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Five Cards to Be Nerfed on February 5

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The Lunar Festival isn't the only thing hitting Hearthstone this week. Five key cards - Cold Blood, Flametongue Totem, Equality, Hunter's Mark, Emerald Spellstone - are having their mana cost increased.

Team 5 usually makes balance changes sparingly and we definitely didn't expect more nerfs after the December tuning. The December card changes were well received by the community, but they did result in a rather Hunter dominant meta. The Hearthstone team has been paying close attention to it and they decided it was time to step in with more changes.

As far as Hunters are concerned, their Spellstone is having its mana cost increased from 5 to 6. Powerful 1-mana spells have always been a headeache for the devs, with most of them getting nerfed eventually; Hunter's Mark and Cold Blood are no exception with their mana cost increased to 2. I have to say Cold Blood was a bit unexpected, since it's one of the spells most often cut or substituted in Miracle deck lists.

Equality will receive a big nerf, its mana cost being upped to 4. Even though that's 2 mana more from the original, it can still be run in Even Paladin. Another Even deck, however, namely Even Shaman will lose one of its powerful early game tools, as Flametongue Totem will now cost 3 mana.

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In an update scheduled to arrive February 5, several cards will be changed.

When we talk about changes that are in store for Hearthstone cards, we normally talk about each card individually to explain why we think that change is needed.

This time, we’re doing things a little differently because most of the upcoming changes are happening for the same reason. Here’s why we’re changing these cards and our general philosophy behind this update.

We think Hearthstone is most fun when strategies are consistently evolving. When new cards are released, we’d like for older expansion decks to get a few interesting new pieces while also allowing you to experiment with the totally new archetypes that emerge. When Basic and Classic cards become so broadly effective—no matter what you’re facing—that they drive what deck styles are considered viable every expansion, then it makes that goal difficult to achieve.

Basic and Classic are sets that, ideally, should embody the flavor and mechanics of each Class. As we’ve mentioned before, cards in these sets can become an issue when they make all other strategies look less interesting. This doesn't mean that all Basic and Classic cards should be ineffective, however. It’s hugely important to us that these sets contain a good number of cards that are great tools for different situations and deck archetypes.

We’re changing these particular cards because each one has been highly prevalent, regardless of what strategies have been popular or what other cards have existed around them. When Basic and Classic cards become this ubiquitous, they take away some of the flexibility players have when building decks, ultimately stifling the diversity of decks we see when playing Hearthstone.

The following changes are intended to shift these cards from general-purpose “auto-includes” into options that are more likely to be chosen for decks that are focused on strategies that capitalize on what these cards have to offer.


Cold Blood – Will cost 2 Mana. (Up from 1)



Flametongue Totem – Will cost 3 mana. (Up from 2)



Equality – Will cost 4 mana. (Up from 2)



Hunter’s Mark – Will cost 2 mana. (Up from 1)



Emerald Spellstone – Will cost 6 mana. (Up from 5)

The only non-Basic or Classic card in this round of changes. We want to position Emerald Spellstone as an efficient mid- and late-game threat, so we’re moving its cost up by one to reduce its utility as an early-game, aggressive tempo option. This change—along with the Hunter’s Mark change—is aimed at addressing Hunter’s prevalence, while still leaving it as a viable option.




We look forward to seeing how the meta shakes out in the coming months. Thanks for reading, and good luck on the ladder.

Once these updates are live, players will be able to disenchant the changed non-Basic cards for their full Arcane Dust value for two weeks.

Flametongue Totem and Hunter’s Mark are Basic cards, and cannot be disenchanted.


Lead Balance Designer Dean Ayala explained the reasoning behind these nerfs and answered people's questions on social media. We've gathered his posts in this article.

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