Breaking down the 12 cards that are being nerfed in Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods

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HEARTHSTONE! I’m in two minds over Blizzard’s runaway success card game. On the one hand, it’s still as magnificently brilliant today as it was when it launched thanks to a fresh style and dope visuals that make the idea of digital cards that much more appealing. On the other hand Darryn, the entry barrier has reached new heights that make the game a bit of a nightmare for anyone who happens to be not good at it.

Hearthstone at its base form is deceptively simple, but the number of strategies that have come out in recent years have made the playing field a bit uneven. Blizzard is looking to shake things up yet again in their newest expansion ahead of the arrival of the game’s new Standard mode next week in Whispers of the Old Gods.

12 cards in total will be nerf-hammered, making for some big changes. Here’s a breakdown of the changes on the way, from senior designer Mike Donais:

Ancient of Lore

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Drawing cards is powerful in Hearthstone, and Ancient of Lore easily found its way into nearly every popular Druid deck. We’d like Druid players to feel that other cards can compete with Ancient of Lore, so we’ve reduced the number of cards drawn from 2 to 1.

Force of Nature

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The new version of Force of Nature lowers its mana cost by 1, but removes Charge and makes the summoned Treants permanent—like the other Treants that Druids summon. This change also removes the powerful one-turn combo of Force of Nature and Savage Roar. Now, opponents will have a chance to deal with the threat that the Treants represent, and it won’t feel mandatory to always include the combo.

Keeper of the Grove

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Keeper of the Grove is a strong and versatile minion that combines Silence with solid stats, which made the decision to include it in every Druid deck virtually automatic. Whether or not to introduce a source of Silence to a deck should require some decision making, so Keeper of the Grove shouldn’t be a default choice for all Druid decks. Its stats have been changed from 2/4 to 2/2.

Speaking of Keeper of the Grove, Silence and minion removal are potent effects in Hearthstone. Currently, some removal options are too widely played, are attached to minions with efficient stats, or are simply too powerful. While removal is an important part of Hearthstone, it also makes playing big, exciting minions less rewarding. We are adjusting some of these cards so that the decision to add them to your deck comes with a cost, especially if you don’t end up finding an ideal target for them. These changes should help make cards with high attack or cool effects more interesting too.

Ironbeak Owl

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Ironbeak Owl is a staple source for an inexpensive Silence in many decks. In line with our overall goal to make Silence effects more costly, Ironbeak Owl is moving from 2 to 3 mana.

Big Game Hunter

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Big Game Hunter represents an inexpensive source of removal that is packaged with a minion. It’s efficient enough that some Heroes with powerful Class-based removal cards choose to run the neutral Big Game Hunter. We’re increasing the cost of the card from 3 mana to 5 mana.

Hunter’s Mark

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Hunter’s Mark is an important option for Hunters, but it’s too efficient at 0 mana. We are increasing its cost to 1.

Blade Flurry

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Blade Flurry is a problem because it enables both board clear andheavy burst damage, and it’s also an obstacle to adding better cards for Rogues. To address these issues, the cost of Blade Flurry is moving from 2 to 4 mana, and it will now only affect minions, so that Rogues have to choose between removing threats or damaging the enemy Hero.

Knife Juggler

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Knife Juggler should be a good choice in decks that play many cheap minions, but with 3 Attack, it is played almost universally. We’re reducing Knife Juggler’s Attack from 3 to 2, so this card will move into a more specialized role in the decks that include it, instead of always being among the best choices for a 2 mana-cost minion.

Leper Gnome

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Leper Gnome is powerful for its cost, finds its way into almost every aggressive deck, and requires no further deck building decisions to be effective. We’d like other 1 mana minions to be more compelling, so we’re reducing its Attack from 2 to 1.

Arcane Golem

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Charge is an ability we’ve learned to use sparingly. Arcane Golem has been a staple in many aggressive and ‘one turn kill’ combo decks, and its drawback is rarely relevant. We’re addressing both issues by removing Charge and increasing Arcane Golem’s Health, while leaving its drawback. Arcane Golem will now be a 3 mana 4/4 with Battlecry: Give your opponent a Mana Crystal.

Molten Giant

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Molten Giant is an interesting card, but it’s too easy for players to reduce its mana cost to 0. We’re increasing Molten Giant’s mana cost to 25 to increase the risks players must take to get a free Giant. The changes to Force of Nature and Arcane Golem will make dropping to low health somewhat less risky as well, which helped spur this change.

Master of Disguise

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The ability of Master of Disguise to grant permanent Stealth has been a design obstacle for a long time, so we are changing Master of Disguise to only grant Stealth until the next turn. This change opens up exciting options for future cards.

Needless to say, some new strategies are going to be needed come April 26. Double-needless to say, I’ll probably still be terrible at the game.

Last Updated: April 21, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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