure them and slowly run them low on cards. If you just want to get board presence or damage (or bait AOE) you can always use this in its second mode, but most of the time it is going to be ramp against control and two bodies against aggro. Read the situation at hand and use it accordingly.

Klaxxi Amber-Weaver

Well, it seems that Klaxxi Amber-Weaver certainly lived up to the hype. The 4/5 is an absolute monster than can just take over the board on turn four and then never let it go. This into Druid of the Claw into Dark Arakkoa is one of the strongest curves in Standard as, similar to the Secret Paladin curve, each piece helps control the board for the next above-curve minion. With Twlight Drake not being popular in the early days of the format, there is just nothing that stands up to what this card can do. In fact, the body is so strong if you have a chance to get it to ten by turn four you should. This means using a Disciple of C’thun to hit your opponent’s face or dropping double C’thun minions over ramping into a five drop.

That being said, you never want to get so caught up in Klaxxi Amber-Weaver‘s ability that you fall off curve. Yes, you want to play this as a 4/10, but that does not mean you need to play it as a 4/10. Any midrange deck (and this is a midrange deck) just wants to have a big body each turn of the game, one curving into the next. It’s all about a high density of threats, and if you can keep putting down big card after big card your opponent is going to eventually fall behind or give you enough time to draw the old god. Klaxxi is a big card, even as a 4/5. However, if you can wait a turn two to set this up, you probably should as long as you have something else to play. For instance, getting down a C’thun’s Chosen down for a turn five 4/10 is fine. A body that giant is good no matter what the turn.

Azure Drake

A card that was not in the original list, I think Azure Drake is a staple for C’thun Druid and I’m not sure if I would play this list without it. As noted above, this decks is very much like the Midrange Combo decks of old, and you want to have as much consistency as possible. You no longer have access to Ancient of Lore, which means this deck curves in the way that Secret Paladin did rather than tempo’s like the Midrange decks of old . Your primary goal is to play the biggest thing each turn, and use that to both stall and pressure your opponent to place them into C’thun range. However, you are also a combo deck. That means you need to access to some card draw, and there is no better midgame card draw than Azure Drake.

Azure Drake fills the same role here it has always filled. That may not be new or exciting, but it is worth mentioning because of how central I think this card will be to the deck moving forward. You just need some type of consistency in this list, and you also need to get bodies on board. While you can win almost all of your games if you hit the perfect curve, there are going to be a lot of games where you have a dead or weak mid turn. In the current minion-dominated meta that can be a huge problem. This card helps that by smoothing our your draws. It also presents a “must-clear” threat that your opponent needs to remove.

The other reason I think Azure Drake is so important is because of the spell power. While helping Wrath get to four mana is always good, the buff on Swipe is pivotal. To overcompensate for their plethora of one-health minions, many current aggro decks are packing buffs and other ways to get the health of their minions up. While it easy to play around a one damage Swipe, you can crush them in the later turns by pairing it with the dragon. Patron is also popular, and the dragon is the only real way you are going to be able to clear the dwarves.

Doomcaller

Doomcaller is perhaps one of the most stand out cards in this list, and it serves a very important role. One of the biggest setbacks of playing C’thun is against Control decks, where you can play it, not kill them, and then have it immediately removed. This card fixes that problem by giving you a way to get your finisher back into your deck to set up another huge burst round. This card may be situational and not useful sometimes you play it, but it is the reason you can win long games, and helps you put down the heavy control decks when they try to push the game to fatigue. This card also enables you to just get value out of C’thun rather than saving him until he is in the mid-20’s. If you have Doomcaller in hand you can play C’thun while it is in the mid-teens to clear the board and then play the eight drop to bring it back. Also, remember that the old god gets buffed even when he is dead. As a result, your cards are going to keep getting value even if your opponent finds a way to kill him, letting your Doomcaller to bring him back stronger than ever. Having this card gives you a lot of versatility and multiple ways to play C’thun throughout the game.

Twin Emperor Vek’lor

The card that makes C’thun decks what they are, Twin Emperor Vek’lor is an insane turn seven value play that reminds me a lot of a certain doctor. Every once in a while, a card comes along that is so good it always helps you whether you are ahead, tied or behind. Vek’lor is a card that does exactly that. Two 4/6’s on turn seven is an incredible swing in a format with a lower power level, and this card can just end the game if put down at the right time or on curve. This is absolutely soul crushing following a Dark Arakkoa, but it also works very well as a stand alone threat. The versatility of this card is why it is so strong, and you absolutely want to have glowing yellow by turn seven. That is going to happen almost all of the time, but in the games where you are light on C’thun minions or have other plays, give the C’thun minions priority if the seven drop is in hand.

