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Kobolds & Catacombs Set Review: Shaman

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Shaman needed some help from K&C to diversify it's deck options on the ladder. It ended up getting a number of underwhelming Totem and Overload cards instead.

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My Rating System

 

Each card is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 on two criteria: Power and Versatility.

The Power rating reflects how much I expect a card to impact the game when played. Cards which immediately represent multiple cards worth of value (Ultimate Infestation) or have a powerful effect on the board for their mana cost (Sunkeeper Tarim) will receive high Power ratings, while cards which have a low impact on the game (Ice Breaker) or cost too much for their effect (Furnacefire Colossus) will receive Power low ratings.

The Versatility rating is intended to communicate how dependent a card is on other cards for its success. Cards can be very powerful without being versatile at all (Clutchmother Zavas), which means that many exciting and powerful cards will end up seeing very little play once the metagame is established. A high Versatility rating means a card relies very little on other cards to be good, and the more comfortable I would feel crafting that card on day one. A lower Versatility rating doesn't necessarily reflect that I expect the card to be bad, but that I wouldn't feel comfortable crafting it until it has proven itself to be a part of a competitive deck.

Kobold Hermit

s1.png

Fits into: Token Shaman, Totem Shaman

Power Versatility
3 3

This card will make a nice compliment to Primalfin Totem in Token-based strategies that look to go wide and pump up their board with cards like BloodlustEvolve, and Flametongue Totem. Kobold Hermit's ability to discover the perfect totem for a variety of situations leads me to believe that it's much more powerful than it appears on first glance. A Wrath of Air Totem for Maelstrom Portal will give Shaman the ability to meaningfully interact with a wide number of threatening boards, while a surprise Stoneclaw Totem can be very useful for protecting important minions. Kobold Hermit may not be incredibly exciting, but I still expect it to see a fair amount of play.

Crushing Hand

s2.png

Fits into: Overload Shaman

Power Versatility
1 2

Overload 3 is a massive tempo loss to put on a two drop, which positions this card as more of a late game card than an early game one. I can see this setting up a Snowfury Giant in a dedicated Overload list, but am fairly confident that the average Midrange or Control Shaman can do far better than Crushing Hand.

Healing Rain

s3.png

Fits into: Control Shaman

Power Versatility
2 1

12 Health is quite a lot of healing from a single card. If Healing Rain is ever able to set up favorable trades it will pay for itself, but I think that's asking quite a lot. The random nature of Healing Rain leads me to believe that it's too inconsistent to ever see widespread play.

Sapphire Spellstone

s4.png

s4-1.pngs4-2.png

Fits into: Overload Shaman

Power Versatility
2 1

Seven mana is quite a lot to ask from a card which also requires you to overload your mana crystals and have a powerful minion in play to be worth your while. That said, I can envision some crazy Snowfury Giant turns with this card. The lesser version of this card isn't strong enough to earn its keep in non-overload Shaman decks, so I wouldn't be surprised if Sapphire Spellstone ends up collecting dust.

Primal Talismans

s5.png

Fits into: Totem Shaman, Token Shaman

Power Versatility
2 1

Along with Kobold Hermit, Primal Talismans is an obvious plant for the Totem Shaman deck that Blizzard is hinting at in K&C. Unfortunately, I think that deck is gonna be awful. Primal Talismans is far worse than Spirit Echo in a Midrange Shaman deck, but could potentially provide some Bloodlust insurance for Token decks.  It probably won't, but at least it's something to think about.


Murmuring Elemental

s6.png

Fits into: Elemental Shaman, Jade Shaman

Power Versatility
2 2

Brann Bronzebeard, this card is not. The 1/1 body on Murmuring Elemental is downright dreadful, and I expect that this card will have a nasty tendency to rot away in your hand as you wait for it to become useful. I'd love to use Murmuring Elemental to double down on Kalimos, Primal Lord , but I fear that the card will be too useless in too many situations to justify its inclusion in competitive decks.


