Mulligan phase: Dealing With the Jade Problem
Greetings, dear readers, and today there is something special that I want to talk to you about, Lately there has been a huge community outcry regarding the state of the standard format, especially concerning jade druid, and since everyone and their grandmothers are giving their opinions on this I guess that it is just fitting to give you my opinion on the state of the meta. I understand that jade golem is a huge problem right now and that it needs to be properly fixed, but I would also love to know why is it such a problem and have the problem fixed in a way that doesn’t kill the entire deck (which sometimes seems like an impossible mission for the developers). I’ll give you my opinion on the troublesome cards and how would I fix this problem.
With all that out of the way, sit back, relax and let’s just jump into this
This disclaimer is being added after this article has been written.
I wrote this article before the nerf was announced, but I still want to share it with you because I want to walk you through my though process. Regarding the nerf, I think that the developers have unnecessarily killed off warrior as a class, which is quite stupid if you ask me, and that the nerf to shaman was completely uncalled for. Regarding the jade situation, the nerfs to the druid were simply not enough to keep the jade druid away and I do expect even more jade druid on the ladder, especially now when pirate warrior, the deck that was keeping it in check, was nerfed to the ground. These are my opinions on the nerf and regardless of them I still hope that you will enjoy the rest of the article
The Current Meta
So, it has been about a month since the release of the latest expansion and the community has been more outraged than back in the days of pirate warrior domination. I must say that, as someone who doesn’t play standard, I did not feel the sudden impact of jade druid. The deck is very powerful in the standard format but I’ve had next to no problem with it on the wild ladder. This is good, at least in my opinion, because when you compare it to another dominating deck like pirate warrior, for example, you don’t see that much jade druid in the wild format. There never were that many there but pirate warrior, the last troublesome deck, is running rampant. If anything I can be glad that Blizzard managed not to ruin both formats at the same time and that I probably won’t have to deal with jade druids once they rotate out of the format. I’m getting carried away, time to get back on the track.
Now, someone who is going to read this, at least a single person, is going to say ”But Ive ran into tons of jade druid on the wild ladder, you’re lying.” and I’ve got an explanation for that as well. The common occurrence of jade druid on the wild ladder is due to its popularity in the standard format. This happens every time and with each expansion. Not many people stick to exclusively to the wild format. In fact it is quite the opposite from it. Due to this, many standard players who delve into the wild format from time to time don’t have wild decks and they are just using whatever works best in the standard format at the moment which is, in this case, jade druid. In summary, no, the current common occurrence of jade druid in the wild format is not a sign of ”this deck is op in both formats” but it is simply because people don’t know what to play so they are using their standard decks. It happens all the time.
However, today we’re not going to talk about the wild format. That format is doing fine. Today we’re going to be shifting our focus to the standard format because that one has been going downhill lately for everyone who doesn’t enjoy jade druid mirror matches. The situation has become so dire that, for a period of time, jade druid did overthrown the famous undertaker hunter in terms of popularity. Of course, people had immediately overreacted without taking into consideration that this is simply because it is the start of the new format, it the best deck and people always jump the boat and join the best deck train. Regardless, we can’t underestimate the popularity of jade druid because, for the first time ever, Ben Brode went out and said that this week we will be getting more information on how are they going to deal with the deck. This has never happened before in the course of the ast three years so it is kindda big deal. Luckily, with the right nerf, the meta will begin to stabilize…but what caused the problem in the first place?
The Source of the Problem
Ok, we know that jade druid is a troublesome deck that has been plaguing the standard format for the last month, it is time to try to figure out the source of the problem. Now, it is obvious that jade golems are at the very core of the problem. The mechanic, according to some members of the community, is beyond busted and the developers should do something about it. I might be in the minority here but I really like the jade golem mechanic. I like the idea of summoning minions who become more powerful for each previous minion that was summoned. It is probably my most favorite mechanic from MSoG and I enjoy playing jade deck. I really like jade druid (don’t hang me!) in the wild format With that being said, and with a little bit of bias, I must say that I don’t believe that jade mechanic is the source of the problem. If it were that powerful than jade shaman and jade rogue would also be growing out of control. So, the problem lies in individual cards, but what cards are those?
Ultimate Infestation has been considered the prime suspect in the growth of jade druid’s popularity ever since the card came out. It costs 10 mana but it provides you with so much value that I feel really comfortable in calling it the best 10 cost card in the entire game. With that out of the way, no, I don’t think that Ultimate Infestation is the source of the problem and no, I don’t think that this card will be nerfed. The card is powerful, there is no doubt in that, but it is meant to be this powerful. It is meant to be an insane value card and I don’t see the developers nerfing it…ever. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that jade druid was powerful even before Ultimate Infestation came out and yes, it has grown in popularity since then and yes, the card is being played in every jade druid deck, but it is not the reason why jade druid is so powerful. This is a type of card that I would run in a ramp deck, in a control druid deck, and if not changed it will be a staple card forever and ever, but it doesn’t address the druid’s main concern which is weakness to aggro and the ability to board wipe. That goes to a different card which is the real source of problem.
