Biggest winners and losers of Hearthstone’s upcoming balance changes

Hopefully your main deck dodged the nerf bat.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

If you play Control Mage and haven’t seen the upcoming Hearthstone balance changes, then you should look away now to spare yourself the trauma.

Several nerfs were revealed yesterday that are intended to target some of the most powerful decks in the game. Blizzard said it felt like making these changes would result in a better ladder experience for players across the board. But there are still some obvious winners and losers when it comes to which decks will be affected by these changes.


Control Mage

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Control Mage is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons why this round of nerfs came about. For months now, different variations of Control Mage have found a dominant position in the meta. After Saviors of Uldum went live, Mage became even more powerful. The primary package that makes the current version of Control Mage tick includes Khadgar, Conjurer’s Calling, and a Mountain Giant. Khadgar allows you to use Conjurer’s Calling to summon even more minions with the same cost as your Giant.

Blizzard felt that Conjurer’s Calling allowed Mages to sometimes amass a board of powerful minions at a point in the game when it was impossible for opponents to have effective answers. Control Mage could now become less frustrating to play against while also remaining viable.

Control Warrior

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If Dr. Boom was truly a mad genius, then he’s probably ascended to Incredible Hulk levels of rage. Since Dr. Boom’s inception, many in the community have felt that he was a bit much. As if Dr. Boom’s alternating Hero Powers weren’t strong enough, he also gives your Mechs Rush for the remainder of the game. Boom awards seven armor on the turn he enters the field and pre-nerf only costs seven mana.

Blizzard says it still wants Dr. Boom Mad Genius to be an option for Control Warriors looking to close out games, but it was unhappy with how early players were able to use it. Although Boom’s mana cost has been increased, many still expect the deck to dominate and would prefer to see the card moved to the Hall of Fame.

Combo Priest

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Unfortunately for Priest players, it looks like a pair of their extra arms just got cut off. Blizzard said it wanted to counter how powerful Extra Arms became after Saviors of Uldum was released. The card was originally buffed during the Rise of the Mech event in order to give Priest more powerful early-game options.

The hope is Extra Arms will remain powerful, but won’t allow Priest to create overwhelming early-game combos.


Highlander Hunter

Highlander Hunter is already one of the best decks in the game. Unlike Highlander Mage, which just got a slight nerf via Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, Highlander Hunter was untouched. Highlander Mage may not be as big of a loser as some of the decks mentioned here, but it definitely isn’t a winner like its Hunter cousin.

Highlander Hunter will be able to stand an even bigger chance against decks that were previously an issue, like Control Mage. Expect to see a spike in Highlander Hunter after the nerfs go live.


The Paladin class as a whole will benefit greatly from all of these nerfs. Part of what held many Paladin decks back was their inability to deal with Mage and Warrior’s insanely good mid-game. Now that decks like Quest and Secret Paladin will have more time to build up their gameplan, you can expect to see more of Finley and his mummy arsenal.

Quest Shaman

Much like Paladin, the Shaman class hasn’t been terrible in Saviors of Uldum, but it struggles against the mid-game of Warrior and Mage. Quest Shaman is potentially the best deck the class has to offer at the moment and now it’ll only get better.

When Quest Shaman is able to make it to the mid-game without spending too many resources, Heart of Vir’naal can be unstoppable. The improved Hero Power causes your Battlecries to trigger twice during the turn you activate it. Decks like Control Mage and Control Warrior were usually in too good of a spot for Vir’naal to matter by the time Shaman players could fulfill the Quest. Now that it’ll take both Mage and Warrior longer to set up, Quest Shaman will have an easier time throwing pressure at them.