Basically what it says in the title: I made a ramp Druid deck that I felt would be good in the current meta and ended up making Legend with it earlier today… in probably the most fitting manner possible:
Here’s the decklist.
Innervate x 2
Argent Squire x 2
Wild Growth x 2
Wrath x 2
Faerie Dragon x 2
Big Game Hunter x 1
Harvest Golem x 2
Defender of Argus x 2
Keeper of the Grove x 2
Druid of the Claw x 2
Faceless Manipulator x 1
Cairne Bloodhoof x 1
Sunwalker x 1
The Black Knight x 1
Ancient of Lore x 2
Ancient of War
Ragnaros the Firelord x 1
Deathwing x 1
A little bit of background: I also had a “control”-ish oddlock/warlock deck that I was running up until rank 3 or so with about half zoo cards and then Deathwing, Rag, Sylvanas, Siphon Soul and a couple other high-end threats… it worked decently but I felt a lot of its success was due not so much to the deck itself as much as the idea that people expected zoo after a T1 Flame Imp or something and played accordingly (the highlight was probably the Shaman that hexed my Knife Juggler, only to have Rag get dropped on the next turn…). I’ve also made legend in both other seasons ever since I started playing in the final test season; the first time, I was running Zoo since I didn’t have any cards, and last season I ran a slightly modified aggro Mage deck to counter Hunters.
Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of the cards that make this different from a typical ramp deck:
Argent Squire/Faerie Dragon/Harvest Golem: I wanted this deck to have early game board presence so it wouldn’t just get rushed down by aggro and could pressure Miracle Rogue. I consider each one of these the “stickiest” card at their respective slot (1/2/3); Faerie Dragons in particular are amazing in the current meta as they generally trade well against Zoo and force awkward removal from Miracle decks (and other Druids, because they can’t be Wrathed). T1 Argent Squire also has the bonus of making people think you’re running token Druid.
Defender of Argus: I know some versions of Ramp run Mark of the Wilds; I like this better (especially in combination with the above minions) as I feel it’s more flexible (outside of the Mark+Black Knight play on the opponent’s minion, which isn’t a huge loss – most decks will give you a legit target to BK anyway). An Argus’ed Squire or Faerie Dragon generally forces really awkward AoE or unfavorable trades.
Deathwing: IMO an extremely underrated card; a win condition that can singlehandedly turn around a completely lost game. He works really well in this deck for several reasons: it’s a little lacking on card draw, so the discard penalty usually isn’t that harsh; you generally burn cards to get to high mana early with Innervate/Wild Growth; Cairne/Golems will stick on the board with deathrattles; and finally, you have enough big threats to bait out all your opponent’s removal before you drop him. Sure, you’ll probably never play him if you’re winning… but then you’re winning, so it doesn’t matter much, and if you’re way behind, drop him, and then he immediately gets removed and you lose – well, you were going to lose anyway.
A quick rundown of cards that didn’t make the cut:
Any type of +Spell Damage (Azure Drake, Thalnos): These guys die too easily to pretty much any form of removal; if I ramped up to 5 mana early, I’d rather be dropping a threat that’s more difficult to deal with than a 4/4 (dies to Soulfire, Eviscerate, 4/5’s, spellpower+Lightning Bolt, etc.). Thalnos/Swipe is nice, but generally you can get the same results with just Swipe and a hero power on whatever’s left. They’re good cards, though, and I could see the argument for including them.
Mark of the Wild: mentioned above – I like Argus better since this deck actually has early-game minions (and Argus is technically never a dead card as you can always drop a 4 mana 2/3… although I’m not sure I’ve ever done this).
Cenarius: I don’t have him. He’d work well, I think, but IMO the immediate effects of Rag and Deathwing are stronger (and not really comparable; they’re all unique). If I were to include him I’d probably cut one of the taunts – probably an Argus, since the double 2/2’s give you roughly what you’d get off a good Argus drop.
Sylvanas: I had her in for a while and replaced her with Rag; she’s too slow against aggro and not enough of a win condition/threat vs. control as they generally can answer her before you can make favorable trades.
Nourish: too slow against everything.
Yeti: oddly enough, generally doesn’t stick around long enough to do well unless you can get him out on T1. Most of the decks I ran into on ladder (Miracle/Zoo/Shaman/etc.) can deal with an on-curve Yeti pretty efficiently – unlike most of the stuff in this deck, he doesn’t have any special characteristic that lets him stick around on the board and doesn’t do anything on the turn he comes down other than be a 4/5.
