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The New Standard: Taunt Swarm Druid

Besides Paladin (I’m still playing that awesome silver hand recruit list) the other class I have been insanely excited for is Druid. Many people have said that Malfurion did not get many good cards in the new set, but boy are they wrong. Druid got a ton of interesting tools that, while not as traditional […]

Joe Russo Dec 20, 2017 9:32 am

Introduction

Besides Paladin (I’m still playing that awesome silver hand recruit list) the other class I have been insanely excited for is Druid. Many people have said that Malfurion did not get many good cards in the new set, but boy are they wrong. Druid got a ton of interesting tools that, while not as traditional as what we’ve seen from the class, are incredibly powerful. The list we’re looking out today is a midrange-taunt style build similar to what I discussed during my brewing article before the set dropped. I’ve had a ton of success with this build, which looks to power out undercosted threats and then use that board presence to take over the game. This is midrange through and through, and uses a lot of fun cards we’ve never seen before.

Key Cards

Lesser Jasper Spellstone

Let’s get this one out of the way. This deck does not run Swipe. If that upsets you, I totally understand. It was something that I had a big problem with when first playing this list (how am I going to beat aggro?), but I have become much more accustomed to the absence over time. While you can easily run the four mana psuedo-AOE spell if you truly believe you need it, we have another option. This list packs Lesser Jasper Spellstone, a card that helps Druid do a lot of things it previously could not. This card may not seem insane at first glance, but there are a lot of different ways to gain armor here. As a result, the one mana spell is almost always going to be six damage. Even when it’s not, it is still going to get you a lot of value.

There are a ton of minions running around the ladder right now, and being able to cheaply kill them is fantastic. That goes double when facing decks that depend on early tempo. Being able to pick off Raza the Chained or Drakonid Operative is great, but Lesser Jasper Spellstone still gets you a ton of value when hitting for two (Flame Imp/Sorcerer’s Apprentice) or four (Southsea Captain/Murloc Warleader). The reason this card is so powerful is because it only costs one mana, which allows it to fill in your curve in a way that other spells don’t. So many times in Druid you ramp, and then have left over or wasted mana during the middle of the game. The spellstone suddenly gives you a way to play your ramp cards or big threats while also controlling the board. Yes, it does not quite have the wide-reaching power that Swipe does, but you being able to Nourish on five and kill a beefy midrange threat is invaluable.

Savage Roar

This was not my inclusion to the list (I found it while comparing builds). However, it is extremely important. Savage Roar may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about Midrange Druid, but there is no doubt the deck would not work without it. Cards like Ironwood Golem and Astral Tiger are great at controlling the early board, but they don’t pack on that much damage (especially against control). Yes, chip shots can add up over time, but there are many games where you have a very tight window to kill your opponent before they get to their Death Knight or big finisher. Roar helps with that by turning ever body into a solid threat. Just note that nobody is going to play around this card, especially in this day and age. There are many times where you can put out seemingly weak boards (a 3/5 alongside two 1/5’s) and then burst your opponent down before they know what’s going on. Don’t sell this one unless you absolutely have to. It works much better as a surprise.

Remember, you don’t only need to use Savage Roar for damage. The card kills people (and will be the main way you close out games) but it also helps you control the board. Trading up is always going to be good in Hearthstone, especially when you have minions that you want to die like Astral Tiger and Greedy Sprite. Look for those opportunities throughout the game and do not hesitate to take them if they push you ahead. I find that I will burn one roar during the early-to-mid game against more aggressive decks when I am short on removal, and I will typically save both against control (or if I know a big taunt is coming). That is a good rule to live by and will help you understand how to use the card. Also know that there are going to be games where you’re going to need both roars to kill your opponent. In those cases you need to hoard the spells at all costs.

Oaken Summons/Guild Recruiter

I have lumped both of these cards together because they largely do the same thing; recruit powerful minions. Something else you will notice is that this list only has one Spreading Plague. That is something I’ve been going back and forth on, but a reason for excluding the six mana spell is that you almost always have the board. The point of this build is to make your opponent react to you. You do not need cards like Swipe because your opponent is going to trade their early board into Ironwood Golem or use key burn to shut down Cairne Bloodhoof. Guild Recruiter is fantastic for that plan because it gives you two bodies that can instantly put you ahead. Ramping into this on turn three shuts down a lot of early pushes and also helps you cement your board. Yes, the 2 attack isn’t much, but in a world of murlocs, zoo and small beasts, it does what you need it to.

