Hearthstone Nerfs Dominant Decks Across Standard And Wild

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Hearthstone's latest expansion is just over a month old, and with a significant tournament event behind it Blizzard is prepared to start adjusting the balance. In a set of changes announced today on the official blog, the company is targeting several dominant decks with feather-touch tweaks aimed at allowing them to still be viable, but not quite so overwhelming.

Three of the most popular decks in Standard were hit hardest. Control or Cube Warlock are losing some healing power with Dark Pact, which will only restore 4 health instead of 8. Likewise, Possessed Lackey is going up to a 6-mana cost minion. Taken together, these changes make it harder to tease out big late-game demons quite as early, and make Warlocks exercise more care over their life total.

Paladin decks in general have been strong in the current meta as well, thanks in part to the Call to Arms spell. That spell is now going to cost 5 mana instead of 4--in part to remove its inclusion in so-called "Even Paladin" decks that are built around the odds and evens mechanic introduced in The Witchwood expansion. Finally, the already once nerfed Quest Rogue saw new life with some of the tools in Witchwood, so it's getting hit again. The final result of the spell will make all minions into 4-attack and 4-health, instead of 5 of each.

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A more general utility card found across several deck types, Spiteful Summoner is getting a cost increase to 7-mana. Since it summons a random minion to match a spell cost, players were using it almost exclusively in decks that only packed big spells. Increasing the cost gives opponents more opportunity to respond to the big threats.

Along those same lines, Naga Sea Witch has been exploited heavily in Wild to create a flurry of giants very early in the game. It's getting the most dramatic change, from 5-mana up to 8-mana, to address the problem. It's the oldest card in the bunch, having already rotated out of Standard, but Wild players have been requesting a change for some time now.

As usual these changes are being made entirely to older cards that weren't part of the new Witchwood expansion. Blizzard tends to let newer cards stick around unaltered for a while before making any major changes, and focuses its balance tweaks on older cards--usually ones that are being combined with the new set in creatively dangerous ways. This will also be the first major balance patch announced since the game director left the company last month. No timeline has been announced for the patch but Blizzard assures it's coming soon.

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