FoN/Savage Roar – I don’t have FoN, and in any case, it’s not really in the spirit of this deck; the idea is more that you drop big threats that they have to answer rather than bursting them down out of nowhere as you’re not spamming the board with tokens. I tried Savage Roar for a while and kept finding myself wishing I had drawn into a minion instead.
A quick rundown of the common ladder matchups:
Zoo: favorable for you. Mulligan for early-game presence, either through your early drops or ramping into a single big card (Innervate/Druid of the Claw). Keep their board as clear as possible so they can’t buff units, and drop taunts basically whenever you can.
Miracle Rogue: slightly favorable to Rogue. Mulligan hard for early game, NOT ramp – the dream hand would probably be 2x faerie dragon, coin, innervate, Defender of Argus. Try to keep two taunts on board at all times so they can’t Sap one and burst you. (note that this is easier said than done) If you get a Keeper, generally try to save it for VanCleef if at all possible.
Control Warrior: favorable for you as ramp Druid might be the only deck with as many or more big threats as them. Mulligan for ramping cards so you can get said threats out early (this is one of the only matchups where Faerie Dragon is pretty much dead as it just gets axed). If you draw Cairne you probably win.
Handlock: Slightly favorable for you, although this deck doesn’t have as much burst as others. You have answers to most of their threats (BGH/BK for giants, Keepers for Drakes, etc.) and can generally whittle them down until they get in range of a double swipe to the face or something like that (they’ll do a lot of the work for you). Don’t push for damage past about 15 HP or so unless you have answers for Moltens in your hand or have some way of getting lethal past a taunt (Swipe, Keeper, etc.).
Aggro Paladin: IMO this is not a very good deck. I think I might have lost to it once. You don’t generally keep enough cards on hand for them to Divine Favor you and they can’t answer your taunts well; an early Druid/Ancient of anything/Swipe draw is basically just GG.
Control Paladin: I saw this maybe like once so I can’t say enough about it. You should do OK as you have the high-end cards to counter them.
Aggro Mage: If they get the right draw you’re probably screwed as they have enough late-game face damage to ignore taunts and can get your health down pretty fast early with a buffed Mana Wyrm/Knife Juggler/something else. Mulligan for Faerie Dragons or early ramp cards. If you can clear their board early they lose as this deck runs out of steam very quickly. This deck is mostly gone from ladder though as the decks it hard counters (Hunter) are also mostly gone.
Faceroll Hunter: Mulligan for ramped taunts and you should win. Prioritize keeping a high life total.
Midrange Hunter: These guys were flavor of the month, well, last month. I don’t think I saw a single one in a sample size of like 70ish games so I can’t say how this deck does but I imagine it’d be okay with the taunts/silences combined with early game presence.
Tempo Rogue: Treat it the same as Zoo/aggro: clear their board early and you will probably win.
Aggro Warrior: There’s a few variations of this running around – I saw some enrage-based ones, the Reynad one from a couple months ago, and a lot of Warsong Commander shenanigans. They all have one thing in common, though, which is that they run out of steam faster than basically any other deck in the game. One board clear and they lose as you taunt up and stack armor. One advantage they have is in the mulligan as you should probably always mulligan against Warrior as if you’re facing control (conversely, for Warlock, always assume it’s Zoo).
Token Druid: I don’t think I lost once to this. Kill the Violet Teachers immediately and you should be able to trade favorably with everything else they put out.
Mirror match (ramp Druid): Comes down to draw. Generally whoever gets Ancient of Lore first wins as they’ll draw their answers first.
Shaman: 50/50. I think there’s literally one variant of Shaman deck on ladder at the moment – everyone runs the exact same cards so you can know exactly what to expect. Mulligan for early board presence (Squire/Dragon/Golem) although ramping isn’t bad either. They have removal for everything in your deck so the matchup will come down basically to luck as it all depends on what they draw and when; unlike a lot of other decks, their card draw sucks so it’s not guaranteed that they will actually get the right answers for whatever you put out. Side note: this is probably the best matchup for Deathwing as they will generally use Hexes on your other stuff (Cairne or a taunter) and then dump their hand to fill up the board, and they generally don’t have enough early burst to end the game before T10.
Priest: Pretty much an auto-win no matter what you draw as a good number of your threats either have 4 attack or are terrible targets for their removal (ex.: SW:P on Harvest Golem). (I really hope Naxx changes the Priest class substantially; I feel bad for people playing it on ladder as it’s basically Hearthstone Hard Mode at the moment.)
Feel free to ask me about anything I didn’t cover. I stream occasionally over at http://www.twitch.tv/notinuse although generally I’m either Arena-ing or running gimmick/test decks in Casual mode (Priest Murlocs, Randuin, or just trying out something I built).