Blizzard's Team 5 has just announced the latest balance update focused on Hearthstone standard format.
Hearthstone 17.6 balance update is slated for release on 14th July and it will bring nerfs to eight popular cards from meta decks.
It looks like the main goal of this patch is to shake-up the meta a little bit, and to allow some other decks to go up a bit higher with their win percentages.
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Demon Hunter is again struck the hardest, with three of Illidan's cards being nerfed, but Highlander decks and Galakrond Rogue are on the receiving end as well, with their key cards being severely nerfed.
Let's take a look at nerfed cards.
Hearthstone 17.6 balance patch nerfs
- Old: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, add 2 other random Dragons to your hand. They cost (0). → New: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, add 2 other random Dragons to your hand. They cost (1).
Dragonqueen Alexstrasza is the staple card of the Highlander decks and definitely a powerhouse of the archetype. It enables many Highlander decks and it can be especially oppressive when it roles high and you end up against the board of three big dragons played for 0 mana.
This will make her significantly slower and bit turn 9 won't be possible anymore, but that card will still offer a great value and it will still be played as a powerful value and tempo generator in Highlander decks.
- Old: Draw a weapon. Give it +1/+1. → New: Draw a weapon. Give it +1 Durability.
At first glance, it looks like an odd nerf, but several Warrior decks are being quite dominating right now in on the ladder. And in all of them, Corsair Cache is a staple x2 card. The biggest issue is not that it gives +1/+1, but the fact that Warrior currently has a lot of value-generating weapons, like Ancharrr and Livewire Lance, which makes Corsair Cache an exceptionally good card.
Preserving +1 Durability will still make it a great value card, while removing +1 bonus attack means that you will not have easy trades with it anymore.
All in all, we think that this is a good nerf, which till tone down the power of this card enough to make it balanced, but still playable.
- Old: [Cost 6] → New: [Cost 7].
Big Spell Mage/Highlander Mage is getting a nerf as well. This is a significant change because it will slow down for a full turn high tempo turns with Deep Freeze and Power of Creation.
Not only that but in later parts of the game, this means less leftover mana to play something alongside Dragoncaster, which was usually something like Bone Wraith or Conjurer's Calling, both costing 4 mana.
Dragoncaster will probably still see play because it offers value, but we won't be surprised if some players starting cutting him from decks in favours of some other cards.
- Old: [Cost 2] → New: [Cost 3].
Another nerf that looks strange, but this card simply offers too much value in decks tailored for its use, and it is a staple card in a couple of strong Druid decks, like Dragon Druid and Spell Druid.
Honestly, we are not sure how will this affect the use of this card after the nerf, but paying 3 mana for "Draw 3" is still above average, so we think that it will still be a playable card, certainly a strong contender in right decks.
- Old: Swap your Hero Power to “Deal 5 damage.” After 2 uses, swap it back. → New: Swap your Hero Power to “Deal 4 damage.” After 2 uses, swap it back.
Metamorphosis simply offered to much damage for just 7 mana, and worst of all, it is non-interactive damage. People often manage to stabilize against Demon Hunter, only to be finished with 10 direct damage they can do nothing about it.
One of the design restrictions of Demon Hunter is a lack of direct damage and that's why we think this nerf was justified. It is still a strong card and we think that it will still be played in aggressive and tempo Demon Huner decks, where it will still act as a finisher.
- Old: 3 Attack, 5 Health → New: 3 Attack, 4 Health.
This is a nerf mostly focused on the early part of the game when some Demon Hunters simply like to put down Kayn for the tempo and then the opponent has a problem removing it.
In most cases, this will not affect his primary role, and that's to act as a surprise finisher when you drop him to go post taunts directly to face.
Warglaives of Azzinoth
- Old: [Cost 5] → New: [Cost 6].
We definitely think this is a strong nerf for this card and it will render it unplayable. Warglaives of Azzinoth wasn't popular in the initial meta versions of Demon Hunter and became only popular after the first set of nerfs.
With the new cost of six mana, the card is now borderline good and we don't think that it will be played in any future Demon Hunter meta decks.
Galakrond, the Nightmare (Rogue)
- Old: Battlecry: Draw 1 card. It costs (0). → New: Battlecry: Draw 1 card. It costs (1).
Galakrond, the Apocalypse (Rogue)
- Old: Battlecry: Draw 2 cards. It costs (0). → New: Battlecry: Draw 2 cards. They cost (1).
Galakrond, Azeroth’s End (Rogue)
- Old: Battlecry: Draw 4 cards. It costs (0). → New: Battlecry: Draw 4 cards. They cost (1).
Galakrond Rogue nerf is definitely extremely severe and it will probably kill this archetype. Galakrond Rogue is a pure tempo deck and it was often extremely dependent on good swing turns with 0-mana cards drawn by Galakrond.
With those cards now costing 1, that swing turn will be a thing of past and with it, almost certainly Galakrond Rogue as well, at least as a top tier meta deck.
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Hearthstone 17.6 balance patch is slated for release on 14th July(Thursday). Although changes are mostly good, pro players are not happy because patch comes two days before masters tour.
Hearthstone developers hinted that soon after the patch, we can expect some balance changes for the Hearthstone Battlegrounds as well.
Craftable cards listed above will be eligible for a full dust refund for two weeks after the 17.6 patch goes live.