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.

Why Hearthstone’s Next Update Both Thrills and Terrifies Me

Big changes are coming to Hearthstone with the next expansion.  Along with new cards, the next content update will also feature a number of major changes that will alter how the entire game is played.  For one thing, the single most requested feature for Hearthstone, an increase in the amount of deck slots, is finally coming.  All players will have eighteen deck slots available, double the current amount.  That is automatically a major deal, but that isn’t even the biggest change that’s on the way.  The really big news is the introduction of two new modes that online play will be divided between.

Online play will be split between Standard and Wild mode.  Ironically, it’s Wild mode that will be the more normal one for those that are already used to Hearthstone.  Wild mode will play much the same way as the game is currently played with all cards across all expansions being legal to play.  It’s in Standard mode where the rules get shaken up and certain older expansions are rendered unusable.  Once the next expansion is added, it will begin what Blizzard is calling the Year of the Kraken, where only cards included in the Basic and Classic sets and all the expansions released in 2015 and 2016 will be legal for Standard play.  All cards included in Goblins Vs Gnomes and Curse of Naxxramas will not be usable in Standard play.  Also, once the first expansion of 2017 releases, the cards in Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers will also start to be rotated out of this mode.  The Basic and Classic sets will remain constant fixtures throughout the game’s history and will never be phased out.  Both Standard and Wild will have their own Ranked ladders, and other modes like Arena, Adventures, and most Tavern Brawls will be classified as Wild and have all cards considered legal.

This could potentially be the best thing that has ever happened to Hearthstone.  Ranked play has had a regular problem of its meta being dominated by a select few decks that are especially powerful and only a few select new cards that play into those themes entering the meta.  On top of making things stale, this has made it difficult for new players to get started as there are so many cards needed to stay competitive.  Standard not only encourages developing new decks, but also provides a more welcoming experience for players who are just beginning their collections.  This kind of segmentation seems like just the kind of shake-up that Hearthstone has been needing and I haven’t been this excited for the game since I first started playing it in the vanilla version.

Sadly, I can’t help but have plenty of concerns about this change, as well.  While there’s a lot of potential good that can come from this, there are also ways it can go horribly wrong.  One thing I immediately dislike about how the old expansions will be phased out is that they’ll no longer be available to purchase from the in-game store.  Once the new expansion releases, GvG packs and Naxx wings will be gone.  You will still be able to craft all the cards from these expansions using dust, but you won’t be able to spend in-game gold or real money to acquire them.  One exception to this is that, if you own at least one wing of an adventure, you will still be able to purchase the remaining wings of that same adventure at your leisure even if that adventure has been retired.  It seems like a harsh punishment for those of us trying to build a complete collection, but I suppose it helps idiot-proof the game for new players who should be focusing on Standard mode.  This also comes with the advantage that old Adventure cards will no longer be soulbound and can be disenchanted for dust.  However, if you have any interest in Hearthstone, I advise you jump in now and pick up one wing from Naxx while you can.  Not only are the bosses a fun challenge, they’re much easier to go through than crafting the individual cards.

The next big concern I have is how the loss of certain cards can hurt the meta.  While I’m happy to see Piloted Shredder and Dr. Boom fall by the wayside, there are plenty of valuable anti-aggro cards that we’ll also be losing.  Annoy-o-tron, Sludge Belcher, and Antique Healbot are all key to countering extremely fast decks like Face Hunter and Aggro Shaman, and those decks will still have most of their tools when Year of the Kraken rolls in.  While we’ll still have Reno Jackson, the king of shutting down aggro decks, we are going to need at least one or two new neutral cards introduced in the next expansion that help with survivability.  That’s just one element to consider with two whole sets being set aside, and this is going to be a constant factor with each new annual cycle.  How well certain decks can be kept in check is going to depend heavily on the designers keeping a close eye on what niches can become overpowered and which deserve to be bolstered.  Considering these are the same people who seem convinced that Taunt Warrior is a thing that exists, that is fairly scary.

The last thing I’m worried about how Standard mode will effect the design philosophy of future cards.  While Standard is being pushed as the competitive mode, I’m still interested in the possibilities for Wild mode.  Introducing Standard mode gives the developers more freedom to introduce new cards with a more focused meta, but it also gives them an excuse to throw the balance of Wild into complete chaos.  I don’t expect Wild to be especially refined and I’m open to it having plenty of crazy decks, but I don’t want the response to blatantly broken decks to be a shrug and a cry of “Thaaat’s Wild mode!”  I still want Wild mode to be a legitimate playstyle in its own right.  I want balance changes to still be on the table for older cards and for some consideration to be given for how Wild mode will be effected by new cards.  My worst fear for Wild mode is for it to become dominated by a small selection of decks like we’ve seen with Face Hunter and Secret Paladin in the past.  Wild mode should live up to its name and be fertile ground for experimentation and unpredictability, not relegated to regimentation.  With it having its own ranked ladder and being the playstyle for several modes, it looks like Wild mode will still be receiving the love and care I’m hoping for.  All the same, I can’t ignore the nagging feeling at the back of my head that Wild mode will be used as the dumping ground for the most egregious net-decking.

What are your thoughts on Standard mode?  What has you excited or worried about how Hearthstone will be changing this year?  With all my own concerns, I do still see the pros outweighing the cons and this being a change for the best.  There’s always a chance that this could blow up in all our faces, but those are just the risks you have to take to push things further.  Once the new expansion is revealed later this season, it will either dispel or confirm our reservations on this evolution.  Until then, it’s important that we voice our opinions on what the future can hold as it’s the only way we voice to the developers what we want out of the game and try to shape things in a way we can all be happy with.