Card changes are the alteration of cards from their previous designs. Hearthstone's designers prefer to avoid changing cards, but when the need arises, card changes will be implemented within patches. Normally, cards which have been nerfed will be made disenchantable for their full crafting cost, for a short adjustment period of 2 weeks. Other card changes will not feature such refund periods.
This page lists all card changes made in Hearthstone, to date.
Only intentional design changes are listed here. For bugs and bug fixes, see Bugs. Major changes to game mechanics can be found on the pages Game Mechanics Updates and Rule changes. Minor changes to card text and underlying mechanics can be found on individual card or patch pages.
Official explanations of card changes featured in patch notes are included here to provide context for the changes. Changes are listed by patch, in date order. For a list of changes to specific cards, see individual card pages.
For a summarized overview of the history of card changes from 2014-2020 in Hearthstone, see the section below: #History.
- 1 Card change protocol
- 2 Patch 184.108.40.206994 (May 12, 2021)
- 3 Patch 220.127.116.11904 (April 13, 2021)
- 4 Patch 18.104.22.168662 (March 25, 2021)
- 5 Patch 22.214.171.124257 (2021-02-19)
- 6 Patch 126.96.36.199661 (2021-01-28)
- 7 Patch 188.8.131.52828 (2021-01-08)
- 8 Patch 184.108.40.206600 (2020-12-15)
- 9 Patch 220.127.116.11160 (2020-10-22)
- 10 Patch 18.104.22.168352 (2020-09-29)
- 11 Patch 22.214.171.124213 (2020-09-08)
- 12 Patch 126.96.36.199359 (2020-08-18)
- 13 Patch 188.8.131.52261 (2020-07-14)
- 14 Patch 184.108.40.206510 (2020-06-18)
- 15 Patch 220.127.116.11313 (2020-05-18)
- 16 Patch 18.104.22.168932 (2020-04-20)
- 17 Patch 22.214.171.124310 (2020-04-09)
- 18 Patch 126.96.36.199222 (2020-03-26)
- 19 Patch 188.8.131.52246 (2020-03-17)
- 20 Patch 184.108.40.206282 (2020-01-09)
- 21 Patch 220.127.116.11377 (2019-12-19)
- 22 Patch 18.104.22.168060 (2019-12-06)
- 23 Patch 22.214.171.124402 (2019-08-26)
- 24 Patch 126.96.36.199761 (2019-07-01)
- 25 Patch 188.8.131.52268 (2019-06-03)
- 26 Patch 184.108.40.206022 (2019-05-22)
- 27 Patch 220.127.116.11855 (2019-02-05)
- 28 Patch 18.104.22.168329 (2018-12-19)
- 29 Patch 22.214.171.124358 (2018-10-18)
- 30 Patch 126.96.36.199770 (2018-08-02)
- 31 Patch 188.8.131.5289 (2018-05-22)
- 32 Patch 184.108.40.20666 (2018-04-10)
- 33 Patch 10.2.0.23180 (2018-02-06)
- 34 Patch 220.127.116.1170 (2017-09-18)
- 35 Patch 18.104.22.16857 (2017-08-08)
- 36 Patch 22.214.171.12422 (2017-07-10)
- 37 Patch 126.96.36.19920 (2017-02-28)
- 38 Patch 188.8.131.5281 (2016-10-20)
- 39 Patch 184.108.40.20630 (2016-10-03)
- 40 Patch 220.127.116.1119 (2016-07-12)
- 41 Patch 18.104.22.16874 (2016-04-24)
- 42 Patch 22.214.171.12404 (2015-10-20)
- 43 Patch 126.96.36.19966 (2015-06-15)
- 44 Patch 188.8.131.5211 (2015-03-31)
- 45 Patch 184.108.40.20628 (2015-01-29)
- 46 Patch 220.127.116.1134 (2014-12-04)
- 47 Patch 18.104.22.16885 (2014-09-22)
- 48 Patch 22.214.171.12424 (2014-07-22)
- 49 Patch 126.96.36.19914 (2014-05-08)
- 50 Beta
- 51 Alpha
- 52 History
- 53 Player reactions
- 54 Patch changes
- 55 References
- 56 See also
Card change protocol[edit | edit source]
Card changes are usually foreshadowed by official announcements, stating the nature of the coming changes, and offering some explanation for each change.
Implementation[edit | edit source]
Changes are put into effect through patches, with the new versions of the cards immediately replacing the previous versions. Players' deck lists are usually unaffected, but the cards within those decks will be updated to the new versions, which can surprise unaware players when the new version of a card is drawn in a match. This includes in the Arena, where altered cards will change mid-run.
Because card changes are put into effect through patches, players have a small amount of control over when the changes will be implemented for them. Since client-side patches will not be applied until the player logs out of the game, and players will only be matched with other players using the same version of the client, players will not find their cards changing in the middle of a match, or mid-session without first logging out. However, if the card change was applied by a server-side patch, the card will be able to function differently in its changed form in the middle of a game, which may surprise the player.
Significant changes to cards are usually announced to the player upon loading the client for the first time following the changes. Patch 188.8.131.5274 introduced a special interface for this purpose, displaying the new versions of the relevant cards with the changed elements highlighted.
Disenchanting[edit | edit source]
- See also: Dust refunds
Following card nerfs, if a changed card is craftable, and the change was not a simple technical adjustment, that card will then be made disenchantable for its full crafting cost, for a short period, usually two weeks. This is designed to allow players who have spent dust crafting the card to disenchant it at no cost, minimising the disruption caused by such changes to existing cards. After the adjustment period ends, the card's disenchantment value will be restored to its usual amount.
This adjustment is put into effect through increasing the normal disenchanting value for the changed cards. Because of this, the extra Dust is provided whether the card was crafted before the card was changed, or afterwards. As a result, players are able to craft and later disenchant these cards (within that period) without penalty, allowing them to try the cards in their decks before deciding whether to keep or disenchant them. However, since almost all eligible card changes are nerfs, this is generally less desirable than might be expected.
The increase means a regular changed card can be converted to any other card of the same rarity, at no cost. It also means that a golden changed card can be exchanged for several cards of the same rarity or even higher rarity. For players more interested in completing their regular collection than collecting golden cards, but not wishing to lose the card altogether, this means they can convert a golden changed card into a regular copy of the same card, as well as regular copies of several other cards. This makes card changes a particularly lucrative time for players who have gained golden copies of the changed cards through rewards such as the Highest Rank Bonus chest, provided they are not too attached to the golden quality.
Patch 184.108.40.206994 (May 12, 2021)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Refreshing Spring Water - Now costs 5 mana (Up from 4).
- Spell Mage currently exhibits many explosive turns, with Refreshing Spring Water playing a significant role. By nerfing Refreshing Spring Water to 5 mana, we're aiming to lower the frequency of extreme turns where Refreshing Spring Water draws cards and gains you mana in the process. By lowering the frequency of those gameplay sequences, we believe the deck's range of possibilities will be more in line with other current options.
- First Day of School - Now costs 1 mana (Up from 0). Now reads: "Add 3 random 1-Cost minions to your hand."
- As we look at Paladin's continued strong performance across multiple archetypes, we're nerfing First Day of School in order to hit Paladin's early-game strength. By bumping up First Day of School's mana cost and the amount of 1-Cost minions generated, we are moving the card to fit a value role rather than its initial position as an efficient curve enabler.
- Hysteria - Now costs 4 mana (Up from 3).
- At 3 mana, Hysteria becomes an option before opponents really have the opportunity to consider how to best interact with it. Pushing Hysteria to 4 mana gives more space for those board-committal decisions to occur and also allows cheaper removal in Priest/Warlock to have a more distinct purpose.
- Crabrider - Now reads: "Rush Battlecry: Gain Windfury this turn only."
- Crabrider is too efficient in some of our board-based decks, clearing minions and dishing out a lot of Windfury damage. By changing Crabrider's Windfury to only last until end of turn, we're pulling back on the lethality it poses if left alone for a few turns. We aim for Crabrider to still remain a solid option for decks looking to swing back the board, especially when combined with buffs.
- We are lowering the Health on Mankrik, Consumed by Hatred to soften the effect of an early Olgra draw. At 7 Health, the token will be more in reach of the mid-game removal that's available throughout turns 4-6.
The following cards were buffed.
- Razorboar - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2).
- Dark Inquisitor Xanesh - Now reads: "Reduce the Cost of all Corrupt and Corrupted cards in your hand and deck by (2)."
- Unbound Elemental - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2).
- Tidal Surge - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4).
- Lilypad Lurker - Now has 5 Attack (Up from 4). Now has 6 Health (Up from 5).
- Fiendish Circle - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4).
- Deck of Chaos - Now costs 5 mana (Down from 6).
- Whirling Combatant - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2).
- Shieldmaiden - Now costs 5 mana (Down from 6).
- N'Zoth, God of the Deep - Now costs 9 mana (Down from 10).
- We're issuing a number of buffs in 20.2.2, mainly focused on bringing up struggling classes and archetypes. One of our goals for a meta is to provide deck diversity: not only different class options, but also attractive deck options that play markedly different from one another. These buffs follow that goal, as each one is targeted at helping out an underrepresented archetype or play pattern.
The following cards were adjusted.
Patch 220.127.116.11904 (April 13, 2021)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed. They and Kargal Battlescar were able to able to disenchant for full Arcane Dust value for 2 weeks.
- Deck of Lunacy - Now costs 4 mana (Up from 2).
- Deck of Lunacy moves up to 4 mana, removing its ability to provide a game-warping effect on turn 1 or 2. When we create cards like Deck of Lunacy, we're aiming for an experience that lets you do wacky, over-the-top things at the cost of power. There's a large audience for that (Spell Mage's play-rate shows!), but Deck of Lunacy very clearly crosses the power threshold we set for these types of cards.
- Sword of the Fallen - Now has 2 Durability (Down from 3).
- Sword of the Fallen is not only powerful, but also creates early-game situations with too many Secrets in play. We're moving Sword of the Fallen down to 2 durability to reduce the overall value of the card and make those turns against 3-4 Secrets less common.
- Jandice Barov - Now costs 6 mana (Up from 5).
- Jandice Barov benefitted greatly from the Core Set refresh and the rotation of weaker 5-Cost minions. Looking ahead, we don't intend to dilute Jandice's pool of summoned minions and that's not something we'd want to rely on for her balance. With that in mind, we are nerfing Jandice Barov to 6 mana where her total stat output is much more appropriate.
- Pen Flinger - Now reads: "Battlecry: Deal 1 damage to a minion. Spellburst: Return this to your hand."
- Pen Flinger equips some classes with large amounts of chip damage, whether it be to minions or to the opposing hero. This flexibility makes Pen Flinger an attractive option for many decks, but when that utility is combined with repetition it takes over the story of a match. Pen Flinger takes out your minions, might deal 10 damage to your face over multiple turns, and even had the gall to call you names throughout all of it. We're nerfing Pen Flinger to now only target minions, positioning it as a removal option rather than a dual-threat card.
- Far Watch Post - Now has 3 Health (Down from 4).
- Mor'shan Watch Post - Now has 4 Health (Down from 5).
- Watch Posts are meant to act as an interesting tech-package when dealing with certain gameplans. Currently though, they act as go-to options in many classes, sporting quite high winrates for disruption-based cards. In order to cut into their power, we're reducing the Health of both Far Watch Post and Mor'shan Watch Post. This change will make them easier to deal with on turns 2 + 3, lowering the investment barrier for removal to better match the options available on those early turns.
The following cards were adjusted.
- Olgra, Mankrik's Wife - Now costs 3 mana (Up from 0).
- Holy Wrath - Now has Holy spell school (previously: no spell school).
- Warsong Wrangler - Now reads: ...from your deck... (previously: ...in your deck...). (Functionally unchanged)
Patch 18.104.22.168662 (March 25, 2021)[edit | edit source]
Aside from spells getting spell schools, these cards are going to be changed.
- Demon Hunter
- Mark of the Wild - Now reads: Give a minion Taunt and +2/+3. (+2 Attack/+3 Health)
- Keeper of the Grove - Now has 4 Health (Up from 2)
- Druid of the Claw - Now has 5 Attack (Up from 4). Now reads: Choose One - Transform into a 5/4 with Rush; or a 5/6 with Taunt.
- Menagerie Warden - Now costs 5 mana (Down from 6). Now has 4 Attack (Down from 5). Now has 4 Health (Down from 5).
- Ancient of Lore - Now reads: Choose One - Draw 2 cards; or Restore 5 Health.
- Cenarius - Now costs 8 mana (Down from 9).
- Flare - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Hunter's Mark - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Lock and Load - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Toxic Reinforcements - Now reads: ...Reward: Summon three 2/1 Leper Gnomes.
- Tracking - Now reads: Discover a card from your deck.
- Starving Buzzard - Now costs 2 mana (Down from 5). Now has 2 Attack (Down from 3). Now has 1 Health (Down from 2).
- Dinotamer Brann - Now costs 7 mana (Down from 8)
- Mana Wyrm - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2). Now has 2 Health (Down from 3).
- Snap Freeze - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Cone of Cold - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Conjurer's Calling(uncollectible) - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Wyrm Weaver - Now costs 4 mana (Down from 5). Now has 5 Health (Down from 6). Now reads: Spellburst: Summon two 1/2 Mana Wyrms.
- Ethereal Conjurer - Now has 4 Health (Up from 3)
- Coldarra Drake - Now has 7 Health (Up from 6)
- Dragoncaster - Now costs 6 mana (Down from 7)
- Flamestrike - Now reads: Deal 5 damage to all enemy minions.
