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Upcoming Balance Changes Announced

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5RG9TJO.jpg

Blizzard have announced five upcoming balance changes to existing cards in the game in an upcoming patch.

Following on from Ben Brode's tweet which was discussed here, the full list of nerfs has been released, and it contains some surprises. The official announcement can be found here. It includes detailed discussion, and is well worth a read if you are interested in the thought processes behind the balance changes. If you want to simply know what has been changed, keep reading.

Firstly, the Druid changes:

InnervateChange.png

Innervate becomes identical to Counterfeit Coin. Innervate has been a problem for a long time, and should be a lot less powerful now. For me, it is a shame that there is not a more exciting fix, but it is important that the card is fixed, and this will work fine.

plaguenerf.png

As soon as the Knights of the Frozen Throne meta started to form, it became apparent that Spreading Plague was a problem card. Druid has traditionally struggled to deal with wide boards of minions, and fixing that problem should put Druid back where it used to be. The change doesn't seem like a big one, but remember that Innervate has also been changed.

As well as these changes, there have been changes to other cards too:

warleadernerf.png

This nerf is a surprise, but also seems to be a good one. It allows Murloc decks to still be strong, while also giving ways for players to deal with what is currently an almost unbeatable opening if Warleader is played after two other Murlocs on the first three turns.

FireyAxenerf.png

Fiery War Axe has been regarded as one of the best cards in the game for a long time. This change is a shame for purists, but it has been coming, and the only surprise about it is the timing.

hex.png

Hex is an extremely powerful card, but the timing of the nerf is fascinating to me. It seems to be a clear indicator that we will be looking at buffs a lot more going forward. Outside of the Druid meta, there have been many fascinating matchups with minion interactions, and I am not surprised that Blizzard want to encourage minion interaction beyond "My 3/2 kills your 2/3". Again, the timing is a bit of a surprise, but with cards like Bonemare in the game, I think it makes sense.

What is interesting is that Priest has been left untouched. With Priest already dominating formats where Druid can be banned, it will be interesting to see if the new Druid can still keep Priest in check, while being difficult to build to beat Aggro decks. My gut feeling is that this might work quite well. What do you think?

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Woah! This is WAY more extensive than any of us thought. Why is now the time to nerf Win axe and hex? It feels weird.

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So, the axe is now just a less interesting Eaglehorn Bow, Rallying Blade, or Shadowblade...  It was a very powerful card, but with Warrior's focus on weapons it made sense for the class to have a cheaper 3/2.  I can get behind the other changes, but this one seems less in keeping with the spirit of the classes...

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Interesting changes.

I'm a bit disappointed about how they changed Innervate , no creativity. Sometimes I tried decks without Innervate in the past and ofc it is worse than with it but I was often doing very fine. I will not be surprised if we will see more top decks completely skipping Innervate now.

The change for Spreading Plague came as most thought and is totally ok. No surprise here.

Murloc Warleader is a well thought change imo. Ofc all the murloc lovers will be sad but it's a good change for the game health.

I really like the nerf of Fiery War Axe. It has always been (too) strong. This makes other weapons more viable, I guess. I'm eager to see what this brings for the current decks.

I'm totally ok with the nerf for Hex. It's very similar to Polymorph which costs 4 mana, with the downside of giving a taunt but the upside of having 0 attack. Fair game, Imo.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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2 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

Interesting changes.

I'm a bit disappointed about how they changed Innervate , no creativity. Sometimes I tried decks without Innervate in the past and ofc it is worse than with it but I was often doing very fine. I will not be surprised if we will see more top decks completely skipping Innervate now.

The change for Spreading Plague came as most thought and is totally ok. No surprise here.

Murloc Warleader is a well thought change imo. Ofc all the murloc lovers will be sad but it's a good change for the game health.

I really like the nerf of Fiery War Axe. It has always been (too) strong. This makes other weapons more viable, I guess. I'm eager to see what this brings for the current decks.

I'm totally ok with the nerf for Hex. It's very similar to Polymorph which costs 4 mana, with the downside of giving a taunt but the upside of having 0 attack. Fair game, Imo.

