No nerfs, no cry
Hearthstone Patch 21.8 added some unique changes to Battlegrounds, powerful set defining legendaries in Standard, and made multiple changes intended to open up more diverse top-tier Mercenary compositions.
Looking at the patch notes, it's interesting to note that Hearthstone devs have only buffed weak Mercenaries as opposed to nerfing powerful ones. Nerfs run the risk of replacing the top strategy with another second-tier degenerate trend. Nerfs can also create a shortage of top top-tier alternatives. In addition, the tedious grind it takes to max out a Mercenary makes nerfs a risky PR move. If Blizzard over nerfs a hard-earned Mercenary, players feel justifiably cheated.
So I watch with interest as Mercenaries patches embrace many things being very powerful. That philosophy has a way of keeping things relatively balanced with the least number of sore players.
Patch 21.8 notes
- Old: 10 Attack, 67 Health (Level 30 stats) → New: 10 Attack, 73 Health (Level 30 stats)
- Hold the Front
- Old: Speed 4, Cooldown 1 → New: Speed 2, Cooldown 0
- Blessing of Sacrifice
- Old (Rank 5): Speed 3 → New (Rank 5): Speed 2
- Staggering Slam
- Old: Speed 4 → New: Speed 2
- Old: Speed 9 → New: Speed 6
- Fist of Jaraxxus
- Old (Rank 5): Speed 6, Deal 12 damage to a random enemy. Repeat for each of your other Demons. → New: Speed 4, Deal 15 damage to a random enemy. Repeat for each of your other Demons.
- Fel Infernal
- Old: Speed 5, Cooldown 1 → New: Speed 4, Cooldown 0
- Old: Cooldown 1 → New: Cooldown 0
- Old (Rank 5): After an enemy Attacks this turn, Attack it. → New (Rank 5): After an enemy Attacks this turn, Gain +5 Attack and Attack it.
- Old: 9 Attack, 69 Health (Level 30 stats) → New: 12 Attack, 74 Health (Level 30 stats)
- Blade Dance
- Old: Cooldown 2 → New: Cooldown 1
- Demon Shroud (Equipment)
- Old: Take 5 less damage while Attacking. → New: Take 10 less damage while Attacking.
- Scaly Taunt
- Old (Rank 5): Gain Taunt and this takes 3 less damage this turn. → New (Rank 5): Gain Taunt and this takes 5 less damage this turn.
- Iridescent Neckless
- Old (Rank 4): Scaly Taunt makes this Merc take 3 less damage this turn. → New (Rank 4): Scaly Taunt makes this Merc take 3 less damage and is Immune to Critical Damage this turn.
- Felfin Navigator
- Old (Rank 5): Give your other Murlocs +3/+5. → New (Rank 5): Give your other Murlocs +5/+5.
- Old (Rank 5): 16 Attack, 16 Health → New (Rank 5): 20 Attack, 20 Health
- Primordial Fin (Equipment)
- Old (Rank 4): Giantfin gains +8 Attack. → New: Giantfin gains +8 Attack and Divine Shield.
- Old: 9 Attack, 76 Health (Level 30 stats) → New: 11 Attack, 76 Health (Level 30 stats)
- Hulking Overfiend
- Old: Rush. Deathblow: This Attacks the lowest Health enemy. → New: Battlecry: Attack the lowest Health enemy. Deathblow: Attack the lowest Health enemy.
- Orc Onslaught
- Old: Speed 7 → New: Speed 5
- Old: 8 Attack, 69 Health (Level 30 stats) → New: 10 Attack, 72 Health (Level 30 stats)
- Old: 9 Attack, 69 Health (Level 30 stats) → New: 12 Attack, 69 Health (Level 30 stats)
- Siphon Life
- Old: Speed 7 → New: Speed 6
- Old: Speed 7 → New: Speed 6
I, for one, welcome our new Demon overlords
As of Patch 21.8, 2 speed is the new 3, and forgotten legendaries like Grommash (Protector), Jaxarraxus (Protector) Varian (Protector), and Illidan (Fighter) are being given explorative competitive consideration.
My patch winners:
The biggest buffs this patch has got to be Jaraxxus (Protector) being given the game's first cooldown 0 minions summon ability. This is a massive buff to Jaraxxus and demon strategies in general.
These buffs are complemented further by a more impactful Rathorian (Fighter) thanks to a new Hulking Overfriend mechanic and the deliberately cautious buff to Gul'Dan's (Caster) Siphon Life. Trust me, the healing value of Siphon Life plus Demons/Orcs should not be underestimated.
Bad Mercs are now better
Grommash (Protector) desperately needed some sort of meta-relevant ability, and a 2-speed Staggering Slam is very relevant. This out speeds Cairne (Protector) Endurance Aura and a mess of other impactful 3-speed abilities.
Lest we forget the golden rule of Mercenaries, whatever hurts Cairne only makes him stronger, a faster 6 speed Battlefury now gains lethal relevancy when paired with Endurance Aura.
All hail Mutanus (Fighter), the new game-mechanic-breaking taunt Mercenary that can now become immune to Critical damage alongside taking 8 less damage from all sources — Scaly Taunt does not play. Combine this with already powerful Murlocs like global finals surprise Cookie, The Cook (Caster), and the newly buffed Old Murk-Eye (Fighter), and divine shield Murlocs might become a thing in the following weeks.
Cornelius Roame (Protector) has finally been given the ability to protect things on turn one with a 0 cooldown 2-speed Hold the Front. This is especially powerful as this now allows Cornelius to spam heals as early as turn one. In addition, Speed 2 Blessing of Sacrifice is now a powerful way to protect the Human tribe or any valuable Merc.
Varian's buffs make Retaliation playable and the +5 attack allows you to scale more reliably. A more reliable attack means more Varian Deathblows, which is no small consideration. This combined with Tirion Fordring (Fighter) buffs is the welcomed help the Human tribe needed. Remember, Anduin (Caster) is already very strong!
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.