Patch 21.6 (check here for the full notes) is going to be live on Tuesday, and with it lots of stuff will come to the tavern. For this article, we'll focus on the huge batch of changes aimed at addressing some problematic Passive Treasures and enhancing some underwhelming ones (24 in total, plus the ones moved from tier 2 to tier 1).

While we leave the specific implications for later, there are some general conclusions we can draw from this set of changes:

  • Mana cheat Passives have been drastically reduced in both quantity and quality.
  • The less powerful Passives have been either removed or buffed.
  • We can expect the Tier 1 Passive pool to be a lot more appealing and with a lot more good picks to get offered.
  • Battlecry decks are back, but won't be as oppressive and popular as they were months ago.
  • Spell Schools Passives received a remarkable boost.

As a last note before our analysis, remember that for the first time in Duels history, Patch 21.6 will reset any pending run, meaning that if you don't finish your run you will be compensated with the rewards of your wins and a Tavern Ticket to spend when the patch will go live. For this reason, we advise you to leave an unfinished Heroic run with 2 losses!

Ever-Changing Elixir


Now transforms the random friendly minion into one that costs 2 more (up from 1).

Ever-Changing Elixir was already a somewhat acceptable pick in some specific decks, even though there were almost always better choices. With this buff, we expect to see this Passive way more frequently, as the snowball potential you'll be able to generate in the first few turns will definitely make it a threat to deal with at all costs.

Decks like Token Harvest Time! Druid, Pirate Bruising Warrior and possibly Frost Shards Mage are going to be looking forward to this.

Pillage the Fallen


The equipped weapon now has +1 Attack (up from not having a buff at all).

We would've liked to see Pillage the Fallen turned into something like the new Suckerhook: the equipped weapon could one that costs 1 more, and that would give a slow but remarkable progression of power throughout the run, since sticking to a low cost pool of weapons is usually very underwhelming, which doesn't make you want to pick this Passive unless you have other reasons to do so (for example, The Demon Seed in Diablo).

The +1 Attack bonus is definitely something to keep in mind, but we dare to say that this new version of Pillage the Fallen isn't going to be tier 0 levels of good.

All Shall Serve


No longer deals 1 self-damage whenever a Demon dies.

This should've probably been All Shall Serve's effect to begin with, so we consider this buff as something due: now it's more or less on par with Starving. The self-damage was flavorful, but in no way necessary, given that the card draw effect is tied to Demons only.

Now Demon-heavy decks like Soulcial Studies Warlock will have a reliable source of card draw. Sure, the danger of self-milling and self-fatiguing is still there, but at least All Shall Serve is now a lot more appealing.



The +1/+1 buff is now given to two minions in your hand (from +1/+2 to all minions on your side of the board).

Wow: we've gone from an underwhelming and rather useless Passive to an incredibly good one. Let's remember that this is not the first change that Dragonblood has received. It originally gave +1/+1 to all minions on your side of the field, and while the buff was later increased to +1/+2, it didn't change the Passive's low powerlevel.

Now that Dragonblood targets minions in your hand, you can far more easily set up winning strategies: while you keep dealing chip damage to your opponent, you'll be able to grow the threats in your hand for later value.

We'd be really surprised to not see any deck taking advantage of this change. While Dragon Priest is very likely to consider this version of Dragonblood whenever something better (like Dragon Affinity) doesn't get offered, we'd be amused to see something like Dragon Handbuff Paladin to come up.

The Floor is Lava


Now gives the played minion +2 Attack (up from +1).

Honestly, we're still not sold about The Floor is Lava: sure, it now looks more appealing than it was before, but you still do not want to damage your own minions in order to give them more Attack, as they will be more fragile and therefore easier to kill off, just like a glass cannon. In the end, if you really want to buff up your stuff, you can either go handbuff or board buff.

Grommash’s Armguards


Along with the weapon discount, now also draws one at the start of the game.