What's annoying about the Druid nerf is that they're nerfing a card that is part of the basic set. When all these currently Standard cards that made Innervate so great will be gone, Druid players will be left with a subpart card...

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Ultimate infestation left untouched is a joke, nerfed a useless card like Plague and not one of the most cancerous cards ever made

UI value

8 mana for card draw (Arcane Intellect 3 + Nourish 5 consistent with Sprint being 7 for 4 cards)

5 mana 5/5

1 mana 5 armor Iron Hide

3 mana 5 damage (Kill Command)

17 mana value card at the cost of 10 (used at turn 5 without any problem) not present in nerfs

Plague nerf is a joke that card is useless since has 0 effect when you are already winning or when there is a single minion on board you pay 5 for a 1/5 with taunt, and if you are losing is just  a catch up not a huge swing like UI that can be used in any situation losing nothing at all since damage can go face also.

Innervate nerf is acceptable removing it was butter but we're still happy that the major offender got it somehow, will be still played but with half the value won't be as annoying as it was

Axe nerf is finally here took years but they did it incredible, at least better late than ever

Hex nerf? well now is on par with Poly but wasn't a issue honestly unlike the aforementioned broken card

Warleader nerf is ok but feels kinda weird only paladin plays it and there aren't so many around to call for a nerf

In the end I'm happy with the nerfs at least for once they fixed something that really needed it fast enough and they remembered to fix something they shoulda have done a lot before (the axe)

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As I said somewhere else. I didn't think Innervate needs a nerf. But now we get it like this and have deal with it. Maybe not playing it at all because now other cards may provide greater value for a deck, we will see. At least we will see first round Vicious Fledgling less often, I like that :)

Overall I like the upcoming changes.

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I had an entire essay written up on what to do with druid, I am a little disappoint that the nerfs were announced a so soon XD.  Long and short of it, my suggestion was to move innervate to the HoF and make nourish only generate empty mana crystals (I wanted to leave spreading plague untouched because changing it will probably make it unplayable and I really like the card, it has created new and interesting archetypes as well as giving druids a creative way to deal with wide boards that isn't AoE, innervate has been a problem child for a long time and was unequivocally the strongest card in the game, seriously 2 copies in any non highlander deck made that deck better, no matter the class no other card would be in literally every deck if it was neutral, and as for the nourish nerfs, because of infestation, it is almost always correct to ramp with nourish and druids being able to wrath or wild growth with it was a pretty big deal).  But ultimately this will reduce the druids power level a little, innervate won't be played in decks that don't feature auctioneer, and it is unclear to me if those decks will even be viable with the nerf to innervate.  Spreading plague will open the doors for druids to be pressured down, however, the two biggest checks to druid also got nerfed, hard, pirate warrior and murloc paladin, which could. . . be bad.  I think druid will still be an overwhelming force in the meta solely because of this.

 

As for the rest of the nerfs, the war leader one was necessary, the starts murlocs could get were nearly unbeatable and snowbally in the extreme, if they were to remove innervate, then it makes sense to weaken murlocs (in the sense that aggro druid was the other big offender of this extreme snowball starts due to innervate).  On top of that, the interaction with health was un-intuitive and often gave murlocs a level of resilience that meant the snowball was hard to break.  I doubt that murlocs will see a lot of play after this nerf, it was a lot heavier then it looks on paper, might still see play simply because jade will still be very strong.  The hex nerf was also probably necessary, in a long term game sense sort of way.  Shaman has always had some of the best AoE removal in the game, they don't need the best single target removal as well.  Kind of sucks for them right now, but I think it is a good direction.  The winaxe nerf I do not like.  Warriors now have the worst 3 mana 3/2 weapon in the game and that feels wrong.  Not only that, it will probably break the control warrior archetype, so many games are carried off of the value this thing generates and its ability to break a snowball.  The changes to aggressive decks will be noticeable and welcome, but tempo warrior will no longer be a thing, and control will need some serious early game help next x pac to make up for this.  

