Our Jade Druid deck list guide for the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion, fully updated for the post-nerfs February 2018 meta, will teach you how to play this midrange Druid list. This Jade Druid guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, and Card Substitutions!
Introduction to Jade Druid
Jade Druid was one of the popular decks to come out of the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion. Three classes got access to Jade synergy: Druid, Rogue, and Shaman. Druid has flat-out been the front-runner for popularizing the style of deck due to its ability to accelerate their mana pool and push out more and more Jades. The card that truly sets the class apart from the others is Jade Idol. It makes the deck extremely hard to beat in a value-oriented/late game matchup because you can continually add Idols to your deck and create monstrous Golems that will eventually overwhelm your opponent.
Jade Druid has been weakest against aggressive decks, but thanks to the addition of Spreading Plague and Oaken Summons, it is now possible to tech Jade Druid to perform well against aggressive decks at the cost of some performance in control matchups. The deck was clearly a worry for Blizzard leading into the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion that they added Skulking Geist to potentially slow the deck down. Geist, however, wasn’t enough and they eventually made nerfs to Innervate and Spreading Plague. Ultimately, the power of Jades has been strong enough to keep the deck a viable contender throughout its time in the Standard format despite all these efforts.
Kobolds and Catacombs Additions
Kobolds and Catacombs ended up providing Jade Druid with a number of new cards:
Lesser Jasper Spellstone has become a staple in practically all Jade Druid builds, providing Druid with a cheap and effective removal card that can be used to remove small minions in the early game and upgrades up to six damage for dealing with more powerful minions later on.
Many players also opt to use Arcane Tyrant for powerful swing turns with many of the expensive spells used in Jade Druid.
Another common inclusion is Branching Paths, an incredibly flexible and powerful card. It gives you up to 12 Armor, taking you out of reach of aggressive decks, provides card draw in the mirror match and whenever needed, and even works as a small Savage Roar, boosting the attack of all your minions by up to two. A Jade Druid with a wide board is a major threat late in the game, almost reminiscent of Combo Druids of old.
What is the Jade Golem Mechanic?
If you haven’t been following Hearthstone very closely then you might be a bit confused by the Jade Golem mechanic. This is an exclusive mechanic to the Jade Lotus gang from the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan which is made up of the Druid, Rogue, and Shaman classes. Each time a Jade Golem is summoned by a card, the following Jade Golem will be +1/+1 stronger. It also increases in mana cost by one all the way up to ten. While the increase in mana stops at ten, the increase in attack and health does not. You can probably now tell that if you start spawning a lot of Jade Golems they can get out of hand pretty quickly.
The number of Jade cards is limited, but classes have different ways to replicate some of those cards to keep building up their Jade army. For Druid, the primary means is Jade Idol, which allows you to shuffle additional copies of itself into your deck, thus making you invulnerable to fatigue and capable of generating endless Jade Golems.
Jade Druid Card Choices
The core of Jade Druid is, of course, the Jade-generating cards. Druid has access to five Jade-generating cards:
- Jade Idol – The bread and butter of Jade Druid, the infinite Jade generator. You will always play the first Idol as a minion and not add them to your deck.
- Jade Blossom – Jade generator that also ramps up your mana.
- Jade Behemoth – Taunt minion and Jade Golem packaged into one.
- Aya Blackpaw – The legendary leader of the gang, Aya brings two Jade Golems with her, one from her Battlecry and another from her Deathrattle.
- Jade Spirit – The weakest of Jade generators, a low-tempo minion in the early game that can become much more scary later on. Jade Spirit is mostly useful in the mirror match, as it is weak against aggro and does not work well with Oaken Summons, preventing the use of that key anti-aggro card in the deck. Therefore, Jade Spirit is often cut from Jade Druid lists nowadays.
If all Jade-generating cards are included in the deck, Jade Golems can get up to 10/10 stats before any additional Jade Idols are played. As Jade Spirit is nowadays often excluded, Jade Golems only get up to 8/8 stats without additional Jade Idols shuffled into the deck.
Another defining feature of Jade Druid is the ramp package that accelerates its mana gain and allows it to play cards earlier than other classes:
- Wild Growth – Basic ramp card. When played at 10 mana, it creates a new zero-cost spell instead that allows you to draw a card.
