L0rinda

Major Balance Changes Coming to Hearthstone

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Blizzard have announced major balance changes to Hearthstone, including changes to Yogg-Saron, and Tuskarr Totemic.

Players have been complaining more than usual about the state of the randomness in Hearthstone for some time now, with Tuskarr Totemic and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End being the major targets. On top of that, Shaman has been getting more and more powerful, and difficult to deal with. Blizzard have taken the opportunity to adjust these cards, lower the power level of Shaman, and have tidied up a few other issues. I have outlined the changes with my views below, the official views can be found on Blizzard's blog.

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Tuskarr Totemic allowed for huge swings based on the result of the random effect. The three non-basic Totems, Mana Tide TotemFlametongue Totem, and Totem Golem usually led to substantially better board states then the four basic Totems. The card will still be playable in Totem based decks, but it will no longer win anywhere near as many games just through a lucky roll.

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One of the most controversial cards ever, Yogg-Saron, Hope's End, has been drastically reduced in power. Although the card text stays the same, the way it functions will be different. I'll let the design team's words speak for this one:

Blizzard LogoBlizzard

We didn't want to nerf it so much that it couldn't still be a fun card for players who currently love Yogg. Yogg-Saron will now stop casting spells if, during Yogg-Saron’s battlecry, it is destroyed, silenced, transformed, or returned to its owner’s hand.  We tried a bunch of things and we think this is a significant enough nerf that it could reduce the amount it gets seen (especially in tournaments), while still maintaining the dream for people who love the card.

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Rockbiter Weapon is very powerful. Not only does it combine well with Doomhammer and Al'Akir the Windlord for huge closing damage, but it also allows Shaman to control the early game. Often this early control snowballs so much that there is very little the opponent can do. Stopping this will slow the Class down substantially, and should make Shaman builds a lot less frustrating to play against.

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When I first saw the Preview for Call of the Wild, I speculated that Animal Companion was going to be nerfed. Usually a card in Hearthstone that does the job of two or more cards, costs the total of the casting costs, plus one extra for each addition card that it represents. In the case of Call of the Wild that means it should cost the three threes from Animal Companion, plus two more. Eleven. The way that the game actually flows should mean that a nerf to nine is fine, but I think many people will be glad that Hunter has lost the turn seven coin, Call of the Wild win condition now. Hunter will now have to find a way to bridge the gap from Savannah Highmane on turn six, until Call of the Wild.

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Alongside Shaman, Warrior has also been incredibly powerful and versatile recently. Although this nerf is a surprise to me, I think it is a welcome one. A slower controlling deck should still be able to make good use of Execute, but aggressive decks won't have the luxury of turning their opponent's minions into speed bumps any more. I think this is a good change for the game.

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Another surprising change, but another good one. People don't like losing to decks that they can't interact with, and this kills off One Turn Kill Raging Worgen as a deck. With all the problems that the keyword Charge has given the game over the time, I've mentioned to friends, a little frivolously, if we'll see the keyword change eventually, or if the cards will keep being nerfed one at a time.

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Another surprising, but welcome, change to a card. Blizzard have stated they'd like to see a little less aggro, and that Abusive Sergeant is in nearly every aggressive deck at the moment. Although this seems like a small change, we saw the difference one Attack made to Knife Juggler, and I think we'll find that Abusive Sergeant not trading up the turn after it is played will mean it is far less powerful.

These changes should be in place for the Last Call Qualifiers in October, and it will be exciting to see what the players come up with for those very important tournaments.

Let us know your thoughts as to how these will impact the game!

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I don't like the Rockbiter WeaponExecuteCharge and Call of the Wild ones.

I think they were unnecessary.

Tuskarr Totemic should have been like this since his release

Yogg-Saron, Hope's End's change on the other hand is interesting, cause he can still be useful. Most of the times you want just a board clear and to draw some cards from him, nothing else.

Edit : Charge was completely unnecessary, Worgen OTK warrior decks were there to punish control decks in a control meta. Also they were quite difficult to play correctly and loose to most aggro decks. I can't get my head around this change.

Edited by CodeRazor

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I hate OTK decks and insane damage appearing out of thin air, so I have to say I LOVE these nerfs. 
I don't think Execute needed a nerf that bad, but it was annoying to see your 8-drop killed by 1-mana spell. 

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This is like the worst day of my life. I've never felt that ashamed and unprofessional. I'll quote myself from an hour ago :

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If we are realistic, than there is no way such drastic changes like bans or reworks can happen in the middle of season. R&D is slow response, and this is good in a way - things are more stable. Blizzcon is also not really far away in time, and doing major shake-ups to the game wouldn't be a great idea.

Regarding coding Tuskarr Totemic, what I offered is a very simple half-measure solution that would weaken, not kill the card, which is generally where you'd want to be as a developer. Given the fact card is almost two years old already, and will rotate soon(tm), hardly a big thing as a mechanical rework of such level could happen.

This was before patch announcement was live.

I owe an apology to @klott100 and all you guys too. 

Do you actually want to hear my opinion on the actual changes? Because oh boy, I did screw up the last time.

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I like most of the changes.

