By StoTheXx

My name is Jon "Orange" Westberg, 20 years old and I play for Team Archon. 

I've been really interested in TCG's since I was 12 years old, especially in Magic the Gathering which I've played throughout most of my childhood. Some years later, I started to play Hearthstone to quite some success. Achievement-wise I'm the winner of both Seatstory Cup III and IEM Katowice & I also have a bunch of top8 in bigger tournaments and won more open qualifiers than most pros in the scene.

Basically I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about card games and even though my main focus is to become as good of a player as I can be I've always been somewhat interested in card design. And when I asked on my twitter, @ArchonOrange (#sellout), what my followers wanted to read about a surprising amount of people said that they were interested in seeing what a pro's thoughts on balance changes in the game was. So I guess I'll give it a try. I'm going to talk briefly about balance changes overall and then talk about individual cards. Keep in mind that everything I write in this article is my own opinion and even though I will talk about what I think is going on in Blizzard's head it's all just speculation.

So the question we should ask ourselves is why is Blizzard nerfing cards in the first place? I'm sure that 99% of you will scream "BECAUSE IT'S OVERPOWERED" from the top of your lungs. It is definitely one of the reasons why they do nerf cards, obviously, but absolutely not the only reason.

What a lot of people don't understand is that sometimes even though a card may not be overpowered it doesn't mean it's healthy for the game. Look at Flare for example, a card that was recently nerfed. That card is not overpowered in any way, shape or form but giving Hunter a one-mana cantrip (which can only be that bad) that oppresses a few other classes in a very direct way is not something that'd be good thing for the game in the long run and therefore got nerfed. From this we can tell that nerfs are done because cards are unhealthy for the game, and cards are unhealthy mainly because they are either overpowered or just poorly designed.

As a card designer it certainly hurts to nerf a card because of poor card design, as it's basicly you willingly strapping on a big blinking sign in a bright colors to your forehead saying "I f*cked up" and that's why we don't see as many of those... oh and also Blizzard are incredible at designing cards which makes these fixes rarely necessary, that's another reason, I guess.

So with that said lets discuss some cards that the community has been talking about lately, here are my thoughts on them.


Grim Patron and Warsong Commander

Anyone that has not been living under a rock since Blackrock Mountain came out basically understands that something has to be done about the Grim Patron deck. One of two things will probably happen, either we will see a nerf to one or maybe even several of the cards in the deck or Blizzard will attempt to print hate cards to the deck in the new expansion that is likely to coming out soon like they printed Loatheb as a tool for decks to deal with Miracle Rogue back in the day. My stance on the situation is that, contrary to the popular opinion, Grim Patron is not the problem-card to deal with. The card that is really making the deck as unfair as it currently is are Warsong Commander and I will try to explain why I want to see this card nerfed (again).

First of all: All of the "unfair" things that the decks does start with Warsong Commander. Either it's playing Warsong and Patron against your board of small guys in the same turn or play Warsong, double Frothing and several Whirlwind effects against your control deck to finish you off from the highest life total. Warsong is the card that enables all of this, well, Warsong and Emperor but more about him later. See, without Warsong in the picture the Grim Patron deck would not be nearly as good. You can still do an unfair amount of Patrons just that you don't get to attack with them right away.

Without Warsong in the picture all cards that are supposed to be good vs. Patron like Hellfire, Lightbomb and Brawl would actually counter the deck for real and aggro decks that are relying on small minions wouldn't be as punished for playing them out. The Patron deck would probably still be a deck in the meta because making a bunch of Patrons is still really strong against classes like Druid and Hunter but it would most likely not be Tier 1 anymore, which I think is a good thing. In the meta we have right now every single deck has, in some way, adapted to being less weak against Patron and I don't think it's healthy for a meta to have all other decks customize themselves to beat the best deck, that's not the balance we are looking for, right?

How should Blizzard nerf Warsong then? Remember this is a special case because Warsong Commander is, as you old-schoolers should now, a card that already has been nerfed once before. Back in beta Warsong gave any minion charge which made for some crazy combo decks with Molten Giant and Youthful Brewmaster to OTK your opponent. In Hearthstones history there are very few cards that has been nerfed more than once so when they do it a second time they would have to be really careful about it.

