Back in January, Hearthstone introduced a balance patch that saw Unleash the Hounds get a significant buff while everything around it was getting fairly serious Nerfs. What was once a 4-mana throwaway spell had its cost reduced by half, bringing its power level up significantly. With the synergies available to beast-summoning Hunters, this was a huge boon for the class, and Hunters took off.
Deep down, I think we all knew at the time that this was pushed too far. It’s almost to the point of being unfair, or at the very least un-fun. Blizzard has recently come out to confirm such, and announce a nerf of the spell so annoying, only a Hunter could love it.
The reasoning behind the nerf is that it punishes people for playing minions. If you’ve ever played Hearthstone, though, you’ll realize how bad that is for the game. Hearthstone is a game that’s almost entirely about its creatures. It’s virtually impossible to win a game without summoning creatures, and, at least to my knowledge, there are no creature-free decks in the competitive scene. Creatures are what make the game fun and interactive, since you don’t have Magic‘s Instants that allow you to interact on your opponent’s turn. “When playing against Hunter decks, you may feel punished too much for playing minions,” said Hearthstone Community Manager Zeriyah in the forum post announcing the nerf.
I, for one, welcome the change. I even predicted that Unleash the Hounds would eventually be brought up to three mana when the buff originally hit. But there are a few other cards I’d like to see get hit with the nerf bat, each for its own set of reasons. Without further ado, here are a few Hearthstone cards that could desperately use a good nerf.
This little guy is so innocuous, it’s almost weird to include him, but once you’ve seen him in action, it’s pretty apparent that he’s got a little too much going for him. Imagine summoning Leeroy Jenkins while your opponent has Knife Juggler out. You summon two whelps for your opponent, and he procs twice, hurling a pair of knives at Leeroy’s face before he even gets a chance to attack.
Likewise, imagine you’ve just summoned a Sunwalker. She’s sitting pretty with her Divine Shield. At least she was until your opponent summoned a Knife Juggler and another minion. Ping That’s the sound of your hopes and dreams being shattered by a knife flying across the board and taking out your Divine Shield.
Given that he’s a 3/2 for 2 mana already, his damage-dealing upside just seems a little heavy. I think this guy could use a slight nerfing, although he’s deservedly at the bottom of the list of candidates. Even just making him a 2/2 instead would do the trick. After all, they did far worse to poor Nat Pagle.
Murlocs aren’t really the thing they used to be, but they’re still a serious nuisance when they show up. The problem with Murlocs is that they’re better the fewer Murloc decks there are around, since most of the downside of playing them is that they buff ALL Murlocs, even your opponent’s.
Murloc Warleader is a 3/3 for 3, which isn’t great, but it’s perfectly respectable. The problem is that his +2/+1 buff for other Murlocs puts them into seriously dangerous territory. Even if you just play one per turn -something that’s hugely unlikely, given the nature of Murlocs – he’ll be adding a total of seven power to the board when he lands on turn three. That’s HUGE.
Given that the other tribal deck, Pirates, offers only a +1/+1 buff, and there are fewer of them to begin with, the Murloc lord should definitely be brought in line with its scurvy-suffering counterpart. Don’t get me wrong, I love Murlocs. But fair is fair.
4) Savage Roar
I wasn’t entirely sold on this inclusion until I started doing the math. The Mage’s Pyroblast at 10 mana is already almost too much. Savage Roar, however, when you toss it into a swarm deck, which floods the board with little creatures, is offering significantly more efficiency. For three mana, you can turn a bunch of harmless 1/1 dorks into a veritable death squad.
When you combine it with Force of Nature, you’re looking at a devastating 14 damage (including two from your hero) for only nine mana. That makes it difficult to stay in the “safe zone” for health total when you’re facing down a Druid. That’s not even to mention the corner case where Innervate is in hand. That allows a double Savage Roar, kicking the face-smashing damage total to 22!
Leeroy, Leeroy, Leeroy. I can see how this guy might be underrated by some players, but he sees a ton of play, and there’s good reason for that. His six power is enough to take down virtually any Taunt guy, freeing up the rest of your board to swing for the face. If there’s not a Taunt guy out, of course, he’s just a nasty six immediate damage with only a minor downside.
Team him up with something like Cleave to clear out the minions he drops, and he might even stick around for a turn. He pairs up with Hunters supremely well because you can follow him up with an Unleash the Hounds and get two bonus puppies. When you’re synergizing with the Starving Buzzard, that’s two extra draws, which is really big.
But the nastiest use of Leeroy Jenkins is in Rogue decks. There’s this thing called Shadowstep that jives incredibly well with the Charge ability. With a pair of Shadowsteps and a Leeroy Jenkins in hand, you’re looking at 18 immediate damage. You’ll even have a couple mana left over, allowing you to buff him with Cold Blood, boosting the damage to 22.
Faceless Manipulator might be a bit of a contentious one, especially ranked this high on the need-to-nerf list, but I’ve been running two Manipulators for ages because they’re just insanely powerful in virtually any situation. All you need for this guy to be amazing is for anyone to have a great minion out. Your opponent just slammed a Ragnaros? Copy him first, then Hex him, and ride that value train to victory.
This guy is particularly nasty because he only costs 5, which allows you to copy something twice in one turn. I’ve lived the dream on many occasions where I land a Ragnaros, and copy him twice the next turn. That’s just an insane amount of damage, and there’s virtually nothing anybody can do right now to not lose to that.
Of course, it’s not just Ragnaros. Since Faceless Manipulator copies the current information about the minion, you can buff the crap out of an otherwise mediocre minion, then copy his new buffed self with the Manipulator. Casting Windfury and Ancestral Spirit on an Earth Elemental, then copying it with a Faceless Manipulator is a little bit ridiculous. Copying it twice? That’s just wrong.
Ragnaros the Firelord is the finisher of choice for a whole slew of top decks out there, as well as myriad less-competitive builds. He impacts the board immediately by dealing 8 damage randomly to an enemy, which is enough to take out 90% of Minions, and is otherwise a huge chunk of the opponent’s life total. When he connects with a minion, he takes no damage, leaving him just as powerful. When he connects with the face, it’s more than 25% of their starting life total.
He’s one of the few legendaries that doesn’t mind being silenced, too, so without some kind of hard removal, you’re going to be in for a tough match the moment he lands. About half of the classes in Hearthstone lack hard removal, so they’re going to typically be trading several smaller minions just to get him off the board.
Ragnaros just sees way too much play for my liking. He’s basically an auto-include in all but the rushiest of rush decks, and if you don’t have an efficient way to remove him, you’re in a deep trouble the moment he lands. He’s also the only Golden Legendary I’ve ever pulled which means I’m looking at a crap ton of dust should he ever get nerfed.
That’s my list, but what do you think? Take to the forums to discuss your own nerf (or buff!) suggestions!