Hearthstone Stormwind Balance Changes Aim To Slow Combo Decks

The launch of the new United in Stormwind expansion raised complaints of "solitaire"-style combo decks, which Blizzard is aiming to mitigate now.

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A Hearthstone patch releasing tomorrow, August 17, is intended to slow down the combo decks that have been ruling the meta since the launch of the United in Stormwind expansion. The balance changes are pretty broad on the whole, adjusting mana cost and stats for eight cards--many of them cards from older sets that have grown problematic due to Stormwind's new additions.

As announced on the Hearthstone Blog, most of the changes are to the cards Mana cost, which is a fairly reliable way to adjust the pace of play. Warlock is getting the most nerfs with two of the eight cards represented, but Paladin, Mage, Shaman, Demon Hunter, and Hunter are all seeing changes to their mainstays as well.

"After two weeks of monitoring the rapidly evolving United in Stormwind launch metagame, we're making a few balance changes to slow down the speed of the game by a turn or two," the blog states. "Overall, this translates to two things: limiting the efficiency at which combo decks can assemble the pieces they need to win, and reducing the burst damage that board-based decks have access to from hand. We hope that these changes will give a bit more room for slower strategies to find success in this meta, and we'll continue to keep an eye on the live game to see if any further changes are needed."

United in Stormwind included new Questlines, powerful cards that give big rewards after certain conditions are met. But two in particular, Mage and Warlock, started dominating the meta with decks that were criticized as "solitaire"--non-interactive decks that your opponent can't really do anything about. As several fans and even pro streamers pointed out, this led to a meta dominated by these combo decks and a handful of super-aggressive "aggro" decks that could beat down a combo quickly. That environment squeezed out slower deck types like mid-range and control decks.

These balance changes appear to take aim at both the combo decks themselves and at the aggressive decks that popularized to counter them, so Blizzard may well succeed at slowing down games.

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