The Charge change is pretty interesting. It will give rise to more interesting strategies with Sylvanas, Acolyte of Pain, Grim Patron , pyromancer. I wonder if it can be used in dragon warrior. Due to execute nerf maybe we can cut 1xExecute and add 1xCharge.

Charge synergies pretty well with the high health dragons like Guardian, Book Wyrm for an instant value trade. Heck even you can use it with Blackwing corruptor to remove something like a mana tide totem and a totem golem and leave a 5/1. Overall it synergies with most of the dragon warrior minions as most of them have high health.

Edit: Adding more gimmick interactions like with Magnataur Alpha (from reddit) and Boogeymonster :)

Edited by sc47

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Honestly. I think all of these changes are AMAZING.
Especially the Yogg one. He became too much of a no brainer once people learned how to use him. As long as you could survive he was almost certainly giving you a board while wrecking your opponent.
Tuskar has always been too valuable for his drop. Rockbitter is a surprising and wasn't on my radar as a problem card, but makes sense putting it more in line with other spells that deal 3 damage for the early game.

Call of the wild NEEDED a change, and 1 mana will actually make a huge difference by limiting the drop and additional combo with the 2 mana. 1 mana is way harder to use and gives an extra turn to build up the counter without making it out of reach. They cover the typical hearthstone math pretty well. 3+3+3=9...

Execute and abusive sergeant aren't crazy changes, but will slow the aggro just a bit while having both still be used (good example is knife juggler, stat change, still useful but not automatic for every deck).

Charge has always been an issue, and giving it the ice-howl treatment might make it unplayable, but I wouldn't be surprised if they move in this direction for every charge card. OTK Worgen was just stupid. if it made it past about turn 6, the warrior would stabilize and you had no hope (even as another warrior) if they got their combo.

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Call of the wild-I'm sort of on the fence about this one. While i definitely agree that the card itself is broken, it's also most of what hunter has going for it as a class(before standard hit, it was mad scientist), and by nerfing it they might be making the class terrible. We'll just have to wait and see how much this nerf will affect the class as a whole, although I expect it to be quite a lot.

Tuskarr-I'm glad they have finally come to their senses. Easily one of my most hated hearthstone cards.

Yogg-Not sure if the nerf will be enough to prevent yogg from being viable in a competitive deck, as the potential to clear the opponent's board and catch you up on games you have essentially lost already is still there, and is the reason most people put the card in their deck. Again we'll just have to wait and see how much of a difference the nerf makes on average, but I would have prefered to just ban it from ranks 5-legend and tournaments, or just from the standard set altogether.

Rockbiter-Obviously this will make the class less powerful, but there's a ton of other class cards that deserved the nerf more(trogg, totem golem, etc). Plus this will hurt the class even after the upcoming format change next year, and that might not be needed. I think blizzard should really start being more open minded with cards that are MEANT to be used as finishers, and focus more on the sheer power level.

Charge-While I can definitely see the argument for this nerf, I can't help but feel bad that we're losing one of the most fun decks in the game. I guess it did restrict a lot of cards being introduced into the game though, so understandable overall.

Abusive-again I can definitely see the argument for the nerf, as the card is easily one of the best one mana minions in the game since beta, and sees into most minion based aggro decks. But I personally also love the card and the feeling of trading into higher cost minions with it and will hate to see it gone, so I hope the nerf isn't enough to accomplish that, although I highly doubt people will stop running in zoo at the very least.

Edited by JooBatanete

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7 minutes ago, YourGod said:

Should have nerfed Power Overwhelming or another Zoo card

Zoo is anyway not that oppressive nowadays. Shamans with 3-4 AoEs and warriors already keep them in check.

Also abusive's nerf which doesn't impact zoo as much as hybrid hunter is still a downside as you need that 2 power to trade into your opponent's 3/2 or a 2/3 with direwolf.

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I can live with these changes. Kinda sad about Abusive Sergeant and Call of the Wild but I also understand at the same time. I'm laughing at Blizzard though when it comes to Shaman because they wanted Shaman to see more play, now they aren't happy because it sees too much play.  I do however think they need a few more people in the card creating department that actually play the game so we won't need as many nerfs in the future and so we don't end up with a 3 mana 9/9. 

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2 hours ago, YourGod said:

Should have nerfed Power Overwhelming or another Zoo card

Abusive Sergeant is the best card in Zoo arguably and has received the hammer, plus Zoo is barely a tier 2 deck at the moment. Abusive Sergeant is the fundamental definition of a Zoo card and has been in every list since the beginning of time. Cheap, efficient, good body, high tempo ability.

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I think the abusive sergeant nerf won't make much of a difference - look at knife juggler...the effect matters more than the body. But I can see where blizzard is coming from. 

 

Sottle, I agree with your statement. Perhaps to beat zoo I should simply play less Priest... 

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Still recovering from this huge failure of mine. Here is a wrap-up of my thoughts on the changes. For the sake of convenience and for those who (now have a reason to) don't trust me, I'll put them under spoilers.

The Good

Tuskarr Totemic: Yes, please!

