The ultimate guide to Ramp Druid, by coL.TheJordude
In the most comprehensive guide you'll ever see written about Druids, compLexity Gaming's TheJordude teaches you how to build, play, mulligan and tech with the mighty Ramp Druid.
Table of contents:
Hey, I’m TheJordude, a professional Hearthstone player representing compLexity Gaming, and I wanted to give you an in-depth guide to Ramp Druid.
Just as a disclaimer, this is going to be a slightly lengthy guide as I try to hit every bit of information I can think of in regards to Ramp Druid and Druid in general. Some things may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to everyone else. This is mostly targeted for beginner-intermediate players or anyone wanting to play or improve their Druid.
I also have a video version to this guide on my youtube channel:
Druid is a very versatile and consistent class that can control, snowball the board, and burst. For these reasons, Druid is currently one of the best classes to play both on ladder and in tournaments as they can take a win from pretty much any match. Since Druid is such a powerful class I want to talk about all the details of building a Druid deck, the playstyle, and the matchups.
Firstly, there are a few different archetypes of Druid:
-- Aggressive mid-range
-- Aggressive mid-range
-- Defensive mid-late game
-- Big board clears
Ramp Druid – What I will be focusing on and referring to for the rest of the guide. Ramp Druid gains mana advantage through Wild Growth and Innervate to push out strong mid-game minions that snowball the game into victory.
- Can snowball the game
- Once you have board control, it is hard to lose it
- Using Wild Growth early is like having a coin every turn… insane
- Threatens lethal most of the time you have a board or if your opponent is below 14
- No real mechanic that is counter-able (ie. No weapons for Harrison Jones, no secrets for Kezan Mystic)
- Very flexible in card selection
- Hard to recover
- Falls behind without Mana Growth or Innervate (Clunky hand)
- Punishable for tempo/mana mistakes
- No strong board AoE/Removal
Ramp Druid is a very flexible deck that is open to many preference and technical cards. Firstly I would like to show and explain the core cards that almost every Ramp Druid or even most Druids of any kind will have. When I say “core” these are the cards that the deck usually must have to be somewhat optimal to play.
Innervate – This card just gives you such a big tempo push by allowing you to make a play that you normally wouldn’t be able to do until 2 turns later or by playing cards out of normal mana range (ex. 2 6-cost cards). Innervate is also needed for when you do not have Wild Growth as you will be very restricted early game otherwise.
Wild Growth – Opening with Wild Growth is so crucial as playing it early on gives you a coin every turn essentially. This is the “Ramp” of the deck that allows you to play your cards earlier than normal which is very significant in almost every matchup as it gives you a big lead in the board battle.
Wrath – Wrath is one of the two damaging spells that can either remove a low health minion, cycle, or chip a minion. Wrath is very flexible because of this and allows the Druid to play on tempo and not get blown out in the early game.
Shade of Naxxramas – Shade does NOT have to be a 2 of, but I highly think this has to be at least a 1 of in Ramp Druid. Without Shade you lack a consistent 3 drop in the deck so this card fills the spot optimally. It sits on the board and grows until you are comfortable in trading with it either into a big minion or by trading to get a 2 for 1 value. It also is a big threat to your opponent as it grows every turn that can be buffed with Savage Roar. Also Shade grows bigger in this deck than any others on average because it can be Innervated or Wild Growth out earlier than normal.
Swipe – Druid’s best AoE spell as it is efficient and quite effective, especially against aggro decks. Similar to Wrath, Swipe is needed to help the Druid gain board control and not get aggro’d down that easily.
Keeper of the Grove – Keeper is such a good card in Druid because it offers so much utility and value. For a good cost and a strong body, Keeper is both your silence for the deck, as well as extra damage for removal or just that extra damage for the win. This card can flat out win you the game if used in the right moment such as silencing Sylvanas or ramping out to remove a Knife Juggler and then trading into 1 or 2 more minions in a aggro match, etc.
Druid of the Claw – Just a solid 5 cost minion, which is also very versatile. Druid of the Claw can either go into a 4/4 charge which is good for guaranteeing fast value or damage for lethal or it can turn into a 4/6 taunt which is incredibly annoying for many decks. Most of the time it is a 4/6 taunt and can normally trade 2 for 1 especially when ramped out.
