It’s 12:30pm here in East Coast, USA, and big news is coming shortly in the world of Hearthstone.
To those unaware, or not currently playing Hearthstone, there has been a big Druid problem (and Jade Druid, and Aggro Druid). This probably refers to what Ben Brode teased recently:
The news will break some time in the next few hours, and something will be announced. Something regarding Druid, and perhaps more. Let’s state some things are mostly true:
Druid is busted in it’s current state, for many different reasons.
There are other problems in Hearthstone, with other classes.
The Arena synergy draft system is a disaster.
There’s no denying Druid is a problem in Ranked, and other problems exist. Let’s get to point 2, I think Ice Block is an example of a card that has existed far too long, as it reneges on the “fun and interactive” promise of the game. Some Arena players don’t think 3 is much of an issue, but most are on the train that it sucks. Nobody has to draft Blubber Baron. There’s no reason Frost Lich Jaina appears in 10% of Arenas.
Let me state some other things that are mostly true:
Hearthstone is an amazing game that has kept a lot of players playing it for years.
Hearthstone hype is hyped very well.
Here’s my thought, one that may not be all that original:
Hype should not be invested on things that shouldn’t have been broken to begin with.
I’m really excited about these upcoming announcements today (or announcements of announcements). Even if I have no interest in playing Ranked right now, the news excites me as a Hearthstone player. I want lots of change in a game mode I don’t really play.
But these things shouldn’t be hyped about it. These Druid cards shouldn’t have been allowed to hit the factory floor like they are now. The Arena synergy system shouldn’t have been put in live in it’s current state, without more thought or testing.
I don’t want to be excited about these changes. But there is, for a lack of a better phrase, a hypnotic attraction that Hearthstone has on me that built the hype automatically.
Hype in this game should be spent on announcing new things and content. If this announcement bundles Druid patch changes with a new Ranked laddering system, I take some of it back.
I’m not happy that I will be routinely checking Twitter and Reddit to get on the news today. But I will!
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, Team 5 doesn’t like nerfing cards. They wait a very long time (compared to other games) to make a change. Like it or hate it, that is a core philosophy reciprocated by the devs. With the current KFT Druid continually breaking records, the calls for Druid cards to get the axe grow more vociferous by the day.
In order to get a sense of when (if) Druid will get a nerf, I decided to look at all the cards that have been nerfed, since the game was officially released post-beta, on March 13, 2014. Wow, I’ve almost played this game 4 years.
It is not a complete science, as older cards get nerfed later on to open up design space, or due to unforseen interactions with newer ones. We can also try to pick out why certain cards were nerfed for what reason.
Unleash the Hounds – 56 days (Release to nerf); 112 days (counting Closed Beta)
Unleash has been iterated numerous times in it’s existence, and is honestly a tough one to balance. The 8 weeks to nerf this card from launch is likely one of the fastest nerfs, though the version existed prior in Closed Beta. It was changed to it’s broken form when I started the game.
Curse of Naxxramas
Eaglehorn Bow – 131 days
It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of people played Mage around this time. The Eaglehorn Bow worked Secrets against the Mage to a weapon buff effect, an ability seen much later in Pirate Warriors.
Leeroy Jenkins – 193 days
Culprit of the “fun and interactive” meme, I’m surprised this one took this long. The main target was Shadowstep Rogue, which didn’t use any tools from Naxx, except Loatheb. Also possible the streamers of yore didn’t make decks as fast young kids these days.
Starving Buzzard – 193 days (Release to nerf); 286 (counting Closed Beta)
The third Hunter nerf out of four cards nerfed. It makes sense to get rid of the Hunter draw engine, but it is possible removing all of their tools at once would’ve been too much. We’ll never know.
Goblins vs Gnomes
Flare – 266 days
Seemingly more help for Mages against the Hunter onslaught. Frankly in retrospect, 1-mana for card draw plus ability is way too cheap. It took 3/4 of a calendar year for this one, and might have to do with nerfing all Hunter toys at once.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer – 266 days
This card gets a lot of hate, but it was nerfed in GvG, which put away Miracle Rogue for a while. Leeroy was already out of the equation at this point, and may have been targeting MalyRogue, if it was big then.
Soulfire – 266 days
Obviously, this was nerfed because Zoolock was too good. At it’s 1-mana cost, it still sees play (wherever the Warlocks are).
