A look at the Card Changes- Metagame Implications
Seven cards will be changed in an upcoming patch. Every card except Charge was part of Top Tier decks and I think that all these changes will have a bigger impact on the metagame than the Karazhan adventure.
Especially Shaman loses a lot of its power and therefore other decks that were weak against Shaman will find themselves in a much better position. What I like about the changes the most is that no card was nerfed to the ground, like Warsong Commander was. The changed cards are now just more in line with similar cards and are simply not as overpowerd as they used to be.
All the nerfed cards are format staples. They see play in Top Tier decks, which are the foundation of the metagame and their alterations will make these decks weaker and in return make other decks stronger. In this article I will take a look at the changes and tell you how each change will have an impact on the metagame. Although I’m a very good at making predictions, don’t take anything for guaranteed. Although I was among the very few people who thought that for example Ironforge Portal was a good card or that the Warsong Commander nerf won’t kill Patron Warrior, I was never 100 % certain. If you don’t have enough data (which in Hearthstone means to play the game and find out what works and what does not), you can never be completely sure. Nevertheless I think the majority of my predictions in this article will be correct.
Goodnight sweet Prince. Oh how fun it was to deal 30-60 damage from hand in one turn. All those free wins against Paladin and Priest. Oh the memories. Anyways with the change to Charge the Raging Worgen– Combo deck will now be dead, because you can’t give Raging Worgen Charge anymore. Paladin and Priest now can live an easier life, because their horrendous matchup just disappeared. And the story would end here if the mana cost of Charge would remain the same.
But Charge now costs 1 mana and that will improve Grim Patron Warrior. You now have an additional activator for Grim Patron. If you play against a deck with smaller minions like Zoo Warlock, you can now use the very cheap Charge and simply remove a one or two attack minion and spawn another Grim Patron. In addition to that it also has good synergy with Wild Pyromancer and Commanding Shout. You can now attack with Wild Pyromancer into something bigger, deal 3 damage to it and also damage the whole board, because of Charge and Commanding Shout. And Wild Pyromancer does not die. For only 6 mana.
So to summarize, the change will kill the Combo Warrior archetype, but gives a huge boost to the consistency of Grim Patron Warrior. I expect Grim Patron Warrior to be a popular deck going forward, because it is good against Aggro, Druid, Rogue and Hunter.
You can very easily see how much difference there is between a one or two mana spell when you take a look at Purify. Purify does not see play, because it is bad. But if Purify costed one mana I would play it in almost every Priest deck without any synergy. Drawing a card for one mana is powerful and is especially potent in decks that have a lot of card combinations like Auchenai Soulpriest and Circle of Healing.
Execute got hit really hard I think, but nevertheless it will continue to see play in all Warrior decks. Funnily Crush is still worse than an Execute for two mana. Previously you could combine Execute very tempo efficiently with Ravaging Ghoul, Blood to Ichor, Slam, but now such combinations are not as tempo efficient anymore.That will hurt tempo reliant Warrior decks like Dragon Warrior quite a lot and decrease their win percentage in a lot of matchups (with a large sample size of course, because over time a two mana Execute will lose you games you would have won if it costed one mana). Dragon Warrior versus Miracle Rogue used to be a 50/50 matchup (when the Miracle Rogue Pilot was very good), but is now in favor of Miracle Rogue. After the changes, if you have Ravaging Ghoul and Execute in your hand you can’t kill Flamewreathed Faceless on Turn 4 anymore. That is quite a huge deal for all Warrior archetypes. Control Warrior suffers the least from this change, because it is not as reliant on tempo as other Warrior archetypes, but nonetheless it will still decrease the power of the deck quite a bit.
Rockbiter for one mana is extremely strong. It is good against every archetytpe. Against faster decks you can use it very efficiently to fight for board control and against slower decks it can be devastating in conjunction with Doomhammer. But with the change to two mana it is now weak against other Aggro decks. Nonetheless it will continue to be very good against slower decks because Tempo is not as important against them. Against Control decks Shaman mainly uses Rockbiter for Burst in conjunction with the Idiothammer.
