Hi all! [DKMR]BorN here today to share the Watcher Druid deck. This is a midrange deck which offers a ton of control against Aggro decks as well as enough aggressiveness itself to punch through more late-game decks. This is our go-to deck on the ladder right now as it has great consistency as well as being an all-around fun deck to play. We will discuss most of the cards in the deck while detailing their importance and show you how you should play against different matchups.
From the list you can see this is pretty similar to your standard Druid build: there’re Ancient of Lores, Swipes, Keeper of the Groves, etc. What makes this deck what it is, and how it derives its name, is the additon of the Ancient Watchers.
On its own, Ancient Watcher is a pretty useless card: a 4/5 that cannot attack. However if synergized with the right cards, Ancient Watchers are cheap, tough bodies which can earn themselves insane value. The two ways which this deck “activates”, or attempts to get value from the Ancient Watcher, is by either taunting the Watcher, forcing your opponent to trade normally two or more cards for this two mana beast of a card. The other option is silencing it, removing the “cannot attack” condition, allowing it to swing its Chillwind Yeti-sized punches around! Remember, without cards to activate them, Ancient Watcher will just sit and almost literally “watch” as your opponent runs right by it.
To ensure you get value from the Watchers, this deck has seven cards of the remaining 28 that do so, they are: Mark of the Wild, Sunfury Protector, Defender of Argus, and most importantly Keeper of the Grove.
Let’s take a look at some of the other cards on the list and explain why they belong here:
This card is practically a staple in all Druid decks. Innervate is a crazy card which allows you to increase your mana for the current turn by two, which allows Druids to squeeze in great plays that would normally be impossible on a given turn.
One of the most popular uses of this card is for a turn one Chillwind Yeti. That’s right, a 4/5 on turn one. A single Innervate and Coin(if going second) allows a Druid to lay down a 4-drop on turn one, which can put some decks into a very difficult situation. Druids need to exercise caution though when trying to play such a strategy. One must think, “Will that Rogue Sap my Yeti back into my hand wasting my Innervate?”, “Will I have plays available for my next few turns?”, and “I bet that Shaman has a Hex ready”.
Be careful that you’re not putting yourself in a bad spot. Against heroes like Paladins it’s okay to gamble with this move as Paladins don’t have an early answer to such a strong play. Sometimes it’s better to save the Innervate and wait for the right moment.
Our personal favorite use of Innervate is a turn one Coin’d Ancient Watcher and then turn two play an Innervate plus Keeper of the Grove to silence the Ancient Watcher, which is basically the same as turn one Chillwind Yeti, but much safer.
Mark of the Wild
Mark of the Wild is a great way to activate an Ancient Watcher early, giving it +2/+2 as well as taunt. This card can also be used to buff one of your minions in a pinch or combo with other cards, such Big Game Hunter or The Black Knight to act as removal.
By playing the buff on an enemy minion, this can raise the minion’s attack to seven or more allowing Big Game Hunter to pick it off or buff them with taunt so that The Black Knight can remove it.
Wrath is a flexible card which allows you to either deal three damage to a minion. Utilize it to reach a pesky Mana Tide Totem hiding behind a taunt or can be used to pick off a weaker minion, dealing one damage as well as drawing a card.
Before using this card, ask yourself why and how you want to use it, think about future plays, you might need to use it later. Remember you do have a Hero Power that can deal one damage. Burning it one turn to kill a weak minion to draw a card can be good, but make sure you have an answer to a bigger minion next turn. This card is great for adding draw power as well as a source of removal for the deck.
This excellent card has a deathrattle which allows you to a draw card, as well as giving plus one spell damage while on the field. Although it may seem tempting to drop this card down right away on turn two, consider saving it for later. Since it has a low mana cost, you can effectively play this card in conjunction with Swipe or Wrath for some much needed extra damage.
If you were looking for a card to replace the recently nerfed Nat Pagle, we highly recommend Bloodmage Thalnos. Not only can it almost guarantee you a card draw, it has that nifty spell damage boost, and fits the 2-drop position.
Another card that can activate the Watchers, by taunting adjacent minions. Sunfury Protector is a great card for stopping Aggro decks. Being 2/3, don’t be afraid to drop this card on turn two alone. With three health, it can trade for one or two cards, giving you good tempo to flow into the midgame.
Positioning is key when it comes to cards like these. Try to make sure you’re only taunting the minions you’re okay with your opponent attacking. Around turn six be wary of The Black Knight, allowing your opponent to pop one of your taunted minions with can turn the tide of the battle and give your opponent a significant board advantage.
Savage Roar and Force of Nature: The Combo
We want to talk about these cards together, as you typically want to drop these cards on the same turn for a 14 damage burst which can give you a surprise punch to finish a close game. Now this does not mean these cards must always be played together. Force of Nature can be an effective removal to gain card advantage, but we only want to resort to such things when we are in a difficult situation.
