On Jan. 31. we got some amazing news from Blizzard regarding nerfs coming to Hearthstone on Feb. 5. The changes will affect some of the strongest decks in the Hearthstone meta. Even Shaman, (Control) Paladin, Odd Rogue, and variations of Hunter will all see some of their key cards nerfed. It is important to note that all but one of the cards nerfed in the upcoming patch are Basic and Classic cards that have long been a thorn for the game designers.
The first nerf is coming to a staple of nearly every Rogue deck since the creation of Hearthstone, Cold Blood. A quote from the blog post announcing the nerfs explains why Cold Blood deserved a change very well.
We’re changing these particular cards because each one has been highly prevalent, regardless of what strategies have been popular or what other cards have existed around them.
This is true for Cold Blood more than any other card on this list.
The nerf of Flametongue Totem is an interesting one. While I understand why the card could be a problem, removing this tool from Even Shaman completely isn’t the way I would have went about solving the issue. Even Shaman has been around for a while and is one of the strongest decks in both Wild and Standard format. This change, however, might completely remove the deck from the game. Gaining an advantage on the board through cards like Flametongue Totem was the only thing Even Shaman did better than other decks, and that is now no longer an option.
Personally, I would have loved to see them attempt to first lower the health of Flametongue Totem to two or even one to reduce the card in strength drastically. This would still keep the archetypes alive in the game. We will have to see how this mixes up the meta and what cards Blizzard has planned for the next Hearthstone expansion that warrant this type of nerf to the Even Shaman deck.
Next up is Equality, a card we are very surprised has survived for this long. The pure strength of Equality has caused Paladin to rarely get access to any fun cards over the past years. Now that it is gone and won’t ever see play anymore, it opens up a lot of design space for the Paladin class in the future Hearthstone expansions.
Some might remember the early days of Hearthstone, where Hunter’s Mark was still 0 mana. It used to be part of every Hunter deck imaginable until it got nerfed back in April 2016. Now, while it hasn’t been a too common inclusion in many Hunter decks, we are still happy to see it removed from the game permanently. Hunter’s Mark is similar in design to Equality. While Hunter’s Mark was in the game, Blizzard had to be very careful of what removal tools the Hunter class got access to. This caused cards like Crushing Walls to be designed, which are far too weak to ever become a staple in any Hunter deck.
This is honestly the biggest surprise of them all. While Spell Hunter was popular and heavily reliant on Emerald Spellstone, it was nowhere near the strongest deck in the meta. Different builds of Hunter have long outperformed the deck, and this change seems to just hurt the wrong deck? The nerf from 5 to 6 mana is massive, so many more classes will have access to ways to clear the board against Spell Hunter, on top of Spell Hunter having another turn where they basically do nothing at all.
Overall we really like the changes in this patch. The nerfs, while they could be handled better, will open up a lot of design space for the next Hearthstone expansion. We have a positive outlook on how these changes will affect the Hearthstone meta in the following months. The nerfs to Druid last month improved the variety of ladder decks a lot already, and these changes are likely to improve it even more.
I’m Arend Zijdenbos, from the Netherlands. Gamer for as long as I can remember. My current focus is further improving at esports journalism. Currently, I write for Daily Esports and PCInvasion. For more of me, find me on twitter @Azijdenbos.