The standard fast master Druid of the Claws (bears) strategy is one of the first strategies a Night Elf player should learn because it’s probably the safest build to play against most opponents. This build around fast bears can work in every matchup to varying degrees (depending on their strategy) especially when paired with a Demon Hunter. The strength of this strategy comes from the strength of DH being able to pressure and defend (DH’s damage and tankiness) early game and leveraging that to get to fast master bears for units that provide strong damage and sustain with rejuvenation.
This build can also be used with a Keeper of the Grove as your first hero, but KOTG first could have more strategical differences (e.g., fast expo, mass tier 1 vs. Orc, all-in on opponent’s expo, etc) that could deter the build as written below where you may want to opt for a slower tech. So for the sake of this specific build we will stick to just DH first with this build because there is less variance in all of the matchups.
Difficulty of build: Easy, but this build can be used in strategies that can be Advanced.
- Can be used in many different strategies and versus any race.
- Slightly weaker early game against strong or all-in pushes, e.g. 2 crypt ghoul rushes. Also vulnerable to strong tier 2 pushes while you are teching from tier 2 to tier 3, e.g. rifle caster push. Does not allow you to have enough resources for an expo early.
Race Match Ups:
- vs. UD: Good strategy as long as there isn’t an early push. Have to be cautious versus garg play, where you’d want to get two lores before teching and focus on dryads.
- vs. HU: Good strategy, but you may have to keep an eye out for an early expo that you should pressure with DH and most likely a Naga.
- vs. NE: Will most likely be what your opponent is doing, UNLESS they are going into Priestess of the Moon + Hunts build. This build gets countered by POTM Hunts. You will need another Ancient of War (AOW), Ancient Protector(s), and the appropriate hero counter (Beastmaster, Tinker, solo DH) to defend against a very strong push with hunts and glaives.
- vs. Orc: Okay strategy depending on execution. Bears can be very powerful versus most Orc armies, but Orc can punish this with early pressure, kodos, or raider pressure. Archers, hunts and/or talons are usually stronger versus Orc.
Mid and late game transitions
In the majority of scenarios demon hunter is the hero you want to go first with in this strategy. There are a handful of heroes you can pair with DH (if you go DH first) first such as Naga, Panda, Pit Lord, Alchemist, Keeper. But this build also works for Keeper first. Keeper first has separate advantages than Demon Hunter such as lockdown with entangle and easier creeping with treants.
vs. UD you may also want to get an Ancient of Wind because the natural counter to bears are Destroyers. While there will be fiends with web, hippos do great damage to destroyers and add an extra burden of micro to the opponent.
vs Orc: DH + Beastmaster + Talons is a very popular strategy to go versus Orc, but that gets countered if Orc goes Far Seer + Headhunters. If you follow this build exactly, opting for Pit Lord or Panda second is a nice strategy with mass bears and a lot of pressure.
vs HU: The issue against Human is an early expo vs DH. Keeper is a better hero to put pressure on early expos, but that doesn’t mean DH doesn’t do a fine job. I’d recommend going Naga to pressure expos (Naga is good for targeting peasants, footman, and slowly down Archmage). Faerie dragons are very good versus human casters and those can be implemented around the 50 food mark.
vs NE: Aside from playing against POTM Hunts, you will most likely be playing versus the same strategy. My recommendation in bear mirrors is upgrades, upgrades, upgrades. Don’t take a fight past tier 3 without Orb of Venom. Make sure you have as many staffs of teleportation are you have heroes.