Edited by VaraTreledees

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Not too happy about these nerfs. Innervate is nothing but a coin now. Counterfeit Coin is a card that is played only sometimes. I don't think it would be played if rogue didn't have combo mechanic. So, goodbye Innervate. It was fun while it lasted.

Fiery War Axe hits control warrior significantly. It is a strong stabilisation tool. The sooner you play those, the better. One turn can be a huge difference, sadly. 

1 hour ago, Laragon said:

Woah! This is WAY more extensive than any of us thought. Why is now the time to nerf Win axe and hex? It feels weird.

Pirate warrior is still a very powerful deck, staying at tier 1 for multiple expansions, so maybe when they realised that not even KFT cards can stop the deck, it was the time for a nerf.

57 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

I'm totally ok with the nerf for Hex. It's very similar to Polymorph which costs 4 mana, with the downside of giving a taunt but the upside of having 0 attack. Fair game, Imo.

The problem is that shaman doesn't have many tempo tools already, and now they are losing another. Mage has multiple, the most powerful being Firelands Portal. The only strong tempo tool they have now is Fire Elemental, but the card is a bit too slow sometimes.

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I agree the nerfs will change current decks a lot.

But c'mon Pirate Warrior has been a cancer for a long time, time for changes :)

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10 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

I agree the nerfs will change current decks a lot.

But c'mon Pirate Warrior has been a cancer for a long time, time for changes :)

The problem is, that the change will effect control and tempo warrior far more then it will effect pirate warrior.

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So.....

Druid has been nerfed, and it can't ramp too much. A big nerf on most druid archetypes.

Warleader nerf hit murloc paladin. And Druid and paladin (with murloc midrange and murloc aggro) were the most powerfull classes, with priest.

Fiery war axe at 3 mana means no more Northshire Cleric insta killed before getting value. Hex at 4 makes more difficult to hit buffed minion, like minion with double health made attack.

So, do you think PriestStone is near in your opinion?

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1 minute ago, Synesthesy said:

So.....

Druid has been nerfed, and it can't ramp too much. A big nerf on most druid archetypes.

Warleader nerf hit murloc paladin. And Druid and paladin (with murloc midrange and murloc aggro) were the most powerfull classes, with priest.

Fiery war axe at 3 mana means no more Northshire Cleric insta killed before getting value. Hex at 4 makes more difficult to hit buffed minion, like minion with double health made attack.

So, do you think PriestStone is near in your opinion?

Doubtful.  Kazamakus priest is far too difficult to play for it to truely take over, on top of that, even if it will be the "strongest" deck, jade druid will still be very very strong and a tier 1 deck.  The match up vs murloc paladin wasn't amazing for priest either, like it is slightly favored or even, and the nerf to health won't effect that match up at all, nor will it change the druid match up much, so murloc paladin will probably also see quite a lot of play.

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5 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

But c'mon Pirate Warrior has been a cancer for a long time, time for changes :)

Spoiler

 

Thanks for bringing this up. Now, ask yourself again, all of you, is Pirate Warrior really the cancer?

The player community throws around this particular term a lot and without any real thought. What's being left out more and more is the actual metaphor. There is quite a heavy similarity between things we call "cancer" and literal cancer, the sickness, the one that's practically untreatable and extraordiarily lethal. 

There were times where a use of this particular term was not a matter of exaggeration of circlejerk. Secret Paladin was cancer before we solved it. Midrange Shaman was cancer before it rotated out. Jade Druid was cancer before we nerfed it. There was no solution to the problem. You either joined them or was having a negative winrate against them.

Were Freeze Mage and Quest Rogue "cancer" in this sense of word? A good question, but, perhaps, for another time.

What I'm leading up to is that Pirate Warrior isn't, and never was, cancerous by any means. Straightforward, blunt, stupid - I can hardly disagree. But not cancer. Or even bad for that matter - on quite the opposite, I stand on the ground that Aggro decks make the game as healthy as possible. And here's how it's any relevant to recent news.

