Here we are at our 3rd Countering the Flavor of the Week Series (CFWS) article. As the title explicitly states, this series focuses on helping you, the reader, understand what are the best ways of countering the current dominant deck-list on the ladder meta-game. We explain everything about the deck from how it’s built, how it works, and its strengths and weaknesses.
This week we’re spotlighting the deck I have used most during my hearthstone career: The “Fast” Druid. Also known as “Charge” Druid, “Mid-range” Druid, and “Combo” Druid, this deck has been the most popular lately on high-end Legendary ladder while still being common in lower ranks. The increase in popularity can be attributed to the deck’s consistency. Despite (spoiler alert!) having a weak match-up against most aggressive decks, Fast Druid has a very consistent and generally favorable match-up against all other strategies.
Explaining the Deck
To make things a lot easier, let’s explain what the word “Ramp” means. The term “Ramp” originates a Magic: the Gathering (MTG) card called Rampant Growth. Rampant Growth was generally used to accelerate the potential mana output so players could deploy their bigger/stronger late-game creatures faster than their opponents. Due to the overall success and popularity of this archetype, the term Ramp is now pretty universal.
Going back to Hearthstone, there are two types of Druid decks:
- Ramp – This deck focuses on big minions such as Ancient of Warand other 7+ mana minions.
- Charge – This deck focuses on ramping up to mid-range minions quickly to generate tempo and dominate the board. We’ll primarily focus on Charge Druid today since it’s the most commonly-played Druid version on the ladder currently.
Note: Both Druid archetypes use Wild Growth
Charge Druid has been around forever, since the inception of Hearthstone. And while a lot of things have changed (namely Charge minions being seen less frequently), the idea of the deck is still the same: Ramp up, drop mid-range minions, and start beating the opponent down. This ultimately sets up the turn 9 Force of Nature
The deck’s consistency can largely be attributed to Ancient of Lore
The Druid class is generally associated with two unique features: Ramp (i.e. Wild Growth
The deck-list spotlighted in today’s article is the probably the most standard Fast Druid list out there. This means none of these cards should come as a shock to you. Moreover, cards like Sen'jin Shieldmasta
The Deck’s Strengths
Now that we understand how the deck works, let’s take a look at its strengths. In order to be able to tame a beast, one must learn how the beast moves (operates). Moreover, it is just good practice in general to break down a deck in detail.
- Versatility – There are rarely any bad situations for most of Druid’s cards. Since Druid players often have the option to choose one of two completely different abilities, each individual card is generally useful regardless of the situation (fewer dead cards overall).
- Consistency – Having lots of mana available allows the Druid player to throw down high mana-costing cards with more reliability/consistency. Moreover, Ancient of Lore allows the Druid player to refuel / dig for whatever Tech card he needs.
- Lethalness – It is very important to remember just how lethal the Druid combo can be. Coupling the consistency of the Druid class (due to its draw power) with the fact they run a 2-card combo means they will very likely have the combo in their hand by turn 9. As most players unfortunately know, the 14-damage instant kill combo requires 9 mana to pull off (6 mana for Force of Nature, 3 mana for Savage Roar; 6+3=9).
The Deck’s Weaknesses
Well, what about the weaknesses of this deck? Nuba, you’re essentially telling us that this deck is unbeatable! Fast Druid is a very strong and consistent deck that has even more potential when the right cards drawn… So how on Earth is this deck supposed to lose? Referring back to the example I mentioned earlier, knowing how a beast moves is nice but unhelpful if you don’t recognize what its weaknesses are also. This way you’ll be able to exploit those weaknesses to your advantage. Let’s take a look at some of Druid’s weaknesses below:
- Cluttered Hands – The Druid’s Hand can sometimes clog up with useless combo cards, leaving them with fewer options than they appear to have. Also, notice how Wild Growth is strictly either an early-game or late-game play. This means Wild Growth is essentially a dead card during the mid-game and will generally stay until your opponent reaches 10 mana.
- Extreme Vulnerability to Aggro Decks – Their aggro match-up is generally even to bad. This vulnerability is nothing new and has been plaguing Druid players for awhile now. This is a byproduct of all of the ramping that goes on in Druid decks. Playing Wild Growth means the Druid player passed the turn without establishing board presence. Meanwhile, the aggro opponent develops his board uninhibited, leading us to Druid’s next weakness…
- Inability to Clear the Board – Druids are terrible at dealing with a full board. Swipecan only deal with a single minion with greater than 1 health. Therefore, a lot of Druid players use Mind Control Techas a pseudo-response to minion floods. However, this usually only helps against mid-range opponents not running a lot of tokens. Otherwise, you may only end up stealing a 1/1 from Violet Teacheror Muster for Battle.
