This year Blizzcon was an amazing whirlwind of awesome announcements, good times with people I don't get to see often and of course playing all the games. Even with all of that excitement the highlight for me was watching Firebat become the first ever Hearthstone World Champion. I watched the entire Hearthstone World Championship from the front row or near to it and saw some of the best games I've ever witnessed. The finals were a 3-0 blowout with Firebat taking an aggro Druid and some perfect draws straight through Tiddler Celestial's entire roster in a heartbeat. We'll discuss that Druid deck in this article and go over what made it so effective in that final match and how you can play it on the ladder even today.

Druid has gone through so many iterations at this point and had many players refine and innovate around the fantastic class cards that are available to it. StrifeCro is one of the first players credited with creating a powerful Druid deck with his old school Watcher deck that relied on silencing or taunting up Ancient Watcher. More recently we have seen Kolento take an updated Token Druid to the top of the ladder that included cards like Echoing Ooze and Haunted Creeper. This is a leaner and more solid version of Druid that has several strong opening hands, some hard to deal with creatures and a lot of burst potential to pressure the opponent's life total and control the board.

Let's take a look at the deck Firebat used to win it all and break down each card and its place in the deck.

The Deck

Innervate x2 - this card is borderline unfair. It is the key to setting up huge tempo swing and we've all heard the horror stories of the turn 1 Yeti or turn 2 Druid of the Claw. Mulligan heavily for this card as it essentially makes all opening hands good by itself. Even though this is not a ramp deck the mana ramping cards are still key to gaining huge leads that lead to big finishing bursts of damage.

Wild Growth x2 - if you watched the finals of the World Championship then you probably noticed that Firebat had one of these early all in seemingly every game. If you can play one early then you essentially have more stats on the board in all subsequent turns which often leads to easy victories. If you can't find a turn for it by turn 4 or 5, then it's likely best to just hold it for the card cycling in the later turns after 10 mana.

Wrath x2 - one weakness of this deck is the lack of card draw outside of the Ancient of Lore so this card is really nice as a way to get some extra cycling done while also giving the option of straight removal. Things like Undertakers, Knife Jugglers and Northshire Clerics can be dealt with and also paired with Swipe you can find big board clears in the mid to late game.

Savage Roar x2 - this is the big finisher in the deck and the reason that playing against a Druid is scary. Getting any minions to stick for a turn means you can pump them and swing for lethal and causes this deck to lean towards an aggressive approach. Don't be afraid to use this as removal if it can bring you back into a game or push an advantage you already have. That's one reason why the deck runs two of them.

Swipe x2 - this is one of the best sweepers in the game in my opinion and a big reason that Druid is able to hold the board so well. In a lot of cases you can clear the whole board and keep your creatures alive with some positive trades since your minions are generally pretty healthy. There is only one card with spell damage in the deck but if you can get your Azure Drake on board then swipe is insanely high value for 4 mana.

Keeper of the Grove x2 - another key to the power of Druid is the flexibility of the cards. Keeper is one of the best when it comes to this. There is a good use for this card against every single archetype of deck that you will see and that is one of the reasons why I tend to keep this card in my opening hand. You can kill something off and continue to trade or you can silence big threats like Twilight Drakes or Sylvanas. This is definitely a top tier class card.

Druid of the Claw x2 -often you'll see people use this in taunt almost exclusively but in this deck you will often throw it down in cat form. This deck is meant to be the aggressor and a 4/4 with charge coming at your face is certainly aggressive.Just one of these and a Savage Roar is 8 damage for 8 and if anything else is on board you can get finishing burst without even using Force of Nature. If you do decide to use it in taunt mode then be aware of the type of deck you're playing and whether they run a Black Knight or not. You can straight up lose if you make that mistake. You have been warned!

