Hand Druid is a Hearthstone archetype that's predicted to do big things in the upcoming Witchwood meta. Like its Warlock counterpart of old, Hand Druid players seek to add as many cards to their hand as possible, in order to cheapen the cost of Mountain Giant and boost the health of Twilight Drake.
In the first edition of our guide to playing Hand Druid, we've highlighted a deck list that's seeing the most competitive play right now. This will change a lot over time, so please watch what you craft until the meta settles down a bit, and we've had a chance to update our recommended deck list to something more tried and tested.
After the deck list itself we've got a look at the Mulligan process, loads of strategy tips and a breakdown of the combos contained in the deck. We've also added some thoughts on the card choices and any substitutions you might be able to make if you're short on dust.
UPDATE - THE WITCHWOOD #2
We've updated our recommended Hand Druid deck list and also included a lot more strategy advice and tips for building your own version of the deck. Huge thanks to James Pickard for giving our starter guide such a fantastic makeover after the launch window!
Hand Druid deck list and strategy
The following deck list is the one currently seeing the most play in the early stages of the Witchwood meta.
|2 x Lesser Jasper Spellstone
|2 x Fire Fly
|2 x Power of the Wild
|2 x Stonehill Defender
|2 x Tortollan Forager
|2 x Twilight Drake
|2 x Witchwood Apple
|2 x Mountain Giant
|2 x Ferocious Howl
|2 x Branching Paths
|2 x Swipe
|1 x Wispering Woods
|2 x Bewitched Guardian
|1 x Nourish
|2 x Spreading Plague
|1 x Malfurion the Pestilent
|1 x Ultimate Infestation
Select and copy the long ID string below, then create a deck in Hearthstone to export this deck into your game.
Deck Import ID: AAECAZICBF+HzgKZ0wLX7wINQPcD4QeNCJvCAqTCAuvCAqDNApjSAp7SArfuAr/yAsHzAgA=
Hand Druid looks to maintain a high hand size throughout the game in order to exploit minions and spells that gain large bonuses for holding multiple cards. It’s a new deck type that’s emerged following the release of The Witchwood, thanks to a number of new cards in the set that make generating additional cards easier and a range of others that benefit from a larger hand size.
Early game: Your early game minions such as Fire Fly and Tortollan Forager can both fight for board control and generate replacement cards that go straight back into your hand. Depending on how aggressive your opponent’s opener is, you might need to play Power of the Wild as a minion to contest your their creatures or you can go for Witchwood Apple to fill your hand with more cards and have a stronger mid game. The latter is more ideal of the two.
Mid game: If you’ve built up a large hand size you can make some big power plays in the mid game. Twilight Drake, Bewitched Guardian and Mountain Giant can be large single target threats, while Wispering Woods can fill out your side of the board with 1/1 minions. If you follow up the latter with a Power of the Wild it’ll be even more threatening.
If you’re not in a position to make a play like that yet, though, you can use Branching Paths to draw or gain some extra armour. Swipe can be used to clear the board if you’re opponent has been playing aggressively, or you can use Ferocious Howl to give you a bit of extra protection.
Late game: You have the ridiculous late game power of Ultimate Infestation if you need it – the supreme catch-all card that can help get you back in the game if you’re behind or simply extend your lead even further. Similarly, Spreading Plague and Malfurion the Pestilent are good recovery cards that can also push you towards a win if your earlier threats have been handled.
Some advice when coming up against aggro opponents on ladder:
- You have a few solid early game minions that can help hold off their aggression, so you can do OK fighting for the board.
- Similarly, the deck has a lot of armour gain through Ferocious Howl and Branching Paths, which can be used to negate a lot of their early damage.
- Consider holding onto a Swipe if you have it in your opening hand as it can devastate a board if your opponent overextends.
- Spreading Plague is the ultimate answer to a wide board offering multiple high health Scarabs can be a nightmare for an aggro deck to deal with efficiently. Bewitched Guardian is also very powerful in this situation.
- If you get a Mountain Giant down early, don’t make awkward trades into tiny minions. Instead, flip the pressure onto your opponent and go for their life total – force them to find a response to it.
These are a few tips when facing control decks:
- You can take more time in the early game to build your hand size and go for a stronger Twilight Drake or Bewitched Guardian.
- Don’t go all-in with a single minion. Control decks run a lot of removal and will likely be able to deal with your first couple of big plays.
- Using Nourish to ramp up and gain extra mana crystals is sometimes the wiser move against control so you can get to your late game quicker.