- Weak Healing – This is another point that makes Druids so weak to aggro deck. Druids generally over-rely on Ancient of Lore’s healing power in order to keep them out of lethal range. As a result, they’ll often have to abandon the nice card draw they otherwise would have got.
- Weak to Shaman – Well, Shamans have a very strong card to directly counter Druid’s tempo-generating power of Innervate: Hex. In addition, Shaman has tons of efficient ways to deal with mid-range minions: Totems + Flametongue Totem, any small minion + Rockbiter Weapon, Crackle, etc. All of these tools make Shaman a big favorite against Druid most of time regardless of the exact builds.
- Weak to Hunter – Both versions of Hunter are pretty strong against Fast Druid. Face Rush Hunter takes advantage of Druid’s relatively weak healing. Meanwhile, Mid-range Hunter has strong and cheap responses to Druid’s mid-range minions. This includes Freezing Trap, Hunter's Mark, and their arsenal of small Deathrattle minions.
How to Fight Against It!
Now that we understand the weaknesses of the Fast Druid deck, it’s fairly straight-forward to guess what decks we’ll use to counter it: Shaman, Hunter, and aggro decks in general!
As mentioned above, aggro decks usually have a good time playing against Druids. Face Hunter, Mech Mage, Mech Shaman, and Zoo are all very good against Druid. In event you want to play a mid-range deck instead, you can also try Mid-range Hunter or Mid-range Shaman. Listed below are some additional tips for playing against Mid-range Druid:
- As an aggro player, don’t be afraid to flood the board. Of course, this is provided you aren’t doing so with a lot of 1-health minions. So yeah, flood the board while making sure to play around Swipe!
- As a control player, don’t be afraid to 2-for-1 yourself early in the game to establish board position. Druids generally have a difficult time regaining board, meaning it’ll be an uphill climb for them the rest of the game. However, don’t forget that Ancient of Lore replenishes their hand. Therefore, make sure you have access to some card draw later in the game to keep up with their AoLs. Most importantly, you should never ever let them snowball their early lead.
- Remember their combo does 14 damage on an empty board. Thus, try to play around that by keeping your life total above 14 at all times. With enemy minions on the board, remember to adjust for the extra damage by adding the minions’ damage + 14 + 2X, where X is the number of enemy minions on the board.
With regards to actual deck-lists, I have prepared quite a few that do well against Druid. These lists keep in mind that we are fast approaching the last few days of this season, which means a lot of people will likely be “tryharding” with Druid on Legendary ladder in an attempt to obtain Top 100.
Let’s start with both the Mid-range Hunter list that SenX used to hit #1 EU Legend a few days ago as well as the Mid-range Mech Shaman list I have been experimenting on ladder with:
Not only are both these decks favored against all of the Druid decks on Legend ladder, they also happen to be very good options for those who still aiming to achieve Legendary Rank by the end of the month.
Following this trend, the next suggestions are the relevant aggro decks being played this season. Despite what you may think of them, the standard aggro decks are still a force to be reckon with. Because there aren’t any big changes to any of these lists, you’ll be able to quickly pick up the deck and start having an easier time against Fast Druid immediately.
Here are the lists. We already know what to expect as they have been around this whole season!
You can also use the Aggro Mech Shaman deck spotlighted last week. In general, there are a number of available options.
Due to its consistency, Druid is a Tier 1 class on ladder and will definitely be one of the most played classes during the last few days of season. So you better be prepared for it!
This week’s CFWS article was easier for me to write than all of the previous ones since I have played Druid the most in Hearthstone. As said last week, understanding a deck is the best way to beat it. This process includes learning how to exploit a deck’s weaknesses to the greatest advantage possible.
I hope you guys were able to extract and grasp all of the information from this article. Don’t forget we will be featuring a new CFWS article once again next week. What is going to be next? Do you have any suggestion for us to start working on? Don’t forget to post in the comments section. Also, if you have any doubts or questions, feel free to post them as well!
Love you guys,