Patch 23.4.3 brings several nerfs with the main focus on the two Hearthstone meta tyrants, Warrior and Demon Hunter. What did the Devs say?
Today, Hearthstone deployed the 23.4.3 patch that brought several nerfs to standard as well as some balance changes to Wild and Battlegrounds. Hearthstone Devs commented that the objectives for the nerfs in Patch 23.4.3 are to ‘lower the power level of the most powerful decks’ and improve ‘the play-against experience of some polarizing cards’. Grab your lifejackets as we sail once more in this Voyage to the Sunken city patch analysis.
Nerfs in Hearthstone Patch 23.4.3
As we have mentioned, patch 23.4.3 hopes to tone down the effectiveness of Hearthstone’s top dogs: Warrior and Demon Hunter. Many community members have already expressed their discontent with the adjustments. Not necessarily saying they are bad, but that they don’t address underlying issues.
Let’s start going over Warrior’s Nerfs in this Hearthstone Patch 23.4.3. The Charge and Control Warrior archetypes seemed too strong, something that intensified at the highest levels of play. Furthermore, there were some polarizing cards, such as Nellie or From the Depths, that created frustrating experiences.
Old: Taunt. Deathrattle: Add Nellie’s Pirate crew to your hand. They Cost (1). → New: Taunt. Deathrattle: Add Nellie’s Pirate crew to your hand. They Cost (1) less.
Old: [Costs 3] → New: [Costs 4]
Old: Battlecry: Deal 5 damage. Gain 8 Armor. → New: Battlecry: Deal 5 damage. Gain 5 Armor.
Old: Deal 5 damage to all minions. Costs (1) less for each Armor you have. → New: Deal 4 damage to all minions. Costs (1) less for each Armor you have.
Hearthstone Devs commented on the Warrior 23.4.3 Patch nerfs. The previous cards seem to fall in the “balance-oriented” nerfs, except for Nellie, that might be part of both at the same time.
“this batch of changes is intended to lower the win rate of both those archetypes. We don’t want or expect these decks to disappear entirely after the changes, but we do hope that some of the more frustrating plays that they are capable of (such as Nellie creating 1-cost Mr. Smite) will be removed or weakened going forward.”
Demon Hunter Nerfs
On the other side of the ring, Demon Hunter stood as the other overpowered deck. With less problematic cards, the patch 23.4.3 brought only two nerfs for the class, hoping that it stops terrorizing Hearthstone players.
Old: [Costs 6] 6 Attack, 6 Health. Battlecry: Transform into a 6/6 copy of a Demon in your deck. → New: [Costs 7] 7 Attack, 7 Health. Battlecry: Transform into a 7/7 copy of a Demon in your deck.
Old: 2 Attack, 2 Health → New: 2 Attack, 1 Health
Regarding the previous changes, Devs mentioned that the main goals were to give players the opportunity to react before the game snowballed out of control.
“Although we’re happy to see the new and improved Xhilag making a splash, we aren’t as excited about Caria being used to cheat out a copy of Xhilag ahead of schedule. In addition to slowing down that interaction, we’ve shaving one Health off Battleworn Vanguard in order to lower the odds that it sticks early and snowballs the game.”
More Class card nerfs with Hearthstone Patch 23.4.3
As always, if you tone down the best decks, some others may spin out of control. To prevent this, Hearthstone devs used the 23.4.3 patch to introduce other nerfs. The following changes share a similar idea, slow down the metagame.
Hearthstone Devs didn’t want the nerfs just to change one tyrant for another. This is why some key cards in other archetypes were adjusted. We’ve summarized Hearthstone Devs' comments under each of them, but if you want a short version, Patch 23.4.3 it’s saying “chill out dude”, as Feno would.
Old: 4 Attack, 5 Health → New: 3 Attack, 5 Health
"It didn’t feel right for us to hit the other popular classes without taking a small amount of power out of Rogue. Wildpaw Gnoll has been a tricky card for us to get right, but we’re optimistic that the latest change to it will leave both the card and the class in the right place."
Old: [Costs 7] → New: [Costs 8]
"We are happy to see hero cards pack a late game punch for their classes, but felt like Cariel was providing that power a turn earlier than she should have been."
Old: [Costs 4] 2 Attack, 5 Health → New: [Costs 5] 2 Attack, 6 Health
"Spitelash Siren is a fun and interesting card for Naga mage decks, but we felt that it was capable of effectively ending games in a way that didn’t leave enough room for counterplay."
Old: [Costs 1] → New: [Costs 2]
"We felt Earthen Scales was doing too much for a one-mana card, and that increasing its cost by 1 the class should be a little easier to attack in the mid-game."
On top of these Class, card nerfs, the 23.4.3 Hearthstone patch also tweaked two of the most popular neutral cards. Mr. Smite and School Teacher have been nerfed but for different reasons.
Old: [Costs 6] → New: [Costs 7]
"Mr. Smite is a powerful, game-ending card that doesn’t need to be quite as powerful as he is on curve. This change will hopefully make the card a little more tolerable in the mid-game, while also slowing down the various combos he is involved in."
Old: 5 Attack, 4 Health → New: 4 Attack, 3 Health
"Though we’re generally happy with the kinds of gameplay that School Teacher provides, a card with a premium Battlecry effect doesn’t also need to have premium stats."
A Wild nerf has appeared
Finally, our round of nerfs covered a serious Wild issue, Big Shaman. Lately, it has been causing some problems in Wild with this kind of highrolls.
To prevent this, one of the most prevalent Dual Class cards in both standard and wild has been redesigned. Lightning Bloom, in combination with Wild mechanics, proved to be too polarizing.
Old: Gain 2 Mana Crystals this turn only. Overload: (2). → New: Refresh 2 Mana Crystals. Overload: (2).
This change might seem subtle, but it totally creeps the card. Hearthstone Devs made an aggressive adjustment to Lightning Bloom in the 23.4.3 patch, nerfing it to the ground. They explained that the reason behind this change was not only the current state of Wild but the long-term problems it could create.
"As we tracked gameplay following the mini-set, we noticed concerns about game experiences in Wild, particularly when it comes to Big Shaman decks. These decks can sometimes ramp out big threats very early, which could make games feel like non-games"
Note about nerfs and refunds: Any craftable versions of the cards listed above will be eligible for full dust refunds for two weeks following Patch 23.4.3 (Core Set versions of cards that are in the Core Set, and the Golden versions of School Teacher that were given as part of the Voyage to the Sunken City Rewards Track, are not craftable).
Developer's insight on Hearthstone nerfs
Once more, the final design team took some time to break down the reasons behind each change and what they expect to achieve. This time, it was not Gallon who explained things, as he moved to the Initial Design team. Fortunately for Hearthstone’s Twitterverse, Aleco Gereco filled the void and brought us a nourished thread about the 23.4.3 Patch nerfs.
One of the most important takes of this thread is that the 23.4.3 Hearthstone Patch nerfs were not only aimed at cards with outstanding power levels but also at how some cards “feel”, especially when you face them. Iksar, current Game Director, explained this philosophy over a year ago (thanks RidiculousHat for Dredging this).
The tides are still choppy and there is no certainty the mete problems would be solved with this patch. However, I welcome change. Despite some other problems might arise, the idea of a game that reacts to and addresses problematic states of the meta is something I support. Moreover, fresh metas have a special glow and encourage experimentation, that is what the game is about.
The 23.4.3 patch also brought many Hearthstone Battlegrounds and Mercenaries updates. If you want to check out the details you can read our dedicated article.