Earlier today, Blizzard revealed some new information on Hearthstone's next balance patch, the first one to be issued following the release of the Rise of Shadows expansion. The publisher is taking aim at a handful of Rogue tools, including one that's been around since the very beginning of the game. The patch is set to take effect this Wednesday, but for right now, as promised, Shacknews has returned for a more detailed breakdown of what's coming.
The latest Hearthstone patch is set to shake up the game as a whole, but looks to mostly take aim at new Standard decks under the Year of the Dragon. Let's analyze the big changes and take a look at how they'll affect Hearthstone going forward.
Now has 4 Health. (Down from 5)
Meta Impact: Low
Blizzard explanation: EVIL Miscreant is meant to be a value-generating card that creates future swing turns, but having 5 Health on this minion meant Rogue players sacrificed very little to set up those turns. We still expect EVIL Miscreant to be a great option for Rogue decks, just at a power level that is more in line with other available cards.
Shacknews analysis: All of this seems to line up. The point of EVIL Miscreant isn't its stats, it's its Combo effect. Two Lackeys help move the Tempo Rogue's game plan along smoothly, but there have been many instances where the Miscreant's health line would allow it to survive multiple turns and get bounced back through Shadowstep or Waggle Pick. That made the Miscreant feel a little more broken than it should have. The slight health reduction will make this minion feel a little more fair, giving opposing players more of a chance to remove it before it can get bounced back. Meanwhile, the health reduction won't overly disrupt the Tempo Rogue's win condition.
With no change to the minion's effect or its overall effectiveness, the EVIL Miscreant is still a winner and will continue to see regular play.
Now costs 4 mana. (Up from 3)
Meta Impact: Moderate
Blizzard explanation: Rogue already excels at drawing cards, so having another powerful draw card that offered consistent results has made Rogue games play out a little more similarly than we think is fun. We're making this change to better represent the power level of drawing a very specific subset of cards.
Shacknews analysis: Raiding Party wasn't so bad when Rastakhan's Rumble came out, just because there weren't that many Pirate options in Standard play. Once the Standard year changed and Rise of Shadows released Hench-Clan Burglar, that's when this spell got out of hand. The 3-Cost Raiding Party meant it would curve perfectly into the 4-Cost Burglar, taking away a lot of the early RNG and putting a powerful tool in the Rogue's hand without fail. Miracle Rogues and Tesspionage decks could barely be stopped, especially when the Preparation combo (we'll address Prep in just a second) meant that the Rogue could draw their Burglars and still play the EVIL Miscreant for a sickeningly efficient play.
Raiding Party is still a powerful tool, but the slight cost increase makes it feel a little more fair. Getting the most out of it almost requires the Prep combo, which means there's a chance that some Rogue decks might drop it and take their chances on drawing the tempo Hench-Clan Burglar. With that said, I'd still expect to see more than a few Raiding Party plays in the meta.
Now reads "The next spell you cast this turn costs (2) less." (Down from (3) less)
Meta Impact: High
Blizzard explanation: All changes we make to the Basic and Classic sets are directed at the long-term health of Hearthstone. Preparation is currently seen as such a powerful card that it appears in nearly all Rogue deck archetypes. The change we've landed on was a small one. We did want the power of the card to decrease, but also thought it was important Preparation remained a reasonable option since it fits the class fantasy for Rogue so well. Preparation is regularly used to reduce the cost of cards like Sap or Eviscerate, and those interactions will remain unchanged. Reducing the cost of your next spell by 2 as opposed to 3 opens our design options up a little more to create higher cost Rogue spells without having to balance so closely around casting them alongside Preparation.
Shacknews analysis: This is a drastic change and fundamentally changes a lot of Rogue decks, both in Standard and Wild. Preparation was a centerpiece in almost every Rogue deck, with its spell reduction effect able to set up potent combos. Prep fit in every deck imaginable. The Pirate Rogue or the Tesspionage Rogue would use it to set up a Raiding Party play. The Miracle Rogue would use it to activate Gadgetzan Auctioneer or draw more cards with Sprint.
Over in Wild, this is yet another blow to the Quest Rogue, which prided itself on getting ahead with Prep and the completed Quest card. Mill Rogues will also need a little time to set up early Vanish plays, which leaves them more vulnerable to aggro decks. The Tinker's Sharpsword Oil is going to be a little more expensive, too.
Nobody is going to stop using Preparation over this change. However, Rogue players are going to need to step back and completely rethink how their decks are going to work moving forward. Combining Prep with cheap spells like Eviscerate and Sap is obviously still an option, but those looking for a bigger bang will have to rethink their game plans significantly. There's no doubting that the Rogue is taking a big hit with this change and it's something that could continue to echo through the Hearthstone meta for weeks and months to come.
Now costs 9 mana. (Up from 8)
Meta Impact: Low
Blizzard explanation: Our goal here was to preserve the feeling and power level of Archivist Elysiana in the general use case, while making the strategy of playing her multiple times in the same game much more difficult. Shaman will still be able to replay Elysiana through Shudderwock, but this is not as common or problematic as what we’ve seen in control Warrior decks. Now, playing Elysiana alongside cards like Baleful Banker or Youthful Brewmaster should be a less consistent strategy.
Shacknews analysis: This change was bound to happen, especially with the increasing number of Control Warrior decks abusing Archivist Elysiana with the aforementioned bounce back plays. Using return cards like Baleful Banker and Youthful Brewmaster, Warriors made themselves virtually fatigue-proof, with only Tesspionage decks that could really stand up to them, in terms of nigh-infinite resources.
The Control Warrior, flanked by Dr. Boom, Mad Genius, can still get a lot of mileage out of Archivist Elysiana. Even without the ability to use those return tools on the same turn, one Elysiana play is often all those Warrior players will need to outlast most other decks in the game. Really, the bounce back felt like overkill more often than not and most good Control Warrior players should be able to get the job with just one Elysiana play. And hey, if worse comes to worse, try and pull a Mecha'thun off the Dr. Boom Discover effect, if things somehow do start to get out of hand and your resources start to wane.
What are your thoughts on these changes? Join the conversation and let us know how this update will affect your decks moving forward. Look for Hearthstone's 14.3 update to arrive this Wednesday.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Hearthstone - Analyzing the 14.3 update nerfs and changes
I don't mean to be too off-topic, is there a staffer on Shacknews that follows the DotA scene? A huge patch recently hit and the Battle pass came out. It'd be nice if, when the TI happens, we had an article with bracket prediction analysis for the teams.
Thank god for that prep nerf. I'm guessing conjuror's mage will be the best deck and mech hunter will be the counter. But conjuror's mage is at least a completely new deck. Like people were playing aggro myra's rogue with raiding party and prep before last expansion as a counter to hunter and the deck dominates wild in the form of kingsbane.
Elysiana to 9 instead of 10 is going to reaaaallly backfire in Specialist format if there continues to be control warrior mirrors like there have been. Whoever gets the coin will basically insta-win and that is terrible. For ladder it doesn't matter really, no one will be running bouncers but this nerf was more for specialist format anyways so they may be making a mistake here.
I think midrange hunters will dominate without the rogues to worry about. Scavenging Hyena continues to be a OP card and I think that needs to be looked at also in the future.
A wildcard deck that may see increase is murloc shaman. Look out for that one...
I've had a lot of fun with Murloc Shaman in Standard and Wild. It runs out of gas fast, but it's fun.