- Argent Protector - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2)
- Holy Light - Now reads: Restore 8 Health to your hero.
- Equality - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Warhorse Trainer - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2)
- Call to Arms - Now cost 4 mana (down from 5)
- Guardian of Kings - Now has Taunt. Now has 7 Health (Up from 6).
- Power Word: Shield - Now costs 1 mana (Up from 0). Now draws a card.
- Shadowform - Now costs 2 mana (Down from 3). Now reads: Your Hero Power becomes 'Deal 2 damage.'
- Lightspawn - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4). Now has 4 Health (Down from 5).
- Swashburglar - Now reads: Battlecry: Add a random card from another class to your hand.
- The Caverns Below - Now reads: Quest: Play four minions with the same name...
- Crystal Core - Now reads "For the rest of the game, your minions are 5/5." (Up from 4/4).
- Blade Flurry - Now costs 2 mana (Down from 4)
- Patient Assassin - Now has 2 Health (Up from 1)
- Edwin VanCleef - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4).
- Assassin's Blade - Now costs 4 mana (Down from 5). Now has 2 Attack (Down from 3). Now has 5 Durability (Up from 4).
- Assassinate - Now costs 4 mana (Down from 5)
- Necrium Apothecary - Now costs 4 Mana (Down from 5)
- Sprint - Now costs 6 mana (Down from 7)
- Unidentified Contract
- Assassin's Contract - Now reads: "... Summon a 1/2 Patient Assassin."
- Galakrond, the Nightmare - Now reads: "... It costs (0)." (Down from 1)
- Totemic Call - Wrath of Air Totem replaced with Strength Totem
- Invocation of Frost - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Spirit Claws - Now costs 1 mana (Down from 2)
- Flametongue Totem - Now costs 2 mana (Down from 3). Now has 2 Health (Down from 3).
- Feral Spirit - Now has Overload: (1) (Down from 2)
- Lightning Storm - Now reads: Deal 3 damage to all enemy minions. Overload: (2)
- Draenei Totemcarver - Now has 5 Health (Up from 4)
- Tidal Surge - Now reads: Lifesteal Deal 4 damage to a minion.
- Corrupt Elementalist - Now costs 5 mana (Down from 6)
- Dragon's Pack - Now reads: ...If you've Invoked twice, give them +3/+3.
- Earth Elemental - Now has Overload: (2) (Down from 3)
- Fire Elemental - Now reads: Battlecry: Deal 4 damage.
- Al'Akir the Windlord - Now has 6 Health (Up from 5)
- Drain Soul - Now reads: Lifesteal Deal 3 damage to a minion.
- Fiendish Rites - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Void Terror - Now has 4 Health (Up from 3)
- Lakkari Felhound - Now reads: Taunt Battlecry: Discard your two lowest-Cost cards.
- Siphon Soul - Now costs 5 mana (Down from 6)
- Lord Jaraxxus - Is now a hero card giving 5 Armor. Now reads: Battlecry: Equip a 3/8 Blood Fury.
- Bloodsworn Mercenary - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2). Now has 3 Health (Up from 2).
- Charge (card) - Now costs 3 mana (Up from 1). Now reads: Give a friendly minion +2 Attack and Charge.
- Scion of Ruin - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Warsong Commander - Now reads: After you summon another minion, give it Rush.
- We're moving Nitroboost Poison to 2 mana to reduce the amount of cheap burst damage available in Rogue and create a real cost for Corruption. When evaluating Rogue's future weapon-centric archetypes, we want to position the play patterns around building up a weapon over multiple turns and fighting for board rather than the hyper-aggressive strategies seen in decks like Stealth Rogue.
- Leper Gnome - Now has 2 Attack (Up from 1)
- Undertaker - Now reads: ..., gain +1/+1.
- Knife Juggler - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2)
- Arcane Golem - Now has Charge. Now has 2 Health (Down from 4)
- Bad Luck Albatross - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4)
- Flesheating Ghoul - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2)
- Mini-Mage - Now costs 3 mana (Down from 4). Now has 3 Attack (Down from 4).
- Raid Leader - Now has 3 Health (Up from 2)
- Big Game Hunter - Now costs 4 mana (Down from 5)
- Defender of Argus - Now has 3 Attack (Up from 2)
- Frenzied Felwing - Now has 3 Health (Up from 2)
- Saronite Chain Gang - Now reads: Summon a copy of this minion.
- Gurubashi Berserker - Now has 8 Health (Up from 7)
- Cairne Bloodhoof - Now has 5 Attack (Up from 4). Now reads: Deathrattle: Summon a 5/5 Baine Bloodhoof.
- High Inquisitor Whitemane - Now costs 6 mana (Down from 7). Now has 5 Attack (Down from 6). Now has 7 Health (Down from 8).
- Baron Geddon - Now has 7 Health (Up from 5)
- Barrens Stablehand - Now has 5 Attack (Up from 4). Now has 5 Health (Up from 4).
- Bonemare - Now costs 7 mana (Down from 8)
- Stormwind Champion - Now has 7 Attack (Up from 6). Now has 7 Health (Up from 6).
- Arcane Devourer - Now has 4 Attack (Down from 5). Now has 8 Health (Up from 5).
- Archivist Elysiana - Now costs 8 mana (Down from 9)
- Dragonqueen Alexstrasza - Now reads: ...They cost (0).
- Mekgineer Thermaplugg
- The summoned Leper Gnome is now 2/1 instead of 1/1. The text remains unchanged.
- Nightmare - Now reads: Give a minion +4/+4. At the start of your next turn, destroy it.
- Dream - Now costs 1 mana (Up from 0). Now reads: Return an enemy minion to your opponent's hand.
- Laughing Sister - Now costs 2 mana (Down from 3)
- Ysera Awakens - Now costs 3 mana (Up from 2). Now reads: Deal 5 damage to all minions except Ysera.
- Non-fuctional changes
- Arcanologist - Removed "from your deck" text
Patch 22.214.171.124257 (2021-02-19)[edit | edit source]
The following card was nerfed.
- High Abbess Alura - Now costs 5 mana, up from 4.
"High Abbess Alura is going to 5 mana in order to push out the swing turns she enables. When an individual card contains a large amount of a deck's winrate, as Alura does, it breaks the promises of a Hearthstone match. Instead of having a natural back-and-forth flow between players, games with a turn 4 Alura can create seemingly insurmountable board states too early in the match. At 5 mana, Alura's identity as a big spell buildaround card remains intact but the change will give more room for games to occur before the swing and for responses to be ready after her Spellburst trigger."
Patch 126.96.36.199661 (2021-01-28)[edit | edit source]
The following card was nerfed.
- Hysteria - Now reads "Choose an enemy minion. It attacks random minions until it dies."
"Believe it to be the best future-proof change. We're going to keep making on-attack triggers and any plan where you can purposefully skip your opponent's turn isn't something we want around. Hurts to lose some of the more interesting decisions with hysteria but felt it was right."
Patch 188.8.131.52828 (2021-01-08)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Edwin VanCleef - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
"The last few weeks have been the best Edwin has ever performed as an individual card (the highest win rate card in multiple Rogue archetypes). Alongside cards like Foxy Fraud and Shadowstep, the frequency of early 8/8 or 10/10 Edwin VanCleefs reached a point we are no longer comfortable with. Edwin's mana cost is increasing by 1 to weaken some of the powerful openings at Rogue's disposal. We were planning on rotating Edwin out of Standard in a few months (still are, more info on that soon!), but want to evaluate how the rest of Rogue's kit performs without this very powerful iteration of Edwin. Cards like Foxy Fraud, Swindle, and Prize Plunderer are important pieces for future expansions and card interactions, so we'll be keeping close tabs on how they perform with the influx of new cards and Edwin's nerf."
- Boggspine Knuckles - Attack reduced from 4 to 3.
"We're lowering the attack on Boggspine Knuckles in order to cut into the fluidity of Evolve Shaman, increasing the required investment of playing a 5-mana weapon without a free Dread Corsair, and reduce the overall damage output the deck is capable of over multiple weapon charges. This change lowers the amount of explosive plays available to Evolve Shaman and should create an overall healthier meta."
Patch 184.108.40.206600 (2020-12-15)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Dreadlord's Bite - Attack reduced from 3 to 2.
- Voracious Reader - Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
- Lorekeeper Polkelt - Now costs 5 mana, up from 4.
"Hello, hello! The nerfs tomorrow are mainly focused on lowering the overall power level of Demon Hunter. Demon Hunter's population in higher levels of play was growing week over week, hitting nearly 35% last week. Our approach was to look at the two decks (Aggro and Soul Fragment DH) separately as their power cards differed between them. The nerfs to cards like Dreadlord's Bite, Voracious Reader, and Lorekeeper Polkelt are aimed at reducing the refill and reach Aggro DH currently has."
- Blade Dance - Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
- Shardshatter Mystic - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
"For Soul Fragment DH, our changes to Blade Dance and Shardshatter Mystic are focused on the efficiency of their board-clearing ability. Blade Dance was a card that got significantly more powerful as DH accumulated more ways to gain attack (Twin Slice change, new weapons, etc.) and didn't agree with one of the outlined class weaknesses Demon Hunter is supposed to have: killing big minions."
- Dinotamer Brann - Now costs 8 mana, up from 7.
"Our last change is a nerf to Dinotamer Brann. This was a preemptive change as we saw a potentially dominant matchup spread for Hunter after these changes."
Patch 220.127.116.11160 (2020-10-22)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Evocation - Now costs 2 mana, up from 1.
"While looking at the current environment and future metas, Evocation helped enable a lot of early game swings that could feel insurmountable. We want to smooth that out. At 2 mana, it's not as fluid with Sorcerer's Apprentice and won't be generated from Wandmaker/Spellkin."
- Solarian Prime - Now costs 9 mana, up from 7.
"For Solarian Prime, we stepped back and evaluated where it stacked up compared to the other Primes. With that and some of the power spikes it can generate, moving it to 9 mana felt appropriate."
Patch 18.104.22.168352 (2020-09-29)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Tortollan Pilgrim - Now reads: Battlecry: Discover a spell in your deck and cast it with random targets.
Let's start with Tortollan Pilgrim. By changing the textbox to now consume the discovered spell, we are eliminating the repetitive gameplay in Turtle Mage.
We had talked about Pilgrim in balance meetings previously, but wanted to see how the deck would compete with time. Was it just an interesting tournament pick or would it become a mainstay on the ladder with a solid winrate? Over time it became clear that Turtle Mage was here to stay. There was a clear shift in "maybe it falls off" to "I see this on the ladder quite frequently."
While we love when the community comes up with novel decks that challenge your idea of what is possible within Hearthstone, the feelings of inevitability present in Turtle Mage didn't make for a healthy gameplay experience.
- Guardian Animals - Now costs 8 mana, up from 7.
Then we have Guardian Animals. We are increasing the mana cost to 8 to add a bit more friction to the common pattern of Overgrowth -> Guardian Animals.
On day 1 of Scholomance Academy, Guardian Animals Druid was very strong, but the meta adapted to combat it. We saw decks punish Druid for taking too long to get things going as well as decks that could deal with the big Guardian Animals turn efficiently. Even today you could say Guardian Animals is in a fine spot balance wise, it's strong but not out of bounds. Our change here is more focused on pushing out the big swing by a turn to alleviate some of the negative feelings when you're on the opposing end. Guardian Animals can be a knockout punch and we'd like that to occur a bit later.
Patch 22.214.171.124213 (2020-09-08)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Secret Passage - Now reads: Replace your hand with 4 cards from your deck. Swap back next turn.
First up is Secret Passage, one of the top cards across all Rogue archetypes. Going down to 4 cards takes some of the raw power out but still gives you a solid draw option for a more aggressive package. Some future protection in this change, the question was when not if.
- Cabal Acolyte - Health reduced from 6 to 4.
Moving on to Cabal Acolyte, going to 4 Health will tone down some of its defensive capabilities on turn 4 and post-Spellburst effect. Acolyte was one of the best performing cards in Priest and we want these sort of effects (mind control-esque) to be a deckbuilding choice.
- Darkglare - Now costs 2 mana, down from 3. Stats reduced from 3/4 to 2/3. Now reads: After your hero takes damage, refresh a Mana Crystal.
Then there's Darkglare, this is a change mainly done for Wild. In Wild, Darkglare Warlock is fairly rampant and creates early board states that make for a lot of non-games. The change to 2/3 and 1 mana being refreshed is aimed to retain some of its identity in a smaller form.
The following cards were buffed.
- Archwitch Willow - Now costs 8 mana, down from 9. Attack and Health reduced from 7 to 5.
Finally, we have two buffs! With the Darkglare change, we wanted to give Warlock a buff. Willow going to 8 mana makes for an intriguing late game option for heavier Warlock builds. We played at this mana cost for much of development and thought it was right to go back.
- Totem Goliath - Attack increased from 4 to 5. Now reads: Deathrattle: Summon all four basic Totems. Overload: (1).
The change to Totem Goliath is more of a correction, the 2 overload was too limiting for a deck that wants to follow up with another strong play for 5 mana (bloodlust, second goliath). We'll continue to monitor how Shaman performs in the meta and see if other buffs are necessary.
Patch 126.96.36.199359 (2020-08-18)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider - Now reads: Every third spell you cast each turn costs (1).
- Mindrender Illucia - Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
Patch 188.8.131.52261 (2020-07-14)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Dragonqueen Alexstrasza - Now reads: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, add 2 other random Dragons to your hand. They cost (1).
