The Hearthstone balance team teased new patch is coming soon: is Death Knight still a problem?
Once again, Hearthstone’s meta is getting a shake-up in a new balance patch. What’s different about this time?
It seems that the 25 buffs that the 26.0.4 Hearthstone patch weren't enough to bring balance to the game. While the all-mighty Frost Death Knight is no longer the reigning tyrant, is not that players are free now. The meta is just "under new management."
Aleco, Hearthstone's Final Design Lead, teased that game should get a balance patch in approximately a week. However, there are some implications for that, especially regarding timing. Let's go over the details.
Update - May 15: As we predicted, Hearthstone has confirmed the patch is coming this same week and that the Heroic Tavern Brawl will be pushed one week.
May 16 - Update: Hearthstone has teased the 26.2.2 balance patch changes, including nerfs and buffs for both constructed and Battlegrounds. In the usual tweet format, the Hearthstone team has shared the cards affected in the next balance patch.
26.2.2 Hearthstone Balance patch: Buffs and Nerfs
While Hearthstone didn't disclose the actual balance changes, the infographic shows which cards are getting nerfs or buffs. If you don't recognize the art, you can either read the Tweet's image ALT text or just make sure you follow Ben Hearthstone who made this summary.
On top of these constructed balance changes, the upcoming Hearthstone patch will fine-tune the latest Battlegrounds content update.
- Buffs: Molten Rock, Flourishing Frostling, Dancing Barnstormer, Gusty Trumpeter, Rock Rock, Pufferquil, Zapp Slywick, and Hero E.T.C., Band Manager.
- Nerfs: Banana Slamma, Mama Bear, Upbeat Frontdrake, Low-Flier, General Drakkisath, Kalecgos, Arcane Aspect, Nadina the Red, Reef Riffer, Scourfin, Radio Star, Peggy Sturdybone, Underhanded Dealer, Record Smuggler.
- Other changes: Upbeat Duo, Reanimating Rattler, and Electric Synthesizer. Monstrous Macaw seems to be returning.
Current balance problems
The previous Hearthstone balance patch brought more buffs than nerfs, but that didn't solve the outlying problems. The Death Knight class has been in the spotlight since its launch in December last year.
At first, the class couldn't compete with the existing and emerging decks. None of the 16 world championship players picked the class for their line-ups. After a round of buffs and the annual rotation, things changed.
Several decks vanished to Wild, and at the same time, Death Knight lost nothing. With the general powerlevel going down, the class that stayed the same ended as the meta tyrant.
In terms of popularity, the class represents nearly 30% of Hearthstone's meta, and that alone justifies a balance patch. The spell Demon Hunter that existed before the rotation has returned and is causing problems again, the feeling after losing to Sinful Brand is terrible. Finally, the third archetype that some players are asking to be nerfed is Zok Druid.
At the same time, as we've seen in the Distribution image from Vicious Syndicate, there are some classes that are inexistent. While low popularity doesn't necessarily mean low powerlevel, it tells us that players aren't excited about playing them at least. The previous balance patch buffed 25 Hearthstone cards, it seems that some decks are still needing help.
What's new about this Hearthstone balance patch?
One thing that Aleco and Alkali, Hearthstone Community Manager, highlighted is that the team has been collecting feedback from players part of the Creator Program for the last few balance patches. Creators often understand the game as much as anyone at Blizzard and what's more important, they are in constant communication with the players.
These insights might turn out to be a key tool for balance patches to be more effective. While it's impossible to leave everyone happy, the game needs diversity and that is something that's lacking right now.
Facing the same classes over and over creates a frustrating experience. Moreover, the existence of a single Tier 1 strategy with high popularity limits players' chances to experiment. Fortunately, at least for a few days, the next Hearthstone balance patch should solve that.
When is the Hearthstone balance patch coming?
This is where things get tricky. Alecco's tweet said that it would be in a few days, but there's something that the team needs to consider when launching a patch. The Hearthstone Heroic Brawliseum event was supposed to start on Wednesday 17, however, since the balance patch will probably land on Thursday, it was postponed a week and will start on the 24 so the balance changes don't interfere with ongoing runs.
Hearthstone Heroic Brawliseums have been postponed in the past due to balance patches. The patch going live just a few days before the event definitely spice things up, creating a new meta hours before the Heroic Brawliseum.
We will update you as soon as we get more information, so stay tuned for more Hearthstone news and guides. Be sure to visit esports.gg for all the latest esports news as well. See you next time in the Tavern.