Together with Dragonblood, another tier 1 Passive that goes from being forgettable to potentially very good. While the discount is a very slight bonus, combining it with a start-of-game tutor draw makes it much more appealing, especially in decks that run few weapons, or maybe just one.

It goes without saying that Big Paladin will love to have Royal Greatsword costing 4 and always being in the starting hand. Scary stuff.

Mending Pools


Now restores 2 Health to all friendly characters (from just your hero).

We can basically see the new Mending Pools as the Nature version of Invigorating Light, but while the latter gives 1 Health points, the former restores 2.

Pre-buff Mending Pools' effect was very limited and underwhelming, but now it allows you to keep the board you have built and grants you more resilience. A very good change.

Freeze Solid


Damage dealt to Frozen enemy characters, including the hero, is now doubled (instead of destroying Frozen minions).

Another buff that can potentially become very, very scary. Doubling the damage output is not something irrelevant, especially since Mage (because this is basically a Mage Passive) has tools like Water Elemental and Frostbolt, and can follow up the Freeze effect with spell or minion damage. A particularly amusing combo is Frostbolt into Mordresh Fire Eye for a 2 card 23 damage, which is juicy.

Now Freeze decks have not one, but two very good Passives, given that Arctic Armor is another good tool, but for survivability instead of burst.

Firekeeper’s Idol


Now also adds a Flame Elemental to your hand.

Summoning just a 1/2 after casting a Fire spell is a rather underwhelming effect, but topping it with a Flame Elemental added to your hand makes Firekeeper's Idol more appealing, since it grants you synergy with Elemental chains or possible Meek Mastery buffs, which will all result in more board pressure and overall power.

Invigorating Light


Now gives +1 Health to all friendly characters (instead of just friendly minions).

As we said before, the Holy version of Mending Pools, with less Health points given but permanent, as you'll be able to heal them back after receiving damage.

What's interesting is that this version of Invigorating Light allows you to increase your hero's starting health, meaning that you'll be able to get beyond the life total you started the match with. Now that's a way to dampen Mind Tether Priest's dominance in the early games.

Inspiring Presence


The discount after you play a Legendary minion is now 2 mana (up from 1).

Inspiring Presence was already a decent tier 1 Passive, but the 1 mana discount was just too thin to matter in non-Legendary-heavy decks. Increasing the discount to 2 mana not only will make this Passive more impactful overall, but will also increase the decks interested in picking it.

Hagatha’s Embrace


It now gives +1/+1 to two minions in your hand (up from one).

+1/+1 to a single minion was just too slim of an upside to be relevant in a world where every neutral unit gets +1/+1 (Meek Mastery) or where every Fire spell cast deal 2 damage to all enemies (Flame Waves).

Doubling the buff effect will definitely increase Hagatha's Embrace's power as well as its appeal in the eyes of the players, who will be more likely to pick it over not-so-synergistic options.

Endurance Training


Taunt minions now cannot cost less than 2 (up from 1).

A few months ago, we were quite happy to see some love towards the 'Taunt' Passives: Hold the Line and Endurance Training were previously buffed and gave a few decks another potential tool to build around.

However, it appears that a 3 mana discount was a bit too much without a strong restriction, as it allowed you to play Taunts way too early than intended, especially in combination with other discount tools like Invigorating Bloom (because, let's be honest, Druid is one of the few classes that really enjoyed going all-in on Taunts). This one feels a lot like a slight but preventive nerf rather than deserved one, and we have faith in what Team 5 is doing.

Orb of Revelation


Now your spells' cost cannot be reduced below 2 (up from 1).

Another change aimed at reducing the mana cheat options that Duels had available prior to patch 21.6. Capping the discount effect to 2 mana will make it so your spells will have less chances to be reduced to 0 by other sources like Radiant Elemental and therefore to cause bad experience. We like it.

