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.
The latest World of Warcraft patch brought with it a new raid size – Flex raiding. With two wings of the four total wings available in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, I thought I would talk about some of the benefits for Flex raiding.
- Variable group size. If you have 20 people on to run a weekend Flex raid, you can hop into a raid and not have to pick up 5 unknown people to form a 25-man raid. If you have 11 people, you don’t have to sit one out to form up a 10-man raid. Instead, you can run with any number of people between 10 and 25. This lowers the administrative and organizational burden. If you have 15 people online, you can hop into a raid – assuming that you have the right group makeup with tanks, DPS, and healers.
- People can join & leave freely. When we would do organized LFR runs, if someone showed up 10 minutes after you started, they couldn’t join the raid. In LFR, you couldn’t swap people out between bosses. In LFR, you couldn’t replace a bad PUG with a great friend. With the new Flex runs, you can do all three! If you start the raid with 10 people, you can still end the raid night with 25 (or any amount in between). We frequently have people show up late to our Flex raids and it doesn’t cause nearly the same headache that we experienced the last few expansions without Flex raids.
- Individual loot system. An administrative burden for normal & heroic raids is the need to have some way to ensure that loot is fairly distributed. In 25-man normal/heroics, we run with an addon that tracks points (EPGP). However, for the Flex nights, we don’t have to worry about distributing loot, as the use of the LFR individual loot system reduces the possibility for fighting or loot drama in the more relaxed atmosphere.
- Allows for organization. Unlike LFR with strangers, you can force the raiders running Flex to be prepared for raiding. You get to choose the members of your raid team.
- Wings mean you can skip more bosses. A difficult problem with having 13 or 14 bosses in a normal/heroic raid is that you often have to do 12 bosses to work on the 13th. In most cases, this means that normal/heroic raids require significant time commitments to clear the earlier bosses and unlock the later progression bosses.Having only 3 to 4 bosses in a Flex or LFR wing means that you can skip the first wing if you just want to do the second – or you can skip the first three and start on the last wing (once they are all open).
- Raid with your friends. A benefit of being cross-server is that you can raid with your friends. We can bring along social guild members, battle-tag or Real-ID friends along for the fun. Our guild does a Monday night alt Flex raid where I have been able to raid on my druid for the first time this expansion, as alt LFR raids weren’t very satisfying for my raiding guild.
- Raid with strangers. If you don’t have an organized flex raid with friends, you can still organize groups of strangers using tools such as Open Raid. If you can’t plan in advance, you can also use an addon called OQueue to find a group in-game. Other communities such as Twitterland Raiding have been used for people to organize cross-realm raid groups.
Taken together, what does this all mean? Well, for one – there will be fewer organized LFR runs. Most of the organized groups will be better off hitting Flex raids (meaning you won’t be lucky and happen into the rare spots in the organized LFR runs when you do run LFR). I believe that Flex will be a very popular raid size for small casual guilds or for cross-realm groups of friends that were formed to run LFR groups together, with fewer drawbacks of having to pick up random LFR people. Either way, it encourages some consistency in raiding with friends, without being super rigid the way that normal & heroic raiding is. One thing I can say for certain is that I am really enjoying Flex raiding on my druid.
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?
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?