After over half a year of dominance, next week will see one of Hearthstone's most popular decks rendered obsolete.
Players have since early this year been voicing concerns about the strength of a deck set known as Patron Warrior, which has become widely popular online and adopted by huge numbers of players in the game's ranked laddering system.
It revolves around three key cards. Primarily it is named after the Grim Patron card, which arrived in the Blackrock Mountain expansion last April. Grim Patron, a five mana card with three attack and three defence, will spawn another Grim Patron whenever it is damaged but not destroyed.
This became particularly potent when combined with the Warrior's Warsong Commander card, which gives any minion with three or less attack charge. When played correctly a string of Grim Patrons can be spawned all of which are able to attack instantly without having to wait a turn.
This duo became all the more fearsome when fellow Warrior card Frothing Berserker was added to the mix. That card gains at extra attack point whenever ever minion on the board takes damage. This led to the potential for a charging Berserker (thanks to the Warsong Commander) amassing a huge attack stat in one go due to the all of the damage incurred by numerous spawning Patrons and enemy minion, often leading to some spectacular one turn kills.
Blizzard has always had a policy of preferring to give players the tools needed to combat popular decks rather than nerfing (reducing the stats or effectiveness) particular cards. It clearly hoped to provide just such an opportunity with its recent The Grand Tournament card set. But while that expansion has produced some new archetypes (Secret Paladin, mainly, although Dragon Priest briefly saw a resurgence and Aggro Druid is currently booming) it did nothing to usurp Patron Warrior as the game's most threatening deck.
So now the developer has bowed to pressure and killed Grim Patron in its tracks. The extent of the nerf has surprised players, however. Rather than increase the cost, reduce the stats or alter the effect of Grim Patron or Frothing Berserker, Blizzard has instead neutered Warsong Commander. As of next week, the card will simply add one attack point to all charge cards, effectively making it redundant.
Over the course of the short but impactful history of Hearthstone, we've taken a strong stance that we'd like to make changes to cards only when they are completely necessary,” it said. The direction of gameplay and the metagame should be defined by our players, and as the meta is evolving, many different types of decks can emerge. Cards that were once impactful in the meta can be less so once new strategies emerge, and that change is brought on by the constant need and drive for innovation by our players.
Innovation is just one way a game can evolve, and the best way to shake up the meta and innovate in Hearthstone is by introducing new cards into the game. Introducing new cards to Hearthstone is our preferred method of changing the current state of the game. It's exciting to discover a deck that may have an advantage over a popular deck out there, and new cards lead to the discovery of new combinations, and new conversations. Hearthstone thrives off of stories about enjoying a fast-paced, fun game with friends that's full of delightful surprises.
Going forward, we will continue to stand by our stance that we will only make adjustments to cards when we feel it is completely necessary and allow the injection of new cards into the game help our players define what the meta evolves into. In the case of Warsong Commander, 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.”