**The following article was written by Tyrant Gaming Hearthstone Pro Alex Zhu. Alex has been around the block more than a few times with Hearthstone, and thinks the game would improve greatly next rotation with the following changes.**
When Blizzard introduced Standard for the very first time, the Naaxramas Adventure and Goblins Vs. Gnomes Expansion rotated out. In addition to the removal of these two sets, Blizzard announced nerfs to many polarizing cards. Overall, the nerfs they applied were very good and made the game more balanced.
When League of Explorers, Blackrock Mountain, and The Grand Tournament rotate out of Standard in early 2017, Blizzard should also consider nerfing a few cards.
Ben Brode, lead designer of the Hearthstone team, has stated they don’t like making changes to cards very often. However, they should heavily consider balancing a few polarizing cards.
Thing From Below (Whispers of the Old Gods)
Thing from Below is currently a staple in any Shaman archetype. This card is so good that it was ran in aggro variants of Shaman even though that archetype played very few Totem synergies and Sir Finley, which has negative synergy with Thing from Below. This card allows for huge swing turns in the mid-game. Shaman, already equipped with arguably the best Area of Effect (AoE) in the game, can just AoE an opponents board and then drop very cheap Thing from Belows to stabilize. In addition, the “Taunt” mechanism that comes with the card makes it even more powerful. A good way to balance this card would be to change the body text to:
“While this card is in your hand, it costs (1) less for each Totem you’ve summoned.”
This would obviously decrease the power level of the card but it would likely still see play. There is already a card with a similar effect (Nerubian Prophet), which reduces in Mana cost for every turn it is in your hand.
Barnes (One Night in Karazhan)
Barnes is the definition of a “high roll” card in Hearthstone. Playing this card on turn 4 can sometimes just end the game as it can produce very powerful results from its Battlecry. The problem with this card is it has the potential to create a huge swing very early on in the game and often times, opponents don’t have the tools early on to deal with the swing. All in all, Barnes takes a lot of skill out of the game.
Another problem with this card is that it’s a neutral card. Ben Brode has specifically talked about how making overpowered neutral cards is a mistake because it means the card is auto-include in virtually every deck (i.e. Dr. Boom). Since its release, Barnes has seen play in almost every class. Although not as polarizing and auto-included as Dr. Boom was, Barnes is a very poorly designed card that needs change. A good way to balance this card would be to change the body text to:
“Battlecry: Summon a 1/1 copy of a random minion in your hand.”
This change would make Barnes worse strictly because off the mulligan, you won’t keep minions in your hand that are good to get off the Barnes Battlecry. So, if you intend to play Barnes on curve, you are likely to not get a good result off of its Battlecry.
If this nerf were to be made, Barnes would probably be too bad to play in any competitive deck, however this is a much-needed nerf.
Arcane Giant (One Night in Karazhan)
Similar to Thing from Below, Arcane Giant allows for huge swing turns later on in the game. It is currently only viable in Druid archetypes, due to the classes cheap-costing spells. Often times, this card will end up costing 0 Mana before it hits the field. In addition, like Barnes, Arcane Giant is a neutral card, which is a cause for concern.
A good way to balance this card would be to change the body text to:
“While this card is in your hand, it costs (1) less for each spell you’ve cast.”
This change would be very similar to the proposed change to Thing from Below. Unlike Thing from Below however, the card would probably not see play anymore but given that it is a neutral card, this nerf would create a lot more design space for future releases.