Our Thoughts on Hearthstone's Upcoming Nerfs and Buff, Including Garrote and Arcanist Dawngrasp

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We're getting some card balance changes in Hearthstone next week! Team 5 looked at the current situation in Standard and decided to intervene with 3 different nerfs and 1 buff.

These are the changes:

As you might see, most of these changes aren't necessarily aimed at curbing certain archetypes' power levels, but their goal is to reduce the amount of non-games you're currently facing on ladder right now, being their relentless aggression or uninteractivene (yet maybe not extremely powerful) combos. If you want to know more about these changes and the impact they may have on the future meta, keep reading, as we'll analyze each of them.

Quote From GnomeSayin

Hello all,

We will be making some card changes in a patch going out early next week that we wanted to let you know about, to give players time to prepare for Masters Tour: Undercity, taking place from November 19-21. These are the cards that will be changing:

Razormane Battleguard

Old: 2 Attack, 3 Health  New: 2 Attack, 2 Health

Arcanist Dawngrasp (Mage Questline final reward)

Old: Battlecry: For the rest of the game, you have Spell Damage +3.  New: For the rest of the game, you have Spell Damage +2.


Old: Deal 2 damage to the enemy hero. Shuffle 3 Bleeds into your deck that deal 2 more when drawn.  New: Deal 2 damage to the enemy hero. Shuffle 2 Bleeds into your deck that deal 2 more when drawn.


Old: [Costs 2]  New: [Costs 1]

The first three cards will be eligible for the normal full-dust refund for two weeks following the patch. Renew, which will go up in power level, will not get a dust refund. Keep an eye out for Patch Notes early next week for dev comments on these balance changes and more.

Card Buffs

Renew Card Image

Cost is now 1 mana (down from 2).

Priest being the weakest class in Standard right now, Team 5 basically reverted one of the two nerfs that hit Anduin in late July (the other one being Apotheosis).

Now that Renew will cost 1 mana again, we can definitely expect the card to be a lot more manageable, as you'll be able to play it with more ease and it will take just one Palm Reading discount to set its cost to 0 mana, for basically a Regenerate with a Discover effect on top of it.

For what regards the impact on the meta of this change, we see Renew back to 1 mana as a way to help slow Priest decks to start on par with the other front-runners once the new expansion drops, rather than helping Anduin right now.

Card Nerfs

Razormane Battleguard Card Image

Now has 2 Health (down from 3).

If we were to choose one, this is probably the balance change aimed at toning down an archetype's power level. To be more precise, Token Druid was the best deck in the meta, and most of the times performing poorly against it is what dictated your success or failure. What made this archetype so consistently strong wasn't the Arbor Up finisher we've already seen many times in the past, but the ability to take the board and never leave it unless your opponent was able to provide an immediate and effective answer.

Razormane Battleguard looks like the biggest offender: when it was released back in Forged in the Barrens, most people understood its potential, and we all knew it was just a matter of time (and card pool) before someone would figure out a way to (ab)use it. Especially good if you're going second with The Coin, Battleguard's effect allowed you to immediately defend it by playing one of the many good 2 mana Taunts at Druid's disposal. You cannot remove it? Then prepare for another 0 mana Taunt, maybe paired with Oracle of Elune to set up a back-breaking Arbor Up finisher.

Lowering Razormane Battleguard's Health to 2 mana will make it a lot more susceptible to removal (First Flame, Backstab, Shadowform's Mind Spike, Touch of the Nathrezim) and will definitely decrease Token Druid's dominance. Will the card still see play? As long as the archetype itself will stick around, yes, but we count on Token Druid to be quite less popular from now on (and not just because of the "disenchant" effect).

Garrote Card Image

Now shuffles 2 Bleeds in your deck (down from 3).

We genuinely don't know if the card was conceived as an aggressive tool or as a combo finisher, but the fact is that Rogue's card draw and discount effects allowed for a little too many non-games. Sure, we're talking about a more powerful deck than Questline Mage, but the reasoning is the same: watching your opponent churning through their deck as you're nearing your (almost) inevitable loss.