The biggest thing about using Twin Emeperor Vek’lor is understanding its exact role. Some games it is going to save your life, some games it is going to stall for your C’thun, and some games it is going to be pressure. As stated, this card feels a lot like Dr. Boom to me in that you just want to play it on turn seven if it is in your hand. I honestly am not sure if there is a play in the current format that beats it, and it can just ruin your opponent’s gameplan by forcing them to spend their whole turn clearing the card. Priority is a very important part of Hearthstone, and this card makes sure you have it every time because your opponent is going to have to commit their board and mana to getting rid of the double taunts. Once that happens, you can then freely do as you wish on turn eight, and continue to control the board. If your opponent doesn’t have an answer, they are not going to be able to keep up anyway.

Matchups

The five decks I have seen the most in the opening days of the new meta.

Aggro Shaman

Well, boys and girls, we knew this was coming. Aggro Shaman was already extremely powerful before Standard, and man do they pack a punch now that the power levelhealingtaunt all good anti-aggro tools are gone. They still have access to their classic set of Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem into damage, but they also have some new tools that make them possibly stronger than they once were. Yes, Aggro Shaman no longer has access to Crackle, but you shouldn’t let that fool you. All of their burn is going to end the game in a hurry, and Doomhammer will still kill you from 20 if you aren’t careful. However, while that is worrisome, out of all of the decks running around Standard you are probably one of the best poised to beat Aggro Shaman. That does not mean this match is easy, it just means it is winnable.

The number one rule of this game is to just control the board and remove everything Shaman plays. You have some of the best taunts in the game turn five onwards, which means you just need to make it to those turns before you can lock things up. C’thun is good here, but your beefy taunts like Dark Arakkoa and Twin Emperor Vek’lor are what seal the deal. You just have to use as much removal as possible to make sure they don’t completely blindside you on turns one and two. Klaxxi Amber-Weaver does a great job of this by trading into every early card they have, and Disciple of C’thun is a great way to pick off or damage smaller minions. Also note that it is important to watch out for Flamewreathed Faceless. While you don’t have a set answer for the 7/7, you can try to swarm the board as much as possible before it comes down.

Zoo

Another old favorite, Zoo has picked up right where it left off (as it will continue to do so each expansion until Lifetap is out of the game). The aggressive Warlock may not have the OP cards it once did, but that does not mean much as everyone else lost their OP cards as well. This deck has become even more token that it ever was, trying to swarm the board with efficient cards in lieu of the deathrattle they once had. As a result, you just want to try and force them to trade into you as much as possible. Like the Aggro Shaman game, you just want to play the role of control. Clearing is priority number one, which bodes well since your removal does a very good job against everything they have. Wrath and Disciple of C’thun both mitigate early plays, and though it may be hard, you want to try to save your Swipe for Forbidden Ritual if you can.

An important note is to understand exactly how Zoo can clear, and then try your best to play around it. Twin Emperor Vek’lor is going to almost always win the game, but you want to try and bait out things like Power Overwhelming before you put it down. If you don’t have access to the twin, then try and to eat their removal before playing things like Dark Arakkoa. Getting even one large taunt to stick will usually give you enough time to draw other threats, removal or C’thun himself. Also, it is important to watch out for Sea Giant. The 8/8 is not going anywhere anytime soon, and playing your own threat over clearing a couple of small minions can lead to you facing just too much damage.

C’thun Druid

The mirror match is all about the board. That is the only thing you want to care about here, and you need to focus all of your energy on making sure that you come out ahead. Like the old Midrange Druid mirror, whoever gets one step ahead is usually going to be able to outpace the other player. Every body here is important, even if means playing something off curve to get board presence. This is because Druid does not have a lot of removal options, and most of the time when they are clearing they are going to have to spend most of their turn doing it. Being aggressive is very important in this matchup, and that means running out as many minions as you can to make sure your opponent is always on their back foot. While it may not feel good to ignore some of the board, you want your opponent to answer you rather than the other way around. If you have the bigger minion, play it and let them figure out how to clear.

