Blizzard hopes to balance Hearthstone with counters, not nerfs

Blizzard dropped a few choice nerfs in Hearthstone's beta test yesterday, killing several unpleasant decks, but this isn't how it plans to balance the virtual collectible card game in the long term. Ultimately, Blizzard wants to stop single cards or decks becoming dominant by introducing cards which counter them, lead designer Eric Dodds has explained in a blog post detailing Hearthstone's approach to balance.

"Giving you confidence in your cards and the play environment is very important to us, and each card change we make potentially undermines that confidence," Dodds said. "If players find a really great deck, we'll try and slip some fun counters to that deck into the next expansion for you, instead of nerfing those cards directly."

Dodds explains the six main reasons Blizzard may change a card: because it causes "non-interactive games"; is frustrating to play against; causes confusion or isn't intuitive enough; is too strong compared to other cards of that cost; is too weak; or goes with a build or playstyle that's "too strong." He goes into plenty of detail on each point, if you're curious.

Yesterday's patch hit notably unpopular cards including Warsong Commander and Charge, which were part of a "one-turn kill" deck. "We want the game to be about playing minions and fighting for board control rather than just waiting until you can play your big combo and win in one turn with no interaction from your opponent," Blizzard explained.

Hearthstone is currently in closed beta testing, though Blizzard has been pretty generous in doling out invitations. It's launching into open beta real soon you guys, Blizzard swears, you'll see!