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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.

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(Defending freeze mage feels so disgusting)

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

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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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      “Frequently, even at the highest levels of play, we see players missing lethal,” rayC says. “Whether it’s an easy lethal or the most complex puzzle in Hearthstone, there are steps you should take every turn to ensure nothing is missed.”
      The first step? Take a deep breath. “You need to slow down,” rayC says. “The most common reason for missing lethal is simply playing too fast. Take your time to analyze the board state.”
      Once you’ve done this, run through your choices. “Think about every single option at your disposal—especially if your opponent is low on Health,” rayC says. “Go through every scenario with the cards you have in hand. You have until the rope starts to burn to make your actions, so make use of that time!”
      Accounting for your outs is important, too. “When I play any given turn, I treat it like a math problem,” rayC says. “Remember order of operations from math class? Sequencing applies to every turn of Hearthstone.” Sequencing is a skill players must work at constantly, but rayC suggests doing things like drawing cards once you’ve established you don’t already have lethal before taking any other actions.
      Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, check your work. “When you finally spot lethal, re-count it,” rayC says. “Make sure the math adds up. You never want to commit to a play only to realize you were off, and potentially lose because of it.”
      Part Two: Am I Dead? [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      To figure out whether your opponent is about to end the game is tricky. You have to evaluate the current board state, your opponent’s hand, what (if anything) you can do to prevent them from winning, and how that will impact your own game plan. For such a challenge, we asked the inimitable Edwin “HotMEOWTH” Cook—winner of the 2016 Americas Summer Championship—for help.
      Evaluating these variables is difficult, but sometimes your opponent will give you information. “It’s important to know when your opponent is showing signs of aggression or making riskier plays that might be setting up lethal,” HotMEOWTH says. “In a scenario where you are suspicious of your opponent setting up lethal the following turn, it’s important to track the cards they have left in their hand, cards left in their deck, and how much mana they will have available to figure out how much damage they can possibly do.”
      “One trick to find out if your opponent can kill you next turn is to track their hand and see if there are cards they have held for more than a few turns,” HotMEOWTH says. “If so, they might be holding onto dangerous burn spells or combo pieces.” (Hand-tracking is a skill unto itself, and the focus of tomorrow’s Midgame Week entry—so check back for that!)
      Mana considerations are hugely important as well. “Oftentimes, your opponent could have more than enough damage to win the game, but not enough mana to utilize all of those cards. Keep in mind whether you have to make the safest play—even if your opponent has held a few cards for a long time,” HotMEOWTH says. That’s especially great advice for facing off against aggressive decks.
      “If your opponent isn’t holding any specific cards, it’s still important to keep track of what’s left in their deck,” HotMEOWTH says. “What are the odds of them drawing a card that would allow them to win? Ask yourself whether you can afford to play safe and prevent it or not.” (We’ll also talk more about the strategy of playing to your outs later in Midgame Week.)
      Finally, your own Health is a crucial consideration. “When you’re facing opponents that are playing decks that can burst you down from a high Health total, it’s important to count the maximum damage they can do with their combos,” HotMEOWTH says. “For example, Druids can unleash large chunks of damage using Savage Roar with just a few minions on the board." If facing off against such a deck, he suggests playing minions with Taunt and making trades accordingly.
      Part Three: Reading Your Opponent [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      While you’ve been navigating the game—thinking every turn about whether you have lethal or if you can survive your opponent’s next turn—you also should be monitoring the state of your opponent’s hand and deck. Matthijs “Theo” Lieftink, a two-time representative of The Netherlands in the Hearthstone Global Games (HGG), has strong advice for anyone looking to improve their hand-reading skills, including how to bluff your opponent’s reads.
      “Hand-reading is an important part of pro-level play, and you can get an edge if you are doing it better than your opponent,” Theo says. His advice? “Keep track of how many cards your opponent keeps in the mulligan.” If they’re still holding one of those cards into the midgame, it’s probably a critical tech card or a high-value element of their strategy. Of course, “It depends on what your opponent is playing,” Theo adds.
      To learn hand-reading, he suggests thinking about what the absolute best play could have been every turn. If your opponent didn’t make the optimal play—for example, playing a Flamestrike on turn seven to clear your board of four-Health minions—that tells you that they probably didn’t have the tools to do so.
      Countering your opponent’s hand-reading is the next level of difficulty. “Bluffing that you do or don’t have a certain card can be done in several ways,” Theo says. He suggests making plays that suggest a specific follow-up for your next turn is in-hand, whether you’re holding it or not. “The same thing can be done the other way around—making worse plays to pretend you don’t have a certain card in hand.” He’s quick to point out, however, that this can be risky—your opponent might play around the card you’re hiding anyway. “It’s important to know when you can afford to bluff,” he says. “Making ‘worse’ plays to set something up can always backfire.”
