According to a survey last summer, just over one in four American men has six or more close friends. So as you can imagine, I was absolutely delighted to receive 75 new Buddies this week when the latest patch for Hearthstone dropped. Buddies are the new attraction in the Battlegrounds mode, where these units are earned over the course of a match. Each Hero has its own bespoke Buddy, and that Buddy has an ability designed to synergise with its Hero's expected game plan.
Having jammed a bunch of games already, I love my new Buddies (especially you, Mishmash), which have certainly freshened up the meta, though I suspect we're going to need another balance to nail down some powerful outliers.
Before that, there is another problem. Most players don't seem to understand how the Buddy Meter actually works. I know I didn't, beyond the general notion that it went up during combat. See, in order to acquire a Buddy, you must first fill the Buddy Meter (found on the bottom left of the screen) to the halfway mark. After that, you can earn two more copies of your Buddy by filling the meter completely, thereby enabling you to create a golden 'Triple' version, assuming you kept the first one around.
Matters are complicated by the fact that not all Buddies are created equal. As with other units, the Buddies have a star rating that reflects how powerful they are, ranging from 2-4. The higher the rating, the slower the meter fills. As to what actions actually fill the meter, unfortunately nowhere in the game tells you. All we've got to go on is this list tweeted by Blizzard.
Want to know how to fill your Buddy Meter and call out your Buddies? 🌡️Some ways you can fill the meter:🔸 Enter combat🔸 Deal damage to enemies🔸 Pop Divine Shields🔸 Win or tie a combat phase pic.twitter.com/tFy2PVSETWJanuary 26, 2022
My understanding is that the number of minions on your board will also affect how much Buddy energy is earned in a round, and that you will also receive a small amount passively even if nothing happens. However, neither leveling up your Tavern, nor buying and selling minions, will affect the Buddy Meter. Note too that the amount of energy you can earn is capped, so once you've received a certain amount during a round the Buddy Meter will close.
Not incredibly clear then, although I'm not sure it will end up mattering too much. Everything about Battlegrounds was baffling to me initially, having not been an Auto Chess guy, but you soon pick up how it works. No doubt the rate at which different Buddies drop, based on particular Heroes and board states, will become second nature before long.
What I will say is Buddies seem to have pushed the game towards a tempo rather than value-based meta. Which is to say that if you're too greedy with how you level up, you'll get clapped quickly by players who've maximised their stats early on. For now, the plan with most Buddies seems to be to get them down as early as possible to benefit from the power spike they bring.
Hearthstone grew a lot over the course of 2021, to the point that it now essentially encompasses multiple different game modes. To learn more about where things stand now, take a look at our deep dive into the state of Hearthstone in 2022.