Oaken Summons is an insanely powerful card that is perfect for both this deck and the current meta. A big problem with past Midrange Druid builds is that you always had to choose between spells (healing/ramp) and impacting the board. Summons helps you do both at the same time. Sometimes you get a Greedy Sprite for extra mana, and sometimes you put up a taunt wall. Either way, you gain health. Cards that do multiple things are always going to be strong, and the four mana spell neatly does everything midrange wants without stretching yourself too thin. Yes, you do not know what you’re going to pull off of this card, but the deck is built in a way where it is almost always going to be good. Astral Tiger is typically the worst option, but even then you get six armor, and a body that sets up your end-game finisher. Not bad.

Astral Tiger

Well, I was wrong. I have spoken out against Astral Tiger many times, but the card is really good. The 3/5 is not that scary on its own, but it gets much stronger in a deck packing double Savage Roar. Not only that, but it also never goes away. There are a ton of ways to get this card out of your deck, and by the time you get to Grizzled Guardian or N’zoth the Corruptor you are going to have a strong engine going. Endless finishers are powerful, and the 3/5’s make N’zoth incredibly strong because they come back off of Grizzled Guardian if your opponent has any AOE. In that way, they make a good finisher simply because of their inevitability. Though it is not quite the same as Jade Idol, the ability to come back over and over again can wear down quite a lot of decks. Not only that, but it also keeps you out of fatigue in games where you and your opponent go long. This card does not seem like much on its own (and it isn’t) but in a deck built with an engine for it, it has more than enough strength.

Master Oakheart/N’zoth the Corruptor

For a deck like this to work you need two things: ways to control the board and powerful finishers. Master Oakheart and N’zoth the Corruptor fill both of those roles masterfully. These two cards are a crazy strong top-end that make the deck what it is. N’zoth is great because it brings back both Grizzled Guardian and Astral Tiger (giving you more recruit targets in your deck for otherwise dead cards in your hand). Just make sure your tigers are dead and in your deck at this point in the game. Most people will not see N’zoth coming, but those that do are going to hold back their AOE at all costs. If you manage to have two tigers in your deck, then you still get a pair of 3/5’s to work with when the smoke clears.

If you have a choice between the two finishers, you should always lead with Master Oakheart. The nine mana card is fantastic at thinning your deck and, while he is a bit more susceptible to AOE, he makes N’zoth that much better. You don’t know what you’re going to get when you put him down, but he is going to fetch you one of your powerful three drops. Even just getting three solid bodies is a great way to fill the board and represent lethal without committing too much. Oakheart is the reason I have a Tar Creeper teched into this deck. As you can see from the videos, Ixlid, Fungal Lord was also here to act as a two attack minion, but I find that Spreading Plague is better in the current meta.

Deck Code

AAECAZICBqQD4KwCysM CmdMCo+YC8eoCDF/mBcQG5AiHzgKU0gK Y0gKo0gKE5gKL5gL55gL15wIA

Matchups

The four decks I have faced the most so far.

Priest

I am not sure what version of Priest is the most popular right now, but I do know there is a lot of them out there. I have seen Razakus, but dragon has made a fair showing as well. Out of those two, dragon is definitely going to give you more trouble. The midrange deck actively fights for the board, and they will overtake you if you let them. This is a game where you want to trade up, get use out of your fully upgraded spellstones, and play double Savage Roar to ice the game. Priest loves to take the role of control, which typically means they aren’t going to take that much damage. Rather, you need to steadily wear them down by baiting out removal and chipping away at their health turn after turn. They only run so many spells, and eventually that supply is going to run out. Even something as simple as three small bodies can add up to lethal once you’ve ground them out of cards.

One of the big advantages of this deck is how well it plays against Razakus Priest. The one-of deck is becoming more popular by the day, and will likely continue its climb back into the meta. Your goal in this game is to control the board early and then rapidly gain life as your opponent searches for various ways to deal with your threats. They only run so many removal spells, and a lot of the time those are going to be on the bottom of their deck. As a result, you need to go in early and make sure that keeps your opponent busy. As they remove, you need to heal. Health is almost always how you’re going to win this game. Become Malfurion the Pestilent as soon as you possibly can, use Oaken Summons early and often, and don’t hesitate to play Ultimate Infestation for the armor. You are going to be the aggressor, which means your opponent is unlikely to damage you. Just stay as far above thirty as you can, and always prioritize life once Priest turns into the DK.

