26 April 2016 - 20:33

Psst, Want A Nerf? New Changes to Classic Set

An evaluation of Blizzard's changes to the Classic set in preparation for future expansions
Dot Esports

Blizzard finally announced the changes intended for the Classic set to open more variety in Standard and Wild formats.  These changes will occur alongside the release of Whispers of the Old Gods.  I wanted to take a moment to see how these changes might impact the competitive meta of Hearthstone.  Let's take a look at what Blizzard has in store for us:



This change is quite understandable.  Playing a 5/5 and drawing two cards is just too good of a play.  Ancient of Lore will still ensure that the Druid can cycle, but not as efficiently.  This will also allow Hearthstone's Design Team to create more draw engines for Druid without overloading the effect.  Ancient of Lore is still versatile enough to see play, but players might only add one copy depending on what deck they're creating.



Can't say nobody saw this coming.  Blizzard has had trouble balancing Charge (see pre Leeroy and Warsong Commander nerfs) and the Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo is no different.  I'm glad they decided to get rid of it because I felt like the Druid combo held deck building back for Druids.  Not to mention it forced players to keep their health constantly above 14 while also removing Druid's minions at the same time.  If Midrange Druid still exists after this patch, I don't think it has room for this iteration of Force of Nature (particularly in Wild).  This looks like a better fit for Token Druid.



I can't say I saw this coming, however I understand Blizzard's reasoning behind the change.  Keeper of the Grove is a staple in Druid decks providing excellent utility.  I think this change will promote using the 2 damage option earlier on in the game, and silence later on.  The lower health doesn't guarantee that Keeper of the Grove alone can take care of the board early on when using silence.  I suspect that players will still see this card, but not as often anymore.  It will not be an automatic include in Druid decks anymore.



I don't really have much to say about this change accept that it seems like another appropriate balanec to Silence once again.  I think players will think twice about adding Ironbeak Owl into their deck, but it'll still be that nice cheap silence minion.  It's still considerably better than most 3 mana cost neutral minions, so this guy will most likely still see play.  One copy of Ironbeak Owl will still fit in Aggro and Beast related decks.



Not at all phased by seeing this card here- Big Game Hunter must be in the upper echelon of most controversial cards in Hearthstone.  He's really good at what he does for a neutral minion and helps decks that lack efficient removal, which is both a blessing and a curse.  Blizzard went in the right direction with this card.  Allow the use of Big Game Hunter's removal, but make it so the player using him has less follow up afterwords.  I think we'll be seeing less of the big guy, but he's not going to be gone for good.  Big Game Hunter will still find himself in a decent amount of Control decks, especially if any of these new Old God legendaries see play.



This is a warranted change for Hunter's Mark.  Zero cost anything has the potential to be too efficient depending on the effect (see pre Soulfire nerf).  Hunter's Mark will still see its use, but Hunters will have to consider mana management before playing this sucker.  I still think Hunters will run two copies of the card.



The cries of a thousand Rogue players echoed throughout the world when Blizzard revealed this change.  Blade Flurry has been such a staple in the Rogue class providing sufficient board clear and burst damage to opponents' heroes.  A lot of players are skeptical because Rogue has stayed generally viable due to its high spell damage output.  Rogue decks outside of this type have not been incredibly successful.  However, I think this will be a healthy change for Rogue in the long run.  It will allow Blizzard to add more weapon synergy or better weapons to Rogue without having to worry about the massive burst potential from Blade Flurry.  I still think this card will still see play in spell heavy Rogue decks since Preparation still exists.  Players will have to be more conscious about when to use Blade Flurry and not throw it out all willy-nilly.  I expect if Blade Flurry does see play in decks there will only be one copy of it.  A more control oriented deck might run two to add more board clear.



Not too much has changed with Knife Juggler.  Blizzard only reduced overall damage of the card itself, but not the potential damage output of his effect.  Players are still going to combo it with Muster for Battle, Imp-losion, Unleash the Hounds, etc.  It will still be that minion that goes well in most aggressive forms of decks.  Knife Juggler will just rely a bit more on friendly minions to get the job done like always.



I am so happy this happened.  I always thought that Leper Gnome just did way too much damage early on in the game.  This change makes it so Leper Gnome is still that pesky little runt, but his overall damage output is kept in line.  Similar to some of the minion changes I think players will still see Leper Gnome just not as frequent.  I have a sinking feeling more Argent Squires will see play because of this change, but that's just me.



Arcane Golem is used so much as a finisher that its terrible side effect is often neglected.  Now that Blizzard has eliminated the charge aspect players will have to consider the battlecry much more before playing him.  Personally I think this card will become unplayable after this change.  I don't see a world in which this card is played unless Blizzard develops cards that punish opponents for having more mana crystals.  This is the same reason why players don't use Dancing Swords.  Actively giving your opponent some sort of advantage is never good.



Not a surprise to see one of the Giants from the Classic set here.  A big worry amongst players (including myself) was that Handlock and Renolock would become the strongest decks in the Standard meta.  I can't count the amount of times I played two Molten Giants at the same time for zero mana.  The higher cost should do the following: reduce the amount of times double Molten Giant is played and significantly cut the combinations players can pull with discounted Molten Giants.  Molten Giant will still be an integral part of Handlock and Renolock.  Players may opt to only put one Molten Giant in Handlock decks, but even then I still think adding both copies are fine.  This nerf may give Frost Giant a spot in Handlock and Renolock.  Also I wish to remind everyone that Holy Wrath received a buff thanks to the increased mana cost of Molten Giant.  Thanks Ben Brode.



Yet another Rogue class card shockingly added to the list.  Hearthstone developers deemed this card as a "design obstacle" and upon closer inspection I can see why.  Permanent stealth is pretty difficult to manage without AOE damage from effects or spells.  The card Animated Armor was meant to be a neutral card, but turned into a Mage class card because of Master of Disguise.  Giving other minions stealth that are not meant to have it is a huge problem and Blizzard sought to rectify it.  Imagine if this card was cheaper and had the same effect when Miracle Rogue was running rampant.  Master of Disguise has not seen competitive play at all, but if it ever does I would like to see it used in a balanced manner.


That wraps up all the changes Blizzard have in store for the Classic set in the foreseeable future.  I believe Blizzard hit all the right bases with most of these changes.  The only card I think they missed the mark on was Knife Juggler.  Maybe they like what he provides for Aggro decks, but as of right now there are not too many options besides him.  I'm excited to see how these changes impact Standard and Wild.


About the Author- I am a writer that follows competitive esports such as Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. Melee.  Follow me @Kenny_Humiston on Twitter for content updates.

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