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Hearthstone Recap: Unleash the Hounds Nerfed, Patch Notes, New Card + More!

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Unleash the Hounds nerfed in patch, new card reveal and more!

This week's Hearthstone recap is a small one, but comes with some big news! This week, Blizzard has revealed that they have nerfed the popular Hunter card Unleash the Hounds, raising the mana cost by 1 in the hope of providing a better environment for the few of us out there who are not playing Hunter! They have also revealed a new card from Curse of Naxxramas, which we should hopefully see releasing soon™!


Also, the first batch of BlizzCon tickets may have already sold out but remember that there will be another chance to buy on May 10th! Check out the latest news in this week's Hearthstone recap!




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Unleash the Hounds Balance Change


In a controversial decision yesterday, Blizzard has decided to nerf the popular Hunter card Unleash the Hounds, a staple card for the powerful plays commonly seen competitive Hunter play. The card will be changed in a future patch to cost 3 mana instead of 2.

Previously, the card's cost was lowered from 4 to 2 in order to make it less prohibitive, so maybe the 3 mana cost is the "sweet spot" when it comes to balancing hunters. This change will be welcome to many players who have been on the receiving end of a Hunter combo, and cursed by many who loved setting up one-turn kill combos with cards such as Starving Buzzard, Timber Wolf and Scavenging Hyena.

This change went live in the Hearthstone patch released on May 8th. Blizzard has released the following statement explaining their reasoning behind this change:

Blizzard Icon Hearthstone Update: Upcoming Balance Change

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The following balance change will be made in an upcoming patch:
  • Unleash the Hounds (Hunter) now costs 3 (up from 2)
Over the last few months, we have seen hundreds of different decks do well in game depending on many different factors. Our community is incredibly creative, and we’ve seen players constantly trying out new things and coming up with new strategies to counter whatever decks they have trouble with.

At the very highest levels of play there are a lot of different decks performing well, and the decks at the top change from week to week. Since we’ve seen many cards and deck types in the current state of the game rise and fall as players adapt, we did not want to change Unleash the Hounds immediately. However, Hunter decks have become increasingly more dominant and are doing better than we are comfortable across many levels of play.

We do like the idea of decks that have a really big turn and pull off a sweet combo, but when playing against Hunter decks, you may feel punished too much for playing minions. Playing minions is one of the key, fun pieces of the overall Hearthstone puzzle, and feeling like your options are limited by the opponent creates a play experience that may not be particularly enjoyable.

We take any balance changes very seriously, and we will continue to hold true to our stance that we plan on only making changes to cards if we feel it is completely necessary. After much consideration we have decided to increase the mana cost of Unleash the Hounds to 3. This change should make the card more fun to play against while still allowing for some big plays.




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Hearthstone Patch Notes - Build 1.0.0.5314 (May 8)


The first major Hearthstone patch since the iPad launch has been released and with it comes the previously announced balance change to Unleash the Hounds. The patch does not feature any other card changes and is mostly a set of bug fixes and UI improvements (particularly focusing on iPad play, though most are undocumented). Check out the full patch notes below!

Blizzard Icon Hearthstone Patch Notes - 1.0.0.5314

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General
  • Improved friends list sorting based on player status.
  • Breaking News will now properly be shown when Hearthstone is undergoing maintenance.
  • Reconnect functionality has been enabled for Practice Mode.
  • Games in Friendly Play now have a turn timer.
  • [iPad] Deck Rename and Deck Delete is now easier to find.
Card Changes



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  • Unleash the Hounds (Hunter) now costs 3 (up from 2).
    • After much consideration, we have decided to increase the mana cost of Unleash the Hounds to 3. Unleash the Hounds has been dominating all levels of play for quite some time. This change should make the card more fun to play against while still allowing for some big plays when combined with other Hunter cards.
Bug Fixes
  • Winning a game as Lord Jaraxxus will now properly grant credit towards unlocking the Warlock golden hero. You win... BUT YOUR WORLD IS STILL DOOMED!
  • Returning an opponent’s minion to their hand will no longer occasionally leave behind a facedown card on the game board.
  • Resolved issues that prevented the Fireside Friends card back from being properly unlocked under certain conditions.
  • [iPad] Resolved an issue that was causing a client crash when choosing between two options of certain Druid cards.
  • [iPad] Resolved an issue where new chat notification bubbles would appear behind the keyboard when in the chat window interface.
  • [iPad] Adjusted the location of where enlarged versions of cards appear so that they are easier to see when selected.
  • [iPad] Resolved an issue where the client may sometimes use the incorrect default language.
  • Other bug fixes and UI improvements.




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Curse of Naxxramas New Card Revealed


Everyone is anxiously awaiting Hearthstone's first adventure, Curse of Naxxrams, and Blizzard is keeping the hype active by teasing new cards on their Twitter! There is not yet a scheduled release date for Curse of Naxxramas, but Blizzard has stated that, "A release date will be announced at a later time. We’ll have further details, including pricing and availability, in the future, so please stay tuned!" Check out this new Warrior weapon, the first weapon to feature the Deathrattle mechanic!
 

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BlizzCon Ticket Batch #1 Sold Out


The first batch of BlizzCon tickets, which went on sale on Wednesday May 7th at 7 p.m. PDT, sold out quickly (as usual). Eventbrite began notifying buyers that the tickets were no longer available within five minutes after the tickets went on sale! Blizzard has announced the eighth BlizzCon convention for the weekend of November 7th and 8th, 2014. The event will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center as it has in past years and ticket prices have been increased to $199 USD. The next batch of BlizzCon tickets will be available on Saturday, May 10 at 10 a.m. PT on the EventBrite website. Good luck! Check out Blizzard's BlizzCon posts below for more information about the event!

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Uther the Lightbringer, The Paladin Lore


It's been a slow week in Hearthstone (other than the nerf announcement) and Blizzard has decided to make up for it with an excellent lore post spotlighting the life and times of Uther the Lightbringer! Hearthstone is all about playing different heroes (hence the "Heroes of Warcraft" part) and Blizzard feels that these posts are definitely a cool opportunity to get to know more about the technical "stars" of the game! The chosen heroes are cool and all, but I definitely think it would be cooler to be able to "create" and play your World of Warcraft character in Hearthstone! We're heroes, too!

You can check out Blizzard's post on the Hearthstone blog!



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Activision Blizzard Q1 Earnings Exceed Expectations


It comes as no surprise that with the popularity of Hearthstone and the successful reboot of Diablo III that Activision Blizzard's Q1 earning have exceeded expectations! This increase comes even as World of Warcraft subscriptions drop, losing 200,000k subscribers this quarter. As we had previously mentioned, analysts are anticipating high earnings to come from their new free-to-play titles and this quarter definitely shows that they're on the right path. If the data is your thing, you can check out the financial report in the link below!

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      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?
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      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.