Spoiler

This was clearly one of the most oppresive cards in the game and I'm glad to see it go. Now that I think of it, a half measure wouldn't be enough, and nerfing the hell out of Tuskarr is a good way to shake up things for Shaman. Low opportunity cost and high payoff had really reduced the diversity of Shaman decks, basically making them all Midrange variants of the same thing.

Rockbiter Weapon : The Unsung Hero.

Spoiler

Rockbiter change is a huge one, because it's here to transcend the Year of Kraken. It's a long term solution to Shaman Problems that Blizzard don't like : both critical mass of good interaction is suffering and burst potential from Doomhammer is really reduced. It was hell of a good card, and while Rockbiter is sort of the identity card for Shaman, increased cost means that you have to commit if you want to use it, which, once again, would increase the diversity of Shaman decks. Maybe they can finally print a WIndfury card for Shaman - also an identity thing for the class. Now it's easier to attack and counterplay Shaman early game, which should fix some current problems.

Yogg-Saron, Hope's End : Our prayers have been answered!

Spoiler

While there is no point in denying the fact Yogg was taken down a peg in pure power level, he still has a lot of potential, so case is not exactly closed as it is. I believe it was a good notion, but decks that have usually utilized it - namely Druid and Mage - have not been exactly reliant on him, he was a back-up plan Y. Plans A, B, C and all the way up to X are still the same - it's not like Druids are going to run less spells all of a sudden. Some decks, like the new Control Warrior, however, wouldn't be able to get away with small Yoggs now, and that's good news. We're going to see a decline in Yoggs, but not a complete absence. Don't dust your copies.

Call of the Wild : They did the math, finally.

Spoiler

The 3-for-1 nightmare of a spell was a horrible undercosted mashup of 3 already undercosted spells, and this is a recipe for disaster. Even though Hunter is not exactly the best class right now - average power, plus some popular good matchups - it enjoys huge popularity because it's pretty cheap and easy to play, A change to Call is welcome from my point of view, because it's really hard to normally interact with, especially on 7-8 mana mark. Now Hunter's opponents can have more options to even think of, for starters - like Deathwing, for example.

The Bad

Disclaimer : Next I'm going to voice something that can look like an unpopular opinion. Feel free to disagree. I'm a False Prophet after all.

Execute : Totally uncalled for.

Spoiler

I think that Execute is a brilliant card. It makes a ton of flavorful sense, and the biggest part of the fun is that it is balanced. What looks like a small mana investment is actually a huge trap, because Execute is card disadvantage. You have to commit something else in order to enable it. Perhaps it is another card, then you 1-for-2 yourself; perhaps it's a spare body or some spell that you don't mind paying for, like Blood To Ichor. But you have to get that other body or spell to pair with Execute, too! And that is in a class that has traditional problems with card advantage and card selection. Even if you can make it breaking even on cards, it still would be pretty awkward, because of that strategical "have two special cards against their one threat" thing, which is undesirable for Control Strategies. Compare it to clean answers like Hex and you'll see the difference and how Execute is worse here. But that's if we talk about Control Warrior.

Anything Warrior that did not plan to armor up in double digits and spend 30 minutes playing a single game utilizes Execute pretty efficiently, but I cannot see that as an issue. A lot of threats in the format are fast and tall, like a certain 4 mana 7\7, for example, and to keep such bad boys in check you have to have a good removal spell. And that's Execute police. A good catch-all answer actually produces diversity in a way, because less cards can cause problems, and the whole environment is more balanced. That's Execute police.

An explaination I can get behind is that Execute reduces design space, but not in removal department. A Control strategy needs not just means to answer a thread, but also means to find the right answer. If you give them 15 removal spells, a game will be over when opponent plays "draw 2" card. And Blizzard have been shoving healing down our throats, not actual card advantage or card selection. I think it's because it can create a dangerous consistency if you pair it with small deck size in Hearthstone. Draw 2 means much more for Warrior because you can't really brick and draw a land like in Magic with its 60-card decks. If removal options would be less efficient, like Druid has, for example, it would be much safer to print a draw spell and help Control that way.

Abusive Sergeant : The Good Guy of the format.

Spoiler

Sergeant is another classical staple that has been proven times and again to be good. Not great, not op, just where you'd want your good card to be. I like him a lot because what he does it helps policing a lot of stuff in the format, like 1\3 creatures, and he does it in a fair way - interacting through good old combat damage. When pumps are around, you can have more power level assigned to creatures and still feel fine about it, and it makes creatures-on-creatures matchups really interesting.

I would attribute the size nerf to the amount of Bloodfen Raptor in the meta, that Murloc Raider punishes so badly : Huge ToadKing's ElekkCult SorcererSorcerer's Apprentice. Raptors in their turn are formidable against popular 1\3s, and 1\3s are good against Murloc Raiders, so I'm not really sure what the fuss is all about because Rock-Paper-Sciccors is the most fair game ever.

As uncalled and not great I put it, the change would probably be more pros than cons. Probably.

The Ugly

Charge : Combo Tolerance Level : Zero.

Spoiler

As a combo enthusiast and a Johnny player, I'm taking this one personally, much like Warsong Commander and Force of Nature.

Why? Why can't Blizzard accept an idea of converting cards to damage directly without hypocrisy? 

