The Comprehensive Showdown in the Badlands Preview

Data Reaper Report - Druid


Restoring 7 health for 2 mana is a decent deal, but what makes Rehydrate strong is its Quickdraw ability, which refreshes the 2 mana crystals you spend on the card. This makes Rehydrate essentially free, which means it is the easiest Quickdraw card to activate. At any moment in the game you draw it, you can cast it without affecting your planned play on the turn. The Nature tag is also quite relevant, making it a great fit next to Topior. Healing without sacrificing initiative for other plays is highly valuable. This is a great card for any defensive Druid deck.

Score: 3

Take to the Skies

A Dragon tutor with a built in handbuff. Take to the Skies is a cracked Arcane Intellect for dragon decks, with some of the dragons available to Druid highly benefitting from buffs, such as Dragon Golem and Desert Nestmatron. The tutoring ability is also quite relevant for Highlander Druid’s late game since its primary win condition in Rheastrasza is a dragon too.

It’s hard to see this card not seeing play if some form of Dragon Druid is relevant, but its tutoring value could also encourage non-Dragon decks to run a small package of dragons.

Score: 3

Spinetail Drake

This is quite a powerful mid-game card for Dragon Druid. 5 damage to a minion kills every early game threat in the format, including the most troublesome ones, such as Hawkstriker Rancher. In addition to the damage, we get premium stats for a 4-drop, with a high attack value that can put on quite a bit of pressure. Spinetail Drake is a good swing card for the archetype, but obviously requires an investment in a sizeable dragon package. We believe dragons will be the way to go for Druid, so it’s not really a problem. Decent follow up to a turn 3 Take to the Skies.

Score: 3

Cactus Construct

This card does so much for such little mana. Cactus Construct is a fantastic early game card. It’s both a turn 1 play and provides you with a turn 2 play. Many of the 2-drops in the game have static abilities, such as deathrattles, making the 1/2 summoned quite solid on average for a 1-drop. Druid is notorious for having a weak and passive early game, so Cactus Construct solves a lot of its early game consistency issues. The other bonus is that it’s a Nature spell, so it’s perfect for a Topior deck. Cactus Construct is one these cards that’s going to be played in any kind of Druid deck, whether it’s aggressive or defensive, it fills a need. Aquatic form level card.

Score: 4

Splish-Splash Whelp

This 2-drop might be the strongest support card for a dragon deck. Wild Growth was historically a very strong card at 2 mana. So was Breath of Dreams. Whelp is a Wild Growth with a 2/1 body attached to it, making it the best out of the three when it comes to fighting for board in the early game.

The dragon condition means we want a high dragon count, but we probably want it anyway since Druid is getting some very strong dragons beyond Whelp. A turn 2 Whelp has very strong follow up in Druid, thanks to a couple of 4-mana dragons as well as Widowbloom Seedsman. We suspect that Splish-Splash Whelp is going to have a very high mulligan win rate and represent a powerhouse ramp card for Druid decks going forward.

Score: 4

Desert Nestmatron

Another Druid card that basically costs no mana, Desert Nestmatron is a 4 mana 3/5 taunt that refreshes back 4 mana crystals if you have a dragon in hand. A past card that is comparable is Anubisath Defender, which arguably had a stricter requirement of activation but was core throughout its time in Standard.

This is a fantastic way for Druid to stabilize against aggression or pressure the opponent very quickly. A turn 2 Whelp into a turn 3 Nestmatron/Seedsman or Spinetrail Drake is the kind of curve that Druid is now capable of executing. There is never a turn where Nestmatron is a dead card since it should always be a free taunt in a dragon deck. Its consistency is further increased by Take to the Skies, which also provides it with a valuable buff. Powerhouse minion.

Score: 4

Dragon Tales

This card is very similar to Warrior’s Dragon Roar, which generated two random dragons for the same cost. Dragon Tales is a better card since you can choose the cost pool of the generated dragons. For example, if you have nothing better to do in the early game, you can opt to generate a couple of cheaper dragons and hope they help you fight for board. Alternatively, you could look for more expensive dragons later in the game to find a way to close out the game.

Dragon Tales also has a bit of synergy with Dragon Golem, which encourages you to maintain a good number of dragons in hand. Note that this card can generate dragons from other classes.

The main problem of Dragon Tales is that its value is random and might seem a bit redundant alongside Rheastrasza in Highlander Druid. It is also a Choose One card that you’d rather not find with Embrace of Nature over a Nourish or a Lifebinder’s Gift. It’s okay if you’re desperate for a high dragon count in hand, but we can also see this card being passed over. Its value is mediocre in quality.

Score: 2

Dragon Golem

This minion offers Dragon Druid its most straightforward win condition, a way to produce a wave of threats against a slower deck or turn the corner against an aggressive deck by shutting down its advance. Dragon Golem only relies on a high dragon count to be very powerful, since it’s already a decent card if it summons 2-3 copies. A full board of Golems is a realistic possibility, thanks to Take to the Skies and Dragon Tales.

