Aggro Druid: The Case for Vicious Fledgling

Aggro Druid in Un’Goro

Aggro Druid is most undoubtedly back and with a vengeance.  The deck died off with the rotation of Fel Reaver in the Year of the Kraken, but is back in full force now, mainly on the back of LIving Mana and a severe lack of Aggro / Midrange Shamans on ladder.  Aggro Druid has very favorable matchups against Quest Rogue, Midrange/Aggro Paladin, as well as Hunter.  The only weak matchups in the current meta include Taunt Warrior and Control Priest.  Pirate Warrior is slightly favorable to 50/50.  Let’s take a look at the decklist as well as winrates to legend.

The List

aggrodruid

The Core

2x Innervate – Just an obvious auto-include in every Druid deck. Manipulating mana is always insanely good in Hearthstone, and the tempo swings Innervate provides are undeniably broken at times

2x Bloodsail Corsair – Mainly just here to get patches out, but removing one durability off a Fiery War Axe, True Silver, or Jade Claws is always good as well.

Patches – The reason for running Bloodsail Corsair; patches is simply insane.  This deck is all about getting early board and maintaining it until you either kill your opponent or draw Living Mana to refuel.  Patches along with Bloodsail Corsair gives you very strong early tempo in the early turns.  Furthermore, with cards like Mark of the Lotus, Power of the Wild, and Ravasaur Runt you can an incredibly strong early board.

2x Firefly – This card seems to be stable in any board-focused deck, the ability to have a one drop that gives you another one drop is insane strong, especially for a deck that needs minions to do anything.  Your goal is to play minions and buff them.  Firefly makes poor draws (hand full of buff cards) half decent.

2x Mark of the Lotus – Strong snowball card that’s easy to get off for only one mana. Absolutely staple.

2x Mark of Y’Shaarj – Several beasts you can get value from, drawing a card is great. Again, low cost minions and buff cards is the game plan.

2x Enchanted Raven – One mana 2/2 is pretty good, having the beast tag for Mark of Y’Shaarj is excellent.

2x Power of the Wild – Same deal as Mark of the Lotus, just a little worse.  On the plus side, has the flexibility of being a 3/2 beast with bad hands.

2x Ravasaur Runt – One of the strongest two drops in the game if you get value from it, which you very often do with a low curve and Innervate.

2x Eggsnapper – Pretty decent offensive-minded body (3-attack for 3 mana), deathrattle tokens to maintain board with buffs after it’s cleared.  The Raptors are also beasts which is great for Mark of Y’Shaarj.

2x Savage Roar – Staple in Aggro Druid. Your goal is to always have board, be it snowballing early or dropping Living Mana after a board clear.  As such, having Savage Roar in your deck is very often threatening lethal against your opponent.

2x Defender of Argus – Snowball, Snowball, Snowball. This card is one of the ultimate snowball cards. On turn four, you’re not really looking to drop a bomb — moreso, you’re looking to snowball your current board, which you should have or you’re probably losing anyway.

The Broken

ViciousFledgling

2x Vicious Fledgling – This card is the absolute MVP of the deck and I’m truly shocked I don’t see it more.  In old Aggro Druid, Innervate+Innervate+Fel Reaver was absolutely game breaking and typically won you the game on the spot.  Vicious Fledgling does the same thing, but for two mana less and it can be played on turn one with just one Innervate.  The card is absolutely broken and if placed on a board where you’re ahead, or if it’s protected, or simply can’t be killed, the card simply wins you the game.

Firstly, having the ability to get Windfury off is absolutely insane.  Windfury on the first Adapt allows you to hit again for a second Adapt.  This second Adapt can allows you to take things like Stealth, +3 Health, or become untargetable by spells often leading to another double Adapt turn.  In games that are in top deck mode, this card sticking works under the same principle — it just wins you the game by itself.  Furthermore, it’s a beast! Excellent for Mark of Y’Shaarj.

Living Mana – This card was universally laughed at by most players during the review stages of Un’Goro, turns out, It’s prettttttty good.  It’s more than good — it single handedly allows Aggro Druid to be a good deck.  While it can’t be Innervated out like Fel Reaver used to, it’s often better in the sense that your deck is mainly small minion/token based.  As such, your opponent is often using their low cost AOE/efficient resources to clear your early board.  This typically leaves them with little to no answers for a Living Mana turn.  For 5 mana, you’re essentially playing a 10/10 (5x 2/2 minions).  At 7 mana, you’re paying 5 mana for a 14/14.  Furthermore, topdecking Savage Roar, Mark of the Lotus, or Power of the Wild the turn after (assuming you have the mana to play them) is often game ending.

