This was a new Strifecro deck -- popularized by Kolento -- and when I first saw it, I decided to try it out and ran it to rank 11 (EU) by the end of Season four. Prior to this, my opinion of Druid was that it sucks if it misses its early drops. While I still think this is true, the new two and three mana minions in Naxx -- and in this build -- have shored up this weakness.
Playing this deck gives me flashbacks to the Mage deck of Test Season 1. That Mage deck was stripped down to an efficient core and asked a question of its opponents: "here's my plan, can you stop me"? I finished rank one with the deck back in the day.
This deck mirrors that Mage in that it consistently executes an incredibly strong game plan. The only weak matchup is Handlock which could be helped by adding reactive cards in Big Game Hunter and/or The Black Knight. Those cards, however, would hurt the deck in other matchups. Sure, BGH can still do work against decks -- such as Warrior -- and a BK can take down a Sludge Belcher, but this deck is better off not diluting its main plan.
Another reason why this deck needs to commit to its plan is the lack of draws due to Spectral Knights being played instead of Azure Drakes. This, in turn, forces you to play all-in style since you usually only have a couple of cards in your hand by turn six. Your goal is to play something every turn and end the game on turn nine at the latest.
The most important concept with the deck is that you spend your Coin and Innervate to ensure you never miss a minion on turns two through four: mulligan accordingly. You should always throw back the Wraths and all cards costing four or more cost aside from Keeper of the Grove in Warlock matchup. Keep only Innervates, two drops, and three drops. If you have all of this already, you can consider keeping a Wrath but even Wrath is mostly only useful against aggro. With Druid, and this deck in particular, it is very important to snowball the board in your favor.
Spend your Innervate and Coin wisely.
Echoing Ooze when the card came out. In a deck with double Savage Roar, however, the card is extremely strong. The synergies with Savage Roar only continue when you consider Haunted Creeper's Deathrattle spiders. These tokens quite often result in eight, or more, extra damage for three mana. These fresh Naxxramas cards have opened up more plays for Savage Roar. In the past, you were more often forced to save the Roar to combo with Force of Nature. Now, however, all bets are off.
Shade of Naxxramas is another card which has proven to be amazing. While it is not so good on later turns, as your opponent might cast spells such as Holy Nova or Consecration to kill it, there was a hole in the Druid's curve at three mana and this card is definitely more than filler.
Note: Playing with Shade of Naxxramas is still something being worked out due to the newness of the card. My general strategy is to hedge on the cautious side with him. You should never unstealth your Shade to attack the face unless you have a clear plan to lethal in one to two turns. Unstealting to trade is usually what you want to be doing. That said, don't waste your Stealth attacking into a Deathrattle minion: you can get better value off Shade by waiting to kill a bigger threat.
Having just the two Harvest Golems at three mana used to result in a lot of hero-power passing or trying to save Innervate to push out a five-drop. Big Game Hunter was a decent card since you just would play it on three in most matchups and never look back. The problem with this line was that it would get a 1-for-1 at best. The Shade is much more resilient than any of our other options.
Coining or Innervating a shade is often a good play; however, there are exceptions. While this card is one you really want in your starting hand, if you have a two drop and no other three, save your coin for a later turn. The Stealth on this minion is amazing. Aside from Hunters with Flares and Deadly Shots, the card is guaranteed to survive the early turns. Keep the Flares in mind against Hunter, you don’t want to trade this for a mad scientist. Hunter is one of the few matchups where you might want to play a Harvest Golem over the Shade.
Can't touch this.
Spectral Knight, with its spell immunity, is incredibly sticky. Many decks, however, cannot support the Spectral Knight as well as Druid. Taunting it up is incredibly strong if you expect your opponent will not play the Black Knight. Cutting the Drakes does, however, come at a cost. Without Azure Drake there won’t be any Spell Power Swipes, and the only draw effects in the deck now come from the Ancient of Lores. As a result, this deck is pretty bad at top decking games. On the plus side, the deck is strong enough to end most games before it comes to that. Spectral Knight feels to me like even more a Miracle killer than Loatheb.
All I’m gonna say about Loatheb is that the card is broken, but it might not get nerfed because it is a bomb against combo decks such as Freeze Mage and Miracle Rogue. Those solitaire decks are hated by a lot of people, and while Blizzard have stated that if a card is in every list they would nerf it, this one might stick around as is.
