Sinisa Bucan, September 29, 2016

Blizzard is Nerfing Yogg-Saron!

In a blog post on Battle.net, Blizzard has announced upcoming balance changes to seven cards. Definitely the biggest change pertains to the legendary card Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End, released in the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion. The impact of Yogg-Saron on Hearthstone’s metagame has been evident. There are countless videos on YouTube and Twitch showcasing the entertaining shenanigans of the Old God. That’s what it was designed for. One place Blizzard didn’t really want to see Yogg-Saron is in top-level tournaments. This caused loads of professional players to complain about the card’s impact on the pro scene.

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“This is the most controversial card we’ve ever made,” Blizzard admits. “Some people LOVE Yogg, and others hate it. We felt like seeing Yogg in tournaments was not where we originally hoped it would end up. Yogg should be for players who want to have a lot of fun, but maybe not the card you see frequently in high-level tournaments.” The biggest concern is just how powerful Yogg-Saron is in Tempo Mage and Token Druid decks. To that end, Yogg-Saron will now stop casting spells if it is destroyed, silenced, transformed or returned to its owner’s hand any time during its battlecry.

This actually seems like a fair and sensible change. As it is now, there is really no downside to playing Yogg-Saron if you’re behind and the card can single-handedly turn the tide of each match. This introduces a risk to playing Yogg-Saron while still leaving the possibility of a complete turn-around.

While this is quite possibly the most impactful balance change, the other announced nerfs are going to have a significant impact as well. Call of the Wild is universally seen as an extremely powerful card that basically put Hunter back on the map all by itself. Blizzard feels that the card is over performing at 8 mana. The developers hope that changing it to 9 mana will tone down its power enough that it won’t be automatically included in every single Hunter deck.

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Shaman is next on this list. Rockbiter Weapon is being changed because it’s so versatile. It’s a great early game removal tool. It can be cast on minions for favorable trades. Perhaps most importantly, the Doomhammer + Rockbiter Weapon combo can dish out 10 damage in a single turn, often ending the match outright. Because of this, Rockbiter Weapon will now cost 2 instead of 1 mana. Blizzard said that it looked at other Shaman cards like Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, but opted for Rockbiter Weapon because the former cards are leaving Standard relatively soon whereas the latter is a Basic card and this will offer a more permanent solution.

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However, another Shaman card will still be nerfed along with Rockbiter Weapon even though it’s not part of either the Basic or Classic set. Tuskarr Totemic will no longer be able to summon ANY totem, but just basic totems. Tuskarr Totemic is basically played because it can summon Totem Golem, Flametongue Totem or Manatide Totem, which never felt fair when it happened. With this change, Blizzard is attempting to make this card a good option for totem synergy decks, but not necessarily a great turn 3 option for every Shaman deck.

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Somewhat unexpectedly, two Warrior cards are also being nerfed. The first one is Execute, which will now cost 2 instead of 1 mana. Blizzard feels that Execute stands out as a removal spell that has proven to be too efficient in too many situations. The other card is Charge, which costs 3 mana and gives a friendly minion +2 attack and charge. After the update, Charge will be a 1 mana spell that gives a friendly minion charge, but it can’t attack heroes that turn. Blizzard aims to disable strategies that intend to win without allowing opponents to interact. This will most likely spell the end of the Worgen OTK Warrior deck archetype.

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Lastly, we have Abusive Sergeant. Blizzard admits that aggressive decks are stronger than they would like them to be, but the real issue for them is that Abusive Sergeant is included in all of them. They don’t want neutral Classic cards showing up in such a wide variety of circumstances. Abusive Sergeant will now be a 1/1 minion, with a clear focus on its battlecry and not a reasonable turn 1 option for all aggro decks.

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The balance changes will arrive as part of the 6.1.3 update, which is planned to go live before the Last Call events of the Hearthstone Championship Tour.

Sinisa Bucan

Siniša is a writer and translator from Croatia, a small European country on the Adriatic coast. Apart from being a passionate Hearthstone player, he enjoys all kinds of video games, including strategy, role-playing, adventure, and action. Other interests include listening to indie rock and travelling. You can follow him @SinisaBucan.