Patch 23.2.2 is finally live and, as promised, we received balance changes regarding the Standard format. While we don't have to be surprised that we got buffs on top of nerfs (we knew it all along), what really amazes us is that Team 5 went in hard, delivering a total of 20 (!) balance changes spread throughout multiple classes - incredible job.
In case you missed them, here are all the card changes that are already live. Let's start with the 3 nerfs:
- Drek'Thar - Now summons just 1 minion from your deck (down from 2).
- Multi-Strike - Cost is now 2 mana (up from 1).
- Dragonbane Shot - Cost is now 3 mana (up from 2).
Here are all the 17 buffs:
- Demon Hunter
In this article we're going to go through each of the three nerfs, while we'll focus on the 17 buffs at a later time. Our first impression is that Team 5 seems to have nerfed what needed to be nerfed: there is the argument that Control Warrior should have been brought down a peg as well, but we cannot really complain - the devs hit the right nails and freed the meta from their tyrants.
Preliminary to this patch, we wrote a nerf prediction article, listing all the cards we thought were worthy of consideration by Team 5: how well did we do?
Now summons just 1 minion from your deck (down from 2).
Long story short, now Drek'Thar's overall impact on the board will be basically halved, with the deckbuilding restriction remaining unchanged. Same functionality but definitely less unfairness: you'll be less likely to win games on the spot, and from now on decks will actually have to think twice whether they should run Drek'Thar and give up all 4+ Cost minions or not.
We expect Questline Hunter to stop running it, possibly shifting towards other builds, although the nerf to Dragonbane Shot (about which we'll talk about in a bit) might change the deck's plans even further. On the other hand, Aggro DH might still experiment with it, but it's clear that it's going to cause much less of a swing turn, therefore reducing the archetype's winrate by a couple points.
On a side note, we can see Drek'Thar's nerf as an indirect buff to all the 4+ Cost minions, as right now they'll become more valuable: think about Jace Darkweaver for Fel DH or Barak Kodobane for Questline Hunter!
Cost is now 2 mana (up from 1).
1 mana Multi-Strike was just too good, especially when combined with all the attack-related synergies Demon Hunter has at its disposal. This spell allowed players to negate their opponents' early games with much ease and little expense, therefore bringing a lot of efficiency on the table.
To be fair, we do not think that nerfing Multi-Strike to 2 mana will make it unplayable: sure, Avalon's Odd Demon Hunter is not going to like it, but the spell still has its functionality unchanged, and the Fel Spell School holds potential for Jace Darkweaver's swing turn.
You may want to disenchant all copies of Multi-Strike you own, but we are sure you'll eventually recraft two copies of it.
Cost is now 3 mana (up from 2).
Dragonbane Shot could've represented a form of board clear for slower Hunter strategies: sure, it would've been rather expensive, but the potential flexibility suited Rexxar's identity incredibly well. Too bad though, because it was printed in the same Standard rotation of Defend the Dwarven District, and therefore a good and perfectly normal card has to pay for the sins of a Stormwind Questline.
Regarding the synergy between this spells and Defend the Dwarven District, the impact of a +1 in cost is going to be huge: not particularly for the first time you cast Dragonbane Shot, but in case you want to do it multiple times in a single turn. Let's turn this thought into numbers.
Before the patch, if you wanted to cast two Shots, you would've needed 4 mana: 4 mana deal 4; right now, you'll need 6 mana, meaning that Defend the Dwarven District's progression will feel the hit, taking more time for players to get their hands on Tavish, Master Marksman.
Less board clears, less procs for the same amount of mana and therefore more time for Raza Hunter to go online: this is an absolute win. In the end, we understand that some players wanted Team 5 to go harder on Questline Hunter's nerf, but we stand loyal to the idea that changes should not be drastic - one step at time is fine, and the devs are on the same page.
What do you think about these nerfs? Are there any other cards you would've liked to see toned down? Let us know in the comments below!