Emperor Thaurissan – Emperor Thaurissan is a new card from the Blackrock Mountain expansion and is a card that fits amazingly in Ramp Druid. Emperor is a core card because the effect synergizes so well with the theme of this deck that you have to play it. You already have a mana advantage from Innervate and Wild Growth, and the Emperor just ramps it even further by making everything in your hand cost 1 less. This allows you to drop more high value minions to dominate the board as well as giving you access to the Force of Nature/Savage Roar combo at 7 mana, or with double Savage at 9 which by itself is 22 damage.
Ancient of Lore – Lore is your source of refueling your hand since you tend to run out of cards after ramping, innervating and playing them all on the board. The +2 from the draw is very game changing in the control grind when both players are running out of cards. Lore is one of the biggest reasons why Druid beats Warrior most of the time, because the refueling into more strong minions or getting your combo piece becomes too hard to catch up to scaling in the late game. Lore can also be used for extra health when you are threatened lethal or against aggro decks where you rather live than have more cards. Sometimes the heal is used for your minions to get more value off them as well. Like the other Druid class cards, it is very versatile and is the solution to whatever situation your faced against.
There are a few tricks and points of knowledge you need to know to play Ramp Druid effectively. The best way to really learn this deck is to play it a lot, but here are some points to keep in mind.
Plan your turns ahead and maximize your mana curve to avoid awkward turns
With Ramp Druid, your first couple turns may be clunky or there might not be much to do if you do not get a good ramp through Innervate or Wild Growth. Make sure you plan what you want to do a couple turns ahead. If you open up with a mana ramp card then think about what you can play every turn. If you use your mana inefficiently or order your plays incorrectly, you can be severely punished.
A good example to give you a good image of what I mean is say you open up with Innervate, Shade of Naxxramas, and Piloted Shredder in your opening hand and the next couple turns you draw a Belcher, Keeper or whatever and you’re against say another Druid. A mistake some people may do is turn 1 Innervate out the Shade because they think it can grow big. However now they cannot do anything on turn 2 and 3. The more optimal play would be wait until turn 2 to Innervate the Shredder, and then turn 3 play the Shade. This is just a small detail but it curves out your turns much better so that you avoid any awkward turns.
Gradually continue to keep growing your board
Ramp Druid wins the game by steadily growing the board with strong mid game minions. A lot of times it is more effective to just play a minion on curve rather than using a spell + hero power to try to control the board.
Be aware of board clears
Similar to the last point, board is extremely important for the Druid since 90% of the deck is minions. If you lose your board from a huge board clear it is extremely hard to build it back up. Be aware of potential board clears your opponent may have, sometimes it is better to let your minion die in a trade rather than having two minions alive with low health.
If Wild Growth is too late, just hold on to it
Some people will make the mistake of playing Wild Growth on say turn 7 as they just draw into it. If you draw into your Wild Growth late in the game and it does not make an impact to your play, just hold onto it so you can cycle it later.
Maintain board control
This is a minion heavy deck, board control is essential. I usually will trade unless it is extremely pointless or if I am setting up for lethal with the kill combo.
When you're playing against any midrange or control deck, ramp cards are honestly all you care about. Wild Growth is probably the most important card to start with as it gets your ramp going. If you open up with Wild Growth, or at least Innervate you are good to go. The other cards you want to open up if you start with this are ideally 4-5 drops that you can play on curve with your ramp.
When you are against an aggro deck you want to be able to play something in response to their early creatures. If you are able to survive the early stage of the game and stabilize you have a good chance to win.
Now that you have the core of your deck, anything else to fill it up is completely up to you! When you want to finish the deck, keep in mind of the mana curve making sure it is fairly even and flows nicely. Consider what you see the most in ladder or what is “meta” and put in tech cards accordingly. In this list below I include possible cards you can use in the deck and for what reason you may have them in for. Please disregard the quantity of cards, I just put 1 of each in to have enough room in a deck slot and there is still more cards you can choose to put in, these are just my personal picks.