The Tech

2x Hungry Crab – This tech choice in particular is what allowed me to climb to Legend with such a high winrate.  The current NA meta from ranks 5-Legend is plagued by Aggro, Midrange, and Control variants of Murloc Paladin.  Hungry Crab value early in this matchup basically guarantees a win, a 1 mana 3/4 that clears a minion is just insane tempo.  Furthermore, it is a beast, which allows you to either snowball further against Paladin, while also making it an okay (albeit below average) card at times against other matchups.

Genzo the Shark – This is the main open spot in this Aggro Druid list, and I’ve tried mana different cards in this spot.  Firsly, on Genzo, he’s okay — this deck is a deck that tends to run out of minions quickly, you’re often going all in between turns 1-3.  Genzo is a pretty solid card to drop on 4 mana when you’re ahead on board and low on cards.  Furthermore, he does have the ability to be Innervated out early.  And if you’re innervating him out, you’re likely left with 0-2 cards in your hand.  So, if he lives, you’re basically guaranteed value out of him next turn.

The Tech Swaps

2x Golakka Crawler – This is the main swap to 2x Hungry Crab, it’s entirely meta based.  If Pirate Warrior starts creeping back into the meta at a high level, or if you simply stop seeing Murloc Paladins, swapping this card in is a great choice.  It’s a beast and sometimes allows you to turn your 1/1 Patches or 1/2 Corsair into a 3/4 Beast.

1x Black Knight – Something I briefly toyed around with but immediately stopped facing Taunt Warrior in true Hearthstone Ladder fashion.  I think it could be an okay tech choice in a Taunt Warrior filled meta.  Having said that, Aggro Druid is ultimately very weak against Taunt Warrior Anyway, so I don’t think you should be playing Aggro Druid in such a meta anyway.

1x Leeroy Jenkins – I think Leeroy can be okay to slot in for Genzo.  You’re very often in situations where you’ve lost board and need some topdeck damage to win the game, but you simply don’t have any. Leeroy is incredibly bad in any non-lethaling situation, so while he may be correct to use, I’m certainly not convinced.

The Finja Package

An alternative to the main list is running the Finja package.  Using the above list as a shell, you can cut 2x Hungry Crab2x Egg Snapper1x Genzo the Shark for:

2x Bluegill Warrior

2x Murloc Warleader

1x Finja

Although I was initially a fan of Finja in Druid, I think the entire package makes the deck less consistent.  Bluegill and Warleader are often terrible plays on their own.  In my opinion, the Finja package would likely reduce overall winrate by increasing variance of draws, making the deck’s winrate much more swingy.

Matchups

General – Getting into each Matchup isn’t really too relevant as your game plan is basically always the same.  Get the very early board, snowball the very early board, win with an insurmountable board or through burst with Savage Roar.  If you lose board, play Living Mana and win that way.  It’s very straightforward.  The understanding for individual matchups is moreso an understanding of the opposing deck’s limitations, which I’ll focus on below.

The Mulligan – I’m not a fan of specific mulligan guides, I think those are detrimental to understanding the mulligan.  You’re never really looking for specific cards; moreso, you’re looking at the first cards offered in your Mulligan, how your curve might playout against your opponent’s curve, and what cards out of those allow you to accomplish your goal.  As such I’ll offer a general idea on how to mulligan correctly.

Always keep Innervate; keeping two is iffy, but keeping one is absolutely always correct.

If you have Innervate, always keep Vicious Fledgling if you’re going first against anything.  It’s always typically correct to keep it going second as well, unless you’re going against something hyper aggressive like a Pirate Warrior.

If you have Innervate, always keep a strong opener.  This varies anything from the Vicious Fledging play, to combinations of 1 drops with Power of the Wild or Mark of the Lotus, to turn 1 or 2 Ravasaur plays, etc.  Big tempo plays that make it difficult for your opponent to react to.

Never keep buff cards if you have no curve.  Never keep Vicious Fledgling without Innervate or a strong early start so you know it has a good chance of going down on a protected board.

Never keep Defender of Argus.  There’s so many stronger early game cards that can snowball your early board before turn four.  Keeping Defender is never correct.

Paladin – Early Hungry Crab value basically wins you the game on the spot.  Even if you don’t draw either of them, your early game is just so much better barring a perfect Murloc curve.  Almost always clear the Murlocs, getting snowballed by Murloc Warleader or Gentle Megasaur.  Always be conscious of Consecration.  Keep your minions above 2 health if you’re able.  It’s often correct to bring a minion 3/2 minion to 1 health than it is bringing a 3/3 minion to two health.  Be conscious of four health as well on your bigger minions due to True Silver; you can make trades for Paladins very awkard with a 5 health minion.

