Undertaker needed to get nerfed. It snowballed way too quickly, and was far and away the most powerful one-drop in the game. Ramping up a featherweight 1/2 into a 4/5, sometimes as quickly as turn three, was devastating. A tempo deck shouldn’t be invulnerable, and Undertaker was unanswerable far too often.
So there was plenty of rejoicing when Blizzard dropped the hammer a couple weeks ago. Undertaker was easily the most annoying card in the game, and now it’s a paltry, meaningless supplement. A 1/2 which gains one attack for every deathrattle minion you play after it. This puts it more in line with cards like Burly Rockjaw Trogg, in the sense that they’re getting one-sided buffs. That horrifying 4/5 Undertaker I mentioned? Now that thing is only a much more reasonable 4/2.
I’m not going to say I’m against this, because I really hated playing against Undertaker, but it is sad to me that the card has already been torpedoed out of ladder. It’s indicative of a nerfing philosophy that’s bothered me about Hearthstone for quite a while. The overpowered cards that get nerfed are almost never played again. They just sit around your collection, sad shells of their former power.
It’s a trend that goes back to the very beginnings of the game. Remember Tinkmaster Overspark? Back in the day he was equipped with the power to turn any minion on the board into a 1/1 Squirrel or a 5/5 Devilsaur. It was must-include in practically every deck for its efficient removal. Then it got nerfed so that it would transform a random minion into those aforementioned two options, and now it’s never played. It’s the same story with Nat Pagle, or Leeroy Jenkins, or Scavenging Hyena. All ubiquitous cards completely destroyed by nerfs.
I’m not making the argument that those cards weren’t overpowered or shouldn’t have been adjusted, but I will say that I hate it when justice isn’t administered in the right way. Isn’t there a way to fix Undertaker without throwing it out the window? What if you made it cost two mana? Or make it a 0/2 base? There has to be a smarter way.
Maybe you don’t care, and you’re just happy to see overpowered stuff get blasted out of the universe. But I’d argue that some of the cards that have been jettisoned really gave the game more character. Remember Soulfire? It was a zero mana spell that dealt four damage. Incredible! But when you cast it you discard a random card. Way less incredible! It was an amazing spell that could also totally lose you the game if you burnt the wrong card.
A couple months ago Blizzard changed Soulfire to cost one mana. With that, every Handlock in the universe switched them out for the newly released Darkbomb. Two mana to deal three damage. More sustainable, more valuable, and a lot less colorful.
So yeah, celebrate the death of Undertaker, and pray that Hunters don’t figure out a way for it to become scary again. But also understand that this slash-and-burn nerfing philosophy isn’t the healthiest thing for a game we love.
Image via Blizzard