Starting Stone #5:
Above Average Cards
Below Average Cards
Have you ever thought to yourself, "must I protect the wilds?" If the answer is yes, then uncle Malfurion wants you to join the Druidic ranks. This article is for all you beginner Druids out there wishing to learn more about this flexible class.
In this article we will first examine and rank every Druid card, then provide you with some sample decklists ranging from your first free deck to decks which can push you to Legend rank! Note that most of these rankings come from a constructed perspective; for example, even though Ironbark Protector is rated extremely low in our rankings, it's much more viable in arena. On the other hand, Innervate is a much better card in constructed than in arena. For more accurate arena rankings, be sure to check out Trump's upcoming arena ranking of the Druid cards. In addition, note that differences of 1-2 rankings are not significant.
Druid is one of the most versatile class in Hearthstone because many of the class specific cards offer a choice between 2 effects. Having multiple effects in one card allows you to build more efficient decks capable of handling different situations. If you need a Silence effect, Keeper of the Grove provides this but also allows you to deal damage when the Silence has no relevance. Druids are also the only class capable of accelerating their mana through cards such as Wild Growth, Nourish, and Innervate, allowing them to bypass the early game and quickly overwhelm their opponents with stronger mid game creatures.
Druid's Hero Power, Shapeshift, allows you to simultaneously ping an enemy while increasing your armor by one. It is extremely flexible, as it allows you to deal that 1 extra damage to finish off a minion or slowly heal up with your armor gains. Even if the opponent has a big taunt minion that you don't want to hit, remember to use Shapeshift just for the armor gain if you have 2 mana to spare.
1. SwipeSwipe takes the number one spot among all class cards for Druids. It is one of the best board clear spells in the game, allowing you the flexibility to do a decent four damage to one target and one damage to all other enemies. Its board clear component is great for finishing off the various 1 health minions utilized in hyper-aggressive decks as well as the numerous one Health card draw minions. Swipe's power jumps tremendously with just a single +1 Spellpower as the board clear proportion scales with spell power as well.
When the board clear component is not utilized, Swipe results in a four mana for four damage spell, which is hardly amazing. It is, therefore, more useful against some classes than others.
Note: You can Swipe your opponent directly to deal four damage to them and one to all minions. You cannot Swipe one of your own characters.
2. InnervateInnervate is an extremely strong tempo-boosting card which allows you to cast your minions earlier. It is never wrong to keep all your Innervates in your opening hand, as some of the most devastating plays include casting Innervate and a Druid of the Claw on turn two to lock threats out in the early-mid game. It is also not wrong to Innervate a Harvest Golem on turn one if you have another three mana minion to play turn three.
Innervate does have a slight weakness in that if you draw it late game when you don't have many cards in your hand, it becomes completely useless. That said, the ability for Innervate to completely change the board state early outweighs this slight downside and Innervate is a very close #2 behind Swipe.
Ancient of Lore is one of the best late game minions in the game. His power comes from his ability to draw two cards while leaving behind a threatening 5/5 minion. It is more common to play him for the card draw than the heal component. If we compare the card drawing aspect to Arcane Intellect, which provides two cards for three mana, Ancient of Lore is essentially a 5/5 for four mana in card value... which makes him better than everyone's favorite Chillwind Yeti!
Ancient of Lore can also provide a clutch heal to help you or a minion recover. In terms of value, the heal proportion is less impressive as you'll be paying roughly five mana for a 5/5 minion, but when you need a heal immediately, card value is of little importance. Due to his versatility, Ancient of Lore gains the #3 spot.
Keeper of the Grove is another highly flexible Druid card seen in almost every Druid deck, and for good reason. If we only consider the damage portion of the card, he becomes a three mana 2/4 body and a one mana deal two damage card, both of which are solid. If we only compare his Silence, he is only slightly worse than Spellbreaker in stat value. Yet these stats are distributed slightly better, as the four Health lets the Keeper survive many early game spells while the two attack is enough to clean up small minions. In a game where having answers to your opponents plays is vital to winning, having such a huge flexibility in one card allows you to fill the deck with other useful cards.