Why do we still have Freeze Mage that violates everything Blizzard claim to hold dear in Hearthstone, why do we still have Miracle Rogue who can get out of hand as soon as turn 3, why Malygos is a normal thing, but it's Worgen who takes one for the team?

It was not a top performing deck. It killed things using damage coming out of some staples and then some weird fringe cards. It had a ridiculous skillcap. It made flashy plays worthy of E-Sports fame. It had free losses when you never saw your combo piece. You could counter it with a freaking Taunt.

Worgen OTK deck had nothing that you can find offensive and metagame health threatening, because it was not consistent enough to actually make wide impact. It's a reccuring problem that i come back to : Blizzard can't stand Combo because the game is "simple" and there is no way to interact with it properly. 

Change it. Add a Loatheb back or something. Bring Sciccors to the table. Because without Combo as a thing, there would be impossible to create balance - whether you position it to be a Control punisher or an Aggro punisher.

But of course, instead of solving the problem, you can change an enabler into a worthless piece much like you did to Warsong Commander, and cover it up with "restricts future cards". Invent a card that would be busted with the old Charge and is not Raging Worgen, then we can talk.

I apologize for the inconvenient explaination of my dissapointment with this change. I'm just feeling like a Raging Worgen right now.

How I believe these changes would affect the meta:

Spoiler
  • Druid is going to be the public enemy #1. He already is, it just feels less oppressive and weaker to aggro than Shaman. That would make a more powerlevel closer metagame, but Druid is going to be the best deck. He loses almost nothing, while his opposition does. Malfurion should be the next blip on Blizzard's radar.
  • Shaman would be dissolved further, and Aggro will finally part with Midrange. Ultimately it would come to whether Shamans want to commit to Doomhammer+Rockbiter, or be more focused on the remaning interaction in form of Spirit Claws and Maelstrom Portal. Second option feels like a weapon of choice, and it's reduced power level will make Shaman actually tolerable.
  • Hunter would become weaker, but remain popular because of its artificial features - simplicity and cost. Hybrid versions are taken down, and I think we can expect a shift towards more heavier approach.
  • Zoo Warlock and Warrior, specifically Dragon Warrior, look promising, even though they are nerfed in a way. Both archetypes are well positioned against Druid and are sort of soft to Shaman, who would decrease. Dragon Warrior would have a closer Hunter matchup which benefits it a lot, and Zoo would feel more confident going there, too.
  • Rogue already grows popular as a Druid counter in the tournament scene, and with more Druids, more Rogues would be around as well. It's the Control Punisher we deserve.
  • Control Paladin is also a thing that gets bumped in the matchups, but it's weak against Druid, so I'd call an expanded niche, not ladder dominance for it. Same goes for Priest, probably.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Paracel said:

This is like the worst day of my life. I've never felt that ashamed and unprofessional. I'll quote myself from an hour ago :

This was before patch announcement was live.

I owe an apology to @klott100 and all you guys too. 

Do you actually want to hear my opinion on the actual changes? Because oh boy, I did screw up the last time.

All good my man.  At least you admitted when you made a mistake if the whole world did that we'd be in an amazing place. :)

 

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@ParacelTo play win against OTK Raging Worgen, you would have to play the BEFORE he launches the combo, which is why they decided to nerf it (and Warsong Commander and Force of Nature). 
Freeze mage isn't a true OTK - it can't bash you from 30 to 0 in one single turn, unlike Raging Worgen or Patron Warrior. [Edit: Forgot double Frostbolt+Ice Lance, I could see Ice Lance nerfed to 3 dmg] That means you can [often] disrupt their combo by healing. If you heal back up after freeze mage drops Alexstrasza, you win almost every time. However, the issue with healing in standard is that there are just not enough good healing effects, apart from Reno Jackson, but he limits the deckbuilding options a lot. That's why I think we will see new heals in the upcoming expansion. (Defending freeze mage feels so disgusting)
Malygod is a problem, and I hope he sees a nerf. 26 damage after one turn of Emperor Thaurissan is an issue and should be resolved.

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38 minutes ago, positiv2 said:

Reno Jackson limits the deckbuilding options a lot.

And yet at the same time not enough. Reno decks are powerful and consistent enough, you just need a huge collection (or a lot of dust to burn) to create one.

Quote

(Defending freeze mage feels so disgusting)

Doubly so when you see the amount of them. Seriously...

Quote

Malygod is a problem, and I hope he sees a nerf. 26 damage after one turn of Emperor Thaurissan is an issue and should be resolved.

 Thaurissan will rotate out soon. A correctly timed Loatheb will throw a huge wrench in that well-oiled gears in Wild.

You'd still be able to Malygos + Moonfire + Moonfire for 12 damage on turn nine as a burst/finisher/emergency clear (Considering Living Roots will rotate out as well), but that's nothing a Mage can't do. With less cards and less mana, I might add.

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I think all the nerfs are good except maybe Charge, I never see worgon otk on the ladder. Tuskar could be 3/3 that summons a basic totem, lots of other 3/3 3mana minions with effect. Yogg should just be removed from the game, it is so random, it's bad for the game. I'm kind of sad for abusive, it will probably not see much play now like lepergnome. 