Quest Rogue- Though I only played one Quest Rogue and went 1-1, there’s no doubt the matchup is favorable for Druid.  Quest Rogues excel against slow decks; you’re the exact opposite, you’re fast and you snowball quickly.  Furthermore, outside of Backstab and the occasional Fan of Knives, Quest Rogues don’t really run any removal.  Be ry of keeping your minions at 1 health due to fan, and understand when it’s correct and not correct to trade.  Understand that these Rogues have hardly an removal, so simply hitting them in the face and making them trade their minions into you instead really puts them on a clock.  Furthermore, always keep their board clear when you know they have the possibility of having their quest completed soon, or if you can kill a minion off they started Shadowstepping.  You’ll very often win this matchup by turns 5-6.

Miracle Rogue– I’m not really sure what’s favored here but I believe the Rogue might be.  I’m older, less efficient versions of Aggro Druid where I played more of this matchup, I had a very difficult time maintaining a good board against Miracle Rogues.  Cards like Backstab, SI:7 Agent, Fan of Knives, Thalnos, etc. really put a damper on your early game. The games you win are typically games you either Curve out and they draw miserably, or they run out of removal and you living mana turns 5-7.

Hunter – Another favorable matchup.  While Hunters do tend to run a relatively low curve, yours is much faster than their’s is.  Furthermore, your 1 drops are often 1/2s and 2/2s that can be buffed; while the Hunter’s are often 1 health, allowing you to trade very favorable into them.  The goal against Hunter is to basically always clear their early board.  Hunter wins through the early snowballs with Crackling Razormaw, Hyena, or Houndmaster.  It’s actually very often correct to clear off their Rat Pack as well, as Houndmaster on Rat Pack is devastating.  The other thing to be mindful is Unless the Hounds.  Because of your efficient 1 mana minions and buffs, you’re very often strong against Unleash the Hounds.  Having said that, remaining conscious of keeping your minions above 1 health is a good idea.

Pirate Warrior– As I stated previously, this matchup is slightly favored to 50/50 even though I only played one and lost.  If the Warrior draws well, especially with N’Zoth’s first mate, it can be very challenging.  However, your curve is actually much more consistent than their’s, often allowing you to take board early, and Pirate Warrior struggles when it’s behind against an aggressive deck.  Furthermore, outside of N’Zoth’s First Mate and Patches, Pirate Warrior struggles to ping/deal with low health minions, which is what you excel at flooding the board with.  As long as you can keep board, a strong Savage Roar or Defender of Argus turn often seals the deal.

Taunt Warrior– The bane of this deck for sure.  Taunt Warrior is such an uphill battle, and you only really win if you draw perfectly and they draw terribly.  Your minions trade into high health Taunts very poorly, and with cards like Fiery War Axe and Ghoul it’s very difficult to maintain any semblance of a board.  Be wary of over-extending into Brawl unless you have Living Mana – though understand that you’ll often be in situations where you really can’t afford to not push into a brawl turn and just hope they don’t have it.

Shaman – Most Shamans are some sort of mid-rangey, elemental / Jade based; but for the most part the games really play out the same as any midrange-y deck, only they tend to have more AOE, which makes the matchup harder.  Playing around Maelstorm Portal and Lightning Storm with buffs and trades is absolutely critical to your success.  Single-target buffing multiple minions rather than focusing on one, due to Hex, is also something to keep in mind.  For the most part, it really just comes down to how resilient you can make your board to their AOE, as well as draws of course.

Priest – Though I didn’t play against it much, I don’t think it’s a very favored matchup against Control Priests.  Listens are far from refined, so getting in easy wins against them is still very possible however.  The main thing to consider is playing around their removal.  For one, Potion of Madness can be very devastating, often 2-for-1ing a low curve board.  As such, either keeping your minions above 2 attack, or their health totals below their attack totals, is critical.  Furthermore, having the ability to put a minion to 4 attack is very often correct, as this is obviously the sweet spot against priest due to Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death.  Playing around Holy Nova is also sometimes a good idea, though Priests tend to run only one, if any.  Not overextending into Dragon Fire Potion without Living Mana in hand is also a good idea.

Mage – Most of the Mages running around a some sort of tempo/control variants or hybrids; the gameplan is the same against all of them.  Try to keep minions above 1 health for ping reasons, don’t play into AOE if you can help it.  This matchup seems to be a 50/50; mages have a very hard time dealing with a buffed token board in the early game.

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