The lynchpin of the original deck was Warsong Commander. By giving Grim Patrons and Frothing Berserkers charge, it allowed the deck to kill the majority of opponents in just one turn—but required a pretty high skill level to pull it off.
The developer did eventually nerf Warsong after months of complaints. But despite this, senior game designer Mike Donais doesn’t agree that the deck was too strong. In fact, he thinks it wasn’t that dominating at all.
“We learned pretty easily that the deck had a 49 percent winrate at high levels,” Donais told the Daily Dot in an interview at Blizzcon. “The deck had a 46 percent winrate at mid and low levels. So the deck is a bad deck. In tournaments it has a 49 percent winrate, so it’s a bad deck across the board.”
While that may sound ridiculous, it’s actually consistent with data collected elsewhere. LiquidHearth data showed that between the releases of Blackrock Mountain and The Grand Tournament, Patron Warrior had a 49.74 percent winrate competitively. That’s 471 wins and 476 losses in tournament play.
Of course, Donias conceded that the winrate was likely affected by the rest of the meta being focused on beating Patron Warrior. And in the end, even though Blizzard wasn’t concerned by its winrate, the deck had to be stopped. Why? Because of the experience of the players who lost to it.
“We’re trying to figure out will people stop playing it because it’s a bad deck,” Donais said. “Or will they keep playing it and keep having trouble with it because it feels so big when you do win… it feels really bad to lose to, and it’s a bad experience to lose in one turn.”
Though the newer variant of Patron Warrior is proving to still be viable, the high skill and high reward charging version is now just a distant memory. But debate still rages over why, how, and whether it should have been nerfed in the first place.