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Hearthstone 18.2 balance patch: Secret Passage, Cabal Acolyte nerfs, buffs for Shaman and Warlock

The second Scholomance Academy balance patch is coming next week. How will it affect the current meta? Let's find out!
Hearthstone 18.2 balance patch: Secret Passage, Cabal Acolyte nerfs, buffs for Shaman and Warlock

Next week it will be exactly a full month since the launch of Scholomance Academy.

The latest Hearthstone expansion brought several new mechanics, like dual-class cards and Spellburst keyword.

And while most of them are balanced and interesting, some of them were oppressive enough that they warranted quick nerfs.

Interestingly enough, although Priest is Tier 3 class at best currently, they will get their second nerf next week in last than a month since the release.

In August Blizzard considered Mindrender Illucia "unfun" to play against, and ramped her mana cost by 1. Cabal Acolyte will now undergo similar treatment.

Let's take a look at the upcoming nerfs.

Cabal Acolyte

(Picture: Blizzard)

Cabal Acolyte is getting his well deserved nerf.

From the very first reveal, it was clear that this card is overpowered, since the Spellburst requirement is very easy to fulfil as a Priest with cheap spells, and the reward is simply too strong for a minion with stats as good as his.

This card can single-handedly shut down any aggro/tempo deck, especially given that it has Taunt and 6HP, and 2 Attack is enough to kill any 1 or 2 mana minion.

Although, new stats might be a bit harsh nerf since Priest is not in a good spot overall. Maybe 5 Health instead of 4 could have been a better solution.

Secret Passage

(Picture: Blizzard)

Secret Passage is probably the biggest offender of this expansion and one of the strongest cards ever introduced in Hearthstone.

In almost any tempo deck this card reads "draw 5 for 1 mana", which is insanely strong in basically any situation.

You don't have cards in hand? Play Secret Passage.

You don't have the right answers and plays? Secret Passage.

Missing that damage for lethal? Secret Passage.

The card simply offers to much for its cost in a deck that was already heavily tempo-oriented, and even with this nerf it will still be a very strong choice for practically any Rogue deck.


(Picture: Blizzard)

Darkglare change is definitely not a clear nerf, but rather a redesign. Still, the card is significantly weaker in this new form, which was the goal.

Warlock was able to abuse this ability a bit too much, especially with cheap self-damaging cards and with "free" hero power.

We think that it will still be a good card because with its new, cheaper cost it will be easier to combo it with other cards, but it won't give you some insane early high roll turns, which is healthy for the game.

Archwitch Willow

(Picture: Blizzard)

Another card redesign for Warlock, but unlike Darkglare, this is more of a buff rather than a nerf.

Archwitch Willow is a strange card, or to be more precise - card in a strange time. It can be good tempo finisher, but it comes in a time when Warlock doesn't have any good big demons.

And naturally, you want this card in "big demon" Warlock deck. 

Besides Enhanced Dreadlord, there are no other big demons you would like to play in Warlock, and Archwitch Willow depends on them.

Making it one mana cheaper won't help her if Blizzard won't introduce some big and good demons in future expansions.

Totem Goliath

(Picture: Blizzard)

The last change is definitely the strangest one.

Shaman is in dire need for buffs, and Shaman players would love to see any help they can get.

But we don't think that buffing Totem Goliath is the right way to do it.

Shaman is currently sitting at 43% win-rate, by far the lowest of all classes, with no clear vision for any half-decent archetype.

Truth to be told, Totem Shaman is currently the only semi-reliable Shaman deck, and this will definitely push that archetype, but Blizzard is trying to make "Spell/Control" Shaman for three expansions in a row now, and that deck still doesn't work.

What Shaman needs is a set of several balance changes that will help this class and make it more competitive in different fields, but unfortunately, we aren't sure if Blizzard is ready to do something like that.

Game Improvements & Miscellaneous Updates

  • Newly created decks will now automatically appear at the top of My Decks in the Collection Manager instead of at the bottom.
  • The Kael’thas Sunstrider login reward will now be granted if you own a pack from Ashes of Outland and go to the Open Packs menu.
  • Transfer Student will now have the appropriate board effect when Discovered or transformed.
  • Galakrond will now be upgraded correctly when invoked while using Secret Passage.
  • Kingsbane drawn by Secret Passage will no longer be returned to your deck if played then returned to hand via Doomerang.
  • Copies of cards drawn by Secret Passage will no longer be returned to your deck at end of turn.
  • Copying a silenced minion with Faceless Manipulator will no longer temporarily activate card text effects that buff other minions.
  • Dormant minions created by Shadow Reflection no longer disappear if you change your Hero after playing them.
  • Fixed a visual issue with Devolving Missiles when transforming a target into a Dormant minion.
  • Fixed a crash in the final One Night in Karazhan encounter when playing as Kel'Thuzad.
  • Fixed a visual bug where Spellburst icons could disappear while the minion had not activated its Spellburst.
  • Headmaster Kel’Thuzad’s Spellburst will now resurrect minions that are destroyed by spells that swap Attack and Health, and spells that have been granted Poisonous by Professor Slate.
  • Summoning a cat will no longer allow Headmaster Kel’Thuzad’s Spellburst to trigger on the opponent’s turn. The Headmaster just gets really excited about cats…
  • Manafeeder Panthara’s Battlecry will now properly trigger after using your hero power and then Invoking Galakrond or switching to a different hero power.
  • Fixed a card text display issue with Master Scheme, Hatred Reactor, and E.V.I.L. Promotion.
  • When refilling an existing mana crystal below 10 mana, you now receive a temporary mana crystal instead. This fixes an interaction where Forest Warden Omu would not grant the correct amount of mana.

The 18.2 balance patch is set for release on 8 September.