Hearthstone For Dummies: Druid Basics

From the World of Warcraft Encylopedia:

“Druids harness the vast powers of nature to preserve balance and protect life. With experience, druids can unleash nature’s raw energy against their enemies, raining celestial fury on them from a great distance, binding them with enchanted vines, or ensnaring them in unrelenting cyclones.

Druids can also direct this power to heal wounds and restore life to fallen allies. They are deeply in tune with the animal spirits of Azeroth. As master shapeshifters, druids can take on the forms of a variety of beasts, morphing into a bear, cat, storm crow, or sea lion with ease.

 This flexibility allows them to fill different roles during their adventures, tearing enemies to shreds one minute and surveying the battlefield from the sky the next. These keepers of the natural order are among the most versatile heroes in Azeroth, and they must be prepared to adjust to new challenges on a moment’s notice.”

As Azeroth’s custodians of all things natural, the Druid draws its power from the earth itself and its surroundings, using this energy to deal area-of-effect damage on enemies, restoring health to allies, and even buffing their stats. Druids can also shapeshift, allowing them to deal extra damage while protecting themselves from receiving damage.

In Hearthstone, Druid can be one of the most flexible classes out there, whether you’re playing a tempo deck that puts you two steps ahead of your opponent, using healing spells to keep minions alive, devastating aggro/token decks that upgrade your minion’s attack strength, or even dealing direct damage with your hero.

The Druid class is represented by none other than Malfurion Stormrage, one of the spiritual leaders of the Night Elves and Azeroth’s first Mortal Druid. With the release of The Witchwood and Saviors of Uldum expansions, however, Druid class received 2 new alternate heroes: Lunara, Dryad and eldest daughter of the Demi-God Cenarius, and Elise Starseeker, the League of Explorer’s trailblazing Cartographer.

Hero Power and Theme

The Druid class’ hero power is Shapeshift, which grants their hero +1 attack for one turn and +1 armor that is stackable. This flexibility allows your Druid to be played directly, either aggressively with cards like Pounce or Claw –which grants your hero bonus attack damage for one turn –or defensively by stacking up as much armor as possible (helped along by cards like Ferocious Howl or Branching Paths). At its most basic form, however, Shapeshift can be used to compensate for Druid’s weak early game by clearing the board of small minions without taking too much damage.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Unique Mechanics

 

Choose One

The Choose One mechanic allows the Druid access to cards that give you two options of play, with each option providing a different reaction on the board. Usually, Choose One cards will provide the player with two options, one offensive, and one defensive, like Feral Rage. Feral Rage provides you with either bonus attack damage (which you can use to go aggro), or 8 armor (which you can use if you’re low on health). Another great example is Starfall, which allows you to either deal 5 damage directly on a single enemy minion or deal 2 damage across the board.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Extra Mana

One of Druid’s greatest assets is its ability to generate extra mana crystals, allowing you to ramp out of early game and giving you access to your more mana-heavy cards by the first few turns. Certain cards (like Innervate, Jade Blossom, Wild Growth, etc.) allow Druid’s to stay 2 or 3, maybe even 4 mana ahead of their opponent, allowing them to drop huge minions by early or mid-game.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Ramps are usually permanent, although cards like Innervate only provide you one extra mana only for the turn it is played. However, cards like Wild Growth or Nourish provide Druids with permanent mana crystals. With the introduction of Kun, the Forgotten King and Branch of the World Tree –both cards refresh your hero with 10 mana crystals –Druids can also refresh their mana crystals mid-turn, providing players with massive ramp opportunities.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

Flexibility: As mentioned earlier, Druid’s main strength is its flexibility, allowing you to play offensively with aggro/token decks, defensively with heal spells and taunts, or tempo, with ramp cards and multiple draws. Although some of these cards might be a little weaker than other direct damage cards (i.e. Mage’s Frostbolt or Rogue’s Walk the Plank), they still provide amazing value and can help Druid’s stay in the game.

Early Game Big Minions: With respect to the Barnes/Y’Shaarj combo, the Druid class is probably the only class in Hearthstone that can drop big minions on the board by turn 3 or 4, maybe even 2 if you have a great opening hand. Although most classes have their own big minions to drop on the board, their lack of mana ramping means they’ll only be able to play those minions mid to late game.

