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Upcoming Hearthstone Patch Targets Balance Issues

A Hearthstone patch expected to go live sometime this week includes significant card and balance changes. The changes in this patch appear to target several popular deck archetypes and cards that were “too good” for their respective casting costs. According to community manager Zeriyah, this is the last big set of balance changes.

Cards that were changed – Unleash the Hounds, Sylvanas Windrunner, Blood Imp, Defender of Argus, Pyroblast, Dark Iron Dwarf, Abusive Sergeant, Warsong Commander, Charge and Novice Engineer.

Unleash the Hounds’ mana cost is now 2 (down from 4)

  • Unleash the Hounds was intended to give Hunters their own form of AoE and to have synergy with other beast cards, but its old cost was too prohibitive.

Pyroblast’s mana cost is now 10 (up from 8)

  • The 8-cost Pyroblast made for an un-interactive experience where the Mage only needed to do 10 damage during the course of a game and then double Pyroblast you for the win. We want Mages to be more interactive with the opponent to achieve victory, rather than delay the game until they can Pyroblast.

Blood Imp is now a 0/1 and now reads: Stealth. At the end of your turn, give another random friendly minion +1 Health.

  • The Warlock has three very strong 1-cost minions and that made the Warlock rush deck slightly stronger than we were comfortable with.

Warsong Commander has been reworked and now reads: Whenever you play a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge.

Charge (the spell, not the keyword) has been reworked and now costs 3 mana. The card’s new power reads: “Give a friendly minion +2 Attack and Charge”.

  • Both of these cards were key components in “One Turn Kill” or “OTK” decks that kill your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. We want the game to be about playing minions and fighting for board control rather than just waiting until you can play your big combo and win in one turn with no interaction from your opponent.

Abusive Sergeant now reads: Battlecry: Give a minion +2 Attack until end of turn.

  • Abusive Sergeant was changed to make its power the same as the Dark Iron Dwarf and to give it additional versatility.

Dark Iron Dwarf’s buff now only lasts until the end of the turn.

  • This change was made to reduce the Dark Iron Dwarf’s overall power slightly. We also wanted to make the Battlecry effect the same as Abusive Sergeant‘s as to not force you to permanently buff one of your opponent’s creatures.

Defender of Argus is now a 2/3 (down from 3/3)

  • Defender of Argus was a card that found itself automatically included in many decks due to its power and stats. We want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks, so cards that feel like they must be in all decks (especially Neutral ones) are not ideal.

Novice Engineer is now a 1/1 (down from 1/2)

  • The Novice Engineer was played in most non-rush decks (and even some rush decks) due to its cost and power. Similar in reasoning to our Defender of Argus change, we want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks.

Sylvanas Windrunner’s mana cost is now 6 (up from 5)

  • Sylvanas had power and stats that made it a bit too powerful compared to other 5-cost cards, which made it automatically included in many decks. We want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks, so cards that feel like they must be in all decks (especially Neutral ones) are not ideal.

Cards that are changed in this patch will be disenchantable for their full dust cost for a limited time after the patch goes live.

[Source: Blizzard]


Our Take
It’s not uncommon for OTK decks to fall under the nerfbat, as the original version of Unleash the Hounds was massively altered in a similar fashion. Decks that have no interaction with the opponent and win from full to zero are rarely fun to play against so this change is hardly surprising. Blood Imp has been in a position for a nerf for some time now and may still be playable in this form but won’t command massive game-changing power for one mana. Most of the other nerfs/changes appear to address cards that were simply “too good” for their costs and were being placed most decks. These changes signal some serious preparation on the road to open beta and launch.

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