Windshear Stormcaller

s7.png

Fits into: Totem Shaman

Power Versatility
3 1

Getting an Al'Akir and a 5/5 for 5 mana is one of the most exciting things you can do in all of Hearthstone. Unfortunately, the only way you can consistently set up Windshear Stormcaller is with cards like Primal Talismans and Wicked Witchdoctor, neither of which are cards I'm looking to put in my competitive decks. Unless its somehow far easier to get all four basic totems than I'm envisioning, I don't expect Windshear Stormcaller to make any major ripples in the upcoming metagame.

Unstable Evolution

s8.png

Fits into: Midrange Shaman decks

Power Versatility
4 4

I absolutely adore the design of this card, and look forward to the many difficult and compelling decisions which this card will lead to on the ladder. Do I cast this card now, or later? Do I risk evolving this minion into something even better, or do I leave it be and evolve something else? This card is incredibly skill testing, and I expect it to be devastating in the right hands.

A deadly topdeck in the late game, Unstable Evolution can create a 9 drop from an empty board in combination with Shaman's Hero Power. It's not nearly as efficient as Evolve is in the early game (nor is it as good with Doppelgangster), but I believe that the flexibility of this card will make it a powerhouse in the mid to late game, particularly in Elemental and Jade Shaman. Many Elementals and Jade cards get the majority of their value from their Battlecry trigger and leave behind a less-than-stellar body in the process, which should open the door up for Unstable Evolution to accrue some serious value on the leftovers.

The Runespear

s9.png

Fits into: Control Shaman

Power Versatility
3 1


The biggest reason to get excited about The Runespear is the high volume of powerful Shaman spells which don't require a target to be strong, such as VolcanoSpirit Echo, and Far Sight. I don't think it will be very difficult to Discover a spell off The Runespear which is strictly beneficial, but I'm having a hard time envisioning a Shaman deck that wants to play an 8 drop which takes 3 turns to fully pay off. This card will be good in any big, slow, controlling Shaman deck, but none of those decks exist right now.

Grumble, World Shaker

s10.png

Fits into: Elemental Shaman, Jade Shaman

Power Versatility
4 2

As an enormous fan of Elemental Shaman decks, I couldn't have been happier to see another Legendary Elemental. Grumble appears to have a similar power level to Kalimos, Primal Lord, which gives me reason to be optimistic about Elemental and Jade Shaman in K&C. If Grumble can consistently recycle the battlecry triggers of Jade Spirit (an Elemental and a Jade card), Blazecaller, and Servant of Kalimos, the 7/7 body it leave behind should provide more than an enough board presence to make up for the drawback of emptying your own board. There's a fair bit of play to setting up Grumble properly, and I see the card's Battlecry as more upside than downside. Unfortunately, I also foresee a number of situations on the ladder where you simply can't afford to bounce your entire board. Grumble won't always be a slam dunk, but he's yet another skill testing Shaman card which will reward intelligent players for good play.

Thoughts on the Class

Meh.

Speaking as a guy who loves me some Shaman, I'm a bit disappointed by the number of cards that are wasted on Totem and Overload Shaman. I don't see these two archetypes going anywhere, yet they represent half of all the new Shaman cards in K&C. Despite the number of lackluster Shaman cards in new set, I'll still emerge from it as a happy man if Elemental Shaman becomes a playable deck. Save me, Grumble, Worldshaker!

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I only disagree with your rating of Healing Rain. The random nature might indeed make it bad but I see potential for this card being played after multiple of you minions got damaged after value trading and I will test this. But I might be wrong :)

And it looks like shaman got again not much good stuff, same as in KFT.

Edited by Caldyrvan
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I will try to use 2 Murmuring Elemental but even if it will have the potential to be great it might be better to include only one.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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Murmuring Elemental can be strong, but when I compare it to Brann Bronzebeard, who was more often left out from shaman decks than not, it probably won't see that much play.

