This week gave us a look at the much anticipated nerfs to cards in the Classic Set. The nerfs, and the exit of GvG and Naxx, herald the coming of Standard/Wild Formats in Hearthstone. While there has been plenty of dialogue on whether the nerfs were successful or not on the cards affected, let’s take a moment to talk about the cards that everyone thought would be nerfed but somehow avoided the swings of the nerf bat. Some of these are cards that I had heard rumor, from reliable sources, were being evaluated. I have also added a couple of cards that I thought would be nerfed as well.
[Tirion Fordring] – I guess putting his faith in the Light kept him clear of the nerf bat, because this Paladin Legendary escaped unscathed. I believe players will see even more of him now, as I believe the games in Hearthstone will slow a bit and that aggro will be harder to play now. With changes to the two most popular minions that silence when they come into play, and the addition of several new and deadly [Big Game Hunter] targets, [Tirion Fordring] should benefit from a lack of deck space in opposing players decks. If you don’t already have him, and you like to play Paladin, you should consider crafting him now. I believe he will single-handedly pivot ladder games in your favor in the first few months of Standard, which will eventually draw a nerf, in which you will get full refund value for him at that time.
[Divine Favor] – In a game where card advantage is a major factor in whether you win or lose, this card is rediculously overpowered at just 3 mana. I guess it was nerfed indirectly by the changes to other cards, but Paladin can still run a fairly effective aggro deck. In those matches against a slower opponent, it will give Paladin a significant resource advantage, so I am in the camp that believes this card should be a little more punishing to play. This card needs to be more in line with [Sprint] and [Arcane Intellect].
[Doomhammer] – No changes to this card surprised a lot of people, especially with Twilight Hammer coming into the mix. While the [Doomhammer] is powerful, it’s overload and the fact that is shares the same casting cost as Twilight Hammer may be an indirect nerf of sorts as now players will have to evaluate which hammer works best with their deck concept. The potent combination of [Rockbiter Weapon]/[Doomhammer] burst that forces players to have to deal with overload versus the steady damage of Twilight Hammer which summons a 4/2 Elemental when is breaks. I think this puts Shaman in a very good position.
[Savage Roar] – Many players believed that Blizzard would nerf this spell along with [Force of Nature] and were surprised when the dust settled and the spell was untouched. Personally, I would have liked to see this increase in mana cost (along with [Bloodlust]) to make it harder to work into a tempo play, forcing players to be careful about when to use it. In the end, Blizzard’s goal was to quell the whining over the turn 9 combo, so they instead nerfed [Force of Nature] into a virtually useless card.
[Alexstrasza] – Well, all of the Dragons actually, but it was widely rumored that the Lifebringer was firmly in the nerf bat’s crosshairs. I actually never thought she needed to be nerfed. If you want to learn to play Hearthstone at a high level, you need to be able to play around cards with momentum swinging effects. Only time will tell whether she is too powerful in Standard, but for now the 8/8 will continue to make players decide on whether to use [Big Game Hunter] on her, or wait for the follow-up play (which is usually more deadly). Either way, she absorbs resources and that makes her valuable and viable in a lot of deck concepts.
It’s important to remember that Blizzard will still evaluate Classic Cards impact on the new meta, and can still nerf any of these at any time without warning, so this last round of nerfs isn’t exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. With another adventure and expansion coming out in the next 7 months, after the release of Old Gods, it has never been more important for Blizzard to keep ahead of any balance issues that the new introductions might create. So I don’t think this will be the last nerfs to the Classic Set that we see this year.