New Cards, Same Ol' Savagery - A Guide to the New GvG Druid
Druid has consistently been at or near the top of the meta for longer than any other class since the beginning of the Hearthstone Beta. The addition of the Goblins vs. Gnomes card set did nothing to slow down the versatile class and, in fact, has increased its power. While other classes, such as Mage and Paladin, have benefitted a little more, saving them from the depths of the rankings, Druid didn't need much help to begin with. In fact, no Druid class cards have been added to the standard aggressive Druid deck but the neutral cards that were added to the game fit very nicely into the existing deck and have really upped the power level.
In the current Mech Mage/Shaman, Hunter and Paladin heavy meta, Druid can do very well since there is so much burst potential. Other decks have to respect the fact that at any time a can end the game so they are forced to play the trading game. With the healthy minions that Druid plays this can actually mean they are playing right into your hands. This deck plays an aggressive game and if you can get an early tempo lead with and then you can keep applying pressure and let the opponent trade. This is an incredibly fun play style and the deck is capable of massive win streaks.
Let's take a look at the deck and break down each card. Then we'll discuss some important combos and possible replacements as well as general game strategy.
x2 - mana ramp is such a key factor to winning games with Druid. Since regaining tempo can be a challenge without board clearing spells this card is incredibly important to getting a big minion out before your opponent does and grabbing control. It also allows for the double Savage Roar combo which can do 22 damage from an empty board on turn 10. Always keep this in the opener.
x2 - the other most important early game card in the deck. Look for one in your opening hand, however, if you have two it's generally correct to dump one. Only coin Wild Growth is you have a in your hand already. Otherwise, it's better to hold the coin to smooth later drops since the deck is so tempo based.
x2 - one of the few removal spells in the deck and also potential card draw. Use it to remove big threats like or to cycle if your hand is bad. This card has nice utility and should usually be kept in the opener unless you have ramp but no minions.
x2 - this is the reason that playing against a Druid is scary and opponents have to respect it. Because there are two of these you can be incredibly aggressive and let the opponent trade in many situations. Just the threat of this card will make your opponent play from their heels and allow you to apply pressure and continue to drop minions and attack face. In that respect this card is effectively changing the game even when it's not in your hand.
x2 - most of the time you will be using this card to protect your existing minions but it is also the only real catch-up mechanic in the deck. There are many situations where you can get 2 or even 3 for 1 with this card and if you can get a spell damage Swipe off then all of the tempo will be yours. It also can hit face for that extra burst you need to finish games.
x2 - another staple of the Druid class is the flexibility of the cards. Keeper is one of those cards that is good against every single archetype that you will see and for that reason I tend to keep this card in my opening hand. Silencing big threats without playing a weak body like the is a great feature of the Druid class.
x2 - Druids have been flexible with this spot for a while. There can be arguments made for and as well. This deck is running the Druid of the Claw for a few reasons. You can be aggressive with this card and charge it in cat form for some extra burst potential. Also, is currently rare so you can throw it down in bear form more confidently. Finally, the real strength of the Spectral Knight was the Warrior match-up and Warrior has seen a big decline in play so the flexibility of this card makes it my top choice in the current meta.
- you only need one of these in the deck since it can really tie up your hand if you have two. The combo is huge, of course, but you do have ways to finish the game even if you end up using this as removal.
x2 - this card is such a big deal. If you draw it, you tend to just win. If you don't, well then you have an uphill climb. Usually you will draw two cards of course but against combo decks like Freeze Mage, Control Warrior or other Druids you can use it to stay out of combo range or heal after they play .
- because of the style of this deck, Cenarius is the clear choice for late game legendary. If you don't have Cenarius you could add the second Force back in but what this card does is perfect for the deck. On an empty board you get 9/12 in raw stats which is great for 9 mana. On a board with a few creatures you get a 5/8 and a permanent Savage Roar. Either way you can't really go wrong.
- in the past, only taunt heavy Druid decks were playing Zombie Chow since you didn't want to heal your opponent. However, one Chow seems to fit really well and it's really only there to give an early option to get board control. Since controlling the board is so important in this deck the Chow makes sense as it is literally the best turn 1 board control play in the game.
- Dr. Boom is still running wild so including a single BGH is important. If you don't have an answer to the Dr. or Balance then you will often lose the game so we'll make room for this guy. Even if you don't use it on a big creature there is no real drawback as the 4/2 body can trade well with a lot of creatures.
x2- the only actual 3-drop in the deck are the Shades. Keep them stealth for a few turns unless a big threat must be dealt with but don't let them sit for too long. It's better to get value than to try and get too greedy and wait for one massive swing.
x2 - finally the first big change since GvG. This spot was often filled with or in the Token Druid. The big advantage of the Shredder is that you often have a minion on board going into the next turn which was difficult with the older options. 4 power is also fantastic for trading with a lot of common cards in the meta.
x2 - you can get away with running 1 of these but in my current version I went with two. Take one out for tech cards like or if the meta calls for it.