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Worgen had to go in my opinion. I'm not the biggest fan of OTK decks (and if I'm not mistaken neither is Blizzard) and I felt it was kinda cheap especially when you've been playing a good game and lose it in one fell swoop to something you cannot counter. In regards to Yogg, I like the change. It has balanced the risk vs reward (considering my Yoggs tend to kill themselves) but has left it viable.

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I guess I will throw in my 2 cents here.

Tuskarr totemic: Represented some of the very worst of RNG.  I hated losing to stuff like trogg > golem > coin tuskarr + golem/flame tongue.  Dealing with some 11/13 worth of stats by turn 4 is somewhat nightmarish, and getting flame tongue is even worse, you basically lose the game if you don't have an on point answer.

 

Yogg:  Little sad to see this, I personally love the wackiness it brings, but it needed to be done.  I also doubt it will be viable anymore.  After this nerf it will be much less consistent, which will pretty much mean it will only be played in like yogg-n-load decks.  Not much more to say about this.

 

Rockbiter: Eh, I honestly don't think this was the right card to nerf.  Yes it enables some pretty silly combos, but honestly, shaman has a really weak core set, and this was one of the best cards.  At 1 mana it was strong, at 2 mana, it will probably only see very marginal play.  Plus, this card really wasn't the problem with shaman (Or maybe a better way to say this is that shaman has 2 problems, cheap efficient removal and cheap efficient minions, neither of which are bad on there own but together become problematic), totem golem and thing from below are both much more problematic, and from the way things are shaping up, spirit claws should probably be on that list of incredibly broken shaman cards.  In general, shamans lack strong 2 drops aside from totem golem, so I would think thing from below should have been the card nerfed over rockbiter.  Although, there is something to be said for rockbiter limiting design space with things like windfury minions, but lets be honest, blizzard say things like "Blade flury is problematic and limits design space for good rogue weapons so we are nerfing it to the ground so we can print better rogue weapons".  Then only give rogues an over-costed fiery winaxe that is a death rattle from an over-costed bloodfen raptor.  So I really don't think that is a good reason to nerf things.

 

Call of the wild:  Well it really ins't that problematic right now, simply because hunter isn't that strong right now, but a good measure of a cards power is to consider how playable the card is at a 1 mana increase, and if the answer is still "this card will be an auto 2 of in almost every single deck", then something is the matter.  All and all, a good nerf, but a bit depressing considering the state of hunter in general.

 

Execute:  I actually really like this nerf.  It really doesn't hurt control warrior that much, but it makes execute much less viable in tempo based warrior decks.  Being able to do stuff like play a 4 drop on turn 5 and remove the damaged minion your opponent used to trade into your 3 or 4 drop was very strong, and is a lot of what made these sort of warrior builds incredibly strong.

 

Charge:  Eh I mean this nerf is what it is.  No one is surprised by this nerf, and while it probably wasn't necessary, very few people have the skill to really play the decks based around this card, and it often feels unfair to lose to them (even though it really isn't unfair).  While I am saddened to see combo decks go, I don't play the raging worgen deck, nor do I see many of them on ladder, so it barely effects me (or over 95% of the community for that matter).

 

Abusive sergeant:  I also really like this nerf. Abusive is by far the strongest neutral 1 drop in the game for aggressive decks, and the power level of 1 drops effects the power level of decks far more then people seem to realize (especially for aggressive decks).  I still think this card will be seen in zoo, but it might not be an auto include for almost every aggressive deck out there.  Most of the problem with this card lies in the current state of the game.  Tempo swings don't really happen as often anymore, The deck who gains tempo early tends to keep tempo and decks that keep tempo tend to win.  Cards like abusive sergeant help you snowball a small tempo lead into a large one by allowing you to trade up by 1-2 mana, the letting you play a minion that is off curve by 1, along with the 2/1 body.

 

Overall, I feel like this was a great set of nerfs, my only real problem with the nerfs themselves is with rockbiter (and the a lesser extent charge), but really it still helps.  However, from a macro prospective, shaman might have actually gotten stronger after these nerfs considering all the other strong decks (tempo mage, druid, and tempo/dragon warrior) all got nerfed harder then shaman did, making them less relevant comparatively.  Only time will tell if this is actually the case, however.

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59 minutes ago, PaasHaaS said:

And we're live!

FYI Mobile iOS is not yet. Still rocking my Shaman cheese!

