Blizzard tends to reserve the Nerf Gun for important changes. These are a few that Hearthstone has seen coming for a long time.
Since the release of the Standard format, Aggro decks have dominated Hearthstone to an absurd degree. Zoolock, Aggro Shaman, and others have decimated Control Warrior and other slower-paced decks for many seasons. Usually, this results in Blizzard adding in a few tech cards for the next expansion. For example, the Curse of Naxxramus adventure had a ton of aggro-stopping power in Zombie Chow and Sludge Belcher. When those went away, aggro decks flooded the top ranks and shut down just about everyone who wanted to enjoy late game fatigue games or dropping anything larger than a 5-drop.
In situations like these, the community gets into a bit of a bind. Blizzard is often reluctant to alter too many cards unless the game gets polarizing. One notable example was the Undertaker, which allowed a certain Hunter deck to ramp out of control – in fact, Undertaker Hunter was once a quarter of all decks played at one point. This led to the card getting nerfed into oblivion, and it has never seen play since.
So What’s Getting Nerfed?
Seven cards are getting shot by the Nerf Gun this time around, and some of them are actually quite devastating. The first two on the list are for Shaman, which has been one of the most aggressive classes of late. Rockbiter Weapon is getting upped to 2-mana from 1-mana. Doesn’t sound like much of a nerf, eh? Well, the biggest reason that it is so devastating to Shaman is that it loses one of its best aggro cards. The most common finishing combo in Aggro Shaman as Doomhammer + Rockbiter Weapon on Turn 6 (or Turn 5 with Coin), which could deal a whopping ten damage (aka Pyroblast). I think Rockbiter is going to just get dropped by Aggro decks, but we could see at least one copy in a midrange or control style Shaman.
The other big Shaman card targeted is Tuskarr Totemic. The worst case scenario for this thing in the past was that it summoned the 3/4 Totem Golem, meaning you’d have to deal with 6/6 worth of stats on turn 2-3. There is no real counter for that in Hearthstone, and it was so darn oppressive that Blizzard has changed it to only summon the basic Totems. Again, Tuskarr is still decent in some Shaman decks (Totem Shaman comes to mind), but Aggro is the biggest loser here.
Moving over to Hunter, I don’t think anyone was expecting Call of the Wild to pop up on the ban list. I certainly wasn’t. The card is an excellent boost to your momentum late game, and there has been at least one copy of this card in the mid-range/control style Hunter decks. It seems Blizzard thought that it was a bit too much value, so they bumped the mana cost to 9 from 8.
Here are two Warrior cards that I never thought I’d see on the chopping block: Charge and Execute. To be fair, I can definitely see why. Charge had the unfortunate consequence of never seeing play unless it was in an OTK deck (Worgen Warrior, Molten Giant Warrior, Grim Patron Warrior). It was even nerfed previously during the alpha and beta periods of Hearthstone! Now it has become something of an “Icehowl-in-a-jar” spell that lets you clear things without focusing on face damage. Patron, maybe?
Execute, on the other hand, is in just about every Warrior deck. It’s just a fantastic removal card! Doomguard? Execute. Deathwing? Execute. Grommash Hellscream? Execute. Jaraxxus, Eredar Lord of the Burning Legion? Well, you can’t execute him, but you can Execute the 6/6s he spawns. The point is that Execute was so good that all Warrior decks had 28 cards because these two were probably already in your deck to start with. By changing it to a 2-mana spell, more offensive Aggro Warriors won’t be able to play bigger minions and destroy big minions, but Control Warrior will probably remain untouched. After all, most are already running Revenge over Whirlwind.
On the “Cards Every Aggro Deck Has Been Using” list, we have Abusive Sergeant. I think we’ve all gotten tired of this dude shouting, “GET IN THERE AND FIGHT, MAGGOT!” Blizzard decided to take the Leper Gnome approach and knock his attack down a notch. Will that make people stop using the card? Maybe, since Lance Carrier is a slightly better version of Sergeant now.
Finally, the last card to get nerfed is none other than Mister Hope’s End himself: Yogg-Saron. This card encapsulated what made Hearthstone fun and what made Hearthstone not-so-fun. While the card itself is not getting changed, his effect will no longer continue after he has left the field. So if he should cast ten spells but his first one makes him kill himself, that’s it. For many spell-heavy decks like Tempo Mage and Token Druid, Yogg might stay. He can still prove pretty darn useful at times, but now players will have to think before dropping down the God of Death.
As usual, expect to see full dust refunds on these cards. If any more nerfs pop up, you can bet that we’ll let you know about them on The Game Fanatics!