People brought up the idea of making Bleeds not be affected by Spell Damage, but we think that a change like this would break the overall Cast When Drawn mechanic, which is something we're glad Team 5 decided to avoid.

Now, what's going to happen? Garrote Rogue will probably still be playable, but you'll have to find the third Bleed's damage somewhere else: Wicked Stab (Rank 2)? Sinister Strike? More Spell Damage? While the answer may vary, one thing's certain: executing your combo will be more difficult than it was until now, and therefore we expect the archetype's success and popularity to remarkably decrease until (and if) new solutions will be found. However, with the new expansion being so close, we highly doubt we'll have the time for it.

Sorcerer's Gambit Card Image Arcanist Dawngrasp Card Image

Dawngrasp's Battlecry now grants +2 Spell Damage (down from 3).

Deck of Lunacy, Refreshing Spring Water, Incanter's Flow and now Arcanist Dawngrasp. Even though we're talking about different strategies, they have one thing in common, as they all go by the name of No Minion Mage. People refer to Warlock as the 'cockroach' class, but this title should be given to Mage as well!

Since the Year of the Gryphon started, this archetype is hands down the one that has raised the most dissatisfaction across the Hearthstone community, not necessarily because it was always broken (although there were times when it was the undisputed best deck in the game), but rather because of players' feelings.

What makes Questline Mage that controversial of an archetype is the fact that, being filled with card draw and removal, it completely dominated the matchups against board-based strategies like Paladin, Questline Rogue and Hand Warlock, while it struggled a lot against the rest of the field (Celestial Druid, Pirate Warrior, Garrote Rogue). We're talking about a matchup spread not worthy of a top-tier deck, but its general game plan allowed you to kill (or be killed by) players that were still at full health or so, making this outcome quite insufferable.

Reducing Arcanist Dawngrasp's Spell Damage bonus from 3 to 2 will definitely make a dent. How? 1 less guaranteed Spell Damage means one less card to draw off Cram Session, as well as one less point of burst from your Fireballs as well as more time for Ignite to escalate out of control. This domino made of little pieces is definitely going to generate a butterfly effect that won't make Questline Mage disappear from the meta (in the end, maybe people play it because, let's admit it, it's fun, and not because it's broken), but it will remove all the doubts on its viability, as well as prepare the field for the next expansion.

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!

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  • IlBelTia's Avatar
    Wizard 435 321 Posts Joined 06/01/2019
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    I'm super happy with the nerf of Sorcerer's Gambit, not only because I found it and it's 1600 free dust, but mainly because quest mage is dumb as hell

  • Hydrafrog's Avatar
    Gul'dan 1630 2868 Posts Joined 05/28/2019
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    Questline Mage will feel an impact, but I don't think it will make that big of a change in the play rate.  The only real impact that it will feel is not necessarily being able to OTK once you drop Arcanist Dawngrasp.  You'll have to rely on the Ignite package or other spells you draw instead of a (possibly discounted) Fireball to reduce your opponent to meme status.

    Razormane Battleguard needed something to make Aggro Druid less of a pain. When you drop this guy and then draw into Encumbered Pack Mule and get to drop 2 taunters for only 2 mana, that's a pain.  Giving it one less life makes it a decent target for minimal removal.  Even Immolation Aura can neutralize the field a little better now.  I'm not saying that this nerf will kill it, but it certainly will slow it down enough to make you work for your field flooding. 

    Garrote Rogue will now have to work a little harder to lower your health before they go off.  WHICH will make the OTK less likely to happen.  What I have found with playing this deck is that you need to constantly put a little pressure on your opponent.  Otherwise you are relying WAY too heavily on getting your Garrote bleeds to draw them into death.

