First, a quick take on Murky. With his murloc synergy abilities, especially Bubbly Bobble, he seems like he's supposed to belong in a murloc team, especially coordinating with Mutanus. Murky helps Mutanus' survivability (although Mutanus usually doesn't need the help) while Mutanus can protect the Pufferfish that's Murky's main source of damage.
I want to try a different take, though. What if we combine with Onyxia? Giving an enemy taunt seems like a good way to proc the bonus attack from Onyxia's Insolent Mortals! ...or maybe that's trying too hard. I suppose if I wanted a scaling Caster Attacker, I could just use Sky Admiral Rogers. That might be easier. Okay, put Murky with murlocs and call it a day.
On to the balance changes!
Baron Geddon: gets a health buff and a buff to the Heating Up equipment. Yeah, that's not going to convince anyone to not just spam Inferno. Inferno is just too much damage to pass up for a paltry speed bonus.
King Mukla: I don't think Dinner Time being Speed 2 was Mukla's big problem. Also, they're trying to convince people not to run Mukla's Big Brother every single time. If Bananas were controllable in any way, I think that'd be more persuasive than just buffing the numbers on the Banana equipment. For a time I ran Refreshing Bananas whenever I was hoping to luck into Monstrous Heart, just because that's hilarious, but Mukla's Big Brother is pretty handy to have.
Xyrella: Similarly to Geddon, they're buffing an underused ability and its associated equipment. I predict it won't change much. Blinding Luminance is just too good, too central to what Xyrella brings you. When you run Xyrella, it's so you can take advantage of the high-speed debuff and damage, and Atonement just isn't part of that gameplan no matter what its numbers are.
Scabbs Cutterbutter: stat buffs and equipment buffs. As an attacker, Scabbs really digs the stat buffs. +10 attack on Shadow Blade is really a lot. Scabbs needs all the help he can get. Really, this is a broader statement about Mercs that don't have inherent spell or tribal synergies: they need to be overstatted to compensate. This might not bring Scabbs to the limelight, but it does make goofy Scabbs-Valeera combos more interesting.
Millhouse: a minor health buff, a buff to Greater Arcane Missiles' damage, and Arcane Explosion's equipment now causes it to deal 1 more damage and reveal stealth. Man, I wish there was ever an opportunity to cast Greater Arcane Missiles, but speed 9 on a two-turn cooldown with no methods to accelerate it is just such a big ask. This is also the first change to an ability meant to deny stealth. It's okay, I guess? I don't hate that functionality, but Millhouse seems a poor platform for it, since Millhouse will more frequently just get ganked by Valeera and friends.
Cariel: another point of attack, her deathblow restores more health, and Tome of Light gives even more attack while Taunt is active. Cariel was already a more damaging alternative to Cornelius (I preferred her for that and other reasons), and now she's even more damaging. Cool. It does nothing for her in PvP (where her biggest problem was the inconsistency of enemies using Attackers she can fend off), but it takes a good PvE merc and makes her better. She's especially awesome in the Mi'da, Pure Void fight.
Uther: Blessing of Protection heals more, and both his Hammer and Avenging Wrath equipment got buffed for more damage. Okay. Uther was always a luxury pick in PvE for me, someone I added on to the Velen/Anduin combo to murder Protector-type bosses but swapped out if another counter was better. I don't think this really changes that.
Garrosh: Another point of attack, and the Battle Shout equipment now restores more health. Sweet! That's the equipment I was already using! (The Tusks equipment seemed like overkill given Garrosh is rarely the orc taking the most damage, while the Mak'gora equipment is gimmicky.) I love it when things I was doing already get better for free.
Galvangar: eight more health, and his Bleed effects get buffs. Good! Bleed has been a hard sell: PvE trash fights go too fast for Bleed to shine, bosses tend to have so much attack that bashing your faces into them to put bleeds on them is dangerous, and PvP teams have healing that negates it too easily. All Mercs with bleed effects saw them get substantially buffed in this patch. This, plus the change to the Bleed mechanic (to have healing reduce it rather than trivially remove it) seem like a sincere effort to give those mercs room to breathe. Worth trying! Galvangar's health being so low was one of his biggest problems, too.
Wrathion: six more health, a buff to the proc on Creeping Madness, and a bleed buff. Okay. Wrathion just isn't my favorite dragon-esque merc, especially not in a Fighter slot that is suddenly flush with options between him, Netharion, Sinestra, and a rejuvenated Voone. The fact that he doesn't start as a dragon, and thus doesn't proc dragon-dependent synergies, is just such a problem for him.
Vanessa: three (!) more attack, Burgle Barrage now steals attack *before* damage is dealt, and the Makeshift Weaponry equipment gets doubled. The equipment... whatever. I'll never use that one when Dreadblades is available, especially with this massive buff to Burgle Barrage. Honestly, this is how Burgle Barrage should have worked in the first place! The ability's use as a tanking tool was always questionable when you had to burn up Vanessa to try and make it work. Now you preserve Vanessa a bit when you're using it. That's so, so much better. This is the first of a whole series of buffs to the Pirate comp to try and bring it up to snuff, and it's much appreciated. Yarr.