Ramp is the other key part of this matchup because of how it enables you to play your bigger minions. Wild Growth should almost always be your turn two play if you have it, and you want to use your Mire Keeper to get empty mana crystals, especially if you get it down early. Innervate should be used on big minions that help you trade, but you usually want to take ramp over that if you can. Sticking to your curve is quite important in this game, and while putting out a turn one Druid of Claw might help you right away, using your ramp to have something each turn is going to be better. In addition, make sure you have answers to your opponent’s bigger threats by playing your own. Twin Emperor Vek’lor and Dark Arakkoa both do not kill each other, which means that if you can get yours down first you will absolutely dominate the later turns. If you don’t have access to your big cards, try to flood the board as much as you can to make sure you can answer your opponent’s.

Midrange Hunter

While time will tell how this deck will fare as the meta shakes up (I think it going to just keep getting better and more refined), but it is certainly a threat that you need to deal with. Midrange Hunter has always been very strong against Druid, and that remains true even now. Not only do they have a wide range of hard-to-deal-with threats like Infested Wolf and Savannah Highmane, but you also no longer have access to Keeper of the Grove to respond to those cards when they come. As a result, you are going to win this game by playing C’thun. That means you just need to stall as much as possible. While you can wear your opponent down through a string of constant threats, this is a game that you want to go long by crashing big minions into big minions. Hunter can get a powerful curve, but you can match them on just about every turn. Always protect your health (Hunter still has their Hero Power and Kill Command), and use your hero power to gain extra breathing room when you can. Also look out for Hunter’s Mark. The zero one mana spell is still run in every Hunter deck and can blow you out when fighting for the board if you don’t plan for it.

Deathrattle Rogue

In my opinion, this is the trickiest deck to play against right now. Not necessarily because it is the strongest list you are going to face, but because of how hard it is to read their plays. Deathrattle Rogue has a ton of different options at their disposal, ranging from Infested Tauren to N’zoth to Shadowcaster. As a result, you just need to play to the staples and then adapt to everything else that comes your way. Rogue has all of their important minions as well as the removal package of Eviscerate, Sap, Backstab and Shadow Strike. You want to understand that and do your best to pace the game by predicting the way they are going to kill your minions. In addition, know that you are going to have to deal with their constant threats. This is not going to be an easy road and you really need to trade everything that comes down to limit their value and play around cards like Shadowcaster.

The biggest rule of this match is to always kill their turn two deathrattle minions if you can. Most Rogue players will hold off on Unearthed Raptor if they don’t have a target, which means you can stunt their curve by trading early. Even if they still play the raptor on curve, you want to limit its value as much as you can. Most of Rogue’s minions with deathrattle have a bonus rather than a way to put another minion on board. As such, while you may give them some value, your removal and trades are going to be as strong as ever. You just need to try to play this game like Hunter, where you use your bigger minions to take over the board and force your opponent on their back foot. N’zoth can be a problem, but you cannot really play around the old god. Just go big and let your opponent answer you.

Mulligan Guide

You want to mulligan with this deck as you would Midrange Druid (have I made that comparison clear enough yet?). Playing something every turn is extremely important and should always be your first priority. As a result, you just want to mulligan for all of your early plays and throw everything else back. Wild Growth, Innervate, Disciple of C’thun, Twilight Elder and Beckoner of Evil are your “must keeps”. Swipe should be kept against aggro, and you should always keep Klaxxi Amber-Weaver if you can get C’thun to 10 by turn four. In addition, the insect can be kept with a strong opening curve, as can Mire Keeper and C’thun’s Chosen.

The biggest thing that is going to impact your mulligan is ramp. You never want to keep expensive cards, except when they slot into your curve due to Mire Keeper, Wild Growth or Innervate. It is always important when playing Druid to make sure you can stick to your curve, but you can adjust that to fit your ramp. For instance, you normally do not want to keep Druid of the Claw, but if you have a turn three Innervate followed by a four drop then you want to keep it. The same rules apply to something like being able to play an early Dark Arrakoa off of Wild Growth into Mire Keeper. Always plan ahead in your mulligans if you have ramp, and adjust accordingly.

Conclusion

Whispers is heeeeeeerrrrrreeeeeeeee! While this deck is one of the more straight forward I will be covering in the next few weeks, I plan to get into some of the more creative lists as time goes on. I have been having an absolute blast with the set so far, and it is only going to get more fun as I continue to experiment. A new set is always good for deck building, but a new format really makes the creativity run rampant. There is just so much to explore and so many fun cards to play, I hope you guys are brewing as much as I am. Thing are just going to get better. Until next time, embrace the madness.