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Reflections on the Hearthstone Beta Patch

With little going on in WOW after the last major WOW patch, I wanted to take more time to talk about Hearthstone. This week, Blizzard did a full wipe/reset of the game, that included a major patch release to beta. Below, I’ll focus on some of the major change areas that impacted my game play over the weekend:

Hearthstone: Now with a real Reward System!

One of my major complaints early in beta was how unrewarding Play mode originally felt. This problem was fortunately addressed by several major changes to the reward system, outlined below:

  • Most importantly, they increased the rate of gold from winning in play mode. You now earn 10 gold per 3 games (e.g., 3.33 gold per win), up from 5 gold per 5 games (e.g., 1 gold per win). So, you get more gold and sooner. This encourages “just one more game” to unlock your pack when you are sitting at 90 gold and two completed wins. This is a lot better than “just 8 more games” when you are sitting at 90 gold and two completed wins. While I originally suggested that we should get 5 gold per win, this seems to be a happy compromise between the original value and my recommendations.
  • You can now earn experience for your class in practice mode beyond level 10. You can also gain class experience from playing in duels versus your friends (where previously, these duels versus people on your friends list provided no benefit). You can level up to 60 total levels for each of the 9 classes.
  • They also introduced gold versions of basic minions you can acquire from leveling classes.
  • They changed arena awards to give more gold for winning streaks, allowing quicker re-entry to arena for experienced arena players.
  • Increased social rewards: Your friends will know when you unlock legendary cards or finish a great Arena run.

Changes to the daily quest system.

  • You get to choose between two classes for the daily quests, instead of being locked to completing it on one character. This allows for more choice, and allows you to play the game with mastering 5 classes, instead of 9 classes, if you want to streamline your daily routine. Thus, If you really hate playing Garrosh (even if it’s just because of SOO Lore reasons), you can choose to never play that class. In making my class decisions, if I want to play druid and avoid warrior, I need to focus on: druid, mage, paladin, warlock, and rogue. This allows me to skip shaman, hunter, priest, and warrior early in the game with no penalty. See the listing on Hearthpwn to plan for the daily class choice combinations.
  • The biggest problem with this new daily quest system is that if you dislike both of the classes for the daily, you are still stuck having to do it. You still can’t drop quests even if you really, really don’t want to do it.

Don’t nerf me, Bro!

  • Of course, any patches to Blizzard games include class balancing changes. This came with many adjustments to cards (some changes for each of the classes, plus changes to general minions available to all classes). Some of the cards I was using got nerfed, and other cards got buffed. In general, the druid class took a couple hits, though Azureon posted in his druid Q&A why these druid card nerfs aren’t so bad.
  • The adjustment to druid decks mainly impacted higher quality cards, that wouldn’t impact new players all that much. My druid beginner druid guide is a good starting point for new players, since the default beginner druid deck didn’t get changed (and is still terrible). I did some minor updates to the guide to stay consistent with the changes. I’ll probably expand this more in the upcoming weeks.
Posted in Hearthstone

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

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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