I remember totem shaman being a thing for about 2 or 3 weeks at one point, so I'd say it is possible that the deck will make a returns. Perhaps not as a tier 1 deck, but somewhere around tier 3, sure.

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8 minutes ago, Oxygen said:

Also: Would playing 2 Murmuring Elementals in a row make the following card's battlecry trigger 3 times? :)

It should, unless the devs are not clear again with their text :D

I mean the first Murmiring makes the 2nd to cast its battlecry twice, followed up by a Fire Elemental should cast the 3 damage 3 times, but at the same target I assume that can be good or not. But should be great on Servant of Kalimos :D But you are investing 3 cards for that so it might not be good in every situation.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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47 minutes ago, positiv2 said:

I remember totem shaman being a thing for about 2 or 3 weeks at one point, so I'd say it is possible that the deck will make a returns. Perhaps not as a tier 1 deck, but somewhere around tier 3, sure.

Totem Shaman was a thing thanks to Thunder Bluff Valiant and Totemic Might (and to a lesser extent Wicked Witchdoctor and Tuskarr Totemic) that could turn a board of 0/2 into a force to be reckoned with without relying on a Bloodlust turn. Without the Valiant, a general Token strategy will be more efficient.

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I have a hard time believing that the legendary weapon would be good in any deck, even slow control. Quick rundown:

• Sometimes you'll have to attack into a (big) taunt just to proc it
• Sometimes (most times?) you don't get what you want
• Abysmal tempo
• Just look at it, it definitely belongs in a museum
• Oozes go "nom nom"
• You still get overloaded (right?)

Lastly, you might have to rely on luck wether to attack with your minions into your opponent board first or to proc the runespear before that. Volcano and bloodlust want you doing very different things... if you get the board clear and your minions are still on the board, or if you traded them away and got a bloodlust offer, that's not good at all. And those are the "no target spells", I'm not even delving into the ones that will randomly target something. 


Other than that I agree with Caldyrvan, I think healing rain is being slightly underrated. It is going to heal your average board to full health, so a midrange deck could benefit from good trades, it wouldn't be a completely dead card against midrange/control. On top of being pretty nice against aggro decks... not so much against tempo, but not completely dead either. Spreading Madness is very inconsistent because it can ping anything, but healing rain can be used much more consistently because you can control your board size, and 12 is a lot. 

Unstable evolution is probably the best of those anyway... unless somehow totem shaman becomes a thing, which imo is fairly unlikely.

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Oh there might be another thing with Healing Rain, it will be much worse if it just targets anything friendly, no matter if it is damaged or not. I fear it will be like that, but even then with 12 points you need to have a very wide board and get very unlucky :)

Edited by Caldyrvan

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20 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

Oh there might be another thing with Healing Rain, it will be much worse if it just targets anything friendly, no matter if it is damaged or not. I fear it will be like that, but even then with 12 points you need to have a very wide board and get very unlucky :)

you can't "restore health" if you're health is intact, makes no sense.

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6 minutes ago, Starving said:

you can't "restore health" if you're health is intact, makes no sense.

If the devs and their card texts would be consistent and if you could be sure they follow a logic I would agree.

And I really hope it will not target undamaged characters, but other than effects like Backstab which simply can't hit a damaged target, you can always apply heal to a character. It might not trigger something (Northshire Cleric) because no actual healing was done, nevertheless you can apply healing.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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Control Shaman is one of my favourite archetypes. I tend to only play it in Wild these days (it holds my all-time ladder record of rank 37 legend in wild!), partly because my list ran sylv and rag, and partly because healing wave was essential. Healing rain is good enough to replace that I’d say. I also think crushing hand is better than it looks, the low initial mana cost can be a lifesaver if you overloaded the previous turn and then need to respond to an unexpected threat. It also can just kill a big thing while saving your hexes for stuff that needs to be silenced. The spellstone is interesting too, though not sure it’d find its way in. Ancestral Spirit is so much more flexible, but in a silence heavy meta maybe the spellstone could be an alternative. Struggle to see a world where I want to play the runespear tbh.