Saving the combo can be useful against decks like Handlock and Warrior Control who if they get to low health can either drop Molten Giant for no cost or use Alexstrasza to heal back to 15 health. By using the combo, we can kill them in one turn before they have a chance to do so.
And remember, pay attention to your potential damage with your minions on the field if you have Savage Roar in hand. If you have three four attack minions on the board and your opponent is sitting at 20 health, drop that roar and finish him/her!
Big Game Hunter
Outside of the risky Naturalize, Druid lacks hard removal. With Tinkmaster Overspark being nerfed to the point of almost being unplayable, Big Game Hunter is there to help. We cannot stress how significant this card is. This guy allows you to kill big minions that Druid struggles against: the three giants, Alexstrasza, Baron Geddon, and Ragnaros the Firelord to name a few key cards in some control decks.
Don’t forget, this card can be combo’d with Mark of the Wild to pick off cards with five or six attack as well.
Let’s just call this card Value Golem. This guy alone can trade for one or two cards, and then he dies and summons another golem to eat another one of your opponent’s cards. Worst case scenario he only trades for one card, but that’s still okay. Harvest Golem also helps load your board with minions in preparation for a Savage Roar combo.
A staple card in all Druid decks, this is one of your few sources of AoE(area of effect) removal. When combo’d with Bloodmage Thalnos or Azure Drake, Swipe can the clear the board of most weak Aggro deck minions and really put a hurt on control deck minions, if not clearing them.
Chillwind Yeti may just be a vanilla card, but it trades very well with its 5 health, usually getting a two-for-one exchange. The other reason to include Chillwind Yeti on your list is for the previously mentioned turn one Yeti play using Innervate.
Defender of Argus
The third card at your disposal for activating your Ancient Watchers, Defender of Argus is a very powerful card, giving the minions adjacent to it a +1/+1 boost as well as taunt. This card is essentially another Sunfury Protector with the added bonus of the stat buff.
Besides their use with Ancient Watchers, Defender of Argus is great for helping your other minions get a little boost to clear bigger threats, or just packing a stronger punch.
Keeper of the Grove
We love this card. Keeper of the Grove allows you to choose between dealing two damage to a target, which gives you some decent reach, or the ability to silence a minion. This is one of your best activators for Ancient Watcher, silencing it allows it to attack, and then can be taunted on top of that.
Since Druid lacks hard removal for minions like Ysera, outside of the The Black Knight plus Mark of the Wild combo, saving a silence for a deck you know contains Ysera or other large creatures can be crucial.
Druid of the Claw
Druid of the Claw is another flex card which gives you the option of either a 4/4 charge minion or one with 4/6 and taunt. Getting this taunt against Aggro decks is critical to holding back their aggression.
Although going for the 4/6 taunt is almost always the best option, unless you need the charge to pick off an enemy minion immediately or going for a Savage Roar quick burst, exercise caution when doing so. Druid of the Claw is a 5 mana card normally dropped on turn 5, and on turn six your opponent has access to The Black Knight, so question whether your opponent could be running The Black Knight in their deck prior to choosing to taunt up. This is also the time to bait out The Black Knight if your board is in a good position.
This card can be swapped out for other cards such as Starfall or Azure Drake. we normally run with an Azure Drake as it offers card draw as well as spell damage, but lately we feel more comfortable with the burst damage of Argent Commander. He is a great card for getting a good trade on a minion with his divine shield, as well as an option to play alongside Savage Roar turn nine and later.
A glorified Harvest Golem, Cairne Bloodhoof has amazing trading ability due to his deathrattle, which summons another 4/5 minion. With the decline of Tinkmaster Overspark, the only cards Cairne Bloodhoof fears are Polymorph and Hex.
Without these cards or a silence, Cairne Bloodhoof will trade the same as having two Chillwind Yetis. An option to run alongside this card is to swap out Argent Commander for Faceless Manipulator, which adds some utility to your deck as well as the ability to copy your Bloodhoof for strong board presence.
The Black Knight
The Black Knight’s superb battlecry allows you to destroy one of your opponent’s taunted minions. This card can change the tempo of a game in an instant, as well as laying a 4/5 minion on the board.
Best case scenario, you destroy what could be your opponent’s only minion and this can put them into a bad position. With Mark of the Wild in your deck, The Black Knight is never a “dead” or useless card; the combo allows you to kill any minion for eight mana. Since many control decks, as well as some Warlock Aggro decks, run their own Defender of Argus and Sunfury Protector, The Black Knight is an excellent card for any control or midrange deck. It works wonders in a Druid mirror match.
Ancient of Lore
Lastly, we have the Ancient of Lore, a key card which offers card draw and emergency heals. A staple card in all Druid decks, Ancient of Lore allows you to draw two cards which can mean card advantage in a control matchup or it can be a crucial five health heal that can save you from dying to an Aggro deck.
