If you’ve played Hearthstone at any point after Mean Streets of Gadgetzan dropped, chances are you’ve gone up against a fair share of pirate decks. The three feuding crime families, Grimy Goons, Jade Lotus, and the Kabal be damned – the inclusion of cards like Small-Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate has seen the meta shift straight into murky, swashbuckling waters, meaning that pirates are the real threat.
That may change in future though. Blizzard have no immediate plans to make changes to pirate cards, but they are certainly paying attention to the bastards. In a recent Q&A (via PC Gamer), Ben Brode and Dean Ayala said they’d nerf them if people kept playing them.
And based on my last few games, that trend doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Assuming the meta remains in its current state, how long would it take to implement new balances? Ben Brode shared the following in an interview (also via PC Gamer):
“If we decide to make changes, we have to plan them for the next patch. So, depending on how far away the next patch is, that would affect our thinking. It’s not quite science. Some of it is the back-end statistics, some of it is our own personal feelings on the team, and some of it is the community and how they’re feeling about it as well. It isn’t just like the Undertaker problem, where there was Undertakers literally everywhere. There are several different decks, and even several different classes, with pirates, so even if we were excited about changing something, it isn’t like we feel some immense time pressure to do it immediately.”
So if these changes do come, they won’t be anytime soon it seems. Ben also shared this important little nugget however:
“In the past we’ve made decisions to hold announcements of nerfs, even if we’d already decided a week or two before. We feel like us deciding to nerf—even if the winrates are not concerning, necessarily, but perhaps the play rate is too high or it felt like it was a bad esports experience—often leads to the situation of: ‘Oh, you beat me, and that card’s gonna be nerfed anyway, so the game’s not real right now.’ That’s not to say that we’ve decided necessarily what we’re gonna do here, but if we decide to [nerf Pirates] I don’t think that we would announce anything very far out, and often that’s why communication seems a little bit weird surrounding nerfs.”
My big takeaway from that is if that nerfs for pirates are in the pipeline, you won’t have to wait too long to see them implemented whenever they’re announced. So for example, a blog post could potentially pop up tomorrow, and said changes could be out within the next week or two.
To be honest though, I don’t see that happening, at least not for a while, and maybe not ever. Blizzard very seldom make direct changes to their cards, and when they do, it’s with very good reason or intent. If anything, I suspect they’ll dish out some indirect nerfs to pirates with the release of the next expansion or adventure, which should be in the next few months.
Then again, I am a very casual Hearthstone player after all, so what do I know? Maybe pirates are that popular that change could come a lot sooner than expected.