Yogg-Saron and More Hearthstone Cards are Being Nerfed

Blizzard announced another upcoming round of nerfs for several controversial Hearthstone cards.  The one archetype that will be taking the biggest hit is the Aggro Shaman build, easily the most controversial deck in the current meta, with Rockbiter Weapon and Tuskarr Totemic each taking a hit.  Rockbiter will have its mana cost raised from 1 to 2, while Tuskarr will only summon a totem from the Shaman’s hero power rather than any totem minion in the game.  Another common tool of aggression, Abusive Sergeant, will also be nerfed with his attack power reduced from 2 to 1.

Warrior will also be taking a couple of big hits.  Execute, the class’ top removal option, will have its cost raised from 1 to 2.  Charge, the linchpin of all of Warrior’s combo decks, is being seriously reworked.  It will no longer give a minion +2 attack and the minion it is used on will not be able to attack the enemy hero for that turn, but it will also have its cost reduced from 3 to 1 to compensate.

Finally, we have two of the most intimidating late-game cards falling under the nerf-hammer.  The powerful Hunter spell Call of the Wild will have its cost raised from 8 to 9.  The one card that has people’s attention the most is the legendary Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End.  Yogg has been infamous with competitive players as it can warp the course of any game by casting a variety of spells and potential kill either hero out of nowhere.  While the text on Yogg hasn’t made any apparent changes, the card has been nerfed as it will stop casting spells should it die in the middle of its own effect.  If you have any of these cards in your collection, hold off on disenchanting them until after the nerf hits as you’ll then get full dust refunds for them.  Blizzard hasn’t given an exact date for the nerfs, but they will come before the Last Call events in the Hearthstone Championship Tour.

What are your thoughts on the recent batch of nerfs for Hearthstone?  Which card are you going to miss playing with like you used to?  Which ones should Blizzard have in their crosshairs next?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone Guide: Defeating The Crone

The opera house has plenty of unique new challenges for the One Night in Karazhan adventure with its grand finale being a battle with the Wizard of Oz homage, The Crone.  Much like the fight with Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Mountain, The Crone’s hero power can kill you in one shot and the only thing stopping it is the survival of a specific minion.  In this case, it’s Dorothee who will stand on your side of the board and offer buffs to your minions.  All minions to the left of Dorothee will gain charge and all to her right will gain taunt.  These effects will immediately make almost any deck incredibly powerful and this will be one of the easier bosses on normal difficulty.

One quick route to victory is to simply build a deck of all your best taunt minions, place them all to the left of Dorothee, and just go for the face.  Only trade when it’s absolutely necessary to protect Dorothee and be sure to have a range of minions rather than simply going for a zoo deck as that can leave you vulnerable to the Abominations that The Crone has.  Keep in mind that The Crone has plenty of buffs like Blessing of Kings and Power of the Wild, so be prepared for those types of bursts.  Also, remember to change your deck for the encounter to Wild as all cards are legal against the bosses.

On heroic difficulty, things get a lot trickier as The Crone not only has 50 health, but is also putting you on an eight-turn timer.  On turn eight, The Crone is guaranteed to draw Twisting Nether and will use it for a  guaranteed kill on Dorothee and, by extension, you.  I played several matches to test it and she topdecked the card every time without fail.  It’s possible to buy yourself an extra turn with Loatheb or Counterspell, but the fact remains that you need to be able to bring The Crone down fast.

One of your best bets for bringing down the wicked witch is to build a Warlock deck with a focus on strong stat lines for low costs.  Cards like Duskboar and Ancient Watcher are generally what you’re going to want to focus on.  What makes Warlock particularly potent is that it has minions like Flame Imp, Wrathguard, and Pit Lord that trade your health for powerful stats.  Since the crone is going to focus exclusively on attacking Dorothee, so your own health is irrelevant.  Warlock also has plenty of sticky minions like Imp Master and Possessed Villager that provide plenty of protection.

Another potent tactic is to play Priest and cast Inner Fire on Dorothee.  You’ll still need plenty of minions with strong stats to keep her safe, such as the neutral ones mentioned earlier.  You’ll also want card draw as your strategy will be built entirely around this one spell and you’ll struggle without it.  However, you do have unlimited attempts at the boss, so just keep trying until you get lucky.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-18-16 20.49.29

There are all the tactics you’ll need to turn The Crone into a green puddle.  Maybe you’ll catch her in a charitable mood and she’ll spend her buffs on your minions.  Seriously, the above image is just one of three separate occasions where she just gave me the match for no real reason.  Hearthstone A.I. is just the best.

Controversial Hearthstone Card Not Appearing in Arena

One of the new cards being added to Hearthstone with the upcoming One Night in Karazhan expansion has been creating a negative stir.  Purify is a new card for the Priest class, which is currently the weakest class in the game, and has received a great deal of criticism from several noteworthy players for possibly being the worst card to have been introduced to the game yet.

Most notably, Kripparrian posted an extensive rant against the card on his Youtube channel that mainly focused on how the card will effect the Arena game mode. Arena has players drafting a deck of random cards and seeing how far they can go playing against people working under the same conditions, so introducing a bad card is always going to have an impact in that mode.  However, the development team has issued a surprising statement in regards to Purify and how they are responding to the criticism.

Ben Brode, the lead designer on Hearthstone and the face of the game, released a Designer Insights video on the official Hearthstone Youtube channel speaking specifically on Purify.  He explains that the design team’s thought process on designing the card was to support the niche archetype of Silence Priest that, while not a competitive-level deck, still has viable strategies and can take people by surprise.

However, they do understand the importance of Arena balance and have been working on a new algorithm for the frequency of specific cards that appear in Arena in order to even out the various classes.  While this isn’t expected to be ready any time soon, the developers are taking action to prevent Purify from skewing Arena balance by keeping it out of the game mode entirely.  This isn’t the first time that a card has been made undraftable in Arena as all of the C’Thun-based cards introduced in Whispers of the Old Gods were given the same treatment.