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I can't imagine why ppl play wild, you will have to face Razadin until the end of all days. Not a future I would like to face.

But I agree with your predictions for the K&C cards.

Edited by Caldyrvan

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56 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

I can't imagine why people play wild.

Put bluntly, a lot more of garbage players and decks. It's way easier to get to rank 5 in Wild if that's all you want from ladder in a given month.

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5 hours ago, Caldyrvan said:

It should, unless the devs are not clear again with their text :D

I mean the first Murmiring makes the 2nd to cast its battlecry twice, followed up by a Fire Elemental should cast the 3 damage 3 times, but at the same target I assume that can be good or not. But should be great on Servant of Kalimos :D But you are investing 3 cards for that so it might not be good in every situation.

actually i think it doesn't. it says: your next BC triggers twice.

So if you cast this two times it still triggers only twice because it doesn't say anything like "doubled" or "one more time".

Imagine if it says "your next BC triggers a hundred times" so if u play two of them in a row the third BC should again just trigger 100 times and not 100x100 or 200 times...

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19 minutes ago, Breadd said:

actually i think it doesn't. it says: your next BC triggers twice.

So if you cast this two times it still triggers only twice because it doesn't say anything like "doubled" or "one more time".

Imagine if it says "your next BC triggers a hundred times" so if u play two of them in a row the third BC should again just trigger 100 times and not 100x100 or 200 times...

It doesn't have to say doubled.

It says battlecry happens twice for the first ME, then for the second one that you play immediately, it will have the effect of 'triggering battlecry twice' two times. So if you play two ME, than hit Fire Elemental on the board, it will deal 12 damage, because its battlecry will trigger 4 times.

Check out the combo; Brann into 2 ME into Fire Elemental (needs one proc of Emperor or Fire Plume Harbinger)

According to the wording, this will activate the battlecry 32 times, which adds up to 96 damage.

First ME will trigger the next one four times, second ME will trigger the next battlecry 16 times (2×4×2) the Fire Ele will be triggered 32 times (16*2)

@Positiv2, first day we should give this a try. How about that? We can share what happens here.

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11 hours ago, Keizoku said:

Totem Shaman was a thing thanks to Thunder Bluff Valiant and Totemic Might (and to a lesser extent Wicked Witchdoctor and Tuskarr Totemic) that could turn a board of 0/2 into a force to be reckoned with without relying on a Bloodlust turn. Without the Valiant, a general Token strategy will be more efficient.

Thunder Bluff Valiant relied on a board full of totems to be really strong, just like Windshear Stormcaller. While Thunder Bluff Valiant is better without without having the necessary totems, Windshear Stormcaller has the support of the new cards. Is it good enough to make totem shaman a strong deck? Probably not. Is it good enough to make totem shaman a decent-ish deck, somewhere around tier 3 and 4? I'd say that it is, especially considering you can play token shaman and just add Windshear Stormcaller and Primal Talismans.

It is likely just wishful thinking, hoping to see totem shaman once again, though.

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It sounds 

2 hours ago, positiv2 said:

s it good enough to make totem shaman a decent-ish deck, somewhere around tier 3 and 4?

It sounds nice but the problem is the majority of the players can afford one maybe two top tier decks, they put their resources into these and barely play/have anything else, if then some kind of budget deck

Those who can afford a tier 3/4 deck (in addition to their top decks) might do that to have fun for 5 minutes then they return to their tier 1/2 decks.

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10 hours ago, Keizoku said:

Put bluntly, a lot more of garbage players and decks. It's way easier to get to rank 5 in Wild if that's all you want from ladder in a given month.

Haven’t played wild seriously in a while as I’ve been focusing on classes I don’t have good wild decks for yet, but from my experiences when I did, I’d agree with this assessment. The standard of play in wild was substantially weaker than in standard. 

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10 hours ago, FanOfValeera said:

It doesn't have to say doubled.

