Social media has been an impetus for forcing change in the world, and it seems to be happening more and more now. While Twitter and YouTube have been the vehicles for change in real-life events, Reddit has been the weapon of choice in Wizard Poker. The hive of Hearthstone Reddit has become the de facto voice for the Hearthstone community, and the devs claim to monitor it all the time. (I got most of my page views from posting on Reddit!) With that said, it’s not surprising that today’s nerfs (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/20303031/upcoming-balance-changes-update-613-9-28-2016) happened.
Hey, we’re also in the Information Meta! While it may not be easy to quantify what you’re facing in Ranked. Shaman has skyrocketed to the top of the meta, well ahead of the nearest classes. It has been dominant since Old Gods put things together, and Karazhan made the class more well-rounded. Warrior was once top dog, and was brought down a bit by the Hunter rise. That in turn, shot the Shamans back up. Mage and Druid seem to be the “healthy” meta classes, while Warlock has fallen. Paladin, Rogue, and Priest have been in the cellar.
Quick takes on the changes
- Rockbiter Weapon – A little torn about this one, given I won’t think of Rockbiter not being 1-mana. The pressure to combine it with Doomhammer likely did it in, but honestly when has a Shaman deck not run 2x Rockbiter? Opens up room for spell Shaman.
- Tuskarr Totemic – This one is really well-deserved. Getting the result of Totem Golem and Mana Tide Totem is virtually 5 mana of things for 3 mana.
- Call of the Wild – This one doesn’t seem too significant at first, but think about having 2 9-mana cards in your deck. Seems a bit heavy, though the card is too good still to not run 1 copy.
- Execute – I think this is way overdue. Warrior removal is so good, this shouldn’t hurt too much. Honestly, Warriors often have the leftover mana to armor up.
- Charge – While requiring more setup than Leeroy + Shadowstep, 20+ damage in 1 turn is still not very fun or interactive. This is consistent with the anti-charge philosophy the game is heading.
- Abusive Sergeant – Like Leper Gnome, Abusive Sergeant is long known as an Aggro deck announcer. While this target may be for Shamans, it does hurt Zoolock decks. Could aggro decks now consider Lance Carrier?
- Yogg-Saron – Stop the presses!
The devs floated some ideas about how to deal with Yogg in some recent interviews, given the outcome of competitive tournament games being decided by him. There was talk of the card being outright removed for tournament play, relegated to Wild permanently, or nerfs. The Yogg changes are two-fold, stopping the stream of spells when Yogg dies, and adding Overload on certain Shaman spells. I have no quantitative evidence, but it seems like Yogg kills himself over 50% of the time. So, we’re in for much shorter Yogg spell barrages. To use a football analogy, Yogg was always a hail mary pass, with a very strong-armed quarterback, and tall receivers. Or maybe like a 55-60 yard field goal. Now Yogg is more like trying to score a touchdown on laterals with the whole team. This primarily will hurt Druid, given it is a near staple for the class, and to a smaller extent Mage. On the plus side, a Yogg story is going to be more epic, and not happening a decent amount of the time.
This is a fair point, in that the “everyone” that wanted these changes are the vocal minority. Points have been made that most people are more casual players. Hearthstone Reddit represents a minority that is more competitive (and possibly more immature) than the average player. The ban list cuts down on randomness in Tuskarr and Yogg, which are simply rewarding lesser players with wins over better ones. On the other hand, Yogg is much less fun, with spells ending sooner.
Reynad’s Hot Take
Reynad has never been afraid to take unpopular positions, and that continued today. While the majority of folks liked the nerf list, he didn’t think it did much.
Is he right or wrong? The claim that Shaman got a buff is odd at first, but check this out.
Shaman fails against Warrior are no secret, and there is a little red in those matchups. Control Shaman is pretty bad against Yogg Druid and Tempo Mage, so that get’s a bump. The dominant decks in Aggro and Midrange Shaman were kept in check by Control/Dragon Warrior, so that is probably what Reynad is talking about. Of course, we have to consider how the 2 nerfs on Shaman would affect matchups against other classes in this grid.
Rogue didn’t get touched (thank the Old Gods) so overall, this is fairly ho-hum. Shaman is obviously dominant, and the feedback has caused real change. I think a few changes were overdue and necessary. I’m glad this will shut people up for a little while, until there is the next thing to complain about.
Extra: Phrases to Use for Future Hearthstone Memeing
With Keeping Hearthstone Fresh in mind
too oppressive to our players
improve the Standard format in a more permanent way
the most fun type of randomness
we intend to tone down its power enough that it won’t be an automatic inclusion in every Hunter deck and overshadow other strategies
closer in power level to other existing and future removal tools
We’ve redesigned the card Charge in a way that provides opportunities for minion combat, but does not enable strategies that intend to win without allowing opponents to interact.