Spreading Plague is the card that is behind jade druids insane growth. Now, I know that a lot of you probably still think that it is the previous card or that it is another card that will be mentioned after this one, but no, trust me, Spreading Plague is the true villain here. How do I know this? Let’s go back into the days of the previous meta and the meta before that. What was one of the most popular decks which held jade druid at bay? Pirate warrior. Jade druid is extremely weak to aggro but pirate warrior is extremely weak to taunts. Jade druid kept all control decks in check and pirate warrior kept jade druid in check. Now, what changed with the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne? Spreading Plague was released and druid was given the ultimate answer to pirate warrior. Pirate warrior, which kept jade druid, in check is now unable to do it and jade druid is keeping all other decks in check. So, in summary, if you’re looking for a card to blame for the current state of the meta, look no further than at Spreading Plague. I’m convinced that this card is going to get nerfed into something unplayable. I don’t want it to get nerfed because it helps me survive vs pirate warrior in the wild format, but I guess that it will be something like ”summon two 1/5 minions with taunt”.
Innervate is also one of the most considered offender when it comes to the growth of jade druid. I don’t think that this card is the problem and I don’t want it nerfed. Send it to the hall of fame, for all I care, but don’t nerf it. Ramping has always been a huge part of the druid’s identity…the main part of its identity, and Innervate plays a major role in it. People complain that Innervate allows you to play huge cards early but that is what Innervate always did. It is no different than from the time when Hearthstone was launched. Yes, more powerful cards came out but the role of the Innervate had stayed the same. Besides, think about it, what roles does Innervate play in jade druid? Which is the card that is extremely busted when played with Innervate? Just Ultimate Infestation. It plays no role in the power of the jade golem mechanic. People just hate on it because they hate Ultimate Infestation. I don’t think that Innervate will be nerfed or moved to hall of fame.
Jade Idol is the main problem here. It is the card which makes the entire deck busted. It is the card that is the control killer. Before I start, please, don’t use the phrase ”infinite jade golems”, it is stupid, no one has ever seen infinite jade golems being played, let alone jade golems above 20/20 (maybe some exceptions to this rule). Potential infinite value is more fitting. Sorry, it just annoys me beyond belief when people toss around ”infinite jade golems” as an argument for why Jade Idol is busted.
The main problem of this card is not only that it prevents druid from going into fatigue but that it fills your deck with insanely powerful minions. We will need to address this card from multiple angles because there is a lot of things to talk about here. First we will deal with the summoning a jade golem. When you summon a 1/1 jade golem for 1 it is not busted. It is a 1/1 minion for one which is sometimes even bad but because the next one will be bigger then it is ok. However, when you summon a 7/7 minion for 1 then we have a huge balance problem. Paying one mana for a huge minion is just too powerful and it needs to be fixed. There is a possible solution of increasing the cost of jade idol by 1 for each jade golem that you’ve played this game (capping at 10 mana) but I’m not sure if that would be too clunky. Another thing that can be done is to make it increase the size of your next jade golem. Like, instead of summoning a minion, it skips one summon and makes the next one bigger. Another thing that it could do is transforming one of your jade golems into a bigger jade golem. There are various approaches that can be taken here.
The second problem, and probably the bigger one, is shuffling three copies of Jade Idol into your deck. Now, let me be very clear, changing the card to shuffle one copy makes it pointless. Changing it to shuffle two copies makes it no less powerful in the super late game. Changing it to summon a jade golem and shuffle a copy of this card still doesn’t fix the problem. The problem is shuffling a copy of the card into your deck. That is the bigger part of the ”insane value” problem that Jade Idol provides you with. So, how can we fix this? Well, the obvious thing would be not allowing it to shuffle itself into your deck. The problem that I see is that shuffling itself into your deck plays a huge role in the card’s identity. I’m honestly not sure that there is a way to fix the card and keep this but let’s see what I came up with, ok?
After taking all the stuff that I’ve mentioned so far into consideration, I must say that I came up with a fix for the card. So, we want the card to summon a jade golem but we don’t want it to provide you with a potentially infinite value. The mana cost is also a problem. We should also consider the fact that shuffling multiple copies of Jade Idol is a huge part of the identity of this card. Wit all that out of the way, here is my fix:
Summon a jade golem
Yes, this is the best that I’ve came up with. Let me explain my thought process.
It is very important, for a jade druid to function, to have this card summon a jade golem. This is the part that it can’t go without. Although summoning a big jade golem for 1 mana is something that I do consider a problem, being able to summon a limited amounts of them, and so by the default lesser jade golems than the ones that you can summon today, fixes the problem. You see, the main issue of the card is its ability to shuffle multiple copies of it into your deck. Because of that you can summon huge jade golems for 1 mana, and sometimes even more of them on the same turn, but what would happen when you could summon only two and only once? What is the jade golem summon limit cap? It is 10. Two copies from Jade Idol, two copies from Jade Blossom, two copies from Jade Behemoth, two copies from Jade Spirit and two copies from Aya Blackpaw. It is a much, much lesser number both in power and in quantity. It is far easier to play against a deck that has only 10 jade golems that you need to deal with than with one that has over 13 in common cases. This makes the card balanced in the early game and powerful in the late game but it limits it to only two uses. This way we keep the purpose and the identity of the card but without making it too crazy.
We’ve reached the end of this article. By the time that it is out we will already know what Blizzard intends to do with the jade druid problem but it was fun to speculate and come up with my own conclusions and fixes to the problem. I honestly hope that they manage to nerf the deck without completely killing the deck. So, tell me, what cards do you consider the main problem behind the popularity of jade golem? What cards would you nerf and why? Leave your feedback and opinions in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to seeing what you came up with As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can!