Hearthstone Patch 17.2.1 went live on Monday, and it brings to the table 12 (!) different balance changes.
In particular, this is the third patch in a row and within a month to regard Demon Hunter, but that's not all - this time we also got a good set of buffs.
Let's take a look at each nerf and buff and see what they'll bring for the game.
Cost reduced from 2 to 1; attack reduced from 2 to 1.
It will probably take more for Paladin to be the best class in the meta, but this buff certainly helps: in the end, Uther sits at the bottom of the food chain with Thrall (see below), so all the help is welcome. After Libram of Justice, another AoO’s Libram card gets buffed. What makes this change remarkable is not the minion by itself, but rather what it represents for Paladin right now: the class misses an opening drop, and this is a 1/3 unit (great statline) that can create an impressive power curve with turn 2 Hand of A'dal (one of the best cards of the last set) into turn 3 Bronze Explorer or Dragonrider Talritha.
The big reduction of Libram spells still rotates around Aldor Truthseeker, but at least now the deck will improve its winrate by a couple of percentages. Nice buff overall.
Imagine if Crystology were still in Standard…
Cost reduced from 5 to 4. Attack increased from 4 to 5.
Wait, two cards together? Why? Because both these buffs are flawed in the same way: pre-change Torrent and Shattered Rumbler were not terrible cards, but the problem is that Shaman (especially Control Shaman) lacks a game plan or, if we can make it even clearer, a Shudderwock type of card, a big payoff which should be surrounded by good cards. Unfortunately, right now Thrall only has the latter. Maybe the meta will slow down a bit and maybe some sort of Galakrond, the Tempest/Boggspine Knuckles list will steal a place in the high tiers, but unfortunately these cards don’t help any specific archetypes to come to light. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate these changes, but they're not particularly flashy or anything. At least not as much as the next one.
Health increased from 3 to 5.
Let's be honest with ourselves: many people have even questioned that its effect was worth of a Legendary. The 3 health statline on a 6-drop was just disrespectful. Now that it has decent stats for the cost and an effect that can be easily exploited in an aggro/token meta like this one, I see The Lurker Below being a staple in any Shaman list that isn't pure aggro. One of the best changes of the whole set.
P.S.: Kibler should be quite happy right now, since he crafted a golden version of this bad boy in the first week of the expansion.
Health decreased from 7 to 5.
One of the most hated cards in Standard finally takes a hit. Many people will cry tears of joy, many others tears of sadness.
The effect (which is the good part, together with the Demon tag, exploitable with Raging Felscreamer) is still there and can still close games, but this new version has a lot less resilience. There are actually quite a few ways to deal 5 damage from scratch: take Siamat for example, which could be a perfect answer on curve; but even Bloodboil Brute (another nerfed card), Illidan's Metamorphosis itself and Skill Command.
As a side note, Apexis Blast is perfect board clear plus board presence. No Minion Mage is trash right now, but one can dream...
Attack decreased from 2 to 1.
The resemblance to Sludge Slurper's nerf is blatant: the devs wanted to weaken a card you'd have otherwise run in every single Demon Hunter list with no downside. 1 mana cycle for 1 is amazing, even more if you manage to use it to sneak in some cheap damage.
Again, the card's function is still the same, but now Illidan will have to find that missing damage somewhere else, which will mean longer games and probably a lower winrate for the class.
Health decreased from 5 to 4.
If Crimson Sigil Runner's nerf resembles the one given to Sludge Slurper, then this one reminds everyone of EVIL Miscreant; too much health for an early game value generator that can easily snowball. The effect is still there, but from now on you'll be less confident with just coining Hanar on 1 if your opponent has a minion on board.
What does all this mean? The card will become a bit more clunky and slower, which appears to be the devs’ ultimate goal. Well done.
The minion returned to hand costs (1) more instead of (2).
No more unplayable Dragonqueen Alexstraszas, am I right folks? Since its release, everyone knew that a targetable Freezing Trap on a stick would have been pretty good. That was the case. Galakrond Rogue does too many things and all of them pretty damn well.
The card is still ok, but now its effect won't make the opponent minion completely unplayable most of the times (I'm not talking about mana cost, but rather "should I spend 2 more mana for this body?": a question whose answer is usually no). Moreover, someone noted that now even bouncing back your own minions if needed is a fringe opportunity players should take in consideration.
Buff effect decreased from +2/+2 to +2/+1.
For this one I'll take Vicious Syndicate's last meta report's words: "Not much to say about Zoo Warlock. We’re genuinely worried about this deck becoming a top contender in the case Demon Hunter and Warrior ever get nerfed. [...] We’ll be surprised if Imprisoned Scrap Imp isn’t nerfed within the next 2 years." After a couple of hours, the nerf announcement. Man they're so good at their job.
Attack decreased from 6 to 5.
Crazy consistent with Risky Skipper, a minion that many wanted to see on this list but that will have to put up with until further (and hypothetical) patch notes. The card (like most on this list and generally in the last rounds of nerfs), doesn't change what it does, but it just does it slightly worse. 5 damage still trades into a lot of targets in this meta (take nerfed Priestess of Fury if it will still be playable), but something had to be done about Warrior.
Stats reduced from 3/3 to 2/2.
Quite confused on this one. The good part is clearly the effect: wouldn't a mana cost nerf have been better?
We're not (yet) game designers, so we don't know (yet) all the answers, but this is the same principle applied to Crimson Sigil Runner. Even though Bloodsworn Mercenary is often used as a finisher together with Kor'kron Elite, it's not strange to see her played for tempo or on a Rampaged Armorsmith for extra armor; from now on Garrosh will have access to 1 less damage to the opponent's face for every attack, and that (paired with Bloodboil Brute's nerf) may slow down Enrage Warrior a bit. Or at least that is the hope.
Buff reduced from +3/+3 to +2/+2.
Some days ago, someone posted on reddit a picture comparing this spell to Paladin's Call to Adventure; while each class has its own strengths and weaknesses and therefore should have cards that to do a certain thing better than all the others, the user was not completely wrong.
Hunter is in a pretty remarkable shape right now: both Highlander and Aggro/Dragon are top tier lists, and if Rexxar's contenders (namely Demon Hunter and Warrior) are weakened, then it's 1 class vs the other 9 all over again. Scavenger's Ingenuity into Zixor, Apex Predator or Diving Gryphon is insane tempo and, probably, the devs think it is too much for the upcoming meta.
Plus the card is braindead and should be nerfed to the ground (Blizz I have a golden copy: please give me my dust).
What do you think of these nerfs? Did you want some other changes?