A new Hearthstone patch will be pushed live soon and it will bring us a load of card changes. Team 5 looked at the current situation in Standard,and Wild, and decided to intervene with 8 different nerfs, split among severals classes and hitting various top-tier decks. In case you missed them, here are the changes:
- Il'gynoth - Cost is now 6 mana (Up from 4). Stats increased from 2/6 to 4/8.
- Kolkar Pack Runner - Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2). Stats increased from 2/3 to 3/4.
- Incanter's Flow - Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2).
- Conviction (Rank 1) - All ranks now cost 2 mana (Up from 1).
- Granite Forgeborn - Health is now 4 (Down from 5).
- Darkglare - Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2). Stats increased from 2/3 to 3/4.
- Flesh Giant - Cost is now 9 mana (Up from 8).
- Battleground Battlemaster - Cost is now 6 mana (Up from 5).
Why did these cards get nerfed? What implications will they bring to the table? If you're asking yourself these questions, keep reading, as we'll try to answer them by analyzing each nerf.
Disclaimer: even though Il'gynoth, Kolkar Pack Runner and Darkglare's changes could be considered "card reworks" rather than straight up nerfs, our opinion is that there has never been a card which has performed better than before after being 'reworked' into a higher mana cost (the only exception being Twin Slice) - be wary of those who say otherwise.
Cost is now 6 mana (Up from 4). Stats increased from 2/6 to 4/8.
Another change many players (including us) were hoping for, and we're glad the devs agreed with us. OTK Demon Hunter has been around for quite a while, but it was always defined as a high-skill-cap deck, since it required a lot of thought into planning your turns ahead and dealing with the tricky Outcast positioning issues. Sure, sometimes it all came down to "draw the good cards with Skull of Gul'dan", but it was still rather easy to mess things up.
However, the release of United in Stormwind's Final Showdown made things easier by a fat margin: you just had to complete the first two steps of your Questline to gain the discount effect needed to OTK your opponent, which is a lot less complicated than Skull of Gul'dan/Raging Felscreamer shenanigans.
Another reason this archetype deserved the change was its incredible flexibility: thanks to Felosophy, you were able to generate a remarkable number of Mo'args (2 more, unless Illidari Studies had other plans), and use them for healing yourself and/or clearing your opponent's threats - there was little you could do in order to consume your opponent's combo pieces, as the only irreplaceable one was Il'gynoth itself, hence why it got nerfed.
Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2). Stats increased from 2/3 to 3/4.
United in Stormwind's release didn't change Hunter at all: pretty much like in the Forged in the Barrens meta, its Face archetype has been the only viable deck, and the most surprising fact is that Aimed Shot was the only new card included. Add this to Face Hunter's high performance throughout all levels of play and you get an aggressive list with potential to lock up an entire format.
Kolkar Pack Runner costing 1 more mana means this unit will come down later, and therefore Hunter will no longer be able to keep control of the early board state as much as it can now. Pack Runner's effect is really good, but it requires you to play spells and, therefore, to spend mana alongside it: increasing its cost means that you'll have less mana to clear your opponent's board with, making it a lot more clunky and less effective overall.
Our opinion is that this is definitely the right call, and we're glad to see that Hunter will not be left unchecked.
Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2).
Probably one of the most obvious nerf targets, and a change that was definitely overdue. No Minion Mage has been a meme-tier deck throughout the entire Year of the Phoenix, but started getting insane in the early Forged in the Barrens meta, where the rotation of many bad (Mage, but also from other classes, since Deck of Lunacy transformed your spells into ones from any class) spells together with the release of strong class tools like Runed Orb and Refreshing Spring Water (nerfed from 4 to 5 mana in April) really pushed the deck over the top.
Back then, people were already asking for Incanter's Flow to be changed, but it ultimately didn't happen, possibly because Team 5 wanted to see Sorcerer's Gambit Quest Mage in action before going in with the nerf hammer. In the end, making your entire deck cost 1 mana less is too much for a 2-of card that costs just 2 mana (reminiscent of Prince Keleseth), and there was no way Jaina would've survived this balance patch unscathed.