There is one important thing in common with the Haunted Creepers, the Echoing Oozes, Shade of Naxxramas, and Spectral Knights: they are extremely tough to remove completely, and even if they survive only as 1-1s, they will still get stuff done in combination with Savage Roar.
When playing this deck, it is important to hit your minions on curve. As such, there is some redundancy at each slot on the curve. If you happen to draw multiple minions of the same cost knowing which to play first can make or break a game.
This is your best card,use
it to curve out efficiently.
This is your best card,use
it to curve out efficiently.
At the two drop slot, we have the two token makers of Echoing Ooze and Haunted Creeper. On turn two, Echoing Ooze is generally the correct play because it adds more power to the board. Later in the game, however, a case can be made for casting the Haunted Creeper if you happen to have both and two mana left over. The Creeper is more resilient later in the game and holding your Echoing Ooze gives you an out to draw Defender of Argus for maximum value.
At three, Shade of Naxxramas and Harvest Golem are our options. Since Shade of Naxxramas gets better over time, it is usually the priority. As mentioned above, however, this choice gets more complicated when playing against Hunter. In the Hunter matchup Harvest Golem may be correct if you don't have other minions to protect from Deadly Shot or you haven't seen any Flares.
Five mana is the other place where we have some redundancy. This is also the slot where the call is the closest. Unless you specifically need one or the other Druid of the Claw modes -- Charge to act as removal or Taunt on defense -- Spectral Knight is often the correct play. The reason to play Spectral Knight first is twofold. Firstly, he is the more resilient minion; and secondly, the Charge mode on Druid of the Claw has more synergy with your other finishers. The common theme between your five drops is that by this time you are setting up for your Savage Roar so you need to have your guys stick around.
Savage Roar becomes deadly. If the slow decks, such as Warrior, can manage to keep up early they should doing fine. The good news, however, are that the draws that can keep up with us are very specific. Most slow control decks have completely dead cards against this deck which are aimed at other types of decks: reactive cards and high-cost legendaries are no help against our board.
Handlock is one of the hardest matchups because they have the strongest board clears in the game. What makes it worse is the element of playing around Molten Giants while setting up for lethal. Adding Big Game Hunter would help, but I would still not recommend it for ladder. There simply aren’t enough Handlocks around, however, to make this matchup an issue.
If you do face Handlocks, I would just accept it as difficult and try to land an early kill with Savage Roar. The key to victory here is to take calculated risks. Often it is impossible to play around board clears and Molten Giants so you will need to just pick a line and go for it.
Zoo can be a bit tricky too. Cards such as Flame Imp and Nerubian Eggs make their trades very effective. The trick to this matchup is recognizing that the Zoo player is actual in the control role. The role of the Druid player is to swarm the board and go wide with your threats. While the matchup is somewhat draw dependent, the Zoolock's edge is that their minions are better while yours are harder to remove.
A good Zoo player must recognize that you have the better finishers. As such, Zoo must keep your board clear because they can't outrace a Savage Roar or well-timed Defender of Argus. Overall, if you can outpace Zoo's ability to trade you should be able to take the game.
Hunter is a good matchup. Granted, Buzzard / Unleash sounds scary because inevitably we will have many minions out on turn five. The truth of the situation, however, is that the number of cards they draw is irrelevant. The games against Hunter are so short that how much they can do with the big draw is limited by mana.
The more important aspect of the matchup is making smart decisions in what to buff with Defender of Argus. The best plan is to spread the Health boost and try to keep your minion Health consistently high. Mad-Scientists and two Explosive Trap Hunter can be a bit tricky sometimes; however, the games still boil down to Druid being the aggressor. Without any ability to heal, Hunter is at clear disadvantage with going into the match.
Miracle Rogue could've been a difficult matchup if it wasn’t for our Loatheb and Spetral Knights. As I mentioned earlier, Spectral Knight can be extremely painful for them. Deadly Poison - Blade Flurry is the best they can do against you, but there’s only one Blade Flurry in almost all Rogue decks. Naturally, therefore, the key to this matchup is finding a safe opening for your Spectral Knights. You should be able to apply enough pressure to force their hand, but keeping Spectral Knight out of combat with other minions is key. If you can resolve a Spectral Knight and buff it with Defender of Argus, the game is over.