Zadina

Ben Brode on the Fiery War Axe Nerf

Sign in to follow this  

34 posts in this topic

e51jlit.jpg

Members of the community were upset at how the Fiery War Axe nerf was phrased and explained in the official blog post. Ben Brode wanted to clarify that "they don't think players are stupid" and tried to justify why a 2-mana 2/2 Fiery War Axe isn't a good change.

After the announcement of the upcoming balance changes, the community has been vividly discussing about them. Ben Brode already gave some explanations on Reddit this week and earlier today he returned to provide some answers on the hot topic of the Fiery War Axe nerf.

People felt their intelligence was insulted from the phrasing of the developers' notes on the Fiery War Axe change. The phrase that seems to have caused the outrage is the following:

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

The other option we considered for Fiery War Axe was to lower its attack to 2, but that change didn’t feel intuitive enough. Generally, changing the mana cost of a card is less disruptive, because you can always see the mana cost of cards in your hand. (source)

Ben Brode gave a comment to VentureBeat clarifying that all of the affected cards were nerfed for power level reasons. The team doesn't think Hearthstone players are stupid; in fact, they are perfectly capable of memorising the entire set of cards. A change to mana cost is less disruptive simply because of the fact that it's not castable or highlighted green anymore. Here is his full statement:

Blizzard LogoBen Brode

+ Show

I always love to read discussion about Hearthstone, and there’s been a lot of healthy back and forth about the pros and cons of this particular change and the timing of it.
 
However, some of what I read in the community response seems to be a core misunderstanding that we are nerfing cards because we think players are confused by them (and therefore we think players are stupid). I want to be super-clear — these cards are being nerfed for power level reasons, or because we are curating the set of evergreen cards to help Standard feel fresh and more fun with our yearly standard rotation. The language about certain changes being more disruptive than others was related to why we decided to make one change over another, once we’d already decided to make a change.

We absolutely don’t think players are stupid.

I, like a lot of players, have memorized every Hearthstone card. If I show you a picture of Arcanite Reaper, I bet you don’t have to read the card to know that it’s a 5/2 weapon. Art becomes a shortcut to game mechanics.  When we change the underlying game mechanics without changing the art, players who don’t read their cards every time they play a game won’t notice that one of the words on the cards has changed.

I want to make this clear — we don’t think players are too stupid to read their cards. We think players have the capacity to memorize thousands of cards’ text and recognize them by art alone. Nobody double-checks Arcanite Reaper to make sure it’s still a 5/2 weapon each time they cast it. That’s nuts. That’s why it’s less disruptive to change mana cost than Attack, Health, or card text. The card is literally not castable or highlighted green any more, and that makes it obvious that a change has been made to players who have every card memorized.

The discussion continued onto Reddit, where the Game Director repeated more or less the same arguments. A mana cost nerf to a card is just easier, simpler and less disruptive. Even if you have memorised the previous version of the card, the green highlight (or its absence) is the indicating factor of when you can play that card.

Blizzard Logobbrode

I think he's effectively saying "all other things equal, it's preferential to change mana costs rather than anything else". If there are two changes proposed to a card that have near-identical consequences on gameplay, change the mana cost.

That is the case. Sometimes we don't have choices that are very equal, but if you have a couple options that would all be reasonable changes, we tend to prefer to change the mana cost, for players that have memorized the card already. (Source)

 


 

I'm going to be pulling my hair out when I (having memorized all of the cards) try to play my 2 mana 3/2 Fiery War Axe on turn 2. Certainly my 2 mana 3/2 Fiery War Axe will be playable on turn 2 after the next patch, that's how the card is. If they change anything about it, how will I know? I will only ever remember a 2 mana 3/2 Fiery War Axe when I look at the art.

The green highlight makes this less of an issue.

Keep in mind, this is just a minor upside when comparing two potential changes to Fiery War Axe. (Source)

Someone mentioned the Warsong Commander card text change/nerf as an example of inconsistency from Blizzard. Ben admitted that the team learns over time and they adapt accordingly.

Blizzard Logobbrode

Why was Warsong Commander's nerf defended by saying her mana cost was intimately tied to the 'soul of the card'? Blizzard; consistently inconsistent.

Or we learn over time. Is it better to be consistent if you're wrong? (Source)

This led to the topic of whether cards (and card changes) should be intuitive or not and how useful is for a player to learn from his or her mistakes. Blizzard wants to keep things intuitive, but their main concern is balance and they will make unintuitive changes if they have to.

Blizzard Logobbrode

I don't mind if players make mistakes and learn from them.

Making things intuitive is part of good design, though. We could make things very unintuitive so that every thing you do fails on it's first try - there's actual games built around that, but it's generally better to make things intuitive when possible. The game is fun when you're learning about the strategy options and learning from them, not necessarily being surprised by things working differently than you previously memorized. (Source)

 


 

[...]even though I think it's nice if things are intuitive when we change a card, the major concern is ongoing balance. We obviously have made unintuitive changes to cards and will continue to do so if it's the right change for the game. The 'intuitve' remark was a minor point when deciding between a couple reasonable options, not the reason for the change. I posted a bit more about it here. (Source)

Lastly, as to why the team didn't choose to change the weapon to a 2-mana 2/2, they thought that this kind of nerf would have the same impact as the increased mana cost. Therefore - going back to Ben's previous statements on keeping things intuitive - the mana cost change was preferred. The aim was to reduce the power level of the card without making a complicated change, even if a lot of people found the change unimaginative. Ben thinks the card wasn't killed completely since 3-mana 3/2 weapons have been seeing play.