Corrupted Felstone


The +2/+2 buff now affects the left- and right-most minions in your hand (from +3/+2 to a random one).

You see, the current way they are, Fel decks (and namely Fel Demon Hunter decks) are spell-focused, and run little to no minions at all. Even by increasing the buff effect, you still have no reason to pick this Passive. Things may change in the future though.

Eerie Stone


The copy of the minion added to your hand now also costs 2 less.

Getting a discount on top of value generation cannot be bad, so this buff turns an already decent Passive into a rather intriguing one. Warlock and Priest, the two classes focused on the Shadow Spell School, will be happy to have their hands filled with discounted minions of their opponents.

Really, nothing much to say other than that it's a straight up improvement that is bound to make Eerie Stone much more relevant from now on.

From the Swamp


Bloated Zombie's stats are now 1/1 (down from 1/3); move to Passive pool 1 (down from pool 2).

If this were just a straight up nerf, we'd be really impressed about it: From the Swamp was not a problematic Passive in the previous meta; sure, it could lead to some silly scenarios with the right synergies, but there were far more negative interactions than this one.

However, the fact that this Passive will be moved to pool 1 changes a lot of things: if you see it from this point of view, the stats reduction to Bloated Zombie now feels a lot more justified.

All in all, what we get from this rework is that the previous iteration of From the Swamp was too strong for Passive pool 1 and too weak for Passive pool 2, hence the change.

Legendary Loot


Now you get to Discover the Legendary weapon you want, but it will be added to your hand (from random but immediately equipped).

Am I the only one to this that is a straight up nerf rather than a buff/rework? Sure, now you get to choose what Legendary weapon you'll get, but most of them are rather expensive and therefore, in average, you'll have to wait a lot of turns before getting value off Legendary Loot, which is not that impressive as you want your Passives to be impactful from the very beginning.

If we were to rework this specific Passive, we would've done it a la Guidance: letting the players choose what weapon equip from 3 is just too good, but if the choice is down to just two alternatives...well, seems reasonable to us. The chances to get two unimpactful picks would still be there, but at the same time you wouldn't have to rely on pure odds.

Edit: we just received confirmation from Ates 'Tabayrak' Bayrak, Hearthstone Developer, that the version of Legendary Loot showcased in the patch notes is incorrect - in fact, the Legendary weapon you Discover will be immediately equipped.

Quote From Tabayrak
@Avalon_OOC did a great breakdown of all the passive changes coming to Duels. But there is one thing I want to mention. Legendary Loot currently has incorrect wording. The weapon you Discover IS immediately equipped.

Deathly Death!


Reworked: after a friendly minion dies, now triggers the Deathrattle of a friendly minion.

Let's go straight to the point: this Passive has gone from being literally one of the worst to get to one of the best ones, if not the best one, for Deathrattle minions.

You can basically read as "After a friendly Deathrattle minion dies, trigger Death Games", which doesn't need us to explain how good it is, especially since it's not limited to once per turn.

All Together Now


Battlecry cards now cannot cost less than 2 mana (up from 1); returns to Passive pool 1 (down from 2).

For as much as some folks despised the previous Battlecry meta, we all have to admit that All Together Now in the tier 2 Passive pool was just out-of-place, if not straight up sad to see and get offered. Just like we'll say about other problematic Treasures that got temporarily moved up a tier in rarity, a long-term fix had to be found, and restricting even more the mana cheat potential looks like a good way to contain this Passive's powerlevel without letting it go rampant again.

Moreover, we are glad to see this iteration of All Together Now being back in there Passive pool 1, as many archetypes (if not entire classes) heavily relied on Battlecry synergy to stand a change against other competitors. We dare to say that Duels won't revert to the Battlecry meta we were forced in a couple months ago, but having these strategies back is nice.

Beware - Battlecry cards that already cost less than 2 mana because of their natural mana cost or because of other discount effects won't be capped at 2 mana, but will retain their cost.