Take to the Skies can also tutor and buff the Golem, making it even stronger. Another tutor available to Druid is Summer Flowerchild, so Dragon Golem is going to be a very consistent play in the mid-game. The final synergy worth mentioning is with Fye, as it’s the strongest enabler of the new Druid legendary. We think Dragon Golem might be more impactful than Scale of Onyxia, as it’s not just a strong stabilizer in faster matchups, but a late game threat that reminds us of Carnival Clown. Game changer.

Score: 4


The Highlander Druid payoff, Rheastrasza is an 8 mana 8/8 that summons a non-interactable Nest (much like Sargeras’ portal). From that point, the Nest allows you to discover a dragon at the start of your turn and discount it by 4 mana.

If you compare it to Odyn, for example, Rheastrasza doesn’t possess the same kind of lethality. However, you must consider that Druid can play Rheastrasza earlier in the game thanks to the class’ ramping. An early Rheastrasza can be absolutely devastating. Druid can tutor the card in multiple ways, so even in a Highlander deck, it should be able to find it quite consistently.

This is a powerful value generator that helps overwhelm your opponent both in resources and the board, but it is admittedly slower in nature and more suitable for an attrition battle. If you’ve managed to play an 8 mana 8/8 against a faster deck, you’re probably already winning, but this card is meant to win the slower matchups. Unless Druid is faced with a high lethality opponent in the late game, Rhea should be extremely effective. Ironically, Reno provides the cleanest answer to the card, since it clears the Nest.

Score: 4

Fye, the Setting Sun

Fye is a massive dragon, possessing the strongest defensive keywords: Rush, Lifesteal and Taunt. Its baseline cost is 9 mana, but it gets discounted by any dragon you summon. Note the word “summon”, rather than “play”, which means Dragon Golem is a very strong enabler of the card. Topior’s summons are also dragons, so it’s another very powerful enabler for Fye. In a Dragon Druid deck, a Topior deck, or a combination of both, we can see Fye being discounted very rapidly.

At 6 mana, the card can already be considered powerful, but we suspect that it’s going to be much cheaper most of the time. A heavily discounted Fye is a huge stabilizer against aggression, often ending games on the spot if hard removal cannot be found to circumvent its massive, lifestealing body. Druid’s competitive prowess is often determined by its ability to stabilize in faster matchups. Fye is another big statement on Dragon Druid’s ability to do so effectively.

Score: 4

Final Thoughts

Showdown in the Badlands Set Rank: 1st

Overall Power Ranking:  4th

Fall of Ulduar will be remembered as the time Druid wreaked havoc on the Standard format with the help of Yogg-Saron before it got obliterated back to nothingness through multiple nerfs. The class is currently missing in action as it bides its time for Badlands. Judging by the coming set, Druid was harshly nerfed by Team 5 knowing that the new expansion will help it recover back to serious competitive play.

Druid’s Badlands set has so many things that the class desires for its ramping strategies. The ability to ramp early and often, fight for board in the mid-game and then turn the corner late. The dragon tribe offers Druid power at all stages of the game.

There are two main directions that can be identified in the set. One is a minion-dense, beatdown Dragon deck that looks to pressure opponents through raw stats and to deny aggression by executing powerful swing turns. Dragon Golem becomes the primary late game win condition, imitating Carnival Clown in many ways.

The other is Highlander Druid, focused on Rheastrasza as its grindy finisher. Perhaps, grindy is an unfair description, as Purified Dragon Nest carries a lot of mana cheating potential. A heavily discounted dragon every turn can be quite overwhelming alongside Druid’s natural resources, forcing the issue in many matchups. The question will be how the class handles decks with very high late game lethality.

Ironically, it is Druid’s defensive prowess that seems to be the more promising element of the class. We’re not saying Druid will be dominating aggressive decks, but it seems to have enough to challenge. So many of Druid’s dragons will be great at fending off aggression, including Fye, The Setting Sun, which looks like a very strong recovery tool. Topior is also an established dragon that will likely make an impact.

Should Druid figure out a consistent late game plan that leverages its dragon set well, it will make a big comeback at the launch of the Showdown.

1 Comment

  1. The problem with the DK rune system is less that it’s “too restrictive” and more that there is not enough incentive to run decks that aren’t mono-rune. This is less of a problem with Frost-Unholy since there is some support for deathrattle decks there, but there is no reason at all to run a Blood-Frost deck, and the only Unholy-Blood archetype that currently exists (Handbuff) isn’t interested in running Maw and Paw or A Fistful of Corpses. It’s true these two cards don’t really make sense in their current iteration but a better solution would be to design them to also work in a potential Blood-Unholy archetype rather than just knocking off an Unholy rune and calling it a day.

    The way the rune system should ideally work is that the more general, building-block type cards should have one or no rune. The more runes a card has, the more powerful and specialized it should be. However, two-rune cards should still be designed to work in multiple archetypes. With that in mind, Reska, the Pit Boss is a good example of a well-designed two rune card since it synergizes both with the corpse-heavy Rainbow DK and the UUF Deathrattle DK. If neither of those archetypes pan out and they “buff” Reska by removing a Frost rune I’ll be pretty disappointed, since that’ll create even less incentive for players to try out interesting rune combinations.

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