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      The Ukrainian player is now part of G2.
      Lifecoach's spot had been empty for a while and someone had to fill in the gap, in order for the Fantastic Four of the Hearthstone division of G2 Esports to be remade. This person turned out to be Neirea, formerly of Team Liquid, who will join RDU, Thijs and Lothar. In fact, Neirea is already competing with his new team in the second week of the Trinity Series.
      Eugene "Neira" Shumilin has consistently ranked high in various major competitions since 2014. His breakout performance happened this year with team Ukraine placing 2nd in the Hearthstone Global Games and Neirea qualifying for the World Championship during the Spring Championship.
      We wish him the very best of luck!
    • By Zadina

      Shadowreaper Anduin can machinegun his enemies down at a proper speed.
      Patch 9.2, which went live yesterday, broke poor Shadowreaper Anduin, causing a huge delay when refreshing his Hero Power. This bug was quickly fixed today with a hotfix that can be donwloaded to your Hearthstone client:
      mdonais
      We are currently deploying a Hotfix to fix the speed of Shadowreaper Anduin's hero power.
      It slowed down in the patch yesterday. I don't know exactly why since I am not one of the engineers that fixed it but it sounds like it is a side effects of the unity upgrade we did. We have to rebuild a some things when we do a unity upgrade.
      Thanks!
      Mike. (source)
    • By Aleco

