- For the identical term for an enchantment that increases attributes, see Enchantment.
In Hearthstone, buffs are not called for as often by players as nerfs, since cards that need buffs are usually not visible enough to gather attention in a particular meta. Therefore, buffs are usually requested for a variety of reasons, such as wanting an interesting but weak deck archetype to see play, or wanting to give boost to a struggling class.
Developers agree that buffs in general are "low reward and high risk". Some cards when over-buffed, such as , may make the entire meta resolve around them and create bad player experiences. Over-nerfed cards, however, don't usually create massive power spikes in decks, as the actual power of any particular deck isn't increased. There is a tight window for success when buffing a card, where it needs to transition from a low play rate to just a slightly higher play rate.
Buffs do a worse job at shaking up a meta than nerfs:
If you think about what cards we nerf and why, we're usually taking archetypes that are between 10%-25% play rate and tuning them down. Defining success for these changes is pretty broad. We might take a 25% deck down to 9% and call that a success.
That means that pocket of 16% is filled with different decks, which is a pretty big shake-up.
The window of success for a buff is much smaller. We might look at a deck that is 2% play rate and success means it lands somewhere between 6-8%. If it's much higher, it probably means we buffed a card so much that now that deck is dependent on drawing it.
Much lower and we didn't actually make much of an impact. Doesn't mean we shouldn't do buffs, but just that they are less effective as a balancing tool.
Prior to Patch 220.127.116.11313, buffs used to be nearly non-existent. The first ever buff "event" happened during the Rise of the Mech event, where several The Boomsday Project cards were buffed. Though buffs would not become a regular occurrence until after patch 17.2.1.