- Jade Blossom – Jade generator that also ramps up your mana. When played at 10 mana, only summons the Jade Golem with no other effect.
- Nourish – A choice between ramp or card draw. Unlike other ramp cards, Nourish gives you mana crystals immediately, and therefore effectively only costs three mana when used for ramp. Previously, Nourish was mostly used for card draw, but in this era of Ultimate Infestation it is more commonly used for ramp now. Synergizes with Fandral Staghelm, providing both ramp and card draw when Fandral is on the board.
Druid does not have access to powerful removal tools, but there are some direct damage spells in the deck:
- Lesser Jasper Spellstone – Damage spell that starts out at two points of damage, but can be upgraded up to six points of damage. Can only target minions.
- Wrath – Damage spell that can also be used for card draw. Synergizes with Fandral Staghelm, dealing three and one (so a total of four) damage and drawing a card when Fandral is on the board. Can only target minions.
- Swipe – One of the few area-of-effect damage spells at Druid’s disposal. Can also target the opponent’s Hero.
The Oaken Summons package provides a tool to challenge aggressive decks. Because Recruit mechanic works randomly, the inclusion of Oaken Summons limits the early-game minions that can be used in the deck for best effect.
- Oaken Summons – Provides Armor and Recruits a minion.
- Ironwood Golem – The main Recruit target, a strong Taunt minion that can help Druid stabilize against aggression.
- Fandral Staghelm – While not a Taunt minion, Fandral is still a good inclusion to an Oaken Summons package. Most opponents will try to remove Fandral, as if he is left unchecked, there is the risk of a Nourish follow-up on the following turn, providing the Druid with additional mana and cards. In the mirror, it is crucial to play Fandral together with Jade Idol to maintain tempo and shuffle more Jades into your deck. In other matchups, gaining value from him is great, but he can also be used as a sacrificial lamb that forces the opponent to target Fandral instead of something else.
Arcane Tyrant can help you achieve significant tempo swings, as there are several expensive spells in Jade Druid: Nourish (Tyrant negates the tempo loss of ramping up), Spreading Plague (Tyrant adds some power to the board in addition to the Taunt wall), and Ultimate Infestation. Ultimate Infestation in particular is great with Arcane Tyrant, because even if you don’t have the Tyrant in your hand, you are likely to draw it and can then accompany your 5/5 Ghoul with an additional 4/4 Elemental or two.
Druid lacks area-of-effect damage spells, but Spreading Plague is Druid’s answer to a wide board. The Taunt wall can hold aggression at bay for a while, and if you can develop some big Jade Golems alongside it, you can start taking the board back.
Malfurion the Pestilent may not be as fancy as some of the other Death Knights, but he is very powerful and flexible. You can either start gaining a ton of Armor with him, or you can deal a bunch of damage, whichever you need. Synergizes with Fandral Staghelm, providing four minions when played when Fandral is on the board and also providing both Hero Power effects (three Attack and three Armor) whenever Hero Power is used when Fandral is on the board.
Medivh, the Guardian works well with the expensive spells used in Jade Druid and can give you an alternative way to generate tempo in addition to or instead of Jade Golems.
Ultimate Infestation is one of the best cards in the entire game. The effect is simply bonkers, and thanks to all the ramp Druid has available, it can sometimes be played as early as Turn five. If you have Ultimate Infestation in hand, you can confidently spend all your cards, as you know that a refill is but one spell away.
Jade Druid Mulligan Guide and Strategy
VS Fast Decks
Against fast decks, your strategy is two-fold: you want to look for some ramp to build up your mana, but you also want to look for some defensive tools to prevent the opponent from snowballing. Always keep the early ramp, and also keep at least one defensive tool.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
You want as many of these as possible and keep all of them.
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
You want something from this list, in roughly this order.
VS Slow Decks
Against slow decks, you look for ramp and Ultimate Infestation. Don’t worry about the cost, against a slow deck the game will not end before you can play it.
Higher Priority (Keep every time)
Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Nourish – I would not keep Nourish as the only card, but it can be good if you already have some ramp available.
Jade Druid Win Rates
Jade Druid Play Strategy
Most games you are just looking to ramp up in the early turns. If you are against aggro, then you are looking to remove minions with your early removal spells, Jade Golems, and Hero Power.