Board Control: Along with Shaman, Druids can also play control via small minions that they can buff to become early game threats. Unlike Shaman and Bloodlust, however, Druid’s buffs can be played by turn 2 (with Mark of the Lotus or Blessing of the Ancients by turn 3),  which means that 0/1-cost minions with 1/1 stats can be upgraded to 2/2 or 3/3 minions, providing you with great control early game.

 

Weaknesses:

Weak Removals: Druids may have great healing and buffing spells, but what they sorely lack are hard removals. Yes, Swipe and Starfall are there to make up for this lack by giving great AoE damage, it’s not enough to clear a half-stacked enemy board with 3/3’s, not a hard feat by turn 4 or so.

Bigger minions especially are difficult for Druids to remove, with no cards like Warrior’s Execute, Rogue’s Assassinate, Mage’s Firebolt, or even Shaman’s Hex, to take out high health, high damage enemy minions.

Don’t Call it A Comeback, Because It Isn’t: Once Druids fall behind in tempo and board control, they’re practically dead in the water. With a lack of hard removals and not-enough-damage board clears, rebuilding your board with 1/1 minions at turn 6 might not be the best option out there.

Late game rallies are rare for Druids, especially if they’ve used up all of their buff cards and heals, only for their minions to burn to a crisp with a single Flamestrike (seriously, nerf that damn card). If you’re playing Druid and you find yourself 3 minions behind by turn 5, don’t expect a 9th-round-Rocky comeback: it simply won’t happen.

No Ramp/Buffs in Early Game? Yeah, You’re Screwed: As mentioned, Druid’s greatest strength is its ability to ramp early game or to buff low-cost minions early game. Without any ramp or buff cards when you mulligan, and you’ll find yourself falling behind in tempo, and we know what happens when Druids fall behind (see above). It’s frustrating enough for any class to get an opening hand full of expensive, 6+ cost cards, what more for a Druid without ramp cards. Imagine the frustration!

But even if you do get your low-cost, but also low health and low damage, minions with your opening hand, without your buff cards, they become less of a threat and more of cheap cannon fodder that your opponent will probably clear by next turn.

 

Sample Wild Decks

The Hearthstone meta changes every 3 months, with each new expansion bringing new cards and keywords. However, if you already have some experience with deck building and laddering and want to try something new, playing Wild is extremely fun (or extremely frustrating). Here are some evergreen Wild Druid decks to experiment with that can get you up the ladder at the start.

Note, however, that while these decks are great for climbing up from 50 to 20, you might need to swap out a few cards depending on your style of play.

 

Aggro/Token Druid

Format: Wild

Dust: 4,720

 

ManaCardAmount
1Enchanted Raven2
1Mark of the Lotus2
1Druid of the Swarm2
1Mark of Y’Shaarj2
2Power of the Wild2
3Savage Roar2
4Branching Paths2
5Living Mana2
0Snowflipper Penguin2
1Dire Mole2
1Fire Fly2
2Dire Wolf Alpha2
3Vicious Fledgling2
4Spellbreaker2
5Bittertide Hydra2
5Leeroy Jenkins1

Token Druids are one of the oldest deck archetypes in Hearthstone, with players using this playstyle from the game’s release. In fact, many of the Classic Druid cards are built for this kind of playstyle, so combining it with other Wild cards can give you powerful synergies.

The idea behind this deck is simple: fill up your board with cheap minions (i.e. Snowflipper, Enchanted Raven, Fire Fly, and Living Mana if you’re desperate) and buff them as early as possible. Once you have full control of the board, ideally with 3/3 minions and higher, start chipping away at the opponent’s health then close with Leeroy. Tech cards like Spellbreaker ensure that you have a defense against enemy minions with active effects (i.e. Taunt or end-of-turn effects), while Branching Paths ensures you ramp, healing, buff, or tempo.

Take note, however, that this deck does require you to have buffing cards with your opening hand and at least one or two minions to play. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time building your board and risk falling behind.

