Hello guys, Giordy here!
We’re all shocked at the breaking news regarding Hearthstone! On September 11th Blizzard announced two upcoming “balance changes” (also known as nerfs): leeroy-jenkins‘s mana cost is being raised to 5, and Hunter’s starving-buzzard‘s mana cost is being raised to 5 as well (the card stats being changed to 3 attack and 2 health). Here you can find the announcement.
As a Hearthstone player and fanatic, I have to say that I was both shocked and pleased by said news: on one hand, these changes were needed. All I can say is that when playing Hearthstone lately, I would face 6 hunters out of 10 players, and that meant that something needed to be done. Starving Buzzard was a way too powerful draw engine in a deck that already had some draw potential (flare, tracking, webspinner). On the other hand, though, a 5-mana buzzard means that the card is going to be totally unplayable, and that is not right, either. I feel like a 4-mana buzzard would have been a little kinder on hunter lovers.
Someone might ask: is Rexxar dead? I don’t think so: I believe that Naxxramas benefitted the hunter class immensely, giving it some much-needed low-cost minions/beasts. As a matter of fact, hunter is probably the class whose decks have the best mana curve at the moment. So, even if the nerf is certainly going to discourage hunters, I think that the class will still be totally viable on the ladder.
The nerf also affects Handlocks, basically depriving them of their 20+ damage combo (Leeroy + Power Overwhelming + Faceless Manipulator). Though it is a loss for handlock, I think that the archetype will do just fine with its big, badass giants.
What the balance does is give other decks and classes the opportunity to be competitive, hence fostering a more varied and enjoyable game experience.
But no more hunter talking! The focus of my article is on another beloved class: the Rogue!!!
Rogue Needs a Miracle
As soon as I read the news, I logged onto Hearthstone and played good old Miracle Rogue: I wanted to have fun with it before the nerf hit. As a result, I went on an insane win streak which brought me from rank 8 up to rank 5! I remember the old days, when I had no idea how to play Miracle Rogue correctly and I would lose a lot of matches. Now that I have finally learned to use the deck properly, I need to rethink it all because of the nerf on Leeroy!
Someone might ask: is Miracle Rogue dead? As with Hunter, I don’t think so: since Naxxramas, Miracle Rogue hasn’t been in a really great spot, and that is mainly due to cards such as Loatheb and Sludge-belcher, which made it hard for Miracle Rogue to unleash the Leeroy + Shadowstep combo. Nevertheless, a lot of decks have been dropping Loatheb from their cards list and they have been reintroducing the good old azure-drake. Now that Leeroy cannot be used to deal 20+ damage, though, Miracle Rogue needs a different way to close the game if it still wants to survive. Of course it is hard to exactly predict which is the exact path the archetype is going to take, but there are a couple of viable options that I believe would make the deck still playable in high ranks.
One option is substituting leeroy-jenkins with Arcane-golem: of course Arcane Golem + double Shadowstep can only deal 12 damage, as opposed to Leeroy’s 18 damage, but using Arcane Golem in combo with 2 shadowsteps only requires 5 mana, as opposed to 8 mana (pre-nerf). It wouldn’t be such a powerful finisher, but if coupled with a higher board presence during the game, the combo can still be pretty nasty.
Speaking of better board presence, be sure to check out Nuba’s “Miracle players, it’s not the end“: in the article, Nuba states that “we can not go for the Bursty solution, no longer we have the option to win the game in one big turn dealing 20+ damage; we will have to maintain control of the board, and we need new, cheap and strong minions, that is where that little lamp appeared on top of my mind: anubar-ambusher!!!”
Forsen has recently come up with a new Miracle Rogue that does not run either Leeroy or Malygos, but relies more on cold-blood as damage dealer and on solid drops such as Loatheb. You can find his build on the right of this page.
Blizzard is forcing players to shift the metagame into less OTK solutions and more board control focus. Cards such as anubar-ambusher and sludge-belcher serve this purpose perfectly. Playing a board-focused Rogue is key to designing a new deck that is able to compete at high ranks with other decks, and this is what Valeera should aim for in the immediate future. Nuba’s idea of going back to the original Malygos Miracle Rogue deck is not bad at all: with the right substitutions, a deck like that can guarantee Miracle Rogues great longevity.
As for aggro rogues, I believe they are good as they are ever going to be: although the Leeroy nerf affects them, too, they don’t rely exclusively on that legendary to close the game, and have multiple choices for lethal; Arcane-golem + shadowstep is only one of the many ways they have to close the game!
All things considered, I believe the upcoming nerf will benefit the meta a lot, making it more varied and fun to play. It’s always bad to see a couple of dominant heroes on the ladder, and being forced to face the same decks over and over again. This “balance” could actually enrich the metagame, giving players the opportunity to be succesful with different decks and with different classes.
As a Miracle Rogue player (you can find my article on Naxxramas new Miracle Rogue here) I am kind of sad that the deck will have to change in order to be succesful, but change is part of life, and making things differently can be more fun than hard if done with the right spirit. Personally, I’ll try my best to build a viable Miracle Rogue deck, which will be able to adapt to the nerfs and the new meta.
I hope you guys liked my article and, as always, any comments, thoughts or suggestions are highly appreciated!
You can write in the comment section below or contact me directly in-game: my battletag is Giordy#2566.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!