Undertaker – 191 days
The first expansion card to get nerfed. And it took over half a calendar year to happen. GvG was one of the most aggressive sets overall, and it took Undertaker over the edge.
The Grand Tournament
Warsong Commander – 586 days (since Release); 201 days (since Grim Patron)
This one was big, as it put an end to the most oppressive form of Patron Warrior. It did take 201 days, since Grim Patron came out, but I’m sure the deck didn’t perfect itself overnight.
The League of Explorers
Whispers of the Old Gods – All Classic cards (773 days from Release to nerf)
Ancient of Lore
Force of Nature
Keeper of the Grove
The original Druidstone kappa. Ancient of Lore and Keeper of the Grove were cited for auto-inclusion, while Force of Nature was the piece of ForceRoar that took the nerf. Obviously, this long wait was because Druid was never amazing like Hunter, from the beginning.
Big Game Hunter
These cards all brought cheap hard removal, making big controlly minions still not be a thing in Hearthstone. Obviously, Hunter did not run Ironbeak Owl back in the day, and it was likely precipitated by all the prior Hunter nerfs. The long wait was definitely a meta call.
The classic “design space” meme, which was likely brought on by MalyRogue being at it’s peak prior to Old Gods. Blade Flurry was always great against Aggro, and this nerf was likely allowed since Aggro was weakened. It got the double-whammy and remains unplayed.
Two “Aggro announcers” and a charge-piece. Knife Juggler is the only one that still sees any play at all now, and this was all done to fight Aggro. Good calls all around here, precipitated by meta shifts.
Handlock was once a thing. The patch notes state that this was allowed due to the nerfs to charge cards. Not sure about this one, as Molten Giant remains MIA.
Master of Disguise
This one could’ve happened whenever, but was cited for the reason Animated Armor wasn’t neutral. That card never saw play anyways, and this one didn’t either. Oh well, design space.
One Night in Karazhan
Call of the Wild – 160 days
This could be the Blizzard Paragon for nerf to broken card “not that long” after expansion. 160 days is not nothing, but is the quickest nerf in some time.
Execute – 935 days
Control Warrior in my eyes, was always super boring to play against. Nerfs don’t come for that specific reason, but this one took a really long time to materialize. It still sees play now, so this wasn’t that big a deal.
Rockbiter Weapon – 935 days
Tuskarr Totemic – 406 days; 252 days (since Old Gods)
Shamanstone was around since Old Gods, so this was the first response. Tuskarr Totemic didn’t see play until Old Gods, so this year plus wait is misleading.
Abusive Sergeant – 935 days
A dying breed! Another Aggro-announcer meets it’s end, cited for being in too many Aggro decks. Abusive Sergeant still exists here and there though.
Charge – 935 days
Pirate Warrior sprouted from Old Gods, and this was done to keep that deck in check. It is still alive and well, never really going away to a significant extent.
Yogg-Saron – 160 days
Another nerf that was done in fairly short time. It was a bit of a turning point, as random outcomes were never really denounced by Team 5. They were always a positive. The competitive community finally got a win in this battle.
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
Small-Time Buccaneer – 91 days
Hey look, a rare card to be nerfed within it’s release era. Pretty much a staple for Warrior, Rogue, Shaman, anyone who can hold a weapon. Interesting that the card existed, given the nerfs to all the early Aggro cards. But a fairly timely response here.
Spirit Claws – 203 days
A bit overdue. Shamanstone finally ended with this nerf, but it was a long wait.
Journey to Un’Goro
The Caverns Below – 97 days
The controversial nerf that everyone was okay with in the end. I don’t think many at all, Rogue mains included, liked playing Quest Rogue. The source of contention, for me at least, is the explanation behind it. If cards that are not fun to play against get nerfed, a whole lot of Mage cards should fit the bill.
Best case scenario?
Recently, Small-Time Buccaneer and The Caverns Below were nerfed within their expansion windows, 91 and 97 days after, respectively. Call of the Wild and Yogg-Saron saw nerfs 160 days after release. Overperformers like Ultimate Infestation, Spreading Plague, and Crypt Lord are the targets here. It is useless to do this exercise for Innervate, as it would have the longest gap between nerfs ever, if it were to see a change. Unleash saw the shortest gap ever at 56 days, but it being the first nerf ever, we can’t rely on that timeline.
