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Hearthstone nerf alert: major changes coming to classic cards

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Find out how many of your favorite old decks aren't going to work any more

When Blizzard announced that it was creating a new standard format for Hearthstone earlier this year, it also revealed that it would be tweaking an undisclosed number of cards from the classic set to ensure they wouldn't remain overly powerful in standard format. In a blog post today, Blizzard has finally revealed which cards are being changed and how substantially.

As suggested by Blizzard in various interviews leading up to this announcement, the Druid class core card were hit the hardest. The seven-mana-cost Ancient of Lore used to allow players to choose between drawing two cards or restoring five health. While its cost and stats, as well as the health restore, will stay the same, it can now only draw a single card if that effect is chosen.

One of the deadliest combos in the game since it launched has been Force of Nature, which creates three two-attack minions with charge, paired with the Savage Roar, which increases the attack of all minions on the board. To solve this, Blizzard is removing charge from the Force of Nature minions, meaning they can stick around longer but opponents will have a chance to respond. The card also has had its mana cost reduced to five.

And finally, druid's Keeper of the Grove has been a must-use in the coveted four mana slot because of its ability to silence a minion or deal damage. To reduce its desirability a bit, Blizzard will lower Keeper of the Grove's health from four to two.

Beyond druid, Blizzard said it wanted to scale back silence and removal options, making them harder for players to commit to. As such, the Ironbeak Owl, one of the simplest and cheapest silence minions in the game, will have its mana cost increased from two to three.

Big Game Hunter has one of the most powerful battlecries in the game, allowing it to automatically destroy a minion that has an attack of seven or more. Recognizing the power of this ability, Blizzard is bumping Big Game Hunter's mana cost from three to five, making it a much bigger sacrifice to play and include in a deck.

The Hunter's Mark spell (exclusive to, well, hunters) allows a player to change a minion's health to one, facilitating its painless removal from the board. Previously this powerful ability cost no mana, but Blizzard has decided to bump it up into a one-mana cost card.

At the core of a rogue's ability to clear boards full of minions is the powerful Blade Flurry spell, which destroys the hero's currently equipped weapon but also deals its damage to all enemy minions and the opposing hero. To balance it better and force rogues to choose more carefully, Blizzard is bumping the mana cost of Blade Flurry from two to four, and the card will now only hurt enemy minions and not the hero.

Knife Juggler is one of the most-played early game minions in Hearthstone, with the killer ability to deal one damage to a random enemy every time a new minion appears next to it. Blizzard is doing a gentle nerf on the juggler, lowering its attack from three to two.

Leper Gnome is a go-to in rushdown decks because it only costs one mana and guarantees at least two damage to the enemy hero when it dies thanks to its powerful deathrattle effect. To help make other one-mana minions more competitive, Blizzard is lowering the attack value of the Leper Gnome from two to one.

Another classic for decks seeking to kill the enemy as quickly as possible, Arcane Golem is a three cost, four attack minion with charge, with the only drawback being that it gives the opponent an extra mana crystal. But if the opponent is going to die anyway, that doesn't matter. As such, Blizzard is removing charge from the Arcane Golem but increasing its health from two to four. The battlecry of giving your opponent an extra mana crystal remains.

One of the longest-lasting decks in Hearthstone history has been the handlock, a deck based around filling your hand with cards and taking damage in order to summon Molten Giants. This massive eight attack, eight health minion costs an impossible 20 mana, but that cost is reduced for each point of damage your hero has taken. Even still, Blizzard found warlocks and other classes were able to get the Molten Giant out too early for their liking. As such the mana cost is being bumped up to 25, meaning no playing Molten Giants for free until you're seriously almost dead.

And finally, perhaps the least expected of the changes: the little-played rogue card Master of Disguise. This minion has a battlecry that grants a friendly minion stealth indefinitely, and while it's never been very popular, Blizzard believes it was limiting the design space for the future by having the potential to be exploited. As such, it now only grants a friendly minion stealth until the next turn.

These changes will be implemented alongside the release of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion set next week. We'll be discussing the nerfs on an upcoming video, but in the meantime you can find more Hearthstone video content on our full playlist on YouTube.