Essentially, it's about threat-to-answer equity. If you have a strong answer, you can print a strong and diverse threat with an intention to provide an interesting game experience without affecting the balance of power. Occasionally, such threats just pile up in a direction that's hard to combat in a conventional way - Hearthstone makes it next to impossible to kill every creature - so the "answer" may lie not in a specific, card-on-card, situaition, but in the strategic axis altogether. If you can't win a fight, just avoid it - words as old as a day, but very true nonetheless.

A specific example would be our post-ban KFT Standard, right now. If we entierly take out Druid out of the equation, what would be left are big durdly decks like Big Priest and Exodia Mage, and the aggro camp with Paladin, Shaman and Warrior in it. What's powering a lot of dynamic in this format are DK cards. They are new, interesting, flagship, flashy and exciting cards, also colloquially known as "durdly bullshit". An ability to entierly take over the game by virtue of generaing resources out of thin air bends some rules quite heavily, and is due to disrupt the balance of power. What saves the day is players' ability not to play the same deck and just see who gets to the coveted Legendary first, but to ignore this subgame entierly and go face instead. Finish the game before any of these cards are relevant.

I'm getting a little bit off the topic, but my point is this : Aggro makes the world a better place. I've been a Fun Police Officer for many, many years, and I enjoyed it just as much and the next guy playing his clunky durdlepiece. But the result was that the variety of decks coexist without breaking the game, thanks to an ability to respond correctly to whatever comes into play, either strategically or practically, on a card-by-card basis. It all may sound weird and complicated, because it's theoretical. I'll get to illustration shortly.

What's done today by Blizzard is another big step forward towards disrupting the stability and the threat-answer equity that existed thus far. I'm talking, of course, about the Fiery War Axe nerf.

It's arguably Hearthstone's most iconic card. It's been around forever. And it was in every single Warrior deck ever, Control, Aggro and Combo alike. But how is that a bad thing?

There is a ton of 1- and 2-mana minions in the game. Fiery War Axe kills about 95% of them, in some capacity. What it means is not the fact that Fiery War Axe is busted. It's that you can actually make different 1-and 2-drops now, knowing that they will be solved by War Axe. You can make as much Tunnel Troggs as you want, because there is an Axe to solve it. Now, Trogg is as good as they come, pushed far beyond good, and it kinda makes it a 50-50 metagame between Trogg and Axe, but it's still better than a 100% Trogg metagame. The versatility of Fiery War Axe creates diversity instead of reducing it, surprisingly enough.

Hex nerf falls in very much the same category, and it can be dated to Execute nerf to 2 mana, way back. It's been quite a campaign on killing good answers, really, and with that, you lose more than you win in the long run.

Fiery War Axe is a solid, generic, a-little-bit-over-the-top class card that makes up a core identity of a class, the same way that Fireball, Kill Command, Shadow Word : Pain and Death and WIld Growth do. It's supposed to be good.

What irritates me even more is that it's the Wild Mode that has to pay the price for Standard's sins. I've been a resident of this rich, diverse and deep format for quite a while now. Outside of the Druid menace, it's been working quite well as a whole. You can't just close your eyes and screw all the players at the same time, because we're not playing exactly the same game. And these Tunnel Troggs? All these cards you've ever made within last 3 years, keeping Fiery War Axe at 2 mana in mind when designing them? They're still out there. About to be sent loose in their tracks. 

 

That's why TL;DR Fiery War Axe change is worse than bad and should be reversed ASAP. If there's any element in this equation that needs to be fixed, it's not this one.

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I called the Innervate nerf!

The changes to the non-Druid cards came as a bit of surprise. In my opinion, the problem is that they didn't just nerf Druid, they nerfed decks that directly counter it, namely Pirate Warrior and Murloc Paladin; two decks that lost powerful tools.

I still believe Druid is going to be one of the best (if not the best) classes. They practically left Jade Druid unscathed.

The Hex change was a big surprise and their explanation for it was inadequate in my opinion. OK it's a hard removal card, but most current Shaman decks only run one or zero copies of it anyway.