Blizzard Logobbrode

If we thought 2/2 weapon was a better change we would have done it. We thought (3) 3/2 and (2) 2/2 were about the same at reaching our goal of nerfing the weapon, and in that world, it's slightly better to not annoy players who memorized the card. (Source)

 


 

That message [the one showing card changes at the start screen] goes away after one patch, but also, sometimes players don't play the cards after we nerf them. They never get a chance to re-memorize something that became automatic from them after hundreds or thousands of times seeing the art and automatically knowing the functionality. I personally got Arcane Golem in a Tavern Brawl and just played the card and tried to attack with it right away. I hadn't played the card in a year, since we nerfed it. I hadn't even thought about the card anymore. Playing the card and attack was muscle-memory to me.

This isn't a phenomenon everyone experiences, but it definitely happens to players who play enough to develop muscle memory.

It also doesn't matter very much either way.

Just going to reiterate - this is still a minor thing. If we felt like (2) 2/2 was going to be more successful at reaching our goals, we would have done it. But in a world where we have several reasonable options, you have to make a decision, and this is a minor point in favor of a change that doesn't mess as much with players who have memorized their cards to that degree.

In some ways, I regret mentioning it the way we did, because it was such a minor decision point when considering those two options. It had nothing to do with why we changed the card in the first place. (Source)

 


 

I don't think everyone believes all of those things, and that was what I was trying to clear up here.

I do think that specific feedback is reasonable. I don't think we completely killed the card, though. People have played (3) 3/2 weapons in decks where the upside goes totally unused, and I suspect that might be true of Fiery War Axe as well.

If you had changed the text on FWA (can only attack minions, for example) and made the card MORE complicated and MORE disruptive, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER.

There is a difference between complexity and strategic depth. Complexity is the homework you must do before you understand something. Depth is fun. Depth is choices and strategy and out-thinking your opponent. You can get more depth by adding complexity, sometimes. But what matters is the ratio of complexity to depth.

It is more important that you keep cards playable than to keep cards simple.

Those are not mutually exclusive, but in this case the goal was to reduce the power level of the card. Too many basic and classic cards are showing up in decks right now to allow Standard to change enough each year. (Source)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of blah blah damn how can someone talk so much and say nothing or just the same again and again ? :D

I still think a good solution would have been to give the Axe a small bonus in return for the increased mana cost like a Battlecry with a small but for warrior useful effect. I have no idea why they did not consider that.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the developers stomping a meme that mocks them out of spite is absolutely glorious. More devs need to stomp out the bull like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In arguing that the change was only because Blizz assumes players to be stupid, a remarkable number of players proved themselves to be just so. 

It's a shame that War Axe is the worst of the 3-mana 3/2 weapons, but too many people are being hung up on the mana-cost versus weapon-attack decision, simply because of one sentence that Brode obviously only communicated in an effort to make reasons for the nerf more clear. I'm sure there are a number of other reasons for making War Axe a 3 mana 3/2 instead of a 2 mana 2/2, but the more drama-guzzling among the community (i.e., basically fucking everyone) tend to jump on things and assume the worst. 

Whatever. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did not assume the worst. I just wished they had a better way to change it (as I said add something for the increased mana cost) ... Yea yea he said they don't want to change the functionality of a card because players get used to the pictures but if he truly believes player will not see the big in-game popup that shows card changes or not being able to notice during a game "oh this card changed" then he thinks the worst of the players (us). What about the players looking at the picture playing an Innervate and then say "oh damn I didn't know it gives only 1 mana". this and murloc warleader have their functionality changed and it seems ok.

I still agree that they had to nerf the Axe, there is no deck without it and it's always (or most of the time) helping the warrior extremely well. But a dull increase in mana, making it worse than similar weapons is just a way to remove another basic card from standard decks and hide it behind a ton of words.

Edited by Caldyrvan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still think that "can't attack enemy hero" would have been a better nerf. I'm a wild player, so for me FWA have ceased to exists because there is a warrior weapon better then vanilla (3) 3/2; and I don't like this type of nerf. Warrior is a warrior, should have a cheap weapon, cheaper then similar weapon in other classes.

The only think I hope is that they don't make an epic 2 mana weapon in next set... If they do it in other rarities it would be nice.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Synesthesy said:

The only think I hope is that they don't make an epic 2 mana weapon in next set... If they do it in other rarities it would be nice.

 

I am curious if they'll do such a thing.

Remove a standard card and replace it with an expensive one. I wouldn't put it beyond Blizzard to do exactly that (I get a feeling in the last month that Blizzard actually tries to make decks more expensive. That "making it more expensive" is part of the design and the thoughtprocess. Just a feeling, I don't claim it to be true, it is just a little nagging in the back of my head.) But I still don't think they will do that. That would be too much, too greedy.

Time will tell - sooner or later, time will tell. (Quiz: Which game is this quote from?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really get why it'd be so bad for a few players not to notice the change and attack once thinking it's a 3/2 rather than 2/2. It might even not lose them that game, and it'd only be one game because after all, players are not stupid.

