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Iksar on Odd Paladin, Druid, Baku & More

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Dean "Iksar" Ayala was active on Reddit and he shared his input on Paladin and Druid, as well as general expansion balance issues.

A thread on Reddit called "Fun Fact: Apart from Baku, Odd Paladin uses NO cards from this year" gathered enough attention yesterday that the Hearthstone dev chimed in. Iksar explained that if a deck is already powerful, they try not to print more cards for it. This, of course, led to the question if Team 5 will ever print good minions for Paladin. Iksar said that they want to tone down printing aggro cards for Paladin and that the class will lose a lot of power with the yearly rotation.

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

Generally the idea is that when there is a very powerful archetype in one expansion, we try not to give that archetype additional powerful cards so other archetypes can catch up. I think the fact you state here has more to do with intentionally not making more powerful cards for Odd Paladin than it has to do with all the cards in Odd Paladin being so powerful they could never be reasonably replaced. (source)



Both odd and even are fairly aggressive or tempo decks. It'll be difficult to make powerful aggro/tempo cards in paladin next year, but there is a lot of space outside those archetypes. Paladin also loses a ton to rotation.  (source)

Someone was actually happy that Odd Paladin didn't get nerfed and Ayala responded that the team is always cautious when it comes to card changes. When one deck goes down, another one - perhaps an even more annoying one - takes its place.

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

Yeah. Something we have to consider when thinking about card changes is what the fallout might be. It's a little scary to consider that a change to Odd Paladin might result in something like Kingsbane Rogue being the most played deck. While I love Kingsbane as a card and deck, I don't think it's the kind of strategy that is very fun if it's the highest population deck for an extended time period. (source)

The initial response perplexed some people: if Odd Paladin is too good to get new cards, why does Druid keep getting powerful cards like Dreampetal Florist and Flobbidinous Floop? Iksar said that while the aforementioned cards promote more variants of Druid decks, the team wants to address the fact that the core cards for almost all Druid archetypes are more or less the same.

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

The thought was essentially that Dreampetal might improve Maly and Togwaggle a small amount, but not enough to be more powerful than decks they already had like Token Druid and Taunt Druid. I think without Dreampetal and Floop, there would probably be less variants of Druid. You can argue that is good or bad :). (source)



Ideally every class has something in the tier 2+ range every set. For Druid, I think it's just that cards like Wild Growth, Nourish, Swipe, Naturalize, Branching Paths, UI, Plague, Spellstone, Malfurion, etc make up a core that is very good and has been around for a long time. There is some player fatigue with anything that is powerful and high population for a year+. Mike has mentioned this before, I think it's likely we'll do something to address Druid decks feeling similar in a way that is more long-term.  (source)

There was a question about possibly nerfing Baku the Mooneater Hero Powers especially for Paladin and Warrior. The answer was the team has actually considered this, but they are still evaluating the current meta (presumably after the release of Rastakhan's Rumble).

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

Considered both actually. Odd Warrior is a deck that I think is cool if it shows up in a very specific meta then goes away. If Odd Warrior were to find a long-term place in the 5-10% play rate range I think it would be time to seriously think about a change to the deck. For Odd Paladin, it's the best deck in the game on most days. As 'best decks in the game' go, I'd say it's not so bad. There are some clear counter strategies and most games have a good amount of interesting minion combat. The downside of course is that it's been around for 8 months or so and that's a long time for any deck to see a very high play rate. For now, we're still in the set evaluation phase, the meta from a data perspective is still changing every day. (source)

Lastly, Iksar answered a question about how expansion balance works, given that there are internal designs of 2-3 expansions in advance.

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

We come back for two weeks of balance focused playtesting pretty close to set release. We also do a lot of playtesting, so even if we're 2-3 sets ahead, we've been playtesting each of those individual metas for a couple months each (in addition to other tasks). For example, most all card design is complete for the first set of next year, but we'll wait until Rastakhan meta has settled to make all final balance decisions for that set. (source)

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