      A special thanks to Theo for his continued provision of expert advice! Hand-reading is an enormously difficult skill to learn, and it’s one that even the best players continue to work at every day.
      Part Four: When the Plan Falls Apart [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      You had a grand plan. It was perfect. A flawless combination all but set up, waiting for that last crucial card—and then you realize that your opponent will win, unless you expend one of your key cards to stay in the game. Fear not! All is not necessarily lost, and Esteban “AKAWonder” Serrano of SK Gaming—a fixture of the European pro Hearthstone scene—will help you understand how to navigate what’s left when your deck’s win condition is scattered to the wind.
      Regardless of your deck style, AKAWonder says you must look for a new strategy if your original one has been derailed. “When you lose your win condition, you need to find an alternative plan to win the game," he says. "Most likely, your chances to win are lower than they were.” But so long as they aren't zero, you have a chance. He suggests looking for every point of win percentage you can, by any means possible.
      “In order to find an alternative plan, I think about different situations—denying my opponent their win condition, going to fatigue, or just creating pressure using minions,” AKAWonder says. He adds that certain cards can offer new outs all their own, like The Lich King.
      It’s not always easy, but practice helps. He says, “You need to find a new way to win—and the more you play a deck, the more alternative game plans you will discover for different matchups.” If you’re newer to Hearthstone, he says this is actually a valuable lesson to learn: “Your win condition is important, but not if you lose with it in your hand. Go for an alternative plan if the situation forces you to!”
      Sounds like AKAWonder recommends a whole string of keywords: you need to Discover new ways to play and Adapt to the situation! Every game is different, so playing with that in mind just makes sense.
      Part Five: Playing to Your Outs [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      There’s a surprisingly wide gulf between winning and not losing yet. A very kind Jace “DrJikininki” Garthright, best known for his 2017 Americas Winter Playoffs victory, lends us his guidance today to distinguish between the two, helping you to “play to your outs”—making sure you’re still working towards a game-winning play.
      “It’s important to ask yourself every turn—how can I win this game?” DrJikininki says. “Some games, you may have a very slim chance to win, but recognizing when you are in that situation and adapting is a very important skill.” He cautions against what may seem instinctual, which is to make the "safe" play each turn. “All players have a tendency to make plays that would be considered safer,” he says. “Plays as simple as trading into minions on the board to live for an extra turn.”
      But the concept of playing to live isn’t how you should play. “Use critical thinking about the potential reach in your opponent’s deck,” DrJikininki says. “Taking slim percentage chances is what you have to do sometimes!” His advice makes sense—evaluating how a given line of play sets you up to win later is incredibly important.
      Getting there takes time, so DrJikininki echoes what others have said: practice. “Next time you play a game and are in a losing position, ask yourself—what hands can you beat? What play with your hand leads to you winning the most often? This will help you out more than just playing a large number of games.” He notes that understanding the variables—your deck’s reach, your opponent’s deck’s reach, whether or not either deck can afford to play a value game, and more—all factor into those questions.
      That’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of educational snippets from pro players across the competitive Hearthstone landscape, and that Midgame Week inspires you to take your game to the next level.
      Which of this week’s skills do you think is most important? What advice would you offer other players looking to learn more about how to level up their play? Offer up your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for even more pro player insight right here on playhearthstone.com/esports.
    • By Stan
      Blizzard posted changes to game mechanics that will be implemented with with the Boomsday Project 12.0 patch.
      Highlights
      Ghostly Charger will no longer have the Beast tag. Ixlid, Fungal Lord is losing the Elemental tag. Shifter Zerus, Molten Blade, and Shifting Scroll will no longer keep any enchantments when they transform. Voodoo Doll's curse will be broken if you transform the minion that's already been cursed by Voodoo Doll. The transformed (formerly cursed) minion will not be killed when Voodoo Doll dies. Shadowboxer will be updated to deal 1 damage to a random enemy, whenever a minion is healed. Players will be able to disenchant the card for its full Arcane Dust value for two weeks after 12.0 goes live. Blizzard (Source)
      Dr. Boom’s bringing more than just mayhem to the Netherstorm. The 12.0 update will also come with several rule changes to Hearthstone’s gameplay. Read on to learn about another minion Type update, the copy a card rule change and the transform rule change.
      More Minion Type Changes
      There was a ton of feedback following the last minion Type update we posted, and after reviewing all of it, we realized that there were a couple more minions that needed changing. Here are our decisions following the full review of your feedback.
      Ghostly Charger

