Hi there, I’m Old Uncle Skeeter, writer of the recent Ultimate Reno Druid Guide, owner of the DMH Warrior Discord, and I’m back to share some more recent findings and experiments in the world of Reno Druid and to share thoughts on Druid’s place in Wild as a whole. I also bring with me a Dragon Reno Druid list I piloted from Legend 633 to Legend 317 with an 8 – 1 score, which serves as a proof of concept.
Deck code: AAEBAZarBB5AxAaKDvoO3hXDFr6uArS7At/EAqDNApjSAp7SAq7SApnTAvX8Aq+iA/SiA/yjA/atA/2tA4yuA/2wA5GxA/m1A5vOA/XOA4ngA9HhA4vkA6iKBAAA
In an effort to trace the roots of Reno Druid, I’ve been digging through the archives of HearthPwn and Youtube looking at early decklists from the TGT era, such as this TrumpSC list. What I found was the deck was effectively Midrange Druid, which makes total sense. Druid had and still has weak removal and board clears, so the deck opted to ramp into beefy stats on curve. Fast-forwarding to Standard Highlander Druid before Uldum’s rotation, the same is true. Comparing these to my modern Top 500 N’Zoth Reno Druid, they had many proactive minions and would try to seize and control the board as much as possible. I wanted to capture that playstyle again in an effort to revive and modernize Midrange Druid for Wild, using the strong and flexible Reno Shell as a foundation.
What I came up with was Dragon Reno Druid.
Although I think this deck is sub-optimal and less consistent compared to my N’Zoth Reno Druid, this experiment surprised me with a solid streak of success. The idea initially started with a Dragon Corrupt list. I wanted to forgo the defensive playstyle of deathrattle taunts and focus on tempo, but the corrupt package felt very clunky and difficult to use efficiently. Even with a 3 card top-end package of Clown/Y’Shaarj/Kun, the pieces would often sit in hand all game waiting for the other one to be drawn, so I opted to cut it and see if the deck could stand on its own without it.
Attempting to build a modern Midrange Druid strong enough for Wild was difficult but there are some solid modern gems to work with.
The recently supported dragon package offers ramp, value, and strong midrange minions, with a variety of amazing 9 mana dragons to finish off games.
Recent midrange minions such as Speaker Gidra offer strong curve plays that have a chance to snowball or seize the board with rush.
Newer spells like BEEEES!!! and Rising Winds offer flexible tools for getting on board, with a variety of applications making them useful at any point.
These cards and others are the closest we’ve seen to modern Midrange Druid support, outside of the Scholomance Beast package before the Guardian Animals nerf. However, once I pieced together these cards built for the current era, the gaps left felt difficult to fill. The Midrange Druid cards of yesterday have aged terribly, as they were designed with pre-nerf Innervate and Wild Growth in mind. Keeper of the Grove was insane for 2014, but laughable 7 years later.
So what are cards that remain relevant, could be experimented with, or even supported to become relevant again?
Notable Inclusions, Exclusions, and Possibilities:
Inclusions: Wardruid Loti, Mire Keeper and Darnassus Aspirant
Wardruid Loti has been the most controversial inclusion, as she’s generally seen as absolute trash. However, what I love about Loti is that she truly is a swiss army knife. The Druid of the “Blank” cards have always been a neat mechanic, but picking between 2 vanilla-statted minions isn’t particularly powerful. But being able to pick between 4 different forms with very different applications makes her the penultimate Druid of the “Blank.” Poisonous vs. big decks/Darkglare, Taunt vs. tokens, Rush for removal, and Spell Damage for combining with removal. Don’t craft if you’re missing the dust though.
Mire Keeper and Darnassus Aspirant are ancient cards that were amazing back when they were printed, and they somewhat hold up today! In my list, they took over the typical spots of Jade Blossom and Overgrowth, and I think they fulfill their role well. The problem with the typical ramp spells is that they offer 0 tempo when played, passing a whole turn. Even when combined with Lunar Eclipse, it is as slow as a turn can get. These cards on the other hand offer minions alongside ramp, which keeps the deck on board while growing our mana which is valuable for the aggressive matchups. However, their age does show, as they struggle to keep up with the speed of the current format. I think there is merit to swapping Overgrowth for Mire Keeper, yet I think Darnassus Aspirant will be going back to the shelves.
Exclusions: Jade Blossom and Overgrowth, Ferocious Howl, Mulch/Naturalize
As stated prior, Jade Blossom and Overgrowth are tempo suicide on average against fast decks. Finding a happy medium between tempo and value is difficult, but I ending up slotting them out for minion-based ramp.