5. WrathAn excellent early game removal spell available to Druids. If we were to consider its abilities, it can be thought of as a choice between casting Frostbolt(without the Freeze) on a minion or casting Shiv on a minion. That's pretty good. Despite its versatility, it may be challenging for a newer player to know when to cast Wrath for three damage and when to use the card draw portion. The general rule of thumb is that if you can cast Wrath on a target for 1 damage and still kill the minion with other methods, then it will probably be worth it. However if the difference is casting Wrath for 1 and losing board control because you need to use more mana, then it is probably better to just cast Wrath for three damage and cast a minion to gain board control.
Savage Roar at turn eight for an additional six damage from the hand, often skewing your opponent's calculations on how much damage they can take.
With the recent rise in popularity of The Black Knight, it has become significantly riskier to play Druid of the Claw in bear form, especially when going second on turn five. It is almost game-losing to have a Druid of the Claw get killed by The Black Knight, so caution must be exercised when playing him when your side of the board is empty.
Above Average Cards
Ancient of War is great at stopping aggression and trades very well even with mid-range creatures. If your opponent does not have removal cards ready to go, he will often be forced to trade three cards for one.
Despite his tankiness, Ancient of War does have some unfortunate hard counters. If you thought having Druid of the Claw being killed by The Black Knight was bad, having this tree killed usually just ends the game on the spot. Sylvanas Windrunner also hard counters the tree because he kills her in one shot and survives, almost guaranteeing that your opponent will steal a minion through Sylvanas' Deathrattle. Unlike the Druid of the Claw, the Ancient of War can be silenced, causing him to lose his bonus five Health and taunt to leave a mediocre 5/5 behind.
Note that there are some instances when you'd rather play him as a 10/5 than a 5/10 Taunt, such as when you're against Sylvanas or when you know your opponent has either Black Knight or Mind Control.
8. ClawClaw is an extremely cheap yet efficient spell to remove two Health minions and allows you the choice to extend that to three Health minions by combining Claw with the Druid hero power. Since it utilizes your hero to attack, however, it suffers from taking damage in return as well as Taunts preventing you from removing the correct target. Claw can also act as an emergency pseudo-heal against aggressive decks by using Claw and then hitting the opponent's face to not lose armor. It is generally a good card to keep in your opening hand as it's strongest in the early game.
9. CenariusMeet the Druid legendary! Cenarius is an extremely strong card possessing a solid 5/8 body and the ability either buff all your minions with a potent +2/+2 or summon a pair of 2/2 Taunt Treants. This choice allows Cenarius to be playable both in situations where you are fighting for board control to significantly swing things in your favor, or as a way to halt opposing aggression. If you have 1 minion alive and it can trade up, then it is well worth it to play Cenarius for the buff. If you have more than 1 minion alive, it is almost always good value to buff them unless you need the Taunts to survive.
The drawback for Cenarius is that at 9 mana, without a coin or Innervate (or both), he is likely to remain in your hand for a long time and can only combo with Naturalize and Claw at 10 mana.
10. StarfallStarfall, like Swipe, is another strong and versatile spell capable of 2 damage board clear or 5 direct damage to a single target. It is a great board clear against aggressive decks while the 5 single target damage also deals well with many mid-range creatures that have 5 health. It synergizes very well with spell power, especially for the board clear portion.
However, because Starfall costs 5 mana, it may often be too late to clear the board with Starfall without playing anything previously. Furthermore, with the nerf to Sylvana Windrunner's mana cost, it is no longer possible to cast Sylvanas Windrunner and Starfall (on your own Sylvanas) in the same turn to act as a pseudo Mind Control.
