Everyone knows it: Journey to Un’Goro has completely changed the metagame, introducing numerous new decks and archetypes! We also entered the Year of the Mammoth, saying our goodbyes to cards from The Grand Tournament, Blackrock Mountain, and League of Explorers. Most old meta decks lost both core cards and power, but a few remain ladder-worthy almost unchanged (the best examples being Pirate Warrior and Jade Druid). With just a few cards replaced we can still make Jade Druid a viable deck to keep control archetypes in check!
As the name suggests, Jade Druid revolves around the Jade Golem mechanic. It plays the usual neutral tools like Jade Spirit or Aya Blackpaw, but also makes great use of Druid-specific cards like Jade Behemoth, Jade Blossom, and most importantly, Jade Idol. Due to the ability to shuffle (essentially) infinite copies of Jade Idol into the deck, this list is the ultimate Fatigue counter as it never runs out of cards. Combine that with standard ramp options like Wild Growth and Nourish plus removal in Wrath, Swipe, and Feral Rage, and you’ve got yourself a well rounded deck to take on the ladder!
Information from vS Data Reaper Report #45.
- Token Druid – 46%
- Midrange Hunter – 48%
- Burn Mage – 62%
- Midrange Paladin – 35%
- Murloc Paladin – 40%
- Quest Rogue – 30%
- Miracle Rogue – 40%
- Pirate Warrior – 48%
- Taunt Warrior – 77%
What do the win percentages tell us? Obviously, Jade Druid thrives when facing slower decks and is a natural counter to Taunt Warrior. Burn Mage also proves to be a favorable matchup for Jade Druid, since we should be able to outlast the Mage’s limited damage potential. The worst matchups are against aggressive decks like Quest Rogue, Miracle Rogue, Midrange Paladin, and Murloc Paladin. Surprisingly, the Pirate Warrior matchup is fairly even! Outside the decks specifically mentioned, most of our unfavorable matchups are still above 40% win percentages, meaning we’re only slightly unfavorable. I’m certain that in the hands of an experienced pilot, this deck can improve on those winrates and find a home in the new meta!
The general game plan for Jade Druid is to survive early game using ramp spells and cheap removals, then fast-forward into mid / late game where the Jade mechanic really shines. You can facilitate the transition with card draw (mostly Nourish and Gadgetzan Auctioneer). Cards like Feral Rage, Swipe, Jade Behemoth and Primordial Drake help you stabilize on board and take initiative to overwhelm your opponent. Once the Golems grow to 4/4s and beyond, you should be able to take control by making smart trades, instead of trying to kill your opponent as fast as possible. Jade Druid is not necessarily a Fatigue deck, but it certainly feels like home when you get into the later stages of the game!
Against faster decks
The most important thing when facing an aggro deck is survival! Matchups can be very draw dependant, as you’ll need early removal and Feral Rage to stay alive until you can play Taunts and stabilize. Your first priority is to keep the board clear, so try to remove everything your opponent plays if you can. Don’t be greedy; remember that any minion left on board can pile up damage over time! It’s crucial to play your minions for the body on board and not necessarily for value, even Fandral Staghelm.
Try to save your card draw engines in hand, and focus on ramping and contesting the board. You should try to stabilize with your generic minions and play Taunt when they best protect you rather than as a last resort. For example, playing Aya Blackpaw instead of Jade Behemoth gives you more bodies to trade with and allows you to develop more safely on the following turn.
Against slower decks
Slower matchups provide more opportunities for decision-making than games against aggro. You are almost never the aggressor, since people know that if they give you enough time, your Golems will become too big to deal with. Hence, even control decks will try to become the beatdown and create as much pressure as they can. In this regard, Druid’s eternal problem is the lack of board clears. Yes, you have Swipe and Wrath, but slower decks tend to play bigger minions that these just can’t clear. This is why we previously ran Mulch in the deck, but in the new Standard we have to make do with more generic removal.
For these reasons, ramping and curving out are the most important factors in these matchups. Hopefully you’ll be able to trade one-for-one until your Golems are powerful enough to swing the game in your favor. Don’t be afraid of unintuitive plays like double Wrath-ing an enemy minion to safely play a minion of your own. As long as you stay even, you’re good! And once you get ahead, you’ll start snowballing harder than almost any other deck in the game.