Tyrande: Arcane Salvo's damage buffed 50% (!), from 8 to 12, and now repeats on deathblow. Also, her Arcane Shot equipment now deals bonus damage against targets that have acted. Wow! Tyrande's damage being so low has long made her one of the first mercs a new player abandons, especially given Arcane Salvo's random targeting penalty. This buff is a big one. We'll see about the Arcane Shot equipment. It's an interesting design that they're weaponizing an ability's slow speed (similar to how most deathblow abilities are slow), and a 15 damage bonus is substantial. I wonder if we're finally dragging Arcane spell comps into existence.
Varian: Splitting Attack's deathblow now gives three more attack, Heroic Leap is slower but buffs humans on the bench, Retaliation now gives bonus health (!), and War Banner now gives extra bonus health but less bonus attack. I love it! Varian was a champ in human comps in many encounters-- he very nearly soloes Louis Phillips-- but he tended to play suicide bomber in the process. Now, he's more likely to survive his heroics, and come out an even more threatening force on the other side. The other buffs are nothing to me compared to this one.
Gul'dan: removed Rain of Destruction's cooldown, and Staff of Chaos now works when demons die. That is *almost* enough to make me consider it. Compared to orcs, demons have many more summoning abilities that give the Staff chances to proc. That said, with the change to Rain of Destruction, I think the Rain of Destruction equipment is much more enticing. Four extra damage on every shot, when the point of Rain is already to get as many shots as possible, has outstanding damage potential. (Or I might just stick with the Drain Life equipment, since both demons and orcs need all the sustain they can get.)
Trigore: a buff to Frenzied Attack's damage is completely overshadowed by a functionality change to Backlash that makes Frenzied Attack even less attractive by comparison. Now, you get Backlash's Attack buff up-front, and you punish the enemy *each* time allies are damaged. This is a HUGE buff to everyone's favorite hydra! (Not that there's much competition...) For one thing, the rare occasions where the enemy attacks Trigore and not his friends doesn't deny you the attack buff; you get that regardless. The bigger change is the infinite proccage, which just makes attacking and multi-attacking teams that much more ridiculous. Oh, sure, hit my Trigore team with Fire Wave, just to see what happens. I dare you.
Sneed: two extra starting attack, Activate Saw gives three additional attack, and both his Bzzz!!! and start-with-Saw equipment got buffed. Oh my gosh, it's about time. Sneed was, in my opinion, hands-down the worst merc in the game, and his pathetic damage output was the prime culprit. Like, I would actively steer into PvE encounters where Sneed's portrait was showing and treat him like he wasn't even there. My gosh, Sneed. All this extra attack might-- might!-- make him worth considering. (I still think he's a distant third in the Pirate comp's protector options, behind Mr. Smite and our revamped lovely lady Vanessa.)
Edwin: buffs to the health bonus of Assassin's Blade, cooldown reduction on Kingpin's Bounty from 2 to 1, and buffs to two pieces of equipment. I like it! Edwin was already the best thing about the pirate comp. Now he has more survivability and stronger synergy. I might even use Kingpin's Bounty outside of task farming! That's a thought. If you're wondering what's the big deal about the change to Black Flag: it's Eudora's fault. When playing Eudora and Edwin together, Eudora would only get the speed buff if next to Edwin, but then that pushed the cannon to the outside, and you'd have to dance it in, but then it wouldn't be active the *next* round... this simplifies things. Eudora is on the board, Eudora gets the buff. Nice.
Thrall, Mannoroth, Ragnaros: Lightning Storm, Howl of Terror, and DIE, INSECT now strip stealth. Um, okay. Frankly, most of the time I was able to hit Valeera with DIE, INSECT, she just died. (Which is very gratifying, let me tell you!)
Voone: Axe Throw now deals 10 damage, up from 8, and strips stealth. ...sure. Again, not going to turn down free damage, but I don't think denying stealth is the thing that'll suddenly make Voone played in PvP.
Varden: Flurry does more damage-- that's a buff, right?! Heck no it isn't. Now, instead of Flurry hitting three mercs, it hits three random targets. This is a huge change in two dimensions. First, it means that summoned units-- from Eudora's cannons to Mukla's Big Brother-- can now soak Flurry hits. Second, it means that one merc could potentially eat two or even three hits, mega-slowing it but leaving the rest of the enemy team untouched.
Varden can be oppressive to play against; this makes them much less of a sure thing and much riskier to put faith in. Doubly so when the next change is considered: Varden's deathrattle now deals more damage, but only freezes until the end of the turn. This is a far less punitive outcome, despite the damage buff. That extra turn with a frozen merc on your board was just soul-crushing. Now, fewer crushed souls. Gul'dan might not approve, but I do.
[Mods: if you wanted to just post this all as an article, I would not mind. Go for it.]
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