Early next week, Blizzard will release Hearthstone's largest balance patch in two years, changing a total of six cards, one of which was nerfed less than a year ago. What's interesting is that four of the affected cards are all from the one expansion — Kobolds & Catacombs — a testament to the expansion's ridiculous power level.
Blizzard announced the changes on Tuesday, which will be implemented in a patch due on May 22, after months of criticism from players and popular streamers.
Here is the list of cards that will be changed in the update:
- Naga Sea Witch — Will cost 8 mana. (Up from 5)
- Spiteful Summoner — Will cost 7 mana. (Up from 6)
- Dark Pact — Will restore 4 Health. (Down from 8)
- Possessed Lackey — Will cost 6 mana. (Up from 5)
- Call to Arms — Will cost 5 mana. (Up from 4)
- The Caverns Below — The quest reward, Crystal Core, will read: For the rest of the game, your minions are 4/4. (Down from 5/5)
The Caverns Below was printed in Journey To Ungoro and was already tweaked in mid-2017. Naga Sea Witch is the odd one out, being illegal in Standard — Hearthstone's main competitive format. However, it was a key card in a powerful, meta-warping deck in the game's Wild format (where any card can be used), one that was demoralising to play against.
Spiteful Summoner, Dark Pact, Possessed Lackey and Call to Arms are all from Kobolds & Catacombs. We also shouldn't forget good old Corridor Creeper, also from K&C, which was nerfed in February. This card almost single-handedly (along with Spiteful Summoner) won a $US150,000 tournament days after it was printed.
Every one of these cards is (or was) core to the most dominant decks in Standard and allow (or facilitate) playing powerful cards very early in the game, side-stepping their mana cost.
Often these swings in the flow of the game are difficult or impossible for the opponent to recover from or counter. While strong cards and plays aren't bad in of themselves, it is very easy for a dominant strategy to push-out certain playstyles, significantly reducing the number of otherwise solid decks.
Not since Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, which introduced the Jade mechanic and the scourge of Patches the Pirate, has a Hearthstone expansion been so derisive. In fact, one could argue Kobolds is worse. The game's latest expansion, The Witchwood, while producing some fresh decks via the odd and even mechanics, had barely any impact on the top decks, which remain variations on Control / Cube Warlock and Aggro Paladin.
Suffice it to say, the upcoming balance changes are very much needed for a healthy meta, at least until the next expansion hits. The tweaks to Dark Pact and Possessed Lackey should offer aggressive decks from classes such as Hunter and Rogue a foot in the door, while the Call to Arms change will make non-Warlock control and mid-range decks (which are non-existent, save for those running Spiteful Summoner... and even that's debatable) more appetising.
As with previous balance patches, for a two-week period following the update, all affected cards will provide a full refund when dusted (converted into arcane dust, the in-game resource used to craft new cards).
Upcoming Balance Changes — May 2018 [Blizzard]