It says battlecry happens twice for the first ME, then for the second one that you play immediately, it will have the effect of 'triggering battlecry twice' two times. So if you play two ME, than hit Fire Elemental on the board, it will deal 12 damage, because its battlecry will trigger 4 times.

Check out the combo; Brann into 2 ME into Fire Elemental (needs one proc of Emperor or Fire Plume Harbinger)

According to the wording, this will activate the battlecry 32 times, which adds up to 96 damage.

First ME will trigger the next one four times, second ME will trigger the next battlecry 16 times (2×4×2) the Fire Ele will be triggered 32 times (16*2)

 

Play first ME:

Battlecry 1: next battlecry triggers twice.

Play second ME:

Battlecry 2: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 1, Battlecry 2 triggers again:

Battlecry 3: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 2, Battlecry 3 triggers again:

Battlecry 4: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 3, Battlecry 4 triggers again:

Battlecry 5: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 4, Battlecry 5 triggers again:

Battlecry 6: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 5, Battlecry 6 triggers again:

Battlecry 7: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 6, Battlecry 7..... you get the picture.

I presume Blizzard have anticipated this issue and so playing two ME in sequence won’t actually cause an infinite loop of battlecries. But in any case, no Battlecry ever happens more than twice. For instance, if somehow Battlecry 7 was: deal 3 damage, the effect of Battlecry 6 would make Battlecry 7 happen again and deal another 3 damage at which point the chain is broken.

Long story short, I’d be very surprised if ME->ME->Fire Elemental doesn’t deal 6 damage.

Edited by Bozonik

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5 hours ago, Bozonik said:

Long story short, I’d be very surprised if ME->ME->Fire Elemental doesn’t deal 6 damage.

This would not be logical but you never know with the devs they may word it one way but it works another way :D

I still stick to 3 times (maybe 4 times but I doubt it). If it would do only 6 damage this would mean the 2nd ME is wasted and there is no way for the "normal" player to know and understand this. But it's still possible with their beloved inconsistency and being unclear as much as possible :D

Edited by Caldyrvan

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7 hours ago, Bozonik said:
 

Play first ME:

Battlecry 1: next battlecry triggers twice.

Play second ME:

Battlecry 2: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 1, Battlecry 2 triggers again:

Battlecry 3: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 2, Battlecry 3 triggers again:

Battlecry 4: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 3, Battlecry 4 triggers again:

Battlecry 5: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 4, Battlecry 5 triggers again:

Battlecry 6: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 5, Battlecry 6 triggers again:

Battlecry 7: next battlecry triggers twice.

Because of Battlecry 6, Battlecry 7..... you get the picture.

I presume Blizzard have anticipated this issue and so playing two ME in sequence won’t actually cause an infinite loop of battlecries. But in any case, no Battlecry ever happens more than twice. For instance, if somehow Battlecry 7 was: deal 3 damage, the effect of Battlecry 6 would make Battlecry 7 happen again and deal another 3 damage at which point the chain is broken.

Long story short, I’d be very surprised if ME->ME->Fire Elemental doesn’t deal 6 damage.

There is no way we know what will happen without trying, I had a guess based on the wording and will definitely check this out once the expansion is on.

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      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)
    • By Zadina

      According to the Principal Game Designer, Cubelock isn't as powerful as it seems.
      Cubelock won't be touched in the upcoming balance changes which, for many people, is a sign that the deck will completely dominate the meta after said changes become active.
      The deck is already prominent enough that people have started making false claims about it. A Reddit user claimed that he faced 17 Cubelocks in a row! However, Mike Donais put the matter into place by saying that there was no such streak in Blizzard's internal data and that Cubelock is currently the 12th best deck.
      He subsequently explained that he expects the deck to rise after the nerfs, but he's not too worried because it's a challenging (and expensive, I would add) deck to master. If the team feels that Cubelock is too powerful, though, they will evaluate it.
      mdonais
      I just checked the data, and no one played 17 cubelocks in a row today.
      If you are indeed having trouble with Cubelock there are several decks that beat it consistently right now. It is currently the 12th best deck.
      I did enjoy the title of your post though. (source)
       