- Corsair Cache - Now reads: Draw a weapon. Give it +1 Durability.
- Metamorphosis - Now reads: Swap your Hero Power to "Deal 4 damage." After 2 uses, swap it back.
- Kayn Sunfury - Health reduced from 5 to 4.
- Warglaives of Azzinoth - Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
- Dragoncaster - Now costs 7 mana, up from 6.
- Fungal Fortunes - Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
- Galakrond, the Nightmare - Now reads: Battlecry: Draw 1 card. It costs (1).
Patch 184.108.40.206510 (2020-06-18)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Twin Slice - Now costs 1 mana, up from 0. Now reads: Give your hero +2 Attack this turn. Add 'Second Slice' to your hand.
- Second Slice - Now costs 1 mana, up from 0. Now reads: Give your hero +2 Attack this turn.
Patch 220.127.116.11313 (2020-05-18)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were buffed.
- Aldor Attendant - Now costs 1 mana, down from 2. Attack reduced from 2 to 1.
- Torrent - Now costs 4 mana, down from 5.
- Shattered Rumbler - Attack increased from 4 to 5.
- The Lurker Below - Health increased from 3 to 5.
The following cards were nerfed.
- Priestess of Fury - Health reduced from 7 to 5.
- Crimson Sigil Runner - Attack reduced from 2 to 1.
- Scavenger's Ingenuity - Now reads: Draw a Beast. Give it +2/+2.
- Shadowjeweler Hanar - Health reduced from 5 to 4.
- Blackjack Stunner - Now reads: Battlecry: If you control a Secret, return a minion to its owner's hand. It costs (1) more.
- Imprisoned Scrap Imp - Now reads: Dormant for 2 turns. When this awakens, give all minions in your hand +2/+1.
- Bloodboil Brute - Attack reduced from 6 to 5.
- Bloodsworn Mercenary - Attack reduced from 3 to 2. Health reduced from 3 to 2.
Patch 18.104.22.168932 (2020-04-20)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider - Now costs 7 mana, up from 6.
There are two aspects of Kael'thas. He can play a zero-cost spell twice or even three times in a turn and we could say only the first spell that you cast. Or we could nerf the mana cost and there are benefits to both. Changing the mana keeps the dream and fun part of the card alive, you play Kael'thas to have these crazy power turns. We are leaning towards increasing the mana cost because we want to keep the Kael'thas dream alive, we just don't want it to happen every game.
- Bad Luck Albatross - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
It's supposed to be included against duplicate decks but it is being included at such a wide rate right now because the cost you pay for it is not much. Its effect honestly isn't that powerful, it just feels so good to be able to use it against Spell Mage or Pure Paladin, but metrics-wise it's not very good. If you are really only interested in winning games, you should take Albatross out of your deck.
- Frenzied Felwing - Health reduced from 3 to 2.
It's a card that can snowball the game out of control really early. It's really hard to come back from double Felwing. Now that Demon Hunter exists they are utilizing it really well and we don't want to be hindered by past cards. The thing we are trying to get away from is being able to cast a card on a turn you have no business casting it on. It's the extreme early game swing stuff that we try to get away from and Felwing falls into that bucket a little bit.
- Sacrificial Pact - Now reads: Destroy a friendly Demon. Restore 5 Health to your hero.
Cards like Golakka Crawler and Sacrificial Pact, sometimes called hate cards, where you either have them or you can't catch up. That's a little more extreme than we would like and Sac Pact has been a really nice card for a long time but Ashes of Outland and Demon Hunter has made it really powerful. Our leading candidate is having it only affect friendly demons, so it still works in decks like Galakrond Warlock.
- Altruis the Outcast - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3. Attack increased from 3 to 4.
- Battlefiend - Attack reduced from 2 to 1.
- Glaivebound Adept - Attack reduced from 7 to 6.
- Bloodbloom - Now costs 4 mana, up from 2.
- Open the Waygate - Now reads: Cast 8 spells that didn’t start in your deck. Reward: Time Warp.
The following card was buffed.
- Libram of Justice - Now costs 5 mana, down from 6.
The following card was adjusted.
- The Lurker Below - Is now a Beast.
Patch 22.214.171.124310 (2020-04-09)[edit | edit source]
The following Demon Hunter card nerfs were the fastest card nerfs in Hearthstone history, being nerfed on April 8th, 1 day after their release on April 7th. On April 8th, a server-side patch was applied, nerfing the cards, but the nerfed cards appeared normal in the collection; however, they could be seen as functionally nerfed during in-game matches. For example, Skull of Gul'dan had a red mana cost number of 6, and Eye Beam had its mana cost at 1 when its Outcast ability was active, even though its card text still read "Outcast: This costs (0)". This server-side patch was applied around 6:30pm PDT April 8th. On April 9th, the following card nerfs were finalized on the client-side with Patch 126.96.36.199310.
- Skull of Gul'dan - Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
- Imprisoned Antaen - Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
- Eye Beam - Now reads: Lifesteal. Deal 3 damage to a minion. Outcast: This costs (1).
- Aldrachi Warblades - Durability decreased from 3 to 2.
Patch 188.8.131.52222 (2020-03-26)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were buffed.
- Dr. Boom, Mad Genius - Now costs 7 mana, down from 9.
- Giggling Inventor - Now costs 6 mana, down from 7.
- Raiding Party - Now costs 3 mana, down from 4.
- Reckless Experimenter - Now reads: Deathrattle minions you play cost (3) less, but die at end of turn.
- Power Word: Shield - Now costs 0 mana, down from 1. Now reads: Give a minion +2 Health.
- Shadow Word: Death - Now costs 2 mana, down from 3.
- Holy Smite - Now reads: Deal 3 damage to a minion.
- Holy Nova - Now costs 4 mana, down from 5. Now reads: Deal 2 damage to all enemy minions. Restore 2 Health to all friendly characters.
- Shadow Madness - Now costs 3 mana, down from 4.
- Temple Enforcer - Now costs 5 mana, down from 6. Attack decreased from 6 to 5.
- Thoughtsteal - Now costs 2 mana, down from 3.
The following cards were redesigned.
- Illidan Stormrage renamed and redesigned as Xavius.
- Lucentbark - Now reads: "Taunt. Deathrattle: Go Dormant..."
- Sherazin, Corpse Flower - Now reads: "Deathrattle: Go Dormant..."
- The Darkness - Now reads: "Starts Dormant...". Now is exempt from random summon or transform effects.
Patch 184.108.40.206246 (2020-03-17)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were buffed.
- Spiteful Summoner - Now costs 6 mana, down from 7.
- Call of the Wild - Now costs 8 mana, down from 9.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone - Now costs 5 mana, down from 6.
- Raza the Chained - Now reads: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, your Hero Power costs (0) this game.
- Yogg-Saron, Hope's End - No longer stops casting when he leaves the board.
- Sludge Slurper - Attack increased from 1 to 2.
Patch 220.127.116.11282 (2020-01-09)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Fiendish Rites - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
- Scion of Ruin - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
- Ancharrr - Durability reduced from 3 to 2.
- Dragon's Pack - Now reads: Summon two 2/3 Spirit Wolves with Taunt. If you've Invoked twice, give them +2/+2.
- Invocation of Frost - Now costs 2 mana, up from 1.
- Necrium Apothecary - Now costs 5 mana, up from 4.
- Dragonqueen Alexstrasza - Now reads: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, add 2 other random Dragons to your hand. They cost (0).
The influx of card changes this expansion has a little to do with those cards being quite powerful, but it’s mostly that we wanted to try a different approach to the cadence we make card changes.
The changes [Dean "Iksar" Ayala] feels were absolutely necessary this expansion were the ones to Galakrond Shaman. It was really the only archetype that was at a power level unacceptable under any past circumstance. Even after the first round of changes, there turned out to be an undiscovered deck that played a little slower and was even more powerful than the version being used during the first couple weeks. During playtesting, we honestly just thought that Galakrond Shaman was an incredibly fun deck to play and wanted to push it to a level where it would be considered one of the more powerful decks. We pushed too far, it happens.
As far as the rest of the changes, I think in the past we would have waited a little longer to take action. There are some advantages and disadvantages to waiting. One of the advantages is that the fewer changes you make, the more I think players are motivated to deckbuild and create new solutions rather than depend on us to make balance changes to things that might appear to be slightly out of line. In general, it’s probably healthier for the game if your first reaction to a powerful strategy is to try and find ways to beat it rather than join along and ride the wave because investing time into finding alternatives is undermined by constant changes.
One of the core disadvantages is that change happens less frequently. If there is something that frustrates you, maybe you can play a different strategy but maybe you don’t enjoy that strategy as much. Maybe you don’t own the cards for it. Maybe your favorite class is just weak to whatever the popular deck is and you don’t get to play it. Some of these things are very hard to avoid, but a faster rate of change makes it so you are less likely to be frustrated by a particular thing for too long. Change can be fun. Expansions aren’t just fun for players with the new cards, they can be fun for players playing old strategies too because the meta environment totally changes.
So, why are we trying something different? Some of it has to do with research. We dug through a bunch of data trying to find out what the behavior of players is when they have a strategy they play get nerfed. I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that a dedicated Shaman player might see a large decrease in play if their deck is nerfed in a way that makes them less excited to play it. It turns out, data hasn’t really backed up that theory in a way we might have expected. We’ve done this kind of research in the past, but as Garrosh might say, times change.
Of course, we’ve just started on a track to a different strategy. It’s possible we’ll find that over time increasing the cadence of change fatigues players in a way we would only find out after sticking to the strategy for a longer period. It’s possible that because we’re opting to change more cards more often, we’ll end up changing cards players didn’t think needed changes at a rate that makes people unhappy. We look to the audience for feedback on that, so let us know!
Patch 18.104.22.168377 (2019-12-19)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed. Two of the following cards, Corrupt Elementalist and Faceless Corruptor, were the fastest a card had ever been nerfed at the time of this patch, having been released only 9 days earlier.
- Corrupt Elementalist - Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
- Sludge Slurper - Now has 1 Attack, down from 2.
- Faceless Corruptor - Now has 4 Attack, down from 5.
- Mogu Fleshshaper - Now costs 9 mana, up from 7.
Patch 22.214.171.124060 (2019-12-06)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were not directly nerfed, but were eligible for full dust refunds because the Echo ability was nerfed to no longer be able to reduce Echo cards below 1 mana. This patch marks the first time that cards were eligible for full dust refunds based solely on a change to the function of an ability.
This change is targeted at a very popular deck in Wild that utilizes SN1P-SN4P along with the Echo mechanic to generate extremely large minions or near infinite damage. This change should put a stop to that interaction while having very limited impact on the average use case for Echo cards. Glinda, SN1P-SN4P, and Sound the Bells were the three cards that took advantage of generating 0-cost copies through Echo, so we've opted to refund all three of those cards as a result.
Patch 126.96.36.199402 (2019-08-26)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were nerfed.
- Conjurer's Calling - Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
While Conjurer’s Calling is a powerful tool that’s found in a number of Mage decks, when used in decks focused around cards like Mountain Giant and Sea Giant, it was creating extremely powerful board states at a point in the game where opponents didn’t have effective answers.
Increasing the mana cost of this card will make using both copies of the Twinspell card in a single turn significantly more difficult, postponing these potentially overwhelming turns until later in the game when the Mage’s opponent has more available resources to react to the board.
- Luna's Pocket Galaxy - Now costs 7 mana, up from 5.
Buffing cards with the Rise of the Mech event was a big change in philosophy for us. While we are happy with the overall outcome of the changes, Luna's Pocket Galaxy has proven to be an exception.
An early Luna's Pocket Galaxy can often leave opponents feeling helpless if late-game minions were drawn in subsequent turns. This has occurred more often than we had intended, therefore we're reverting its mana cost back to its original value of 7, as was the case before the Rise of the Mech event.
- Dr. Boom, Mad Genius - Now costs 9 mana, up from 7.
We’d still like Dr. Boom, Mad Genius to be a great option for control Warrior decks looking to close out games, but right now the card gets played a bit too early. Increasing the mana cost to 9 should make it more difficult to find a good turn to play Dr. Boom, giving opponents time to make powerful plays as well.
- Extra Arms - Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
During the Rise of the Mech event, Priest was one of the weaker classes in the game. Buffing Extra Arms gave Priest a powerful spell for the early game to enable some of their board-focused strategies.
With the release of Saviors of Uldum, Priest has access to many more powerful early game minions and has seen a large jump in both popularity and winrate. Between all of Priests buff spells and heal effects, it can be hard to fight for the board against them early in the game. Increasing the mana cost of Extra Arms back to 3 should give room for other decks to challenge them early on, while leaving the powerful Priest minions and combos untouched.
- Barnes - Now costs 5 mana, up from 4.
Barnes has been a hot topic in Wild format discussions for quite some time now, especially regarding how oppressive this card can feel when facing certain Priest decks.
While we’re okay with Wild having a higher power level in general, Barnes stood out as too consistently powerful early in the game. Increasing his mana cost by 1 will let opponents have an easier time reacting, but still lets Barnes retain its identity as a way to summon specific minions early in the game.
Patch 188.8.131.52761 (2019-07-01)[edit | edit source]
The following cards were redesigned. Thus, they were not eligible for full dust refunds.
- Pilfer - Now reads: Add a random card from another class to your hand.
We’ve updated the card text and functionality for Pilfer to match the recent changes to other “Burgle” cards currently available in Standard.
- Succubus - Renamed and redesigned as Felstalker.
