Level Up and Wild Growth highlight the first Hearthstone balance changes of Rastakhan’s Rumble

Many players were surprised that Blizzard decided to make card changes so quickly.

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Blizzard has a gift for Hearthstone players just in time for the holidays. Wrapped up in a new patch that dropped on Dec. 19, Blizzard has nerfed some of the most overpowered decks in the game.

Many players were surprised that Blizzard decided to make card changes so early into the Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion. The Hearthstone development team explained its reasoning in the patch notes by saying it made the move so early in order to get player feedback.

The team got its wish, too, since the official Hearthstone forums are already overflowing with feedback. While many players are happy about the changes, some still wonder why certain decks, like Secret Hunter, haven’t been touched.

While some changes included in this round of nerfs were focused on balancing specific decks, others were aimed at fixing an entire class. The Druid class received a nerf to two of its most prominent cards: Nourish and Wild Growth.

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Wild Growth was a two-cost card that allowed the player to gain an empty mana crystal, but it will now cost three mana. Nourish was a five-cost card that let a player either gain two mana crystals or draw three cards, but it will now cost six mana. Blizzard explained this change in the patch notes by indicating that Nourish and Wild Growth have been in every mid-range or combo Druid deck since the cards came into existence.

The development team further explained that these cards being so powerful could stifle creativity within the Druid class, since players can feel like they need these cards no matter what. While Druid players probably won’t be very happy about these changes, anyone who has played against a Druid that had double their mana on turn five is probably stoked.

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Odd Paladin players may finally realize what it’s like to feel vulnerable since the deck received a long-awaited nerf. Level Up is potentially the most relevant card in Odd Paladin and is regularly used as its win condition. The card was a five-cost spell that gave your Silver Hand Recruits two additional Attack and Health, as well as Taunt. The card still has the same effect, but the mana cost has been increased to six. This means Odd Paladin can no longer run the card because it can only uses cards with odd mana costs due to Baku the Mooneater.

Blizzard explained this decision by noting Odd Paladin has been the most played deck since it’s introduction with The Witchwood expansion. The development team hopes that by removing Level Up from Odd Paladin, the deck will play closer to the way it was originally intended to: As a board control aggro deck. While Odd Paladin players are no doubt unhappy, the rest of the player base is likely thrilled with the change.

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Saronite Chain Gang, a four-cost 2/3 with a Battlecry that summons a copy of itself, had its card text changed. The card originally used the words “summon a copy of this minion,” and that’s been replaced with “summon another Saronite Chain Gang.” This card was regularly used in Shudderwock Shaman to help amass an army of Shudderwocks. Blizzard explained that by making this change, it hopes it’ll be more difficult to play multiple Shudderwocks, since it wants Shudderwock to be a powerful one-turn effect instead of an infinite one. This is another change that people who used the deck won’t like, but others who played against it will love.

Playing against Shudderwock could make a player feel powerless because once the opponent dropped Shudderwock, there was very little chance of getting back in the game. Now that Shaman can’t make infinite Shudderwocks, players should have a fighting chance against the deck.

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The last card that was changed in this round of nerfs was Leeching Poison. Kingsbane Rogue players probably turned in their newly-formed graves after reading the changes to this card. Leeching Poison was originally a two-cost spell card that gave your weapon Lifesteal. This meant Kingsbane players could basically have Lifesteal on their weapon for the entire game. And Blizzard apparently wasn’t okay with this.

Leeching Poison is now a one-cost spell card, but only gives your weapon Lifesteal for one turn. Blizzard explained its reasoning by saying it felt the infinite Lifesteal on Kingsbane resulted in Rogues having an endgame with too few weaknesses. Blizzard’s philosophy was that Rogue shouldn’t be a class with endless healing effects.

From a fantasy and gameplay perspective, this makes sense. Rogues in World of Warcraft are all about sneaking around and smashing your enemy when they least expect it. Kingsbane Rogue with infinite Lifesteal wasn’t sneaky at all. It was in your face and frustrating to play against.

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The good news about these nerfs, regardless of what deck you play, is that none of the cards that were changed were from the new expansion. Since players are primarily spending money and dust on new cards, hopefully this didn’t cause anyone to waste much of either. If you play Druid, Paladin, Shaman, or Rogue, don’t despair just yet. Take some time to learn the intended playstyles of these classes, and give Blizzard’s balance changes a chance.