Now that it’s a new year (and Blizzcon is coming once again) I made up my mind to make a serious push for the World Championship. In February, I made my first move towards that by hitting legend faster than I ever have before (less than two weeks into the season). How did I do it? By using a card that has largely flown under the radar: [card]Recombobulator[/card]. This idea was not my own, but I think I’ve refined it into a fast and powerful deck. Recombobulator is a card that got a little buzz when GVG first got released, but quickly fell out of favor once decks like Mech Mage came roaring into the meta. However, this deck uses the innocuous 3/2 to the best of its potential by solidifying an already strong midrange shell and throwing in some rng spice.
At its base, this list is like any other midrange Druid list. It uses big minions and some timely removal to take control of the board and never give it back. As with any good Druid list, you run the combo as a finisher, which gets even better with all of the charge minions that you run. These minions are the crux of the deck, and using them to form a good curve is how you win. While Recombobulator is not the card the deck is built around, it is an extremely strong tool that pushes midrange Druid from good, to great.
Many of the cards in this list are stock cards you would find in any Druid list ([card]Innervate[/card], [card]Wild Growth[/card], [card]Druid of the Claw[/card], [card]Ancient of Lore[/card] etc.). However, I will outline a few of the cards that make this deck special, and why those cards are so powerful in the current meta.
[cardinsert card=”recombobulator” float=”right”]
This card makes the deck what it is. [card]Recombobulator[/card] is an insanely powerful card that allows you to get value out of minions once their Battlecry/initial effect goes off. Now, as stated, it is important to remember this card is not the crux of the deck. You do not need it to win. However, it does give you a very powerful tool that allows a certain element of surprise. For those that do not know, there are only three cards in the deck you want to Recombobulate. The main target here is [card]Argert Commander[/card]. This card, which once ruled the midrange land, fell out of favor for two reasons:
- Four damage doesn’t do quite as much as it used to ([card]Sludge Belcher[/card] says hi)
- After the shield pops, you’re left with a mere 4/2 body.
However, if you combine Argent Commander with Recombobulator, it becomes a whole different story.
There are a ton of powerful six drops in this game, and they range from [card]Savannah Highmane[/card] to [card]Sylvanas Windrunner[/card] to [card]Cairne Bloodhoof[/card]. All of these are much more powerful than a 4/2. Yes, not all six drops are that strong ([card]Gazlowe[/card], [card]Frost Elemental[/card], [card]Priestess of Elune[/card]), but even the most underwhelming cards for 6 mana are better than a 4/2. You can also use Recombobulator on [card]The Black Knight[/card] for the same reason, as this allows you a chance at something powerful after killing a Taunt minion. The Recomobulator’s body is a solid 3/2 for 2 mana as well.
Recombobulator is best used on high mana minions. It is also why it is absolutely insane when used with [card]Ancient of Lore[/card]. Ancient of Lore even when understatted at 5/5, has arguably one of the strongest ‘Battlecries’ in the game. After that, you can easily Recombobulate it to get good value. This is a strong play because basically any 7 drop is going to be better than a 5/5. Some of them are even game ending such as [card]Prophet Velen[/card], [card]Gahz’rilla[/card] and [card]Archmage Antonidas[/card]. These reasons are why Recombobulator is such a great card. As a quick side note, while you can also sometimes use this card on [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card], you never want to use it on anything else as the variance is usually too high.
[cardinsert card=”shade-of-naxxramas” float=”left”]
Shade of Naxxramas
Shade has been a Druid staple for quite sometime. So why bring it up at all? The answer is because, even though it’s only a one-of, you don’t want to cut this card. [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] is perfect for a midrange deck like this, and an extremely important piece of the puzzle. It has two modes here. Let it grow into a mid-sized minion and kill something in the midgame, or let it grow huge and finish off your opponent with the combo. Against aggro decks, you typically want to use it to kill things to make way for your meatier minions. Against control I wouldn’t unstealth it unless I had lethal. This is a pretty straightforward rule, and it only gets tricky against Rogue. Here, you do not want to unstealth it too early (as they can easily kill or [card]Sap[/card] ) but you want to get some use out of it before they [card]Blade Flurry[card] for seven or eight. Typically, it is best to unstealth it when it is a 6/6 or 7/7 to kill something off or put on a huge amount of pressure. If they use a flurry early just to kill it, that’s a win.