- Mistress of Pain - Renamed and redesigned as Queen of Pain.
The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today. When Hearthstone first launched, we brought in a lot of artwork from the physical World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. In the years since, Hearthstone has developed a look, feel, and personality of its own that distinguishes it from that of Warcraft — though we still love being a part of that universe. We’ll always be looking for ways to deliver on the game’s unique style, charm, and personality.
We went back and really just brought everything up to our standards. It wasn't because we were looking at ratings, or international [regulations], or anything like that. We really just wanted our artists to feel good about everything in the set.
Patch 184.108.40.206268 (2019-06-03)[edit | edit source]
The first list of card changes below were card buffs and thus were not eligible for full dust refunds; however, Reckless Experimenter was eligible because it was nerfed instead. In addition, this patch notably marked the first time card buffs were given out to cards since the official release of Hearthstone in 2014.
For this update, we decided to take two cards from The Boomsday Project from each class and give them a slight power boost. We think all the cards we chose can lead to fun and interesting experiences, and our aim for these changes is to encourage you to think differently about how you’re currently building decks. We’re hoping that some of these cards will see consistent play in the current rotation, and even inspire completely new decks without having a lasting negative impact on their respective classes. If the goal of a balance update is to address metagame outliers, then the goal of something like the Rise of the Mech update is to inspire some fun, new ideas. We look forward to hearing your feedback!
- Reckless Experimenter - Now reads: Deathrattle minions you play cost (3) less, but die at end of turn. (Cost can't be reduced below 1.)
We’ve decided to make a change to how Reckless Experimenter functions due to an unwanted interaction with SN1P-SN4P that allows for an early-game infinite damage combo in Priest decks. We’re also aware of some interactions that SN1P-SN4P creates in Wild when played alongside multiple Mechwarpers, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how that plays out over the next few weeks.
Patch 220.127.116.11022 (2019-05-22)[edit | edit source]
- EVIL Miscreant - Health reduced from 5 to 4.
EVIL Miscreant is meant to be a value-generating card that creates future swing turns, but having 5 Health on this minion means Rogue players sacrifice very little to set up those turns. We expect that EVIL Miscreant will continue to be a great option for Rogue decks, just at a power level that is more in line with other available cards.
- Raiding Party – Now costs 4 mana, up from 3.
Rogue already excels at drawing cards, so having another powerful option that offers consistent results has resulted in Rogue games that play out a little too similarly than we think is fun. We’re making this change to better represent the power level of drawing from a very specific subset of cards.
- Preparation – Now reads: The next spell you cast this turn costs (2) less.
All changes we make to the Basic and Classic sets are aimed at ensuring Hearthstone’s long-term health. Preparation is currently seen as such a powerful card that it appears in nearly all Rogue deck archetypes. That said, the change we’ve landed on is a small one. While we do want the card’s power to decrease, we also think it’s important for Preparation to remain a reasonable option, since it fits the Rogue class fantasy so well.
Preparation is regularly used to reduce the cost of cards like Sap or Eviscerate, and those interactions will remain unchanged. Reducing the cost of your next spell by 2 as opposed to 3 opens our design options up a little more to create higher cost Rogue spells without having to balance so closely around the assumption that they’ll be cast alongside Preparation.
- Archivist Elysiana – Now costs 9 mana, up from 8.
Our goal here was to preserve the feeling and power level of Archivist Elysiana when it comes to general use, while making much more difficult to play her multiple times in the same game. Shaman will still be able to replay Elysiana through Shudderwock, but this is not as common or problematic as what we’ve seen in control Warrior decks. Now, playing Elysiana alongside cards like Baleful Banker or Youthful Brewmaster should be a less consistent strategy.
Patch 18.104.22.168855 (2019-02-05)[edit | edit source]
- Cold Blood – Now costs 2 mana, up from 1.
- Flametongue Totem – Now costs 3 mana, up from 2.
- Equality – Now costs 4 mana, up from 2.
- Hunter's Mark – Now costs 2 mana, up from 1.
We think Hearthstone is most fun when strategies are consistently evolving. When new cards are released, we’d like for older expansion decks to get a few interesting new pieces while also allowing you to experiment with the totally new archetypes that emerge. When Basic and Classic cards become so broadly effective—no matter what you’re facing—that they drive what deck styles are considered viable every expansion, then it makes that goal difficult to achieve.
Basic and Classic are sets that, ideally, should embody the flavor and mechanics of each Class. As we’ve mentioned before, cards in these sets can become an issue when they make all other strategies look less interesting. This doesn't mean that all Basic and Classic cards should be ineffective, however. It’s hugely important to us that these sets contain a good number of cards that are great tools for different situations and deck archetypes.
We’re changing these particular cards because each one has been highly prevalent, regardless of what strategies have been popular or what other cards have existed around them. When Basic and Classic cards become this ubiquitous, they take away some of the flexibility players have when building decks, ultimately stifling the diversity of decks we see when playing Hearthstone.
These changes are intended to shift these cards from general-purpose “auto-includes” into options that are more likely to be chosen for decks that are focused on strategies that capitalize on what these cards have to offer.
- Lesser Emerald Spellstone – Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
The only non-Basic or Classic card in this round of changes. We want to position Emerald Spellstone as an efficient mid- and late-game threat, so we’re moving its cost up by one to reduce its utility as an early-game, aggressive tempo option. This change—along with the Hunter’s Mark change—is aimed at addressing Hunter’s prevalence, while still leaving it as a viable option.
Patch 22.214.171.124329 (2018-12-19)[edit | edit source]
Wild Growth and Nourish have been present in every mid-range, combo, and control Druid deck since their introduction in the Basic and Classic set. When cards from the Basic and Classic set are too powerful, they can have negative long-term effects on the game. Continuously playing against these cards can start to feel repetitive, and they can feel so mandatory that they stifle creative deckbuilding decisions. By increasing the mana cost of both cards by one, we expect them to be considerations in late-game control Druid decks, but more difficult to fit in strategies that don’t directly take advantage of ramping mana.
- Level Up! – Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
Odd Paladin has consistently been one of the most powerful and most played decks since its introduction in The Witchwood. By removing Level Up from Odd Paladin, we still expect it to be a competitive board control deck, just with more consistent damage output that should be easier to play around.
- Saronite Chain Gang – Now reads: Taunt. Battlecry: Summon another Saronite Chain Gang.
Shudderwock brings an interesting combo to the table, but playing Shudderwock multiple times in a single game can be frustrating. Changing Saronite Chain Gang makes playing multiple Shudderwocks in a game much more difficult. Shudderwock should now exist as a powerful one-turn effect rather than constantly copying itself with Saronite Chain Gang’s Battlecry.
- Leeching Poison – Now costs 1 mana, down from 2. Now reads: Give your weapon Lifesteal this turn.
We love the fantasy of building a powerful weapon over the course of a game with Kingsbane, but granting it a permanent Lifesteal effect with Leeching Poison resulted in an endgame with few weaknesses, as well as conflicting with our philosophy that Rogues should not have persistent self-healing effects. Making the Lifesteal effect only active for one turn should address some of the power level issues with Kingsbane Rogue’s late game.
Patch 126.96.36.199358 (2018-10-18)[edit | edit source]
- Giggling Inventor – Now costs 7 mana, up from 5.
Giggling Inventor is one of the most powerful and popular cards we’ve ever created. There’s virtually no downside to including it in a deck, and because it’s neutral, it’s played in almost every deck. We think it’s important to take risks when making powerful cards, especially when it comes to neutral taunts, given the role they can play in encouraging minion interactions and making games more interesting. However, Giggling Inventor has stepped beyond its intended role, and we don’t feel that it should be as effective as it currently is.
We initially tested this card at (6) mana in both the current Standard format as well as with cards that will be released in the future. Ultimately, we felt that its power level was still higher than is appropriate for a Neutral card with no build-around requirements. At (7) mana, we expect Giggling Inventor will find its way into fewer decks in general—and be much less effective in Quest Rogue—while it might remain situationally playable within specific deck archetypes, such as Evolve Shaman.
- Mana Wyrm – Now costs 2 mana, up from 1.
Over time, we’ve been moving away from powerful, early-game 1-drops like Mana Wyrm. It can often feel like the outcome of a game is decided by whether Mana Wyrm was played on turn one, and if it could be removed quickly by an opponent. Mana Wyrm has also steered us away from making powerful low-cost Mage spells. We’d like Mana Wyrm to remain an option for decks it synergizes with, while preventing it from being a huge turn one threat.
At (2) mana, it will be easier to deal with Mana Wyrm the turn it’s played, and it will be harder to buff it with cheap spells early in the match. We still expect it to remain an option in decks that have a heavy focus on cheap spells, but it should be a less appealing option in decks that aren’t built with that focus in mind.
- Aviana – Now costs 10 mana, up from 9.
Changing Aviana to (10) mana means it will no longer be possible to play Aviana and Kun the Forgotten King on the same turn without some additional help from cards like Innervate or The Coin. It also means Juicy Psychmelon will no longer draw both Aviana and Kun. This should make the combos Aviana and Kun produce less consistent, while still allowing decks that use the combos to exist for the players that enjoy playing them.
Patch 188.8.131.52770 (2018-08-02)[edit | edit source]
In this patch, only Shadowboxer was eligible for full dust refunds.
- Shadowboxer – Now reads: Whenever a minion is healed, deal 1 damage to a random enemy.
Since the creation of the Lifesteal keyword, Shadowboxer has been a high risk card, in that it can trigger off of itself and deal up to 30 damage in one turn if you ever give it Lifesteal.
- Ghostly Charger is no longer a Beast.
We made a decision that, at least by default, spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of animals are not considered Beasts in Hearthstone. There are quite a lot of these sort of cards, most of which are already not Beasts, and changing them would have extensive balance implications.
Ghostly Charger is one of those cards. Clearly a ghost in both its name and art, its Beast tag has also not been relevant in any significantly used interaction. As a result, we’re planning to remove the Beast tag in a future update.
In the much rarer case of spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of Dragons, Murlocs, Pirates, and Elementals, they will still remain their Type. There aren’t a whole lot of these cards, but there are a few, and they’re already consistently their type. Examples of these are Ghost Light Angler, Cursed Castaway, Bone Drake.
- Ixlid, Fungal Lord is no longer an Elemental.
World of Warcraft uses a looser definition of Elemental than what we decided to standardize on for Hearthstone. In Hearthstone, an elemental is something that has been brought to life by being inhabited by an elemental spirit, but is otherwise not alive. These are easy to recognize: a Fire Elemental looks like a living creature made out of fire; A Water Elemental looks like a living creature made out of water.
One of the biggest outliers to this definition are plant creatures. There are a ton of minions in Hearthstone that are some sort of plant. We’ve decided that these do not count as Elementals in Hearthstone. Examples of these include The Voraxx, Fen Creeper, Biteweed, Vilespine Slayer, Rotten Applebaum.
Ixlid, Fungal Lord, is by this definition, a plant creature. Although we’re committed to consistency, there are also other criteria that we consider when changing card Types. One of them is how often a card’s current Type matters when it comes to interacting with other cards. Ixlid’s Elemental tag is not significantly used in current decks, so we’ve decided to remove it in a future update.
- Living Mana – Now reads: Transform your Mana Crystals into 2/2 Treants. Recover the mana when they die.
Patch 184.108.40.20689 (2018-05-22)[edit | edit source]
- Call to Arms - Now costs 5 mana, up from 4.
Currently, there are three popular Paladin decks: Even Paladin, Murloc Paladin, and Odd Paladin. Among the three decks, Even Paladin and Murloc Paladin have consistently been the most powerful two archetypes over the first few weeks since the release of The Witchwood. Call to Arms moving to 5 mana restricts it from being used in Even decks and reduces its power somewhat when used in Murloc and other Paladin decks.
We expect that players will experiment with Call to Arms at 5 mana in Odd Paladin decks, but we don’t expect this card to have much of an impact. This is because Odd Paladin can’t access 2 mana minions (meaning Call to Arms could only ever summon three 1 mana minions if played in that deck).
- Crystal Core - Now changes your minions to 4/4.
The Quest Rogue deck uses a strategy that’s strong against slow, control-heavy and fatigue decks, but struggles against most other deck archetypes. There’s a fine line between being powerful against very slow decks and being powerful versus virtually all non-aggressive strategies. By changing the quest reward to make the resulting minions 4/4 instead of 5/5, Quest Rogue should still be a reasonable option versus slow, extreme late-game decks, but offer a less polarized matchup with more moderate control decks.
- Dark Pact - Now restores 4 health, down from 8.
There are two aspects of Dark Pact that make it powerful. At a cost of 1 mana, it’s easily used alongside cards like Carnivorous Cube, Possessed Lackey, and Spiritsinger Umbra for big combo turns. It also gives Warlocks enough healing potential so that aggressively using Lifetap and playing cards like Kobold Librarian and Hellfire feel less consequential. We left Dark Pact’s cost intact so it can still be used as part of interesting combos, but lessened the healing it provides so Warlocks will need to more carefully consider how much damage they take over the course of a match.
- Naga Sea Witch - Now costs 8 mana, up from 5.
In update 9.1, we introduced a rule change to increase the consistency of Hearthstone game mechanics. The change affected precisely when Naga Sea Witch’s cost change was applied to cards. This allowed it to be combined with the cost reduction effects on giants, and as a result, it became fairly easy to reduce their mana cost to 0.