Control Warlock

Another big player in the early metagame, Control Warlock just keeps getting better and better. This deck has numerous ways to control the board, and even more options to both heal and remove threats. This game looks tricky on paper, but it is definitely going to be one of your easier matchups. Not only does Warlock lack the proper AOE to deal with your threats, but they are extremely susceptible to Savage Roar. Your goal in this game is similar to Priest. You want to steadily chip your opponent down and then finish them off with burst. However, you can be a tad more aggressive here since, as always, you won’t be able to race Bloodreaver Gul’dan. Hit face early, lean on your high health threats, and be careful about playing into Defile. As long as you can keep up constant pressure, your opponent will fold.

The only card you need to be hyper-aware of is Voidlord. The nine drop can be cheated into play in numerous ways, and even if it is hard cast, it is going to create a lot of problems for you. I will almost always use Savage Roar on the 3/9 if it comes down early because once you lose the board to it there is no coming back. Also make note of the different ways your opponent can heal. A lot of this game is going to be spent trying to bait your opponent down into lethal range, but that won’t be easy to do. You need to look for the windows when your opponent leaves themselves exposed and then go hard at their face. Be patient, but don’t be too lazy either. You need to constantly make your opponent feel threatened in order to keep yourself in control.

Aggro Paladin

Call to Arms has proven its worth, and Murloc Aggro Paladin has come surging across the ladder. This is going to be your trickiest game because, without Swipe, you have to rely on fast ramp and beefy minions to control the board. Murloc has a lot of power, but they are also very easy to outclass once you get ahead of the swarm. The rule of this one is very simple, if you let your opponent get ahead of you the game is going to be over. Paladin feeds off of the board, and the new builds rely on tempo. You need to cut both of those off at all costs. Big taunts and cheap removal are the most important parts of this matchup. Even something as simple as a turn one Lesser Jasper Spellstone on a Murloc Tidecaller can be the difference between winning and losing a game. You can never be too careful here. It may not seem like a big deal to leave a 1/1 up, but one Blessing of Kings and Call to Arms later and you’ve completely lost control of the game. Use your minions and always trade. Also, be careful about playing into Divine Favor. You don’t draw too many cards, but you can give your opponent a full hand if you aren’t careful.

Midrange/Spell Hunter

Like Priest, I’m also lumping Hunter together because I’ve seen many different iterations over the past week or so. Some decks go the all-spell route, while other decks choose to play pure midrange. Each has distinct differences, but they both revolve around damage. As such, your plan is going to be the same against both: survive. Rexxar, as always, comes packed with a tons damage in all sorts of different forms, and you need to keep that off of you as much as you possibly can. There are a lot of ways to heal in this deck, and you are going to need to utilize them all. When facing midrange it is better to make good use of your taunts, but when you’re up against spell armor should be number one. You will almost always win once you start getting to the later turns, but making it there is not going to be easy. Like Paladin, don’t get lazy. Clear as much as you can.

The card you need to pay special attention to in this one is Lesser Emerald Spellstone. The five mana wolf-maker is one of the biggest problems for Druid, and it will kill you in a hurry. You need to count the number of secrets your opponent has played and then consciously build a board or hand that can answer the according number of 3/3’s. Beyond that, you just want to try to get ahead on board around turn six for both Savannah Highmane and To My Side!. It is easy to fall behind Hunter, but it is also easy to stay ahead. Everything happens on the board and you should treat it as such. Also note that this is a matchup where you could easily tech in a second Spreading Plague if you’re seeing a lot of it.

Mulligan Guide

You want to mulligan for your early ramp as well as early activators. Wild Growth and Wrath are the only two must keeps. However, Lesser Jasper Spellstone is great against aggro, and you should always keep both Greedy Sprite and Tar Creeper with the coin or a good curve. Sprite can be kept on its own against slower decks as well. Oaken Summons is great on curve or with the coin. Also remember that, as always, you should play to your ramp. These are the basic mulligan rules, but if an early growth or sprite gives you more mana to curve into a five or six drop, then that can be a good keep.

Conclusion

Fresh is always best. The new set is the first time in what feels like a year since I’ve gotten a chance to just build decks without having to fit into the molds of quests, death knights, or gangs. While set and deck themes can be fun, sometimes it is good to let loose and look at all the cards in a fresh way. I still have a lot of more decks coming your guy’s way (including the one I’m taking to legend), and there are still many ideas I can’t wait to try out. A new set is upon us, and I hope you’re as ready as I am. Until next time, may you always summon more tigers.


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