11. Savage RoarSavage Roar is the Druid's version of Bloodlust, though it is vastly superior to its Shaman counterpart. It has a much better damage-to-mana ratio than Bloodlust and also boosts your own hero's attack by 2. Because of Savage Roar's low mana cost, it allows for a lot of combos, the most common being Savage Roar and Force of Nature, which does 14 damage directly from the hand. Other combos include using Druid of the Claw in Charge form and Savage Roar to increase your burst by an additional 6 damage.
Savage Roar has risen to popularity recently due to the indirect buff to Druid's board control ability (due to the nerfs to board control Warlock and Druids). However, when a Druid struggles to gain board control, it can be extremely difficult to utilize Savage Roar efficiently.
12. NaturalizeWhen I first saw Naturalize, I thought it was a terrible card and this is still completely true in arena. Yet in constructed play, especially in a control matchup, Naturalize can significantly swing the tempo in your favor by allowing you to gain strong board presence.
You should aim to Naturalize 8+ mana targets such as Ragnaros or Ysera as this trades 7+ mana in your favor, allowing you to gain a powerful momentum swing. It is even more amazing when your opponent already has 8 or more cards because you are limiting the downside of Naturalize.
Power of the Wild is a versatile card for 2 mana. A vanilla 3/2 creature is never a bad card, however its second choice is one that gives it a lot of potential power. A +1/+1 buff to all your minions is extremely powerful and can be combined with Savage Roar to be a stronger version of Bloodlust.
Like Cenarius, it can be correct to play Power of the Wild to buff a single minion if it helps you trade well. An example would be when you have a Harvest Golem in play and your opponent does as well on turn 4. You can use Power of the Wild to buff your Harvest Golem to 3/4, kill his Harvest Golem then finish the Damaged Golem with your hero power, leaving a 3/2 Harvest Golem on your side of the field.
14. Force of NatureForce of Nature is a card that has risen to popularity recently alongside Savage Roar. It is most commonly seen played together with Savage Roar after turn 9 for 14 damage from the hand. With an Innervate, you can use Force of Nature and 2 Savage Roars at 10 mana for a whopping 22 damage!
On its own, Force of Nature is still a decent card; it does 6 damage for 6 mana but allows you to distribute the damage in blocks of 2. Don't be afraid to use Force of Nature early to help clear up the board and allow you to gain control. It does suffer though when the minions you are attempting to clear with Force of Nature have odd health numbers as you are not utilizing each Treant's damage to its maximum efficiency.
15. Healing TouchAlong with the Paladin's Lay on Hands, Healing Touch is the most powerful targeted heal in the game. It is common to use Healing Touch on yourself to stabilize your health when you've finally stopped an onslaught. At 3 mana, it can combo well with your Ancients late game and swing things in your favor.
You should not be afraid to use Healing Touch on minions such as Druid of the Claw if you think your opponent will struggle to remove the minion after it is healed. It can also end games when your opponent manages to get your Ancient of War low but not dead, allowing you to give the Ancient a second life. You should especially consider using Healing Touch on minions in control matchups where the Health of the heroes seldom matters. This is as long as you're sure your opponent will not burst you down with cards such as Savage Roar, Leeroy, Windfury, and Shadowstep.
16. StarfireStarfire is a mediocre direct damage spell available to Druids. It is great in Arena where card advantage usually translates into wins; yet for constructed play, 6 mana is a hefty price to pay for 5 damage and usually does not allow you to play many other minions along with Starfire to gain board control.
17. BiteBite is a higher damage version of Claw. But at 4 mana for 4 damage, it is at best a Swipe on 1 target. Bite does have some synergy with Savagery although it is still hard to justify running Bite as it is competing directly against Swipe.
Bite can be used against burn decks which ignore enemy minions, allowing you to damage your opponent and gain armor at the same time to achieve two goals with one card.
18. NourishNourish is an interesting card with relatively powerful abilities. Its card draw portion is fairly powerful (especially in the late game), allowing you to reload your hand and play additional cards with the remaining mana. Its mana crystal gain is also extremely potent as you gain 2 crystals upon playing it immediately, effectively spending 3 mana to gain 2 mana crystals.
