Yearly Archives: 2013

Hearthstone: Druid Deck Basics

Note: A more up to date version of this guide can be found at:

Hearthstone is a really engaging new game. While I have some concerns about the current beta systems (especially with regards to quests and rewards), I am pretty confident that this game will be a lot of fun when it goes live. However, as this will be the first card game that many current or past WOW player might play, I thought it would be helpful to pull together some basics that will be helpful for everyone, and then go into more specifics with regards to thinking about how to put together a good starter druid deck before you have access to a lot of the more rare cards.

New player resources for Hearthstone:

There are several types of cards available as druid class cards:

  • Spell damage cards: Moonfire, starfire, starfall, swipe, and wrath
  • Minion cards: druid of the claw, ancient of lore, keeper of the grove, ironbark protector, ancient of war, cenarius, force of nature
  • Cards that buff minions: Mark of the wild, power of the wild, savage roar, Mark of nature, soul of the forest,
  • Cards that buff your hero: Claw, savagery, bite, healing touch (heals your hero),
  • Mana increasing cards: Innervate, Wild growth, Nourish
  • Remove opponent minions: Naturalize (note that wrath and starfall now only do damage against minions)
  • Card draw: Several abilities have secondary bonuses allowing us to draw more cards: wrath, nourish, ancient of lore, and wild growth (If you cast wild growth when you have 10 mana, it lets you draw a card instead).
  • There are also many neutral minions available to all players

Decision points in building a deck:

  • Spells vs minions – The druid deck works well if you have a mix of minions and spells. Going too spell heavy or too minion heavy may actually hurt the druid deck. Spells such as starfall and swipe that help to clear the board are especially vital in controlling the board and gaining an advantage over your opponent.
  • Choose 1 of 2 cards: Many druid cards let you choose one of two effects, such as choosing between taunt and charge, or choosing between gaining mana/health and gaining cards. You want to pick up several of these flexible cards to allow for better adapting to the situation.
  • Card draw power: Basic druid decks are often bad when you run low on cards. So, the ability to draw more cards is vital for a druid deck to be successful. Minions that allow for drawing cards (such as novice engineers) can be vital for getting card draws without losing board presence. The Gadgetzan Auctioneer can be very powerful in a spell heavy druid deck for getting card draws. Cards like wrath and starfire that both do damage and draw cards can often be better than cards like nourish that only draw cards.
  • Spell power buffs: Cards like swipe and starfire benefit greatly from spell power buffs, allowing you to hit substantially harder than you would otherwise. Minions such as dalaran mage with their +1 spell power buff combo well with spell heavy druid decks.
  • Controlling the board: Being able to contain and control enemy minions is important. So, cards with silence such as ironbeak owl or keeper of the grove are good additions to a druid deck and can often turn the tide of battle. Natualize is powerful for killing legendary or high mana cost minions, but letting your opponent draw 2 cards is a huge disadvantage.
  • Buffing minions: Druids can do well with strategies that involve controlling the board with several minions and then buffing them up. This makes druids an ideal candidate for “murloc decks”. Cards and minions that buff other minions are powerful (e.g., raid leader, shattered sun cleric, power of the wild, savage roar, soul of the forest).
  • How defensive? Cards that heal, taunt, or otherwise protect you can be good additions to the deck. However, unless healing touches are well timed (e.g., played right after your opponent exhausted their hand), they may just delay your loss since they don’t give you board control. Instead of having Healing Touches, I run with Ancient of Lore minions and often will use the draw card effect instead of the healing effect if the heal won’t give me an advantage. Cards like Druid of the Claw are very versatile, offering either charge or taunt depending on how aggressive or defensive you want to play.
  • Mana control: I have had mixed success with cards like innervate and wild growth. While they can help you get out big minions quickly, I often find that my big minions get turned into sheep and frogs, since players will often have removal in their hand to deal with big threats early in the game. Without big legendary cards, I don’t find that innervate fits well into how I personally play my deck. However, others playing aggressive decks have found ways of using innervate to get more early medium-sized minions out to control the board.

Example Druid Decks:

For people starting out without many of the premium cards, using the basic druid starter deck is pretty terrible. So, the goal should be for you to create a custom deck as early as possible when you play a druid.

Level 1 druid deck with no premium cards:

  • Practice Mode Minion Buff deck.
  • You will want to replace cards with new abilities as you level. Spells like swipe and starfire are really important to add to your deck as you level up.

Level 10 druid budget druid deck with no premium cards

Level 10 template deck with some common premium cards:

More advanced druid deck starting points:

What druid decks are you running with? Any advice to new hearthstone players?