[cardinsert card=”kezan-mystic” float=”right”]
I bring up [card]Kezan Mystic[/card] for the very same reason I bring up [card]Piloted Shredder[/card]. This spot is largely a flex-spot, meaning you can play any tech card you want here. I chose the mystic due to the resurgence of Midrange Hunter, and because of Mech Mage’s tendency to run [card]Mirror Entity[/card]. Kezan can be an absolute blowout in those situations, and she even does really well against [card]Face Hunter[/card] as well. However, if you are not seeing too many secrets, or you aren’t partial to the mystic, you can run either [card]Harrison Jones[/card] or [card]Mind Control Tech[/card] in her place. Of those, I would recommend [card]Mind Control Tech[/card], as it gives you a stronger curve and another answer to aggro.
[cardinsert card=”piloted-shredder” float=”left”]
As I discuss in the video, during my own climb, I played two [card]Chillwind Yeti[/card]s in this spot instead of [card]Piloted Shredder[/card]. Most decks these days have adopted these 4/3 minions. Piloted Shredder is a very solid card that interacts with both board control as well as the combo. For these reasons, it gives a lot of power to the midgame approach. If you are facing slower control decks, you might want to try Yeti here. If you are facing aggro, [card]Sen’jin Shieldmasta[/card] is a nice option, giving you a solid minoin on curve with taunt.
[cardinsert card=”the-black-knight” float=”right”]
The Black Knight
While the above cards are flex spots, [card]The Black Knight[/card] is not. It may seem like [card]The Black Knight[/card] is a tech choice, something used to fit the metagame. However, I would not remove this card from the deck and it has no real alternative. Almost every deck runs some sort of taunt ([card]Sludge Belcher[/card], [card]Annoy-o-tron[/card]) and while it may have very little impact on some games, you always want to have it in your deck. [card]Recombobulator[/card] makes this card strong on its own, even without using its Battlecry, and that means it will never truly be useless. In addition, as a combo Druid deck, you always want to have a fail-safe against Taunt minions. Taunt is one of the most popular abilities in the game, and having a [card]Chillwind Yeti[/card] that gets rid of it is very important in a deck with an aggressive sub-theme such as this.
[cardinsert card=”argent-commander” float=”right”]
As previously touched upon, [card]Argent Commander[/card] would never work without its 3/2 counterpart. However, it can also do some work in situations without [card]Recombobulator[/card]. There are plenty of games where you can play this to trade. It kills plenty of smaller minions, and does a nice job finishing off larger ones. Still, perhaps the most important use for this card (besides turning into a [card]Piloted Sky Golem[/card]) is for aggressive purposes. Along with [card]Druid of the Claw[/card], this card makes you have access to four, 4-attack Charge minions. As such, never be afraid to go face when you need to. There are many games where you can start hitting your opponent and push towards the combo. This card is one of the tools that helps you do that. It also can win games with [card]Savage Roar[/card] on its own.
[cardinsert card=”webspinner” float=”left”]
Last season, Trump took this deck all the way to the top of the ladder. While he didn’t stay there, it was a very impressive move that shows Hunter will probably never go away. However, while Face Hunter is the worst matchup for this deck, the more popular midrange variant is an easier time. Midrange Hunter, which utilizes minions such as [card]Savannah Highmane[/card], [card]Piloted Shredder[/card] and [card]Dr. Boom[/card] to crush their opponent in the late game. However, they are much weaker against a deck like this due to the amount of charge and pressure we can put on. Here, you want to be the control deck for the earlier stages of the game, and then start hitting face to make sure they answer your threat. One rule to remember: they run [card]Dr. Boom[/card], which means you never want to play your [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] unless you absolutely have to. There are also a huge number of [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] targets, which is why I will almost always try to use them on something bigger than a [card]Mad Scientist[/card]. Be aware of [card]unleash-the-hounds[/card], and use your [card]Ancient of Lore[/card]s for health only when you are under a large amount of pressure.
[cardinsert card=”blade-flurry” float=”right”]
Miracle says hi. While it may not be the Leeroy-loving deck we once knew, Oil Rogue is an absolute powerhouse that can do savage amounts of damage out of nowhere. Here, you want to keep [card]Wrath[/card] or [card]Swipe[/card] (not both) in your opening hand. Swipe is very good for [card]Violet Teacher[/card], but Wrath is much more important early on as it can kill minions that can be annoying to remove ([card]SI:7 Agent[/card], [card]Earthen Ring Farseer[/card]). [card]Sap[/card] is their best tempo play, but you can mitigate that by playing charge minions and using your aggressive midgame to put the pressure on. If they use removal spells ([card]Eviscerate[/card] comes to mind) on your minions instead of your face, of if you force an early [card]Blade Flurry[/card], you are probably in good shape. The number one rule with Rogue (as it has always been) is to try not to take huge chunks of damage, and never let any of their minions stick around for more than a turn.
