Hearthstone News: Upcoming Balance Changes in February 2018

Good news, everyone! Several of the most powerful and ubiquitous cards in the current Hearthstone metagame are going be to changed in an upcoming patch! As of yet, there is no date for the patch release, but we can expect it to happen sometime in February 2018. As always, players will receive a full dust refund for all cards that are changed, so hang on to extra copies of these cards!

You can see the full post from Blizzard, with the details of all of the cards being changed and a brief explanation for the change below. [source]

Upcoming Balance Changes – Update 10.2

In the upcoming 10.2 update, we will be making balance changes to the following cards:

Bonemare – Now costs 8 mana. (Up from 7)

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Bonemare has been quite strong in both constructed and Arena. It has a big, immediate impact on the board, and since it’s neutral, it’s been finding its way into a wide variety of decks.

Increasing its mana cost by 1 will give opponents more time to utilize powerful late-game cards to counteract Bonemare’s effect on the board.

Corridor Creeper – Now has 2 Attack. (Down from 5)

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Due to the way that Corridor Creeper’s mana cost reduction works, it can cause big swings based on whether or not it happens to be in-hand at the start of the game.

Since it’s a very strong neutral card, Corridor Creeper has been played by a lot of classes. By lowering its attack, we reduce the overall swing potential and power level of the card, but still allow players who draw it early to benefit from having a low-cost minion to play when the game state is ideal.

Patches the Pirate – No longer has Charge.

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As we move closer to the new Hearthstone Year, we had some concerns about allowing Patches to remain in his current state after moving out of Standard. Patches’ strength has caused almost every class to add some Pirates just to benefit from him, and his early game power forces control decks to include a good answer to him. This change should give Wild players more flexibility when building their decks.

Removing Charge will lower his power level, ensuring he shows up in fewer decks and allowing opposing players some additional time to respond to Patches, making him less “in charge” of the early game.

Raza the Chained – Now reads: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, your Hero Power costs (1) this game.

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In a similar vein to Patches the Pirate, we had some concerns about allowing Raza to remain in his current state forever. Raza is currently an important combo piece along with Shadowreaper Anduin, and can lead to games that rely heavily on drawing him by turn 5. Adjusting his Battlecry will lower his overall power level when combined with Shadowreaper Anduin in Standard, and keep his power level reasonable in Wild as we prepare for the new Hearthstone Year.

Once these card changes are live with Update 10.2 next month, players will be able to disenchant the changed cards for their full Arcane Dust value for two weeks. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in the tavern!

Roffle’s Reaction

In general, I think all of these changes will be massively beneficial to all Hearthstone game modes. Bonemare, Patches the Pirate, and Corridor Creeper have invaded many decks. As a direct result, class and archetype identity has been severely lacking of late. Highlander Priest, on the other hand, has too many tools to warrant such a potent late-game finisher. As such, limiting the archetype’s burst should give other decks a little breathing room. Let’s take a look at the specific changes for each card!

Bonemare

Since the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne, Bonemare has been an absolute terror in nearly every format. In constructed, leaving a minion in play on turn six is asking for a loss. Likewise, Arena drafts can almost be measured by the number of skeletal horses that are chosen.

Quite simply, the card brought too many stats into play for seven mana. Yes, it required a minion on the field to get value so the nine stats weren’t always guaranteed. However, nearly half of those stats were able to attack immediately, creating massive swing turns. Now, coming out a turn later, Bonemare seems a bit more reasonable for its cost. As we’ve seen in the past, one mana is a massive change. Bonemare may see significantly less play in constructed decks as a result. I, for one, find this to be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Corridor Creeper

Despite the fact that many slept on Corridor Creeper, the card is an auto-inclusion in seemingly every deck. The ability is surprisingly easy to activate and playing a 5/5 for 0 mana is all to common. With the change, the giant wurm will lose three attack, reducing it to a measly 2/5.

Only time will tell if the reduced attack means the card will be cut from most lists, but even with the change, you’ll be able to get 3 manas worth of stats in play for fairly cheap. Yes, the card is less aggressive now, but the 5 health still makes it a stable beater for board-centric decks. It may fall out of favor in hyper-aggro decks thanks to the decreased attack, but several of the board-based tempo decks could still find a spot for this card. Most likely, Zoo Warlock and similar archetypes will continue making use of Corridor Creeper to ensure a lock on the board state. That said, it’s hard to predict the cards potency since it relied somewhat heavily on Patches the Pirate, who is also being changed, increasing the number of minion deaths.