And just for those who have made it this far, Knights of the Frozen Throne has only been out 21 days. Unless this current Druidstone is so spectacular! that it causes a nerf never before seen.
Owing to the busyness of life changes, I haven’t paid as much attention to Hearthstone news as I did in the past. I am making time to play the game, squeezing in regular Arenas (which are now more fun) and occasional Ranked games. When I want to get serious, I will play Deathseer Thrall Evolve Shaman. When I play for fun, I am playing random Rogue decks with new cards, including a Burgle Rogue and C’Thun Rogue. Hence, my winrate has been terrible this season, and I am still Rank 15.
I’ve been hearing that Druid has been a big problem since the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion release, and whenever I log onto to Twitter, I hear a call for nerfs. I haven’t played at high enough level in Ranked to experience this scourge, so I do not have any opinions on the matter. But such an early call for nerfing a class reminded me exactly of what happened in Shadowverse, following the Wonderland Dreams expansion. Let’s take a look at the problem in both games, and see what can be done.
The latest expansion for Shadowverse, Wonderland Dreams, was released on June 22, 2017 in America. For those unaware, this expansion had a theme for Neutral cards with strong Neutral synergy cards or craft-specific cards that have strong Neutral synergy. I’m not sure how much work was put into play-testing for balance, but messing around with Neutrals is complicated, as all the classes are affected in different ways. This manifested in the Bloodcraft class becoming too good.
Shadowverse writes really detailed patch notes, so here they are, if you want to gander.
Based on a sample of high ranking players, they determined the Neutral Bloodcraft decks were present in 38.1% of the ladder, with a 56% win rate. 56% is a manageable win rate, but the 38% is obviously glaringly high. It might be okay in a game with 4 deck building choices, but not in one with so many like Shadowverse. The company decided to put nerfs in July 30, 2017.
Neutral Blood Nerf
As stated, the goal of nerfing these 4 cards was to: 1) lower rate of Neutral Blood decks, and 2) reduce the gap between going first and second with these decks.
Tove – minus 1 attack, minus 1 defense.
Baphomet – opening effect became more random, cost reduction gone.
Spawn of the Abyss – effect damage reduced by 2.
Goblin Leader – +1 cost, +1 attack, +1 defense.
Ramp Dragon Nerf
As is common with Shadowverse, they typically nerf something else to go along with the highly-desired nerf. They targeted Ramp Dragon decks, in fear they would be too strong with the Neutral Blood nerf.
Grimnir, War Cyclone – no longer hits enemy hero for 4, just 4 damage AoE to minions.
Ouroboros – heal +3 ability to hero gone.
Finally, it was mentioned that the second highest deck, Haven Aegis (7.6%!) needs to be kept in check with a nerf.
Princess Snow White – minus 1 defense.
The patch notes wrap up by saying they may make monthly changes at the end of the month, if data shows anomalies.
Druids are apparently out of control right now in Hearthstone. From what I can tell, there are currently two main Druid decks in the meta now: 1) Big Druid (with other ridiculous stylizations), and 2) Jade Druid.
I went on HSReplay.net to filter decks with new cards, by win rate.
6 out of 10 of the new decks are Druid, with the other 4 being Paladin. These are fairly high win rates, with the most common deck being a Jade Druid deck with 57k replays. To those wondering, if you just filter top decks including old decks, it is still all Druid and Paladin.
Let’s look at top 10 new decks in terms of overall usage.
The people want Warlock bad! Desperately! Druid is quite common here as well, with the 57k, high win rate Druid likely to keep climbing. 100k games were played with a Taunt-based Druid, which was likely shared as “ground-breaking” before a better version was found.
Let’s take a look at the common, KFT Jade Druid.
The by-class matchups are telling, with the deck only not doing great against the mirror. Every other class matchup is above average or exceptional.
Remember Shamanstone? Yeah, I scrubbed it from my memory as well. Let’s take a look at some Vicious Syndicate data tracking the highs of Shamanstone.
Shaman as it is now, is a solid deck and 4th highest class today. Most decks are running the Evolve Shaman, so we can expect the deck to be around 10% of the Ranked meta. At the peak of Shamanstone, the class represented over 30% of all decks.