      We made a decision that, at least by default, spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of animals are not considered Beasts in Hearthstone. There are quite a lot of these sort of cards, most of which are already not Beasts, and changing them would have extensive balance implications.
      Ghostly Charger is one of those cards. Clearly a ghost in both its name and art, its Beast tag has also not been relevant in any significantly used interaction. As a result, we’re planning to remove the Beast tag in a future update.
      In the much rarer case of spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of Dragons, Murlocs, Pirates, and Elementals, they will still remain their Type. There aren’t a whole lot of these cards, but there are a few, and they’re already consistently their type. Examples of these are Ghost Light Angler, Cursed Castaway, Bone Drake.
      Ixlid, Fungal Lord

      World of Warcraft uses a looser definition of Elemental than what we decided to standardize on for Hearthstone. In Hearthstone, an elemental is something that has been brought to life by being inhabited by an elemental spirit, but is otherwise not alive. These are easy to recognize: a Fire Elemental looks like a living creature made out of fire; A Water Elemental looks like a living creature made out of water.
      One of the biggest outliers to this definition are plant creatures. There are a ton of minions in Hearthstone that are some sort of plant. We’ve decided that these do not count as Elementals in Hearthstone. Examples of these include The Voraxx, Fen Creeper, Biteweed, Vilespine Slayer, Rotten Applebaum.
      Ixlid, Fungal Lord, is by this definition, a plant creature. Although we’re committed to consistency, there are also other criteria that we consider when changing card Types. One of them is how often a card’s current Type matters when it comes to interacting with other cards. Ixlid’s Elemental tag is not significantly used in current decks, so we’ve decided to remove it in a future update.
      We also looked at the following minions but decided against making any changes. We’ve included our thought process as to how we came to our decisions with these cards.
      Kindly Grandmother
      Kindly Grandmother/Big Bad Wolf looks like a Worgen (which are not considered Beasts) but is actually some other sort of wolf-like creature that is a Beast. The Beast tag is also extremely relevant to its gameplay, and defines most of the card’s intended usage. With this in mind, we will not be changing Kindly Grandmother’s/Big Bad Wolf’s Type. In the future, we’ll be more careful to make the art clear when it comes to Worgen or similar races.
      Arcane Giant  & Arcane Golem
      On top of Elementals and plant creatures, there’s another category of things that have been brought to life via magical animation. These are creatures like War Golem, Arcane Giant, and Avian Watcher—which are not Elementals.
      Arcane Giant, Arcane Golem, and The Curator are all examples of another sort of creature collectively referred to as Arcane Golems. These mechanical constructs utilize arcane energy as a power source, with The Curator being a Mech Type as part of his character in the One Night in Karazhan Adventure. This is actually subtly different from something like War Golem, which is carved from stone and then magically animated. While the “golem” definition refers to something that has been magically animated and is therefore neither a Mech nor Elemental, both Arcane Giant and Arcane Golem’s card art don’t clearly show them to be one or the other. Since the correct type for these creatures is so unclear, we will be leaving them unchanged for now, but would love to hear what you think.
      Bogshaper
      Bogshaper seems to be the same type of creature as Ixlid or Fen Creeper, and that would logically lead to removal of its Elemental tag. However, as mentioned above, we look at more than just the fantasy of a card when determining if it needs a Type change. While Bogshaper’s fantasy criteria checkbox is filled, it’s currently heavily utilized in the meta, and features in many decks, including that of the 2018 Summer Champion, Bunnyhoppor.
      We are holding off on changing Bogshaper's Type for now, but would love to hear what the community thinks we should do in this case. We’re also considering making this sort of change when a card rotates to Wild.
      Copy A Card Rule Change