Generally we want to keep or mulligan the same cards against all classes, the main difference is between fast and slow matchups. Against faster decks, we want any kind of removal (Wrath or even Swipe if you have Coin), while against slower decks we want ramp cards like Wild Growth, Jade Blossom, and our best tempo tool, Innervate. Jade Idol is never something you want to keep, since it’s much better to use later on. If you do draw into it, always go for the minion on the first Idol and shuffle the second one. That way you up the Golem count more quickly! If you already have Innervate, you can keep Jade Spirit, Fandral Staghelm, or even Nourish against slower decks.
A natural replacement for Living Roots in defensive utility, but the Scales is a deceptively versatile and powerful card! It’s one of the Journey to Un’Goro additions that flew under the radar. Most reviews didn’t rate it highly, but it feels like a perfect addition to our Jade list! With minimal cost and easy card draw alongside Auctioneer, the only question is how many aggressive / burn decks you’re facing and thus whether a single copy is enough!
The core of the deck, Jade Idol lets us constantly deploy bigger and bigger threats while keeping the deck full. The ability to combine it with Fandral makes it beyond amazing, especially when you can play it for the minions to gain board advantage or to contest early game threats against, for example, pirate warrior.
The best ramp tool in Hearthstone history! Facilitates getting to the late game threats and can work as card draw, especially when combined with Auctioneer.
Essential, flexible removal. Comfortably deals with small- to medium-sized minions and can provide card draw too!
Despite being a Jade-centric deck, Feral Rage is one of the most important cards, especially against more aggressive opponents. The bonus armor provides us with extra time to play Taunts and removal, and step-by-step overwhelm the opponent.
Basically a cheaper Sen’jin Shieldmasta. Unlike in other meta decks, the Elemental tag doesn’t do anything for us, but it’s still worth playing to fight off early aggression and provide a stable midgame.
Extremely powerful combo engine with all our “Choose One” cards like Wrath or Nourish. Even one “double” effect pays for itself to secure a spot in the deck. Also draws out removal, making it harder for your opponent to deal with larger Golems!
Probably the weakest card in the deck since the loss of Brann, but still provides enough value to be worth playing. Help fill out turns between early removal/ramp and playing actual threats as well as providing additional Jade count.
Similarly to Wrath, Swipe is pretty much 100% standard Druid removal. Most valuable against an onslaught of small minions (for example from Pirate Warrior), but can easily be used for single target removal.
Usually best to draw cards, but can definitely speed up your game when used for ramp. Obviously great with Fandral and Auctioneer. Kind of a flexible slot, you could consider playing only one copy to fit something like Druid of the Claw against an aggressive meta.
The obvious legendary for every Jade deck, Aya provides two Golems and overall incredible stats. Even if she comes out with your first two Jade Golems, it’s still 9/6 worth of stats for 6 mana! Possible underperformer when facing Mage or Shaman due to Polymorph and Hex.
Core card for late game, allowing for incredible combos and infinite Jade generation. Once you draw it and get a chance to use it, you’ll know exactly why we want it in the deck!
The best of all the (non-Legendary) Jade minions. Has a solid base body and taunt to protect you or stall the game. Represents a serious threat in the lategame.
Probably the best Taunt minion from Journey to Un’Goro, the Drake is a perfect upgrade to the standard Ancient of War. It combines decent stats with a great board clear, making it able to close out games against the most aggressive opponents or provide a very solid body to take control of the board. Perfect tool to shatter hopes and dreams of aggro decks. It also has 4 Attack, so just try to kill it, Anduin!
If you find yourself facing mostly aggro decks, replacing one Gadgetzan Auctioneer and one Nourish with two copies of Druid of the Claw can help you stabilize sooner. Same goes with Acidic Swamp Ooze or Gluttonous Ooze; both can definitely help against all the aggressive weapon classes. If (improbably) you face slower decks, finding room for cards like The Black Knight is an alternative course.
Jade Druid might seem like an entirely straightforward deck, but most people don’t play it optimally! It’s still early in the Un’Goro metagame, but I don’t think it’s correct to forget about Jade! While it’s not tier 1 (and never really has been), I believe it’s a solid tier 2 – 3 choice that has strong matchups against some popular decks in the current meta. If we continue to see Quest Warrior or other control archetypes at the top of ladder, Jade Druid will rise up to become the natural counter. Jade Druid is also definitely strong against Quest Priest, Midrange Paladin and Hunter (albeit more Quest than Midrange). Until next time, have fun busting face with those 10/10 Jade Golems!