Force of Nature - how in the world is a deck that's supposed to be aggressive only running one Force? Well, the way this deck gets it finishing damage is through the hard to kill creatures and Savage Roar and not necessarily just the combo. Also, think back to the last time you had two Force of Natures in your hand at the same time. How did that feel? I'm betting it didn't feel good. That's the answer. One is enough.

Ancient of Lore x2 - one is never enough when it comes to Ancient of Lore. In fact, over the last week I played 3 games in which I coined out one on turn 6 and played another on turn 7 and none of those games were close. Most of the time you will draw two but if you are playing against decks that rely on burst combos then do not hesitate to keep yourself above the damage threshold with the heal from these guys.

Cenarius - because of the style of this deck, Cenarius is the clear choice for late game legendary. If you don't have Cenarius you could add the second Force back in or a second Azure Drake but what this card does is perfect for the deck. On an empty board you get 9/12 in raw stats which is great for 9 mana. On a board with a few creatures you get a 5/8 and a permanent Savage Roar. Either way you can't really go wrong.

Sunfury Protector - one way you can lose with this deck by going face a bunch and then losing to the other guys big combo. With Sunfury you can prevent that by getting some blockers up. It's also the only real 2-drop in the deck so it's good against Hunter and Zoo early on and if you taunt up a SPectral Knight or two it's nearly impossible for anyone to deal with.

Big Game Hunter - another of the situational answers in the deck to improve the win rates against the field. If you play Handlock or any other deck with big threats there isn't a lot of great ways to deal with them so one of these can help immensely. At worst it's still a 4/2 for 3 so even when you don't get the huge swing you can still play it for the body.

Shade of Naxxramas x2- the Shade did more for the aggro Druid than anyone else. Innervate one of these out on turn one and let it grow for a few turns before unleashing the pain or just play one on turn 3. Either way you almost always get value. I don't recommend letting it sit for too long though as you will need to get some damage out of it. If you can get a taunt up to protect it then start swinging. This is one of the best early damage cards in the deck so you need to use it although the temptation is always to get a bit greedy.

Chillwind Yeti x2 - ahhh, my good friend the Yeti. Every arena player knows how good this card is but it didn't make its way into constructed for quite some time. This card can usually get in 8 damage to the face or go 2 for 1 in the early game. However it turns out, Yeti leads the way.

Azure Drake - as I stated earlier there is not much in the way of draw in this deck so an Azure Drake fills out that gap nicely. It also makes Swipe and Wrath really scary. I'd love to find a way to get two of these in the deck but I get why Firebat ran only one. This deck is packed full of value already.

Loatheb - (literally copy/paste from my last article because how many times can I talk about how good the card is) if you read my deck guides then you are probably seeing a trend. Loatheb is in every deck. What Loatheb does is protect your damage dealing minions allowing you to keep swinging as well as being a 5/5 body. I'm running out of ways to say that Loatheb is really good so I'll just stop there.

Spectral Knight x2 - when Naxx first hit I looked at this card and thought that it would be the star outside of Loatheb. It hasn't really been the case as Sludge Belchers have taken the top spot in the 5 hole but in this deck you can really bring the pain with these guys. They are tough to remove and since they have 4 attack already you end up swinging for 6 when you push Savage Roar. This is the ideal target for your Sunfury Protector as well.

Cairne Bloodhoof - Cairne is simply a sticky minion that will set up your big Savage Roar turns. Since it has to be killed twice you will almost always get at least one swing in with it. Popping this guy down on turn 4 with an Innervate is also an amazing tempo play so don't hesitate to do so.

The Black Knight - rounding out the deck we see the Black Knight. This card makes a lot of sense as one of the things your opponent can do to spoil your face party is play big taunt minions. Well, with this guy you get to destroy them, play a 4/5 and click the "sorry' emote. It's a strong play. Always try to assess the type of deck you are playing and if you know there is a really big target try to hold off and get max value if you can. There is nothing worse than Black Knighting a 2/2 token that has been buffed with Defender of Argus and then watching a Sludge Belcher hit the deck.

