Hearthstone is a game I like to play when I get a few minutes here or there. Fun to play, the matches are relatively short, new cards appearing every so often keeps it interesting. If you have not played it, but want a fun and free game, give it a try. Works pretty good on phones, great on tablets and PCs.
Anyway, here’s my thoughts on the recently announced nerfs which will be accompanying the new expansion next week. If you’re not into Hearthstone or gaming, you might just skip this post.
Ancient of Lore – Now it can only draw 1 card. This was a somewhat unexpected change, but it does make sense because card draw is such an important element to the game. The Ancient of Lore is basically an auto-include in Druid, and it’s almost always used for that great late-game card draw. This basically makes this card strictly worse than an Azure Drake, because while the “Choose” has a cost associated with it, 2 more mana for 1/1 in stats and the loss of Spell Damage+1, not to mention the Dragon synergy.. Well, Ancient of Lore has probably met its end. The Restore 5 health option simply is not good enough to make this Ancient fill the 7-slot. On the plus side, a lot of Druids will probably replace it with Drakes and perhaps start running the Ancient of War as lot more often as a 7 drop. A 5/10 with Taunt if you can force out your opponent’s removals early is nothing to sneer at, and a 10/5 behind some other taunt has the potential to win you the game.
Force of Nature – We all knew this was coming. The price of the card dropped from 6 to 5 mana, and the summoned trees lost Charge, but also now stick around. This essentially changes this card from a very aggressive play to more of a summon tokens play. And it completely destroys the Force-Savage Roar combo, obviously. Aggro Druid will feel this the hardest, since Force-Savage is basically the win condition. 9 mana for 14 immediate damage that can hit 3 targets? Yes, please. Will this see play? Maybe. Hard to say. A total of 6/6 stats for 5 mana isn’t terribly awful. But Aggro Druid is basically dead. Token might work, and they’ve been trying to make Beast Druid a thing for ages, so depending on the other cards in the expansion, this might still see some play, but not in the combo sense. I expect the comeback of Violet Teacher for Druids though.
Keeper of the Grove – I did not see this one coming. The Keeper dropped from a 2/4 to a 2/2, which honestly makes him unplayable. He’s strictly worse than Spellbreaker now. Yes, the choice of 2 direct damage is sometimes used, but mostly in Aggro Druid, to eliminate some sticky Taunt or something. Since that’s just dead now, Keeper will see no play by anybody, for any reason. Welcome Keeper, meet your new friend the Warsong Commander. Hope you two have fun together.
Edit: I take it back. Keeper isn’t dead. He has a new friend that makes him playable again: Fandral Staghelm. The effect of Silence AND do 2 damage to a targeted minion makes Keeper viable again, but it does change when he gets played. So, the Choose cards all need re-evaluation now.
Ironbeak Owl – Goes to 3 mana. Keeps the silence. Honestly, while this is indeed a nerf, it’s not a very strong one and will likely have no effect on how often this card gets played. This is actually Druid’s most likely replacement for Keeper, since the Owl is a Beast, and they really want that Beast Druid to be a thing, don’t they?
Big Game Hunter – Goes from 3 mana to 5 mana. Probably won’t affect it at all, really. BGH is kind of a technical card to begin with. Most decks only run one copy of him, to eliminate problems like Dr. Boom and such. They’ll still likely run one copy of him, although with the good doctor rotating out of the new Standard, then that really all depends on how many 7+ attack creatures we see. There’s a number of other good removal spells that don’t get run a lot (Naturalize, Mulch), which might make up for the weakness of a 4/2 body and the highly specialized effect. If the meta favors 7+ creatures, then BGH will still get run. The body was never the point, the extra high value minion removal was.
Hunter's Mark – Goes from 0 to 1 mana cost. I can see the reasoning behind this, in that it is really a removal spell. Use it for free, throw any token at the big minion, bam, it’s gone. Making it 1 mana probably won’t change things for Hunters. They might use it more late game than early game. Depends on how aggro the Hunter still is with the new expansion.
Blade Flurry – Talk about destroying a card. It goes from 2 mana to 4 mana, and now only hits minions and not the enemy opponent. This completely busts up Oil Rogue. Because while it’s still strong AOE board clear, that extra damage to face was what made it a must have. Rogue is utterly wrecked now, with no valid decks of any kind. So, for Rogue to be played at all, something damned interesting must be in the new expansion. Look forward to seeing what they think it is. It never ends up the way they think though. They didn’t see that just one card (Mysterious Challenger) would all by itself create a top-tier deck.
Knife Juggler – Goes from a 3/2 to a 2/2. Not a big change, although it does make it somewhat less of a threat. The problem with handling Knife Juggler is that you can’t leave it on the opponent’s field for any length of time. And with a 3/2 body, you have to throw a minion or two at it to make it stop hurling knives everywhere. But there’s plenty of good 2/3’s available to handle it, so making it a 2/2 means that your minion probably lives. Basically, even though it still has 2 health, it’s easier to remove because it doesn’t impact your early board quite as much. This is a good nerf and I agree with it.
Leper Gnome – Goes from a 2/1 to a 1/1. This is probably a good nerf as well. Leper Gnome is a very common include, since it can take out a lot of 2 or 3 drops and still do 2 face damage in the process. Making it a 1/1 makes it much more easily killable and less of a threat. Same nerf as the Juggler, really. Same reasoning. And it’s still good value. A 1/1 for 1 that does 2 face which is never really blocked? That’s a pretty good turn one play. It will still see some play.
Arcane Golem – The nerfiest nerf that ever nerfed. Arcane Golem loses his Charge and becomes a 4/4 instead of a 4/2. Nobody will ever play this for any reason. Ramp your opponent in order to what, get a 4/4 on board? On turn 3? Please. If you’re dumb enough to ramp an opponent Druid, that alone would cost you the game. Although now with the heavy Druid nerfs, maybe not. Still, even Dancing Swords was better than this, and it never saw any real play either. This might be good if it was a 4/6. But no, welcome to the club with Keeper and Warsong. Maybe ya’ll can form a band. Bet the Keeper is great on the drums.
Molten Giant – Goes from a 20 cost to a 25 cost. Meaning that you have to be at 5 health to get him for free, which is dangerously low. Handlocks will still run it, because of course they will. However, it will slow them down quite a bit since it will probably always not be free now. No more double Molten into Defender of Argus. And it’s completely unplayable if you’re Lord Jaraxxus. Although… I’m tempted to make a Holy Wrath Paladin with this in there. Ultimate RNG. What are the odds? Hmm.. 2/30 = 0.066… So, it’s a 6% chance that increases as your deck size gets smaller and as long as you don’t draw the giant? Heck, I’ll probably do this just for the LOLs.
Master of Disguise – The Stealth it gives is no longer permanent, but next turn only. To be honest, I’m not sure about this. I think it is because it will be super overpowered with some of the cards in the new expansion. There are a lot of cards in Old Gods that lead to ridiculously overpowered minions. Having the ability to give some of those a Stealth might just be OP as hell in some way that I’m not seeing yet. Although, those would have to be “grow bigger” minions somehow? I dunno. It’s an odd thing to do. The ability to give a permanent Stealth effect is unique to this one, and getting rid of it probably frees them up for something I don’t quite see yet.
Looking forward to the expansion.