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Mike Donais "Wouldn't Be Surprised" About Naga Sea Witch Nerf

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Principle Game Designer Mike Donais comments on the community outrage surrounding Naga Sea Witch.

 

Principle Game Designer Mike Donais responded to a reddit thread with over 2000 upvotes titled "It's time to nerf Naga Sea Witch". The post raved about how overpowered and meta-defining the card is in the current Wild format, and proposed a changed to the card which would limit its effectiveness in Giant based Wild decks. Here's Mike's reply to the thread:

 

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Though he doesn't go as far as to promise a nerf, these are the strongest words that Blizzard has said in regards to a nerf of Naga Sea Witch.

It's also reassuring to hear that Blizzard is willing to nerf cards that "feel too strong", even if their stats tell a different story. They turned to stats as justification for not nerfing Ultimate Infestation despite complaints from the community about how the card felt to lose to. Instead of nerfing UI, Blizzard opted to nerf more statistically impactful cards in Spreading Plague and Innervate, which did prove to be an effective solution to problematic Druid decks after everything was said and done.

Mike also proposed an interesting question to the community. Is the spirit of Wild to employ a hands-off approach to nerfs so that people can play with the most powerful cards of all time, or like Standard, is it a format that should be more closely moderated and curated for its power level? The community seems split on this issue, and its a fair question to ask. What do you guys think?

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I don't know what they'd change, but I'd certainly like it. I agree, looking at stats you can see that this deck is not the best. But understand it as a card that said, win 40% of your games, lose 60% of them. Sure, it's not viable because you net a loss overall. But those games where you won really feel awful for the opponent since you cannot do anything to combat a perfect hand.

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I’ve seen people playing it at high Legend so it’s not bad. It’s not amongst the very strongest decks though. I would like to see it nerfed (reverted) anyway because when it’s going through a popular phase you basically can’t play any deck that doesn’t either have big board clears like poison seeds or lightbomb, or is so aggressive it can win by turn 5 or 6.

Ultimately, I think it’s just not a fun thing. Firstly it’s not really a ‘deck’, it’s a package you can slot into any number of decks, after which it becomes the dominating factor in that deck. Giantslock being the main one around right now. Cubelock and controlock have quite high skill caps and produce some very interesting games. Giantslock is very one-dimensional. The games I’ve played against it go one of three ways: (i) they don’t draw naga early enough and I win easily, (ii) they spam their giants but I have lightbomb/poison seeds in hand and win easily, (iii) I have no answer to giants and lose on turn 6.

To take big Priest as an example of probably a stronger deck, whilst it does sometimes win very easily after turn 4 Barnes, and sometimes loses very badly to aggro, a good proportion of the games don’t, and can come down to key decisions both players make. I won a game against inner fire priest recently where I chose not to play shadow essence on 6 in favour of continuing to clear his board, never having a minion on my board until turn 10. I won a long battle with a jade Druid who got to 15/15 jades with nothing left except jade idols, and then lost against the same guy at 17/17 jades. Those games all had multiple choices that had a big impact on the result. Even against Aggro there are often key decisions that determine whether or not you manage to stabilize. I don’t see these decisions playing against giantslock, and it’s frustrating to have to throw away everything in mulligan to try and find poison seeds or lightbomb whenever you see a warlock, just in case it’s naga.

For me, that’s why they should nerf it. Not because it’s ridiculously OP, it’s not, but because it simplifies and removes the majority of the skill from otherwise interesting decks. It’s not even breaking the ‘spirit of the wild’ of leaving things of the past alone, since it didn’t used to work like this in the past.

I do personally think they should nerf wild stuff if something gets to the point where it completely dominates the game. But there’s nothing like that at the moment as far as I can see. There’s a pretty good variety of decks right up to the top of the ladder (there’s a lot of dude paladin admittedly, but they have some counters, and start to get rarer at Legend).

Edited by Bozonik

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It's a trash meme deck, why nerf it? It's not even good, yeah you can just get a perfect hand and win, but the deck just loses to itself more times than it gets that outcome and that outcome even has counters. It's a shitty meme deck and should be left alone. Don't start nerfing shit decks, I'll be scared to craft anything that seems too "meme material" AND anything that seems too good to stay good... Like, if this was like the Yogg-Saron case where there's too much positive RNG, I'd be okay with it, but now it's not even viable to grind. It's a self-losing deck in a vacuum. Leave it alone.

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I think it is worth noting that ultimate infestation is a bit different since it is a card that fits into all druid decks, much like the cards nerfed.  So changing it might not have had the desired effect, where the naga change would be more akin to the quest rogue nerf, even though quest rogue wasn't "overpowered" it still got a nerf (and a deserved one I would argue) for multiple reasons, one of which was that it wasn't fun to play against.  Now in general I do think that wild should be a format that doesn't get touched often, I also don't think that never touching it is a good policy either, and even if a deck is not overpowered, it still can be incredibly unhealthy for the game.  Take quest rogue, even though it didn't have the highest win rate, it was popular and pushed quite a few decks out of the meta game, and essentially warped the meta game around it (it is worth noting that most powerful decks do this to an extent, but decks like quest rogue warp it in an unhealthy way, in the sense that the deck just pushes out entire archtypes, or makes certain strategies completely unplayable).  If giant decks do in fact warp the meta game, I don't play enough wild to really comment on this aspect of it, maybe it should be considered for a nerf.  Ditto for decks that are just really frustrating to play against if they are really popular, if no one is having fun why play the format?  As for nerfs for general power level, I personally don't think that should be a thing in wild unless a single deck is just so far above the curve that it everything else is unviable (this generally happens when you end up with two or more cards with some sort of broken synergy like flash + hulk or cascade + hypergenesis in mtg), which this is obviously not the case here.  In short, Blizzard should only nerf decks in wild if they are grossly unfun to play against, and/or they warp the meta around them in substantial and unhealthy ways, and/or the power level of the deck is far far far above its competition.

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Complicated is the issue for who defines a card as "fun" or whether a player using it has a lack of or "removal of skill". Draw based decks leading to non-optimal decisions from your opponent is a strategy in any CCD game. Building a deck is as much dependent on counters to put into it as the decisions on what synergy to focus on.

I'm actually with the statistics on this one. There are counters to the deck, stats don't put it high, its in wild, vote for leaving it alone.

There are a lot of combos I find not fun to play against depending on the deck I'm running. Can think of several with the right draw that can end a game much earlier. When 5:1 matchups end up being the same meta-deck, then it becomes a problem that might need fixing. Naga is just not that.

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