With its healing spells and armour-adding Hero Power, the Druid is not only excellent at controlling the tempo of a match, but it always seems to have a tool in the bag for the middle to late part of the game. Spells like Innervate and Wild Growth - which increase the number of mana gems available to the Hero - can help it race away from the opponent, and a healthy roster of taunt-creating cards provides an added layer of protection as the Druid prepares its own forces. The Druid is also unique because it has cards that can do one of two things, inviting you to choose between the effects.
Like the Rogue, we recommend spending as much time as you can familiarising yourself with all of this class's cards via the in-game card collection screen. We've outlined some of the most common you'll come across, but there are many more that you'd be wise to be aware of before taking on an experienced Druid player.
Popular Druid cards
This very powerful area-of-effect card isn't just great for dealing with aggressive players who flood the board with cheap minions, it also makes for a pretty decent finishing move that your opponent might not have considered when evaluating their dwindling health. Using this powerful spell efficiently is incredibly important, and you should always consider the value of your primary target carefully. Think about the other cards in your arsenal that you can combine with Swipe to cause your opponent the maximum amount of damage.
An awareness of Swipe's existence should lie at the back of your mind with every decision you make when playing against a Druid. Try and keep your cards out of this spell's range if at all possible, and always consider what the impact of this card would be were it to be played on the very next turn. You must avoid a board-clearance, or at least avoid adding to the pile of minion corpses unnecessarily.
The Ironbark Protector has been the ruin of many a player close to victory, and if you can make use of an Innervate spell card, you'll be able to play it two turns earlier as well. If you're playing against a class that has a hard removal spell like Execute or Polymorph, try to bait that removal out first before putting this precious minion on the board.
From the other side of the table, you really need to nullify this frustrating minion before the Druid can overwhelm the board with a powerful fighting force. You should always keep a solution to this very thorny problem in your hand, and assume that this minion will make an appearance in the late game.
Like any other healing spell, you should avoid using Healing Touch until you've lost enough health to receive the maximum benefit from it. Keeping it in the bank until later on in the game can really throw a confident opponent off their pace, and don't be afraid to use it on a minion either - if you can keep one of your Ironbark Protectors alive with this relatively cheap spell, you're in a great position to lay more minion firepower onto the board and overwhelm the competition.
From an opponent's point of view, there's not an awful lot you can do to counter the threat of Healing Touch. It would certainly be wise to assume the Druid has one in the deck, and be extra careful of dealing partial damage to an enemy minion in the late-game. There's nothing worse than chipping away at a massive minion and bringing it close to death, only to see it rejuvenated with this low-mana healing effect.
Keeper of the Grove
As an attacking force the Keeper of the Grove may not present a particularly worrying threat, but the flexibility of its Battlecry is what makes it such a staple part of the typical Druid deck. Those two points of damage can be enough to clear an early minion off the board, but the Keeper really excels at shutting down taunt minions. That silence ability can win or lose games when you reach the later stages of a match, so don't throw it away lightly if you've got it in your hand.
As a Druid's opponent, you should always assume that the Druid has this card in their arsenal. If your strategy revolves around keeping a taunt on the board, try to bait this card out before putting your bigger strategy into play. If that silence doesn't bother you, don't worry too much about getting rid of this minion - it's got very weak attacking power after all, and the onus is on the Druid to deal with your own escalating threat.
Druid of the Claw
Druid of the Claw might not look that impressive at first glance, but it's incredibly versatile. Its basic ability to either rush forward and do four points of damage, or hold firm with six health points and taunt to put up a hefty barricade, means that it's almost always useful. Even a mild buff often nudges it into 'formidable' territory, its attack value is out of the range of the Priest's annoying Shadow Word cards, and its Charge attribute and strong high attack means it can finish off a lot of tough minions.
The Druid of the Claw's potency is illustrated by the difficulty you will face dealing with it. If you haven't seen one yet, you will want to avoid letting your bigger minions slip into its attack range, and anyone using a rush deck will need to keep an eye out for it, because it puts the brakes on fast unless you have something to silence its taunt or remove it in one go.
The best basic Druid deck
This free Druid deck, posted over at Hearthpwn, has some pretty good answers for a lot of problems, while still allowing you to slowly but surely develop your own board. Innervate is your most important card here, as it will allow you to play your bigger, beefier minions earlier than you'd otherwise be able to. A Chillwind Yeti on the second turn is not to be sniffed at, for example, and a turn-four Boulderfist Ogre is equally appetising. Just watch out for classes with hard removal spells, so you don't waste this precious opportunity.
Make sure you do everything possible to pare down your opponent's minion count each turn too. Claw, in conjunction with your Hero Power if need be, can be used to clear out much of the early trash you'll face, while Swipe will help you deal with more aggressive players, or those with access to bigger minions. While this deck isn't particularly complicated to play, we do recommend reading through our new player guide before getting stuck into this class.
Trading minions effectively is very important if you want to succeed with this deck. When playing against weapon-wielding opponents, try to hold onto those Acidic Swamp Oozes until they have a weapon in hand. It's a great way to slow them down and get some presence on the board. That Wolfrider may be a very fragile minion, but its ability to charge a three-health minion straight off the board can be very handy indeed.
Head back to the first page of this article to see more of Hearthstone's best basic decks.