I think the 2/2 change would've been better. From a wild perspective, at least then there'd be a reason to play it over Defender. From a pirate warrior perspective, the deck doesn't want another three drop and wants an early weapon so 2/2 for 2 is vastly superior to 3/2 for 3. Not sure which control warrior would prefer, probably meta dependent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The weapon was fine for 4 years. It wasn't OP, just a very good card.

Now, instead of nerfing pirates, they decided to nerf another classic card into the ground.

Has anyone ever used King's Defender? Well, Fiery War Axe is now much worse.

I also find it pretty funny that rogue now has a more versatile 3 mana 3/2 weapon (hero ability + Deadly Poison). On the same note, rogue now also has a more versatile innervate (Counterfeit Coin) since the class, unlike druid, has combo synergy.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Has anyone ever used King's Defender? Well, Fiery War Axe is now much worse.

They're not the same because FWA is a basic card.  King's Defender is a non-standard rare.  So, they're available in different realms to different players.  Brode made the point that (cards like) Eaglehorn Bow see play even in decks without Secrets.  So, a vanilla 3/2 weapon for 3 mana is not necessarily useless.

 

Quote

rogue ..., unlike druid, has combo synergy.

Uhm ... Druid has combo synergy, though.  Malygos Druid has been around for a while.

 

Quote

all what I got, it's that we players are stupid

Forgive me but logically you really are stupid if that's all you got from what he said.  He said that he recognized that players can memorize 1189 different cards.  How does that equate to saying that you're stupid?

 

Quote

a good solution would have been to give the Axe a small bonus in return for the increased mana cost like a Battlecry with a small but for warrior useful effect. I have no idea why they did not consider that.

Why they didn't consider something you haven't properly defined?  Sorry, but a "small but for warrior useful effect" isn't something worth considering, because it's not an idea.  It's just asking for magical thinking.  I think they should replace the game with a game that's the same but better because it's got better things in it.  Why don't they consider that?  Why, Ben, why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, mimech said:

They're not the same because FWA is a basic card.  King's Defender is a non-standard rare.  So, they're available in different realms to different players.  Brode made the point that (cards like) Eaglehorn Bow see play even in decks without Secrets.  So, a vanilla 3/2 weapon for 3 mana is not necessarily useless.

 

Uhm ... Druid has combo synergy, though.  Malygos Druid has been around for a while.

 

Forgive me but logically you really are stupid if that's all you got from what he said.  He said that he recognized that players can memorize 1189 different cards.  How does that equate to saying that you're stupid?

 

Why they didn't consider something you haven't properly defined?  Sorry, but a "small but for warrior useful effect" isn't something worth considering, because it's not an idea.  It's just asking for magical thinking.  I think they should replace the game with a game that's the same but better because it's got better things in it.  Why don't they consider that?  Why, Ben, why?

This entire post is quite a toxic response... Eaglehorn sees play because rushing 6 damage is all you care about in several hunter decks. That doesn't mean it is working as intended just because it gets used without secrets, it also is used in completely different archetypes because it is a different class.

Druid's combo synergy was reliant on creating new mana crystals or reducing cost, something that innervate nerf will impact greatly. It means you can't do this method outside of wild without new cards.

Also, it's not our job to consider the additional power factors, but it is ours as players to evaluate the changes they make, and this change ruins a card. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, mimech said:

Why they didn't consider something you haven't properly defined?  Sorry, but a "small but for warrior useful effect" isn't something worth considering, because it's not an idea.  It's just asking for magical thinking.  I think they should replace the game with a game that's the same but better because it's got better things in it.  Why don't they consider that?  Why, Ben, why?

That's a lot of sarcasm, why?

I don't need to define something properly, I am not a dev and not even someone talking to them. I just wanted to say there are better options (in my opinion). There is no need to kill my brain to come up with an idea blizz will near hear or care about.

Edited by Caldyrvan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, mimech said:

They're not the same because FWA is a basic card.  King's Defender is a non-standard rare.  So, they're available in different realms to different players.  Brode made the point that (cards like) Eaglehorn Bow see play even in decks without Secrets.  So, a vanilla 3/2 weapon for 3 mana is not necessarily useless.

Look at the state of hunter in the last few expansions though. Hunter would definitely play better cards, if he had any.

20 minutes ago, mimech said:

Uhm ... Druid has combo synergy, though.  Malygos Druid has been around for a while.

I believe they were referring to the Combo effect, as can be seen on cards like SI:7 Agent or Perdition's Blade.

23 minutes ago, mimech said:

Forgive me but logically you really are stupid if that's all you got from what he said.  He said that he recognized that players can memorize 1189 different cards.  How does that equate to saying that you're stupid?

But at the same time, he is implying that players are too stupid to relearn a single card change.

26 minutes ago, mimech said:

Why they didn't consider something you haven't properly defined?  Sorry, but a "small but for warrior useful effect" isn't something worth considering, because it's not an idea.  It's just asking for magical thinking.  I think they should replace the game with a game that's the same but better because it's got better things in it.  Why don't they consider that?  Why, Ben, why?