All ranks now cost 2 mana (Up from 1).
Like Incanter's Flow, Conviction (Rank 1) is another card that should have been nerfed during the first month of the Forged in the Barrens meta, but Team 5 went after First Day of School and Sword of the Fallen first, and Hand of A'dal later. Basically a 1 mana Bloodlust, this Ranked spell has been an auto-include in pretty much any Standard Paladin since April, given Uther's ability to stick minions on board and this spell's impressive damage output, especially if played on turn 5 after the upgrade from rank 1 to rank 2.
Why did this card got nerfed just now? Two reasons:
- Handbuff Paladin - The ability to keep dumping larger and larger men on the board makes them less susceptible to be removed; Your chances to land a Conviction (Rank 2) at full potential has increased quite a bit.
- Battleground Battlemaster - If you want to learn more, you should definitely go to the Battlemaster's section, but we can short it up and say that 12 damage [(3x2)x2] out of almost nothing is pretty broken.
Health is now 4 (Down from 5).
When this unit got revealed, many players were really upset: if you're playing an Elemental-heavy Shaman list, you have no reason to not include Forgeborn in your deck, even more if you consider it has vanilla stats for its cost - in fact, we're talking about a Chillwind Yeti with an instant Emperor Thaurissan/Incanter's Flow proc for your Elementals.
While we were happy to see Elemental Shaman getting more support and traction (always better than Evolve Shaman...), we have to recognize that, being an already prominent build in the pre-patch meta, a nerf to all its contenders would've probably been too beneficial for Thrall.
Sure, Granite Forgeborn's functionality doesn't really change, but from now on you'll be able to jam fewer stats on the board, which is more relevant than you think, if you consider that Elemental Shaman is all about taking control of the table from the beginning of the game (Wailing Vapor, Kindling Elemental) to its end (Fire Elemental, Al'Akir the Windlord).
Cost is now 3 mana (Up from 2). Stats increased from 2/3 to 3/4.
A nerf target both Standard and Wild players can agree on. While in the former format Darkglare (which, as many of you remember, already received a nerf) Darkglare has caused problems in the last few weeks, in the latter it represents the cornerstone of one of the strongest and most unfair decks of all time.
Being able to gain (potentially) infinite mana while discounting other units (Flesh Giant, Molten Giant) or working towards The Demon Seed's completion was just too much. Not really much to say about this one, other than that we're thrilled to see it going down.
Eat shit Darkglare.
Cost is now 9 mana (Up from 8).
Some players came up with Flesh Giant as a nerf target, but we definitely didn't expect a cost increase by just 1 mana. After United in Storming, Standard Warlock started discounting Flesh Giant too fast than normal, and that caused many problems combined in different ways with Raise Dead, The Demon Seed, Battleground Battlemaster or all the above together.
As we already mentioned, we were surprised to see Flesh Giant going up by just 1 mana, we have to consider that Warlock won't be able to play its self-damaging tools as fast as before, because Darkglare has been hit as well. Nerfing Flesh Giant to 9 mana probably means that Team 5 wants to tone down the class by little steps, rather than just killing cards (and archetypes) in a single blow, and we do admire that effort.
Cost is now 6 mana (Up from 5).
Team 5 definitely has a thing for broken Neutral 5-Cost minions that affect adjacent units: first we got Mushroom power! and Giggling Inventor, now Battleground Battlemaster.
While we already explained the implications with Conviction (Rank 2) (see above), this card was so good that it took little for players to figure out ways to abuse it across multiple classes. For examples, pros figured out that the safest way to be sure to have 2 minion ready to get Windfury on curve was to start playing Stealth units: for this reason, SI:7 Skulker, Sneaky Delinquent and Burrowing Scorpid started seeing play all together.
But that's not all: even The Demon Seed Quest Warlock began including Battleground Battlemaster, because giving Windfury to your early Flesh Giants is too good to pass on.
A broken card with many broken interactions - bumping its mana cost to 6 was the right call.
What do you think about the changes? Are there any other cards you would've liked to see nerfed? Let us know in the comments below!