In the recent Patch 25.0.3 that came just a few days after the new expansion launch, Blizzard decided to bless the Hearthstone community with a little bit of card balance. While players were aware of some unhealthy interactions taking place on ladder, what caught us off guard was the patch's timing: huge props to Team 5 for the extra work! This time around we received a total of two main card changes, and two temporary adjustments:
- Sire Denathrius - Now endlessly Infuses for (2) (up from 1).
- Shockspitter - Cost is now 3 mana (up from 2).
- Grim Patron - Now doesn't leave back a corpse when it dies.
- Gruntled Patron - Now doesn't leave back a corpse when it dies.
Although small, this is a meaningful balance patch: while Team 5 has stated that more is to come, the two implemented nerfs will contribute to make the new March of the Lich King meta more enjoyable. While Sire Denathrius had a mark on his back for several months, the devs did not lose any time with Shockspitter and the non-games it allowed.
Disclaimer: While Shockspitter is eligible for dust refunds like any other nerfed card, regular Sire Denathrius has been given out for free to everyone, so only its golden version will be disenchantable for full value.
Moreover, Grim Patron and Gruntled Patron cannot be disenchanted for full value. Not yet, at least: Team 5 really wanted to find a solution to the Corpse Explosion interaction before it became too popular, so it's reasonable to expect a refund window to open up in the following weeks.
Balance, Bans & Unbans, The Future
Quote From Blizzard
This balance update was reserved for only the most standout cards immediately after expansion unlock. We’ll continue to keep our eye on how the metagame develops and make any further adjustments needed in our next balance window, reserved for a few weeks from now.
- Old: Lifesteal. Battlecry: Deal 5 damage amongst enemies. Endlessly Infuse (1): Deal 1 more.
- New: Lifesteal. Battlecry: Deal 5 damage amongst enemies. Endlessly Infuse (2): Deal 1 more.
- Old: [Costs 2]
- New: [Costs 3]
As for the Patron brothers, they were initially banned, but the situation rapidly changed, as they got unbanned and modified so that they don't leave the corpse behind (if you want to know more click here). Celestalon did confirm that this is just a temporary solution, so we should expect more to come.
Quote From BlizzardHeads up! Grim Patron and Gruntled Patron will be unbanned in a new hotfix that will roll out today. Both minions will no longer leave Corpses. This will address the unintended interaction with Corpse Explosion. More updates to come!
Quote From Celestalon(This is not the final solve for this interaction, still temporary, just better to leave it this way instead of totally banned for the moment. Hoping to get a more final fix out next week that preserves both cards' functionality, without going infinite.)
However, we cannot help but notice that, once again, there's a card we would've loved to see addressed: Brann Bronzebeard. A fun card, which allows a lot of crazy combos; however, 2022's power level is much, much higher than it was back in 2015, so doubling many Battlecries is bound to break the game.
Team 5 confirmed that they'll keep an eye on him, so the hope is that we'll receive some news on the matter very soon.
Quote From Aleco Gereco
Any eyes on Brann? It seems that without Brann doubling a lot of these effects they are not as obnoxious.
Definitely have eyes on Brann
In this article, we're going to evaluate each of these changes, trying to predict what they'll mean for Constructed.
Now endlessly Infuses for (2) (up from 1).
In the end, someone did manage to kill Daddy D: Sire Denathrius could not find any worthy opponents in the Shadowlands, so it took the King of the Undead to find lethal. We'd like to split our thoughts on this card in two halves.
First up, the positive half. Sire Denathrius gave many decks a finisher worth to be called that way, turning many half-baked archetypes that could not close games into remarkable meta contenders. Moreover, Denathrius supplied healing, something not every class had (and has) access to.
On the other hand, Sire Denathrius proved to scale way too fast, especially in classes that have a focus on tokens like Druid. Moreover, many cards (Brann Bronzebeard, Shadowstep, Wildheart Guff) allowed the players to double its Battlecry or combine it with other cards, making Denathrius even more overtuned.