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Halving the power of a card while not providing any upside to compensate is simply too much of a nerf, no matter what card you pick over the thousand (?) there are now.

 

Why not at least have Innervate provide one mana crystal this turn and one mana crystal the next turn (So you spread out 2 mana over 2 turns, like a reverse overload)? At least it still *might* be used then.

 

This is just a much, much too easy balance change "Oh a card is too strong, lets just remove it". A philosophy Blizzard has in many of their games...

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Well, with just Paladin, Warlock, Rogue and Hunter left to gold up, these changes don't hurt anything I'm likely to play soon in standard apart from the Murloc Warleader one. So I guess I should be happy.

Spreading Plague nerf is good. I think I'd have preferred to see Innervate just go to Wild. Feels like Token Druid takes a bigger nerf here than bigger Druids. Happy to see the end of Turn 1 fledglings. Clearly hurts the bigger Druids to, but not sure by how much. Personally would've liked to see a buff reducing Geist to 5 mana.

I don't really see the (immediate) need for the other nerfs really. Pirate Warrior takes a huge hit, and other warrior archetypes are hurt too. All the other 3/2 weapons have little (sometimes big) upsides over war axe now. It's not like any warrior deck is out there devastating the meta, and pw keeps greedy decks in check without being unmanageable.

Same with hex, there aren't really any standard decks out there that are very strong that use it. And it really hurts Control Shaman where mana can often be tricky to juggle. Given that that and pw are my two go to decks for wild I guess I won't be playing much wild any time soon.

Warleader always seemed a bit OP to me. Certainly hurts Finja quite a lot but that only seems to see play right now in Paladin which can probably survive the nerf, except maybe the super-aggro variants.

Edited by Bozonik

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2 hours ago, Zadina said:

I still believe Druid is going to be one of the best (if not the best) classes. They practically left Jade Druid unscathed.

Yep. Minor nerf to mass-spamming during a single turn with Auctioneer, but hardly going to break the deck, is it? 

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I think Fiery War Axe needed a nerf but now it's too weak. A bit creativity would have been nice like a bonus for the increased mana cost, maybe something like "Battlecry Gain 2 Armor or Deal 1 Damage" or whatever.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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1 minute ago, Caldyrvan said:

I think Fiery War Axe needed a nerf but now it's too weak. A bit creativity would have been nice like a bonus for the increased mana cost, maybe something like "Battlecry Gain 2 Armor or Deal 1 Damage" or whatever.

It does feel somewhat lazy, just like the Innervate nerf. A redesign would have been nice.

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Heh. I had 4 regular murloc warleaders + 1 golden and kept them expecting that they may get nerfed. Then Hall of Fame happened and I assumed that since they are from classic they will be rotated if Blizzard will find them problematic and dusted them.

Murloc decks got an unpleasant hit. Warlock and shaman murloc decks look quite unlikely any time soon...

At least I hope this nerf will motivate them to print more interesting murlocs. Stuff like 1\1 lifesteal is offensive even for pack fillers.

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5 hours ago, Keizoku said:

Amusingly enough and contrarily to what people seem to think, the Fiery War Axe nerf doesn't impact Pirate Warrior that hard. They'll just mulligan harder for N'Zoth's First Mate and Upgrade!. Control Warrior, on the other hand...

It reduces how often you get off to a good start. In a deck that relies on a good opening that's pretty bad. It reduces the tempo of the deck in a deck that relies on tempo which is also pretty bad. And generally you want to be developing the board on Turn 3 not playing a weapon.

Given that pretty much all the main aggro decks in standard take a serious nerf, seems to be that Jade Druid and Kazakus priest are indirectly getting buffed, and they're both pretty strong already. Maybe opens the door for a face hunter or zoo deck to pop up I guess. Or maybe the pirates just move over to Rogue, I played that a bit at the start of the season, seemed pretty strong.

4 hours ago, Strongpoint said:

Stuff like 1\1 lifesteal is offensive even for pack fillers.

0/1 lifesteal with charge would've been more interesting. As it is I can only think they either thought it might fit into a quest Rogue, or they wanted to nerf quest Shaman for some reason...