We think Hearthstone is better all around when interactions are consistent, and we like the fact that a Naga Sea Witch giants deck archetype exists. That said, we also understand that, with its current functionality, this deck can generate early board states that are unreasonable for most classes to deal with. By increasing the cost of Naga Sea Witch to 8 mana, the deck’s concept remains intact, but the combo is delayed until later in a match when more decks are likely to have the tools to handle the arrival of so many giants.
- Possessed Lackey - Now costs 6 mana, up from 5.
Some of the card combos involving Possessed Lackey present situations that are too difficult to deal with in the early-to-mid stages of the game. Increasing its mana cost to 6 delays some of those powerful card combos to turns that are easier for opposing decks to overcome.
- Spiteful Summoner - Now costs 7 mana, up from 6.
After set rotation arrived with the Year of the Raven, Spiteful Summoner became more powerful and consistent when used in decks containing 10 mana cost spells. This is because the pool of 10 mana cost minions in Standard is smaller, so players could more reliably count on getting a powerful minion from Spiteful Summoner’s effect. Even considering the deckbuilding sacrifices that an effective Spiteful Summoner deck requires, we think that increasing the card’s mana cost to 7 is more in line with the powerful outcomes that are possible when it’s used alongside cards like Ultimate Infestation.
Patch 220.127.116.1166 (2018-04-10)[edit | edit source]
- Molten Giant - Now costs original 20 mana. (down from 25)
Patch 10.2.0.23180 (2018-02-06)[edit | edit source]
- Bonemare - Now costs 8 mana. (Up from 7)
Bonemare has been quite strong in both constructed and Arena. It has a big, immediate impact on the board, and since it’s neutral, it’s been finding its way into a wide variety of decks. Increasing its mana cost by 1 will give opponents more time to utilize powerful late-game cards to counteract Bonemare’s effect on the board.
- Corridor Creeper - Now has 2 Attack. (Down from 5)
Due to the way that Corridor Creeper’s mana cost reduction works, it can cause big swings based on whether or not it happens to be in-hand at the start of the game. Since it’s a very strong neutral card, Corridor Creeper has been played by a lot of classes. By lowering its attack, we reduce the overall swing potential and power level of the card, but still allow players who draw it early to benefit from having a low-cost minion to play when the game state is ideal.
- Patches the Pirate - No longer has Charge.
As we move closer to the new Hearthstone Year, we had some concerns about allowing Patches to remain in his current state after moving out of Standard. Patches’ strength has caused almost every class to add some Pirates just to benefit from him, and his early game power forces control decks to include a good answer to him. This change should give Wild players more flexibility when building their decks. Removing Charge will lower his power level, ensuring he shows up in fewer decks and allowing opposing players some additional time to respond to Patches, making him less “in charge” of the early game.
- Raza the Chained - Now reads: Battlecry: If your deck has no duplicates, your Hero Power costs (1) this game.
In a similar vein to Patches the Pirate, we had some concerns about allowing Raza to remain in his current state forever. Raza is currently an important combo piece along with Shadowreaper Anduin, and can lead to games that rely heavily on drawing him by turn 5. Adjusting his Battlecry will lower his overall power level when combined with Shadowreaper Anduin in Standard, and keep his power level reasonable in Wild as we prepare for the new Hearthstone Year.
Patch 18.104.22.16870 (2017-09-18)[edit | edit source]
- Innervate - Now reads: Gain 1 Mana Crystal this turn only. (Down from 2)
Several powerful variations of Druid are currently seeing play, and all of them utilize Innervate. Innervate creates explosive starts to the game that can be difficult for the opposing player to recover from. This change leaves Innervate as a simple Basic card and slows down the explosive start potential, while ensuring that it will be utilized in decks that revolve around playing inexpensive spells.
- Fiery War Axe - Now costs 3 mana. (Up from 2)
Fiery War Axe has been a powerful Warrior weapon since the launch of Hearthstone. Already great tempo for its cost, Fiery War Axe is well complemented by Pirates and cards that synergize with weapons. Raising its mana cost by 1 will slow down the Warrior’s tempo and lower the overall power level of the card.
- Hex - Now costs 4 mana. (Up from 3)
We’re not making the change to Hex due to a current power-level problem. Shaman is a class that currently has a lot of flexibility, but is lacking in both class identity and identifiable weaknesses. Changing Hex makes Shaman a bit weaker against big minions and worse at silencing—having both strengths and weaknesses in a class is important.
- Murloc Warleader Now reads: Your other Murlocs have +2 Attack. (Down from +2 Attack, +1 Health)
Murlocs are good at taking an early lead, and if a player can’t clear the board in time, the game can ultimately snowball to victory using cards like Murloc Warleader. Removing the Health buff from Murloc Warleader will make it easier for players to clear the board of murlocs, and still have it remain a Classic build-around card. Simplifying health buff interactions is an additional benefit of this change. For example, in its current state, having a Murloc Warleader in play then using Wild Pyromancer and Equality would not destroy other murlocs on the board, leading to unclear interactions for some players.
- Spreading Plague Now costs 6 mana. (Up from 5)
Spreading Plague is a great defensive tool for Druid to protect themselves against aggressive decks, but it was too efficient at 5 mana. Raising the mana cost to 6 will slow the card down slightly, while still allowing for the defensive minions Spreading Plague creates to be utilized in the later stages of the game.
Patch 22.214.171.12457 (2017-08-08)[edit | edit source]
- Dreadsteed - Due to the potential for an endless loop when combined with Defile, Dreadsteed now reads: Deathrattle: At the end of the turn, summon a Dreadsteed.
- Naga Sea Witch - Mana cost modifier from this card is now applied before other mana cost modifiers, making cards like various Giants cost much less.
Patch 126.96.36.19922 (2017-07-10)[edit | edit source]
- The Caverns Below - Now requires playing 5 minions with the same name, up from 4.
The Caverns Below is uniquely powerful versus several slower, control-oriented decks and is played often enough to push those decks out of play. While deck diversity in Ranked Play is good, a change to The Caverns Below was still warranted to help keep that trend going into the future.
Patch 188.8.131.5220 (2017-02-28)[edit | edit source]
This patch brought nerfs to Small-Time Buccaneer, a highly powerful card that was very commonly seen in several meta-dominating Pirate decks, particularly Pirate Warrior, as well as to Spirit Claws, which was not only strong by itself, but also had strong synergy with various aggressive Pirate cards.
- Small-Time Buccaneer - Health reduced from 2 to 1.
The combination of Small Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate has been showing up too often in the meta. Weapon-utilizing classes have been heavily utilizing this combination of cards, especially Shaman, and we’d like to see more diversity in the meta overall. Small Time Buccaneer’s Health will be reduced to 1 to make it easier for additional classes to remove from the board.
- Spirit Claws - Cost increased from 1 to 2.
Spirit Claws has been a notably powerful Shaman weapon. At one mana, Spirit Claws has been able to capitalize on cards such as Bloodmage Thalnos or the Shaman Hero power to provide extremely efficient minion removal on curve. Increasing its mana by one will slow down Spirit Claws’ ability to curve out as efficiently.
Patch 184.108.40.20681 (2016-10-20)[edit | edit source]
This patch brought some fairly unexpected and non-critical changes. Most were made apparently in order to improve the very rarely seen Murloc mirror match, while Ethereal Peddler was changed partly to free up design space.
- Ethereal Peddler now reads "Battlecry: If you're holding any non-Rogue class cards, reduce their Cost by (2)." This was done to make it more clear, especially with upcoming releases.
- The following Murlocs that affected ALL Murlocs now only affect friendly ones, to improve the Murloc mirror-match. These cards are not eligible for a full dust refund.
Patch 220.127.116.1130 (2016-10-03)[edit | edit source]
This patch saw a continuation of the changes implemented with the arrival of game formats, further reducing the power of a number of cards from the "evergreen" Basic and Classic sets, that the developers felt were "too oppressive to our players in the current state of the meta game", as well as nerfing some problem cards from the current Standard format expansions. The changes included two major themes: the reduction of power of the shaman class, which had been dominating the meta with a variety of aggro and midrange decks; and the nerfing of Yogg-Saron, which had been a cause of substantial complaints especially in regard to its often game-winning presence in major tournaments. Call of the Wild was another card which had seen a number of complaints. The developers considered changing a number of other shaman cards at this time, including Totem Golem, Tunnel Trogg, Thing from Below and Doomhammer.
The notes for these changes were extensive. Comments for specific cards are included below, but more general commentary is not. For the full notes, see the official blog.
- Rockbiter Weapon - Cost increased from 1 to 2.
Rockbiter is the culprit of a few mass burst-damage combos in addition to being a reliable early game removal tool. Due to its strength in a variety of circumstances, it’s been one of the most widely played Shaman cards in Hearthstone’s history. Making changes to Basic cards that show up in every deck will help instigate more variety and help the Standard format succeed in the future. We’re preserving some of the synergistic potential of Rockbiter Weapon but decreasing its value as a removal tool by changing the cost of the card from 1 to 2 Mana.
We considered other Shaman cards like Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem, but these are both leaving Standard relatively soon, so we thought it would be better to change Rockbiter and improve the Standard format in a more permanent way.
- Tuskarr Totemic - Now summons "a random basic Totem", instead of "ANY random Totem".
We like that Tuskarr is contributing to totem focused decks, but currently the power level is centered around the possibility of summoning cards like Totem Golem or Mana Tide Totem. This isn’t the most fun type of randomness for a card that is low mana and sees this much play. We want this card to be an option for decks that take advantage of extra totems through cards like Thing From Below or Primal Fusion, but a weaker option for players looking for standalone high power level options on turn three. That said, we are adjusting the battlecry for Tuskarr Totemic to only summon basic totems.
- Call of the Wild - Cost increased from 8 to 9.
Although Call of the Wild is intended to be a powerful late game option, it is over performing at 8 mana. By moving it to 9 mana we intend to tone down its power enough that it won’t be an automatic inclusion in every Hunter deck and overshadow other strategies.
- Execute - Cost increased from 1 to 2.
The Warrior class has access to a large amount of removal spells, and while we want to continue providing Warrior players with powerful removal options, Execute stands out as one that has proven to be too efficient in too many situations. We’re increasing the cost of Execute from 1 to 2 Mana in order to keep the card as an option closer in power level to other existing and future removal tools.
- Charge - Cost reduced from 3 to 1. No longer grants +2 Attack, but the target now cannot attack heroes that turn.
While we enjoy seeing players explore combo styles of play and will continue to support it in the future, we’ve seen in the past that the ability to give Charge to minions that don’t normally have it has been particularly problematic and also heavily restricts future cards. We’ve redesigned the card Charge in a way that provides opportunities for minion combat, but does not enable strategies that intend to win without allowing opponents to interact.
- Abusive Sergeant - Attack reduced from 2 to 1.
Aggressive decks are stronger than we would like right now, and Abusive Sergeant is in virtually all of them. We like that Abusive Sergeant is available to players using minion heavy strategies, but neutral cards in the base set should be narrow enough that they aren’t showing up in such a wide variety of circumstances. We’re changing Abusive Sergeant to be a 1/1 so the battlecry becomes the clear focus, rather than the card being a reasonable turn one option for all aggressive deck types.
- Yogg-Saron, Hope's End - Rule change: Will now stop casting spells if it is destroyed, Silenced, transformed or returned to the hand.
This is the most controversial card we've ever made. 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. Yogg is relatively weak in power level for nearly every class at every level, but is slightly above average in 2 decks – Tempo Mage and Token Druid. We didn't want to nerf it so much that it couldn't still be a fun card for players who currently love Yogg. Yogg-Saron will now stop casting spells if, during Yogg-Saron’s battlecry, it is destroyed, silenced, transformed, or returned to its owner’s hand. We tried a bunch of things and we think this is a significant enough nerf that it could reduce the amount it gets seen (especially in tournaments), while still maintaining the dream for people who love the card.
In addition to the above changes, we will be addressing the bug where cards with Overload cast by Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End will not cause Overload to the player in a future update.
Patch 18.104.22.16819 (2016-07-12)[edit | edit source]
In this patch, Silithid Swarmer was not eligible for full dust refunds.
- Silithid Swarmer is now a Beast.
Although not taking place until nearly three months after the card's release, the Beast type was described by Ben Brode as being the card's intended design.
Patch 22.214.171.12474 (2016-04-24)[edit | edit source]
This patch saw the largest set of card changes since the game's closed beta, in preparation for the arrival of game formats. The intention of the changes was to address an over-reliance on cards from these sets, resulting in stale gameplay as new cards are unable to outstrip these already available options. By nerfing Basic and Classic cards, the developers hoped to help the release of new content to be more impactful, resulting in a more dynamic and shifting meta as well as a less stale experience for deckbuilders.
The notes for these changes were extensive. Comments for specific cards are included below, but more general commentary is not. For the full notes, see the official blog.
- Ancient of Lore - Card text changed from "Choose One - Draw 2 cards; or Restore 5 Health." to "Choose One - Draw a card; or Restore 5 Health."
Drawing cards is powerful in Hearthstone, and Ancient of Lore easily found its way into nearly every popular Druid deck. We’d like Druid players to feel that other cards can compete with Ancient of Lore, so we’ve reduced the number of cards drawn from 2 to 1.
- Force of Nature - Cost reduced from 6 to 5. Card text changed from "Summon three 2/2 Treants with Charge that die at the end of the turn." to "Summon three 2/2 Treants." Treants summoned by this spell no longer have Charge but no longer die at the end of the turn.
The new version of Force of Nature lowers its mana cost by 1, but removes Charge and makes the summoned Treants permanent—like the other Treants that Druids summon. This change also removes the powerful one-turn combo of Force of Nature and Savage Roar. Now, opponents will have a chance to deal with the threat that the Treants represent, and it won’t feel mandatory to always include the combo.
