Nerfs Hit the Standard Cards, Finally.

Apr 22, 2016

When Blizzard announced that they were coming out with a Standard format, in which the Basic and Classic sets would always be available, they said that there were a few cards that they would tweak before Standard went live, in the hopes that it would address current and future issues. In my article I predicted a bunch of cards that I and the community believed were due for change. As of this week, the changes have officially been announced and will be live when Standard goes live on Tuesday April 26th. Let’s take a look at which cards got the nerf hammer:

Ancient of Lore Nerf

As I and many others mentioned, the problem with Druid is that their class cards are simply too strong, meaning that going forward there would be very little innovation in the decklists despite Standard hitting. Their class cards are also a lot stronger than other class’s in general. This is a nice tone down. This particular nerf was a big one, but it feels right, a slightly over-costed Azure Drake that also has flexibility.

Force of Nature Nerf

Everyone knew Force of Nature or Savage Roar would be nerfed, if not both. Here is an example of a good nerf that also keeps the card as something that is decent, if not quite as amazing as it used to be. This was a very warranted nerf and one they did well.

Keeper of the Grove Nerf

Another nerf not only to Druid class cards but silence in general. This one is another big one, but it’s not too incredibly over the top because of flexibility once again. It is an understated Spellbreaker, but perhaps -2/-1 is worth having the option to do two damage. Time will tell.

Ironbeak Owl Nerf

A big silence nerf, one that is quite nice. It always felt bad losing so much value from such a small card. Now you’ll actually have to think about including Owl, and it won’t be so devastating when you do get silenced, since your opponent will have given up quite a bit of value himself.

Big Game Hunter Nerf

Another highly predicted nerf. Big Game Hunter had a good effect, one that keeps incredibly fast decks in check, but the body that came along with his effect was simply too strong. Personally I would have liked to see it keep the 3 mana but get changed to a 1/1, but this is the next best thing. Great change, still very playable but not auto-include.

Hunter's Mark Nerf

An unexpected change, but not an unsurprising one. I don’t think this changes a ton, but at least it’ll slow Hunter tempo a bit when they crash through your 5/10 with taunt with just a 1/1 and a zero mana card. Definitely a good change.

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Blade Flurry Nerf

Easily the most unexpected change. No one saw this coming, and there’s been a lot of anger directed towards it. I can certainly agree that Blade Flurry was an incredibly strong card, and that toning it down could be good, but it was overdone. The general consensus, which I agree with, is that one of the nerfs was fine – either the cost increase or the removal of face damage – but both is overboard. Along with not getting any weapons or strong weapon buffs in the new set, this was a big blow to Rogues.

Knife Juggler Nerf

Yet another highly expected change. This is probably the only one on the list I don’t think they went far enough with. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but taking off one attack isn’t going to make Knife Juggler see any less play, it’s still the strongest two drop in the game in most situations. It’s also receiving a small nerf in the sense that a lot of the token generation it was strong with is also leaving, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be back in the future. Hopefully Knife Juggler settles nicely with this change, but I’ll expect it to be something that people gripe about for a long time.

Leper Gnome Nerf

Another unsurprising change. Whispers of the Old Gods has very much been touted as being about slow minions with giant splash effects. And between the Old Gods themselves and half a dozen other nine and ten cost minions, it seems that they are pushing the envelope all the way on the big bruisers. So it doesn’t feel great to see a Leper Gnome enter play on turn one, when you’re still nine turns away from your deck’s goal. Just a general slowing of the meta, one that’s quite nice for Control players.

Arcane Golem Nerf

Same deal as Leper Gnome. Just a general removal of aggressive decks. This one unfortunately also takes out a lot of combo decks, including potential Shadowstep plays and the infamous Warlock OTK (One Turn Kill) decks with Arcane Golem and Faceless Manipulator. This nerf was also incredibly over the top, comparing this to other three drops such as Spider Tank and this is only one stat more to give your opponent a mana crystal – awful. I think this will never see play again.

Molten GIant Nerf

This is another example of a good idea that I think they took a little too far. Moltens were unhealthy for a lot of gameplay, there were a lot of decks that couldn’t take the consideration to not put you down to ten life, and the game turned into a simple gamble of whether the Moltens were in hand or not. This mitigates it and allows for a much more balanced level of thought before going all-in. However, they went too far. Conceivably going down to five health in order to maximise your value here is way too dangerous, and means that this card cannot be reasonably combed with healing anymore, especially not Reno Jackson, in most cases. I believe that the over-costing of this will make it stop seeing play in all but the most interesting of decks.

Master of Disguise Nerf

I talked a lot about this card in my article on Limited Design Space. The nerf was entirely expected, and a long time coming. I’m glad they got it out of the way before it became an issue down the road.

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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