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Oh, that's a pity for you Strongpoint :(

I like the nerf of the Warleader, because I still don't have a single copy of it *g*

(Talking about that, it seems time to nerf some other Epics from the Standardcards that I am missing like Ice Block or Cabal Shadow Priest

If I can't draw them, nerf them! :D)

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      Ultimately, we were forced to conclude that we needed to think about how and where we want to improve Hearthstone’s overall social experience before we can tackle adding a satisfying and robust implementation of In-game Tournaments that all players can enjoy. As developers, sometimes we have to make the difficult decision to step away from a design that isn’t working. We no longer felt that the end result would deliver on everyone’s expectations or the high standards we have for Hearthstone.
      As a result, while we want to revisit In-Game Tournaments at a later date, the feature is on hold for the foreseeable future.
       
      Fireside Gatherings If you’ve never attended a Fireside Gathering, or organized one of your own, you’re missing one of the most fun ways to enjoy Hearthstone with friends! They’re more fun than ever—including private events in your own home—so drop by the Fireside Gatherings site and check it out.
      Innkeepers are soon going to have even more options to spice up their events. It was already possible to experience Fireside Brawls (Tavern Brawls that can only be experienced at Fireside Gatherings), and now they’ll have a whole menu of Brawls to choose from to offer their attendees. In addition to the rotating monthly Fireside Brawl, Innkeepers will be able to select one additional Fireside Brawl from a curated library of brawls that their patrons will have access to during their Fireside Gathering. 
       
      Esports The 2018 HCT Fall Championship is coming mid-October! Watch it live on stream or live in-person at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
      It’s going to be a thrilling event to witness, and if you can be there live, it gets even better! You’ll get to meet Hearthstone developers, enjoy pick-up tournaments on-site, snap up cool stuff like Hearthstone and Blizzard Arena merchandise and earn the Thrill of Victory card back just for attending!
      You can get your tickets here. Get them fast before they sell out as seating is limited!
       
      Welcome Bundle’s Roaring Return Okay, it never left, but it IS getting a majestic make-over. It will still offer 10 Classic card packs at a very low price (great time to try to pick up those new Classic Class cards!), but instead of a random Class Legendary card, it will now include one of six Legendary dragons from the Classic set: Alexstrasza, Deathwing, Malygos, Nozdormu, Onyxia, or Ysera!

       
      There’s even better news! What could be better than dragons, you ask? Even if you’ve purchased the Welcome Bundle before, you’ll be able to grab this one too!

       
      Upcoming Game Events
       
      Hallow’s End
      The Headless Horseman returns for another spooktacular Hallow’s End event starting October 17! Just like last year, the Tavern will be decked out in horrific fashion, the dual Class Arena returns, and you’ll face the Headless Horseman in the Tavern Brawl. In the spirit of the season, we’re tossing a few more treats in the bag this year, and we’ll let you know all about them as the Headless Horseman’s return draws nigh.

       
      Hallow’s End also marks the arrival of a friendly new Paladin Hero who will be available for purchase as a part of a special deal!
       


      And that’s what’s In the Works for Hearthstone! Thanks for joining us, and we look forward to hearing what you think, so let us know on social media, or in the comments below.
      New Paladin Hero, new Classic cards, an improved new player experience with more loot and more!
    • By Zadina
      It's all about repeat Tavern Brawls and Unstable Portals, as last week we had the Too Many Portals! brawl and this week we have another brawl utilising the same Mage spell.
      This is the second time we see this Tavern Brawl, as it was originally released two years ago. You pick your class and choose seven cards for your deck. The rest of the deck will be filled with Unstable Portals. The pool of your mulligan will consist of the seven cards that you have picked.
      Traditional Mage cards like Mana Wyrm and Flamewaker can be helpful in this Brawl. Rogue also has the tools to cheat out free spells with Counterfeit Coin and Preparation. Lastly, decks with the Barnes and Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound combo seem popular this time.
      Next week we will have a new Tavern Brawl, as part of the Days of the Frozen Throne event!