Despite the strong benefits of Nourish, it loses a lot of tempo and at 5 base mana can't be utilized mid game without already being in a dominant position. It can be very strong when combined with Innervate to accelerate to late game.
Below Average Cards
20. Mark of the WildMark of the Wild is a decent early game buff increasing your minions by +2/+2 and providing it with Taunt. Beyond creating monsters early game, it's card value and impact in the mid game is significantly weaker. For example, if we play a Sunfury Protector turn 1 with a coin and buff it with Mark of the Wild turn 2, it is similar to playing a Chillwind Yeti with an Innervate but with more mana and taking two turns. However if we play it in the mid game on a Chillwind Yeti creating a 6/7 taunt, it eats up 2 of your precious 5 mana on turn 5 and a 6/7 Taunt for 6 mana is just only slightly better than a vanilla Boulderfist Ogre. It cost two cards to create the one and we used one of the best mid game creatures as an example.
20. Moonfire0 mana for 1 damage. Talk about having an efficient damage-to-mana ratio! Moonfire sure sounds great but aside from dealing 1 damage for free, it doesn't have enough power to kill very many things. Its value increases dramatically when you run a lot of Spellpower and can be devastating when you combine it with Malygos, but otherwise it is just a weak spell that takes up a precious card slot.
Force of Nature to play 3 2/2 suiciding Treants which remain on the board after they suicide into the enemy minions.
22. Wild GrowthWild Growth is a very lackluster mana gain spell. If it can be utilized on turn 1 to 3 then it is incredibly powerful, however for every turn after that until turn 10 it is essentially a dead card in your hand. Even at turn 10 it isn't amazing as it's simply 2 mana to cycle a card. Its inconsistency is the reason for its low rating. However, if your deck is very late game heavy, it can be useful to accelerate the game.
23. SavagerySavagery is too inconsistent in it's damage to be reliable in a deck. It needs to be used in conjunction with Bite or Claw to be of any value. It is often likely that it can only be used with your hero power doing 2 damage to any 2 targets for 3 mana which is extremely lackluster. In addition, running Savagery almost forces you to run Bite, which is already 4 fairly bad cards in your deck.
24. Mark of NatureMark of Nature fits the Druid theme of having versatility in a card. Unfortunately both choices have low card value and does not significantly gain you tempo. It is also weaker than Mark of the Wild because it costs 1 additional mana and has a weaker stat distribution of either +0/+4 with taunt or +4/+0. The health and Taunt is the stronger of the 2 choices, but is still a very weak choice. For example, buffing a vanilla 3/2 minion would create a 3/6 taunt for 5 mana which is weaker than Druid of the Claw being brought on turn 3 with Innervate. Similarly if we buff a Chillwind Yeti, it becomes a 4/9 taunt, weaker than an Ancient of War.
Ironbark Protector is a fairly good pick in arena), but because Ancient of War does everything Ironbark Protector does but better distributed stats for cheaper and with fewer weaknesses to boot. It is also weak to both Big Game Hunter and The Black Knight. As such, Ironbark Protector has no place in any top-tier constructed Druid deck unless you do not have Ancient of War yet. Note that because Black Knights and Big Game Hunters are much less common in arena, Ironbark Protector is a significantly better choice.
Now that you know all about the cards, let's get to building some decks for you to beat up your opponents. Take these decks as a rough guide rather than something set in stone. There will be five decks showcased here - Free, Budget, and two Ultimate decks with differing styles. When building a Druid deck, we should note that Druids have good early game removal in the form of Wrath and Claw and decent access to board clears through Swipe, thus forgoing the need of cards such as Wild Pyromancer. On the other end of the spectrum, they also have some powerful mid-to-late game minions and ways to bring these guys out earlier through Innervate. Because of these reasons, it is usually favorable to build a mid to late game deck.