VS Aggro Decks
Your win condition is survival. Aggro deck is the beatdown, and you assume the control role, attempting to limit their board presence and prevent them from snowballing.
Ramp remains crucial, as the more mana you have at your disposal, the more you can do to stabilize: Spreading Plague may be a bit late on Turn six, but if you can drop it on Turn four in response to something like Call to Arms, it can shut down the aggression before things get out of hand. Use single-target removal liberally to prevent wide boards. Swipe takes a bit more thinking, as it is the only tool you have to contest wide boards from hand – once it’s gone, you have to build a board of your own to contest the opponent’s board.
Once you stabilize, you big minions can clean up anything the opponent can play and crush them.
VS Control Decks
You have two alternative win conditions: tempo enabled by ramp or infinite value from Jade Idols. Because control decks may run Skulking Geist – unless it’s a mirror – you should generally assume the beatdown role and use tempo to overpower the control deck.
Ramp up as fast as you can and play minions on the board. Be very aggressive – ask yourself what you are playing around for each trade you make. There are perfectly valid trades, for example to deny Warlock value from Carnivorous Cube and to set the health totals of minions so that the opponent’s area-of-effect damage spells harm the board as little as possible. Aim for a refill with Ultimate Infestation and keep up the assault.
The mirror match is somewhat different. Neither of you has good removal, and both of you can create some really big minions. Ramping up both your Jades and mana is the key there, and getting a turn with Fandral Staghelm and Jade Idol is the dream.
Jade Druid Tech Cards
With Standard format card pool at its biggest right before the next rotation, there are many ways to build Jade Druid right now.
The Oaken Summons package is very popular because of its strength against aggro, but it is not the only way to build the deck. If you decide to ditch the package, you can choose to use cards such as Jade Spirit (for more natural Jade Golems and being less susceptible to Skulking Geist) and Mind Control Tech (great in the mirror).
Silence effects are highly valued in the current meta, and you can always fit in a Spellbreaker into Jade Druid as well. If you keep Oaken Summons, you will sometimes Recruit the Spellbreaker, but that is a risk many are willing to accept.
At one point, the main way for Jade Druid to contest aggressive decks was to use Spreading Plague together with Mark of the Lotus. The Oaken Summons package has overtaken this approach, but you can still go for it for some nice surprises. Add in Branching Paths, and your Taunt minions start to look very scary indeed.
Branching Paths can also serve you well without Mark of the Lotus. If you feel that you have enough time against the more aggressive decks you face, replacing Wrath with Branching Paths is a powerful improvement to some of the slower matchups.
Kun the Forgotten King is a great alternative to Medivh. It is a great way to reload after a potential board clear, or in some fringe cases can gain you health when you are in dire need. Kun into mana and then into Ultimate Infestation is a killer turn. It is higher tempo than Medivh, but ultimately lower value.
Jade Druid Card Substitutions
Jade Druid is not one of the most expensive decks, but there are some expensive cards in it that cannot effectively be replaced:
- Ultimate Infestation – An absolute powerhouse of a card and should be crafted if you are going to attempt to play Jade Druid seriously. There are no viable replacements that retain any similar gameplay.
- Aya Blackpaw – A very strong card that provides tremendous value in the form of two Jade Golems. It is very difficult to play the deck without her, but you may be able to get by with The Lich King, or Volcanosaur if you’re on a budget.
Many other legendary and epic cards can be replaced more easily, although replacing them of course weakens the deck:
- Fandral Staghelm – Fandral wins some games outright, especially with Nourish, but he can be replaced. Assuming you’re running the Oaken Summons package, you want something good to pull with that, such as Sen'jin Shieldmasta. If you do not run Oaken Summons, you can use minions with Battlecry effects as well, such as Spellbreaker or Mind Control Tech.
- Arcane Tyrant is a great tempo card, but something like Second-Rate Bruiser can give you a bit of a similar effect. You can also go for Branching Paths.
- Malfurion the Pestilent – A great card that can help stall the game and get you out of tough situations. Primordial Drake can fit here, but it’s obviously not a direct replacement. Ironbark Protector or Volcanosaur can be budget options.
- Medivh, the Guardian – A strong value card, but can be replaced with another similar card, such as Kun the Forgotten King or The Lich King. Replacing Medivh on a budget is more tricky, Ironbark Protector or Volcanosaur can be budget options.