      Card copies currently only retain enchantments when both the original card and its copy are in play—think Molten Reflection. In Update 12.0, this rule will be updated to match the one regarding enchantments being retained when a card transitions zones.
      Zones in Hearthstone are defined as areas where cards are hosted: your deck, your hand, in play, and in the graveyard. In Hearthstone, there is a general forward-moving flow through zones. Whenever a card moves forward in that flow (Deck -> Hand, Hand -> Play, Deck -> Play), it retains enchantments. If a card moves backwards in zones (Play -> Hand, Hand -> Deck, Play -> Deck, Play/Hand/Deck -> Graveyard and Graveyard -> Play/Hand/Deck), it loses enchantments.
      With this update, card copies will retain enchantments in the following scenarios.
      Cards that are resurrected currently do not and will continue not to retain any enchantments, unless specifically stated otherwise. If you copy a card from a deck to a deck, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Archbishop Benedictus) If you copy a card from a hand to a hand, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Mind Vision) If you copy a card from play to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Molten Reflection) If you copy a card from a deck to a hand, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Thoughtsteal) If you copy a card from a deck to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Mindgames) If you copy a card from hand to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Kobold Illusionist) Transform Rule Change
      When transformed, a Hearthstone card typically loses all of its enchantment. Most cards in game already obey this rule. However, there are four cards that we are changing to keep in line with the rule, as part of this consistency pass.

      Shifter Zerus, Molten Blade, and Shifting Scroll all transform in your hand at the start of every turn. Following the 12.0 update, they will no longer keep any enchantments when they transform. This includes things like hand buffs and Emperor Thaurissan mana-cost discounts.

      The impact on Voodoo Doll is a little different with the update. If you transform the minion that’s already been cursed by Voodoo Doll, the curse will be broken, and the transformed (and formerly cursed) minion will not be killed when Voodoo Doll dies. Silencing the cursed minion will also break the curse, in addition to silencing the Voodoo Doll.
      Shadowboxer Update

      Since the creation of the Lifesteal keyword, Shadowboxer has been a high risk card, in that it can trigger off of itself and deal up to 30 damage in one turn if you ever give it Lifesteal. Because of this, we have changed it to: Whenever a minion is healed, deal 1 damage to a random enemy.
      Once Shadowboxer's card change is live with Update 12.0, players will be able to disenchant it for its full Arcane Dust value for two weeks.
      These are all the changes that you’ll see come into effect with Update 12.0, in line with our commitment to consistency within the game. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or via Facebook and Twitter!
    • By Aleco
      Will these three new Treant cards see play in the meta? Or will they come up short like the hand-size cards from The Witchwood?
       
      Three new Treant-themed cards were revealed today by PCGamer:
       

       
      First up we have Dendrologist. The floor on this card is solid, as a 2 Mana 2/3 is passable in a pinch. The ceiling on Dendrologist is higher than you might think, as his Battlecry is quite strong. Druid might have more high-quality spells than any other class in the game (Wild Growth, Nourish, Ultimate Infestation, Branching Paths, Naturalize, and Savage Roar to name a few), which leads me to believe that Dendrologist will be a powerhouse if Druid gets sufficient Treant support in this expansion.
       

       
      3 Mana for 4/4 worth of stats is already a great deal on its own, and the added Treant synergy puts this card over the top. The fact that this card creates two bodies makes it even better in aggro decks that look to go wide and finish with cards like Fungalmancer. This is a very reasonable card to curve into on turn 3, and it hints that the Treant deck will likely be quite aggressive.
       

