The team behind the digital collectible card-game Hearthstone have released a new balance batch that drastically alters both a core card from the last set, as well as a swift nerf for a card from the latest set. It’s not unusual for cards to get nerfed when they enter the live environment, but one new card from March of the Lich King was nerfed in near record time, only three days after the expansion went live.
The first nerf in the latest patch notes includes a drastic change to Sire Denathrius. This minion is a late-game win condition for minion based decks and thanks to his ability to swing a game he was run in almost every major deck outside of aggro which prioritizes cheap minions. The overwhelming power of Denathrius was probably more palatable to Blizzard when Return to Castle Nathria was the latest set; after all this character was the centerpiece of the set’s story and an important World of Warcraft lore character in his own right. With the advent of March of the Lich King, it was apparently time for a change.
Return to Castle Nathria introduced the “Infuse” keyword. A card with Infuse gained an additional effect when a number of allied minions equal to the Infuse value died. In the case of Sire Denathrius, his card used to read “Lifesteal. Battlecry: Deal 5 damage amongst enemies. Endlessly Infuse (1): Deal 1 more”. This meant, that for every allied minion killed while Denathrius was in hand, he would do one more damage when played. Cards that generate cheap minions or “tokens” could build a Denathrius up to the point he could one-shot most other players and his status necessitated that players ran hand or deck disruption cards to keep him from ever being played. Now it’s “Infuse (2)” to ramp up his damage, so it takes 2 minions dying to ramp his damage, effectively cutting his potential in half.
The second change is to the Hunter card Shockspitter which reads “Battlecry: Deal 1 damage. (Improved by your hero attacks this game!)”. Hunter immediately stole the show in March of the Lich King with this seemingly innocuous card. Deckbuilders quickly invented a deck which allowed players to make copies of Shockspitter for even more damage. This, combined with Brann Bronzebeard which doubles Battlecries allowed for massive damage and easy wins for hunter in less than 10 turns with a bit of luck. To combat the speed of this combo, Shockspitter was bumped from two mana to three mana.
Hopefully these changes will promote creativity in deckbuilding, though if my recent games are any indication Shockspitter is still dominating.