With the Infuse requirement brought up to 2 mana, Sire Denathrius won't be as generally good as it used to be anymore: players will now have to commit more deck slots into making it a worthy finisher. For this reason, we expect its playrate to drop significantly, however without reaching zero: decks like Ramp Druid will still look forward to it, as 20 mana and lots of tokens from various sources are bound to foster Denathrius' battlecry more than enough.
Cost is now 3 mana (up from 2).
A minion with a potential that Team 5 did not predict very well. During the first days of the expansion, players came up with a strategy that revolved around playing several weapons (so that you were able to attack as frequently as possible) and different ways to replicate Shockspitters's Battlecry (Brann Bronzebeard and Youthful Brewmaster for extra Battlecries, Selective Breeder for extra copies).
In the end, players were able to chain Shockspitters with a juiced up Battlecry, closing games as soon as turn 5. It is clear that, during development, Team 5 didn't intend this minion to cover such a role, hence the nerf.
With Shockspitter's cost being 3 mana now, players won't be able to close out games as soon as they did, but at the same time its role stays the same, meaning that it will remain a decent option for your Hunter decks.
Grim Patron & Gruntled Patron
Both now don't leave back corpses when they die.
Technically not a nerf, but an emergency hotfix that aims to prevent a certain interaction from taking place. To be more specific, this change wants to avoid the Grim Patron/Gruntled Patron combo with Death Knight's Corpse Explosion.
Said interaction wasn't necessarily overpowered, but it took (and still takes) a lot of time to execute and infused Sire Denathrius many, many times. All in all, this is more of a "feeling" change rather than a data driven one.
What do you think about these nerfs? Are there any other cards you'd like Team 5 to address in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
About freaking time for that killjoy to get nerfed.
Now poor, fun and innocent Theotar, the Mad Duke can be unnerfed.
Ehh, I don't know about that chief. Theotar was pretty damn good even without taking Denathrius into account.
While I'm fine with the balance nerfs I'm a tab bit disappointed that Team 5 didn't pick up the patron/Corpse Explosion interaction during internal play testing. It should not be up to the community to find these broken interactions. Team 5 need to setup test automation to run through each of these scenarios, even if it's as simple as for eg: Play X Minion with Corpse Explosion = see results, then repeat with another minion. I.E. combinatorial testing
This game is getting bigger and bigger with each expansion and it's clearly obvious that Team 5's QA can't keep up.
What you expect? That they tested almost all 5.000 card every 4 months? That's not gonna happen. They'll always use players for that.
Bit of really, really minor trivia: you can get an effect similar to Patron in the unlikely event that both Hydralodon and Glugg the Gulper are in play on your side.
I had that happen just today when my opponent played a corpse explosion. Hydralodon's Hydralodon Heads fed Glugg to the point that it was a one-card-lethal over the course of a long animation. (And since the opponent relied upon a single minion with Taunt to protect him from said lethal and a Nagaling I created that following turn rolled Asphyxiate, that didn't work.)
(If that seems lucky, know and understand that my deck and hand had been stripped of every win condition due to random effects from my opponent such that I was dying to fatigue and several copies of Alexandros Mograine 's effect at the start of the next turn, so the luck was theirs and it was their game to lose.)
Sire Denathrius in my opinion isn't really as broken as everyone think it is, not since Kael'thas Sinstrider was nerfed anyway. That's because most normal decks only ever juices him to about 15-20 damage, with the most severe requiring him to be in your hand since turn 1.
The biggest problem is actually druid's usage of the sire. No other deck abuses Sire Denathrius better than druid, and ramp druid features a gameplay that consistently allows them to ramp somewhere around 4 mana above your own from turn 5, on top of having guff doubling their mana available. All this, and Sire Denathrius more or less always being the win con, makes the atmosphere toxic. Enabled by the sire sure (druids really dont need to care what their opponent is doing as long as sire is not sniped), but the original sin must surely lie with the class itself.
