In this article, I’ll talk about Jade druid and Jade shaman in the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion in the Wild format. I’ve played Jade Shaman and Jade Druid heavily ever since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan because I’ve always enjoyed the play style of Jade decks. I prefer to play as many Jade summoners as possible in my deck, even when other players playing the same deck run other cards. I’ve gotten a good sense of how strong both strong decks are, and at what times they were strongest. Both decks play very differently, with Jade Shaman having many different sub-archetypes between aggro midrange and control, and with Jade druid having access to heavy mana ramp and card draw. I’ll offer a few different deck lists, and then explain why I now prefer Jade Druid so much more than Shaman.
For the purposes of this article, I won’t talk about Jade Rogue, as it was never well positioned in the meta. I’ve played it sometimes, but no Jade Rogue deck I’ve played felt stronger than a tier 3 deck.
How do Jade Druid and Jade Shaman differ?
The primary advantage to playing Jade Shaman is that you get to play Jade Claws and Jade Lightning. Both of these cards are good tempo even when you only summon a 1/1 Jade golem. Naturally they become even better when you’ve already played a few Jade Golems. Jade Shaman is a very flexible archetype, with decks ranging from aggro with Bloodsail Corsair and Patches the Pirate, midrange with cards like Thing from Below, or control with cards like Volcano. I gravitate toward the control variants that play Volcano and every Jade Golem summoner.
Jade Druid, on the other hand, ramps mana and draws cards faster than Jade Shaman ever could. I’m sure many of you know how the games play out. On turn 2, they coin out a Jade Blossom. On turn 3 they play Jade Blossom again, and on turn 4 you’re staring down Aya Blackpaw or a Jade Behemoth. If that doesn’t happen, sometimes they play Wild Growth on turn 2, coin Nourish on turn 3 to gain 2 mana crystals, and not long after, they have enough mana for Ultimate Infestation. The trade-off is that Druid has worse early-game, particularly in the first three turns. It’s also dependent on drawing either Wild Growth or Jade Blossom. If neither of those cards are drawn, the Druid will often have many high-cost cards stranded in their hand.
Why I stopped playing Jade Shaman in Knights of the Frozen Throne
Reno priest is the most popular deck at high ranks, and it has been that way ever since release of Knights of the Frozen Throne. Reno priest is a control deck with a combo finisher. Any slow variant of Jade Shaman is poorly equipped to deal with the face damage that the 0-cost Voidform hero power is capable of. For healing, the Shaman deck has two Jinyu Waterspeaker that might be played in the deck, and that’s it. If the Shaman ever wants to beat a priest who doesn’t draw Shadowreaper Anduin or Raza the Chained at the bottom of their deck, they have to defeat the priest relatively early instead of playing a value like you could during Journey to Un’Goro. At the same time, large Jade Golems and cards like Jade Chieftain line up very badly against Shadowreaper Anduin’s battlecry. These two factors combined swing the matchup too much in favor of the priest and that the other matchups are not good enough to make up for it.
If you still want to play Jade Shaman, this is the deck I recommend. It’s a very standard-reminiscent deck. I was inspired by Dog, who was playing a Gnomish Inventor list on his October 16 stream, but I shoehorned in the Jade Spirit because I’m a noob who likes shoving in as many jades as possible into my decks. This deck is also relatively untested, so maybe some card choices like Jade Spirit or Tunnel Trogg are bad.
Although Aggro Shaman isn’t my first thought when it comes to jade decks, it’s still a good choice if you’re looking to climb the ladder. Here is an example deck list.
Jade Druid after the Innervate/Spreading Plague nerfs
I elected to use a package that uses two Spreading Plague and two Mind Control Tech. With these tech cards, the Jade Druid can now punish wide boards more consistently. Both cards are useful in different situations: Mind Control Tech can be played before Spreading Plague, and it picks up value if your opponent has larger minions. Spreading Plague is better is better against a lot of tokens, such as Living Mana. Spreading Plague and Mind Control Tech work well when played together because if your opponent has four minions, you can Spreading Plague then Mind Control Tech to summon a huge board and steal one of your opponent’s minions. This deck also runs the Brann Bronzebeard + Mind Control Tech combo to steal two of your opponent’s minions.
The problem with running Mind Control Tech before the introduction of Spreading Plague was that if you were far enough behind on board that your opponent has four minions, stealing one minion often wouldn’t save you from a card like Savage Roar. (Of course, I’m talking from a perspective of having average luck. Everybody would play the card if you could steal your opponent’s [Doctor Boom] every time!)
In addition, Knights of the Frozen Throne introduced some new core cards, Malfurion the Pestilent and Ultimate Infestation. While Druids previously ran Gadgetzan Auctioneer, an often dead card, to draw their deck, now they can use Ultimate Infestation to draw 5 cards, and kill one of your opponent’s minions, and gain 5 armor, and summon a 5/5 all in one card! The death knight, Malfurion the Pestilent, also does so much: It can prevent 15 damage between the scarabs and the 5 armor, or you can try to kill your opponent’s minions by summoning the poisonous spiders. The Plague Lord hero power also provides incremental value, armor, or face damage over to time.
In summary, Mind Control Tech and Spreading Plague are incredible when played together. Brann Bronzebeard makes it possible to Brann + Mind Control Tech as well. Jade Druid gains a lot of power from the new cards, Malfurion the Pestilent and Ultimate Infestation.
Version 1.1 was a deck I played with +1 Azure Drake and -1 Mulch. I found out pretty quickly that you don’t actually need Azure drake. The deck is totally fine on card draw with just two Nourish and two Ultimate Infestation. I feel that the Mulch has certainly proven itself, since there’s still a few decks around that run large minions like Handlock, Inner Fire Priest, and Aggro Shaman.
The other two cards that I run in the deck that aren’t in the standard counterpart are Living Roots and Brann Bronzebeard. I like Living Roots because it’s a 1-mana card that can immediately impact the board or be saved to deal 2 damage. It’s also a cheap card, and the deck could use a few cheap cards, even in control matchups because you have to manage your hand size prior to casting Ultimate Infestation. Brann Bronzebeard is extremely powerful when used alongside Jade Spirit, Aya Blackpaw, or Mind Control Tech. There isn’t much else to say about him.
The deck is as effective as it ever was against control decks. I’m even or positive against the rest of the field except for Rogue and Paladin. Tempo Rogue is one of the more difficult matchups if they don’t flood the board with cards like Fire Fly. They run a lot of cards that can easily value trade into your Scarabs, like Tomb Pillager, Piloted Shredder, and Azure Drake. It’s been quite a long time since I queued into a Paladin, so I can’t say anything about that matchup.
I wrote this article so that it could be a reflection on why Jade Druid is so good and why slow Jade shamans were pushed out of the meta. I also wanted to explain what card choices I think are good in wild. This was not meant to be a comprehensive Jade Druid guide.