       
      Finally we get Mulchmuncher, a big fat Mech with Rush and a dangerously tempting Mana reduction effect. We know from experience with Corridor Creeper and Giant cards how strong it can be to play big Minions for low amounts of Mana, but it won't be that easy to reduce Mulchmuncher's cost. If the Mana Treants from Living Mana count as Treants for this card, then I can easily see Mulchmuncher as finisher in an aggressive Treant decks.
      Will these new Treant cards turn Force of Nature and Witchwood Apple into playable cards? Or do you think the Treant cards will fall flat like the hand-size cards from The Witchwood? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.
    • By Aleco
      The latest Hearthside Chat with Peter Whalen revealed Supercollider, Flobbidinous Floop, and Whizbang the Wonderful from The Boomsday Project.
       
      In the latest Hearthside Chat, Senior Game Designer Peter Whalen explained some of the themes (science) and inspirations (more science) for The Boomsday Project. In doing so, he spoiled three new incredibly exciting cards. If you're interested in watching the video (which is just 4:59 seconds long), you can do so right here:
       
       
      Card Reveals
       

       
      This card gets an "A" for flavor, as I don't think its possible to come up with a better design for a card called "Supercollider" in a science-themed set.
      This Warrior weapon has the potential to be a 2 or 3 for 1, as it can set up trades quite easily if you attack your opponent's largest minion with it. However, attacking your opponent's largest minion means you will also be dealing plenty of face damage to yourself, making high amounts of armor gain a requirement for putting this card in your deck. For that reason, Supercollider plays excellently with Baku the Mooneater, and I expect it to see play in Odd Warrior decks.
       

       
      Next up is another card with an excellent name, Flobbidinous Floop. This guy provides a Faceless Manipulator-style effect for Druid decks for just 4 Mana, which will almost certainly make him a combo piece in a variety of Druid decks. Between Innervate, Twig of the World Tree, and Biology Project, there will almost certainly a few new OTKs with Flobbidinous Floop. He can also be used in Big Druid decks one turn after playing a huge minion, such as Ysera, Hadronox, or The Lich King, to become a 3/4 copy of a card with a powerful effect. Expect to see plenty of Flobbidinious Floop in the new meta!
       

       
      Next we get Whizbang the Wonderful, which is one of the most unique and exciting cards in the history of Hearthstone. What does he do? Let me show you:
       

       
      Whizbang the Wonderful replaces your entire deck. He replaces your hero, and he names your new deck "Whizbang is Wonderful". When you enter a game with this deck, you will be randomly handed 1 of 18 recent deck recipes by Blizzard at the start of the game.
      Will Whizbang be competitively viable? Almost certainly not, but I think that question is almost entirely missing the point. By adding Whizbang to the game, Blizzard has offered new players a way to access 18 different for just 1600 dust! Though its unlikely these 18 premade decks will be 100% meta optimal, they will almost certainly be viable enough for newer players to climb the earlier ranks while playing a wide variety of decks and learning new cards. This is the closest thing that Blizzard will probably ever do to selling pre-constructed decks (something that many other cards games do), which in my eyes is a major step forward. Will tryhards be disappointed when they open Whizbang? Probably. But not every Legendary minion needs to be a home run for the hardcore audience. Whizbang is the new player's best friend, and will surely add much more joy to the game of Hearthstone than he takes away.
      What do you think about today's spoilers? Will Supercollider see play? Can you find any new OTKs with Flobbidinous Floop? And are you as excited about Whizbang the Wonderful as I am? Let us know in the comments what you think about these new cards, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.
    • By Aleco
      A callback to Annoy-o-Tron, this new Mech card could be a serious player in the meta.
       
      Episode 2 of "Enter Boom Labs" has revealed another new Magnetic card from The Boomsday Project, called Annoy-o-Module:
       

       
      A callback to Annoy-o-Tron, this guy gains Magnetic and 1/2 worth of stats for just 2 Mana! The stats and keywords this card instantly adds to another Mech seem quite strong when you compare it to Blessing of Kings, which adds 2 more Attack to a minion but does not add Divine Shield and Taunt. This card isn't awful when played on it's own, and it plays well in a deck with Corpsetaker. Annoy-o-Module checks enough for boxes for me, and I full expect it to see play in the upcoming meta.
      Episode 2 of "Enter Boom Labs" is short but sweet, and you can watch the full video right here:
       
       
      Do you think Annoy-o-Module impact the game as much as Annoy-o-Tron did? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.