I don't see anything wrong with that. Just because they did not provide an example doesn't make it a bad idea by default. No need to be so hostile. What about "Battlecry: Gain 1 Armor." Happy now? 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, positiv2 said:

What about "Battlecry: Gain 1 Armor." Happy now? 

In another post I made exactly this example just with 2 Armor, or deal 1 damage. :D 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

What about "Battlecry: Gain 1 Armor." Happy now? 

Yes - much happier!  I didn't think his idea was bad - because he didn't actually present an idea.  You did: so at least we can discuss it's merits.  I can't discuss the merits of "something better" or "something", because it's meaningless.  I don't consider my pointing out a meaningless suggestion to be hostile.  It's just logical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

But at the same time, he is implying that players are too stupid to relearn a single card change.

No, he said that re-learning cards is more difficult than noticing a mana change.  He presented the mana change as the lesser of two evils.  That's very different than implying stupidity.

Edited by mimech

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, mimech said:

No, he said that re-learning cards is more difficult than noticing a mana change.  He presented the mana change as the lesser of two evils.  That's very different than implying stupidity.

He keeps talking about complexity being a bad thing, even though we are talking about Pot-of-Greed level of complexity. Also, just because it is more difficult, it doesn't necessarily mean it's hard. Both relearning the card from the text/stats point of view, and relearning it from curve point of view (curvestone, after all) should be fairly easy for everyone. But hey, if the card is dead, no one has to relearn anything. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, mimech said:

No, he said that re-learning cards is more difficult than noticing a mana change.  He presented the mana change as the lesser of two evils.  That's very different than implying stupidity.

I am sorry, but if the thinks that it is very difficult for me to remember that my weapon has now 2/2 instead of 3/2 then he can't think I am very bright, can he?

And strangly the same line of thought doesn't seem to be true for Murloc Warleader or the nerf on several cards later on. Knife Juggler e.g. has been nerfed from 3/2 to 2/2.

The claim: "That would be too difficult for players" is a complete joke and in fact it is quite insulting.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The claim: "That would be too difficult for players" is a complete joke and in fact it is quite insulting.

I searched for the phrase "That would be too difficult for players" on this page and it isn't here.  If you got it from somewhere else, please provide a link.  If it's just your words, then it's only you that's saying it.

Nobody else said it would be "very difficult ... to remember [the] weapon has now 2/2 instead of 3/2".  That was just you again.  The game designer said that given a choice between a mana cost change and a card text change, the mana cost change was easier because it's apparent without doing any reading at all.  That's not the same as saying you can't remember new information.

The same logic wasn't used on Murloc Warleader because they judge each case on its merits, rather than having a one rule fits all situations approach.  

Really, if you'd read what the game designer said, you'd know all that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @mimech . It's good to see you again.

It doesn't take someone to have studied language (like I have done, for example) to understand that they could have communicated the change better. I will repeat the quote from their explanation in their official announcement:

Quote

The other option we considered for Fiery War Axe was to lower its attack to 2, but that change didn’t feel intuitive enough. Generally, changing the mana cost of a card is less disruptive, because you can always see the mana cost of cards in your hand.

Now, they aren't saying that they think players are stupid. However, it's preposterous that they have included these two lines as their main reasoning in their official announcement. That's why Ben had to go through all this trouble on Reddit to fix the PR disaster that these phrases caused.

Sure, the community blew these words away out of proportion, but the fact remains that they still chose these slightly unfortunate lines in their official statement. It's like me owning a lingerie store and putting the grandma undergarments in the front row of my shop window.

They could have said numerous things that would have made a better impression. They could have written what Brode said about keeping things simple and intuitive. They could have even said "look, we were bored and couldn't be bothered thinking of something better" and people would have appreciated the honesty. 

The issue in this discussion isn't so much whether the Fiery War Axe makes sense.* It's how Blizzard tried to make sense of it and explain it to the plaeyrs.

PS/Asterisk: I do, however, find Ben Brode's lack of real answer to the Redditor, who challenged him by saying "a more complicated more disruptive change to FWA would have been better", troubling.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Small picture: These kinds of changes to classic cards are painful to me.

Big Picture: I suppose there is good and bad from moving away from Classic.

Classic cards provide identity for classes, continuity for players who return after a break.  They should be "safe cards" for a new player to collect (they won't get phased out.. at least that is what we all thought),  but if "too many" classic cards are in the meta, that probably means the new expansion wasn't very exciting or fun.

So the big question I guess is: IDEALLY what percentage of our decks should be classic?

And the follow up questions might be: Where are we right now? And is Bliz going the right direction?

Just "going with my gut" I don't think we need fewer classic cards in play.  And I think Bliz is maybe pushing a bit too hard on the variety thing.  A lack of variety is bad, but variety can only go so far.  Increasing the number of choices you have, and the number of things you might be facing is interesting at first, but at some point you mentally just go "well I can be facing anything, so nothing really matters".   Just because a card is played in every deck for a class, isn't automatically bad either, but that is another (long) topic.

Edited by HugeHoss
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, HugeHoss said:

So the big question I guess is: IDEALLY what percentage of our decks should be classic?