Ferocious Howl is pretty much in every Druid deck that isn’t aggressive, however, I think there’s a case to not play it in Midrange Druid. The life-gain can be powerful and sometimes gaining 7+ armor is huge, yet this type of deck should be dumping its hand, not holding it. On average it’d just be a Shield Block, and is that really worth running right now? In slower versions of Reno Druid, this card is insane, but I don’t think it meshes well with Midrange Druid’s gameplay.
Hard removal is hard to come by in Druid and Mulch/Naturalize is the best the class has, however, I think it’s not worth it in a faster tempo-based archetype like Midrange Druid.
Possibilities: Nodrassil Druid, Keeper Stalladris and Fandral Staghelm, Shan’Do Wildclaw and the Beast Package, Greedy Sprite, More Dragons, Taunt Package
Oh, how much I wish Nordrassil Druid didn’t suck. Fighting in the crowded 4 mana slot, the card asks you to play a 3 mana spell off-curve to get a 1 mana 3/5, with no immediate board impact through rush or taunt. Yet, I have hopes that with the recent core set buffs, they give Nordrassil a look. A 3 mana 3/3, reduce your next spell by (3) would give the class a ton of tempo for low tempo plays like ramping or playing removal, in the likes of Lunar Eclipse. Fingers crossed.
“Choose one” cards were probably the best cards in Classic, yet nowadays, I feel as if the “choose one” mechanic has been poorly supported. Of course, there are amazing “choose one” cards that still hold a candle today, such as Living Roots and Branching Paths. Yet, there’s a lot of meh in the pool, especially when looking at the ones in the core set. But with more compelling “choose one” effects printed, we could see the return of cards like Keeper Stalladris, Fandral Staghelm, or even Quest become a thing.
The beast support in Scholomance was ridiculous and could seriously spiral out of control with more cards. Right now, because of the strength of the package in standard, I doubt they’ll be hitting us with more amazing synergies and beasts so soon. There is massive potential and room for growth with Beast Druid, so let’s give it some time.
Greedy Sprite as a 2 mana 2/1 would be amazing. I hope they do a round of Wild exclusive buffs or rotate it into core with a buff alongside it, as minion-based ramp should be supported.
There are some ridiculous top-end dragons in the game for Druid to pick from, yet the early game dragons all feel kinda meh. Breath of Dreams is a ridiculous card but it just needs 1 or 2 more decent dragons to be more consistent. Hope to see some more soon.
The taunt support in Barrens was, questionable, to say the least. It seemed to have come out of nowhere, but maybe they plan to support it more down the line. There could be the makings of, “something,” with some more cards.
Druid has had some of the highest peaks of hearthstone history. KoFT Jade Druid, Boomsday AK47 Druid, SA Aggro Druid, Classic Midrange Druid, etc. Yet, the class finds itself in a pinch in the current state of affairs. Combo and Token Druid are in a great place right now. They aren’t breaking the meta, but their strong recent support has optimized them for the current power level of Wild. Meanwhile, Midrange Druid and Druid, in general, currently struggles from a lack of meaningful support outside of those 2 archetypes.
Midrange Druid used to be king with pre-nerf Innervate, Wild Growth, and strong units like Druid of the Claw and Keeper of the Grove. However, over time the archetype has fallen off the map, and it is seen in Druid’s early game for all non-token decks which is Oaken Summons or bust. Oaken Summons is a fine card for Combo Druid builds as it’s a small high roll package for anti-aggro, but it feels like the only relevant early game option for slower Druid decks. With a renewed focus on the ramp identity, more strong 1 to 4 mana curve minions in the likes of Paladin, and efficient yet limited removal, Midrange Druid could make a comeback, bringing back tier 4 decks like Jade Druid and introducing new ones like Midrange Reno Druid builds.
It would also be interesting to see new archetypes and experiments in Druid card design. Two identities not felt in Hearthstone from World of Warcraft are Restoration Druid and Feral Druid. We saw healing support in Rise of Shadows, yet everyone knows that flopped, however with a few prints here and there it could function as a package. Feral Druid and shapeshifting feel very half-baked. Rastakhan was finally the first time we saw major support in that style, and sadly it came during Rastakhan. We could see a deck like Even Druid or a whole new Midrange “Feral” Druid come into fruition with proper cards, in the likes of Demon Hunters attacking play style.
Overall, these experiments with Midrange Druid and the Reno shell have proved somewhat successful and create a foundation for future testing with upcoming expansions. Proactive builds of Reno Druid could be the future going onwards, and I look forward to toying with Reno Druid each expansion and letting you know my results.
If you’d like to ask any questions about Reno or Midrange Druid or talk about anything else really, you can find me on the DMH Warrior Discord Server which I run, or comment below. Thanks for reading and take care.