Blizzard Announces Shakeups, Possible Nerfs, and New Features for Hearthstone
Blizzard recently announced possibly major new changes to Hearthstone, the developer’s competitive card game companion to World of Warcraft. Hearthstone’s latest expansion, the “Tombs of Terror,” is currently underway. Blizzard is not planning on introducing impromptu changes to the latest expansion, but future additions may undergo notable changes.
Shakeup Coming to Standard Cards
Blizzard has big plans to return a number of Wild cards back to Standard, which could have huge implications for competitive gameplay. Early announcements indicate that 23 currently Wild cards would return to the Standard decks.
Hearthstone Standard decks have undergone several changes recently with some cards getting nerfed and others getting buffed. According to Blizzard, now that Standard decks seem solid, it’s time to introduce new changes.
Two heavy-hitting cards are expected to return to the Standard deck. One is N’zoth, a 5/7 Legendary minion. N’zoth has a powerful Battlecry that can summon Deathrattle minions that have already perished in the game. Ragnaros the Firelord, an 8/8 minion card, is also returning to Standard. This card is notable in that it can’t attack during a turn but randomly attacks an enemy at the end of the player’s turn.
Because such a change would affect deck trends, Blizzard is planning to distribute free copies of each card to players to get them participate in a meta-mixing event.
A Priest Class Card Could Get Removed or Nerfed
Some Hearthstone players are raising concerns that a class-specific card is giving priests an undue advantage in the game. The card in question is the Divine Spirit, which only costs two mana.
Divine Spirit lets priest players double a minion’s health. While this move can be very useful, the card becomes a powerhouse when used in combination with the one cost card Inner Fire, which allows a minion’s attack to become equal to its health.
The advantage this combo gives priest players is huge. When a Hearthstone commentator tweeted out an image of his absolute win rate with this combo, Blizzard apparently took notice. August Dean Ayala, a senior game developer working on Hearthstone, recently told media that Blizzard is “working on fixing” this particular overpowered combo.
He indicated that there are “plans” to remove Divine Spirit, as the developer believes the card could become a problem for Hearthstone in the future. There are no immediate plans to remove or nerf the card. Ayala said this change could come around set rotation time.
The priest class has already seen several changes during the “Saviors of Uldum” expansion released earlier this year. Priest decks were considered weak, so Blizzard buffed the low-cost card Extra Arms. However, Extra Arms was buffed up too much and this gave priests early access to powerful spells, throwing the win rate out of balance. Blizzard later nerfed Extra Arms by increasing its cost.
Blizzard has not officially announced changes to Divine Spirit. Therefore, the news is considered only a possibility, not a certainty at the moment.
There will be More In-Game Events in the Future
Blizzard said there would be a major “spooky” event coming to Hearthstone, inspired by the Fire Fest-EVIL event during the “Rise of Shadows” expansion. The developer was mum on the details but said that more information would be available on October 4th.
The Fire Fest was a huge success and Blizzard hopes to add more just like it in-game. Large-scale events like these give players highly desirable rewards, which prompt inactive players to return to the game just for the event.
The planned events are likely to include legendary quests, brawls, and dual-class arenas. The announced event for October is most likely Halloween-themed. Blizzard has a special event every Halloween on World of Warcraft.
Hero Portrait Updates are Coming
In a more aesthetic update, Blizzard is planning to introduce a hero portrait feature for players who win 1,000 ranked games with a class. Currently, players who win 500 ranked games with a class get a golden border around their hero.
Blizzard will retroactively count for the wins. That means ranked game winnings prior to the update will count towards the reward.
Hearthstone seems to be in the process of updating the graphics on hero portraits so that they match how the characters appear in World of Warcraft. For example, priest hero Anduin Wrynn’s Hearthstone appearance came from his old model used in the WoW Legion expansion. His Hearthstone portrait has been updated to match the newer model on the latest WoW Battle for Azeroth expansion.