Brode closes his video with the following statement: “We’re going to disagree sometimes on decisions that we make, and we’re going to make mistakes, too, but hopefully we can learn together and make the game better overtime.”  What are your thoughts on Brode’s feedback to the community?  What do you feel still needs to be done to sort out Arena balance?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone: One Night in Karazhan Cards Preview #2

Hearthstone

Things weren’t off to the best start with some of the first cards we saw being added with One Night in Karazhan, but the full list is now available and we can make some definitive statements on what we can expect in Hearthstone‘s near future. Hearthstone Let’s see if this update saved its best for last and how it will shape the game.

The developers are really pushing for Discard Warlock to be an archetype and this one card could be what makes it a reality.  The biggest drawback to discarding has always been that, even with a hero power that draws cards, it quickly drains your resources and you simply can’t regain momentum.

MalchezaarsImp

Malchezaar’s Imp allows you to maintain momentum even while discarding several cards and has a strong stat line to keep it alive long enough for a considerable effect.  The one caveat is that the deck would have to be aggressive in nature if you’re discarding that many cards as you can’t risk losing anything too valuable.

VioletIllusionist

Given how powerful aggro decks have been for so long, I welcome something like Violet Illusionist into the game with open arms.  Granted, she won’t be enough to counter aggressive decks on the same level as Antique Healbot on her own, but she’ll offer more survivability across the board without being overpowered.

Zoobot

Hey, neutral beast-synergy that isn’t junk.  It also works with dragons and murlocs, but only one for each.  It’s a bit of a strange concept, but you really only need it to hit one of your minions for this to be good.  Even if you have to play it on it’s own, it still has a decent stat line on its own.  It’s less so now that 3/4 minions are becoming more and more common, but it still looks like a decent card.  It’s just strange to think of where it will find its place in constructed with how sporadic its effect is, but just remember that you don’t always have to get maximum value out of card for it to be good.

MedivhGuardian

The final prize at the adventure’s end, Medivh, is interesting for a couple reasons.  For one, it shows that characters who are already playable heroes can also be cards, which could have some interesting results in the future.  Second, he gives you a neutral weapon that spends its durability whenever you cast a spell to summon a random minion matching the spell’s cost.  We’ve already seen this effect with Summoning Stone, but the Atiesh weapon has greater potential as your opponent won’t have an easy way of removing it.  Cards like Acidic Swamp Ooze can counter it, but it’s not something that is going to drive cards like that up in the meta on its own.  The high cost and unpredictability will probably make Medivh too niche for most competitive decks, but he will definitely find his place in certain control decks.

Purify

♫The rich get richer♫

♫And the poor get poorer♫

♫And Ben Brode lauuughs at your pain♫

I certainly hope that the bosses in this next adventure are at least fun, because One Night in Karazhan is undoubtedly the weakest Hearthstone expansion in terms of a meta shift.  Between Firelands Portal making Mage stronger and Purify making Priest weaker, this expansion is not only maintaining the status quo, but actively cementing it.  There are a few new archetypes that can emerge from some of the new cards, but most of it merely supplements what is already dominant in the game.  All signs point to Medivh throwing a lame party and I already feel like I have a remorseful hangover.

What are your thoughts on One Night in Karazhan?  Do you have more optimism for what it can offer Hearthstone than I do?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone: One Night In Karazhan Cards Preview #1

One Night in Karazhan is bringing some of the most fondly-remembered boss fights from World of Warcraft into Hearthstone and, while they’re always fun challenge, it’s the cards they award that make a lasting impact on the game.  While adventures introduce significantly less cards than card packs, just one or two especially good cards can turn the entire game on its head (e.g. Undertaker, Grim Patron, Tunnel Trogg).

Let’s go over some of the new cards that have been revealed and see where the game may be going with this update.  Be sure to also check out the announcement article which briefly discusses three more new cards that won’t be examined here.

Firelands_Portal

One of the themes for new cards being introduced with this expansion are the portals.  There will be five different portal cards, each for a different class and each with a different effect, and the Firelands Portal will be the first one you get as one of three cards rewarded from the free prologue mission.  For constructed play, this portal probably won’t see play as a simple Fireball is much more reliable in most situations.

In Arena, however, this takes Mage from being incredibly strong to outright broken.  Having strong removal and a strong summon combined into a single card is incredibly powerful in Arena’s playstyle, even for 7 mana, and the fact that this is a common card is bound to make Arena Mage’s almost impossible to beat.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it had just been made a Rare card, and Arena is the only place where rarity of adventure cards has any impact.  It’s just another friendly reminder that the Hearthstone developers don’t play their own game.

Moroes

To play Moroes, you’re first going to need a meta-shift where everyone stops playing board control cards.  Once people stop putting cards like Flamestrike, Ravaging Ghoul, Lightning Storm, Explosive Trap, and Consecration, then Moroes can finally find a spot in your deck as a worse Imp Master.  Granted, there are cards like Steward of Darkshire and Hobgoblin (at least in Wild) that Moroes can synergize with and we may get another card along the same lines in this expansion, but there’s no chance Moroes will ever see competitive-level play.

Protect_the_King

This is an interesting inclusion, although its viability is a tough call.  It’s essentially a defensive version of Unleash the Hounds and that could be a potent play.  It’s a card that demands your opponent’s attention and could turn the pace of the game in your favor.  However, it’s highly vulnerable to AoE effects like the ones I mentioned under Moroes and that alone could render it unplayable.  It’s usefulness is going to rely heavily on the current meta, but it should be able to find its niche.  It should at least be a handy Arena card with how much room it gives you to turn the tide.

Prince_Malchezaar

This is easily the coolest new card being added to the game and the best part is that he’s free to everyone with the prologue mission.  That’s very important as his biggest benefit is that he’ll allow new players and those playing on a budget to play around with legendaries they haven’t collected yet.  He’s also a neutral demon with a lot of viability, so we may actually see Sacrificial Pact enter the meta.  Finally, he has a new type of effect that automatically triggers at the start of the game just from having him in your deck.  That’s a fascinating ability and there’s plenty of potential for more cards that work along the same line.

Pompous_Thespian

Hey, have you heard of this new game called Chronicle: Runescape Legends?  It’s a really cool digital card game with great production values and a unique premise.  Instead of summoning monsters to fight for you, you battle your own creatures and create your own mini-adventure with the goal of growing stronger than your opponent for a final battle at the end.  It’s free-to-play and you can check it out for yourself here.  Maybe it will have the decency not to sell playable versions of underpowered cards.