Here’s a look before Shaman hit 30%, which includes the release of One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Of course, these expansions were known for not doing much at all the Shaman. Karazhan notably gave Shaman more tools in Maelstrom Portal and Spirit Claws. Pirate Warrior brought down Shaman for about 2 weeks, before it started climbing to the rate over 30%.
The listed 10/3/16 balance changes notably did this to Shaman:
Rockbiter Weapon – costs 2.
Tuskarr Totemic – summon random basic totem.
This didn’t do much. A 2/28/17 patch did this to Shaman:
Small-Time Buccaneer – 1 health.
Spirit Claws – costs 2.
Shamanstone was finally over. I think Small-Time Buccaneer represents a card that was the closest to being a new card being nerfed in it’s expansion timeframe. It was released on 11/29/16 and nerfed on 2/28/17, about 3 months.
Shadowverse and Hearthstone are similar games, but very different when devs come to making changes. It is fairly entrenched in Hearthstone philosophy to be super conservative when cards are changed. And typically, cards are made worse. Shadowverse changes cards all of the time, and doesn’t seem to be afraid of pulling the trigger on newly released cards. I am not knowledgeable enough in card games to say which is better, so I don’t know.
But even if Druid is a problem, I don’t expect changes to be made for a while. Knights of the Frozen Throne is a fairly new expansion, and new cards are likely left the way they are for a few months. Would old Druid cards get nerfed? Also, Skulking Geist is the infamous Jade Druid hate card that came along in this expansion. How long of a leash does that card get as being the savior against Druid? Would running 2 minions with bad stats ameliorate the situation?
Valeera the Hollow is an insane card. This card essentially locks out the game with infinite Vanish followed by Arcane Giants allowing you to continuously swing in for 16 damage as long as your opponent doesn’t have removal for them. In addition, to that the stealth that gives you when it comes down allows you the time that it takes in order to set up the combo. The only decks that are going to punish this are burn mage and decks that play aggressively on the board, which brings me to my next point…
9. Druid is going to be the only class playing on the board.
With Mage and Taunt Warrior (particularly good matchups for Jade Druid) probably sticking around, Druid now has insane tools to combat aggro as well, especially Spreading Plague. This card is at worst a stall of probably two turns and at best clears their board in the process, but either way, aggro is losing one of it’s best matchups in the game. Rogue also has new tools to combat aggressive decks with the Shadowblade and it’s counterpart Doomerang which will undoubtedly see varying degrees of play depending on how long aggro sticks around. Either way you will have time to play your Death Knights because I predict a much slower meta where aggro will be punished.
Bonus Bold Prediction: Skulking Geist was printed for the sole purpose of beating Jade Druid and it will see some (if it makes up over 30% of the meta a lot of) play for that reason. (Note: I don’t count Taunt Warrior as a deck that plays on board)
8. Hunter is going to be worse.
The new hunter cards that are being introduced are terrible…I guess that’s all I really have to say. Deathstalker Rexxar is the worst Death Knight and arguably may give you a worse hero power than Steady Shot. For Hunter to continue to challenge the meta they needed more sticky aggressive minions to pressure the opponent, instead they got durdly, inefficient, clunky minions that when everything goes perfectly you probably still are going to lose a majority of your games…
7. The Lich King is the best neutral legendary in the game.
This one may be slightly hyperbolic, but if I said The Lich King is a very good card that wouldn’t exactly be a bold prediction. The Death Knight cards are as powerful as the Ysera Dream Cards, with taunt it gives it initiative, and if all goes right it can give you insane value while smashing face for 8. While I am less confident in this prediction than some of the other ones, I also have no doubt this will be in more meta decks than any other card currently in the game.
6. Ultimate Infestation was a mistake.
When you look at this card it instantly looks like a Firelands Portal that gains you some life and gives you approximately 8 mana worth of card draw. So we already have a card that should cost approximately 16 mana, but the card is actually better than that, doing all of this at the same time gives this card increased value. Normally we would have to play one card that is a Firelands Portal, one card that is an Iron Hide and one card that is a super-Sprint, now all of this is combined onto one card, meaning that this card kind of reads draw seven cards and play three of them…
5. Priest moves up a tick.
While most of their new cards are as disappointing as the Hunter cards, Eternal Servtiude should definitely see a good chunk of play and their Death Knight is a game-changer. While Shadowreaper Anduin on it’s surface may not be that impressive as far as the Death Knights go, it gives priest an opportunity to do something that it’s never been able to do very efficiently, close games. Raza the Chained also could see an appearance back in the meta allowing priest to machine-gun chain two damage as long as they can continue to play cards.