[cardinsert card=”tirion-fordring” float=”left”]
Save your [card]Swipe[/card]s for [card]Muster for Battle[/card]. That may seem way overly simplistic, but it is the most important thing to do in this match-up. Just like with Oil Rogue, you never want them to have minions, but this goes double for ones they can pump up with [card]Quartermaster[/card]. [card]Argent Commander[/card] is an absolute all-star here. Not only does it trade with a whole range of minions, but a lot of Paladin’s removal is one-for-one. As such, things like [card]Consecration[/card] or [card]Truesilver Champion[/card] have a really hard time kicking the Commander off the board. The combo is the way you win here, and slamming some Northrend action onto a clear board is a very good way to set that up. One last thing, [card]Keeper of the Grove[/card] is the most important card in this match. A lot of the Paladin battle is baiting out their board clears and effectively trading minions. The one card that’s a legitimate problem is [card]Tirion Fordring[/card]. If you don’t have a Keeper for the sword-wielding legendary minion, the game can get away from you very, very fast. Yes, sometimes you will have to use a Keeper early on, but try as hard as you can to have one for the later stages of the game.
[cardinsert card=”mechwarper” float=”right”]
Its popularity may have dropped in the past few weeks, but Mech Mage is still rolling right along. This deck does what so many aggro decks can do – flood the board with minions. The upside is that it does so much faster and more reliably. [card]Swipe[/card] is an absolute must keep here to deal with [card]Goblin Blastmage[card] or [card]Tinkertown Technician[/card], as is [card]Wrath[/card]. If you can fend off their first wave (usually two or three drops) then your big minions and strong midgame will win the day. The biggest rule is, you have bigger minions then they do. What does that mean? It means always trade unless you are specifically pushing for lethal. This is because, eventually, you will land something like an [card]Ancient of Lore[/card] or a [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] and they will play a lowly [card]Cogmaster[/card]. When that happens, you win. As with Hunter, always save your [card]Big Game Hunter[/card] for [card]Dr. Boom[/card].
[cardinsert card=”wild-growth” float=”left”]
Druid is easily one of the hardest match-ups for this deck. The reason being that, while this matchup is by no means unwinnable, it commonly comes down to the coin flip of who can [card]Wild Growth[/card]/[card]Innervate[/card] first. That is a very unfortunate rule, but it sadly is a part of the Druid lifestyle. This match-up alone is the main reason that I would never remove [card]The Black Knight[/card] from this list. Not only is it a great tool for when Druid tries to go over your head with things like [card]Ancient of War[/card], but it is also one of the very few catch-up cards available. Normally, once you or your opponent gets board control, the game never really swings back, but The Black Knight can make that happen. It should also be noted that this can happen for your opponent as well, and it is usually best to put your [card]Druid of the Claw[/card]s into charge mode in the later stages of the game. The combo is your win condition, and you want to play around their combo as well. They have bigger minions, but you have access to a lot quicker kills.
[cardinsert card=”innervate” float=”right”]
Due to the high amount of mulligan guide requests, I will always include a mulligan guide in the video, along with a shorter guide here in the write up.
Just like with any Druid deck, the two cards you are always looking for are [card]Innervate[/card] and [card]Wild Growth[/card]. These should be mulliganed for at all times, and you should pitch almost everything to find them. Against Druid, send everything back that isn’t a Wild Growth or Innervate, as those are the cards that will ultimately decide the game. Beyond that, mulliganing follows a few basic rules.
- [card]Wrath[/card] is always going to be kept against everything that isn’t Druid.[card].
- [card]Swipe[/card] should always be kept against Mage and Hunter, especially if you have the coin.
- [card]Kezan Mystic[/card] is also central when playing those two classes. Keeper of the Grove is a possible keep against aggro, and should be kept when facing any deck that likes to go face.
Obviously, you never want to keep any card that costs more than four. However, this changes if you have Innervate in your opener. With two free mana it is generally a good idea to keep five drops, especially if you can play them with the coin on turn two. [card]Sludge Belcher[/card] and [card]Druid of the Claw[/card] are excellent ways to start the game. Keeper is also a must keep if you have a starting Innervate or Wild Growth. [card]Shade of Naxxramas[/card] also falls into the “always keep” category if you have one or more of the other two, and this goes double when you can play it on turn one or two.
That was week two of Weekly Legends, and I hope you guys enjoyed the deck. Next week I plan to return to look at a very interesting take on Rogue. Until then, hope you guys enjoy the list and may your Druids always come early and your Ancients arrive late.