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HearthstoneJun 6, 2017 4:00 pm CT

Playing Hearthstone’s Jade Druid

Druids have evolved, and this latest incarnation isn’t something to take lightly. By embracing the Jade Golems and harnessing the Druid’s array of spells to withstand the early game, they turn into a force to be reckoned with. Jade Golems can often hit stats as high as 9/9 throughout the game. I’m not the biggest fan of Jade Druid, largely because this style of deck puts your opponent on the clock. If they don’t defeat you early on, your golems will eventually overrun them. Some cards were lost during the rotation like Mulch, Brann Bronzebeard, and Living Roots. Though in a post-Journey to Un’goro world, Jade Druid can still be competitive — we’ll start with Pavel’s list from the recent CN vs EU 2017 playoffs.

Behold! The armies of… Jade!

The deck

Druid (21)

Neutral (9)

The mulligan

You absolutely need to mulligan and find some kind of ramp — Wild Growth, Jade Blossom, or Innervate. With an Innervate in hand, you can keep a Jade Spirit or a Nourish. If you don’t, you’re not going to come out ahead by much. If you suspect you’re squaring up against any kind of aggro deck (like Pirates), aim for a Wrath for the early game removal. Jade Behemoth and Primordial Drake can be ramped into quickly to help stave off some of the early game pressure.

Early game

When you have Jade Idol in your opening hand, choose the 1/1. Don’t shuffle it into your deck. Wait for your second Idol, and shuffle that into your deck instead. You want to start progressively making your golems early, so that your subsequent Jade cards continue to build, and develop them into stronger minions each time.

Note: I find that Innervate, Innervate, Nourish is often a bad idea on turn 1. An Innervate to Nourish on turn 3 is often better if you don’t have a turn 3 play. You want your Innervates to help put forth Aya Blackpaw or a Primordial Drake for an unexpected board clear or some other card for added tempo.

Mid game

This is when you’re hoping to accelerate into your big minions. When you play Nourish, always go for the draw. There’s enough mana cards here where you won’t need the extra crystals anyway. Feral Rage is a flex card, and it can be used to help close out a game with the extra 4 attack, or provide you with an extra life buffer — especially when you’re up against Pirate Warrior. Earthen Scales does the same job of adding extra armor while buffing a minion. And with the departure of Mulch, extra armor helps. With Fandral Staghelm, you want to wait a little and play them when you can follow it up with cards that can take advantage of their abilities. Fandral goes well with Jade Idol and Feral Rage. But if you have to play him without a followup on turn 4, then do it as he’ll at least draw some form of removal away.

Those Primordial Drakes can help bridge you into the late game by both clearing the board of any softened minions, and forcing your opponent to deal with it first before it can go after you. Same goes with Jade Behemoth — it’s a troublesome minion that also generates a golem for the other player to contend with.

Late game

Late game is all about powering out golems, and overwhelming your opponent. Your Auctioneer comes into play to help cycle your Jade Idols and either shuffle more into your deck or create more heavy hitting golems. Sooner or later, your opponent won’t be able to handle the golems and run out of steam (and board clears).

Alternative cards to consider

Don’t have everything you need to complete the deck? Need a bit of an extra edge?

There isn’t a ton of room for tech choices here.  You can swap in an Ooze against opposing weapons. For a more fun flavor, drop a Yogg in there in lieu of the Gluttonous Ooze (and that’s what Orange’s list uses). XHope’s list utilizes Harrison instead of the Ooze, which trades the bonus armor for added card draw instead. If you’re missing Aya or a Primordial Drake, the Ancient of War can help replace those.

Class matchups

Druid: The Jade Druid mirror can be boiled down to whoever ramps earliest will usually have the upper hand. However, token Druid (which is the spiritual standard legal version of Egg Druid) can overwhelm you quickly. You’ll need Swipe and Wrath to help control the board early. Hero Power and attack any innocuous 1/1s before they get Savage Roar‘d into 3/1s.

Hunter: Are you seeing many hunters on the rise? Midrange hunter seems to be the only decent list. Stampeding Kodos are a priority target (and Scavenging Hyenas, if you see any). Go for value plays with Swipes and your other spells. You need to ramp and accelerate into your taunts to provide stopping power. They’re going to try to apply as much face damage as possible before trying to Hero Power you down or burst you with Kill Command. But Feral Rage and Earthen Scales should help provide some buffer.

Mage: Secrets Mage has been making more of an appearance. Most lists are guaranteed to include a copy of Counterspell and Spellbender, so be sure to test for those accordingly. Archmage Antonidas will be one of their late game win conditions, so have a way to deal with it. Does anyone else miss Mulch?

Paladin: Midrange Paladin seems to be popular. They have so many ways to reset the board and deal with your threats, like Equality, Consecration, Doomsayer, and Wild Pyromancer. Sunkeeper Tarim can mitigate your late game Jade Golems by rendering them all 3/3s. Stonehill Defender seemingly gets another Tirion or another Sunkeeper out (but maybe that only happens to me exclusively). Don’t over extend too much here. Ultimately, your Golems will help you win this game assuming you live that long.

Priest: Dragon Priest continues to be a dominant deck against Jade Druid just due to the sheer number of dragon taunts and card flexibility from Drakonid Operative, and Netherspite Historian (and with my luck, they always discover Ysera). It’s a tough match up because Dragon Priest can just go straight to the face. Shadow Word: Pains plus Shadow Word: Deaths just negate your Jade Behemoths and Ancient of Wars. Golems need to be developed fast, so that Dragonfire Potion is made irrelevant due to the side of your Golems. Control the board as best you can with Swipes and Wraths, and you’ll eventually out muscle them.

Rogue: You’ll either be playing against Quest Rogue or Miracle Rogue. The Rogue matchup is slightly out of favor due to the burst potential of either Questing Adventurers, Edwin VanCleefs, or other Cold Blood buffed minion. Unless they hit a turn two 8/8 Edwin VanCleef.

Shaman: Realistically, Shaman has fallen off slightly. With a Control Shaman, you can expect Devolve to mess up your Golems significantly later in the game. If you start seeing tokens or Shaman low cost drops, it’ll be safe to assume there’s a Bloodlust coming. Control that board and start slinging Golems away!

Warlock: Against something like Discard Lock, play it like you would against an aggro deck. Wrath away their early Imps (Flame Imp and Malchezaar’s Imp) or other assorted minions. If you have to play Fandral to help contest the board without being able to followup on it right away, then you better do it. Need to fight for that board control and stabilize because they can discard free minions against you.

Warrior: Look for that Feral Rage, because the extra 8 health buffer will help you greatly. Wrath gives you extra reach against their Dread Corsair and Kor’kron Elites. You’ll win the game eventually, once you start drawing into your Jade Behemoths and Primordial Drakes.

Tip: When playing against Warriors, play around Mortal Strike. That means getting their health down to 13 if you’re unable to finish them off that turn. I’ve lost too many games due to Mortal Strike comebacks.

Enjoy the deck and let me know how it works out for you on the ladder!

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