Are we already staring at another wave of Quest Warlock nerfs, churning out there on the horizon?
The first nerfs of Stormwind have come and gone: eight changed cards, including long-term offender Il'gynoth. OTK Demon Hunter and Quest Warlock were absolutely going to get hit-- on pure power level alone, they were on another level.
Cards like Granite Forgeborn, Conviction and Kolkar Pack Runner may have come as somewhat of a surprise. But the day before the nerfs went live these three Aggro decks sported the highest three win-rates on HSReplay.net. Shaman, Paladin and Hunter were popping up in response to the "solitaire" Quest decks, forcing them to combo off or die by steady beatdown, and it was working.
But here's the rub, the tap: even despite eating three of its own nerfs, Warlock might still be too powerful.
Darkglare to three mana simply isn't enough to stop the terrifying Six Demons ("6D") deck. Flesh Giant and Battlemaster up by one mana barely changes the play patterns of their own version, too. With some of Gul'dan's enemies knocked down a peg on top of it all-- are we already staring at another wave of Quest Warlock nerfs, churning out there on the horizon?
Quest Warlock Nerfs: Were They Enough?
Stealer of Souls, perhaps the most egregious card in 6D Warlock, somehow dodged the ban-hammer. The term "ban-hammer" isn't used lightly in Hearthstone-- actual bans are extremely rare. But do you want to guess which card has already been banned in Wild?
You guessed it! Our little "SoS" has a well-known history of oppression, represented by its title of The First and Only Banned Card. This card only costing two after Free Admission is what is allowing the absurd fifty-input turns way ahead of schedule. It has stolen another day, yet without a doubt will be re-evaluated for the next patch.
For now we have the nerfs to Darkglare, Flesh Giant, and Battleground Battlemaster. These all targeted Warlock in various ways, slicing across the full range of Quest Lock decks: 6D, Giants, or Zoo. But no archetype was left in shambles. Each retained their full functionality, and in many cases didn't slow down at all.
Warlock has joined the likes of Rogue and Mage and Druid in The Octo-bot Gang, a clever band of rebels that haven't paid a full mana cost in months. Thanks to Free Admission and Runed Mithril Rod our still-bleeding victim, Darkglare, even at three mana, regularly costs zero. 6D still plays some truly absurd games of multi-dimensional chess by turns five and six-- the deck is in a category all its own.
Not only is this scarily fast, but the strategy involves running through tons of animations. Mobile players literally could not OTK in one turn if they wanted to, let alone through any amount of delay, disability, or distraction. It's always a precarious line to toe because the game is, ultimately, one that requires a lot of inputs. But go too far over the edge and you start to box out wide swathes of players.
This patch even secretly improved the animations, as the notes read:
- "Updated the Stealer of Souls animation to now only trigger if the card ends up in your hand (it does not trigger for cards that are Cast When Drawn, such as Soul Shards)."
What this means is that mid-combo Soul Shards, they take up less time in your difficult turn. The kill is often gated by how quickly you fly through your deck, and Soul Shards have notoriously long animations. Funnily enough this would seem like a good thing for the aforementioned gamers, but now we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. By improving the animations it helps the flow of the turn... which makes it easier to win with. By reducing a "Feels Bad" element this patch full of Quest Warlock nerfs might've actually just strictly improved the deck.
The combination that makes the 6D deck so goofy is Darkglare + Stealer of Souls. As long as they exist in any form remotely similar to their current state, the issues of animations and "draw-my-deck-kill-you on 6" will persist. Let the players move into the Flesh Giant or Zoo versions and the result will be a much healthier videogame.
I think it's fairly safe to say that we should let the helicopters land on the island and take away our SoS. Hearthstone could nerf the card into a Battlecry for one card or something like making it cost 7, but any of these changes would gut the card. Stealer has a long history of nastiness, and the Quest is good enough without him.
I don't think anyone was expecting United in Stormwind to be as completely off-the-walls as it's been. But love it or hate it, the Combo Jungle is full of a lot of really pretty colors. Whether there are changes next week or in a month, find the way to play that works for you.
(Until then-- I recommend Shadow Priest as a relevant way to attack the Quest Warlock villain.)