- (literally copy/paste from my last article because how many times can I talk about how good the card is) if you read my deck guides then you are probably seeing a trend. Loatheb is in every deck. What Loatheb does is protect your damage dealing minions allowing you to keep swinging as well as being a 5/5 body. I'm running out of ways to say that Loatheb is really good so I'll just stop there.
- another card that is designed to be a big threat that leaves a body behind. There is a lot of debate about whether this card is better than . I think it is because of the 6 power. 4 power on a 6-drop was sometimes not threatening enough and people would ignore Cairne. No one can ignore this guy and sometimes the second body is as scary as the first.
- there is an argument to be made for running 2 Piloted Sky Golems instead of the SYlvanas but I think what she does is too important to leave out of the deck. Since there aren't a lot of catch-up mechanics, as I mentioned earlier, a card that can flip the board is very important. The opponent must find a way to deal with her and sometimes even the most skilled player has no great answer.
- Dr. Boom is just too good of a card and is an auto-include in almost any deck these days. Stats alone you're getting 9/9 for 7 but once you factor in the trade potential with the bombs you get a ton of value. The fact that you also get 3 bodies on the board synergizes incredibly well in a deck with Savage Roar and Cenarius.
Playing the Deck
In the early game you are looking for Wild Growth, Innervate and Zombie Chow. If you already have Innervate or Wild Growth then you may keep cards like Piloted Shredder and Shade of Naxxramas. Essentially you are hoping to get some ramp in your opening hand and then draw into your mid-range options. This allows you to drop minions that are exactly on curve throughout the first 5-7 turns. This deck's mana curve is amazingly smooth and the mulligan phase is where many games are won or lost. If you start with nothing to play then you will quickly fall behind and you have to hope that the opponent misses a drop but if you can get a tempo lead early then taking the board back will be nearly impossible for your opponent. Play aggressively from the start but plan your first 4 moves or so and try not to push on turn 1 with no turn 2 play.
In the mid-game you need to get some damage in to start putting pressure on your opponent. If you have the board then try hitting face and forcing them to respond. It can be easy to fall into a control style and sometimes that is correct but when you are a Druid you need to be invoking the fear of the combo. If a trade is extremely efficient or a minion is a big threat then you still must remove it but if you feel that the board is in your control then you need to evaluate whether or not it is time to go into beat-down mode. Your mid-game minions are some of the most efficient in the game so use that to your advantage and get the most damage you can from them. This concept is hard for people who play a lot of control but this deck does not grind out opponents. This deck buries them under a massive swarm of roaring minions so
be the aggressor
Late game is when you are always supposed to be counting how much burst you have in your hand. If you can't quite finish them then find trades that protect a majority of your board and hope to find lethal the next turn. I know I said to be aggressive but one way to lose is to use all of the burn in your hand on their face and then watch your board crumble and a healbot emerge. If you have burn to spare then, by all means, feel free to bring them low but do not rely on a top deck if you don't have to. There is a lot of direct damage but this is not a Hunter or Mage deck and you need to use minions to get the damage in most of the time. The key is to continue to apply pressure. You have cards like Dr. Boom and Cenarius to repopulate but losing your whole board inefficiently can be devastating.
One quick tip for calculating Savage Roar damage. The formula would look like this: damage on board + (total minions+1)*2. So take the total damage currently on the board. Next, take the total minions and add one because your face gets buffed as well and multiply that times 2. Add those numbers together and you have your total. It's important to be able to quickly determine lethal for a few reasons. One, you will be looking for it on a lot of turns and until you find it, you don't want to spend all of your time adding individual integers. You want to be considering the board state and the best possible play. Second, you don't want to run out of time on a turn and make a sub-optimal play due to "rope panic". We've all done that before and one poor turn can lead to a loss which could have been prevented.
Bonus Deck: Dank Whispers
Before I go I want to give everyone a bonus fun deck. I call the deck "Dank Whispers" and really it's just an extreme token deck with a few fun combos. You can play into to pretty much guarantee a bunch of tokens on board and then do massive burst with Savage Roar. Since the entire game you will be creating tokens eventually the removal runs out and you can overwhelm your opponent. I had a Mill Druid play and heal to 30 and I still burst them down on the very next turn. Enjoy but don't take it too seriously. This is not meant to be a competitive deck.
The response to the Oil Rogue article was great and I want to thank you guys for the feedback. Keep it coming in the comments section below and be sure to use the deck builder here on Hearthhead.com to build your own versions of these decks and share them with me. Also, I will be streaming this and other decks I've written up on my Twitch stream as well as playing some online tournaments so check me out at
Until next time, job's done!
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