Whispers of the Old Gods coming soon, nerfs to cards we’ve been asking for, it’s a good day to be a Hearthstone player. Tyrant Gaming Hearthstone pro's Brandon Huynh and Alex Zhu talk the recent changes and how it will affect the game.
Ancient of Lore:
Ancient of Lore no longer draws two cards, just one. This is actually the second change to Ancient of Lore. Previously, Ancient of Lore used to heal for 8 health rather than the 5. That change wasn’t that big of a deal and left this card as one of the best druid cards in the game.
Ancient of Lore was a huge draw engine where druids often found themselves out of resources early because of wild growth and innervate. The change to draw only one card is a huge hindrance to that game plan. The 5/5 stats are underwhelming instead; the draw one card doesn’t make up for it. Sure, the card still has some flexibility, but I don’t expect this to see play much after the changes.
This is a huge setback for the card as its stats are among the lowest for a 7 mana card. Card draw is extremely important in Hearthstone. If you were to value 1 card draw at 1.5 mana (i.e. Arcane Intellect), then before the nerf, Ancient of Lore was essentially a 4 mana 5/5. A 4 mana 5/5 is more than playable whereas after the nerf, it becomes essentially a 5.5 mana 5/5. Those stats can be compared to Pit Fighter’s, which is a 5 mana 5/6. Pit Fighter currently doesn’t see any play in competitive Hearthstone, which leads me to believe Ancient of Lore won’t see play anymore. However, the healing flexibility that Ancient of Lore brings makes the card intriguing and it could still see play as a result.
Force of Nature:
The combo is dead! Force of nature is reduced to 5 mana, the Treants no longer have charge, but they don’t die at the end of the turn. It’s actually another card that has been changed multiple times, it used to just cost 5 mana.
The formerly frustrating force of nature savage roar burst for 14 damage is something you shouldn’t see very often anymore. The change is designed to give you an option to prevent the burst by clearing the Treants before they can attack with the savage roar buff. My thoughts on where druid is heading is the old ramp druid decks where this card won’t see much play. I don’t plan on getting rid of this card yet though, as I still think it has some potential to be played in some token druid decks.
Keeper of the Grove:
Keeper of the Grove has a stat reduction from 4 health down to 2 health.
I first initially didn’t think this change was too bad. You don’t tend to play it for the stats anyways. But the 2/4 body kept it sustainable on boards. Spellbreaker may just be better than this card after this changes. I am not 100% certain, but I think this card falls out of the competitive scene completely.
After getting nerfed, Keeper of the Grove compares to two different cards: Spellbreaker and Stormpike Commando. Both Spellbreaker and Stormpike Commando don’t see play in competitive Hearthstone. While Keeper of the Grove maintains its flexibility, both of its Choose One options are worse than Spellbreaker and Stormpike Commando. I have a tough time seeing this card having success in the future.
Ironbeak Owl has its mana cost increased from 2 to 3.
I expected this change to happen and it’s fairly costed. Ironbeak Owl was the silence minion of choice in most decks. It’s flexibility to be mana efficient was why this card was so great in all decks. I don’t expect this as much in aggressive decks anymore in standard, but I think it will still be in most of the control decks.
The main reason for this nerf is, like Big Game Hunter, Ironbeak Owl presents an extremely efficient and cheap way to counter your opponent. Your opponent could spend their whole turn playing a threat and on your turn, you could easily silence it for 2 mana and still play a threat of your own. Now that Ironbeak Owl costs 3 mana, it’s not as efficient and cheap to use, however, most decks that run owl should retain this card because the silence effect is still very strong.
Big Game Hunter:
Big Game Hunter has its mana cost increased from 3 to 5.
We all expected a change to Big Game Hunter, I just was never sure what to expect. It needed to be changed. Killing a card that likely took your opponent's full turn to play for only 3 mana, and still get a 4/2 out of it was too big of a tempo swing and won so many games. The change still keeps the card in the game and I expect it to still see play with the meta in standard looking like it will have a lot of Big Game Hunter targets.