4. Aggro Paladin will see a come-back.
I know this is completely contrary to point number nine, that no one is going to be playing on the board, but on the backs of Bolvar Fireblood, Righteous Defender, and Light’s Sorrow all of the board clears that are going to be in the game may be playing right into this decks trap. I don’t think this will be a very good deck, especially out of the gate, but with some tweaking and as the meta starts to settle, you may be able to catch some people off-guard with this old classic.
3. Mage will not play any of the cards released, and it will still be good.
Frost Lich Jaina and Sindragosa are definitely cuspers, and I may end up being wrong about them not seeing play, but neither of these cards buy you the late game tempo advantage that Medivh the Guardian does that usually wins you the game just fine on his own. With the deck already relying on Alexstraza to stabilize, I don’t think there will be room for the new cards. That being said, this will be one of the most fun decks to mess around with, although I think the best Mage list is already established, and it will continue to stick around, as it is one of the premier decks to contend against new Rogue.
2. Freeze Shaman will not be a thing.
While you aren’t going to be bummed out ripping a Voodoo Hexxer from a Stonehill Defender, it is still going to be the third-best taunt that you are hoping for and that’s the best freeze card to be introduced by a mile. Blizzard is definitely afraid of making another overpowered Shaman deck and acknowledges the power of Jade/Token Shaman in the meta, so they do the thing they are apt to do, which is try to introduce a new mechanic. This deck will not be good, it will not be fun to play, and it will lose to everything in the game, maybe including new players playing Chillwind Yetis and Boulderfist Ogres. With nothing being implemented to help its existing archetypes, shaman will definitely be taking a major step back in the Frozen Throne meta.
1. Defile is the best card in the game, and Warlock still may not be playable in Standard.
This card was my whole reason for wanting to write this article to begin with. I rated Ultimate Infestation a 10/10 and could see a nerf, I rate this card an 11/10 and will probably see an emergency nerf. Everyone is sleeping on Defile. This is the most efficient, cheapest, and easy to accomplish board clear in the game, that requires little to no set-up. Next time you are playing a game pay attention to how many huge boards could be cleared with a Defile. On top of this, after this card stops clearing the minions on the board, it starts clearing their deathrattles, making minions like Dragon Egg and Haunted Creeper also susceptible to it’s reign of devastation, if you are playing Egg Druid or Pirate Warrior in Wild, I’m sorry to say that your days are numbered. On top of this, this card has an insane synergy with Grim Patron which allows you to defile ad infinitum and wipe all boards and leave yourself with 15-21 power on the board. Okay so we’ve established that this card is the most broken wild card ever printed, but will it have any impact on Standard?
If Warlock is viable in standard, it will be on the back of Defile. Possessed Villager is still around to kick the defile train off and it will really punish Token Druid, Shaman and Pirate Warrior, furthering point #9, but Warlock may not have powerful enough tools to contend in the late game, even with the most efficient AoE in the game. Honestly it makes my brain hurt trying to think of what a standard warlock deck would look like these days, cards like Kabal Trafficker have never seen any play and on an unchecked board, may make for an alright deck with the new warlock Death Knight which is okay and the Lich King definitely making a cameo, but even I am not bold enough to say that Kabal Trafficker Warlock will be the new meta.
With every Hearthstone card release, the expectation of a new mechanic becomes regular chatter amongst the playerbase. I personally believed (https://creators.co/@GreenRanger/4139409) that positioning would be focus of the new expansion, but that turned out to be unfounded. Triclass cards became the new mechanic, flush with 9 cards being shared across classes. The Grimy Goons employ a new mechanic of buffing minions or weapons in the hand, while the Kabal brings more cards that push singleton decks aside from Reno Jackson. Many thought that the Jade Lotus gang would stress an emphasis on mana manipulation, given the similarities binding Druids, Rogues, and Shamans. But the loosely bound Jade Lotus gang wound up sharing the new Jade Golem mechanic.
