A Mercenaries hotfix comes just days before the Hearthstone Global Inn-vitational, featuring a change to one of the most powerful Mercs.
“Reincarnated Cairne will no longer still take [his] turn“
This one Mercenaries hotfix could completely change the course of the Hearthstone Global Inn-vitational this weekend.
The super-tournament, featuring a full host of invited pros and personalities from around the world, was set to take place on November 7th. Delays pushed the event back to the 11th, but that meant time for one more Blizzard Tuesday.
The update now comes just days before the event (though, I suppose, better than in the middle of it?), threatening to completely upheave the viability of one of the most powerful Mercs in the game: Cairne Bloodhoof.
Cairne and Diablo have been a match made in hell for the past few weeks. Cairne’s “Endurance Aura” and Diablo’s “Fire Stomp” make for a devastating sweep of damage– and there was almost no way to stop it.
Sure, you could sneak an ability underneath the Aura to shave off one more Stomp, but that was never enough. Now that this Mercenaries hotfix means Cairne will no longer cast his queued ability if he dies mid-combat, the whole playbook changes.
Why is the Cairne hotfix a big deal?
Cairne would regularly see play coming off of the bench after your first Merc died. You’d try to open with something powerful, and then Cairne would slide in to fill the gap. He’d start Earth Stomping around and setting up for your next few turns, messing things up for your opponent.
This used to be done with reckless abandon because of Cairne’s most popular Equipment: “Reincarnation”. This read as “When Cairne dies, return him to life with 40 Health”. Even against a team of Casters that could light him up in one turn Cairne would, before the hotfix: die, reincarnate back to life, and cast whatever ability his owner selected.
This meant that Cairne might as well have something like 120 Health! This was a completely unrealistic number to ever do in one turn. The tankiness would go on to guarantee two spells before dying, invariably setting up for Diablo to come stomping off the bench.
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Now, after the Mercenaries hotfix, Cairne just dies. He doesn’t stand back up and or do anything other than heal to 40 and nurse his wounds. Finally it’s possible to deny the major combo of Endurance Aura + Fire Stomp– so long as you can set Cairne up for the snipe.
This change ultimately gives way more agency to the players that aren’t playing Cairne. This Mercenaries hotfix means it’s a great play to leave Cairne at 5 Health now instead of a horrible one. You no longer need to worry about a weak Cairne still casting Endurance Aura. If he dies then Diablo returns to being super slow, and you can turn the tide.
What does this mean for the Global Inn-vitational?
Competitive Esports will always be subject to waves of nerfs and bans– this just happens to come days before a high-stakes tournament. Literally every region is bringing not one, not two, but three Cairne comps to the tournament– the most they were allowed. Every player has been testing with Old Cairne in mind these past few weeks. All of their learned play patterns included the super-tanky cow as a pillar of consistency.
Now, who knows what will happen. Will the teams that brought lots of Cookie and fast-acting Casters suddenly find a huge advantage? Can Cairne be just as good despite the change? Will Diablo feel the “nerf” more than Cairne? Time will tell, but this is the definition of a monkey wrench. Maybe all that teaming up with King Mukla has something to do with it…