- Keeper of the Grove - Changed from a 2/4 to a 2/2.
Keeper of the Grove is a strong and versatile minion that combines Silence with solid stats, which made the decision to include it in every Druid deck virtually automatic. Whether or not to introduce a source of Silence to a deck should require some decision making, so Keeper of the Grove shouldn’t be a default choice for all Druid decks. Its stats have been changed from 2/4 to 2/2.
- Ironbeak Owl - Cost increased from 2 to 3.
Ironbeak Owl is a staple source for an inexpensive Silence in many decks. In line with our overall goal to make Silence effects more costly, Ironbeak Owl is moving from 2 to 3 mana.
- Big Game Hunter - Cost increased from 3 to 5.
Big Game Hunter represents an inexpensive source of removal that is packaged with a minion. It’s efficient enough that some Heroes with powerful Class-based removal cards choose to run the neutral Big Game Hunter. We’re increasing the cost of the card from 3 mana to 5 mana.
- Hunter's Mark - Cost increased from 0 to 1.
Hunter’s Mark is an important option for Hunters, but it’s too efficient at 0 mana. We are increasing its cost to 1.
- Blade Flurry - Cost increased from 2 to 4. Card text changed from "Destroy your weapon and deal its damage to all enemies." to "Destroy your weapon and deal its damage to all enemy minions."
Blade Flurry is a problem because it enables both board clear and heavy burst damage, and it’s also an obstacle to adding better cards for Rogues. To address these issues, the cost of Blade Flurry is moving from 2 to 4 mana, and it will now only affect minions, so that Rogues have to choose between removing threats or damaging the enemy Hero.
- Knife Juggler - Changed from a 3/2 to a 2/2.
Knife Juggler should be a good choice in decks that play many cheap minions, but with 3 Attack, it is played almost universally. We’re reducing Knife Juggler’s Attack from 3 to 2, so this card will move into a more specialized role in the decks that include it, instead of always being among the best choices for a 2 mana-cost minion.
- Leper Gnome - Changed from a 2/1 to a 1/1.
Leper Gnome is powerful for its cost, finds its way into almost every aggressive deck, and requires no further deck building decisions to be effective. We’d like other 1 mana minions to be more compelling, so we’re reducing its Attack from 2 to 1.
- Arcane Golem - Changed from a 4/2 to a 4/4. No longer has Charge.
Charge is an ability we’ve learned to use sparingly. Arcane Golem has been a staple in many aggressive and ‘one turn kill’ combo decks, and its drawback is rarely relevant. We’re addressing both issues by removing Charge and increasing Arcane Golem’s Health, while leaving its drawback. Arcane Golem will now be a 3 mana 4/4 with Battlecry: Give your opponent a Mana Crystal.
- Molten Giant - Cost increased from 20 to 25.
Molten Giant is an interesting card, but it’s too easy for players to reduce its mana cost to 0. We’re increasing Molten Giant’s mana cost to 25 to increase the risks players must take to get a free Giant. The changes to Force of Nature and Arcane Golem will make dropping to low health somewhat less risky as well, which helped spur this change.
- Master of Disguise - Card text changed from "Battlecry: Give a friendly minion Stealth." to "Battlecry: Give a friendly minion Stealth until your next turn."
The ability of Master of Disguise to grant permanent Stealth has been a design obstacle for a long time, so we are changing Master of Disguise to only grant Stealth until the next turn. This change opens up exciting options for future cards.
- Captain's Parrot - No longer rewarded from collecting Classic Pirates. Can now be crafted.
- Old Murk-Eye - No longer rewarded from collecting Classic Murlocs. Can now be crafted.
Patch 126.96.36.19904 (2015-10-20)[edit | edit source]
- Warsong Commander now reads: Your Charge minions have +1 Attack. [Was: Whenever you summon a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge.]
...we felt this change was necessary to help expand both future design space and to stand by our overarching game philosophy that battles between minions and fighting for board control is what makes Hearthstone fun and compelling.
This change was made in connection to the card's use in the then extremely popular Patron Warrior decks, with the combination of Grim Patron and Warsong Commander (alongside Frothing Berserker and activator cards such as Whirlwind) producing a very effective but also somewhat non-interactive deck. The reasons for its eventual nerf parallel earlier nerfs for Miracle Rogue and Freeze Mage.
- Hearthhead: Pros React to Warsong Commander Nerf (2015-10-27 - 7 days after changes)
- Hearthhead: Remembering Warsong Commander And Patron Warrior (2016-10-13 - 1 year after changes)
Patch 188.8.131.5266 (2015-06-15)[edit | edit source]
- Shadow of Nothing (created by Mindgames when the opponent's deck has no minions remaining in it) no longer has a hidden triggered effect which destroys itself at the end of the turn.
This change was not mentioned in the patch notes, but was in line with previous comments by developers suggesting the triggered effect may be unnecessary.
Patch 184.108.40.20611 (2015-03-31)[edit | edit source]
- Bane of Doom can now summon any collectible Demon. [Previously limited to Blood Imp, Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Dread Infernal, Succubus and Felguard]
Announced as a bug fix, this change came following wide-spread request from players, especially following the release of Goblins vs Gnomes. After stating that they would consider the matter, 4 months later the developers changed the card to provide an effect more fitting to its card text.
Patch 220.127.116.1128 (2015-01-29)[edit | edit source]
- Undertaker now reads: Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1 Attack. [Previously: Whenever you summon a minion with Deathrattle, gain +1/+1.]
Undertaker was frustrating to play against. It often gained both Attack and Health stats significantly above those of other inexpensive minions very early in the game. With this change, we expect Undertaker will still be better than other 1-Mana minions when played in a deck with a Deathrattle theme, but more likely to die in combat against other minions.
Patch 18.104.22.16834 (2014-12-04)[edit | edit source]
- Flare now costs 2 (up from 1)
Flare allowed the Hunter an advantage versus decks that revolve around Secrets, while also allowing the Hunter to draw a card for little cost. We want to encourage a variety of decks in Hearthstone. With this change, Flare will continue to be useful against decks playing Secrets, but will be weaker against other decks.
- Gadgetzan Auctioneer now costs 6 (up from 5)
Gadgetzan Auctioneer’s ability allows for a player to potentially draw many cards for little cost. Card draw and card advantage are important to the game—overall, games are less interesting when a player draws their entire deck. This change brings Gadgetzan Auctioneer’s cost more in line with its power level.
- Soulfire now costs 1 (up from 0)
Soulfire, along with fast and powerful minions, allowed Warlock rush decks to get ahead on the board and stay ahead. We’ve upped Soulfire’s mana cost by 1 to slow down the Warlock rush deck just a bit and allow more players time to react and interact against the Warlock.
- Minion type changes
- Multiple mechanical minions have been upgraded to Mechs, unlocking additional synergy with other Goblins vs Gnomes cards: Harvest Golem, Damaged Golem, Alarm-o-Bot, Demolisher, Mechanical Dragonling, and all of Gelbin Mekkatorque’s AWESOME inventions [ Repair Bot, Emboldener 3000, Homing Chicken and Poultryizer ].
- Druid of the Claw is embracing his wild side and now becomes a Beast minion type upon switching Cat Form or Bear Form.
- Bestial Wrath can no longer target enemy Beasts.
This undocumented change is notable for preventing players from using Bestial Wrath to bypass enemy Taunt minions. Since a minion with both Immune and Taunt will not act as a Taunt, prior to this change Bestial Wrath could be used to effectively remove Taunt from an enemy minion until the end of the turn.
Patch 22.214.171.12485 (2014-09-22)[edit | edit source]
- Leeroy Jenkins now costs 5 (up from 4)
Leeroy Jenkins created a strategy that revolved around trying to defeat your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. Fighting for board control and battles between minions make an overall game of Hearthstone more fun and compelling, but taking 20+ damage in one turn is not particularly fun or interactive. This was occurring when Leeroy was used in combination with other cards like Power Overwhelming, Faceless Manipulator, Cold Blood, Shadowstep, and Unleash the Hounds, among others.
Leeroy had been a regularly complained about card for several months prior to this change (if not since beta), mostly due to his power as a finisher. Despite this, the above was the first change to be made to the card.
- Starving Buzzard now costs 5 (up from 2) and now has 3 Attack and 2 Health (up from 2 Attack and 1 Health)
The amount of cards Starving Buzzard allowed Hunter players to draw ultimately ended up being too excessive for its low cost. This change will allow the Hunter’s opponent more time to react to both the Starving Buzzard and the cards drawn by its power.
Ben Brode also stated that the change to Starving Buzzard would act as an indirect nerf to Flare, considered very powerful at the time due in part to the prevalence of Secrets following Curse of Naxxramas, by reducing the number of hunters in play.
Patch 126.96.36.19924 (2014-07-22)[edit | edit source]
- Eaglehorn Bow now reads “Whenever a friendly Secret is revealed, gain +1 Durability”.
Patch 188.8.131.5214 (2014-05-08)[edit | edit source]
- Unleash the Hounds (Hunter) now costs 3 (up from 2).
After much consideration, we have decided to increase the mana cost of Unleash the Hounds to 3. Unleash the Hounds has been dominating all levels of play for quite some time. This change should make the card more fun to play against while still allowing for some big plays when combined with other hunter cards.
A lengthier explanation of the change can be found here.
Beta[edit | edit source]
The game's beta saw changes made to cards far more frequently than is seen following full release, as well as the outright removal or replacement of several cards, something which has yet to be since the beta.
Patch 184.108.40.20644 (2014-03-11)[edit | edit source]
- Tinkmaster Overspark is now a 3/3 (up from 2/2) and now reads: Battlecry: Transform another random minion into a 5/5 Devilsaur or a 1/1 Squirrel. [Previously: Battlecry: Transform a minion into a 5/5 Devilsaur or a 1/1 Squirrel at random.]
Tinkmaster Overspark is a neutral card that silences and often shrinks big creatures. This reduces the amount of big, fun creatures in the environment. We think this change will increase the amount fun creatures in the environment, and bring him more in-line with his cost and overall power. Tinkmaster should still show up in certain types of decks, but will no longer be appearing in every high level deck.
- Nat Pagle now reads: At the start of your turn, you have a 50% chance to draw an extra card. [Previously: At the end of your turn, you have a 50% chance to draw a card.]
Nat Pagle will now draw a card at the start of your turn rather than at the end. Nat had too much draw power for a card that is fairly hard to counter so early in the game, making it almost an auto-include for many decks. This change reduces the power of the card and gives players more time to counter the card before it starts.
Patch 220.127.116.1158 (2014-01-16)[edit | edit source]
- Many of the changes in this patch were explained in the Hearthstone's Card Balance Philosophy blog
- Unleash the Hounds now costs 2 (down from 4)
Unleash the Hounds was intended to give Hunters their own form of AoE and to have synergy with other beast cards, but its old cost was too prohibitive.
- Pyroblast now costs 10 (up from 8)
The 8-cost Pyroblast made for an un-interactive experience where the Mage only needed to do 10 damage during the course of a game and then double Pyroblast you for the win. We want Mages to be more interactive with the opponent to achieve victory, rather than delay the game until they can Pyroblast.
- Blood Imp is now a 0/1 (down from 1/1) and now reads: Stealth. At the end of your turn, give another random friendly minion +1 Health. [Previously: Stealth. Your other minions have +1 Health.]
The Warlock has three very strong 1-cost minions and that made the Warlock rush deck slightly stronger than we were comfortable with.
- Warsong Commander has been reworked and now reads: Whenever you play a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge. [This patch note is mistaken: the card was in fact changed to read "Whenever you summon a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge". Previously: Your other minions have Charge.]
- Charge (the spell, not the keyword) has been reworked and now costs 3 mana. The card’s new power reads: “Give a friendly minion +2 Attack and Charge”. [Previously: Give a friendly minion Charge. (0 mana)]
Both of these cards were key components in “One Turn Kill” or “OTK” decks that kill your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. We want the game to be about playing minions and fighting for board control rather than just waiting until you can play your big combo and win in one turn with no interaction from your opponent.
- Abusive Sergeant now reads Battlecry: Give a minion +2 Attack until end of turn [Previously: Battlecry: Give a friendly minion +2 Attack this turn.]
Abusive Sergeant was changed to make his power the same as the new Dark Iron Dwarf and to give it additional versatility.
- Dark Iron Dwarf now reads Battlecry: Give a minion +2 Attack until end of turn [Previously: Battlecry: Give a minion +2 Attack.]
This change was made to reduce the Dark Iron Dwarf’s overall power slightly. We also wanted to make the Battlecry effect the same as Abusive Sergeant‘s as to not force you to permanently buff one of your opponent’s creatures.
- Defender of Argus is now a 2/3 (down from 3/3)
Defender of Argus was a card that found itself automatically included in many decks due to its power and stats. We want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks, so cards that feel like they must be in all decks (especially Neutral ones) are not ideal.
- Novice Engineer is now a 1/1 (down from 1/2)
The Novice Engineer was played in most non-rush decks (and even some rush decks) due to its cost and power. Similar in reasoning to our Defender of Argus change, we want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks.
- Sylvanas Windrunner now costs 6 (up from 5)
Sylvanas had power and stats that made it a bit too powerful compared to other 5-cost cards, which made it automatically included in many decks. We want players to have an option of what cards they put in their decks, so cards that feel like they must be in all decks (especially Neutral ones) are not ideal.
