If you’ve played any Hearthstone since the Boomsday expansion launched in August, you’ve probably gotten destroyed by a couple cards time and time again. Earlier this week, Blizzard announced that three of those cards will be getting nerfed, and today those nerfs are live.
At the top of the nerf list is the dastardly Giggling Inventor, which Blizzard calls “one of the most powerful and popular cards we’ve ever created.” It’s a 5-mana card that can stop the enemy dead in their tracks, and which is so powerful that it encouraged players to run specific cards like Mossy Horror and Blood Knight just to counter it. After the nerfs, the card will cost 7 mana instead of 5, which will make it a much less lucrative option for most decks. If you place it side-by-side with a card like Dr. Boom, which boasted more stats and dealt more damage to the enemy, it’s not great. But Giggling Inventor has more defensive applications than Dr. Boom did and I, for one, think it may still see some play.
The next nerf is more specific to Hearthstone’s Wild format, which allows players to use almost every card that’s ever been released. Currently, one of the mode’s strongest combos can be easily drawn using a Boomsday card called Juicy Psychmelon. This nerf will alter the cost of one of those combo cards, Aviana, to 10 mana. That means you’ll have to draw her independently if you want to pull off the combo.
Next up is Mana Wyrm, a Mage card that has been around since Hearthstone’s Classic set and which has served as a backbone of aggressive mage decks that look to do huge damage to the opponent in the early game. Since Mana Wyrm has so much potential to deal early damage to opponents who don’t draw answers, it’s one of those cards that’ll often win a game outright—something Blizzard notes in its patch notes and which is backed by statistics. According to HSReplay.net, Tempo Mage decks that end up with the card in their opening hand boast a 65.9 per cent win rate, which is a huge boost when a balanced card should typically see around a 50 per cent win rate.
The nerf will double Mana Wyrm’s mana cost from 1 to 2. That’s fair when you consider the power level of the card in isolation, but the change can be construed as troublesome when you look at it in the context of the wider metagame. The Mage class isn’t that powerful right now, and Mage decks that use Mana Wyrm are some of the strongest in the game currently, so nerfing this card, while arguably necessary, may actually make Hearthstone’s deck distribution even less diverse than it is now.
I'm always happy to see change for change's sake to keep things interesting but destroying the mage class and leaving spreading plague untouched doesn't strike me as the best way to do it.
— Zalae (@ZalaeHS) October 15, 2018
As with all balance changes, we’ll have to wait until these have been in effect for a few days until we can really see what they’ll do to the metagame. While many agree that the nerfs have long been in the making, there’s some concern about why no cards from the game’s strongest Druid class haven’t gotten any changes whatsoever. I’m willing to bet that class will still be dominant, even after the nerfs.