By using Ancient Watchers and other durable minions, we gain a very strong board. From the start of the game, one should be trying to get control using an Ancient Watcher or Sunfury Protector. Start planning for future turns. Do you have a Keeper of the Grove to silence your Watcher or do you need to taunt it? Continue dropping tough minions while using spells combined with your Hero Power to pick off your opponent’s minions or trading minions when favorable.
Do not be afraid to attack strong minions with your hero to finish them off, your health is a resource and you shouldn’t worry until it starts getting low. Do everything possible to create card advantage as well as board control. Be aggressive when safe, chip away at their life turn by turn. A Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo can do 14 face damage alone, so put your opponent into a position where they fear the turn nine combo, forcing them to play suboptimaly.
Matchups in the Current Meta
Try to keep their armor as low as possible so they can’t Shield Slam your minions outright. Maintain board control and finish them quickly before they start dropping all their late game minions.
You should only have three to four minions on the board at most at one time; a Brawl could really put you a bad place. Save Big Game Hunter for Ragnaros the Firelord and Alexstrasza and have a silence for either Sylvannas Windrunner or Ysera.
Warriors will take this game late if you’re not careful, be sure to get a lot of draw power to sustain yourself. You should try to mulligan for an early aggressive play, such as Ancient Watcher and Keeper of the Grove or Harvest Golem. Turn one Chillwind Yeti is a mild risk play, as a Whirlwind plus Execute or another combo can take it out easily. If you do this, be sure to have another play available.
Mulligan for an Ancient Watcher, Sunfury Protector, Defender of Argus, or a Druid of the Claw; it is crucial to set up a wall early to prevent as much damage as possible. Turn seven you have Ancient of Lore available to heal you up. Your number of minions on the board should be limited to two or three at most.
Play around their secrets, sometimes it is better to not attack and build up than attack into a secret. To test secrets, use your Hero Power on their face if it is safe to do so, as Misdirection could send you attacking a beefy minion of yours. If there’s no risk of attacking such a minion, test it, if the secret does not activate, this could mean one of two things.
If there was no Misdirection target, it could be Misdirection, or a Freezing Trap, which you should try to pop with a favorable minion, such as Sunfury Protector or Defender of Argus. I did not mention Snake Trap or Snipe as those secrets are rarely played and will only activate if you attack a Hunter’s minion or play one of your minions from your hand, respectively.
Taunt. Like aggro decks, prevent as much damage to yourself as possible. A miracle combo can do around 20 damage, sometimes more. To prevent this from happening, keep a taunt up at all times, force the Rogue to burn their Sap and then keep playing taunts.
If possible, try to keep a Big Game Hunter in hand. More Rogues are playing Ragnaros the Firelord these days, so have a counter to it ready. This also can help handle Edwin Van Cleef. Caution yourself for a Blade Flurry board clear.
Similar to Hunter Aggro, get those taunts up. Feel free to spam as many minions as you’d like as Warlock Aggro doesn’t have AoE removal spells. If you have taunts up, this should be an easy matchup.
This can be a tough match up if you don’t win early. If you don’t have removal for the giants, you can lose quickly. Have Big Game Hunter and The Black Knight ready. Turn one Chillwind Yeti is your best bet for a win here. Mulligan for this or the other two cards mentioned. Watch their life and keep it above the range for them to play Molten Giant. Prepare for a Savage Roar combo, whether it is with Force of Nature or with minions, but watch out for a Shadowflame board clear.
This can be difficult at times, as an early Injured Blademaster with Circle of Healing can be almost impossible to deal with during the early game. You have an advantage in that your minions mostly have four attack, keeping them out of range from Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death, as well as Shadow Madness. Avoid getting your weaker minions stolen by a Cabal Shadow Priest. A strong board is key to winning here.
Mage and Paladin
Not seen often on the ladder, however these should be easy matchups if you do run into them. Play as you would against normal control decks and victory will come with no trouble. Take care against Flamestrike and Equality board clears.
This is a very fun deck and can be used confidently as you work your way to Legendary. We are seeing variations of these decks in tournaments as well. Druid is very strong and still at the top of the Meta.
If you have questions about this deck would like help learning it, head over to our forums. We are glad to help. Also make sure to keep track of your stats with this deck on Hearthstats.net and let us know how you are doing with it!
Guide Written by [DKMR]BorN
Discussions about this topic brought to you by Team [DKMR]
Decks to Watch Out For
Something [DKMR]Varranis touched on in his articles that I failed to do last week was to bring to your attention to the current decks that are being played in tournaments and on the ladder. They are quite strong and are decks you should be trying to beat. They have few weaknesses and pack a powerful punch. These decks are:
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