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Upcoming Hearthstone changes slow down hunters, warlocks and rogues

Goblins vs. Gnomes, the first expansion for Blizzard's digital card game Hearthstone, is set to come out some time this month. That's not the only big change coming to the game, Blizzard revealed today.

In a blog post on the official Hearthstone forums, Blizzard revealed major changes coming to three individual cards in an upcoming Hearthstone patch. The changes are:

  • The Warlock spell card Soulfire now costs one mana versus the previous zero mana.
  • The neutral Gadgetzan Auctioneer minion card has moved from a five mana cost to six mana.
  • The Hunter spell Flare has increased from a one mana cost to two mana.

You may notice a trend here: cheap, highly-used, incredibly powerful cards getting a simple one-mana increase. One mana may not seem like much, and in some cases it won't change their use. However, that one-mana bump can be a huge change, forcing players to use the card later in a match and possibly in place of other cards of a similar cost.

Blizzard says it "kept an eye on the state of the game balance" following the introduction of 30 new cards to the game with the Curse of Naxxramas adventure this past summer. In this case, all three of these updates are targeting currently popular high-speed decks.

Several fast Warlock decks currently use Soulfire to gain board control, especially early in matches. Though usable by any class, the Gadgetzan Auctioneer has proven to be an essential part to Rogue "miracle" decks, allowing Rogues to play the minion and then use it to draw more cards to an absurd degree. And the Hunter's Flare spell also has a lot of value by both wiping out enemy secrets and drawing a card.

The most recent balance patch to Hearthstone was back in September. That one targeted quick-moving decks as well, including the "miracle Rogue" standby Leeroy Jenkins and the Hunter-exclusive minion Starving Buzzard.

Blizzard has previously expressed a desire to keep Hearthstone balance patches rare. However, the forum post notes, "We will continue to make balance changes to Hearthstone when we feel they are necessary in order to increase the variety of cards seen at all levels of play, with the goal of making Hearthstone a more fun and interactive game for everyone."

The post does not say when these balance changes will be implemented, but the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion is planned for launch this month. For more on Goblins vs. Gnomes, check out our analysis of the first batch of revealed cards, as well as our exclusive card reveal.

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