Aggressive Druid has potential with cheap buffs such as Power of the Wild and a cheap finisher in Savage Roar, yet more often than not Druids will run out of steam against better early game board control classes such as Rogues, Warlocks and Shamans.
The Free Druid deck is built by placing the best free basic spells available to Druids. Your goal when playing this deck should be to survive until your mid game and late game creatures which are very good in value.
Card Note - Ironbark Protector: "You rated this tree last, why are you using him?" As stated, Ironbark Protector is actually a fairly strong late game card. When we ranked the cards in the previous section, we did it with consideration that all cards were available and in those circumstances poor Ironbark Protector would never be picked over Ancient of War.
Unfortunately, other than Swipe and Innervate, Druid's basic card pool is a bit lackluster and it is advised that you aim for the budget version as soon as possible to start seeing the strength of the Druid class.
This list looks quite a bit different to the Free Druid and for good reason. Many of the best cards that fit into a Druid deck are commons or rares. There are a total of 7 rares in this deck and this may sound like alot, however if you are serious about playing druid, then they are well worth crafting.
If you don't have the dust to craft them all, Starfall can be replaced with Starfire, Argent Commander with Boulderfist Ogre, Keeper of the Grove with a Spellbreaker and Azure Drake with Sen'jin Shieldmasta.
The playstyle of this deck is similar to the free deck, with the addition of some of the strongest Druid cards to back you up in your quest to gain access to your late game trees..
Card note - Naturalize: Without access to Tinkmaster Overspark and Big Game Hunter, it is vital to include a Naturalize to deal with any major threat you run across. As you climb the ladder, you'll find more and more legendaries being played, which are a pain to remove. Without other hard removal cards, you will find Naturalize is your only answer.
Ultimate Druid 1
This classic Ramp Druid is one of the earliest proven Druid decks ever made. It's very control focused and aims to survive into the late game where it'll use its card efficiency to grind out opponents. However, it has fallen out of popularity recently because mid-range Druids are a lot more threatening. However, if a games does go into late game then this deck starts to slowly overpower other decks.
Ultimate Druid 2
This deck is a modified version of Strifecro's mid-range Druid deck. It is one of the strongest decks currently in the game and can get you into Legend easily. Its power comes from its consistency against all decks with no real weak matchups.
The playstyle revolves around gaining board control with high value creatures such as Chillwind Yeti and Cairne Bloodhoof, then setting up the kill with Savage Roar combos. It requires a considerable amount of skill to play as you need good knowledge of the capabilities of your deck and your opponent's deck.
Card Note - Tinkmaster Overspark: This little fellow is the key to victory. Knowing when to use him and when to save him for another threat is a fine line and requires intricate knowledge of the opposing deck. For example, I often will not Tinkmaster a Ragnaros, instead killing it with brute force because I know there is a Ysera that may come into play that I will have no answer for if I did not have Tinkmaster.
Ultimate Druid 3
This third ultimate deck is a very recent mid range Druid build designed by Bowles in an attempt to counter the numerous aggressive decks prevalent in the ladder. The core functionality of the deck remains unchanged from the previous deck but it has a lot more taunts available to the deck. By utilizing the early taunts provided by Mark of Nature, Sunfury Protector and Defender of Argus, it can successfully hold off most rushes and in a mirror match, it can provide solid defense against the dreaded Force of Nature plus Savage Roar combination.
Card Note - Ancient Watchers: This guy is essentially a Chillwind Yeti in disguise. Given a taunt through the 5 different cards offering taunt in the deck, Ancient Watchers can become a nice defensive tank. He can also become a real Chillwind Yeti when Keeper of the Grove silences him and we all love having more Chillwind Yetis in our decks!
Druids are currently the most consistent class to gain you wins on the ladder. They may not be the absolute best in a given play style, but they are strong enough at most of them that they are arguably the strongest class at the moment. I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to seeing all you new Druids rising up on the ladder.