Okay, so One Night in Karazhan isn’t exactly getting off on the right foot with some of it’s early reveals, but there are some really good cards mixed in.  Sadly, aside from a couple of really cool legendaries, this is looking to be the weakest adventure yet in terms of meta-shift.  There are still plenty more cards left to reveal and we may see something grand emerge down the line, but I’ve never wanted to switch to a different card game more than after seeing some of the terribly designed cards featured above.  At least the boss fights should be fun.

What are your thoughts on One Night in Karazhan?  Which of the new cards is your favorite?  Which one most needs to be thrown on a bonfire?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

New Hearthstone Adventure, One Night in Karazhan, Revealed

During a special event held at ChinaJoy expo and streamed through the official Hearthstone Twitch channel, Blizzard revealed the next expansion for their popular digital card game.  The new expansion, One Night in Karazhan, will be an adventure based around the home of the Guardian Medivh back in its glory days.  Medivh is setting up for the greatest party in the history of Azeroth and he’s going to need help getting the place in order before the festivities begin.

Like previous adventures, it will have players take on a number of single-player boss battles to win new cards for their collections.  The journey will be spread across four wings with three bosses each.  The first step is the dining hall where you’ll have to take on a golem made of dinnerware and play a Hearthstone-version of chess.  Next is the opera house with plays based on Romeo & Juliet, The Big Bad Wolf, and The Wizard of Oz.  The menagerie comes third with a stampede of beasts running wild and fiends like the satyr Terestian Illhoof leading the charge.  Your final stop is Medivh’s private quarters where mythical opponents like the dragon Netherspite and the terrifying Shade of Aran will put you to the ultimate test.  Before any of that, however, all players will be given a single, free prologue mission the will award them with two new cards.

New cards that have been revealed for the expansion include the Ivory Knight, a Paladin minion that discovers a spell, Kindly Grandmother, a Hunter minion that summons the Big Bad Wolf upon death, and the legendary Curator that draws a beast, dragon, and murloc from your deck.  More cards will be revealed over time as we draw closer to release.

One Night in Karazhan is set to release its first wing on August 11th.  Are you looking forward to this funky interpretation of the famous tower?  What new decks are you planning to build with these new cards?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods Preview #2

Whispers of the Old Gods

Whispers of the Old Gods is right around the corner and I have a lot of cards to catch up on.  Obviously, I’m not going to cover all of the new cards, but I will highlight some of the most interesting that we’ll be getting in the new expansion to Hearthstone.  Before we actually get into the cards of Whispers of the Old Gods, there are a couple of corrections I need to make.  For one, C’Thun and the cultist cards that interact with it will not be available for Arena drafts.  While most of the cultists have premium stat lines, there are a few that have a heavy reliance on C’Thun and Blizzard has opted not to include any of them in Arena to avoid saturation (although there are already cards like Junkbot and Rend Blackhand in Arena that are far worse than any of the cultists, so…).  Secondly, my claim in the previous preview that each class would receive a Forbidden spell was actually a matter of miscommunication.  Only Druid and Warlock have received Forbidden cards in addition to Mage, Paladin, and Priest, and Druid’s Forbidden card is actually a minion.  I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.  With all that out of the way, let’s delve into the cards that will be entering the Whispers of the Old Gods game soon.

Renounce_Darkness

This may be the single weirdest Hearthstone card I’ve ever seen.  For just 2 mana, your Warlock can give up on being a Warlock and become anything else.  There is use for that as the Warlock’s hero power, while incredibly powerful in the early to mid-game, is the worst for any match that goes into fatigue.  Jaraxxus has already proven that changing your hero out late in the game is extremely good, but that raises the question of whether or not it’s worth playing this over Jaraxxus.  Generally, the answer is no, but it could have some applications.  It could work in a deck with a lot of high-risk, high-reward cards and needs an emergency switch, but it wouldn’t work well alongside Jaraxxus because playing this first would replace the eredar lord and playing it second would likely leave you with a worse hero power.  The mana discount has a lot of potential, but the fact that you not only get random cards, but a random class on top of that, makes it highly unreliable.  It’s an experimental card and it probably won’t work, but I’d love to see it take me by surprise.

Herald_Volazj

On the surface, this card might look terrible.  “Why would I want to copy my minions if they’re just going to be tiny 1/1 version?” I hear you ask.  Well, there are plenty of minions that have their value tied to the their effects rather than their stat lines.  Ragneros, Sylvanas, Thaurissan, Ysera, Brann, and Malygos are just a few examples of cards that work remarkably well with Volazj.  It’s not limited to big legendaries either as any deathrattle minion will also benefit from duplication.  The only thing that’s tricky about Volazj is that you really need to set the board carefully to get a good effect out of him.  You don’t want to copy just one minion with him or you’re left with a worse Faceless Manipulator.  He’s a gimmicky card and probably won’t see much high-level play as a result, but those willing to take a risk on him won’t be disappointed with what he can do.

Let’s continue with Whispers of the Old Gods game cards…

Hallazeal_the_Ascended

Hallazeal is an interesting card,if nothing else.  It’s definitely something for control Shaman decks, which this expansion has been giving a serious push for.  I’ll certainly take it over the infuriating Aggro Shaman that has been infesting the ladder recently.  Hallazeal has a decent enough stat line to see play and can combo best with AoE spells like Lightning Storm to really pull you out of a tough spot.  He’s not going to act as a hard carry for any deck, but he can be a handy safety net to keep you alive.  The one big problem is that he’ll be most valuable against aggressive decks, and those will probably kill you faster than you can get him on the board and use his ability.

Y'Shaarj

It is said that Y’Shaarj was the strongest of all the Old Gods and remained one of the most dangerous and powerful beings in Azeroth even as a corpse.  Its card aptly captures the overwhelming power of Y’Shaarj with not only a massive stat line, but also the ability to bring more minions into battle.  You’re guaranteed at least one minion before your opponent will have a chance to shut it down with hard removal (which is less likely now that BGH is being nerfed), but the minion you get is going to be random and you’ll have to build a specific type of deck to get good mileage out of Y’Shaarj.  This is a Whispers of the Old Gods card made for control decks with lots of big minions available to have the best odds on getting a good pull.  Keep in mind that Battlecry effects won’t trigger and you’ll mostly want to avoid putting those in the same deck as Y’Shaarj.

