Introduction to Patch 6.1.3
For the past month or so, the Hearthstone community has been very upset with the state of the game. Many professionals stood up and stated that the competitive scene was going downhill. Batstone came out and was largely successful after banning a group of cards. Yogg-Saron continued to be played in every single Blizzard hosted tournament. Blizzard began receiving a ton of backlash for these choices, among others. Their subreddit, forums, and Facebook page were buried under criticism.
Out of the rubble, patch 6.1.3 appears. Blizzard has finally managed to break their vow of silence and balance a group of cards. This change was a long time coming.
Some Long Over Due Shaman Nerfs
Rockbiter Weapon’s cost was changed to two, from one. This change is a rather surprising one. Shaman is obviously oppressive, and one of their big problems is the Doomhammer damage potential. This is an indirect nerf to that, but in a very roundabout way. Now Rockbiter is not very strong by itself, but retains its strength with Doomhammer. It’s a good change for lowering Shaman’s strength, but a weird change for what it actually does.
Tuskarr Totemic is one of my least favourite cards. Entirely because of its potential to summon non-basic totems. If it summons any of the non-basic totems, it’s incredibly difficult to try and take the game back. It also relies entirely on chance, rather than skill. No longer. It may not be the only reason Shaman is strong, but it was a very frustrating one.
A Mild Hunter Nerf
Call of the Wild has been a card that many have been complaining about over the past month. While the Hunter deck itself may not be tier one, Call of the Wild itself is. The card creates 13/10 worth of stats, including the Leokk buff. Also, it is split between three bodies, and one of them has charge. The havoc this can cause is absolutely incredible. Playing two of them back to back is almost impossible to deal with. This was a nerf that some will say is unnecessary, but I say good riddance.
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A Couple Warrior Changes
There isn’t much to say about Execute. The card has always been a staple of Warrior, and has always been too efficient. Especially as cards like Ravaging Ghoul are printed, activating Execute is simply too easy. This change will hurt aggro and midrange Warrior decks, while largely unaffecting control decks. A solid change.
The Charge change is definitely the weirdest one on the list. This change completely kills the One Turn Kill Warrior archetype. This is rather unfortunate, as the deck was very difficult to pilot, but was not oppressive on ladder. While I never played much of the deck myself, I do think that these types of decks should be promoted. Otherwise we will simply have generic minions on curve in all decks. A poor change, in my opinion.
Less Abuse and Less RNG
Abusive Sergeant has needed this change ever since Leper Gnome got similar treatment. The cards had very similar ideas behind them, and Abusive was arguably better. In fact, it’s likely good enough to still see play in many aggressive lists. This is a good change for keeping the meta at a slower pace.
The most important change of the patch. You may notice that the text has not actually changed at all. This is because the change that they made is one of semantics. Now, if Yogg-Saron removes himself from the board in any way, the spells stop casting. This is activated when he dies, is polymorphed, silenced or returned to the caster’s hand. This is a huge nerf to the card. Now the best case scenario for Yogg will often be a single board clear. Realistically, he kills himself before doing anything relevant more often than not. The card will still exist for those who want to have fun with it, but its power level will be nowhere near the old Yogg. This is a perfect change, as it leaves the card balanced for casual, but makes it far riskier for competitive play.
Overall, the patch 6.1.3 changes are overwhelmingly positive. Shaman was knocked down a peg, Yogg and Tuskarr have been dumbed down, and aggro was slowed. There were some odd changes for sure, especially Charge. However, for the health of the game as a whole, I think these balance changes were quite good. There are those who argue Shaman will be stronger now because their counters were nerfed harder. This may be true, but now at least other classes that weren’t touched can stand a chance against them. The real takeaway here is that Blizzard finally changed things, and they actually changed a group of cards. Hopefully this is something they will agree to do a bit more frequently in the future, rather than have months of stale metas.