Hunter’s Mark had its mana cost increased from 0 to 1. This is another card that has been changed prior. It used to only change the minion’s health to 1 until the end of the turn.
I think this will catch a lot of people off guard as well since it wasn’t one people were outraged about but it’s a good change. Hunter’s Mark even at 1 cost is still one of the strongest cards in the game. This card was just too big of a tempo swing at 0 mana. I still actually think it will be amazingly strong in a meta that is expected to be slower and have a ton of big minions.
Blade Flurry had its mana cost increased from 2 to 4 and only deals damage to enemy minions.
I am really sad about this one. Blade Flurry was definitely a strong card and was expected to be changed, but these changes make the card unplayable. I am unsure how Rogue will look in standard since a lot of deathrattle cards are leaving the format, so I will be trying to get my golden Rogue asap.
Blizzard felt the existence of this card hindered their ability to create more weapon buffs for the Rogue class. Although I agree with them, they really brought the hammer down on this card and severely weakened it.
They increased its mana cost from 2 to 4 and the weapon damage now only targets enemy minions. I would have liked to see only one of these changes occur because without Blade Flurry and Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil, rogue becomes by far the worst class.
Knife Juggler had its attack reduced from 3 to 2.
Not quite the change I was hoping for. We were all ready to rejoice with the knife juggler changes coming, but left quite disappointed. I do realize that in standard, a lot of token producing cards are gone, this card was good prior to those cards, and will still be good after the stat reduction.
Even more disappointing than the nerf to Blade Flurry is the nerf to Knife Juggler. This nerf is simply not enough. Knife Juggler is very unhealthy for Hearthstone in so many ways. It is so powerful that it decides the outcome of most of the games it is played in. It is ridiculous how a couple RNG flips can decide who wins and this is ultimately unhealthy for competitive Hearthstone. The “nerf” is almost irrelevant and this card will still be played in every single deck that currently runs it.
Leper Gnome had its attack reduced from 2 to 1. This card was previously changed due to lack of play, and it’s being changed back to it’s original form.
Leper Gnome’s reduction in attack is the exact change I thought would happen to the card if it was going to be changed. It’s their attempt to slow down the game play as this card was seen in every aggressive deck. This change will cause more variety in the choices of 1 drops in those decks, but I still believe Leper Gnome isn’t going away completely.
Arcane Golem had its health increased from 2 to 4 and no longer is a charge minion.
This change caught me off guard. Arcane Golem was used in aggressive decks and as a burst combo to hit your opponent for a big finishing blow. I feel this card is actually unplayable now, while those other decks still have other options like Wolfrider, Argent Horserider, etc.
Arcane Golem is currently run in two types of decks: fast and aggressive decks, and combo decks. I felt Arcane Golem was completely fine in aggressive decks. However, I believe Blizzard made this nerf because of the combo decks that run it. Before the nerf, this card’s Battlecry was insignificant because combo decks wouldn’t be playing it until turn 10 or later. As a result, Blizzard decided to completely change the card.
Aggressive decks shouldn’t lose too much from this nerf as those decks still have other great options at the 3 mana slot. However, this card becomes unplayable now. The card reminds me of Ogre Brute as both have the same stats and mana cost. Ogre Brute currently sees no competitive play which leads me to believe Arcane Golem won’t either.
Molten Giant had its mana cost increased from 20 to 25.
This change was needed, but may have been a bit too much in my opinion. To be able to play this for 0 mana, you have to be at 5 or lower health. I believe Molten Giant won’t see as much play now but will definitely be in some niche decks. It’s still a strong card in many Reno Jackson decks as you’ll be using your health as a resource.
Master of Disguise:
Master of Disguise now only gives your friendly minion stealth until your next turn.
Many people will question why this card was changed when it saw so little play. This card’s former text prevented blizzard from producing many cards due to the potential of just keeping the minion hidden until ready. The change is minor, but just something Blizzard needed to do so they could have for flexibility producing future cards.