    Renew.... why?  IT was nerfed for being too overpowering at 1 mana and then it was discovered that with Palm Reading it didn't really impact that much.  I'm just confused I guess since they are nerfing aggro with this patch, and then buffing one of the two mostly control classes?  Next thing you know, they will buff The Demon Seed

    • AngryShuckie's Avatar
      1410 1408 Posts Joined 06/03/2019
      Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

      On the face of it Renew at 1 mana is actually fine, and honestly an appropriate power level for a class that is supposed to be good at both healing and card/value generation. It was only really hit to break the obnoxious cycle of cards that could endlessly generate each other, making for horrid gameplay where you never made any progress against the priest. However, questlines have given most classes more than enough inevitability to deal with that now, and next rotation Renew and Wandmaker will rotate out so it will be a non-issue regardless of what happens to the questlines (they'll probably stick around, but there's a fair case for cycling them early like Genn and Baku did).

      So it makes sense to revert the nerf, at least to me.

  • Caro's Avatar
    Alterac Academic 1675 1423 Posts Joined 03/12/2020
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    I feel these nerfs were meant for pre-Deadmines meta where they should've been live before deadmines even launched. Looking at the current meta on HSreplay, all these nerfs are gonna do is just make pirate warrior the only Tier S deck.

    • Aesan's Avatar
      Content Admin Shadow Rager 590 416 Posts Joined 11/22/2020
      Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

      Pirate Warrior is really nowhere near that superior. You get your Libram Paladins or Quest Shamans able to get in its way, and it may even struggle against any other similar decks rising up as a result of such nerfs. We don't expect Aggro Druid to just go away either. 

  • dapperdog's Avatar
    Dragon Scholar 1520 3423 Posts Joined 07/29/2019
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    The only thing accomplished by nerfing quest mage is essentially allowing players to dust the fking thing and therefore reducing its play rate, which in reality is the real problem with this deck.

    Hopefully it completely removes this deck from existence, although Im sure some form of spell mage will still come back one way or another. Ignite is still just too powerful to ignore, and honestly mage has some really good spells like Devolving Missiles that can usually turn the tide really quick.

    • YourPrivateNightmare's Avatar
      Skeleton 1765 3622 Posts Joined 03/25/2019
      Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

      I feel like you're drastically overexaggerating the power of Ignite (in Standard at least). As of now, Ignite is basically a slightly better Forgotten Torch that only works as insurance against super-control decks. Unless Sanctum Chandler somehow becomes meta I doubt Ignite Mage will be relevant in Standard.

      • Aesan's Avatar
        Content Admin Shadow Rager 590 416 Posts Joined 11/22/2020
        Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

        Ignite will remain as a very powerful option as long as there are ways to cycle through the deck quickly and consistently while not getting bursted down (weaker Druid and Rogue are just fine with Mage, after all). The nerf means slightly less powerful card draw post Arcanist Dawngrasp as well, so it's really going to depend on what's in store for this next expansion. 

      • dapperdog's Avatar
        Dragon Scholar 1520 3423 Posts Joined 07/29/2019
        Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

        Im actually looking past the current quest mage and more into how spell mage can utilize something like this. One of the main problems with spell mage has always been the limited damage, which requires Mask of C'Thun to be played just as a burn option. Now with the inevitability of ignite, there's more you can fit into the spell mage deck, which may or may not make it more flexible against decks that do well against quest mage, especially considering that without the quest there's simply more room for better cards than something like Ice Barrier.

        And of course we're heading towards the new expansion. Infinite cards like ignite are always on the brink of tearing the meta apart.

        • FortyDust's Avatar
          Pumpkin 1030 1484 Posts Joined 05/29/2019
          Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

          When it's not being played with a massive permanent spell damage buff, I actually think the infinite burn of Ignite is fine. It's super slow, but it's the only way a burn strategy even stands a chance against massive healing or armor. The heal deck is still favored because Ignite is so slow to ramp up, but at least that match-up becomes slightly less polarized.

          I think "fatigue the opponent" is one of the worst win conditions in Hearthstone, and I like that there's a counter.

    • KnivesOut's Avatar
      Faceless Rager 855 139 Posts Joined 06/25/2019
      Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

      I opened a golden Mage questline and have been hoping it gets nerfed for that reason and more

  • frmorrison's Avatar
    430 104 Posts Joined 05/28/2019
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    Good changes to mix up the meta

  • Kaptaintrips's Avatar
    350 270 Posts Joined 05/28/2019
    Posted 2 months, 1 week ago

    Feels good in wild. 


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