Hearthstone Is Having Serious Balance Issues

Hearthstone Is Having Serious Balance Issues

Since Hearthstone launched in early 2014, the addictive digital card game has gone through various balance phases. At one point, Miracle Rogues dominated everything; more recently we saw the rise of the Patron Warrior. Today, it's the Paladin's turn to shine.

For at least a few weeks now, the Hearthstone competitive ladder has been dominated by a deck called the Secret Paladin, built around triggering as many "secrets" — trap-like cards that are hidden from the opponent until they're triggered — as possible. Secret Paladins are everywhere these days, and general consensus in the Hearthstone community is that they're overpowered as hell.

This deck is built around a card called Mysterious Challenger that looks like this:

Hearthstone Is Having Serious Balance Issues

"Battlecry" is an ability that's triggered as soon as you summon the minion in question. So as soon as you play this Mysterious Challenger, you'll set yourself up with a ton of different secrets with buffs like "give your minions +1/+1" and "when an enemy attacks, summon a 2/1 Defender as the new target." If you've played the game, I'm sure you can see why this might feel a bit overpowered.

Hearthstone's meta-game has always moved in cycles, and perhaps Blizzard's fine with that — plenty of classes have had their opportunities to shine over the past year and a half. But as many on the Hearthstone subreddit and elsewhere have pointed out, the current rise of these Secret Paladins — and, to a lesser extent, Aggro Druids — has made for a far less interesting competitive climate, to the point where tensions are reaching a breaking point.

Fans are frustrated with how Hearthstone balance has been approached, especially in the wake of the nerf to Warsong Commander last month, which effectively killed Patron Warriors for good. Many fans have been asking: Why can't there be smaller, more frequent balance updates to a game that many perceive as stale? As one veteran player told me in an email this week, "Hearthstone is a digital card game. Not a real, physical card game. Meaning, nerfs, adjustments and buffs should be possible and done; something Blizzard has refused to do."

This weekend at Blizzcon in Anaheim, California, the developers at Blizzard will lay out their plans for the future of Hearthstone. It will be interesting to see what they do next.


    hehe its always cute seeing the "RAGE" in reddit. meh i play super casually (normally ranked in and around 15) so i always find the game fun.

      I'm the same, I still very much enjoy the game. But...it is annoying as hell playing against a secret paladin!

        haha iv'e taken to just calling them eboladins :P don't really run across them too much in lower ranks though :)

          I was a solid player until a few months ago. I sort of just stopped playing AND caring. I can't explain why... I have been playing a lot of Ark, but that hasn't stopped my other bad gaming habits like Retribution and Cities.

    I totally disagree the deck is OP. I use it myself, and there are definite ways to play around or minimise the effectiveness of the secrets. That's if the Paladin even has MC by turn 6, which if they don't, they can struggle. People whinge in the HS community constantly, and Blizzard is doing the right thing by not nerfing things immediately when there's an outcry.

    Patron Warrior was king, and they waited a long time to nerf that just to see if the meta could adjust. That's totally fair. Despite the digital nature of the game, there's no reason to nerf or buff things a week after a powerful trend occurs, because there may well be undiscovered ways to counter, an it requires time to figure it out.

    Right now I feel that HS is reasonably balanced, though Shaman has drawn the short straw for a while now.

    On the bright side, the severe negativity in the community means more people are bleeding over to actually balanced and competitive games like Duelyst. Pretty much this exact thing happened with tabletop wargames with warhammer 40k being broken for so long, frustrated players switched to warmachine and infinity. 40K is still and probably always will be huge but these other games are bigger than ever and growing faster because of player dissatisfaction with management of gamesworkshop. Take note blizzard!

      Mmmmm Infinity *drooools*

      But yes, you're totally spot on. It's also interesting seeing a shift from big armies to skirmish games. I haven't touched GW pretty much since I stopped working for them in '07 and frankly am glad I jumped ship. In fact I just finished selling every unpainted 40k and WFB model I had right before Age of Sigmar hit (thank god!)

      So hopefully Blizzard can learn by looking elsewhere and seeing what has happened in the tabletop/boardgame scene in the last 10 years and act appropriately.

      Personally, this is why I prefer PvE content. I still like to play with friends, I've enjoyed that much more than single player experiences in recent years, but PvE is just so much easier to balance and so much easier to enjoy than PvP.
      Games like WoW have proven that PvE content can still be exciting, challenging and rewarding.

      At the end of the day, think about any single player game like Fallout or Witcher... How much more fun would it be if you could play with 1 or 2 friends?
      How much more fun would COD be if you didn't have to put up with annoying 13 year olds?
      Some of the most fun I've ever had while gaming has been during co-op. Things like wow raiding, COD:MW 1 and 2 co-op missions, co-op board games etc...

    Meh hearthstone is a divided community; there were similar reddits for Patron and nothing happened for ages. Once it happened all the Patron players were raging. To be fair there was no way to play a patron warrior because once they had the combo they needed you were dead on your opponents turn.

    Secret Paladin is considerably less painful; yes it bestows a significant advantage to the Pally (really it's a 11 mana card for 6 mana) but people forget one important aspect of secrets. They're greatest benefit comes from not knowing whats on the board and being forced to tip-toe around the possible effects. With most secret paladin/idiot decks they run all 5 secrets so you always know exactly whats's on the board and should have cards to play around it. All you need is one minion on the board and it sets of 3 of their secrets -> noble sacrifice -> avenge -> redemption. Follow this with BGH or a silence and they've just spent 6 cards of their deck that have been countered by 2 of yours.

    Secret Paladin
    I thought it was known as the Riddlerdin...

    Balance issues ay, welcome to a Blizzard game lol.

      "PvP" balance issues.
      Blizzard has always done an excellent job at balancing single player and PvE content.
      Cept for that first few months of torment difficulty diablo3 but we'll let that one slide.

        I don't think a 25% difference in strength for pve specs in wow raiding is an excellent job sorry. Excellent by comparison to their pvp balancing maybe.

        Last edited 06/11/15 2:39 pm

          you mean the "make it easier if you're failing" mechanic? I haven't played for about a year now so I'm not up to date, but features like that have always been optional. I'm all for more options. If you want a challenge, you can have it. If you want super casual content, you can have that too....

          Realistically I'm talking more about the balance of individual fights or level or missions and not the whole gaming experience. There's a lot more to WoW than a single boss fight.

            No, when I said a 25% difference in SPEC strength i meant a 25% difference in spec strength, I was not making a poorly worded reference to raiding catch up mechanics.

    I am loving playing against Secret Pallys with my midrange hunter deck. Seriously - every time they drop a challenger, you respond with a Flare. I have made multiple opponents ragequit by doing this - it is deeply satisfying.

    Honestly though, it's not that difficult to play around with a bit of thought. As long as you can compete in the early game and haven't completely lost board control by the time they drop their challenger, you can generally make them run out of steam.

    It's still less infuriating than getting 1-shotted by Patron warriors, and it does make a nice change from all the super aggro decks. Now, if we could just get Dr. Balanced bumped up to 8 mana and make Challenger a 5/5, the game would be in a pretty good place.

    Lol... umm welcome to the world of competitive CCG play?

    Power Creep and Broken combos are par for the course on any CCG game since the early days of the Sekhmet combo on MtG. It's always about finding the most efficient deck until the meta changes. Just suck it in and enjoy the game.. because sooner or later your favourite "class/build" will be next one to be labaled "OP" =P

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