Yogg-Saron

I take it back; THIS is the single weirdest card I’ve ever seen.  Yogg-Saron is a being of such cunning that it was able to take complete control over the prison built specifically to contain it with its sinister whispers alone.  It is the creator of the Emerald Nightmare and can twist mortal minds into madness with barely a motion.  The Yogg-Saron card is appropriately insane for such a beast with an effect that is beyond predictability.  While its stat line is terrible, it likely won’t matter as there’s a fair chance that every minion, including Yogg-Saron itself, and both heroes will all perish the moment it appears on the board.  The spells Yogg-Saron casts are not limited by mana nor class; any legal spells from across Hearthstone can be cast.

Yogg-Saron can throw a Pyroblast at your face, heal you back with Healing Wave, buff an enemy minion with Blessing of Kings, steal the buffed minion with Mind Control, destroy it with Assassinate, turn itself into a frog with Hex, clear the enemy board with Flamestrike, let zero dogs out with Unleash the Hounds right after, and then lose you the game outright with three more Pyroblasts to your face.  At least it won’t cast spells for your opponent, but it will randomly chose a target based on what is normally allowed for that spell (ex. casting Flamecannon would only ever hit an enemy minion and never a friendly one or either hero).  Also, while Yogg-Saron is using the effects of spells, they’re all considered his battlecry effect and don’t interact with minion effects like spell damage, but it can be doubled by Brann Bronzebeard.  There is no chance of Yogg-Saron seeing competitive-level play, but it is the ultimate card for closing out any joke deck.  It’s a card you can play 1000 times and still only see a fraction of what it’s capable of.

Forbidden_Ritual

Zoolock definitely looks to be making a comeback given the new board-swarming cards that are being released.  Warlock’s Forbidden spell, for example, lets you fill the board with as many minions as you need at any point in the game.  This is one of the best cards Zoolock could ever hope for as it can refill the board and help you bounce back after a mid to late-game board clear, Zoolock’s biggest weakness, but it’s also extremely flexible and can be dealt out whenever you need some more bodies.  Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to be seeing any less of Knife Juggler in the new meta.

Vilefin_Inquisitor

Along with Zoolock, Murloc Paladin is also looking to come back in vogue with some new murloc cards.  This one is chief among them, changing Paladin from being a really good class for murlocs to being the best class ever for murlocs.  Murloc decks depend on you having murlocs, to generating them at will with your hero power is best you could ever ask for.  If any card is going to end up being overpowered in WotOG, my money is on this one.

Journey_Below

Good news; the Discover mechanic is still alive and well post-League of Explorers.  Journey Below is a really good card for two reasons: For one, it gets you a Deathrattle card of your choice, which Priest’s Museum Curator has already proven to be a very useful ability.  Secondly, it’s a cheap card that you can just play whenever you want to, which makes it great fodder for setting up cards with Combo effects.  Definitely expect to see this pop up in quite a few Rogue decks.

Evolve

Shaman has been struggling as a class for the longest time with nothing but the recent aggro build to push it into the meta, but WotOG looks to change that with plenty of powerful new cards for the class.  Easily the most potent of the bunch is Evolve, a cheap spell that can have huge results.  Along with working well in control decks, it’s also the one new card that can work in aggro decks.  Honestly, it doesn’t make much of a difference what deck you put this in because simply casting it on at least two totems from your hero power can be enough to get you a good result.  There is a risk of getting Battlecry minions with terrible stat lines, but you’ll be making a net gain with Evolve over all.

Fandral_Staghelm

The Druid’s Choose One effects already make for some of the best cards in the game with just one of their possible choices, so Fandral Staghelm looks like a pretty potent card.  With a 4 mana 3/5 body, he’s definitely playable in just about any deck.  There are just a couple of important caveats to keep in mind with him.  First off, your opponent is never going to leave him be if they can help it.  Any minions they have on the board or spell damage in their hand is going straight for him.  While he can be played on curve in a pinch, it may be better to save for the late game so that you can guarantee a combo with a good Choose One card.  That could end up being too slow a strategy to work and he could really end up falling flat.  Secondly, two of the best Choose One cards are getting nerfed at the same time Fandral is coming out, so you should hold off on crafting him until he’s had a chance to prove himself in the meta.

Deathwing,_Dragonlord

If this new Deathwing card doesn’t get people playing dragon decks other than Priest, I don’t think any one card can.  It’s a big, stompy minion that your opponent will actually be afraid to use their hard-removal on because even more big, stompy minions will probably storm the board as a result.  This new Deathwing even makes the old Deathwing look appealing because nothing crushes souls like a 12/12 going down only for another 12/12 to immediately take its place with a couple 8/8’s tagging along for good measure.  It really answers the big set-back of high mana costs that previously held dragon decks back significantly.  However, Silence effects and transformation cards like Polymorph and Hex can shut him down entirely, so be sure to have those in mind as you make your plays.

Psych-o-Tron

HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLO.  HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I may change my tune once the expansion drops and I start to see some of these Whispers of the Old Gods cards in action, but I am very happy with WotOG right now.  While there are a few underwhelming cards included, the good ones are really good and open up a lot of new possibilities for the game going forward.  The best part is that there isn’t a single card that strikes me as being egregious in any way.  There’s nothing that looks inherently broken like Dr. Boom and there’s nothing that actively outmodes old cards like Evil Heckler.  Maybe Vilefin will end up on the overpowered side when put into practice or maybe one of the Old Gods will prove be even crazy than it looks on the surface, but this is looking to be the best Hearthstone expansion to date at the moment.  If you’ve fallen off the game or haven’t started yet, now is looking like the best time to jump in.

Whispers of the Old Gods releases on April 26th.  What are your thoughts on the new expansion?  What are your favorite and least favorite new cards?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about Whispers of the Old Gods game.