Posted in Hearthstone, Uncategorized

Patch 5.4 Resto druid changes

Patch 5.4 will hit this Tuesday. Restoration druids underwent a number of changes in the last patch that will ultimately have large impacts on healing style. I have updated the blog version of the healing guide for patch day. The current version will remain on the druid forums until patch day. Sorry for the lack of content recently. All the patch day prep slowed down my ability to put out blog content. I should be back to my weekly posting schedule now that guide writing is done. Thanks to Juvenate of WTS Heals for the typo checking.  🙂

There are still several major discussions going on in the druid community about what will be the “best” talents, playstyle, and gearing choices. So, in some places, I would expect various guides to disagree. When possible, I want to highlight what the disagreements are, so you can watch for what will end up working the best for you. We usually get an entire Beta cycle to discuss all of the changes internally amongst theorycrafters and guide writers, but Resto druids got hit with expansion-level changes in the most recent patch. Briefly, here are the highlights of what the resto changes look like, along with some of the details still left to be resolved:

  • Wild mushroom changes: Wild Mushroom only plants ONE shroom (total). It still absorbs rejuv overhealing. When you move your one shroom, it keeps that absorbed value (so, moving it has no real cost). The shroom placement has a 3 second cooldown to prevent spamming abuse. Depending on your glyph choices, you can either target shrooms at the feet of a person or directly on the ground using the targeting circle (SEE: glyph of the sprouting mushroom).

  • Glyph of Efflorescence is now fairly important for raiding druids. Glyph of lifebloom (the target swap glyph) was baked in baseline. This was replaced with a glyph that moved efflorescence from swiftmend to mushrooms. When your shroom is out, people standing near it are healed by efflorescence. You can now use swiftmend as emergency burst healing, instead of a vehicle for efflorescence placement.

  • Genesis is a new ability. It makes rejuv tick faster on all your targets. This is helpful when you need to speed up the healing from rejuv. There is still some debate as to when faster rejuvs (and faster priming of shrooms) may be better than having more people blanketed by rejuvs.

  • Innervate restores mana based on spirit, restoring at least 8% of mana. This slightly increases the value of spirit, though you should end up with plenty of spirit naturally from gearing. Mana regen in general usually isn’t much of a problem in later expansion gear.
  • Talent changes (many): Dream of Cenarius, heart of the wild, nature’s vigil, and soul of the forest have both undergone some changes for resto druids (mostly buffs for all four). Nature’s Swiftness is now baseline for resto druids, and was replaced with a new talent: Ysera’s Gift. With all the changes to the class, you will want to re-evaluate your talent choices and find the set of talents that work the best for you. Also, some talents play better with the Tier 16 4-piece set bonus, so as you gear up in Siege of Orgrimmar (SoO), you will need to keep an eye on what talent choices pair best together with your current gear set. There isn’t a terrible amount of agreement on some of the talent options, so you may have to play with them a little. I’ll try to keep track of what people are doing and adjust the talent section of the guide (and write up talent posts) as needed this raid tier.

  • You have the choice between mastery-heavy builds or haste-heavy builds, since the 13K haste breakpoint should be easily attainable in SoO. Mathematically, the two builds should pull similar numbers, but you may need to see if faster heals or bigger heals are better for your raid group makeup. Until the patch dust settles, this will still be under debate.

Overall healing style changes in 5.4:  The changes to the healing shroom spell are actually huge. You will now use shrooms as the center for your efflorescence. You can move the shroom along with the group during movement encounters. The changes to efflorescence, shrooms, and genesis overall make your AOE healing substantially stronger. When using the efflorescence glyph, you now change how swiftmend fits into your toolset (as a direct heal instead of the vehicle for an AOE heal). You will also have to watch your harmony mastery more if you find that you aren’t using swiftmend every time it comes off cooldown. You will need to adjust your talents to accommodate for the fairly major changes to healing playstyle, gearing, and the talents themselves.

Other Resto druid 5.4 patch resources:

So, in the next patch, are you going mastery or haste build, and what are the talents you’ll start with?

Posted in Patch 5.4, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Hearthstone beta: The wait is over!

So, I was supposed to spend this weekend getting my 5.4 resto druid healing guide together. However, much to my surprise, Hearthstone’s beta launched and I got a day-one beta key. That means I spent my entire weekend just playing Hearthstone and doing almost nothing else. I plan to have a healing guide update ready to go before it launches. With the major changes to the resto playstyle, however, it may take some time before we really know the full impacts of all the changes for resto druids.


For hearthstone, there are currently three types of play you can do after you finish a short (~5 quest) introduction. Here is some basic advice for getting started in each of the three modes:

Practice makes perfect

The “practice” mode  is a PVE mode where you play versus the computer-generated opponent. You start with a mage class, and you can use practice mode to unlock other classes, as well as level up through level 10 to unlock all your standard cards. It is recommended that you play with the basic decks until you have unlocked the standard class cards, since custom decks won’t have the right balance for this until you unlock more cards. You get experience with the class you are playing even if you lose the match. Defeating the standard druid deck in practice mode proved much less challenging than defeating the standard warlock deck (that can quickly overwhelm you). Thus, for starting out, it can be really confusing to know which class you should be fighting against for leveling up, and I spent a lot of time losing for the first ~6 hours I was playing around in practice mode. It does, however, get easier to beat practice modes once you understand the mechanics and have enough good cards to make custom decks.

