Aggro Druid is one of the foremost decks in the current Hearthstone meta. It has a solid curve, some very strong midgame minions and one of the strongest combos the game has ever seen. As such, it has the tools to beat every popular deck on the ladder. That does not mean it is always going to be easy, but it does mean it will always have a chance. Each matchup is going to be different, and understand all of them are important to playing the deck. This guide will specifically focus on how Aggro Druid takes on Tempo Mage.
[toc]Sample Decklists [/toc]
Every deck, no matter how set the core is, is going to have slight variation here and there. That variation makes decks unique and, much more importantly, allows them to mold to the person playing them. Aggro Druid has many stock cards that you are going to want to keep around. However, there are also a lot of flex spots, where you can run a card that is better tailored to the decks you are facing on ladder. Always play the cards you best understand. This will help you go into matchups with a better mindset. To give you an idea of the subtle changes in Aggro Druid, two decks have been linked below.
Cards to Keep
[card]Druid of the Saber[/card]
[card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] can be kept if you have a play before it or early ramp.
[card]Swipe[/card] can be kept with the coin or a very strong opening, but you never want to value it over minions.
[card]Piloted Shredder[/card] can be kept with the coin and a good curve.
[card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] should be kept if you have the coin, ramp or a good curve.
[toc]How to Win[/toc]
This game is going to be interesting because both you and Tempo Mage both operate in very similar ways. Early aggression backed up by finishing in the form of burst damage. While their burst comes in the form of burn, yours comes in the form of [card]Savage Roar[/card]. Understanding how they are going to kill and knowing how your are going to kill them will help you figure out when you should you trade and when you should push for damage.
Damage is the first part of this game, and board control is the second. Tempo Mage is an aggro deck that depends on an early board presence to set up their later games. Piloted Shredder is not a terribly scary card on its own, but it is if you are already at 20 health when it comes down. That game plan should sound familiar because you are predicated on the exact same idea. Every turn in this matchup is extremely important. You always want to be contesting the board in some way, whether with a huge minion, trading or damage. Even missing one turn can turn the entire game against you if you aren’t careful.
You are a much more aggressive deck than Tempo Mage is. That is important to understand because you do not do well if you have to play reactively, while they can rebound with their removal and cheap spells. Once Tempo Mage goes on their heels, they will simply try and clear the board waiting for [card]Dr. Boom[/card] or [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card] to come around and finish the game. When you go on your heels you need to get aggressive. Tempo Mage will almost never lose the board, and if you try to fight them when you’re behind you will eventually die to their burn or late game finishers. Rather than playing a fair fight, you need to start playing towards the combo if you feel the game slipping away.
[toc]Early Game Strategy[/toc]
The first turns of this game are key, since both decks want to grab tempo. In Hearthstone tempo stems from board control and building off of the minions you have in play. Whoever has minions coming out of turn three of four will most often be able to win the game. That means pressure is almost irrelevant during these turns, since it only really starts coming into play during the middle of the game. That doesn’t mean you want to avoid early pressure, but that the board is much more important.
Tempo Mage has a ton of ways to deal with early minions, and they have a lot of cards that ooze value. [card]Mad Scientist[/card], [card]Flamewaker[/card], [card]Mana Wyrm[/card] and [card]Sorcerer’s Apprentice[/card] all give them massive board presence or tempo swings if unanswered. For that reason, [card]Wrath[/card] and [card]Living Roots[/card] are your best friends. Each of them is a great way to back up an early minion or two, and they will both allow you to fight back against Tempo Mage’s more explosive starts.
This is a game where you want to play as many big minions as possible. That forces Mage to use their burn, which then takes pressure off of your face. If you have a chance to [card]Innervate[/card] early on in the game to put down a four, five or six drop you should almost always do so.
Final note: Never be afraid to unstealth [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] to trade up into a larger minion. It can be tempting to try and make the three drop as big as possible, but you are playing this for value, not a finisher five turns from now.
[card]Fel Reaver[/card]. Plain and simple. That is your biggest threat during this matchup and its high health makes it one of the hardest cards to remove. For this reason you want to put it down onto the board as soon as possible
Though you do not do well when you’re behind, Aggro Druid has a couple of ways to catch up in the form of gigantic minions. [card]Fel Reaver[/card] and [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] both force Tempo Mage to either use their large removal or trade their board. Both of those options are very good for you. Due to your combo Tempo Mage cannot afford to let your large minions live and will kill them on sight. Understand that, and use it to push back when you’re behind.
[card]Flamewaker[/card] is Tempo Mage’s largest midgame threat. In the early turns it can be good, but during turns four and five it can be absolutely devastating. You always need to be prepared for huge waker turns, especially if your opponent still has the coin come turn four, five or six. It may never come, but know that your board can be wiped at any minute and prepare your hand (or removal) accordingly.
Finally, always watch for opportunities to use [card]Savage Roar[/card]. With all of the pressure you put on this card can become lethal at any time throughout the game. If you have a couple of minions on board, especially during turns five or six, you want to step back, check your hand and start counting damage. Also, because you run two of the combo, never be afraid of using roar to clear. The longer the game goes, the better chance you have of getting to your finisher or turn nine.
[toc]Late Game Strategy[/toc]
This section of the game is going to be finishers vs. finishers. These turns are going to be all about counting damage from both sides of the table. They have [card]Fireball[/card] and [card]Frostbolt[/card] while you you have [card]Savage Roar[/card]/[card]Force of Nature[/card]. Each of those are combos in their own right, and you need to be able to play to each.
Always trade during these turns when you can. Early pressure adds up quickly, and you most likely won’t need minions on board to win the game. However, Tempo Mage does. You never want to lose a game because you dared them to have double [card]Fireball[/card]. Just kill the [card]Mana Wyrm[/card] if you can.
The other half to that is, always play to the combo. While in some matchups it is good to hide your potential damage, here you want to just do as much as you can to set up a finisher. That can come in the form or charge, burn or combo, but if you are ahead of line or not in immediate threat of dying just keep hitting them and hitting them hard.
Always watch out for [card]Frostbolt[/card] in this match. A lot of games are going to come down to a race. While Mage does not have access to healing, they can freeze a big minion or even your face to stop crucial damage. That can give them an extra turn, which will be game over if you didn’t plan for it. When engaging in a damage battle always be aware that your minions can be frozen, and trade (or don’t) accordingly.