Blizzard announced today that it is changing some of Druid’s cards as a response to the class dominating its digital card game Hearthstone since the release of the Knights of the Frozen Throne Expansion last month. But the nerfs don’t stop at Druid, and all of the changes are going live later this month.
Innervate, the Druid spell that’s been around since Hearthstone’s launch, will now only give 1 mana crystal instead of 2 for a turn. Spreading Plague, a Druid spell that Frozen Throne introduced that gives you 1/5 minions with taunts until you have as many creatures on your board as your opponent does, is going up from 5 mana to 6 mana.
These changes could make Druid a less dominant class, but Blizzard is smashing the nerf hammer down on some other cards. Hex, the classic Shaman spell that turns any minion into 0/1 Frog with taunt, is going to cost 4 mana instead of 3. Murloc Warleader, the neutral minion that’s also been around since the beginning of Hearthstone, will now only give other Murlocs +2 attack and will no longer give them +1 health. Murloc Paladin has been another dominant decktype in Journey to Un’Goro and Frozen Throne, so Blizzard is addressing its power level as well as Druid’s. Also, the Warrior weapon Fiery War Axe (another original card) is going to cost 3 mana instead of 2.
The Hex change brings that card closer in line with its Mage cousin Polymorph, which turns a minion into a 1/1 sheep at 4 mana. Hex might still see play, since the ability to remove a enemy minion is a powerful one.
But Muloc Warleader’s changes could be more severe. That card has been the cornerstone of dozens of Murloc decks that rely on the synergy between that tribe. Fiery War Axe could also see much less play, as a single mana increase for a weapon could be a big deal. Before, the card was good at dealing with early game minions that rarely had more than 3 health. Now that you’ll have to play it later, it may not be strong enough to deal with those more expensive minions. This change could also weaken Pirate Warrior, a powerful, aggressive deck that’s been popular in Hearthstone since the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion.
In the past, Blizzard has moved some of Hearthstone’s original cards to the Hall of Fame, meaning you can only play them in the Wild format. But those were Classic cards, meaning you have to buy Hearthstone’s first set of packs to unlock them. Fiery War Axe, Hex, and Innervate are all Basic cards, meaning you unlock them just by playing a class and leveling them up.
Blizzard notes in its blog detailing the changes that it would rather make balance changes to Basic cards instead of moving them to Hall of Fame status like it has done with Classic cards. For Murloc Warleader, which is a Classic card, Blizzard said that it wants to limit moves to the Hall of Fame at the start of each Hearthstone year, which begins when the first set of the calendar year releases.
Blizzard also explained why it didn’t nerf a couple of cards that players have been calling for: Ultimate Infestation and Ice Block. Ultimate Infestation is a 10 mana Druid spell from Frozen Throne that gives players 5 cards, 5 armor, a 5/5 minion, and deals 5 damage. Blizzard considered changing all of those fives to fours, but it thought that the nerfs to Innervate and Spreading Plague were enough to balance Druid.
Ice Block is a Classic Mage Secret that makes the hero immune for a turn after it takes fatal damage. It’s the tool that has let Mage extend its life for turns and sling spells at the enemy’s face for wins. Blizzard noted that it contemplated moving the card to the Hall of Fame, but it wants to wait to make such a change until the beginning of the year.