All the Hearthstone Nerfs Coming in Year of the Kraken and the Impact They’ll Have

Hearthstone Nerfs

Hearthstone Nerfs

With the Year of the Kraken just around the corner, Hearthstone will be seeing plenty of big changes with the release of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, the introduction of Standard mode, and a number of nerfs being applied to older cards that are packing a bit too much punch.  Sadly, there were no buffs announced for the various underpowered cards that exist.  They also didn’t nerf Dr. Boom, the one card that needs to be nerfed more than any other regardless of the fact that he won’t be legal in Standard mode.  With that said, let’s go through all of the changes that are being made to numerous Classic and one Basic card and examine how these changes will effect Hearthstone Nerfs ‘s meta.

AncientOfLoreNerf

Druid is getting hit the hardest with three staple cards being nerfed.  First is Ancient of Lore, a card that has been a mandatory late-game minion for any Druid deck, losing half of its draw potential.  He can only draw one card now, but he can still heal for as much with his alternate effect.  That might sound like a small change, but it’s seriously going to cut into the Ancient’s usefulness as that card draw is entirely what made him so potent to begin with.  While he’s not unusable in this new state, he’ll definitely be replaced with cards like Azure Drake and Nourish in a lot of builds.

KotGNerf

From the mandatory late game Druid card to the mandatory midgame card, Keeper of the Grove is keeping his powerful Choose One effect, but is losing 2 points of health.  Keeper will probably see a good amount of play his Choose One effect is still extremely strong, but his weak stat line means that he offers little presence on the board and other 4 drops are going to look a lot more appealing.  While Druid is losing some of its best utility cards, it’s mainly being done because these specific cards are the strongest in their mana range and nerfing them demands a greater variety in deck building.  Speaking of which…

ForceOfNatureNerf

Try to pretend you didn’t see this one coming.  Force of Nature and its insanely potent combo plays have dominanted the Druid meta since the beginning.  No other decks besides Combo Druid have ever had a chance to enter the meta as their all immediately forced out by the one that tops them all.  Combining this with Savage Roar is enough to slash through just shy of half of your opponent’s health even if your board is completely empty.  Cast Innervate to enable a second Roar, and that’s more than two thirds of a player’s max health gone in a single turn.  Obviously, something had to be done and Force of Nature has been almost entirely reworked.  Now, the Treants it summons will just be simple 2/2 minions wih no special effect to them.  Combo Druid won’t be going away entirely, as Savage Roar is going by completely unchanged with this balance patch.  It’s just that you’ll be able to see the combo coming from now on instead of your opponent seemingly pulling it out of thin air.

HMNerf

Here’s one I never saw coming.  Hunter’s Mark, a card that sees little play to begin with, is having it’s mana cost increased from 0 to 1.  There are a couple of possible reasons for this change, first of which being a concern over Hunter having a 0 cost spell as well as Lock and Load, which is a pretty niche card anyway.  The other possibility is this is a preemptive nerf being made with an expectation for Control Hunters to have a sudden rise in the new meta.  Maybe this will prove to be a vital change with the next expansion, maybe it was a waste of time.

MoDNerf

Here’s another nerf that seems more preemptive than anything else. Master of Disguise doesn’t see much play, but there is a great deal of potency when combined with the right cards.  Casting stealth on Chromaggus, Troggzor, or Kel’Thuzad and letting them sit in the corner while their powerful effects go off forever can be massive.  WotOG is bound to have even more fearsome options, so shutting down this potential exploit before it takes off is a smart move.  It’s just a shame that Master of Disguise has missed the time in the spotlight before it even came to him (yeah, Master of Disguise is a male tauren, can’t you tell?).

BFNerf

Blade Flurry and Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil came together for Rogue’s most potent combo.  It seems a little strange to nerf Flurry this heavily as Sharpsword won’t be Standard legal.  However, there is a bigger concern at hand with Flurry that made this change necessary.  Flurry was an incredibly potent card and, as a result, Blizzard had to design new cards around it and be careful not to introduce overpowered combos.  This change will open up greater possibilities in the future, but it has rendered Flurry almost unplayable.  Maybe a new combo will arise at some point later on that makes it potent again, but it’s not going to see play anytime soon.

BGHNerf

Next to Force of Nature, this is the second biggest change the nerfs are making.  Big Game Hunter was probably the biggest tempo swing in the game, taking out the biggest minions in the game with ease while also putting a body on the board.  Sure, 4/2 isn’t a great body, but the amount of control he gives you over the game makes him the best epic-level card in Hearthstone nerfs.  There was a lot of talk in the community about nerf BGH as he makes most of the high cost minions unplayable.  The increase in cost does help those cards enter the meta, but don’t expect BGH to completely die out.  While several decks will drop him in favor of hard-removal spells like Polymorph and Shadow Word: Death, he’ll still be valuable to a few specific builds.  Druid will still want to have BGH handy as that class has always had hard-removal as a weak point and BGH will still be its best option.

IBONerf

Silence is one of the most powerful utility effects in the game and Ironbeak Owl has always been the go-to card for it in any deck.  Have a taunt minion you need to get around to deal your lethal combo?  Get the owl.  Is there an enemy minion with a powerful effect that you can’t outright kill in time?  Get the owl.  Has your biggest minion been debuffed and rendered useless?  Get the owl.  Silence is incredibly useful, but it also restricts the meta pretty heavily as many cards can be rendered unplayable by its very existence.  The increase in mana cost makes Ironbeak substantially worse as its stat line has gone from tolerable to horrid.  It may still be worthwhile just for the silence effect, but trading it in for Spellbreaker.

KJNerf

Knife Juggler has had the nerf hammer hanging over his head for the longest time and it’s finally hit.  However, a reduction in attack isn’t going to discourage players from including him in their decks as it’s the knifes that really matter rather than the Juggler himself.  Although random, the damage he can deal can strongly cement your control over the game and the premium stat line was just a great bonus on top of that.  This nerf has simply made Knife Juggler one of the best 2 drops in the game rather than simply the best.  Don’t disenchant you Jugglers as they’ll still be viable inclusions in plenty of decks.

LGNerf

Leper Gnome and his horrific hugs have been center stage in every aggro deck to date, but this nerf may mark the end of a face-smashing era.  With one less attack, not only will aggro decks have less punch to rush down the opponent, he also can’t trade up on the majority of 2 drops.  This also indirectly nerfs Mekgineer Thermaplugg, but nobody had any plans for him to begin with.  Leper Gnome may still have enough damage in him to be playable in aggro decks, but control definitely looks like the way to go with the upcoming meta shift.