Patch 18.104.22.16843 (2013-12-18)[edit | edit source]
- Blizzard’s mana cost is now 6 (up from 5)
- Cone of Cold’s mana cost is now 4 (up from 3)
- Frost Nova’s mana cost is now 3 (up from 2)
We understand that the Freeze mechanic can be frustrating to play against, and we wanted to make changes that would allow the Mage’s opponent some additional time to be aggressive with their minions and well as slow the overall pacing of the control-based Mage play style.
Patch 22.214.171.12417 (2013-12-10)[edit | edit source]
- Unleash the Hounds has been reworked and now reads: “(4) For each enemy minion, summon a 1/1 Hound with Charge”.
The previous version of this card was allowing Hunters to win in a single turn, starting with no minions on the board. The new version should give hunters some fun new card combinations and bolster their AoE ability.
- Starving Buzzard is now a 2/1 (was a 2/2).
At some ranks, Hunter was too strong against Mage, Druid and Rogue. This change to Starving Buzzard helps even the playing field against those classes.
- Mind Control’s mana cost is now 10 (up from 8).
Mind Control was frustrating to play against. Players worked to summon their powerful minions and not only lose the minion but die to that same minion the next turn. This change will give you a couple more turns to play with your Ragnaros.
- Flame Imp’s Battlecry now deals 3 damage (up from 2).
This minor change should help bring the warlock’s early game down a small amount. We’re keeping our eye on other cards that help the Warlock maintain early board advantage and will make additional changes if necessary in a future patch.
- Argent Commander is now a 4/2 (was a 4/3).
Argent Commander is played more often than we’d like, so we are reducing its power slightly to increase the variety of cards being played.
- Shattered Sun Cleric is now a 3/2 (was a 3/3).
Shattered Sun Cleric is keeping the creature rush decks healthy enough to avoid many board clearing spells. By reducing the Health by 1, this leaves Shattered Sun Cleric a bit more vulnerable while still remaining strong.
Patch 126.96.36.19937 (2013-10-17)[edit | edit source]
- Battle Rage now costs 2 (down from 3) and now only counts friendly characters.
Patch 188.8.131.5290 (2013-10-02)[edit | edit source]
- Gelbin Mekkatorque’s Repair Bot – Is now a 0/3 and has a new power: At the end of your turn, restore 6 Health to a damaged character.
- Sunfury Protector now only gives adjacent minions Taunt.
- Mana Wraith – Now a 2/2 (was a 1/3).
- Pint-sized Summoner – The cost reduction has been reduced from 2 to 1.
- Questing Adventurer is now Rare. [Previously Common]
- Flesheating Ghoul is now Common. [Previously Rare]
- Emperor Cobra has a new visual to remind you about his venomous power.
- Injured Blademaster has 1 more Attack. [Now a 4/7, up from a 3/7]
- Lorewalker Cho has 1 less Attack. [Now a 0/4, down from a 1/4]
- The Beast is now 9/7 (was 10/6).
- Lightwarden now gains +2 Attack per heal. [Previously gained +1]
- Twilight Drake is now a 4/1 with ‘Battlecry: Gain +1 Health for each card in your hand.’ [Previously: a 1/1 with 'Battlecry: Gain +1/+1 for each card in your hand.']
- Captain Greenskin is now a 5/4 with ‘Battlecry: Give your weapon +1/+1.’ [Previously a 5/5 with 'Whenever you attack with your hero, draw a card.']
- Dalaran Mage now has 1 less Attack. [Now a 1/4, down from a 2/4]
- Captain's Parrot now has 1 less Health. [Now a 1/1, down from a 1/2]
- Frostwolf Warlord now has a Battlecry effect instead of an ongoing effect. [Now has 'Battlecry: Gain +1/+1 for each other friendly minion on the battlefield.' instead of 'Has +1/+1 for each other friendly minion on the battlefield.']
- Nozdormu has a new visual effect.
- Frostbolt costs 2 Mana (down from 3).
- Mirror Image now creates 0/2 minions. [Previously 0/1s]
- Sorcerer's Apprentice has 1 more Attack. [Now a 3/2, up from a 2/2]
- Northshire Cleric - Now costs 1 (down from 2).
- Prophet Velen – Now also doubles the damage and healing of your Hero Power. [Previously only spells]
- Fade has been replaced with a new card:
- Shadow Word: Death – (3) Destroy a minion with an Attack of 5 or more.
- Cabal Shadow Priest – now a 4/5 (up from 3/4).
- Power Word: Shield has a new power – Give a minion +2 Health. Draw a card. [Previously 'Give a minion +3 Health.']
- Greater Heal has been replaced with a new card:
- Holy Fire – (6) Deal 5 damage. Restore 5 Health to your hero.
- Lightspawn has 1 more Health. [Now a 0/5, up from a 0/4]
- Sacrificial Pact costs 0 (down from 2).
- Pit Lord - Now a 5/6 with ‘Battlecry: Deal 5 damage to your hero’. [Previously a 7/5 with 'Battlecry: Deal 7 damage to your hero.']
- Backstab – New text: Deal 2 damage to an undamaged minion. [Previous effect 'Deal 2 damage to an enemy minion.']
- Preparation – Now reduces next spell cost by 3 (up from 2).
- Shiv costs 2 Mana (up from 1).
- Defias Ringleader has 1 less Health. [Now a 2/2, down from a 2/3]
- Conceal costs 1 Mana (up from 0).
- Headcrack costs 3 Mana (up from 2).
- Patient Assassin has a new visual to remind you about his power.
- Dagger Mastery – No longer has the ability to buff a currently equipped weapon. [Previous effect 'Equip a 1/2 Dagger; or Give your weapon +1 Attack this turn.']
- Edwin VanCleef is now a 2/2, but no longer has Stealth. [Previously a 1/1 with 'Stealth. Combo: Gain +2/+2 for each other card played this turn.']
- Wrath can no longer be cast on heroes.
- Cenarius costs 9 (up from 8).
- Starfall can now only hit minions. [Previously: 'Choose One - Deal 5 damage to an enemy; or 2 damage to all of them.']
- Ancient of Lore’s Healing option now only restores 5 Health. (down from 8)
- Savagery costs 1 (down from 3), and must target a single minion. [Previously: 'Deal damage equal to your hero's Attack to all enemy minions.']
- Hunter's Mark – No longer a 1-turn only effect. [Previously: 'Change a minion's Health to 1 this turn.']
- Scavenging Hyena – Now only eats your own Beasts. [Previously also triggered from enemy Beasts]
- Cruel Taskmaster has 1 more Health. [Now a 2/2, up from a 2/1]
- Inner Rage’s +2 Attack effect no longer goes away at the end of the turn.
- Battle Rage costs 3 (up from 2), and also counts damaged heroes.
- Frothing Berserker has 1 more Attack. [Now a 2/4, up from a 1/4]
- Commanding Shout now costs 2 (up from 1) and also draws you a card.
- Divine Favor now costs 1 more. [Now costs 3, up from 2]
Alpha[edit | edit source]
The alpha is assumed to have featured more changes than any other stage of the game. However, no official notes were released during the alpha, leaving records of card changes sketchy at best. In addition, the early stage of the game's development can be seen to change the significance of these alterations from live card changes to more developmental iterations.
Alpha patch 2 (2013-08-13)[edit | edit source]
- Inner Fire - Mana cost lowered to 1, from 3.
- Lightspawn - This minion's Attack is always equal to its Health.
- Temple Enforcer - Attack increased to 6, from 5.
- Conceal - Give a friendly minion Stealth Give your minions Stealth until your next turn. Mana cost lowered to 0, from 1.
- Fan of Knives - Deal 1 damage to all
enemiesenemy minions. Draw a card.
- Master of Disguise - Mana cost increased to 4, from 3. Health increased to 4, from 3.
- Shadowstep - Return a friendly minion to your hand. It costs (2) less.
- Chicken - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set. Is now classified as a Beast.
- Cult Master - Now has 2 health, down from 3.
- Damaged Golem - Moved from the Basic set to the Expert set.
- Emboldener 3000 - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Gelbin Mekkatorque - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Homing Chicken - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Illidan Stormrage - Now has 5 health, down from 6.
- Molten Giant - Now has 8 Attack, 8 Health, down from 10 Attack & 10 Health.
- Mountain Giant - Now has 8 Attack, 8 Health, down from 10 Attack & 10 Health.
- Poultryizer - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Repair Bot - Moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Sea Giant - Now has 8 Attack, 8 Health, down from 10 Attack & 10 Health. Mana cost lowered from 12 to 10.
Patch 184.108.40.20688 (2013-06-22)[edit | edit source]
- Abusive Sergeant - now has 2 Attack, up from 1.
- Captain's Parrot - moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Core Hound - now has 5 Health, up from 4.
- Cult Master - now has 4 Attack, up from 3. Now has 3 Health, down from 4.
- Dark Summoner - was replaced with Spiteful Smith: Enrage: Your weapon has +2 Attack. Costs 5 Mana, has 4 Attack, and 6 Health. The old card made the first minion you play each turn cost (3) less.
- Festering Pestilence (New) - Debug text Type: Minion Set: DEBUG2
- Flame of Azzinoth (New) - Type: Minion Set: Expert Cost: 1 Attack: 2 Health: 1
- Illidan Stormrage - no longer has a Battlecry. Instead, whenever you play a card, you summon a 2/1 Flame of Azzinoth. Now costs 6 Mana, down from 7. Now has 6 Health, down from 7.
- Imp Master - now has 5 Health, down from 6.
- Jadefire Satyr - changed into the Stranglethorn Tiger.
- Knife Juggler - had a wording change from "whenever you play" to "after you summon". Now has 3 Attack, up from 2. Now has 2 Health, down from 3.
- Leper Gnome - now has 2 Attack, up from 1.
- Lord of the Arena - now has 5 Health, up from 4.
- Lorewalker Cho - now costs 2 mana, up from 1. Now has 4 Health, up from 3.
- Mana Addict - now grants 2 Attack this turn whenever you cast a spell, down from 3.
- Mana Wraith - now costs 2 Mana, up from 1. Now has 3 Health, up from 2.
- Master Swordsmith - now has 1 Attack, down from 2.
- Mind Control Tech - changed from swapping with a random enemy minion to taking control of an enemy minion at random, only if they have 4 or more minions.
- Murloc Tidecaller - had a wording change from "played" to "summoned".
- Murloc Warleader - now causes other Murlocs to have +2/+1, up from +1/+1.
- Nat Pagle - now has 4 Health, down from 5.
- Old Murk-Eye - moved from the Expert set to the Reward set.
- Onyxia - now has a Battlecry: Summon 1/1 Whelps until your side of the battlefield is full. No longer does 2 damage to all characters when drawing a card.
- Poultryizer - changed from "another random enemy minion" to "a random minion".
- Repair Bot - now restores Health to all characters, rather than just friendly characters.
- Secretkeeper - now activates when a Secret is played, rather than when it is revealed. Now has 1 Attack, down from 2. Now has 2 Health, up from 1.
- Shieldbearer - no longer has an Enrage effect that grants 1 Attack.
- Stormwind Champion - Now costs 7 Mana, up from 6.
- Wild Pyromancer - had a wording change from "whenever you cast a spell" to "after you cast a spell". Now does 1 damage to all minions, rather than a random enemy.
- Young Priestess - now has 2 Attack, up from 1. Now has 1 Health, down from 2.
- Bear Form - now grants 2 Health, down from 3.
- Bite - now grants 4 Attack and 4 Armor this turn, down from 6 Attack. Now costs 3 Mana, down from 4.
- Claw - now grants 2 Attack and 2 Armor this turn, down from 3 Attack.
- Force of Nature - now costs 6 Mana, up from 5.
- Naturalize - now costs 1 Mana, down from 2.
- Druid of the Claw - now has 6 Health, down from 7.
- Explosive Shot - Now does 2 damage to adjacent minions, up from 1.
- Explosive Trap - now activates when your hero is attacked, rather than when a minion damages your hero.
- Freezing Trap - no longer freezes the enemy for two turns. Now causes an enemy minion to be returned to its owner's hand when it attacks and cost (2) more.
- Darkspear Hunter - was replaced with Savannah Highmane. Deathrattle: Summon two 2/2 Hyenas. Costs 6 Mana, has 6 Attack, and 5 Health. The old card caused Beasts to gain +1/+1 whenever you played a Beast.
- Hyena (New) - Type: Minion Set: Expert Class: Hunter Race: Beast Cost: 2 Attack: 2 Health: 2
- Starving Buzzard - had a wording change from "play" to "summon".
- Mirror Entity - now activates when your opponent plays a minion, rather than when an enemy minion attacks.
- Spellbender - now activates when an enemy casts a spell on a Minion, rather than when a minion is hit by an enemy spell. Now summons a 1/3 as the new target, rather than a 1/1 and hitting it instead.
- Vaporize - now activates when a minion attacks your hero, rather than when your opponent plays a minion.
- Kirin Tor Mage - now has 4 Attack, up from 3.
- Mana Wyrm - now has 1 Attack, up from 0.
- Spellbender - now has 3 Health, up from 1.
- Sword of Justice - now activates whenever you summon a minion, rather than when you play a minion.
- Fade - moved from the Expert set to the Basic set.
- Mind Vision - now gives you a copy of a random card from your opponent, rather than taking one of your opponent's cards. Now costs 1 Mana, down from 6.
- Prayer of Fortitude - was replaced by Inner Fire, which costs 3 Mana and changes a minion's Attack to be equal to its Health. The old card gave your minions +1/+1. (+1 Attack/+1 Health).