Jade Golems: An Explanation
Jade Golems are vanilla minions that are summoned to the field, as an add-on to another card with the mechanic. The first Jade Golem starts out as a 1/1, and each additional Jade Golem summoned with add +1/+1 to the last Jade Golem summoned.
It appears that Jade Golems go up to a level 30 30/30.
Valuation of Jade Golems
Below is a table showing the stats of the first 10 Jade Golems, and their approximate mana worth. The mana calculations are made comparing the Jade Golem statlines to currently existing vanilla minions like River Crocolisk and Chillwind Yeti. It is noteworthy that no vanilla 9-drop currently exists, but a 9/9 or any vanilla 18 point minion should be worth 9 mana, given the benchmarks for vanilla 8 (Eldritch Horror) and vanilla 10-drops (Faceless Behemoth).
Jade Spirit – 4 mana 2/3 + 1 Jade Golem
Jade Spirit is a River Crocolisk that costs 4. Hence, it costs 2 mana to summon this Jade Golem.
Aya Blackpaw – 6 mana 5/3 + 2 Jade Golems
The leader of the Jade Lotus has an underwhelming 5/3 body, which costs about 3.5 mana. The ability to summon 2 Jade Golems across the -2.5 anti-tempo makes each of her Jade Golems cost 1.25 mana.
Jade Blossom – 3 mana Wild Growth + 1 Jade Golem
Jade Blossom is simply a Wild Growth (+ empty mana crystal) that costs 1 more than it should, so the Jade Golem here clearly costs 1 mana.
Jade Behemoth – 6 mana 3/6 Taunt + 1 Jade Golem
The 3/6 Taunt is a unique distribution, but should cost 4.5 mana, as it is just a tad better than Tazdingo. Hence, this Jade Golem costs 1.5 mana.
Jade Idol – 1 mana Reshuffle 3 into deck or + 1 Jade Golem
Jade Idol is easily a staple of any future Jade Druid deck, as it allows the deck to proliferate to an infinite number of Jade Golems to be summoned. At most, this card will only cost 1 mana for the first Jade Golem to be summoned, and be worth playing for Jade Golem #2.
Jade Swarmer – 2 mana 1/1 Stealth + 1 Jade Golem
A 1/1 Stealth is worth less than 1 mana, but the Stealth actually has value, as it allows a Jade Golem deathrattle to trigger later. I’d say this overall package is worth 1 mana, so the Jade Golem costs 1.
Jade Shuriken – 2 mana 2 dmg + 1 Jade Golem
Jade Shuriken hits like Arcane Shot, so the Jade Golem costs 1. This noticeably has to be played as a Combo for the Jade Golem, so it isn’t guaranteed on every play.
Jade Lightning – 4 mana 4 dmg + 1 Jade Golem
Direct damage spells that do 3 damage typically cost 2 mana, with things like Quick Shot, Frostbolt, Lightning Bolt, and an average Eviscerate. Wild Shaman spell, Crackle, averages 4.5 damage with a cost of 2 + 1 Overload. As such, Jade Lightning is overcosted about 1.5 mana.
Jade Chieftain – 7 mana 5/5 + 1 Jade Golem with Taunt
Taunt is a worth a point, no matter who gets it. So the Chieftain is sorta like a 5/6 or a 6/5, meaning it costs 5, and the Jade Golem is a costly 2 mana.
Stormforged Axe is a Shaman weapon that costs the same but is a 2/3. So if the Jade Claw makes the 2nd Jade Golem, it breaks even with Stormforged Axe. Let’s just say this makes a Jade Golem that costs .5 mana.
Example of Jade Golem Usage
Let’s say you are building a Jade Rogue deck. You run 2x Jade Swarmer, 2x Jade Shuriken, 2x Jade Spirit, and an Aya Blackpaw for max Jade. The Jade Shuriken can only be used once unless it is duplicated by a Thistle Tea. You can run 2x Shadowstep and 2x Gadgetzan Ferryman to take advantage of Jade Battlecries in Jade Spirit and Aya Blackpaw. Further, you can run 2x Unearthed Raptor for the Jade Deathrattles. This equals 14 Jade Golems. Jade Swarmer is about 1 mana anti-tempo, and Jade Shuriken is a little less. Jade Spirit costs 2 extra, and Aya Blackpaw about 2.5 mana. But 14 Jade Golems is over 100 points worth of stuff. This is even before you throw in Brann Bronzebeard for more Jade Golems. This early overpay seems to be well-worth the massive mana gain in Jade Golems in the late game. The question is striking the balance between having deck staples versus making a massive Jade Golem army.