Elixir of Vigor


The shuffled copies now cost 3 mana (up from 1); is now in Passive pool 2 (down from Ultra Rare 2).

A Passive really strong on paper, but so rare to obtain that it has been pretty much non-existent for its entire life in Duels. These changes aim to make it more popular while not creating a new meta tyrant. In fact, following the "anti-mana cheat" trend of this balance patch, the shuffled copies' cost will be preventively upped to 3 mana, so that Elixir of Vigor will be less likely to create low-cost degeneracy in combination with heavy cycle tools. Nice change.

Ooops, All Spells!


Now doesn't give you +2 Spell Damage; returns to Passive pool 2 (down from Ultra Rare 2).

This is how [Hearthstone Card (Ooops, all spells!) Not Found] should've been from the start. The +2 Spell Damage was just an unreasonable and unneeded overkill that made an arguably better Khadgar's Scrying Orb (already pretty damn good) even stronger.

We are glad to see this nerfed reworked Passive back into the non-Ultra Rare tier 2 pool, this time with less odds to destroy the game mode.

Meek Mastery


Neutral minions now cannot cost less than 2.

Pretty much like [Hearthstone Card (Ooops, all spells!) Not Found], Meek Mastery gave you not one, but two different bonuses without a cap, meaning that you were able to reduce your neutral units to 0 mana as well - all in all, a way better pre-nerf All Together Now that you could pick right after the first match.

We would've settled for Team 5 to either remove the mana cheat or the buff, but we find the discount cap as effective as our proposal. With this change, your opponents won't be able to choke you out of the game in the first few turns, since they'll need to wait a couple more turns to drop their discounted and buffed units, which will give you time to set up some sort of game plan.

Beware - Meek Mastery's functionality doesn't change with summoned units, as they do not technically have a minion cost: therefore, you'll still get the buff bonus without having to worry about potential issues with your Mana Crystals!

Note: the patch notes state that Meek Mastery will be moved from Passive pool 2 Ultra Rare to Passive pool 2, but the problem is that we've never knew the said Passive having moved to Ultra Rare to begin with.

Rally the Troops


The drawn card's cost now cannot be reduced below 2 mana; returns to Passive pool 2 (down from Ultra Rare 2).

It was clear that Rally the Troops to the Ultra Rare pool was just a temporary fix which was bound to be addressed eventually, and here's what Team 5 came up with.

With this change, RTT will still allow you to chain Battlecries turn after turn while thinning your deck, but at the same time you won't be able to play the drawn card as frequently as you were able to do in the past, meaning that it will take you more time to come down on the board, which is good.

To think that at the beginning Rally the Troops used to discount the drawn card by 5 whole mana...

Small Pouches Card Image Rhonin's Scrying Orb Card Image Caltrops Card Image Scattered Caltrops Card Image

Removed from their respective Passive pools.

Some quick words for each of these removed Passives.

Small Pouches - Replaced by the better Small Backpacks. If the latter didn't exist, Small Pouches would've been buffed.

Rhonin's Scrying Orb - Khadgar's Scrying Orb's ugly and rather underwhelming brother. Better to remove it and replace it in the future with something more unique and useful.

Scattered Caltrops and Caltrops - They both relied on the opponent's initiative in a game mode with a remarkable number of spell-based decks, which render this Passives totally useless. In the end, let's remember the fact that Passive Treasures should enhance your own deck, and not disrupt what your opponent's doing.

Small Backpacks Card Image

Reintroduced to Passive Pool 1.

See Small Pouches above.

Book of Wonders Card Image Cannibalism Card Image Starving Card Image

Moved to Passive pool 1 (down from pool 2).

We could break down to why all these Passives got moved from Passive pool 2 to pool 1, but we can just cut it to the point and say that they weren't good enough to stay there. The hope is that they'll find some place in their new home.

What do you think about these changes? Are there any others you would've liked to see? Let us know in the comments below.