It’s that time of the year again: time for our yearly Hearthstone balance patch! This year Blizzard carefully looked at all of the tier one decks and decided that Warlock was the coolest. As a result, they decided to nerf all of the other tier one decks. All hail our new Warlock overlords! Seriously though, if you hated Warlock already, you are going to absolutely loathe this next month. You probably shouldn’t bother playing until the next expansion comes out if you aren’t ready to face Warlock in every other game.
Now, let’s take a look at the four decks that were hit by the latest Hearthstone nerfs.
Bonemare is one of the best cards for an aggressive deck. It was essentially a 9/9 for seven mana, and four of that nine had charge. It was clearly overtuned, and quickly found itself into nearly every aggressive deck. Last week I wrote a guide for budget decks with every class, and five of the nine decks used Bonemare. Even the Tempo Mage deck used it! For pure aggression, it was simply too difficult to beat. The same was seen in arena on an even larger scale. Bonemare, as a common card, was played in nearly every single deck, making it impossible to beat in terms of value or tempo.
Now, the cost of Bonemare has risen from seven to eight. The effect remains the same, as does the stats of the card. Of all the nerfs, this one if the most reasonable. At eight mana, Bonemare is still an incredibly strong card in arena. In standard mode I wouldn’t be surprised if it still saw some play. The card was just so strong that a simple one-mana nerf probably won’t kill it. Certainly budget decks will continue to run Bonemare, as there aren’t a lot of cheap alternatives for it. This will also be a hindrance to a lot of flooding aggressive decks. Bonemare was an essential piece to break through big Taunt walls, and deliver the final blow. Without it, some decks will struggle.
While Bonemare was in nearly ever aggressive deck, Corridor Creeper was a strong contender for the most played card. After years of Shamanstone and Thing from Below reigning supreme, it’s a shock that Blizzard was willing to print another potentially zero-mana 5/5 card, but here it is. Corridor Creeper has an easily activated effect, and can apply to all minions in play (not just yours). If it’s in your opening hand, or drawn in your first few turns, it becomes free incredibly quickly. It’s perfect for flood decks of all kinds, as well as any deck making use of buffs. A zero-mana target opens a lot of possibilities.
Blizzard realized what they had done, and decided that Corridor Creeper would have to go the way of Old Yeller. A reasonable person might assume they would lower the attack or health by a bit, or maybe raise the cost. Heck, maybe they’d just change the ability to specify either your or your opponent’s minions. But nope, they went all out and made the card absolute garbage. They took three – that’s right, three – attack off of Corridor Creeper. The card went from being a 5/5 to a 2/5. This makes the card legitimately worthless in nearly all situations. 2/5 is just such a bad stat-line that it’s not worth looking at. It’s a Carrion Grub that can only be played under certain conditions.
Even if you have Corridor Creeper in your opening hand, woohoo, you get a free 2/5 on turn five. What a great target for Bonemare. Oh, wait.
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Patches the Pirate
This change should have been made a long time ago. But hey, at least he’s not going to ruin Wild forever, I guess. Even in the reasoning behind the nerf Blizzard admits that “Patches’ strength has caused almost every class to add some Pirates just to benefit from him.” Perhaps you should have nerfed him a year ago, eh? During the balance patch last year, everyone was shocked that Small-Time Buccaneer got the nerf hammer and Patches dodged it. But hey, I guess it’s better late than never. I don’t really need to describe this one: if you’ve played Hearthstone at all in the last year you’ve seen Patches. He’s been in a deck in literally every class at some point or another, and continues to be in many.
To nerf him, they decided to remove Charge. That’s right, Patches is no longer IN CHARRGE NOW (pirate pun intended)! Don’t worry, they already said he’d be getting a new voice line. Without Charge, Patches isn’t good. A lot of people suggested that instead of taking off Charge, they simply change it so that he only has Charge as a Battlecry. That way, if he was summoned from your deck, he wouldn’t have Charge, but if you drew him, he would. It was an elegant solution to keep a delicately balanced card from being either busted or broken. As a result, Blizzard tossed it out the window along with any chance of Patches seeing play again.
Raza the Unchained
This is probably the most interesting nerf on the list, and for me, personally, the most unexpected. I suppose it makes sense. As far as limiting design space, making a hero power zero forever is a big one. This was seen in the interaction between Raza and Shadowreaper Anduin. Being able to do two damage every time you play any card, plus once more per turn, was blatantly busted. The only thing holding you away from this was having played Raza in a singleton deck (only one copy of each card). This is a restriction that hurts neither Raza nor Shadowreaper Anduin. All that was required to activate this combo was drawing each of the legendaries. If you were able to somehow get Coldarra Drake plus Raza, playing Shadowreaper Anduin or even just Shadowform was an automatic victory.
The potential for abuse was huge, and moving forward Raza would certainly restrict potential, particularly in Wild where being singleton isn’t a huge negative. As such, they have nerfed it so now it makes your hero power 1 for the rest of the game. This will probably kill Raza, or at least make him significantly less appealing. He certainly won’t allow Shadowreaper Anduin to go off on anywhere near the same level. Is that bad? I’m not sure, but I know a lot of Priest players won’t be pleased.
I mentioned Warlock at the beginning of this article, and if you follow Hearthstone you’ll know why. The tier one decks at the moment are Highland Priest, Cube Warlock, Aggro Rogue, and Aggro Paladin. Priest got hit hard with the Raza nerf. Rogue and Paladin both got hit with the Patches nerf, as well as the Corridor Creeper nerf. Rogue also got hit with the Bonemare nerf, and lost five of their 30 cards.
Warlock got hit with, well, nothing! Priest lost a card and a combo piece, Paladin lost three cards, and Rogue lost five. All three of those decks will go down significantly in power level, leaving Warlock untouched as the new undisputed king of the meta.