Ahead of the patch: Predicting what Hearthstone cards may see nerfs next week

▲ A lot has happened in 10 days. Images via Blizzard Entertainment


Boy, it's almost like the team of professionals who oversee the largest digital collectible card game in history know what they're doing, huh? Who would have thought they know how to run a game better than anonymous faces on social media platforms and conversation forums.


If the game's development team was as trigger-happy as members of the community were after two days of the United in Stormwind expansion going live on August 3, there would already be numerous balance changes by now. But that's why they're paid the big bucks, to use data and community input to formulate decisions that are best for the game in the short and long term.


Shortly after the 135 card set went live, players expressed their frustration with the speed at which games were taking place, the lack of board interactivity, and the extent to which hand-centric OTK decks were causing unfun gameplay. 


Fast forward a week, the meta has changed pretty dramatically: games aren't as fast as they once were and decks that felt oppressive on day one are now falling out of the meta quickly.


Despite things improving, there is still work to be done. With an expected balance change pushed from this week to next, the author has taken it upon himself to identify a few cards across three different classes that may be tweaked as a result.




Let's start with everyone's favorite masochistic class, which, with a few new tools courtesy of United in Stormwind, is more unfun to play against than it is powerful.


Shortly after the expansion went live, players began flooding the official Hearthstone subReddit with complaints about how broken Quest Warlock was. A week later, the sentiment remains: It's not a particularly enjoyable deck to go up against. With a lack of board interactivity and a Questline that can be completed quickly, it's not long before the pain being inflicted on yourself transfers to the opponent.


Despite it being a deck that sits in Tier 4, according to Vicious Syndicate, it's indisputable that a lack of interaction will cause one of the following three cards to be nerfed: The Demon Seed, Darkglare, or Stealer of Souls.


Requiring the Questline to need more damage before upgrading, bumping up the cost of Darkglare (which plagues the Wild meta as well), and lowering the health of Stealer of Souls to provide players with a way to remove it quickly before it pops off, are all options that could be considered.


One way or another, Warlock will look different this time next week.


Demon Hunter


The ease with which Demon Hunter can deal incredible amounts of damage from hand in a single turn is alarming. Everyone knows it and the addition of the Final Showdown Questline accelerates that to new heights (or lows, depending on how you view it). 


Hearthstone developers have never shied away from the fact that OTK decks have existed throughout the game's history and it's not necessarily a bad thing. There is a portion of the playerbase who enjoys playing decks where it looks like they are hanging on by a thread before roaring back and ending the game in an instant. Heck, that deck archetype doesn't just occur in Hearthstone. Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and other card games feature such win-conditions as well.


The problem is that Final Showdown has made it too easy and adds a level of consistency to a deck that should, in theory, lack it. It's not a particularly powerful deck at low ranks. But at high Legend, where players better understand how to use their resources optimally, it's strong. 


Being able to discount the cost of cards in a player's hand or deck has always been a tricky balancing act and in an OTK deck, where acquiring precise pieces means winning on the spot, toeing that line is even more important.


As the development team seemed okay with the OTK deck existing in previous metas and it only became more consistent with the addition of the Questline, logically, it would suggest that would be the target for nerfs. They could bump the cost of the combo pieces but the Questline may be easier.



Last but not least, there is Mage. If you enjoy decks that could not care less what your opponent does then this is the one for you.


The addition of the Sorcerer's Gambit Questline allows players to deal absurd amounts of damage from hand with little being able to stop it once it gets going. As playing a Fire, Arcane, and Frost spell over and over again to advance the Questline is easier than some thought, it has created games that can feel lopsided and uninteractive.


Cards that make completing the Questline easier, such as First Flame and Incanter's Flow, could see nerfs. The development team could also go the other route and touch cards that end the game quicker once the final Quest is completed such as Ignite or having Arcanist Dawngrasp provide +2 Spell Damage when played as opposed to +3.


There are options and it will be interesting to see which way the development team goes to make Mage a little less magical and a bit more fun to queue into.


Honorable mentions


With Handbuff Paladin, Face Hunter, and Elemental Shaman sitting atop the meta currently, it wouldn't be too surprising if their power level were knocked down a peg to even the playing field. It should be noted that each performs well against some of the more non-interactive decks listed above so their strength could just be a byproduct of the meta. For their respective classes, Alliance Bannerman, Aimed Shot, and Granite Forgeborn could see their power level's reduced. Battleground Battlemaster, a Neutral card, could be nerfed as well considering how it is performing.

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