Another question with this is, can decks maintain variety and not feel the same with more than a certain percentage of classic cards in them? Does have 40% classics in every deck just make them feel the same?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Zadina

      This is the first Tavern Brawl that is linked to the Wildfest event.
      Wildfest is upon us! From this week until March 11, you can draft Wild cards in Arena while we will also get two special Tavern Brawls. Venture into the Wild is available this week, while the Heroic Wild Tavern Brawl will assumedly be up next week (you can read more about Wildfest here).
      Venture into the Wild is just a Brawl with premade decks for each class that contain Wild cards. Here are the archetypes:
      Aggro/Egg Druid Midrange Hunter Secret Mage Dude Paladin Big Priest Miracle/Oil Rogue Midrange Shaman Reno Kazakus Demonlock Pirate Warrior Most of these decks feel awfully Standard for a Wild event. The aggro decks are pretty good, but you should bear in mind that they all contain copies of post- nerf Patches the Pirate. Big Priest seems to be quite powerful, judging from people's reactions on the interwebs.
      Good luck!
    • By Aleco

      Warrior, Shaman, and Rogue have been struggling on the ladder lately, but these fresh new decks are looking to turn that around.
      Warrior, Shaman, and Rogue have been struggling to find success lately, but that shouldn't stop you from playing them on the ladder! In this article, I break down the best decks for taking on the current meta from the three worst classes in the game.
      It's been a couple of weeks since Hearthstone was hit by a major balance patch, which has given the metagame a healthy amount of time to adjust and adapt to the recent nerfs. Though a few of the top dogs from the pre-patch meta continue to be popular choices on the ladder (such as Cube Warlock and Aggro Paladin), and a couple of previously overlooked decks are now beginning to perform better than expected (Secret Mage and Spell Hunter), the new-look meta has proven itself to be much friendlier towards experimental decks than the previous one. Both Patches the Pirate and Raza the Chained were extremely oppressive to a variety of compelling and interesting strategies, which means their departure from standard should open the door up for a number of slower and grindier decks to flourish. For the remainder of the K&C metagame, this should be great news for fans of decks on the "control" end of the aggro-control spectrum.
      It goes without saying that as the speed of a meta shifts, each of Hearthstone's nine classes stand to gain or lose major percentage points. For the time being, the classes in need of the biggest boosts to their win percentage are Rogue, Shaman, and Warrior.  

      Class winrates in Standard, courtesy of Hsreplay.net
      Not only do these three classes boast the lowest winrates across all levels of play, they can also lay claim to three of the four lowest playrates.

      Class playrates courtesy of metastats.net
      If you're a fan of one of these three classes, it's time to go back to the drawing board and see what can be done to fix this! In theory, a meta which is trending slower and grindier should favor decks with powerful late-game plans and game-ending combos. If you can't go underneath the control decks with a speedy aggro deck of your own, the best way to beat slow and greedy decks is to be even slower and greedier than they are (mill strategies are a perfect example of this), or to find a way to combo-kill them in a single turn before they can end the game with their own win condition (Quest Rogue immediately comes to mind).
      However, the reality of the current meta is very different from "slow and grindy". Four of the top five most played decks are aggro decks (Secret Mage, Aggro Paladin, Spiteful Priest, and Murloc Paladin) according metastats.net. The more things change, the more things stay the same, eh? With that in mind, let's take a look at a few new and unique decks from each of the weakest classes to see how we can take on the current meta.
      Rogue
      No class was hurt harder by the recent nerfs than Rogue. Arguably the best class in the game pre-patch, Tempo Rogue has fallen to a sub-par 47% winrate according to hsreplay.net. Though the nerfs to Patches the Pirate, Bonemare, and Corridor Creeper all hit the deck hard, Rogue is also being held back by the classes natural weakness against go-wide aggro strategies. With only Fan of Knives and Vanish (and sometimes Blade Flurry) as ways to deal with wide boards, Rogue often has a difficult time catching up when far behind on board. Though cards like Elven Minstrel and Vilespine Slayer do a great job of getting Rogue ahead in the first place, they don't have nearly as many ways to interact with a decent Call to Arms pull as the other classes do.
      Though you could try to tech your favorite Rogue out with every defensive Neutral minion you can muster, this would have an equal-but-opposite negative effect on your control matchups. You can only sacrifice so many slots in your deck to aggro before you turn your good matchups into mediocre ones. It seems that the best bet for Rogue is to accept that you'll lose to the best draws from the best aggro decks, but that you might be able to beat their more mediocre or slower draws with a powerful midgame.
      Gallon's Kingsbane Rogue
      The first solid option for Rogue is a low-to-the-ground build of Kingsbane Rogue by Gallon, who peaked at rank 9 Legend with the deck two days ago:

      This build of the deck skimps on cards like Tar Creeper and Fan of Knives to go all-in Kingsbane. It notably runs two Doomerangs and a pair of Counterfeit Coins to power out weapon-buffing minions like Captain Greenskin. The thing I love most about this list is that it knows exactly what it's trying to do (build a massive Kingsbane as quickly as possible) and it doesn't waste precious deck space pretending to be something it's not. It probably needs to draw really well to beat Aggro Paladin or Tempo Rogue, but that would probably still be the case even if the deck ran more defensive cards than it currently does.
      Ryvius' Quest Rogue
      The nerf to The Caverns Below all but killed the Quest Rogue archetype through Knights of the Frozen Throne, but Kobolds & Catacombs has provided the deck with plenty of shiny new toys. Both Zola the Gorgon and Sonya Shadowdancer give the deck even more ways to copy minions, while Wax Elemental provided the deck with a cheap tool to buy an extra turn or two of time both before and after Crystal Core is active.

