Blizzard is introducing some big changes to its digital card game, Hearthstone, in an upcoming patch.
Announced on the official Hearthstone website today, patch 9.1 will see some balance changes to five cards, four of which have been in the game since launch. According to Blizzard, these changes are being implemented to push cards from the basic and classic sets away from being played as regularly, so that cards from new expansions will be seen more often. They also seem focused on slowing down the pace of the game and cooling off several of its current hottest decks.
First on the chopping block is the druid spell Innervate. This zero-cost card gives the player a temporary boost of two mana for a single turn. It has been a key to the “ramp druid” style, where a druid player increases their mana as quickly as possible to get out big, expensive minions sooner. After the patch, however, Innervate will only grant one extra mana for a single turn.
“With the right support cards for Innervate, it may end up still seeing play, but won’t be in every deck — which is ultimately what we’re aiming for with this change,” Blizzard says in its post.
The warrior weapon Fiery War Axe has been a standard addition to virtually every warrior deck, from rush to control, since Hearthstone launched. For only two mana, warriors have been able to get out a weapon with three attack and two charges. To try to make it less ubiquitous, Blizzard is increasing the cost of Fiery War Axe to three mana.
Perhaps the most surprising change in the bunch, the shaman spell Hex is also increasing in mana cost, from three mana to four. This spell turns any enemy minion into a zero-attack, one-health frog with taunt, effectively removing big scary minions or silencing minions with effects you need to clear out. Blizzard says this change wasn’t due to any sense of shamans being overpowered at the moment, but the developer believes the change will help push a better sense of identity for the class.
One neutral card, the Murloc Warleader minion, is getting a major nerf. This three-cost murloc has always had card text granting any other murlocs on your side a bonus of two attack and one health for as long as the Warleader is in play. After the patch, it will only grant the two attack. Blizzard specifically calls out the currently strong murloc paladin build as one of the core targets of this change.
Finally, a second druid card is being tweaked, and it’s the only card in the list from the recently launched Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion set. Spreading Plague was a spell card that many players disregarded in the lead-up to the expansion. When played, it summons a one-attack, five-health minion with taunt, and then proceeds to cast the spell again until you have an equal number of minions on the field as your opponent. It didn’t sound that powerful.
In practice, however, Spreading Plague has been, well, a plague. It has helped rocket already popular decks like jade druid into nigh-unstoppable territory by simply slowing down the game, putting a bunch of bodies in the way of opponents and giving the druid time to reload and dig for their biggest cards.
Spreading Plague was a five-cost spell, but following Patch 9.1, it will cost six mana. Blizzard says it considered raising the cost to seven but decided that would be too harsh given the changes to Innervate happening at the same time.
Further in the post, Blizzard says that Spreading Plague is far and away the top-performing card in druid decks. It beats out other cards, like the popular, 10-cost Ultimate Infestation spell, which is why Blizzard chose not to make changes to that card at this time. Likewise, Blizzard says it will not touch the mage secret Ice Block until the first expansion of 2018 launches, at which time they may move it into the game’s “Hall of Fame,” which would take it out of play for standard format decks.
Blizzard has not stated when exactly patch 9.1 will go live. However, the developer says that players will be able to disenchant any affected cards for their full arcane dust value for two weeks following the patch.