The full Forged in the Barrens set has been revealed and it's time to look at all the new cards and look at how Druid will be doing this expansion. We'll be breaking each of the Druid cards down,

Keep in mind that this is an early look at the class before we've been able to play with the new cards, so while we try to be as accurate as possible in our predictions of what is to come, no one can perfectly predict the Hearthstone meta.

Druid Deck Themes in Forged in the Barrens

From a quick glance, we can easily see that Druid's set is divided into three major categories:

Taunt Druid is back, and it seems like it brought quite a lot of support. Malfurion hasn't received this much Taunt support in a single expansion since Knights of the Frozen Throne came out in 2017 (!), where Team 5 printed iconic cards like Hadronox, Spreading Plague, Strongshell Scavenger and Crypt Lord. Taunt is a theme that never really left Druid, but we're glad to see that the devs are willing to push it with more determination.

Ironbark Mark of the Wild Germination Greybough

Druid and Beasts have quite the strange relationship - the archetype has been pushed for ages, but it's only recently become good thanks to Guardian Animals and excellent units like Twilight Runner, Teacher's Pet and Lake Thresher. However, this has almost always been just a package in a bigger deck and was never really able to stand on its own feet. Could this be the chance we're looking for?

Kind of a mixed bag: we have Miracle synergy, Token and buff support, which are what Druid has been good for the last year. With some changes, all these cards could see experimentation in already existing Druid decks.

Plaguemaw the Rotting

Plaguemaw the Rotting Card Image

Oral hygiene is important: use the damn floss.

Now, this is a very peculiar card. While people tend to think about "big" way to exploit Plaguemaw's effect (Scrapyard Colossus anyone?), I think that one of the most efficient ways to use this unit right now is combining it with small/medium-sized taunts. If you manage to build your early game around cards like Thorngrowth Sentries, Thickhide Kodo, Bonechewer Brawler and Teacher's Pet, you'll be able to gain quite a lot of tempo while developing your own game plan at the same time.

This is definitely a quite interesting card you should keep an eye on - if Taunt Druid will be a thing, you can bet your dust that Plaguemaw the Rotting will be around.

Guff Runetotem

Guff Runetotem Card Image

Nepotism? I don't know what you're talking about...

Basically, a card with soft-Taunt; Once Guff Runetotem hits the board, your opponent will have to remove it as fast as possible if they don't want to suffer major consequences. Given Druid's current spell pool, you'll be easily able to chain Nature spells with very little mana: just think about Innervate into Nature Studies into Thorngrowth Sentries - in this case, you'd get +6/+6 worth of stats out of nowhere as soon as turn four, with no need for Guff to survive your opponent's threats. Moreover, the synergy with Gibberling is also on the table: combining these two units' effects together means that you'll be able to go wide and tall at the same time

A very scary card in Malfurion's hand and definitely one of the most intriguing Mercenaries - will definitely see play.

Celestial Alignment

Celestial Alignment Card Image

*Unramps your Mana Crystals*

This card falls into the same category of Luna's Pocket Galaxy and Deck of Chaos - a high-cost effect that targets your whole deck (and, in this case, your opponent's one too) in order to give you some sort of payoff in return. This is the kind of card that people tend to play since Day 1 in order to find the most efficient way to exploit it; Trolden clips of people OTKing or board-locking opponents are going to rain on us. Imagine follow it up with Malygos the Spellweaver - just nutty.

All in all, Celestial Alignment is not something you should pass on without and second (and probably a third) thought. Beware though, the effect is symmetrical, as your opponent will lose the Mana Crystals and will receive the cost reduction together with you: if not timed well, such a crazy effect could easily backfire.

Druid of the Plains

Druid of the Plains Card Image

Not to be confused with Druid of the Planes.

Removal and protection in a single card, whose only requirement is surviving a trade, something which isn't impossible given that it has 6 Health. A very dynamic unit, that makes excellent use of the Rush and Taunt keywords and seems to be fitting Druid's current class identity perfectly: Beasts, board swings and morphing effects.

With that said, there are a few bad notes. While it can't be pulled by Guardian Animals, it also doesn't retain buffs when Frenzy triggers - your Survival of the Fittest's +4/+4 won't get totally wasted, because the first trade will still be gigantic, but then you'll almost always experience a stat reduction together with the transformation in the Taunt form.

A card with some pros and cons that will definitely see play if Druid will manage to broaden its Beast plays beyond the strong (but quite limited) Guardian Animals.

Living Seed (Rank 1)

Living Seed (Rank 1) Card Image

Pretty close to being the first seed hitting Legend.

Quite the controversial card. You see, with the current way of playing Beast Druid, you want your Twilight Runners, Teacher's Pets and Lake Threshers to stay in the deck so that you can Recruit them summon them from your deck with Guardian Animals. With this in mind, having a tutor with a discount attached to it seems thrilling in a vacuum, but just lacks synergy with the #1 usage of Beast in Druid.