AGNerf

Oh, I am very happy about this one.  Prior to these Hearthstone Nerfs being announced, if there was one card I would have just removed from Hearthstone entirely, it was Arcane Golem.  By design, it was a card that could only work in decks of pure aggression and going for the face from start to turn 5 lethal.  Well, this nerf basically has removed Arcane Golem from the game as it is now 100% useless.  Dancing Swords and Ogre Brute only see occasional play in Arena at best and Arcane Golem is basically a substantially worse version of those cards.  Giving your opponent a mana crystal is a huge disadvantage that will usually lose you the game.  Golem was able to get away with it before because it was used in decks that killed the opponent so quickly that they never had a chance to use that bonus mana.  A moderately cheap 4/4, on the other hand, is not that big of a deal.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

MGNerf

Molten Giant has always been the best giant for constructed play as it’s the easiest to play for free, even if you need to take some risks for it.  Given the fact that players could summon two of these on the same turn for little to no mana and this nerf was warranted when its only threat, Big Game Hunter, is also taking a price hike.  Granted, it’s still possible to play it for free, but you’re going to have to take a huge risk for it.  One way or another, you’re going to have to pay the price to get this 8/8 on the board.  This may lead some decks to swap in other giants in Molten’s place, but there also an interesting buff happening here.  The Paladin spell Holy Wrath has always worked best with Molten Giant because of its massive cost (the spell even name-drops Molten in its flavor text) and this nerf actually makes the combination better.  With all the high-cost minions being introduced with the next expansion and this change to Molten, Holy Wrath Paladin may actually go from a hilarious gimmick deck to a legitimate, high-level strategy.

That does it for all of the Hearthstone Nerfs that will be seeing in the next content update.  It’s worth noting that Blizzard normally offers a full dust refund for disenchanting cards for a limited time after they’re nerfed, so hang onto your copies until that happens.  Once the nerf hammer drops, you should definitely burn Arcane Golem, Blade Flurry, and Force of Nature, but keep Knife Juggler.  The rest will depend on what kinds of decks you’re planning to play with.  Which cards are you glad to see go?  Which are you sad to lose?

Leave a comment about Hearthstone Nerfs below and let us know what you think.  The Year of the Kraken begins on April 26th.

Top 10 Most Wonderfully Worthless Hearthstone Cards

Hearthstone has plenty of crazy card effects, and none are crazier than the legendaries.  They’re the hardest cards to get ahold of and you can only use one of each in a deck.  They seem like the best cards in the game, but style does not equal substance and there are plenty of flashy cards that aren’t worth the price of admittance.  To be clear, this isn’t about the worst legendary cards, per say, but the ones that look the most tempting and deliver the most disappointment.  Millhouse Manastorm is bad, but you can see just how much of a risk he is at a glance.  These are the cards that threaten to waste your hard-earned arcane dust and leave you sobbing with regret.  They’re the cards that fall so flat that you can’t help but laugh at their expense.  These are the most wonderfully worthless cards in Hearthstone.

Bolf_Ramshield

10. Bolf Ramshield

The idea behind Bolf is to counteract aggressive decks, which have been a notorious problem in Hearthstone.  However, flexibility is vital and he gets crushed by any other deck in the game.  Simply by going for the face, your opponent can easily kill your 6-drop without having to sacrifice any minions of their own.  Bolf isn’t even that good against aggro decks anyway because most of them will kill you before you even get to 6 mana.  Just stick to Antique Healbot or Cult Apothecary when that comes out.

Elite_Tauren_Chieftain

9. Elite Tauren Chieftain

Here’s a card so rare that it was exclusively awarded to attendees of Blizzcon 2013.  You can still craft it in normal quality the hard way, but golden copies of the card only belong to those select die-hard fans.  Something that prestigious has to be good, right?  Well, it’s actually the opposite.  To try and keep the game fair and balanced, any cards that are awarded for specific events are intentionally designed to be elaborate jokes that can never work at high levels of play.  A 5/5 for 5 is a decent minion, but the Power Chord cards are where things become really unpredictable.

There are three different Power Chord spells that you can get off of ETC, and they’re even more randomness stacked upon randomness.  There’s “I Am Murloc” that summons a random amount of 1/1 murlocs to your command, “Power of the Horde” can summon anything from a Frostwolf Grunt to Cairne Bloodhoof, and “Rogues Do It” as the most reliable one dealing 4 damage and drawing a card.  While that’s not a terrible deal, your opponent also gets one of these spells and may end up with a better deal than you.  Nothing sets you back on tempo worse than spending 4 mana on a measly 2/2 while your opponent gets one of the best spell damage cards in the game.

Gruul

8. Gruul

Gruul is the biggest and toughest guy you can find on the desolate planet of Draenor.  The towering ogres are puny servants to him, and his favorite hobby is taking members of Deathwing’s black dragonflight and impaling them through mountain peaks.  Admittedly, Gruul’s card heavily evokes his boss fight in World of Warcraft where he starts huge and only grows larger and stronger the longer the battle goes on.  Where things go wrong is when you remember that most decks run hard-removal cards like Big Game Hunter and Polymorph that will instantly shut someone like Gruul down, and those that don’t run removal are aggressive enough not to need it.  One minion alone can never be strong enough to control a game of Hearthstone, no matter how big it is.  Gruul may be bulky, but all that makes him is a bigger target.

Gelbin_Mekkatorque

7. Gelbin Mekkatorque

Here’s the other event exclusive card that you’re really not missing out on.  Gelbin was awarded to anyone who made a cash purchase during the game’s beta period, and he summons one of his unique inventions when played.  His Repair Bot heals a damaged character, the Emboldener 3000 buffs a minion, Poultryizer turns minions into 1/1 chickens, and Homing Chicken draws you three cards if it survives to the start of your next turn (where it automatically dies anyway).  That all sounds great except for the fact that the inventions don’t differentiate between your minions and your opponent’s.  As a result, they can easily end up helping your opponent much more than you.  It is possible to set the board up so the invention works for you, but Emboldener and Poultryizer are polar opposites in terms of tactics and getting things to swing your way is reliant entirely on blind luck.  Also, the inventions don’t have a single attack point between the lot of them, so your opponent can easily take it out even if it is working to your advantage.  When the one that intentionally blows itself up is the most reliable of the bunch, it might be time to look elsewhere for your six-drops.

