With so much negativity surrounding specific cards and Blizzard’s decision to not nerf or change cards as often as the community would like to, Blizzard came out with a pleasant surprise announcing changes to a lot of cards and I am glad to see they chose to revisit these cards and make changes instead of waiting till the next rotation cycle. They even considered cards that are set to rotate out next year when planning the balance changes . It should also help the competitive meta with Blizzcon just around the corner as well as improve the ladder experience. It’s great that most of the cards have retained their effects and seem completely playable. You can find the blog post on Blizzard’s website here: Upcoming Balance Changes – Update 6.1.3
Let’s take a look at the cards that have been changed and what it means for us players:
Reason Behind Nerf: Mass damage burst potential alongside the ability to work as early game removal.
Blizzard did mention that they have been looking into the power level of Shaman as a whole in not only the blog post but also in an earlier interview at IGN. They considered nerfing Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem but chose not to because they are rotating out soon.
Rockbiter Weapon is one of the best 1 mana spells in the game and the ability to not only remove early drops but also the potential to combo with Doomhammer was something that made this an auto-include card in decks. You do not have to worry about your opponent playing Doomhammer with double Rockbiter on turn 7 and dealing 16 damage anymore! On the flip side, Al'Akir the Windlord feels a lot worse as a finisher right now unless of course you are running a totem build with double Primal Fusion which should help you get some high damage output with the class legendary. The nerf potentially allows players to explore cards like Stormcrack and Lightning Bolt to be included in Mid Range lists.
Reason Behind Nerf: Swingy RNG and high power level
One of the most talked about cards in the recent past and the swingy RNG that comes with the card is something people just hate. The simple absence of Vitality Totem in the Standard meta makes the card a lot better than it used to be. It also prevents Blizzard from printing high cost / high value totems. Since the card will continue to exist in Wild, it could potentially get even better if good totems come out and that’s not the kind of RNG you want in the game. They have removed the possibility of summoning non-Basic totems and you can now just get the totems that your hero power can spawn. Will the card still be playable? Sure, I’d continue to run it in Mid Range lists or in Witchdoctor Shaman lists because you will continue to have your totem synergy and potentially activate Spirit Claws.
Call of the Wild
Reason Behind Nerf: High Power Level
Call of the Wild is a very powerful card and it was originally a 7 mana card which was raised to 8 mana before release. It has become a staple card of choice for Hunters to close out games and raising the mana cost makes things a little slower for the class. However, I do not see it being that impactful because you can simply run cards like The Curator or Ragnaros the Firelord to bridge the curve until you get to your Call of the Wild.
Reason Behind Nerf: High Mana Cost to Efficiency Ratio
The devs have stated their intent to create more removal cards for Warrior but Execute being a bit too efficient for its cost makes it an auto-include in most decks. I do not see the impact on the card being too huge except your Execute setups will be a little late if you use cards like Ravaging Ghoul or Bash. Execute led to too much tempo gain and it is definitely one of the best removal cards in the game considering how easy it is for Warrior to deal damage to minions with so many AoE effect cards and spells that damage minions. It’s a fine change that was expected for a long time and I’m glad they went ahead with nerfing the card. It helps them close the gap between power levels of future removals they have in mind. I do not expect to be that big of a deal for Control Warrior while Tempo style decks get slowed down slightly.
Reason Behind Nerf: Design space restriction for future cards and non-interactive combos
No, Blizzard is not against combo decks but being able to give minions charge that don’t normally have it makes it awkward to print cards that might abuse the spell the way Raging Worgen does. A lot of people do not like the Raging Worgen OTK decks because it’s non-interactive. It is the only nerf in the set of balance changes that renders the card unplayable the way it’s used right now. Since you will not be able to deal face damage anymore with crazy Worgen or Arcane Giant combos, you can expect OTK decks to die down when Emperor Thaurissan and Anyfin Can Happen go out next year but there might be future cards that allow you to setup crazy combos. The post nerf iteration of the card might still be playable and I’m excited to try it with cards like Sylvanas Windrunner, Magnataur Alpha or even in Grim Patron warrior (I know most of these are bad ideas but coolness points never hurt anyone!).
Reason Behind Nerf: Power level of aggressive decks
Abusive Sergeant is one of the most oppressive aggressive cards in the game and it was originally a 1/1 that gave a minion +2 attack but now it is going back to its old form for the better. They wanted to change the card in such a way that just the battlecry would be what defines the card and not the body too. Abusive is a fine tempo play right now on any turn as a 2/1 but with the nerf taking place it won’t be the case.
Yogg Saron, Hope’s End
Reason Behind Nerf: Despite being developed as a fun card it sees frequent play in high levels tournaments and decides games.
The card everyone was up in arms about is finally getting a nerf! While a lot of people do not like the card, there is also a big group of people who just love Yogg-Saron, Hope's End and Blizzard found the right nerf to balance out the card without making it unplayable. They added more randomness to the king of RNG himself, if Yogg kills or transforms himself after the patch hits the battlecry will stop. Previously even if he killed himself, the battlecry would complete and you would get the full effect out of it, but right now there is a lot more risk attached to it and while you may still continue to steal wins it won’t be just as consistent. It does not completely eliminate Yogg’s viability but it does tone down the RNG swings a lot and I feel it was a fair change.
It was a great surprise seeing the changes and it’s definitely a step in the right direction to keep the player base happy and the game fresh. You will be getting the full dust value of the cards for a limited time so do not go around dusting these cards, or if you have been hesitant to craft cards like Yogg-Saron or Call of the Wild and have some spare dust left you can go ahead and make them to try them out for free and get the full dust value back when the patch hits! Hope you enjoyed the overview of the upcoming changes and let me know what you think about the nerfs in the comments below!