On the other hand, if you were to build a heavy-Beast Druid with Menagerie Warden, Druid of the Plains and such, maybe you'd want to run this card, but I don't see it being a thing in the immediate future. In the end, a good card that doesn't seem to be needed by its own archetype.

Mark of the Spikeshell

Mark of the Spikeshell Card Image

The newcomer of the Mark dynasty.

This card is quite strange. While it's supposed to help a Midrange deck that wants to close the game rather quickly, it provides an upside that is irrelevant most of the time. Sure, having an extra copy of a minion you put in your deck (basically for free) is not a bad deal, but the question we should ask ourselves is: What minions would you want to copy? Right now, there aren't many "high-value" Taunts in Standard, and most of them are fairly high-costed.

Mark of the Spikeshell is definitely meant to give you the vibe that Druid will have to do with Taunts, but it appears to me that there are way better candidates for that role (see the buffed Mark of the Wild).

The most relevant fact about this spell is that you don't have to target a minion that naturally has Taunt in order to gain the secondary effect, but you can always give it to them thanks to effect like Ironbark, Germination and Mark of the Wild - quite clunky just to get a unit back, but still doable on paper.

Razormane Battleguard

Razormane Battleguard Card Image

Imagine using a shield when your back is literally spikes.

One of the most interesting cards and with quite the potential. First of all, it does not have the same problem of the forgettable Pint-Sized summoner, since it doesn't consume by itself the discount the turn it's played, so you can use it right away in combination with a cheap Taunt like Bonechewer Brawler or Annoy-o-Tron in a fairly aggressive list. Secondly, Battleguard's effect allows for turn 3 Greybough or Teacher's Pet (maybe with turn 4 Plaguemaw the Rotting?) which is pretty damn good if you ask me.

Even more, the discount effects stack in case you get to play a second copy. All in all, mana cheat is something you should never ever underestimate, and Razormane Battleguard seems to channel it in a way that has the potential to be competitively experimented with.

Pride's Fury

Pride's Fury Card Image

Solid candidate for the "Top 10 Haunted Photos Taken Moments Before Disaster"  chart.

I think this is the first Druid AoE buff that is focused around Health and not Attack, which is quite interesting. Sure, it pales in comparison to Arbor Up, but to be fair the latter is quite a broken card that can generate board presence even without nothing in play. Pride's Fury should be seen more as a survivability tool for Token builds. "I'm here: I need more mana for my good plays but I won't allow my opponents to clear my board so easily" - that's probably what the card would say.

Pride's Fury would probably never see play in a world with Savage Roar, but Druid recently lost that finisher, so the buff package needs to be re-evaluated as a whole. I'd hold my breath before saying this card is bad as it may not close games, but 3 health is a hell of a lot, especially if combined with Solar Eclipse.

Thickhide Kodo

Thickhide Kodo Card Image

Damn boy, he thicc.

As well as Mark of the Spikeshell, this card is mainly here to tell players that from now on Druid is about Beasts. It has a pretty simple design: average stats on a Taunt minion that gives you a little survivability when it leave the board.

While the curve with Menagerie Warden seems a cool play, Malfurion has no way to exploit Armor gaining effects like the good old 1 mana Fireball, so you'd just play it for stalling. But in that case, why not just ramp with Overgrowth into Druid of the Plains or another late-game bomb at Druid's disposal?

Hell, it even has anti-synergy with Kazakus, Golem Shaper, one of the most interesting cards of the set, so if you want to include it, our Kodo friend isn't a great addition to your deck. Is that all? Well, Guardian Animals has 4 better targets to choose from before considering this.

This review is pretty harsh, so it could embarrassingly backfire. It's not that the card itself is bad, but rather that there seems to be no reason to carry it.

Thorngrowth Sentries

Thorngrowth Sentries Card Image

Those beasts seem to be really stressed out. I wonder why

A Dreamway Guardians that gives up the very much win-more Lifesteal for the far more relevant Taunt keyword. While it works very well in aggressive decks that want to go wide and fast as possible, I can also see this card as a tech option against aggressive decks, pretty much just like Air Raid did in the last month with Rogue rampant on ladder. Just a very solid a straightforward card, that doesn't leave much to the imagination.

With little to no surprise of nobody, Gibberling Druid is seriously going to consider (and very likely include) this card from now on.

Theorycrafting Druid in Forged in the Barrens

Here's what Token Druid could look like with the new cards. While I'm well aware this is definitely not going to be the meta breaker of the first week, I tried to build the whole list around Guff Runetotem's Nature synergy - buff a lot, fast and then jam everything face.

Closing Thoughts on Druid in Forged in the Barrens

In the end, Druid definitely received some spicy new toys to play with and while the return of the Taunt synergy appears to be very appealing to players' memory, I'm particularly eager to explore how Druid will explore the Nature Spell School. On the other hand, I am more than ready to infest ladder as soon as someone will be able to discover a Celestial Alignment list - Shan'do Malfurion is not gonna be achieved by itself!

What do you think about Druid in Forged in the Barrens? Let us know in the comments below!

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