       
      A couple people asked why the stats I mentioned don't metch VS power ranking so I looked up VS 79 and across all rankings Control Warlock is the 10th best deck. I assume they mix control and cube warlock in their stats. We have decks broken out a bit more but 10th gives you the general idea.
      Obviously after the nurfs it will be stronger since none of the cards in cubelock are being nurfed and that concerns me but it is a pretty challenging deck with a lot of opportunities to show off player skill. People will eventually get better at playing it, but people will also put in more weapon destruction or silence cards if it gets more popular.
      I am excited to see what people figure out after the patch. If Warlock is a big problem after people have some time to adjust and tune the new decks then we will look into it. I have said many times before that win rate is not the most important factor in our nurf decisions. How people feel matters more, so we will listen to players and make decisions based on that, just like we did in the past with Quest Rogue and Patron Warrior. (source)
    • By Aleco

      The latest balance patch to Hearthstone raises some questions about Blizzard's policy on nerfs.
      Is it better to fix problematic cards in a vacuum, or to use nerfs as a tool for crafting a specific meta?
      Four of Hearthstone's most problematic cards will be on the receiving end of some serious nerfs in a future balance patch; a massive move by Blizzard which is just as exciting as it is confusing.
      On one hand, each of the four cards receiving nerfs were individually problematic. If nerfing a problematic card is the same thing as "fixing a problem", then the upcoming balance patch is fixing four major problems and should ultimately prove to be a positive change for the game.
      On the other hand, the most dominant class in the meta (Warlock) was left untouched, while one of its strongest competitors (Priest) took a serious a hit with the nerf to Raza the Chained. It stands to reason that nerfing classes other than Warlock should widen the gap between it and its closest competitors, which could lead to a potentially toxic ladder environment dominated by a single class (not unlike the early days of the Frozen Throne meta which were ruled by Druid).
      Furthermore, the timing of the nerfs to Patches the Pirate and Raza the Chained feel a bit... late. Both cards will rotate from Standard when the first set of 2018 drops (likely in April), and neither of these cards became suddenly problematic in Kobolds & Catacombs. Patches has been one of the most toxic and dominant cards in the game since it was released in 2016, and Raza has been the linchpin of the most dominant deck since the last balance patch. Blizzard is obviously acknowledging that these cards are problematic, but why wait until now to do so?
      Regardless of whether or not you expect the upcoming changes to be positive or negative, these nerfs call into question the strategy that Blizzard and Team 5 employ when balancing Hearthstone. Let's attempt to decode the message that Blizzard sent its player base with this balance patch, and see if we can make sense of it all.
      Blizzard Balances For The Present, Not The Future

      Not touching Warlock in the upcoming patch is consistent with Blizzard's recent strategy of balancing Hearthstone. When Jade Druid decks were too powerful in the early days of the Knights of the Frozen Throne meta, Blizzard successfully lowered the power level of the deck without completely killing it by nerfing both Innervate and Spreading Plague. However, they didn't touch the clear-cut second best deck in the meta, Highlander Priest, and the pro Hearthstone community was quite vocal about their concerns with Highlander Priest becoming the next overly-dominant deck. It's fair to say that things went exactly as the pros predicted, and here we are five months later nerfing Raza the Chained. What gives?
      Despite the predicted era of Highlander Priest dominance which followed the Jade Druid nerfs, Blizzard's policy to only fix the problems of the present is a fair one. Metagames on the whole are fickle and largely unpredictable, and attempting to fix all of the future problems which may or may not occur after a balance patch is a slippery slope. If Blizzard were to have pushed the nerf to Raza to the KFT balance patch, they would have merely created another "next best deck" in the process. Should they have also nerfed that deck? And the next one?
      Though Highlander Priest was a particularly obvious deck to be concerned about in a post-Jade Druid world, setting the precedent of preemptively nerfing healthy decks is a dangerous one. If Blizzard had nerfed Raza in the previous patch, they would have put themselves in a position where they would be forced to address the most powerful deck in the meta each time they want to make changes to problematic cards. Just because a deck is the "best deck in the meta" doesn't necessarily mean that the deck is unhealthy, and signaling to your player base that you don't want a clear best deck to exist coming out of every balance patch opens the door to constant scrutiny.
      Blizzard Is Inconsistent With Its Timing


