Less than two weeks after Hearthstone's newest expansion, Forged in the Barrens, went live, the first round of balance changes were announced by the game's development team on Monday afternoon.
In a blog post titled "20.0.2 Patch Notes," a half dozen cards were listed as being a little (or a lot) too strong and will be receiving nerfs when the patch goes live on Tuesday of this week.
Anyone who has played the game at a competitive or casual level over the last couple of weeks probably knew this was coming and a few of the cards receiving nerfs. According to data aggregation site, HSReplay, the top four decks in the Standard game mode all sport win rates of over 53% and are made up of just two classes, Paladin and Mage. At Diamond rank and above, the percent of games featuring either of those two classes is more than 50%.
While there were numerous cards that perform well in those decks, the development team chose to target a few problematic ones (in their eyes.)
Developer comment: Pen Flinger equips some classes with large amounts of chip damage, whether it be to minions or to the opposing hero. This flexibility makes Pen Flinger an attractive option for many decks, but when that utility is combined with repetition it takes over the story of a match. Pen Flinger takes out your minions, might deal 10 damage to your face over multiple turns, and even had the gall to call you names throughout all of it. We're nerfing Pen Flinger to now only target minions, positioning it as a removal option rather than a dual-threat card.
Developer comment: Deck of Lunacy moves up to 4 mana, removing its ability to provide a game-warping effect on turn 1 or 2. When we create cards like Deck of Lunacy, we're aiming for an experience that lets you do wacky, over-the-top things at the cost of power. There's a large audience for that (Spell Mage's play-rate shows!), but Deck of Lunacy very clearly crosses the power threshold we set for these types of cards.
Developer comment: Sword of the Fallen is not only powerful, but also creates early-game situations with too many Secrets in play. We're moving Sword of the Fallen down to 2 durability to reduce the overall value of the card and make those turns against 3-4 Secrets less common.
Developer comment: Jandice Barov benefitted greatly from the Core Set refresh and the rotation of weaker 5-Cost minions. Looking ahead, we don't intend to dilute Jandice's pool of summoned minions and that's not something we'd want to rely on for her balance. With that in mind, we are nerfing Jandice Barov to 6 mana where her total stat output is much more appropriate.
Developer comment: Watch Posts are meant to act as an interesting tech-package when dealing with certain gameplans. Currently though, they act as go-to options in many classes, sporting quite high winrates for disruption-based cards. In order to cut into their power, we're reducing the Health of both Far Watch Post and Mor'shan Watch Post. This change will make them easier to deal with on turns 2 + 3, lowering the investment barrier for removal to better match the options available on those early turns.
Shortly after the blog post made its' rounds on Twitter, numerous high Legend players shared their thoughts:
Lead Designer, Alec Dawson, said the development team will keep an eye out on the meta over the next couple of weeks to see if additional changes are necessary. But, for now, may have to settle for being called a loser less by Pen Flinger.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.