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Hearthstone: The Druid Apocalypse That Wasn’t To Be

Around the pre-release hype for the Boomsday Project was a fear: a fear of Druid. Every new card reveal brought new proclamations of the incoming oppressive Druid variants. But despite the Reddit comments on the reveals of cards like Biology Project, Flobbidinous Floop and Juicy Psychmelon, Druid hasn’t reached the levels of meta dominance we worried it would.

While it certainly has strong archetypes, it’s by no means the most popular. Most notably, the highest overall winrate deck in Token Druid typically uses no new class cards. And while other druids are marginally improved by inclusions like Dreampetal Florist or Flobbidinous Floop, most lists have remained remarkably similar to pre-boomsday lists and power levels. What gives?

Melons or lemons

The “cheaper sprint that tutors” hasn’t broken standard (yet)

One notable absence that may go some way to explain Druid’s statistically reasonable performance may be the failure of the “cheaper sprint that tutors”. Juicy Psychmelon simply couldn’t find a home in Standard, despite the hysteria. Without combo pieces to flesh out the 9 and 10 slots alongside Azalina and Toggwaggle as in wild, the card simply looks extremely clunky next to Druid’s already powerful draw package. Similarly, Biology Project ended up being risky in a meta filled with decks well able to utilise the extra mana.

And while Druid’s combo enablers undoubtedly improved, its core mid-game strategies remain much the same. The only new inclusions to most Druid decks that help with surviving till the final combo is Giggling Inventor; which is heavily used by decks of all stripes. Dreampetal and Floop certainly improved the power of the combo, but they didn’t massively improve their power against midrange and aggro.

An adaptive meta?

Does Druid mean we’re seeing Deathrattle Hunter instead of Odd Paladin? Maybe not

Another potential reason Druid hasn’t ended up dominating as much as some anticipated could be the fear of Druid itself. Spreading Plague shuts down a great deal of strategies, most notably Odd Paladin. Perhaps as a result of this, the most popular aggro decks around are the ones focused on building ‘tall’ boards of high-value minions. Zoo, Odd Rogues and Deathrattle Hunters have massive representation that correlates with their ability to do well against Druids.

Could it be that Druid is distorting the meta to disrupt its own winrates? Well maybe. The problem with this analysis is that it seems irrational for the meta to react so strongly to a class that is less popular and prevalent than Warlock or Hunter. Not only that, but the tournament meta, with its access to bans, does not seem to be significantly different to ladder; and Druid doesn’t see too disproportionate a quantity of bans.

From both community, competitive and Blizzard sources, Druid appears to be good, but not overpowered or oppressive. But there is one area where Druid is a problem.

Taking over Wild

Aviana combos are taking over Wild: But is that a problem?

Wild may be the exception, and where the apocalyptic predictions have come true. Juicy Psychmelon provides a one-card perfect tutor for a whole host of Druid combos. By tutoring Aviana, Kun, an 8 drop and a 7 drop, it opens up a massive swing turn for all manner of combinations.

As such, Druid’s one of the most played classes in the entire Wild format, and with nigh-unstoppable combos (barring fortuitous Dirty Rats) to prey on combo or control decks alike.

However, this may arguably be not so much of an issue. Wild is an inherently more powerful and chaotic format. It may not be possible to prevent unstoppable combo decks from running rampant. Especially if they have (like Druid) access to powerful tutors, stall and mana ramp. As long as powerful counterplay is available, Wild may be best off left grow into a dance of incredibly potent synergistic strategies.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com and PlayHearthstone on Twitch

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