      Ryvius, a known Quest Rogue aficionado, was able to pilot this list as high as rank 8 Legend recently. He noted the deck is good as long you "avoid secret mage and aggro paladin", which will likely ring true for most successful Rogue lists right now.
      Shaman
      Whereas Rogue was in a great spot before the recent nerfs, Shaman has been in a rut since the release of K&C. Evolve strategies were happy to pick up Unstable Evolution from the latest set, but nerfs to Patches the Pirate, Bonemare, and Corridor Creeper dealt a major blow to Token/Evolve Shaman's power level.
      Fortunately for Shaman fans, the class is equipped with a healthy number of tools for taking on aggro decks. Devolve, Maelstrom Portal, Jade Claws, Lightning Storm, and Volcano all do an excellent job at dealing with pesky aggressive minions, which gives Shaman a fighting chance against cards like Call to Arms and Aluneth. If you want to beat Aggro decks as Shaman, you can probably find a way to do that without having to get too creative. The trick is finding a way to beat Aggro with enough slots remaining in your deck to still beat Control decks.
      Purple's Mill Shaman
      Mill has classically been known as control-beater, so it stands to reason that any mill deck which can weather the storm against the current suite of Aggro decks should be a solid choice for the current meta. With that in mind, take a look at this beautiful monstrosity of a deck:
       
      Purple was able to hold top 100 Legend with this list for 7 hours on stream. What's your excuse?
      Jokes aside, I actually love the direction this deck is going in and think a list like this has a ton of potential. Murmuring Elemental and Grumble, Worldshaker do double-duty in this list, doubling the effectiveness of both Coldlight Oracle and Jade cards. Healing Rain and Jinyu Waterspeaker excel as both anti-aggro and anti-fatigue tools, bolstering the deck's early and late game at the same time. With so many cards in the deck performing multiple functions, its no surprise that Purple was able to find room in the deck for rarely-played cards such as Rummaging Kobold and The Runespear. As a big fan of Shaman, I can confidently state that this will be the next list I'm looking to test and tune for the competitive ladder.
      Frescha's Mill Shaman
      With so many Warlock's running around these days, Hex is probably as strong as it has ever been since its nerf last September. Until Rin, the First Disciple and Carnivorous Cube become less prevalent on the ladder, the best Shaman lists will probably run a pair of Hexes.
      The fact that Murmuring Elemental, Jade Spirit, and Grumble, Worldshaker are all Elementals could also motivate a mill-focused strategy to build a bit more around the Elemental sub-theme, which is exactly what Frescha did with this list:

      I love the additions of Hex and Kalimos, Primal Lord as tools for combating Warlock, and have always been a huge fan of Hot Spring Guardian in Elemental decks. Though it doesn't heal for quite as much as Healing Rain will in the late game, it serves as an excellent road block for aggro strategies and can even have its Battlecry doubled by Murmuring Elemental or Grumble, Worldshaker. The Skulking Geist serves a tool for beating both Jade Druid and Combo Priest, but can probably be swapped out for a Healing Rain or Rummaging Kobold if neither of those decks are popular on the ladder at your rank.
      Overall, I'd expect that the "best Shaman mill deck" would be somewhere between Purple's and Frescha's lists. There's still plenty of room for growth and innovation within the archetype, and I look forward to much of that myself in the coming weeks.
      Warrior
      Warrior has been one of the worst classes in the game since the nerf to Fiery War Axe, and not much has happened in recent weeks to change that. Though Recruit decks showed some brief promise in the early-goings of the K&C meta, the archetype took up most of the new card slots from K&C and has failed to impress in the current ladder environment. I don't expect Recruit decks to suddenly become playable due to the popularity of aggro, but that doesn't that Warrior fans should give up hope. The three new "armor-matters" cards, Drywhisker Armorer, Reckless Flurry, and Geosculptor Yip, have largely been overlooked due to Warrior's abysmal playrates, but could potentially be used to shore up some of the classes old weaknesses.
      It shouldn't be that hard for Warriors to beat aggro decks if they dedicate enough slots in their deck to do so. Whirlwind. Sleep with the Fishes, Brawl, and Blood Razor are excellent against wide boards out of Paladin decks, while Execute and Shield Slam can deal with problematically large minions out of Spiteful Summoner decks. Against the likes of Tempo/Secret Mage, Drywhisker Armorer and Bring It On! are capable of buying additional turns of time. The real question, once again, is how do we plan to beat Control after we have teched out our deck to beat Aggro? 
      Cocasasa's Mill Warrior
      If Mill Shaman is somewhat viable right now, wouldn't a mill deck with two Dead Man's Hand be playable as well?
      Cocosasa was able to reach top 100 Legend with this extremely low to the ground build of Mill Warrior. The deck features only one card that costs more than 5 mana, allowing it to consistently play to the board against go-wide aggro decks in the early game.