- Mental Collapse - was replaced by the Lightspawn Minion. This minion's Attack is equal to it's health. Now costs 4 Mana, up from 2. Now has 4 Health. The old card did 1 damage to the enemy hero for each card in his hand.
- Penance - was replaced by the Temple Enforcer, which has a Battlecry: Give a friendly minion +3 Health. Now costs 6 Mana, has 5 Attack, and 6 Health. The old card did 3 damage and restored 3 Health to your hero.
- Betrayal - now costs 2 Mana, down from 3.
- Blade Flurry - now deals damage to all enemies rather than all enemy minions.
- Conceal - now costs 1 Mana, up from 0.
- Fan of Knives - now does 1 damage, down from 1-2. Damage is now done to all enemies, rather than just enemy minions. Now allows you to draw a card.
- Earth Shock - had a wording change to reflect that Silence happens before doing damage.
- Mana Spring Totem - was replaced by Far Sight: Draw a card. That card costs (3) less. Costs 3 Mana. The old card made cards cost (1) less.
- Demonfire - wording changed to reflect that the +2/+2 is only applied to friendly Demons.
- Dread Infernal - now has 6 Attack, up from 5. Now has 6 Health, up from 5.
- Flame Imp - no longer has Stealth.
- Summoning Portal - now costs 4 Mana, up from 3.
- Commanding Shout - now costs 1 Mana, down from 2.
- Death Wish - was replaced with Shield Slam: Deal 1 damage to a minion for each Armor you have. Costs 1 Mana. The old card caused your hero to lose all Armor and gain +1 Attack for each Armor lost.
- Armorsmith - now has 1 Attack, down from 2. Now has 4 Health, up from 3.
History[edit | edit source]
2014 - Resistance to card changes unless absolutely necessary[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Design and development of Hearthstone#Card changes
The developers have stated in the early years of Hearthstone that they hoped to make "very few card changes, unless they are absolutely necessary". The developers felt it was important that the cards "feel solid", and feared that changing cards which players had spent a lot of time and resources to obtain would undermine that feeling. Familiarity for returning players is another reason for minimizing card changes.
All card changes prior to Patch 14.4 (June 2019) were nerfs, weakening cards that were considered to be too strong. When a certain card in the game started to grow too powerful, the developers tried to find a way to address the card without changing the card itself, such as through the introduction of new cards which would allow players to counter that card. In response to certain decks dominating the meta-game, the overall strategy was to provide players with new "tools" to shift the meta themselves, rather than changing existing cards.
In the period prior to 2019, in addition to being resistant to nerfing cards, the developers were also strongly resistant to 'buffing' cards, or improving 'bad' cards, and were more approving of broader alternative changes for buffing cards, such as introducing new minion types, for making certain 'bad' cards more relevant.
- causing non-interactive games;
- being frustrating to play against;
- causing confusion or not being intuitive enough;
- being too strong compared to other cards of the same cost; causing a specific build or style of play to be too strong
Following the initial development of Hearthstone, the majority of balance changes centered around weakening decks which created "non-interactive" games, such as Unleash the Hounds, Grim Patron, and Freeze mages' Pyroblast. Former Game Designer, and later Game Director, Ben Brode stated that direct damage and Charge effects were some of the most non-interactive mechanics in the game, and consequently many nerfs were focused on keeping cards with these abilities in check. This was especially the case for one particular card which was nerfed in 2014, Leeroy Jenkins:
- "Leeroy Jenkins created a strategy that revolved around trying to defeat your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. Fighting for board control and battles between minions make an overall game of Hearthstone more fun and compelling, but taking 20+ damage in one turn is not particularly fun or interactive."
The other major trend during the game's first two years was to weaken cards which had become ubiquitous in the meta, with a majority of decks featuring them, such as Nat Pagle and Novice Engineer during the game's beta.
The developers were also more likely to make card changes to coincide with the release of new cards, especially with the larger sets of expansions. This was because while the developers preferred not to directly adjust the meta, the introduction of new cards was already expected to result in "upheaval", and with "everything changing" it felt more acceptable to also alter existing cards.
2016 - The introduction of Standard and Wild formats[edit | edit source]
With the arrival of game formats in April 2016, a new focus for balance changes emerged. The largest number of card changes yet made in a single patch was made with the introduction of Standard and Wild formats, reducing the power of numerous cards from the "evergreen" Basic and Classic sets. While the changes themselves were for reasons such as those given above, the changes were also made specifically to create a more dynamic and shifting meta in Standard format.
Nerfs to cards such as Force of Nature and Blade Flurry reinforced the philosophy that non-interactive ways to deal face damage should not be a running theme for the core sets of Basic and Classic. Nerfs to cards such as Big Game Hunter, Ironbeak Owl, and Keeper of the Grove were changes made to pave the way for more interactive gameplay on the board, freeing up design space for the creation of threats stronger than Dr. Boom on turn 7, and stronger enchantment effects that don't simply get nullified by Silence.
Standard format meant that future card changes were expected to be heavily influenced by card set, with interactions between Standard and Wild cards of lesser concern for the balance designers. Both game formats would still be monitored, though the developers would be "paying more attention in Standard" than in Wild, but only with "a little bit of difference of tolerance" between the two game formats with regard to balance problems.
The developers also used the annual card set rotations in Standard as an additional way of removing powerful cards and card combinations from Standard at the conclusion of a Standard year. The start of a new year could also see nerfed cards being unnerfed when their card set was moved to Wild format. Molten Giant was moved to Wild format at the start of the Year of the Raven in 2018, and in doing so became the first card to have its nerf reverted.
When aiming to reduce the popularity of a card, or to break the dominance of a particular deck type, the developers often made small 'tweaks' or reductions to the card's power, increasing diversity while still leaving the original card or deck as a valid option. However, when dealing with particularly overpowered 'problem' cards at the heart of deck types, or cards that critically limited design space, rather than making small adjustments, the developers consistently chose to reduce the card's power level to a notably low level, generally considered by players to have 'killed' the card, most notably Warsong Commander and Charge. This allowed the change to reliably remove the card from the meta, making a clean break from the previous situation, without concern that the nerf may or may not have been light, or that the addition of another card may bring the same problem back into the spotlight before too long.
A few changes have been presented in the form of bug fixes, or adjusting cards to be more intuitive. However, while most bug fixes clearly correct aberrant behavior or miscellaneous errors, a few act to significantly alter the behavior of the card, more in line with a direct buff or nerf. These "bug fixes" are referred to by some in the community as "stealth" nerfs or buffs.
Card buffs were still viewed negatively during the early years of Hearthstone, with the reason being that, in general, "buffing cards comes with a lot of downsides". For example, new cards can still be printed to make 'bad' cards inherently better, so it would be wise to avoid buffing cards since they can become a lot stronger later down the line.
2018 - Beginning of nerfs to insane card combos in Wild[edit | edit source]
While Standard was continually being balanced, Wild format was continually running wild, but in a good way for most of the early years of Wild format.
Starting in 2018, however, certain problem cards in Wild format started seeing nerfs. In February 2018, Raza the Chained was nerfed for its oppressive use combined with Shadowreaper Anduin's hero power Voidform. In May 2018, Naga Sea Witch was nerfed since it allowed for an insane number of giants to be plopped onto the board on turn 5. In October 2018, Aviana was nerfed from 9 mana to 10 mana because of its insane potential to combo with Kun the Forgotten King, Juicy Psychmelon, and Star Aligner, winning games with relative ease at the time.
2019 - The first buffs to cards[edit | edit source]
The first buffs to cards since the release of Hearthstone in 2014 came during the middle of the Rise of Shadows expansion in June 2019 with Patch 14.4, where a bunch of cards from The Boomsday Project, 18 in total, were buffed in a single patch. Cards buffed included Mulchmuncher, Crystology, Thunderhead, Pogo-Hopper, Spirit Bomb, and Security Rover, among others.
The card buffs came as a shock but was well received by the community, since players were growing restless with the 4-month metas every expansion and did not want to trudge on into 2 more months of the same meta in the middle of the Rise of Shadows expansion cycle. Though these card buffs helped, their impact on the meta was not as profound as the release of an entire expansion.
A few of the cards buffed became problematic though, namely Extra Arms and Luna's Pocket Galaxy. These two cards became too powerful and had to be reverted. French Hearthstone player Felkeine joked on stage that Luna's Pocket Galaxy was the pivotal draw he needed to clench his victory in Masters Tour Seoul. The reversion of these two card buffs occurred in August 2019, two months after their buff date.
2020 - Twofold increase in the cadence of card changes[edit | edit source]
Starting with the new decade, the cadence of balance changes was increased twofold from the previous year, and the philosophy on preventing card changes if at all possible was left behind. The increased appearance of patches containing card changes began with Patch 16.0 in December 2019, in which the Echo ability was nerfed to get rid of SN1P-SN4P infinite damage combos with Glinda Crowskin, Mechwarper, and Summoning Portal in Wild, and also to a lesser extent an infinite damage combo with Sound the Bells! with a generated Sorcerer's Apprentice from Zephrys the Great in Standard. This marked the first ever time an entire keyword was nerfed, and included dust refunds for SN1P-SN4P and Sound the Bells.
Card changes came rapidly afterwards with two more patches releasing in the same month, directly aimed at nerfing Galakrond Shaman and a number of other cards from Descent of Dragons. The first patch came only nine days after the release of the expansion, nerfing Corrupt Elementalist, Sludge Slurper, Mogu Fleshshaper, and Faceless Corruptor, while the second patch nerfed Dragon's Pack, Invocation of Frost, Scion of Ruin, Ancharrr, and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza, among others.
The release of the new Demon Hunter class caused the largest balance schism in the game's history, calling for emergency nerfs on Eye Beam, Aldrachi Warblades, Skull of Gul'dan, and Imprisoned Antaen implemented only one day after the launch of Ashes of Outland. The class would receive an additional nine cards nerfed in this set alone, as well as two smaller nerfs later in the year.
Throughout 2020, patches introducing card changes occurred nearly every month. This caused the meta to shift much faster than normal, with class representation and class win rates benefitting from the stability of the meta during many periods of the year. The team was also not adverse to small buffs, with Aldor Attendant, Libram of Justice, Torrent, and The Lurker Below receiving buffs to help Paladin and Shaman, who were underperforming at the time.
In a Twitter AMA in January of 2021, Dean Ayala discussed the reasons for this new design philosophy:
- We try to make nerfs nowadays that if they affect your deck you don't feel like the deck is worthless. You continue to queue with it at a slightly less powerful rate. As a result of this desire, the changes are smaller and need to come in higher number to reach the same impact. Also, our game is 7 years old. When you launch you have all new players who are more averse to frequent change. Our game is not all new players anymore, our population is tons of core users who can handle the complexity of shaking things up. As the people who play your game change, adapting to that is an important piece of dev.
Player reactions[edit | edit source]
Player reaction to card changes varies. Some are considered desirable and a relief from the overdominance of a certain class or deck type, while others are approved of as reasonable nerfs to cards which had become "auto-includes" in many decks. When a card change 'kills' a card, the change is often lamented by players due to the perception that the card will never see play again, despite the change being a positive one overall. While this attitude can be exaggerated, due to the self-imitating nature of the meta it is often correct, with cards that have fallen from favor often falling entirely into disuse once influential players disregard them.
Patch changes[edit | edit source]
- Patch 220.127.116.1174 (2016-04-24): A new "These cards have changed." interface has been added, displaying the new versions of the relevant cards with the changed elements highlighted.
References[edit | edit source]
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-22).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-21).
- Alec Dawson on Twitter. (2020-09-28).
- Alec Dawson on Twitter. (2020-09-03).
- Steven Asarch (April 16, 2020). Hearthstone Lead Director pushed demon hunter 'to the limit'. Newsweek. Retrieved on 2020-04-19.
- Dean Ayala on Blizzard forums. (2020-01-09).
- Scorpyon (July 4, 2019). Blizzard Responds to Artwork Criticism. Retrieved on 2019-07-07.
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-10-20).
- Upcoming Balance Changes - Update 6.1.3. (2016-09-28).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-06-04).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-10).
- Zeriyah (2015-10-13). Upcoming Balance Change to Warsong Commander.
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2015-03-27).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-09-22).
- Eric Dodds (2014-01-16). Hearthstone's Card Balance Philosophy.
- JR Cook (2014-04-13). Interview with Eric Dodds and Jason Chayes, PAX East 2014.
- IHearthU.com (2014-04-05). iPad Event – Developer Interviews + Hands On!.
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-11-23).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-11-24).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-11-24).
- Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-12-08).
- Banter with the Blues - February 13. (2015-02-13).
- Zeriyah (2015-10-13). Upcoming Balance Change to Warsong Commander.
- Designer Insights with Ben Brode: Warsong Commander. (2015-10-14).
- Hearthstone Goblins vs Gnomes interview. (2014-12-17).
- PC GAMER: Ben Brode on why Standard Hearthstone has to ditch the old card expansions. (2016-02-02).
- Dean Ayala on Twitter. (2021-01-13).
- Dean Ayala on Twitter. (2021-01-13).
- Dean Ayala on Twitter. (2021-01-13).
See also[edit | edit source]
- Patches - a list of all Hearthstone client updates
- Hotfixes - updates to Hearthstone not released in the form of client patches
- Game Mechanics Updates - large updates to the game mechanics of cards and card interactions
- Bugs - an ongoing project to chart all bugs currently affecting the game
- Rule changes - a list of changes to pre-existing game mechanics (no longer maintained)