Speak softly and carry a big Nerf bat.
These are some wise words regarding game balance for any game developer. With a bit of a lull before the big upcoming card reveals, Blizzard dropped the bombshell news today, of the much-awaited nerfs to the Evergreen Set. There are 12 cards affected overall, but as a Rogue player, I’m going to mostly focus on the changes to Blade Flurry.
- Blade Flurry costs 4 now
- Blade Flurry will no longer hit face
My first reaction was that “it’s not a big deal” because Tinker’s Oil is dropping out of Standard Play. Then I realized I was in denial.
Implications of the nerf
- No more AoE – I get why Blade Flurry was nerfed. The Southsea Deckhand + Tinker’s Oil + Blade Flurry attack was a bit strong on the face. But with this change, Rogues essentially have lost the main AoE spell. Fan of Knives is a fine card, but it will do 1 damage most of the time, sometimes 2. And against Control Decks, Fan of Knives is a 3-mana card to draw a card. Dark Iron Skulker is another AoE consideration, but it is useless against damaged minions, like a Patron Warrior deck. And as a 5-mana card, it is a worse version of Bloodmage Thalnos + FoK. Aggro Shaman is going to absolutely destroy Rogue.
- Soul of the class – “Soul of the card” is a term thrown around a lot to make fun of Ben Brode, but there is a class essence. And a hallmark of Rogue is cheap removal spells. By costing 4, Blade Flurry is a bit costly, especially given it costs 2 to charge up a dagger. Combos with other spells are much harder to pull off. With this cost, it is more like a Flamestrike, which doesn’t work with the Rogue fast playstyle.
- Most Rogue cards get worse – By costing 4, Blade Flurry makes every Combo card worse. From Eviscerate, to SI:7 Agent, to Kidnapper. But this cost also makes other less obvious cards worse. Violet Teacher, Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Malygos, etc all lose value from this nerf. Edwin VanCleef also got worse from this nerf, but got much better from Ironbeak Owl and Big Game Hunter nerfs. Even weapon buffs and weapons themselves are worse, as they are more single-target focused now.
- Forced playstyle change – A useful Rogue gameplay strategy is holding a charged weapon in order to wait for more enemy minions to get knocked down by Blade Flurry. Now weapon charges can be used more liberally. And I guess, a lesser chance of getting destroyed by Harrison Jones.
- A weak constructed class gets worse – For a long time now, Rogues have been one of the worst constructed classes. They are rarely seen in the ladder, and the only real viable deck is Oil Rogue, and a smattering of Malygos Rogues. Losing the only real AoE is pretty devastating. The impact in the arena makes is much lessened for a rare card with deck-dependent synergy, but it becomes a bad arena card as well. We can only hope for help with the rest of the expansion.
Good times with Blade Flurry
Quick hits about the other nerfs
- Ancient of Lore – a big hit to this card, it is rather overcosted now
- Force of Nature – this kills the Druid combo finally, but can be used for token Druid as well
- Keeper of the Grove – i think this card is rather overcosted now with the 2/2 body
- Ironbeak Owl – perfectly fine with this, can help diversity with Spellbreaker
- Big Game Hunter – i don’t think this is too bad, anti-tempoing 2.5 mana for hard removal is okay
- Hunter’s Mark – fine with this, somewhat overdue
- Knife Juggler – not much of a nerf at all really, still a really annoying card
- Leper Gnome – pretty good nerf
- Arcane Golem – Warsong’d
- Molten Giant – pretty good nerf
- Master of Disguise – sure, nerfing a unique card for the greater good of card creation