The Roar
The Roar

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Blizzard’s nerfs have injected some fresh life into the game

The Witchwood brought 135 new cards and several new mechanics.(Picture: Blizzard Entertainment)
Roar Guru
28th May, 2018
1

More than a few people were beginning to feel like Hearthstone was getting stale over the past few weeks.

The Witchwood expansion started off with a flurry of innovation but quickly resulted in a meta that was eerily and boringly similar to the one we had during Kobolds and Catacombs.

Blizzard finally responded last week, introducing nerfs to a whopping six cards.

A recap for those interested: Naga Sea Witch, Spiteful Summoner, Dark Pact, Possessed Lackey, Call to Arms and Crystal Core all fell victim to changes. You can find the patch notes here.

These were all nerfs to important, widely used cards, and so players have been forced to build and play new decks for the first time in weeks. Hopping into ladder matches is no longer a mind numbing, predictable experience where you could reliably predict which of three meta decks you would face.

While this experimental period never lasts for too long, it’s fresh, and I can only hope that it will result into some new builds getting more popular.

A deck that seems to be picking up more and more steam is Even Shaman. It’s a nice midrange deck that usually features Corpsetakers and includes some strong late game cards in Hagatha the Witch and Al’Akir the Windlord.

It’s good at generating a board presence and Hagatha gives you a chance to win control match-ups. Shaman has been buried along with Warrior for a long time now, so even the slight uptick in seeing them on the ladder is welcome.

With the Spiteful nerf, more Druid players are trying things that aren’t just Spiteful Druid. We have Taunt, Token and surprisingly, Mill Druid starting to pop up. The mill deck is unique and fun, utilising King Togwaggle of all cards to swap and burn your opponent’s deck.

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A deck that isn’t incredibly linear and requires some thinking to get out of bad situations? Those are the ones that I like to play and face off against.

There are plenty of other decks getting love, too. Quest Warrior, Quest Priest, Big Spell Mage and Even Warlock are all carving out a sizeable presence on the ladder. It seems that – at least for the time being – every class might just have a viable, competitive deck to use.

No longer is playing something other than Warlock and Paladin guaranteed to tank your win rate. Those classes are still good, but it doesn’t feel bad to try other things.

I’m glad that Blizzard finally stepped in. Nerfing and/or buffing cards is always a tricky situation that often gets met with a lot of backlash from the community, as no one likes seeing their most used cards weakened.

However, it seems like they got it right. My personal experience has certainly improved, and general browsing of various Hearthstone forums has given me the impression that a lot of players have welcomed the chance to theorycraft and test their ideas.

Members of the New York Excelsior esports team celebrate being crowned Stage 2 champions of the Overwatch League.

(Photo: Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment)

Ladder aside, I’m interested to see how the tournament scene shapes up. Pre-nerf, professional line-ups were dominated by Quest Rogue, Even Paladin, Cube Warlock and Spiteful Druid. All of those decks have taken a significant hit, which means we will probably see some very different deck choices when DreamHack Austin starts on June 1.

It seems likely that Warlock and Paladin will still feature prominently, just in modified forms. Quest Rogue and Spiteful Druid, on the other hand, just might not be good enough to justify including, although Quest Rogue might still be effective enough as a control killer to bring.

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My fingers are crossed to see Shaman return to the competitive scene – here’s hoping that Even Shaman sees a lot of optimisation over the next week.

Blizzard recognised that they had a problem, made the right moves and the players are responding. Seeing new decks rise to prominence is a beautiful thing, and these nerfs have made it possible.