It has been less than a week and The Grand Tournament has already made a visible difference on the meta-game. Some decks look like they are here to stay while others project an air of transience. From what I’ve noticed, the strongest decks so far were the pre-existing archetypes that have integrated TGT cards to Bolster their overall effectiveness. Hawkeye’s Ramp Druid is one of those archetypes; taking an already successful deck and improving upon it with cards like Living Roots and Darnassus Aspirant.
How to Play:
Much like its predecessor, the TGT Ramp Druid excels at outlasting the opponent with larger minions and having the ability to get those minions out quickly.
Controlling the board early has never been easier with Living Roots and Darnassus Aspirant. Living Roots provides that 1-drop that Druids desperately needed by being able to either remove a minion or establish early board control. The Aspirant is one of the best Druid cards to come out, forcing the opponent to deal with it immediately or watch as you ramp into stronger minions like the Savage Combatant.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to gain a mana advantage on the opponent through Wild Growth,Innervate, or Darnassus Aspirant so that you can begin to drop an unremitting stream of big-minions upon them. One of the best aspects of this deck is the myriad of win-conditions it offers. Either by Innervating an Emperor Thaurissan out or dropping a Ragnaros the Firelord, the Ramp Druid is no short supply of threats.
The mulligan phase is simple, look hard for any 2 or less mana card: Innervate, Living Roots, Wild Growth, Wrath, and Darnassus Aspirant. If you’ve already drawn an Innervate, you can afford to look for a Savage Combatant as it will further provide you with additional boar control. If up against a Paladin or “face deck,” you should be looking for additional removal, including the 4-costed Swipe.
Living Roots: Coalesced with the Druid Hero power, Living Roots has ameliorated many of the Druid class’s early game foibles. Best scenario is turn-1 two 1/1 Saplings, turn-2 hero power and kill whatever is on the board, it’s as simple as that. Didn’t draw it early? Not a problem, as it works marvelously off of other removal like Wrath and Swipe by taking down those bigger minions or finishing off that pesky one that Swipe left behind.
Darnassus Aspirant: This card has been getting a lot of praise and justly so, it has provided the Druid Class another tool to ramp into the late game with. Yes, it destroys a mana crystal when killed but who cares if you’ve already got a Savage Combatant out or the opponent had to waste valuable removal on it!
Savage Combatant: Hawkeye is a huge fan of this card, claiming it “has complete dominance [over] the early board when innervated or wild growthed out” [source]. I couldn’t agree more with him, getting this card out provides insane value, helping you control board early so that you can more effectively get out the later game cards. It’s no Piloted Shredder but it does offer additional synergy that the Shredder cannot, giving 3-attack damage per turn and being able to trade up with its 5/4 body.
Justicar Trueheart > 1 – Ancient of War:
I found that Trueheart is just too good in this deck, consistently giving you 2-attack and 2-armor. It’s only a 6/3 body, but it’s still a threat that needs to be taken care of because it trades with most cards within that mana range. The synergy it provides within this deck can’t be understated, combine it with a Savage Combatant and you’ve got yourself 4-attack and 2-armor for 2-mana!
Ysera or Alexstrasza > Cenarius:
Cenarius is a great card for this deck but because it’s a class specific Legendary, not many people possess it (including myself!). Ysera is a good replacement because it provides infinite value if not taken care of and Alexstrasza is good because it provides an additional heal for yourself or another tool to nuke the opponent down.
Overall, Ramp Druid is one of the archetypes that greatly benefited from the release of TGT. Its new early game tools coalesced with its already existing, great late-game has made this one of the most powerful archetypes to play on ladder. I’ve had a great time playing this deck; I’ve won a lot of games while having a fun time doing so! If you want to learn more about Hawkeye, you can find him over on his Twitch page at: http://www.twitch.tv/hawkeye_hs