I played a Druid deck over the course of 2 days, and got my first 12-win run with the class, and my 10th Lightforge overall. Fittingly, I’ve been using The Lightforge Tierlist for drafting lately (thanks ADWCTA/Merps), given some recent struggles.
This deck is weird in that it had no 5-mana cards at all. There is a heavy presence of 2-4 drops, and good amount of late game. See the Addled Grizzly? That was actually Pick #1, and I picked it over Knife Juggler. Seems crazy, but Addled Grizzly is a card I am well-fond of and know how to use.
Two drop consistency
Crazed Alchemist isn’t a true 2-drop, more of a gadget tool. Besides the Alch, there are 8 true 2-drops, which is more than enough to cover my poor mulligan choices. And the 2-drops I drafted are pretty good themselves. Anodized Robo Cub with it’s taunt and choose one ability is as good as it gets in the 2-hole.
The 3-4 drops in this deck did a lot of work. 2 Chillwind Yetis, Ogre Brute, and Eydis Darkbane provided the meat for efficient board trading. Addled Grizzly and Flesheating Ghoul served as win-more tools. 2 Cult Masters helped me draw my way to victory in some games. When I had Innervate, I opted to play a 3-drop or 4-drop early.
Kodorider is a bit of a trump card to force concedes, though it was played on Turn 8 once for trading. 2 North Sea Krakens provided huge value as a Turn 9 play. Ironbark Protector was great against aggressive boards. Boulderfist Ogre was a useful fat guy. Stormwind Champ great as always. Moonglade Portal provided me some useful 6-drops, including Sylvanas in my 11-2 game, key to survival against 2 Frothing Berserkers.
North Sea Kraken and Swipe have use as board clears, but were often used to go face in this run. Besides that, Stormwind Champion and Addled Grizzly provided minion buffs for extra damage. Addled Grizzly was MVP in some games.
Taunts galore, with 6 taunts in this game. The 4 2-drop taunts were key for protecting my early game board, while Ironbark helped in games where I was behind, or facing lethal. Moonglade Portal was surprisingly useful for the 6 heals.
No cards provided instant draw, but the 2 Cult Masters outright won me games when I had the board. The constant cycling of board trading and card draw is one of the greatest feelings of dominance when playing arena.
I guess Swipe counts, but I did not really use it for removal in this run.
Naturalize is the only hard removal. Though I am hesitant to give my opponent cards, I used Naturalize in a non-greedy fashion, in junctures to gain tempo advantage the board, or just on reads when I felt the opponent had no other good minions.
Swipe was the only board clear, but I don’t think I used the function to much success. I Swiped face once to clear 2 1-health minions. Eydis Darkbane had a spare part trigger once to injure a minion.
The main synergy combo in this deck is Haunted Creeper + Addled Grizzly, which forces the creation of 2 2/2 Spectral Spiders. Tinkertown Technician was very good with the 2 Anodized Robo Cubs. Taunts have inherent synergy with Cult Master and Addled Grizzly.
Coming into this game, Druid was my 7th best class (or 3rd worse). My draft was helped vastly by the recent banlist, which helped weed out bad cards. Every card I drafted was at least average, and I made it work with some synergy. Though I had a Swipe, I mostly won my games through minion trading, or using my hero power. With my Rogue struggles since the banlist, it makes sense that Druid would be a good class to pick, given the similar hero power. Now I have 3 classes left to get 12-wins with, Warrior, Priest, and Mage. Frankly, I’ll be happy with 12 in any class nowadays.
I’m pretty sure Druid is my least-played class in Hearthstone, as it is a level 38 or 39 for me. It has always sat in the bottom three in my Arena classes, and I presumably only play Rogue in constructed. After 3 consecutive Druid Arena runs, it is now my 6th best class, edging out Hunter, and pushing Warlock for 5th best class. What gives? It turns out I had one card present in all three Arena runs: Addled Grizzly.
Addled Grizzly looks like crap. It is a 3-mana 2/2, which gives a +1/+1 buff to any minions summoned, while it is on the board. It is a rated a 34 on the Lightforge Tierlist, and a 50 on the HearthArena Tierlist. Hafu did like the card upon first glance in her card review. It is also rated “average” in Hearthstone Pro Players.