I think this change is even more severe for Shaman than the change to Tuskarr Totemic. Currently Zoo Warlock is slightly unfavored against Midrange Shaman, but after the nerfs that will change for sure. You now only have Lightning Bolt as an on curve answer to Flame Imp and Malchezaar's Imp. Spirit Claws and Maelstrom Portal will continue to be very potent against Zoo Warlock, but overall the nerf to Rockbiter Weapon (and also Tuskarr Totemic) will shift the advantage to Zoo.
Nevertheless Rockbiter Weapon will still see play in Aggro Shaman, but the burst together with Doomhammer will be more expensive and it is also less tempo efficient when it comes to dealing with cheap minions. Regarding Midrange Shaman I have my doubts that the full playset will continue to see play. Maybe Midrange Shaman will only play one copy.
Finally. I can’t understand why this card made it through development in the first place. It stifles design space for future Totems and is extremely unfun randomness. It took Blizzard so long to finally change this card. I understand that when it came out and Shielded Minibot and Muster for Battle were format staples, it was not that oppressive. But as soon as these cards left, Tuskarr Totemic was bound to be too powerful.
I’m sure it will continue to see play in Midrange Shaman, because it is still better than Fencing Coach. You now also have a higher chance to roll a Spell Power Totem. But in Aggro Shaman Tuskarr Totemic will just disappear, it is not strong enough.
Abusive Sergeant saw play in every Aggro deck, but with the nerf it will no longer be an option. The reason for that is that one attack usually does not trade well. Abusive Sergeant will continue to see play in decks that just want the Battle Cry like Zoo Warlock.
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
- Overload now applies to Yogg-Saron-casted spells (not a high impact nerf)
- If Yogg-Saron dies, his effect will stop happening (not sure if this is enough)
As I predicted in my last article, Yogg- Saron is getting nerfed. To be completely honest with you, I have no idea how good the card will be. To really find out, I think you have to do math and run a simulation. But I think Blizzard has done enough research and thinks that this change will remove it from competitive play.
Although my instinct says that on average Yogg- Saron will still be very potent against board flood decks like Shaman or Zoo Warlock, and can therefore continue to see play. If Yogg- Saron fades away it will weaken Token and Malygos Druid a lot against Zoo Warlock and Shaman builds.
Call of the Wild
The difference between an eight mana and a nine mana card can be seen when you take a look at Grommash Hellscream and King Krush. Obviously it costs one more mana and therefore gets played much later in the game, but when you play a nine mana card you also can’t weave in a Hero Power activation which is sometimes a big deal. This is a nerf to Hunter and huge buff to every Control deck. Call of the Wild is opressive for Control decks and is the main reason why every Control deck struggles against Midrange Hunter. It does not matter if it is Control Mage, Anyfin Paladin, Reno Warlock or Resurrect Priest. They all get obliterated by Call of the Wild for 8 mana.
Now Call of the Wild costs 9 mana and I think Midrange Hunter will only play one copy, because 9 mana is too expensive for an aggressive Midrange deck.
Summary of Metagame Changes
The Shaman Class is not going anywhere. Aggro and Midrange Shaman will continue to see play, but won’t be as dominating and popular. You will see much fewer Shamans on the ladder and in tournaments once the changes roll out. I fully expect that you will see much more variety on the ladder and in tournaments. Tempo Mage will see a lot more play and so will Miracle Rogue (at higher Ranks). Currently Miracle Rogue is good against a lot of decks like Midrange Hunter, Control Warrior, Druid and Zoo Warlock, but is kept in check by the popularity of Shaman. But with the changes I think it will now be a Tier 1 deck at higher Ranks (but that will solely depend on the numbers of Aggro Shamans, Midrange Shaman is okay with the right build).
Beast Druid will also be more popular, because Shaman won’t be as good against it as it used to be. Dragon Warrior will also stay around, but won’t be as popular as it was in the past.
Zoo Warlock will be the premier aggressive deck people will complain about. But the thing about Zoo Warlock is that unlike current Aggro and Midrange Shaman it has quite a lot of bad or even horrendous matchups (Freeze Mage, Patron Warrior, Miracle Rogue, Control Warrior).
Overall the metagame will be much more diverse and you will see more different decks, especially slower decks will get better, because they now have a much easier time against Tuskarr Totemic and Call of the Wild.