      Which decks have emerged as the top dogs in the post-patch metagame?
      A lot has changed since patch 9.1 hit the ladder. In the latest meta report we cover the top new decks, the tech of the week, and some budget-friendly options you can use to dominate the ladder.
      It’s been a healthy amount of time since I wrote the first meta report for Icy Veins, and the current metagame could hardly be more different than the last I reported on. Patch 9.1 hit the ladder a few weeks ago to end the era of Druid dominance that plagued the early Knights of the Frozen Throne meta, and I believe that Blizzard deserves a good deal of credit for handling the Druid situation in a firm yet fair way. Druid was successfully knocked down a peg by the nerfs and the metagame is no longer plagued an overwhelming number of overpowered Jade Golems, yet the class itself was far from destroyed by the nerfs and remains a solid option for the competitive ladder.
      Now that the competitive ladder is once again a fun and safe environment to experiment in, it’s the perfect time to revisit the metagame to see how we can best attack it. In today’s article I’ll cover the top dogs of the format to take a look at why you should play them and how you can beat them, detail the tech card which are most likely to earn you some win percentage in the current metagame, and wrap things up by highlighting the top budget decks for the post-nerf ladder.
      The Top Decks
      Note: I will be using the vS Data Reaper Live Report for all of the statistics in this article.
      #1 - Tempo Rogue
      2x Backstab 2x Shadowstep 2x Cold Blood 2x Fire Fly 1x Hallucination 1x Patches the Pirate 2x Southsea Deckhand 2x Swashburglar 1x Prince Keleseth 1x Edwin VanCleef 2x SI:7 Agent 1x Shaku, the Collector 2x Southsea Captain 1x Tar Creeper 1x Spellbreaker 1x Xaril, Poisoned Mind 1x Leeroy Jenkins 1x Shadowcaster 2x Vilespine Slayer 2x Bonemare The new king of the meta is a deck which very few would have expected to become as dominant as it has. Tempo Rogue was just starting to gain momentum before the nerfs hit, yet it now boasts the top overall win percentage across all levels of play and has made Rogue the most played class at rank 5 and above.
      Most would have pegged Highlander Priest to wear the “best deck in standard” crown after the nerfs as it was the second best deck and was left untouched by Blizzard in Patch 9.1. Though it’s still a great deck (and we’ll be talking much more about a bit later), the metagame has shaped up to be a tad more aggressive than Highlander Priests would have hoped for. With aggro and aggressively-slanted midrange decks making up roughly half of the top 16 decks in the format, it stands to reason that the deck with the highest number of favorable matchups against these aggressive decks would be an in excellent position to take over the meta.
      Sure enough, Tempo Rogue boasts even or positive winrates against all but two of the decks on the Reaper report. All but two. Though that might seem like Jade Druid levels of domination, the key difference between Tempo Rogue and the previous king of the meta is that it is much easier to beat the deck if you’re planning for it. It’s vulnerable to wide boards that are backed up by effects such as Bloodlust and Savage Roar, plays seven or more Pirates which can be gobbled up by a Golakka Crawler, and its worst matchup is against Highlander Priest, the second most popular deck in the format.
      The power of the deck lies in the massive amount of two for ones, and is capable of generating massive amounts of value on a card per card basis. SI:7 Agent, Fire Plume Phoenix, Blazecaller, and Vilespine Slayer develop the board while going 187 on the opponent’s minions, and more aggressively-minded cards such as Cobalt Scalebane, Bittertide Hydra, and Bonemare are capable of generating a board out of nowhere. These highly efficient cards afford the deck the ability to play greedier cards like Cold Blood and Leeroy Jenkins to help them go underneath the bigger control decks. The final piece of the puzzle which puts it over the top is Prince Keleseth, a card which makes it’s already highly efficient creatures even more cost-effective and is particularly deadly in combination with Shadowstep.
      Tempo Rogue’s incredible flexibility and ability to pivot between roles are what make it such a dominant force in the current meta. It can comfortably play the role of the control deck against decks the likes of Zoo Warlock and Pirate Warrior, yet maintains a healthy number of tools which allow it to favorably play the role of Aggro against the likes of Jade Druid and Control Warlock. It seems that the way to take advantage of it is to capitalize on the fact that it doesn’t run several historically crucial Rogue cards. Without neither Vanish nor Bloodmage Thalnos + Fan of Knives at their disposal, the deck can struggle a bit to regain initiative against cards which create a wide board. Living Mana is a living nightmare for Tempo Rogue to deal with, and a big part of the reason that Aggro Druid is one of the two popular decks which has a favorable matchup against it (along with Highlander Priest). Though the Reaper report claims that Tempo Rogue is currently favored against Token Shaman, I’d imagine that some slight tuning could turn the tides towards Shaman’s favor.
      #2 - Highlander Priest
      1x Silence 1x Holy Smite 1x Northshire Cleric 1x Pint-Size Potion 1x Potion of Madness 1x Power Word: Shield 1x Bloodmage Thalnos 1x Dirty Rat 1x Golakka Crawler 1x Loot Hoarder 1x Mind Blast 1x Novice Engineer 1x Radiant Elemental 1x Shadow Visions 1x Shadow Word: Pain 1x Spirit Lash 1x Wild Pyromancer 1x Acolyte of Pain 1x Curious Glimmerroot 1x Kabal Talonpriest 1x Shadow Word: Death 1x Kazakus 1x Priest of the Feast 1x Shadow Word: Horror 1x Lyra the Sunshard 1x Raza the Chained 1x Dragonfire Potion 1x Holy Fire 1x Prophet Velen 1x Shadowreaper Anduin Fret not Priest fans, the age of Anduin is alive and well. Raza and Shadowreaper Anduin teamed up to make Highlander Priest the only deck played by 100% of the field at the HCT Summer Championships. It feels nearly impossible to beat a perfect draw from Highlander Priest, and the relatively high degree of skill which the deck requires to play affords more talented players the opportunity to outplay opponent’s in games which go long. It has a very tough time closing out games if it doesn’t draw Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained, but the huge amount of card draw the deck packs makes that a relatively rare occurrence.
      I don’t need to spend too much time discussing the strengths of the deck as it has been around for a while and it’s upsides are quite obvious. Early iterations of the deck had it masquerading as a control deck that just happened to play a game ending combo, but the Hearthstone community has since discovered that it’s much better to fully embrace the combo nature of the deck. Highlander Priest can now be best described as a pile of the top Priest spells, two extremely powerful Highlander cards (Raza and Kazakus), and a bunch of card draw spells. The downside of Highlander decks are that they can often feel inconsistent due to the one-of deckbuilding restriction, yet Highlander Priest is able to largely avoid this pitfall by reducing its effective deck size with all of its card draw.
      Highlander Priest is undeniably powerful and has certain draws that feel outright unbeatable, yet it still has several exploitable weaknesses. The most obvious of these weaknesses is the Highlander nature of the deck which prevents it from running more than one copy of Priest’s key defensive spells. It gets to run both Dragonfire Potion and Pint-Size Potion + Shadow Word: Horror to deal with boards that attempt to go wide, but it only gets to run one copy of Shadow Word: Death to kill larger minions and typically struggles against boards that can go big early. Shadowreaper Anduin gets to clear away multiple 5+ power minions with its battlecry effect, but efficient beaters like Bittertide Hydra and Cobalt Scalebane (which also dodges Dragonfire Potion) come down on Turn 5 and threaten to end the game before the powerful Death Knight has the opportunity to say anything about it. Barring a strong turn 5 play, not overcommitting your 5+ power minions into a Shadowreaper Anduin battlecry trigger can set up a game winning follow-up play before the upgraded Hero Power has time to burst your life down to 0. The lack of removal for large minions also means that the deck does miserably against both Jade Druid and Big Priest. At the end of the day Highlander Priest has just about as many negative matchups as positive ones, and it’s overall winrate on the Reaper report is a very modest 50%.
      #3 - Zoo Warlock
      A perfect example of addition by subtraction, the best aggro deck for the current standard meta is the one that didn’t get hit by the nerfs in patch 9.1. Pirate Warrior was dealt a massive blow with the nerf to Fiery War Axe and Aggro Druids are still adjusting to the loss of Innervate. These nerfs, along with the nerf to Spreading Plague, has opened up the door for a new aggro deck to emerge as a tool for punishing the slower and greedier decks of the format. Though the decklist for Zoo Warlock has remaind basically unchanged from the pre-nerf meta, the downgrade to normalcy for the top dogs of the previous format is what has allowed Zoo Warlock to become a highly competitive deck.
      The greatest strength of the deck is its remarkable consistency to curve out with 1 drops. It gets to run more 1 drops than any of the other top Aggro deck thanks Warlock’s two awesome Imps and Voidwalker, all of which are Demons for the extremely powerful one-card game-ender that is Bloodreaver Gul'dan. The deck's massive number of 1 drops allows it to squeeze minions onto the board at every spot in the curve while Life Tapping whenever possible to pressure the opponent with a stream of threats. Its also the aggro deck that has the lowest opportunity cost for running Prince Keleseth, as the deck would likely only consider Darkshire Librarian and Dire Wolf Alpha at the two drop slot and is perfectly content with Life Tap or two one drops on turn two. An early Keleseth makes Zoo’s already aggressively-statted minions a nightmare to deal with for control players and a huge problem for other aggro opponents as the game goes long. All of these factors add up to a deck which currently has only four negative matchups on the Reaper report and the second best overall win percentage in the meta.
      The weakness of Zoo Warlock is its relative inability to regain control over the board once it has been lost. The deck’s only ways to immediately deal with threats are Doomguard and Soulfire, both of which discard cards from hand and can potentially put the Warlock at a huge disadvantage. Getting a large Taunt minion to stick on board is likely too much for a Zoo Warlock to overcome, which is a big part of the reason that Big Priest is the deck’s worst matchup. Control decks can prey on Zoo Warlock by sticking a Doomsayer and following it up with heavy board presence. Other Aggro decks can can punish Zoo by getting on the board early and fighting tooth and nail to not surrender control of the board. As the Warlock is likely to pressure it’s own life total with Life Tap and Flame Imp, it shouldn’t be too difficult to turn the corner and quickly end the game once the opportunity presents itself.
      Tech of the Week - Golakka Crawler
      Despite a massive drop in the playrate of Pirate Warrior, Patches the Pirate and Southsea Captain are enjoying all-time highs in terms of deck representation. Half of the top ten decks on the Reaper report run Patches, while the top deck in the format (Tempo Rogue) is running up to nine Pirates! As much as I would love to suggest a sexier tech card, the prevalence of pirates in the present patch make Golakka Crawler the tech of the week. I’d currently recommend cramming two copies of the crab into control or midrange deck with the flex spots to support it.
      Budget Beater #1 - Midrange Hunter
      2x Alleycat 2x Tracking 2x Crackling Razormaw 2x Golakka Crawler 2x Scavenging Hyena 2x Animal Companion 1x Deadly Shot 2x Eaglehorn Bow 2x Kill Command 2x Stitched Tracker 2x Unleash the Hounds 2x Houndmaster 2x Infested Wolf 1x Tundra Rhino 2x Savannah Highmane 2x Bonemare The time of the Hunter is upon us! One of the weakest classes in Journey to Un’Goro, Hunter has emerged as an effective choice in the current meta for all the same reasons that Zoo Warlock has. Midrange Hunter has some terrible aggro matchups, but it’s sticky creatures are problematic for nearly all of the top control decks in the format. This extremely budget-friendly deck is currently capable of carrying skilled or experienced Hunter pilots all the way to Legend, just be wary of aggro-heavy local metagames during your climb.
      Budget Beater #2 - Secret Mage
      Note: Requires One Night in Karazhan and 4 Epics.
      2x Mana Wyrm 2x Arcanologist 2x Frostbolt 2x Medivh's Valet 2x Primordial Glyph 2x Sorcerer's Apprentice 2x Arcane Intellect 2x Counterspell 2x Kirin Tor Mage 2x Mirror Entity 2x Fireball 2x Bittertide Hydra 2x Kabal Crystal Runner 2x Bonemare 2x Firelands Portal I’m including a second budget beater this week because Midrange Hunter decks are so commonly recommended as budget options. Secret Mage is a very well positioned deck in the current meta and a deck I played heavily during my own climb to Legend last month. It quietly boasts a better overall winrate than Highlander Priest despite having some of the most polarizing matchups in the entire game. It performs horribly against most of the current aggro decks while completely running over all of the popular control decks. The thing I love most about Secret Mage is that it’s fairly skill intensive. It takes a ton of thought to pilot the deck to it’s maximum potential, which is a bag part of what makes the deck such a blast to play.
       