 

Jade Druid

Format: Wild

Dust: 9,200

 

ManaCardAmount
1Jade Idol2
1Lesser Jasper Spellstone2
2Wrath2
3Jade Blossom2
3Wild Growth2
4FandralStaghelm1
4Ironwood Golem2
4Oaken Summons2
4Swipe2
6Jade Behemoth2
6Nourish2
6Spreading Plague2
7Malfurion the Pestilent1
10Ultimate Infestation2
5 (0)Arcane Tyrant2
6AyaBlackpaw1
8Medivh the Guardian1

The Jade Druid archetype was introduced with the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion, allowing the Druid, Rogue, and Shaman class to play a powerful minion called Jade Golems. The Jade Golems start as 1/1’s, but every successive Jade Golem you play throughout the match gets an extra 1/1, stacking indefinitely and cannot be silenced, forcing players to use hard removal spells. This means that if you play a Jade Golem at turn 1, it will have 1/1 stats. Play another Jade Golem at turn 2, and it will have 2/2 stats, and so on and so forth. Unchecked, and this can easily snowball, giving you a board of extremely hard to remove big minions by mid-game.

In Jade decks, Druids have the clear advantage thanks to the Jade Idol card, which is a Choose One card exclusive to Druid. Jade Idol is the bread-and-butter of this deck, allowing you to either summon an X/X Jade Golem (depending on how many you’ve played already), or shuffle 3 more copies of the card in your deck.

The downside: Jade decks are slow to build, as Jade Golems have to start as 1/1’s, and if you don’t have card draws or cards that give you ramp + Jade Golem (i.e. Jade Blossom), you might have a hard time building your board. However, to counter this, the deck employs the use of Taunt minions and spells like Jade Behemoth (which gives you a 3/6 taunt minion + 1 X/X Jade Golem) as well as Spreading Plague.

While this deck can be powerful if you’re able to build your Jade Golems early, it can be countered with Skulking Geist, which eliminates all 1-cost cards in your deck and hand. Skulking Geist can be played by your opponent at turn 6 (or turn 5 if they have Coin, or earlier if they’re also playing Druid), so if you feel like you’re going to be tech’d out of your Jade Idols, build up your Jade army as early as possible.

With the right combo, losing your 1/1 Jade Idol cards via Skulking Geist is a hassle but is something you can play around. For example, if the cards are right and I can sense that the opponent has Skulking Geist, I play this combo:

 

Turn 1: play Jade Idol (1 1/1 Jade Golem on board)

Turn 2: play Coin, then Jade Blossom (1/1, 2/2 Jade Golems on board)

Turn 3: play FandralStaghelm

Turn 4: play another Jade Idol (1/1, 2/2, 3/3 Jade Golems now on board)

Turn 5: if possible, play another Jade Idol ( 1/1, 2/2/, 3/3, 4/4 Jade Golems on board)

 

If my opponent doesn’t play Skulking Geist yet, I will probably play Jade Behemoth to give me taunt and an extra Jade Golem on turn 6. Provided that none of my Jade Golems have been removed, I’ll have a board with 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 Jade Golems and a 3/6 taunt minion, giving me a whopping 18 points of damage. Of course, this relies that I have all the cards I need at any given point, opponent has no removals and doesn’t trade minions, and opponent has no taunts, a win condition that is sadly rare (thanks, RNG Gods!).

 

Big Druid

Format: Wild

Dust:  16,460

 

ManaCardAmount
1Earthen Scales2
3Jade Blossom2
3Wild Growth2
4Mire Keeper1
4Swipe2
6Nourish2
6Spreading Plague2
7Malfurion the Pestilent1
10Kun the Forgotten King1
10Ultimate Infestation2
3Drakkari Enchanter1
4Bright-Eyed Scout2
8The Lich King1
9Dragonhatcher2
9Master Oakheart1
9Sleepy Dragon2
9Ysera1
10Deathwing1
10DeathwingDragonlord1
10Y’Shaarj Rage Unbound1

Another Druid archetype that is as old as the game itself, Big Druid is all about ramping as much as you can when you can so you can drop big minions as soon as you can. Your first couple of turns should be all about ramping, gaining as much mana crystals as possible, so that by turn 3 or 4, you can potentially drop the Lich King (which can ideally generate cards you need for removal).

Some players will swap out Mire Keeper or Drakkari Enchanter with Barnes, with the hopes of pulling a 1/1 Y’Shaarj, but IMHO, this is a bit risky for turn 3; I’d much rather use that turn to ramp instead of gambling on pulling a 1/1 Y’Shaarj or even a 1/1 Ysera.

But again, referring back to Druid’s innate weakness when faced with an expensive opening hand, if you have no ramp cards during mulligan. You’re basically at the mercy of RNG, in which case, maybe having Barnes isn’t such a terrible idea after all.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on google
Google+
Share on email
Email
Scroll to Top