Patches the Pirate

This obnoxious scallywag is finally getting smacked with the nerf bat. Since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, if you asked ten Pro Hearthstone players what the most broken card in the game was, twelve of them would answer Patches the Pirate. Despite only being a 1/1, the card was so strong that it made Southsea Captain a card that could seemingly be jammed in any deck that emphasizes minion combat. Patches was almost solely responsible for the potent Neutral minion package that any class could abuse. In several cases, this assortment of nearly ten cards was a class’s best option. The result was a watering down of deck diversity and class identity.

With the change, Patches loses Charge. (Which begs the question, who’s in charge now?) Patches is admittedly a difficult card to nerf. That said, if this simple change is what Patches had coming, why wasn’t it implemented sooner? The card has been pervasive since its release and, while it may be at its peak now, a change is long overdue. The lack of Charge will almost certainly result in diminished play. Likely, Patches now will only see play in decks that take advantage of Pirate synergies, if at all. In his stead, we may see a resurgence of 2/1 one-drops that were a liability with Patches shooting out of so many decks.

Raza the Chained

Given the prevalence of Highlander Priest in both the Standard and Wild Hearthstone formats, a change to the deck is not at all shocking. The interaction between Shadowreaper Anduin and Raza the Chained was far too powerful. In a deck that has seemingly endless answers, the ability to finish the game so easily was a bit over the top. While I maintain that the Death Knight hero card was the more blatantly powerful of the two, Raza was easier to tune to fix the finisher.

Personally, I was hoping that the change would only reduce the current Hero Power to zero mana. This would force Highlander Priests to play Raza after Anduin, reducing the power of a tempo Raza on turn five. Instead, the new changes will reduce the Hero Power to one, and still reduce the single-turn burst potential.

As always, it’s tough to predict what impact this will have on the meta as a whole. In both formats, Highlander Priest is the deck to beat (or ban). Now, with limited finishing potential, this may change. Instead, we could see a rise in Control Warlocks that were previously only bullied by Highlander Priest. In Wild, Emperor Thaurissan may return to fame to offset the impact of the change, but the deck’s power is undoubtedly diminished.

Hearthstone Wild Format

If you were looking for evidence that the Hearthstone development team cares about Wild, these changes should ease players’ concern a bit. Sure, it may not be the specific changes that you were looking for, but Patches the Pirate and Raza the Chained rotate out of the Standard format two short months after this patch is set to go live. Team 5 could have very easily let players suck in up in Standard for a little longer, but the fact that they were willing to pull the trigger on these cards so close to rotation indicates that it was done with the Wild format taken into consideration.

Notable Exclusions

  • Barnes – Many players, especially those in the Wild community, were calling for a nerf to this blond thespian. There’s no denying the card is completely broken in Big Priest and enables the many Resurrect effects a turn or two too early. In my opinion, however, this was an emotional reaction to players’ distaste for Big Priest rather than the power-level of Barnes himself. Outside of Big Priest, the card sees next to no play, making it hard to justify a nerf that would preserve the identity of the card. Blizzard clearly doesn’t see the Big Priest archetype as problematic as the community does, given their willingness to print Lesser Diamond Spellstone.
  • Call to Arms – Personally, this is the card that I was most surprised was excluded from this round of changes. This could be a personal bias from predicting it to be the top card of Kobolds and Catacombs, but the card undoubtedly strong (too strong, in my opinion). Putting three cards from your deck directly into play is too powerful an effect for four mana.
  • Naga Sea Witch – Like Barnes, Naga Sea Witch enables high-rolling decks that are unpopular with many players. The ability to drop several free 8/8s as early as turn four is somewhat reminiscent of pre-nerf Quest Rogue. Most decks have no answer to this type of board state, and Naga Sea Witch contributes to a win condition that feels helpless against. If Giants Warlock increases in strength as a result of these changes, I could see this card getting adjusted in the future. This seems especially likely after the emphasis on limiting swing turns in this round of changes.
  • Psychic Scream – Another card that was predictably powerful, Psychic Scream not only gives Priest yet another board clear, but also provides Anduin with the best sweeper in the game. At seven mana, the card is far too efficient and is an egregious power creep over Twisting Nether. The change to Raza the Chained will certainly slow Highlander Priests’ burst. The ability to clear the board so efficiently, however, will continue to frustrate players.

What do you think of these upcoming changes? Feel free to leave your opinion in the comment section below!

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