Hearthstone: Why I Play Druid

Hearthstone is out now on both PC and iPad. With new players joining the battle each day, Shacknews is closely examining each of the game's nine classes and learning how to play with all of them from the perspective of Chatty. Next up is Malfurion Stormrage, the Druid.
Druids are in tune with nature, seeking to protect all life and are agents of balance. Malfurion is backed by mighty beasts and spells that draw upon the powers of nature to aid in recovery and to beef up minions. His 'Shapeshift' Hero Power is a versatile ability that not only grants him attack power, but also aids in protection.

Why the Druid?

As Chatty posters are quick to point out, the Druid can get to his class cards quickly and can often draw big-time minions before his opponents can even counter. "I started playing [Druid] because I got the class cards the fastest," says AllYourBase. "I kept playing it because it has big minions and amazing card draw." Malfurion can often get off to quick starts, mostly thanks to cards like Innervate and Wild Growth that help him stack up on Mana Crystals early. As handofthrawn will point out, this can help players get powerful minions on the field early, while the opponent languishes with a mere one or two crystals. In fact, G-3722 points out that using Innervate with the Coin card given to players that take their turn second can immediately summon a Chillwind Yeti, which puts opponents in an almost insurmountable early hole. For those that prefer to exercise their spell power, Wolfslice points out that this exact strategy can be used to summon Ogre Magi and his spell-boosting power right off the bat. "I play Druid because he can get big minions out very quickly and his class cards are quite versatile -- games never feel predictable or stale," gnomish adds. "There's not one particular card combination that I am waiting for. But mostly it's about getting big minions out on the board and causing heartache. I was incredibly lucky and got both Ragnaros and Ysera very early on, so I built around them with a Druid deck that tries to get them out ASAP. I've been enjoying playing Druid and iterating on that deck ever since." In short, the Druid can be molded to fit just about any strategy and is a true forced to be reckoned with in Hearthstone.

Notable cards/combos

High-powered minions fit the Druid's deck like a glove and many of them serve more than one function. This allows Malfurion to adapt to just about any situation. For example, Keeper of the Grove allows him to deal immediate damage to foes or Silence enemies to nullify their effects. In the spirit of dual-function cards, many of our Chatty posters are absolutely enthralled with Ancient of Lore. And why wouldn't they be? This Epic-level bad boy not only puts down a 5/5 minion, but also allows users to draw two cards or restore 5 Health. The Health boost can be particularly helpful if high-health Taunt cards like Ironbark Protector have taken intense damage. Given that Ironbark Protector packs 8/8 stats with Taunt, it's in your best interest to keep it alive. AllYourBase and skankcore are among the Chatty posters that reliably utilize Ancient of Lore for its abilities. Besides Ancient of Lore, Chatty posters love the versatility provided by Druid of the Claw, a 4/4 minion that can either be summoned with Charge or summoned as a 4/6 Taunt. Poster azenmaster uses this card regularly, pointing out that Charge can cut through aggro decks and Taunt can buy time against control decks. Malfurion also has some potent spells at his disposal, which is part of the reason Wolfslice keeps spell-boosting monsters like Azure Drake in his deck. "Druids have the best spells, in my opinion," Wolfslice explains. "Swipe is so good for its mana cost and it's devastating if you have any +spell damage cards in play. Starfire (5 damage and draw a card) and Starfall (5 damage to a minion or 2 damage to all enemy minions) are both excellent. Power of the Wild (+1/+1 to all friendly minions or summon 3/2 Panther) and Wrath (deal 3 damage or 1 damage and draw a card) are super versatile as well." Not all of these combos cost a ton of Mana, either. As G-3722 points out, Keeper of the Lore's Silence ability can be used on Ancient Watcher to unleash two heavy hitters for a low 6 Mana. Likewise, giving Ancient Watcher the +2/+2 and Taunt boosts from Mark of the Wild leaves a powerful 6/7 Taunt creature on the field for a ridiculously low 4 Mana.

These are some of the Druid's cards, many of which serve dual functions

Deck strategies

So how does one narrow down an effective strategy with Malfurion, given that he can be used in so many ways? AllYourBase has managed to narrow his down to a strategy called Ramp Druid. "The idea is to draw your Wild Growth's early to give yourself more Mana Crystals ASAP," AllYourBase explained via private message. "This gives you the ability to play your bigger minions which would trade by either eating up your opponents removal spells (Polymorph/Hex/Execute/etc.) early. Then when you drop your Ancient of War (5/5 with either +5 Attack or +5 Health with Taunt), Alexstrasza (set opposing Hero's remaining Health to 15), Ysera, etc., they trade very well since they'd have to use use up 2-3 cards to remove each." It's an ambitious strategy and like many in Hearthstone, it won't always work. But when it unfolds as intended, it's one of the game's more effective ones. "Card draw for this deck comes from the Nourish (3 cards) and the Ancients of Lore (2 cards each)," AllYourBase continuse. "Big Game Hunter is your best removal against everyone else who runs Ragnaros. And Faceless Manipulator is great if your Ysera survives more than 1 turn. When you win with this deck, it's usually because you've gone through a lot of your cards and have board control most of the game."
For more class strategies, check out the other installments of the Hearthstone: Why I Play series.