In aggro meta
With aggro decks being the most popular on ladder, it is common that you will face against a Hunter, Zoolock, Mech, etc. Druid is weak in the early game so you need to play some lower mana curve cards or strong taunts to compensate so that you do not get blown out by these aggro decks. Zombie Chow is really great against aggro as it helps a lot on the first 2 turns by trading a 2 for 1 or 1 good 2 drop. Taunts such as Sen'jin Shieldmasta and Sludge Belcher are great taunts as they can be played fairly early and will normally trade 2 for 1 against aggro.
In midrange meta
The best way to beat midgame decks are to play better midgame minions than your opponent. Druid is good at this by not only having very solid mid game minions available to fit in the deck, but also being able to ramp them out earlier than your opponent. Some good midgame cards to have are Piloted Shredder, Azure Drake, Loatheb, Sylvanas Windrunner, Dr Boom, Kel'Thuzad and pretty much everything of that sort because Ramp Druid is a midgame decks so most cards will do fine in any midgame meta. Even cards that are normally slow and should be in control meta such as Ysera is not very punishable if you can get the Mana Growth and Innervates.
In control meta
Similar to the midgame meta, Ramp Druid can use pretty much anything to fill the slots. However the meta becomes very slow, you can get away with greedier cards, or cards that are generally very hard to deal with. Cards such as Spectral Knight are very hard for classes relying on spells for board control. Other powerful cards can be Piloted Sky Golem or Cairne Bloodhoof because of their deathrattles. You can also get away with playing Ysera and Ragnaros for the late game finishers.
There are some cards in this list where you can put 1 of if you see a specific surge of a type of deck or class in the meta. Big Game Hunter is a 1 of tech because it’s good against midrange or control but bad against aggro. Mind Control Tech is becoming stronger because of the rise of popularity in Zoo. Kezan Mystic helps against all the Mage and Hunter matches. Harrison Jones is good against heavy Warrior, Paladin or Rogue metas. Finally The Black Knight is especially good in Druid and sometimes Handlock metas.
Control Warrior – Warrior’s strategy is to slowly win the game by having hard removals and strong late game minions. Druid has a lot of high value midgame minions that the Warrior either has to burn their limited removal on, or fall very far behind in board, relying on Brawl. The Druid will normally overwhelm the Warrior with their midgame minions and snowball that into a victory. As mentioned before, Ancient of Lore is a very strong card in this matchup as the extra draw power refuels the Druid and outpaces the Warrior. Try to keep board control while managing the Warriors armor (unless you see both shield slams used). Also do not throw everything on the board until brawl is used.
Ramp Druid – Mirror matches can go both way and it really depends on the players and who gets the Wild Growth.The card is a huge factor in this matchup because if you can start with it, you will be ahead of the other Druid to get the initiative on playing your minions. Once you get board control, it is hard for the other Druid to come back as they do not have any sort of hard removal or strong board AoE on you. You have to play the game as efficiently as possible while growing your board, staying on tempo, getting more cards with Ancient of Lore, and hopefully end it with combo. You do not always have to save your Savage Roar or Force of Nature if you need to use them to regain board control which is more important.
Hunter – Hunters can be quite hard for the Druid unless you can stabilize and survive from the early game. Having a Swipe, Wrath, or a ramped out Keeper of the Grove is very important in this matchup as you need to clear the board while taking minimal damage early on. Once you can stabilize and gain board control while having a decent amount of life, you can win the game. I usually find I need a boost from Savage Roar to end the game off. I will also try to maximize my hero power to retain life as well as using Ancient of Lore for healing. If you can get your taunts up early as well, they will help you significantly as the Hunter either needs silence or burn a lot of damage on them.
Handlock – In this match you always need to be careful of Molten Giants if you do not have an answer to them. It is hard to deal with the big minions Handlock pushes out, I would always try to mulligan for a Big Game Hunter and Keeper of the Grove. Sylvanas will also help in this match. You want to grow a strong board and burst the Warlock down with Savage Roar to win this matchup. Always be aware of the big board clears the Warlock can do from Shadowflame.