Flavor-wise, it is a bear that talks with a goofy voice. This might be confusing for people unfamiliar with Warcraft, but it is a shapeshifted Druid, who is likely talking in Night Elf form. So we’ve got a bear talking, but it’s really when he’s a Night Elf or something. And he doesn’t know where he is or what he’s attacking. Addled means confused, and is usually used in conjunction with drugs (i.e. pot-addled).
Valuation and Revelation
2/2 is like 1.5 mana worth of stats, so this is an anti-tempo play of 1.5 mana. The closest relative of this card is Shattered Sun Cleric, which grants the same buff, with Liadrin being a 2-drop body (3/2). This means the +1/+1 buff is worth about 1 mana. So you need to buff 2 minions for Addled Grizzly to be worth playing.
Addled Grizzly will never be a great card because of the described conditional effect. It must buff 2 things to be worth playing. This will always hold it back.
I admittedly picked Addled Grizzly in the first choice because the other options were really bad cards. I have been forever changed as a result of this happenstance.
Taunts are the top priority when you have Addled Grizzly. They just become better for the rest of the draft and help protect the Grizzly.
AG + Anodized Robo Cub = 2/2 + 4/3 or 3/4
AG + Annoy-o-Tron = 2/2 + 2/3 (divine shield)
AG + Squirming Tentacle = 2/2 + 3/5
AG + Sen’jin Shieldmasta = 2/2 + 4/6
AG + Evil Heckler = 2/2 + 6/5
AG + Psych-o-Tron = 2/2 + 4/5 (divine shield)
AG + Bear Form = 2/2 + 5/7
AG + Sunwalker = 2/2 + 5/6 (divine shield)
AG + Bog Creeper = 2/2 + 7/9
Charges get quite a bit of value from Addled Grizzly, as a +1/+1 on a charge is likely worth more than 1-mana, given that charge minions are rather under-stated. Chargers have lots of utility, as they could protect the bear, clear a big minion, or just push face damage.
AG + Sabertooth Tiger/Bluegill Warrior = 2/2 + 3/2
AG + Argent Horserider = 2/2 + 3/2 (divine shield)
AG + Wolfrider = 2/2 + 4/2
AG + Cat Form = 2/2 + 5/5
AG + Argent Commander = 2/2 + 5/3 (divine shield)
Tokens get an instant buff from Addled Grizzly, which makes them the clear value play, in getting as many things out on the board, with more power.
AG + Living Roots = 2/2 + 2/2 + 2/2
AG + Bilefin Tidehunter = 2/2 + 3/2 + 2/2
AG + Razorfen Hunter = 2/2 + 3/4 + 2/2
AG + Mire Keeper = 2/2 + 4/4 + 3/3
AG + Silver Hand Knight = 2/2 + 5/5 + 3/3
Increased offering rate – Addled Grizzly shows up a lot in the Arena because it is an Old Gods Druid Rare. First of all, there is an increased offering rate for Old Gods cards. Secondly, because of Klaxxi Amber-Weaver not being present, Addled Grizzly and Mire Keeper get an increased offering rate. So this card will be around often for a rare pick.
Deathrattle summons – It provides buffs to anything that comes out of deathrattle as well. So there is extra synergy with Haunted Creeper, Nerubian Egg, Infested Tauren, Piloted Shredder, etc.
Beast synergy – Gets buffs from Mark of Y’Sharrj and Wildwalker.
Scarab target – Rather high chance of discovery from Jeweled Scarab.
Not a soft taunt – A lot of people don’t see Addled Grizzly as dangerous. They see the 2/2 or the 34 tierscore and ignore it. It has inherent protection for being an unknown quantity! Smart players would kill it when they have the chance.
I’ve been harping on Twitter for a few days, but I’m gonna say it. Addled Grizzly is average in the Arena but has tremendous upside. I’m picking it over lackluster fillers like 3-mana 4/3 rare guys.
It is still not worth picking over really good picks. Mire Keeper still might be better as well.
It is not a 3-drop at all. Best used in the late game. Never play it for tempo, unless you are facing lethal.
The value just gushes out as long as it stays on the board. Bait out removals and AoEs. Play Addled Grizzly with taunts. Reap rewards.