      Cocosasa plays nearly every anti-aggro card I mentioned above, trimming on quite a few late-game cards to do so. Coldlight Oracle and Dead Man's Hand (and sometimes Zola the Gorgon) are the only cards which can actually win the game for you in this list. As the mill plan is the only plan with this deck, this particular build of Mill Warrior has less margin for error when playing against control decks than other builds might. If you're brand new to mill strategies in general, you might want to trim a Cornered Sentry or a Battle Rage for something which can stabilize the board for you on turn 10, such as Geosculptor Yip, Grommash Hellscream, or Rotface.
      Fibonacci's Combo Warrior
      Warrior has frequently been able to cobble together a wacky, janky, and totally off-meta combo deck each new expansion. Fibonacci has brewed up the latest (and hopefully greatest) Warrior deck with an OTK in it, though it would be a bit disingenuous to call this a "pure" combo deck.

      As Fibonacci noted in this tweet, this is really an anti-aggro deck which happens to have an OTK in it. As the deck contains just 4 minions, you'll need to rely heavily on your spells to keep the board clear until Woecleaver can come down and pull out Grommash Hellscream for potential OTKs. The combo kill probably won't be as relevant against aggro decks, but it's a necessary evil for beating other control decks. I like this deck for a lot of the same reasons I like the Mill deck; it doesn't need to dedicate that many slots towards actually winning the game, so it is able to pack a diverse array of answers for aggro decks.
      Conclusion
      There is still plenty of time left in the Kobolds & Catacombs meta for the game's worst classes to turn things around. As the meta is currently leaning quite aggressively, any deck built to prey on aggro should be able to find some modicum of success on the ladder. Anti-aggro decks which can also afford to pack a lean and reliable late-game win condition, such as mill decks or combo decks, might also be able to find success against control decks with slower win conditions such as Rin, the First Disciple. Though I don't expect all of the above decks to become mainstays of the meta, I'd expect them all to perform admirably on the ladder in the right hands.
    • By Aleco

      Anton "Dvck" Lund found his way out of a jam on the ladder. Can you?
      Dvck and Aleco discuss the importance of planning ahead, understanding the meta, and knowing when to pivot your role in a matchup.
      The player interviews I've done with RayC and TerrenceM have been some of the most fun and informative episodes of "What's the Move?", so I was very excited when Anton "Dvck" Lund reached out to me via reddit with a play from a recent game of his. Playing as Combo Dragon Priest, Dvck was able to find his way out of a tough spot against Murloc Paladin. Can you do the same?
      In this week's episode, Dvck and I discuss the importance of planning ahead, understanding the meta, and knowing when to pivot your role in a matchup. For what ended up being a relatively short episode by "WTM" standards, I was pleasantly surprised by how much we were able to break down together so quickly. The interview with Dvck was as fun as it was informative, so I hope to have him back on the show soon! If you're interested in watching some high-legend gameplay, be sure to tune into Dvck's stream on twitch.tv.
      You can look forward to a few more episodes about the Hearthstone World Championships in the coming weeks, but I always welcome submissions and suggestions for future episodes. Did you have a favorite play from the world championships? Feel free to link me the VOD here on Icy Veins or send me a message on twitter @Aleco_P.
      Thanks for watching!
    • By Aleco
      Kolento and ShtanUdachi found themselves in nearly identical situations at the world championships - but did they make the same decisions?
      Episode 14 of "What's the Move?" discusses the importance of being mana efficient in the early game, as well as the relationship between speed and value.

      The Hearthstone World Championships were full of incredible plays, sticky situations, and valuable lessons to be learned from the best players on the planet. There were far too many great plays to analyze in a single video, so for the next few episodes of "What's the Move?" I'll be breaking down all of my favorite plays from the World Championship weekend.
      To kick things off we have a pair of Tempo Rogue vs. Highlander Priest matchups featuring Kolento and ShtanUdachi. Both players drew nearly identical opening hands, but did they did make same decisions?
      If you managed to spot a particularly tricky or interesting play from the recent World Championships, please feel free to link it in the comment section below! I'd love to break down as many viewer-submitted topics as I can in the coming weeks and months, and I have little doubt that I may have missed some of the most fascinating plays from the tournament during my initial viewing.
      Wishing you all the best of luck in the post-nerf meta!
      - Aleco
    • By Zadina

      Welcome to the post-Corridor Creeper meta.
      Hearthstone Update 10.2 is now live worldwide and it's a big one!
      The first change it brings are the nerfs to four cards that have terrorised dominated the meta up until now. Bonemare now costs 8 mana, Patches the Pirate no longer has Charge, Raza the Chained makes the Hero Power cost (1) instead of (0) and Corridor Creeper has been butchered down to 2 attack. You can read Aleco's interesting opinion piece on Blizzard's nerf policy here.
      The second big addition of this patch is the Ranked Play update, which will take effect on March 2018. Players will now drop only 4 ranks with each monthly reset, all ranks will have 5 stars and you will only need to win 5 Ranked games to earn the monthly card back.
      The Year of the Mammoth Bundle is also finally available on the Shop. For $19.99 or 19.99 EUR, you can get 30 packs - 10 for each of the Year of the Mammoth expansions (Un'Goro, KFT, K&C). Don't forget that the Quest for Packs event is still ongoing and an addition has been made to the grand prize winner reward: $1.200 (read here for more info)!
      Lastly, the patch introduces the Wildfest event. From February 19 to March 11, Hearthstone is going Wild! Initially, you will be able to draft cards in Arena mode that are exclusive to Wild. Second, even though Tavern Brawl is usually on Wild format, there will be two special Wild Brawls. The first one is called "Venture Into the Wild" and it will just contain premade Wild decks for each class. The second one, "The Wild Brawlisseum", is basically a Wild Heroic Tavern Brawl, but with a major improvement: the first run will be free for everyone. You can read more about Wildfest here.
      Below you can read the patch notes, which describe all the updates as well as various bug fixes. A massive change is that the timer for the first two turns will now be shorter!
      Daxxarri
      The tavern is buzzing with all the stuff that’s packed into this Hearthstone update! There’s a Ranked Play update, a Wild party, card changes, and a chance to save on packs with a new Mammoth Card Bundle! We managed to squeeze in some card backs and bug fixes too!
       