      You'll be hard pressed to find a single Hearthstone pro who isn't happy to see Patches the Pirate and Corridor Creeper get hit by the nerf hammer. Both of these cards were seeing far too much play in the current meta and were responsible for determining the outcome of an outrageous number of games. Aggro mirrors far too often came down to who did or didn't draw these cards in the early game, and something needed to be done about that.
      When it comes to Corridor Creeper, Blizzard was incredibly swift in addressing the card's endemic playrates. This balance patch was announced mere days after the World Championships had concluded, which for all intents and purposes is the earliest possible time they could have announced it. In other words, they identified that Corridor Creeper was problematic and nerfed it as soon as possible, which is why I'm confused about how long it took for them to nerf Patches.
      Patches has always been a toxic card. For more than a year and half he's been in charge of the Hearthstone metagame, and Blizzard's justification for nerfing the card now (to keep him from ruining the Wild metagame for years to come) feels too little too late. Despite the fact that Corridor Creeper is currently seeing higher play rates than Patches, it's difficult for me imagine why Creeper demanded an immediate nerf while Patches was allowed to reign supreme for as long as he did. Now that Blizzard has set the precedent of nerfing widely-played cards like Corridor Creeper immediately, I'd like to at least see them be consistent with this trend in the future.
      Blizzard Undervalues The Human Element

      I imagine the reason why Corridor Creeper was nerfed immediately yet Patches the Pirate was allowed to stay in his current form for as long as he was has something to do with Blizzard's internal stat tracking. I have little doubt that Corridor Creeper will raise more statistical red flags than Patches due to the fact that it's rarely (if ever) a bad card to draw in aggro decks, whereas Patches is arguably the worst card to draw in the entire game. When you average out the games that Patches both single-handedly wins and loses, he likely tests as a "worse" card than Corridor Creeper does statisically, which could be used as justification for why he was left untouched for as long as he was.
      Though the actual stats surrounding a cards win rates should be a major factor when it comes to balance updates, I believe that Blizzard should put a little more weight on the "human element" of cards. Whereas Creeper may be the stronger card, it doesn't feel nearly as bad as Patches does. Regardless of whether or not the stats said that the card needed a nerf, Hearthstone would have almost certainly been a better game if Patches was nerfed at the same time as Small-Time Buccaneer. The same can probably be said for Ultimate Infestation when it comes to the previous balance patch. Though Blizzard's internal stats told them that Spreading Plague was more responsible for Jade Druid's dominance in the early KFT meta, it doesn't feel nearly as bad to lose to as Ultimate Infestation does. And that's important.
      At the end of the day, I believe that stats shouldn't be the only thing which dictates whether or not a card deserves to be nerfed. Cards like Patches and Ultimate Infestation have caused far more headaches and groans than smiles and cheers, regardless of what the statistics say. Hearthstone is a video game, video games are supposed to fun, and cards that have drawn hate for as long as Patches and Ultimate Infestation have seriously get in the way of that.
      On the whole, I'm quite happy with the nerfs that will be coming in the next balance patch and am excited for the future of Hearthstone. Despite the concerns surrounding Warlock, I'm happy to see that Blizzard isn't the business of preemptively handling problems which may or may ever exist. I'd much rather endure a few months of Warlock dominance (especially after how bad the class was in Journey to Un'Goro) than live in a world where every "best deck in the meta" has a constant target on its back for Blizzard's nerf gun.