Play to improve your skills

The “Play” mode is a PVP mode where you fight other players. This is a great place to complete your daily quests, which don’t necessarily require you to win the battles (e.g., today’s daily quest was to kill 40 of the minion/pets that players had). Outside of doing the daily quests, you want to get together a strong custom deck before you try “play” mode, especially when you try rated games. The basic decks don’t really stand much of a chance compared to people’s expert custom decks. There is an unrated and a rated mode, though at this point, you don’t really get a lot of rewards for defeating people in either rated or unrated games. So, this is good for improving your skill and leveling your classes (past level 10) once the practice mode stops feeling rewarding.

Pay to fight in the Arena

After you unlock all 10 classes, you can enter the Arena mode (a PVP mode where you choose one of three classes, create a temporary deck in the Arena mode, and play versus other players). However, if you had been focusing just on one class in practice and play mode, the arena will prove to be a difficult challenge, since you only get to pick from 3 (and not all 10) classes. I made the mistake of trying to make a warrior deck in arena mode without ever playing it in practice mode and I lost quite horribly on my first game (then I had to go back to practice and figure out how to actually play the class). You should save your gold for playing Arena mode instead of using gold to directly buy packs in the store, but wait to play arena mode until you have a good understanding of how to play most of the classes. At the 150 gold cost per arena play (where you get to play until you lose a total of 3 times), and taking up to 4 days worth of daily quests to enter again, there is absolutely no hurry to get into arena mode if you are new to card games.

Overall Impressions
While this game is fun and I spent the entire weekend playing, winning the games outside of arena mode does not feel rewarding at all. Gaining only one gold per win in “play” mode (regardless of being either rated or unrated) means that you would have to win 150 games to enter the arena (at a 50% win rate, it would take 300 play games at 15 mins a pop). At that rate, getting no gold would at least feel less insulting. Thus, at 40 gold per daily quest (and one daily quest per day), there is little incentive to keep playing long-term (other than to do your daily quest and arena).

In addition, as a new player, the jump from the short intro quests into the practice mode felt like jumping off a cliff. It took a long time to really get a good feel for the practice mode, and I felt like losing gave me the same level of reward as winning, so I mostly just bashed my face at things for experience and felt pretty disconnected. I feel like there should be a “newbie” mode at the start of practice mode that limits you to unlocking maybe 2 other classes but provides a longer tutorial for WOW players jumping into their first card game (maybe something that expert gamers could skip and go straight into the current content).

     For a beta, however, this game is fabulous. I am really having a lot of fun, and my worries about rewards for winning “play” mode and training for new players are rather minor problems overall. I haven’t yelled so much at my computer and gotten so absorbed by a game like this in a really long time. Once this game has the finishing polish, I think it is something

Posted in Hearthstone

Waiting for Hearthstone

Hearthstone is  a Warcraft themed collectable card game, that looks like it should be a lot of fun. While Blizzard announced that the hearthstone beta was going to start in “summer”, it is looking much more likely that we’re looking at an end of Summer start to the beta. Since there hasn’t been a whole lot of new stuff going into the WOW beta, I thought I’d reflect some on Hearthstone.


First, I really like the design of the druid class in the game. A druid has been featured in several of the game play videos thus far, and powerful damage combined with powerful healing makes for a great potential deck. One of the nice things is that they kept a lot of the spell names similar. So, starfire does what you would expect it to (single target direct damage). Healing Touch does what you would expect (heals you). Soul of the Forest summons trees, and so forth.

The newest update about the game from Blizzard has several interesting points that I wanted to highlight:

  • While we didn’t expect the PC/Mac version of the game to play well with the ipad version, they have now had a cross-platform game successfully in Blizzard. This leaves open the possibility of having one account that would work on both devices, and being able to play against your computer friends while sitting on your couch with an ipad. While not totally confirmed, this would be a best-case scenario.
  • Hearthstone will eventually have an open beta, allowing anyone to be in beta once they have opened it up. However, they are starting with a smaller closed beta (based on sending invites to small batches of accounts) and working to invite more people over time. Keep in mind, however, that early beta is likely to have a lot of bugs they will need to work out before they increase the number of people playing.
  • While the game is “free to play”, you can buy card packs. There is a special reward card for purchasing card packs with real money in beta. That card carries over into Live, along with unopened card packs equal to the value of real money you spent in beta. However, you can play the game perfectly fine without ever paying real money at all.

Beta is likely a few weeks away (as the post said not days away, but also not months away – that makes “weeks” away the best guess). I will likely post a lot more about Hearthstone once I can play in beta and give my opinions on actually playing the game. I am really excited and looking forward to seeing how the game develops!

Posted in Hearthstone, Written By Lissanna


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