      Whew! Read on for details!
       
      Ranked Play Update – This Hearthstone update brings changes to Ranked Play, starting March 1st. Read the Ranked Play Updates blog for details! Your reset will not be based on the stars you earned over the season. Instead, you’ll reset to four ranks below the highest rank you achieved during the season. Players at Legend reset to rank 4, 0 stars. All ranks will have 5 stars. Starting in March, you will no longer earn the monthly card back by reaching Rank 20. Instead, you can earn each season’s card back by winning 5 games in Ranked Standard or Wild at any rank. Card Changes – Please read the Upcoming Balance Changes blog on the official Hearthstone site for full details regarding the reasons and philosophy behind these changes. Corridor Creeper – Now has 2 attack, down from 5.
      Patches the Pirate – No longer has Charge.
      Raza the Chained – Now reduces your Hero Power cost to 1 instead of 0.
      Bonemare – Now costs 8 mana, up from 7.
      Wildfest! From February 19th through March 11th join us for a Wild party! Read the Wildfest blogfor details! Wild cards return to the Arena for the duration of Wildfest. Venture into the Wild – A Tavern Brawl celebrating Wild with pre-built decks. The Wild Brawliseum – A special Tavern Brawl where you’ll build and lock-in a Wild deck, and then see if you can take it to twelve wins versus other players! Three losses and your run comes to an end. Your first Brawliseum run is free! Additional runs are available for the same price as Arena tickets. Also like the Arena, prizes are based on number of wins, and follow the Arena reward structure.
      Year of the Mammoth Bundle For a limited time, purchase 10 packs each of Journey to Un’goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, and Kobolds & Catacombs—a total of 30 packs!—for a special price.
       
      Added the following card backs: Sparkles - Acquired from achieving Rank 20 in Ranked Play, February 2018.
      Year of the Mammoth – Acquired from winning five games in Ranked Play, March 2018.
      Bug Fixes & Updates Gameplay
      The turn timer for the first two turns of a match are now shorter, though they should still be significantly longer than most players take on those turns. Switching from Valeera the Hollow to Deathstalker Rexxar will now correctly allow Rexxar’s Battlecry to destroy minions buffed to 2 health by Stormwind Champion or similar effects. Nemsy Necrofizzle’s Hero frame is now golden if you have unlocked the golden Warlock Hero. Removed rarity gems from several summoned minions. Playing multiple copies of Temporus in a row will now queue up sequences of two turns for your opponent and two turns for you. Fixed a bug where the Divine Shield provided by Elixir of Purity could not be silenced. Spectators now see green highlights on playable cards for both players. Fixed an issue that could cause Hearthstone to freeze when a spectated player disconnects and their opponent concedes. Tooltips for Hero Cards now appear correctly when spectating. Resolved a crash that could occur when drawing a Darkness Candle spell after The Darkness is no longer dormant. Grand Archivist can now correctly cast the Darkness Candle spell if it is present in a player’s deck. Resolved a crash that could occur when certain cost reducing cards were played. Resolved an unintended interaction that could occur with Anomalus, Taunt minions, and Commanding Shout. Added missing Collection Manager tooltips to several cards. Resolved an issue that could cause a player to become stuck when reconnecting before the first turn. Resolved an issue that would prevent the progress notification for more than one Daily Quest from being shown after a match is complete. Ice Breaker now correctly destroys Rotface without activating his effect if he is Frozen. Resolved interface issues that could arise when retiring an Arena game. Resolved an issue that would allow the Friends menu to remain active while a Friendly Challenge is active. Fixed various minor visual and text issues. Dungeon Run & Adventures
      The cards that appear in several loot categories have been adjusted slightly. Cards stolen by Gloves of Mugging now appear in history tile when played by an opponent. Resolved a visual issue with Candlebeard’s charge enchantment banner. [Adventures] Atramedes now correctly uses his Hero Power whenever he should. Mobile
      Resolved an issue with the Collection Manager that could allow the set filter to be interacted with behind the “Done” button. Scrolling through an Arena deck on a mobile device will no longer generate unnecessary prompts. The “Back” button will now function correctly after an Arena run is complete. History tiles that were queueing up while viewing a history event now populate correctly. Resolved an issue that could cause crafted cards to remain visible over the Collection Manager. Corrected a visual issue with the search bar in the Collection Manager. [Android] Resolved an issue with the download progress indicator. [iOS] Compatibility now requires iOS 8.0 or later. [iOS] The client will no longer sometimes freeze when a spectated player wins a match.   (source)