Expect to see a lot more Warlock decks.
Blizzard has announced new balance changes coming to Hearthstone in the 10.2 update.
In a blog post, Blizzard detailed a series of nerfs coming to several popular cards when the update hits next month.
As expected, Corridor Creeper – a card that appears in a high percentage of the most powerful decks in the game – will be changed. It is now a 2/5 instead of a 5/5, meaning that even when its cost is reduced to zero, it’s not capable of the same kinds of huge tempo swings.
Patches the Pirate will also be changed – it will no longer have charge. This is another card that appears in a huge number of decks and can generate incredible momentum when pulled out by a pirate in the early game. Indeed, many decks run a “pirate package” (two or more cards with the pirate tag) simply to take advantage of this card.
This is an interesting change, because players have been complaining about Patches for more than a year, and the card is also about to rotate out of the Standard format when the next set arrives in a few months. The change indicates that Team 5 is concerned with the health of Standard in the interim and that they don’t want the Wild meta game to be forever warped by Patches.
Bonemare also will see a nerf, with its mana cost increasing from 7 to 8. This delays players’ abilities to push through more damage or put up a taunt wall by a turn. It’s an interesting decision, as the card is less oppressive now than it once was and it synergises well with many of the other cards that are getting nerfed – such as Corridor Creeper. Even so, when powerful neutral cards like this are used a lot it means that decks can all feel a little samey, because they’re all running the same cards.
The changes above all address the speed that decks are able to operate at – getting out to an early tempo advantage and then snowballing to victory, but what about at the other end?
Razakus Priest has been the strongest deck in Hearthstone for some time now, representing a significant proportion of decks on the ladder and being close to a must-bring in tournaments. All 16 players at the recent World Championships, for instance, brought Priest, and 14 of those 16 were “highlander” decks that utilised Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained to reduce their hero power to zero then burn out opponents, often doing insane amounts of damage. The deck had a close to 60% win rate at the tournament, which is particularly crazy given how many mirror matches there were.
With that in mind, the final change is to Raza the Chained. His battlecry will go from reducing Hero Power cost from 0 to 1, changing the power level of Shadowreaper Anduin – and the highlander archetype – significantly. This is another change that seems to be targeted at Wild, as Razakus Priest will lose a lot of its power in the next rotation.
The changes come a couple of months after the release of Kobolds & Catacombs, and that time has seen arguably the highest power level decks in Hearthstone’s history. The changes above certainly address much of that power, but also leave Warlock – which currently has very powerful Control/Cubelock variants – unscathed. It will be interesting to see what the upshot of that is.
Players will be given two weeks after the change in which they can disenchant their cards for full Arcane Dust.
In the coming months, Hearthstone is also set to see some big changes to Ranked Play as well as to its esports initiatives. Fans may also want to read our interviews with popular casters TJ Sanders and Raven.