Illidan_Stormrage

6. Illidan Stormrage

Illidan the Betrayer is one of the most recognizable characters in Warcraft lore, if not the most recognizable.  He’s been the central figure of not one, but two entire expansions for World of Warcraft, with the main selling point of the upcoming Legion expansion being the ability to play as Illidan’s Demon Hunter class.  Sadly, Hearthstone hasn’t been able to capture the night elf’s awesome powers as he is one of the weakest legendaries in the game.

There was a time where Illidan was useful as the original version of the card had a battlecry that discarded three cards from both players’ hands and drew them each three new ones.  However, it turned out that removing cards from the enemy hand was too powerful an ability and Illidan had to be completely reworked.  While summoning 2/1 minions with relative ease isn’t a decent enough ability, the big problem Illidan is that his health was reduced to a meager 5 that can easily be knocked through before he summons anything.  The fact that Illidan also dies to our old friend Big Game Hunter also doesn’t do him any favors.  Now his only use is as a guinea pig in Hearthstone Science’s experiments.

Icehowl

5. Icehowl

A 10/10 with charge?  Amazing!  A 10/10 with charge that can’t go face?  Useless!  The idea with Icehowl is to control the board, but area-of-effect and hard-removal spells already do his job substantially better.  You can silence him in order to attack your opponent’s face, but that also removes the charge effect.  You can save the silence for the next turn, but Icehowl will most likely be dead to BGH at that point (noticing a theme, here?).  Icehowl is all bark and no frostbite (I’m sorry I’m not sorry).

Nozdormu

4. Nozdormu

If you’re going to pay any more than 7 mana for a single card, it needs to have a stellar effect attached to it to be worth the investment.  Nozdormu can have an incredible impact, but only if you cheat.  There’s an infamous glitch with him that can steal time off of your opponent’s turn with lengthy animations.  Blizzard has tried fixing the bug several times, but it still exists in some form even to this day.  It might be best to just retire the leader of the bronze dragon flight, because he’s practically useless when he is working properly.  9 mana for an 8/8 minion is not a good deal on its own, so you have to catch your opponent offguard and force them into making bad plays for him to be worth it.  Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t get hit by hard removal immediately and your opponent doesn’t have to worry about the time limit at all.

Deathwing

3. Deathwing

Deathwing is one of the most destructive beings in all of Warcraft lore.  The ruler of the black dragon flight has strength to outmatch even the mighty Gruul and single-handedly heralded in the cataclysm known as The Shattering.  He has the strongest base-line stats in the game and everything dies just from him entering the battlefield.  How can this possibly be a bad card?

I now present you with a short list of cards that directly counter Deathwing:  Assassinate, Polymorph, Hex, Siphon Soul, Humility, Shadow Word: Death, Entomb, Freezing Trap, Bouncing Blade, Tirion Fordring, Sabotage, Mind Control, Sylvanas Windrunner, Hunter’s Mark, Vol’jin, Rend Blackhand, Execute, Shield Slam, Crush, Naturalize, Mulch, Recycle, Sap, Repentance, Deadly Shot, Mirror Entity, Vaporize, Equality, Aldor Peacekeeper, Keeper of Uldaman, Emperor Cobra, Pit Snake, Patient Assassin, Doomsayer, Vanish, Corruption, Twisting Nether, Obsidian Destroyer, Hogger, Acidmaw, Eadric the Pure, Lightbomb, Kidnapper, Dark Bargain, Tinkmaster Overspark, another Deathwing, DOOM!, and, of course, Big Game Hunter.

Mimiron's_Head

2. Mimiron’s Head

When Goblins Vs. Gnomes was announced, this was the card that everyone had their eyes on.  Everyone, myself included, expected Mimiron’s Head to be Hearthstone‘s equivalent to Exodia the Forbidden One.  It was the card that, under the right conditions, would outright win the game for you.  The mega-windfury effect of V-07-TR-ON represents 16 damage on its own, and applying any buff (which is easy to do as your mana is completely free after summoning the mighty mech) is almost guaranteed lethal even if your opponent is at full health.  The only stipulation is that you have to be running a mech deck, those are bound to be playable with all the attention GvG gave to them, right?

Well, mech decks certainly dominated the meta after GvG and have even remained a strong option several expansions later, but Mimiron’s Head never fit into the picture.  Mech decks ended up being at their best when they were played aggressively, and a 5 4/5 was just too slow to compare with the other cards you could run.  Even if you did form V-07-TR-ON, you’d probably have more damage on the board with your ordinary minions.  Turns out a simple Mech Warper is more reliable than one of the most fearsome machines in Azeroth.

Majordomo_Executus

1. Majordomo Executus

And here we have what may be the single worst card in all of Hearthstone.  Other cards may put you at a disadvantage, but this is the only one that outright loses the game for you every time you play it.  Going down to a measly 8 health is a death sentence in almost every scenario.  Taking a huge risk like that might be worth it if becoming Ragnaros packed a good punch, but dealing 8 damage to a random enemy is a surprisingly weak hero power.  Often times, you’ll prefer having a 1-damage hero power that you can direct than a bigger blast that goes wherever it wants.  Well, at least you can use cards like Ice Block and Steamwheedle Sniper to work with it… Oh, wait, he can’t even do that.  Turning into Ragnaros drops the immunity you gain from Ice Block, and Steamwheedle doesn’t interact with Ragnaros at all.  Majordomo is the epitome of pay-to-lose.

That wraps up this list of the best of the worst that Hearthstone has to offer.  What other cards stand out in your mind?  I can certainly think of a few that just missed the cut, and one of their names rhymes with “Kek my beer, I’m a slug”.

Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods Preview #1

Another Hearthstone expansion is around the corner and, fortunately for me, Blizzard didn’t immediately reveal the entire set when they announced it.  That means it’s time for another look into the future for the popular digital card game and all the eldritch horrors lurking within it.  Hearthstone’s next expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods, will introduce 134 new cards to the game centered around four of the most ancient evils that plague the world of Azeroth.