- Lesser Jasper Spellstone can eventually be upgraded to deal six damage for just one mana. Build up that armour because that’s the sort of removal you need against control.
- Once you play Malfurion the Pestilent, the bonus armour gain can give you a lot of extra life and staying power in the late game.
More great Druid guides:
- 1. Best Budget Decks - Hearthstone: Best Budget Decks for Ashes of Outland
- 2. Tier List - Hearthstone deck tier list (Ashes of Outland)
- 3. Embiggen Druid - Embiggen Druid deck list guide (Ashes of Outland)
- 4. Token Druid - Token Druid deck list guide (Ashes of Outland)
- 5. Treant Druid - Treant Druid deck list guide (Ashes of Outland)
- 6. Quest Druid - Quest Druid deck list guide (Ashes of Outland)
Hand Druid Mulligan guide
In your mulligan you’ll want to search for cards that can build up or maintain your hand size at the start of the game:
- Fire Fly: Gets you a decent minion on the board while also maintaining your hand size with a bonus Flame Elemental.
- Tortollan Forager: Does an OK job of contesting the board and puts a late game minion into your hand.
- Witchwood Apple: Risks being too slow but if you can play it you’ll get three cards into your hand.
- Stonehill Defender: Strong early game taunt to slow down aggro decks.
- Mountain Giant: Considering how you’re trying to fill your hand with cards you can use Mountain Giant to take advantage of that and play it early at a huge discount.
Hand Druid tips, combos and synergies
To help you get to grips with this deck early on in The Witchwood meta, we've pulled together all of the combos contains in this particular deck list:
- Ferocious Howl grants you Armor equal to the number of cards you have in your hand at the time of casting it. A card like Witchwood Apple has obvious synergy in this context.
- Wispering Woods will put as many Wisps into play as you have cards in your hand. Fatten your hand up first, but keep in mind you can only have seven minions active on the board at any one time, so you might prefer to use the excess Mana elsewhere.
- Mountain Giant costs one Mana less to play for each card you have in your hand. It's possible to get a Turn 3 Giant play going with this version of Hand Druid!
- When you play Twilight Drake onto the board it'll gain an extra point of Health for each card you have in your hand.
- Likewise, Bewitched Guardian has more Health the more cards you have in your hand. Draw into what you can before putting this minion out into play.
- When Spreading Plague is cast, you'll gain a 1 / 5 minion. If your opponent still has more minions on their side of the board, you'll gain another 1 / 5. This repeats until both players have the same number of minions in play.
- Lesser Jasper Spellstone does two damage to a minion in its vanilla form. Gain three Armor though and that damage increase to four. Upgrade the card again in the same fashion to turn it into a six-damage spell.
- Once you've built a wide board of minions, you can boost their strength significantly with Power of the Wild.
Hand Druid card choices and substitutions
Here are the most important cards that make Hand Druid work. As it’s a new and unrefined deck you may want to avoid crafting some of the more expensive cards for now, so we’ve named some substitutes where available.
- Fire Fly: Solid one-drop that also maintains your hand size in the early game.
- Tortollan Forager: The five attack minion could work as a good play later in the game, but until then it’s useful for powering up your hand size effects.
- Witchwood Apple: A potentially weak and dangerously slow card although it’s clear how it fits into the concept of Hand Druid.
- Ferocious Howl: Can offer some huge armour gain if you’ve been building up a large hand of cards. The card draw is also a nice touch.
- Branching Paths: Gives you a lot of flexibility depending on your needs at the time. Earthen Scales can take its spot for the armour gain but you do lose that freedom to choose.
- Twilight Drake: An obvious inclusion for a deck that aims to have as many cards in its hand at once. Dropped on four it can be a real problem for your opponent to clear.
- Wispering Woods: Caps out at max value with seven cards in hand due to board space. There’s a significant risk all the Wisps are removed instantly on your opponent’s next turn so it’s usually best to wait to pair it with a buff. Even then, the sticking power is questionable. Definitely only run one.
- Bewitched Guardian: Functions exactly the same as Twilight Drake but throws in Taunt for good measure too. It’s precisely what you want to play against aggro.
- Malfurion the Pestilent: The bonus minion summons can be very useful and the upgraded hero power is excellent in the late game. This hero card is great in many Druid decks so if you do decide to craft it, there are many other uses for it too outside Hand Druid.
- Ultimate Infestation: Still crazy value months after release and has no equal. You can try and get away with Starfire in its place but you miss out on so much that we’d recommend crafting at least one.
- Mountain Giant: One of these can come down very early if you draw lots in the early game and it will leave your opponent scrambling for an answer. You want two every time.