Zoolock – Zoo can be a difficult matchup as they grow a big board of low cost, but efficient minions. I do find this matchup decent though as you have many answers with Keeper, Wrath and Swipe. Swipe has especially got stronger in this matchup with all the imps floating around. Once you can stabilize the early game, you will out scale zoo with your mid game minions. Your big taunts like Druid of the Claw and Belcher is also very good at clearing a lot of minions. You will also not fall too far behind in cards with your Ancient of Lores. You may also need to use Force of Nature to clear the board, but this is ok because once you stabilize the board the Warlock has a hard time coming back with their lower value minions.
Paladin – Paladin often pushes pressure with spamming out recruits and building a board of midrange minions. Druid however has stronger midrange minions that out values the Paladin as well as having strong board clears with Swipe. Along with Swipe, Keeper and Wrath also gains you tempo while growing your board that is hard for the Paladin to remove. Just make sure you play around Consecrations and keep track of the 1 Equality that they normally will have because that can swing the paladin back into the game. Keep hold of your keeper of the grove for Sylvanas or Tirion.
Shaman – I find that the quality of Druids cards are better than Shamans'. Shaman has the overload mechanic which restricts them of mana by pushing stronger plays on their previous turn. Druid on the other hand is trying to ramp their mana to push stronger plays earlier on in the game. Druid plays tough mid game minions where the removal spells from Shaman don`t often work. On overloaded turns, you can afford to push out more minions and the Shaman will quickly fall behind. I will always trade to keep clearing Shamans board to avoid Flametongue Totem, and also always consider Lightning Storm with spell damage. Trade your board and keep your minions healthy rather than having a big board with weakened minions. Shaman will burn out of cards quicker than you as they do not have consistent draw, unless they get Manatide Totem to survive a few turns, so Ancient of Lore will outpace them like it does for Warrior.
Mech/Tempo/Freeze Mage – Mech Mage and Tempo Mage will normally out tempo the Druid because of their efficient removal spells and secrets. In Mech Mage, they will always have Mirror Entity so you have to adapt your turn to play around it by giving them a suboptimal minion if possible. In Tempo Mage it can be Counter Spell so wait until you can waste a late Wild Growth, Innervate or Coin to proc it. Fireball clears most of the minions in your deck which also pushes you behind.
To win against Tempo or Mech Mage you have to keep good control on the board and the Mage will eventually run out of fuel. Gradually grow your board and play around secrets as much as possible, most mech/tempo mage does not have board wipes so you can be a little relaxed about that and play a little more greedily.
Freeze mage is a hard matchup as the constant freezing and board clears stop you from push any damage. You need to play aggressively in this match such as using Druid of the Claw in charge. Always consider how your board is setup against Flamestrike as well as saving a silence to free a frozen minion or to deal with Doomsayer. I will also save Dr. Boom for when my opponent is low so that they cannot board clear unless they risk dying to the boom bots.
Priest – This is a very hard matchup for Druid because they lack hard removals, so it is hard to deal with high health minions that the Priest creates. Injured Blademaster require a lot of trades, Deathlords are hard to deal with early on, overall the Priest just gradually builds up a board and you fall behind and can`t catch up. I only found that I can win this match by having extremely good draws and slowly building my board where the Priest can`t board clear away. Try to play around their board clears such as Lightbomb, Holy Nova and Auchenai Soulpriest / Circle of Healing combo. If you cannot play around them, do not go as aggressively on board and lose everything.
Rogue – Rogue can be a difficult matchup because Saps especially puts you behind in tempo. However if you can stabilize a board you stand a chance. Once you stabilize a board and play Loatheb, the Rogue cannot do anything and you finish off with Savage Roar. Rogue however gains advantage if they can build up a board and out tempo you with efficient spells that clears your minions like Blade Flurry, Eviscerate, etc. So with that in mind, try to play around eviscerate damage, and consider if they have Blade Flurry. Go for the board control (always try to remove spell damage) as the Druid will lose when the Rogue gets a big board pressure.
In conclusion, Ramp Druid is a consistent, powerful deck that can win any game. Wild Growth and Innervate are just too good and with the addition of Emperor Thaurissan this deck can steal games away in ladder and in tournaments. I definitely recommend learning this deck if you want to win games of Hearthstone. Thank you for going through this guide with me, you can see more of me through compLexity Gaming as well as following me on all the socials medias.
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