C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj, and N’Zoth are beings of such horrific power that even the fiercest villains that you’ve faced in your journeys through Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain are trifling in comparison.  Ragnaros and his fellow elemental lords were created by the Old Gods essentially to serve as action figures in their games of war, and the black dragon Deathwing that single-handedly caused the Cataclysm is like their adorable puppy.  Even killing an Old God does almost nothing to quell its power, as Y’Shaarj has been raining mayhem across Pandaria for millenia using its final breath alone.  Trying to kill the Old Gods is already an extremely bad idea on its own as many of Azeroth’s races, including dwarves and gnomes, are the result of the Curse of Flesh that the Old Gods cast when the world was young and breaking the curse would result in Azeroth’s destruction.  Needless to say, the Old Gods are not to be toyed with and depicting them in our silly card game of robot clowns and grumpy poultry has probably doomed us all.  Well, might as well have fun while we’re still alive and not sprouting tentacles everywhere!

WOTOGCthun

Our first card is the first of the Old Gods that World of Warcraft players came face-to-face with.  The all-seeing C’Thun loves being the center of attention and has plenty of cultists to give it just that.  On its own, C’Thun is actually a really bad card with a weak stat-line and an underwhelming effect.  Fortunately, it has plenty of worshipers that help make it significantly more potent.  Cards like Beckoner of Evil and Twilight Elder will buff the power of your C’Thun, even if its sitting somewhere in your deck.  C’Thun definitely looks like a card designed for combo decks where the cultists control the early game and C’Thun comes in for the grand finale.

While collecting all those cards sounds like a hassle, there’s good news.  Opening your first card pack from the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion will instantly award you C’Thun and two copies of Beckoner of Evil on top of the usual five cards.  The best part is that all of the cultist cards revealed so far have great stat lines and can easily hold the board while your waiting to play C’Thun.  For example…

WOTOGChosen

Here’s a good example of what C’Thun’s worshippers are capable of.  Even without her ability to buff C’Thun, a 4/2 with divine shield for 4 mana is very strong.  Considering that Piloting Shredder is being rotated out of standard mode, C’Thun’s Chosen could be a suitable substitute and is playable even in a deck without C’Thun.  The fact that C’Thun’s servants are serviceable without him is great news for Arena as drafting C’Thun in that mode is already going to be next to impossible and will only become more unlikely over time.  Giving them good stats not only makes C’Thun decks more viable, but it also prevents Arena from being flooding with garbage over this one expansion.

WOTOGHogger

The Old Gods are well known for their corrupting influence, and many familiar cards are going to have twisted reimaginings introduced.  One example is the bane of every new Alliance player, the gnoll gangleader Hogger, being mutated into the monstrosity pictured above.  The corrupted Hogger certainly has better stats than the vanilla version that we’ve had since Classic, but his effect is now much less reliable.  However, the Doom of Elwynn could serve as a counter to C’Thun.  Not only could he tank a large chunk of C’Thun explosive entrance on his own, the additional gnolls he summons would also absorb a lot of the damage.  That said, I can’t help but feel that the Grim Patron card already does that job and does it better.  Maybe a new Patron Warrior deck will find space for Hogger, but he’s currently one of the least promising new cards.  For the record, these corrupted cards are going to be their own thing and won’t replace the existing ones.  You can run both the corrupted Hogger and the original one in the same deck.

WOTOGShaping

One new set of cards that WotOG will introduce is the Forbidden Spells line.  All nine classes will receive one Forbidden Spell, and each will have their level of power based around the amount of mana you currently have available.  While they all cost zero mana on the surface, they actually spend all of your remaining mana crystals and will have a greater effect with the more mana you spend on it.  I see a lot of potential in these cards already as they’re highly flexible and you can get exactly the amount of mileage you need out of them.  Only three have been revealed thusfar, but I already expect that several of the Forbidden Spells will become mainstays in a lot of future decks.  Paladins will get a healing spell and mages will be able to deal spell damage to a minion, but the one that’s captured my attention the most is Forbidden Shaping for priest.

Granted, there is a lot of randomness involved in what you’ll get out of the card and there’s a good chance that you’ll get stuck with a weak battlecry minion like Faceless Manipulator after spending most of your mana.  However, I feel like the amount of flexibility that it gives your deck may just be worth taking that risk.  No matter what point in the game you draw it, it guarantees you a minion that you can play on curve.  You can even play it for zero mana for a Wisp if you’re especially desperate to just get another body on the board.  It’s certainly something I could recommend in an Arena draft, though even I’m not sure what kind of constructed deck it could actively benefit.  On a final note, I’m very curious to see what Druids are getting as their use of mana has always been crazy.

WOTOGNZoth

N’Zoth is the most mysterious and possibly the most powerful of all of the Old Gods.  Little is known for certain about this reclusive horror, but there are countless rumors of its influences.  One example is that the corruption of Deathwing is believed to be its doing.  N’Zoth has yet to actually appear in World of Warcraft and it seems that Hearthstone has received the honor of revealing its true form to the world.  That, or this is simply Innkeeper Stonebrew’s personal interpretation of the creature (or Tysmurph’s interpretation since he actually did the art for the card, but I’m roleplaying here) and the real N’Zoth remains to be seen.

While N’Zoth’s stat line is fairly poor, its effect easily makes up for it.  As Curse of Naxxramas has shown, deathrattle minions are some of the most powerful in the game and filling your board with them is insanely good.  N’Zoth definitely looks like it will be one of the new high-level legendaries and can benefit almost any deck.  The fact that it doesn’t die to Big Game Hunter is also a bonus.  There are just a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of it.  For one, it can only summon minions that natively have deathrattle, so cards like Unearthed Raptor and Explorer’s Hat won’t interact with with it.  Second, while I don’t know exactly how the card is designed, I assume that it will prioritize minions based on the order they died.  That means that your stronger deathrattle minions like Sylvanas won’t be summoned because you played too many smaller ones like Loot Hoarder early on.  Still, a board full of deathrattle minions is nothing to sneeze at.  The last thing to keep in mind is that aggro decks exist and will shut this down hard.

That will be enough to cover for now, but there are still plenty more exciting cards left to look over.  Next time, we’ll look at a card for warlocks who are sick of being warlocks, new legendaries for shaman and priest, and more.