Nerfing sire was unfortunately, but necessary, because he is in fact featuring in a lot of decks, especially XL decks. And without this nerf I dont see that trend ever changing until rotation. Brann is another offender, but substantially less problematic...outside of druid. Is team5 going to continue nerfing everything around druid, missing the problem at every corner, or is druid somehow going to get away with murder for the next 3 expansions? Only time will tell.
The best part about all this:
Every single problem Druid creates with high-value cards -- every single one -- was predicted and predictable. Even the Denatrius nerf was floated in forums within days of his release. Team 5 has enthusiastically driven Druid into its present direction with unbridled enthusiasm. This isn't a symptom of a greater goal, this is the goal.
Druid (from our perspective) ruining the meta, card quality, and experience isn't a bug, it's a feature.
We simply have different goals from the devs.
If Guff is changed again, it will only be well-after maximum damage is done.
I know guff is being targeted hard for the supposedly broken-ness of having more than 10 mana, but honestly, to me the biggest offender to all of this bs is actually 5 mana Nourish, and Jerry Rig Carpenter tutoring this card.
Because if they get jerry rig on 2, ramp on 3, and nourish on 4, youre now officially 4 mana behind and your board is likely going to be removed by scales. Let's imagine that nourish is 6 and there's no brilliant way of tutoring this shit card then druid has to actually play defensive instead of hyper greeding the game.
Guff may break it in the late game, but to me it is druid's early ramp nonsense that really makes it a viable deck against all but the most aggressive aggro deck. In fact, if you can make a minion stick past the first Scale of Onyxia, chances are good you've just won the game.
Besides, removing guff and they switch easily to celestial alignment anyway. The same reason why I think nerfing anubrakhan helps fuck all. Brann nerf is the most sensible, but I hate to nerf one card just because one class is abusing it.
And that's what the devs have been building towards all along!
Remember when Wild Growth was nerfed, not because Wild Growth was broken, but implicitly so it could make room for more cards that did the same thing as it but better? That was Team 5 saying "we have this bad idea to take a good thing (ramp to reasonable value) and turn it into a bad thing (ramp into meta-warping value) and we need to crush the infrastuctre that makes the good stuff happen."
You can't easily isolate Guff because Guff is part of an overall plan where the outcome is exactly what we're experiencing now. This is what peak performance looks like. And the only way to get that changed would be for the design motifs to have a) existed a year ago, b) have been a problem a year ago such that c) people on social media lose their shit over them all. That's how Discover got dialed back -- a little. And it has to be a year because the sets are made a year in advance and changes after set design are pulling teeth.
Druid has bad bones.
Worse, the kind of changes it takes to fix it are changes to Hearthstone itself because the balance is built around its power level. The absolute most you can hope for are a series of neutral cards that gain in power if the opponent has more mana crystals than you, with an increasing benefit as the difference rises. And you will never get those, or nerfs, or anything else for the same reason they never fixed Nozdormu's turn-eating: it's not a bug, it's a feature.
I love the Denathrius change. I've played him a LOT, and played against him a LOT. This is that rare nerf that actually balances the card's power level without nuking it into oblivion. He's still strong and definitely wins you some games, but sometimes you just play him for the healing, which is good too.
Now the replacement problem is Astalor Bloodsworn. Guff Druid can easily play him alongside Brann for pre-nerf-Denathrius damage output, and lots of other classes can do so as well with a coin. Even without Brann, this guy is ending games.
Guff was one of the biggest mistakes in HS history and we will be paying for that forever. Or at least Wild will.
Why can't Brann be 'Your first Battlecry triggers twice"
Would that really help? You hardly ever have mana to combo more than one card with it.
Unholy Denathrius still slaps.
I am disappointed in this change to Sire Denathrius.
This punishes token based decks the most!