      Conclusion
      The Hearthstone metagame is as healthy as it's been since the last rotation, and it's a great time to jump back on the competitive ladder if you previously scared off by the brief age of DruidStone. Fans of every single class have at least one solid deck for climbing the ladder, and no individual deck feels as though it's power level is beyond reproach.
      Good luck out there, and I'll see you all next time!
      - Aleco
    • By Zadina

      The big patch we were all expecting is finally live! It contains the removal of arena synergies, the new game mechanics update and the Hallow's End seasonal event.
      Firsly, the patch includes the changes to the sequence of triggers, which we have covered extensively in a separate article. A notable change is the removal of Arena synergy picks. That's not all, though: Vicious Fledgling will no longer appear in Arena, while appearance rate adjustments have been made to some cards.
      The patch also brings Nemsy Necrofizzle, the new Warlock hero, to the Hearthstone client. She is already available from October 17 and we will cover more about her in a next article!
      The October 2017 (Unholy Horror Knights) and November 2017 (Gone Fishing) Ranked Play Season card backs have been added to the client and you can view them below:

      The more exciting part of this patch is Hallow's End! This seasonal event will run for two weeks, from October 24 until November 6. According to Hearthpwn, during its first week we will get a free Whispers of the Old Gods pack and an Arena ticket. During its second week, we will get a free Knights of the Frozen Throne and an Arena ticket.
      The main hero portraits will have unique costumes (make sure to check them out on the Hearthpwn article linked above).  There will be a special Tavern Brawl with unique cards on the week of October 24. Moreover, during Hallow's End the Arena will have a dual class mode. You will choose a hero and then you will choose a hero power from a second hero. Then, you will be able to draft class cards from both heroes, as well as neutral cards. Bear in mind that any Arena run you have in progress will be automatically retired on October 24. You will receive rewards based on the number of your wins and a free Arena ticket.
      Lastly, Patch 9.2 contains various bug fixes. You can read the patch notes here.