Playing the Deck

The ideal opening hand includes Wild Growth but there are plenty of quality openers that don't include it. That said, it is a card that is only great at the beginning of the game and get worse every turn that passes so mulligan aggressively for it. If you don't get Wild Growth then you need Innervate to have a really strong opener. Innervate + Shade of Naxxramas on turn one can set you up to deal with just about anything and put a lot of pressure on the opponent. You can also of course play the famous turn 1 Yeti if you have a coin and Innervate. I do recommend only making this play if you know you will have a follow up for turn two. Many times you will throw the Yeti out there and then you hand is small and you can only hero power the next few turns. It's an exciting play to make but it can also be a trap play. If you can follow it up with a Wild Growth then you will be in great shape but if not then consider the next couple of turns before pulling the trigger.

Once you get past the first few turns the goal is to start getting damage in while making sure you control the board. Since your deck can curve out so well with strong 4-7 drops often times you can keep hitting face and dropping another big creature for your opponent to deal with. Since the threat of Savage Roar is always in the mind of your opposition you can take an aggressive stance if you were able to take the initiative. This is actually one of the biggest decisions to make with this deck. With a lot of decks you know that clearing the board is always correct but with an aggressive Druid deck it's often correct to get the face damage in and force trades from the opponent, especially once you get Savage Roar in your hand. Always be aware of how much damage you could have next turn depending on how many creatures live. A quick way to calculate your total damage is to take the 14 that you know you get with Force/Roar and add the damage on board plus 2 for each creature.

There is also the potential to do 22 damage with Force of Nature + Innervate + double Savage Roar. Double Savage Roar is actually a common way to win with this deck but I want to point out the upside in using Savage Roar as removal. A lot of creatures that actually see play in constructed have higher health than power and this sets up some awkward board states. What Savage Roar can do for you is allow your minions to remove the opponents board and stay alive which can be a massive tempo swing. This play against Tiddler in the finals by Firebat is a great example of using Savage Roar to swing tempo back in your direction. You can see that both players have a lot of power on the board but Tiddler has the advantage and Sylvanas in play. Savage Roar allows him to deal with which ever Druid of the Claw Sylvanas takes and remove two of the blockers that would prevent future lethal turns. Don't be afraid to use the spell this way.

WIth a deck like this you are essentially setting up lethal from turn 6 on so make sure you are paying attention to the board state but be fearless. I made the mistake of playing the deck too passively at first and lost some games that were clearly winnable if I had taken a more aggressive line of play. Cards like Black Knight and Loatheb can set you up for the winning combo so holding thoise cards until just the right moment is crucial. I recommend everyone watch the entire finals video as Firebat puts on a clinic when it comes to playing this Druid deck. Yes, he gets some amazing draws and several big top decks but the plays he makes given the situations that come up are flawless all the way through. One of the great things about a game like Hearthstone is that you can actually do what the Pros are doing as long as you are willing to put in the work. I can never play a game of Starcraft like the insanely talented Korean players I love to watch but with Hearthstone, I can swing face or trade when it's correct just like the World Champion and make winning plays.

Here is the entire VOD of the final match against Tiddler Celestial, who is a fantastic player as well. I've watched it several times and I recommend starting there if you want to play this deck on the ladder.

Tiddler Celestial vs. Firebat - Grand Finals - Hearthstone World Championship 2014

I know it has been a while since I was able to post a deck but things are looking like they have slowed down and we should get back on track. I've heard that even some of the older articles and decks are still helping you guys on the ladder so thank you for the awesome feedback. Once Goblins Vs. Gnomes hits things are going to get quite interesting and I look forward to bringing some of the new fun and dynamic decks that are sure to follow to you guys. If you're curious about the cards that are coming there is a great page with all of the information you need right here on Hearthhead! I'll see everyone either in Draenor or on the ladder in Hearthstone.

Until next time, job's done!