Answering Tokens with Jade Druid: Wild Pyromancer or Starfall?

While the traditional Jade Druid core is holding strong as evidenced by its solid performance at Dreamhack Summer Hearthstone Grand Prix, alternative builds have also gained some ground recently.

With Evolve Shaman and Aggro Druid being such prevalent threats to Jade Druid, several players have looked for an answer to token boards. The most common answer right now is the inclusion of Wild Pyromancer. But what about Starfall?

Wild Pyromancer Jade Druid

Deck code: AAECAZICBK6rAr6rAs27ApS9Ag1AX/4BxAakB/YH5Aj7DLS7Asu8At2+AvnAAsnHAgA=

This list has some clear differences to traditional Jade Druid: there are no Jade Spirits, and there are two copies each of Wild Pyromancer and Acolyte of Pain, as well as a Mark of the Lotus.

The premise of the deck is to be able to deal with wide boards through area-of-effect damage provided by Wild Pyromancer, while being able to draw cards with Acolyte of Pain at the same time. Mark of the Lotus increases the survivability and area-of-effect damage of Wild Pyromancer and enables Acolyte of Pain to draw even more cards.

Overall, the deck takes a proactive stance to dealing with token boards: it does not hide behind a Tar Creeper – a strategy that can hurt if met with a Savage Roar or Bloodlust – but instead aims to clear boards more effectively. Some of the latest variants have also replaced Mark of the Lotus and Feral Rage with two copies of Moonfire for even easier draw with Gadgetzan Auctioneer and cheap target sniping in conjunction with Wild Pyromancer.

However, Wild Pyromancer is not the only path to take in order to deal with token boards.

Old Guardian’s Starfall Jade Druid

Deck code: AAECAZICBlbtBZAHrqsCvqsClL0CDEBf/gHEBqQH5Ai0uwLLvALPvALdvgL5wALJxwIA

This build is my attempt to answer the same question, how to deal with wide boards, without going for Wild Pyromancer combos, something I have a love/hate relationship with thanks to playing a ton of Control Priest.

The answers here are Bloodmage Thalnos, which enables Swipe to deal two damage to all minions – OK, that is also a two-card combo, but at least it is not a three-card combo – and Starfall, which can be used with or without Thalnos, and optionally also with Fandral to deal seven damage to one target and two damage to all other targets.

I used to play Dragon Ramp Druid with Starfall in high legend before the first Standard rotation, so I already had a level of appreciation for the card that is otherwise often ignored as a worse Consecration.

What are the pros and cons of each variant?

Both variants have some things going for them and against them.

Wild Pyromancer list:

  • Higher combo potential with Earthen Scales or Mark of the Lotus to deal more damage or have the Wild Pyromancer remain on the board as a threat that needs to be dealt with before rebuilding a board
  • Acolytes of Pain enable more potential card draw
  • Cheap spells enable more potential card draw with Gadgetan Auctioneer, especially if running the Moonfire version
  • Wild Pyromancer only works if you can find the right spells to combo it with
  • Without a buff card, Wild Pyromancer dies when clearing a two-health board with two spells, effectively making it a spell instead of a minion

Starfall list:

  • Guaranteed two area-of-effect damage with a single card, less reliant on combos
  • Flexibility to use Starfall as a five-damage single-target removal, or combo it with Fandral
  • More room for weapon removal, in this case Harrison Jones, which can also draw cards and thus reduce the difference in card draw potential
  • Some distributed card draw thanks to Harrison Jones and Bloodmage Thalnos, even though less of it than with Acolytes of Pain
  • No need to cut Jade Spirits, giving more minion presence in mid-game before major cycling is in effect

Wild Pyromancer list has higher potential and bigger peaks, whereas Starfall list is more consistent. Only experimentation can tell how much consistency is needed and whether Pyromancer list offers enough steady results to favor it over Starfall list – or whether the traditional build is still better overall despite its weaknesses to wide boards of low-health minions.

Finally, here is what the Starfall list can look like in action:

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