One suggestion that has been floating around on social media is to nerf it so it only gives charge to minions "with three attack or less" summoned from your hand. This way additional Patrons you get in one turn wouldn't get Charge. I don't like this idea at all because it only deals with our problem in the short-term and also doesn't deal with Frothing-OTK's. I think that Warsong Commander reduces a lot of cool designs that Blizzard could do in the future because they have to be careful with every card they design, to look out for minions with 3 or less attack. My solution would rather be to do what they did with Starving Buzzard which is essentially removing it from competitive play by giving it an absurd mana cost. Somewhere around 6-8 mana would probably make sure it never saw the light of day again in a big tournament depending on how safe you want to be.

Solution to Grim Patron Warrior: Nerf Warsong Commander, make it 6-8 mana and let the effect be the same.


Dr. Boom

Who is tired of feeling good about your board position only to hear this guys annoying laugh on turn seven and see your board disappear to Boom Bot-RNG? All of you? Good. Dr. Boom is a very powerful card... yes... I know this is very obvious. Hear me out alright?

Dr. Boom is a very powerful card, and that is totally fine! There is nothing wrong with the power level of Dr. Boom. Yes it's probably an individually stronger card than almost all other cards in the game but there always has to be a best card in a TCG and actually having that card being a seven-drop is very healthy because high-casting cost minions don't see play in a large percentage of games. Also Dr. Boom itself is a card you can somewhat easily build around by either trying to kill them before they play the card or having efficient answers such as Big Game Hunter in your deck.

But I still don't want to see the card stay as it is with that said. What's my problem with it you ask? Well, it's the Boom Bots that follow him wherever he goes. These Boom Bots lead to so many feel bad-situations by whereas one player almost always walks away unhappy after they've exploded. Either the player who just got their whole board destroyed by Boom Bot RNG hitting four on two of his biggest minions or the guy that hit face for one with both when there are three minions on the battlefield. See, I think it's totally fine to have such a powerful card in the game but what I don't like about it is having that card involving a ton of RNG, not from a competitive standpoint.

I would like to see the Boom Bots nerfed to do something like 1-2 damage instead. This would make Boom less powerful but only in attempt to minimize the RNG. This means that Dr. Boom, surprisingly, falls under the "Flare-category" for me where I think the card should not be nerfed because of power level but because that it's just healthy for the game in general.

Then again what we have to realise is that most of us, the competitive player (which I assume most of the people reading strategy-articles are), are only a few percent of the players playing Hearthstone. So while this may be a big concern for us this is not what 95%+ of the community cares about and therefore it is very unlikely that we will see a change to Dr. Boom. For the other 95% the Boom Bot RNG can be "fun" and "exciting". I think this is totally fine from Blizzard's standpoint, but yeah, as a competitive player I'd gladly see them reduce the RNG on the Boom Bots a little.

Solution to Dr. Boom: Boom Bets reduced to 1-2 damage, a change that is very unlikely to happen.


Mad Scientist

This card is not as discussed as some others on this list but I still want to talk briefly about it. To me Mad Scientist is the second best card in the game after Emperor Thaurissan. People are stating that the power level on this card is through the roof which is certainly correct, the card is incredibly strong. I think that Mad Scientist is a genius-move by Blizzard and there is no way that they didn't predict this card being as powerful as it is.

To understand this we have to go and look at the cards that makes Mad Scientist playable in the first place; the Secrets. There is one thing that all secrets in the game currently have in common which may not be obvious to a lot of people: they all individually suck... Here is where Mad Scientist comes into the picture. It is very likely Blizzard realised this a while after the game came out that the card-type "Secrets" were just very underpowered compared to the other types. As a game designer you don't just want something you designed be completely ignored. What they did then was to print a support-card so powerful that it all of a sudden became worth to play secrets in your deck just to be able to play that card. And this is Mad Scientist. If this card would not be in the game secrets would almost disappear from competitive play completely.

And this is why I think that no matter what, they shouldn't do something about Mad Scientist. The card is really powerful but in one of the most healthy ways for the game.

Solution to Mad Scientist: Nothing, let it stay as it is.


Emperor Thaurissan

The power of Ragnaros seems to be a rather strong power to wield because this guy has, since he got released, been considered as the most broken card in the game. Hearthstone is a game where the designers have been very careful with the mana cost they have given cards and the number in the upper-left of every card is there for a good reason. So when you all of a sudden make 4-10 cards in your hand simultaneously cheaper you can only imagine, and you've probably experienced it too, what filthy things start to happen. A thing that happened almost two months ago on my stream is a good example of what Emperor does to the game. I literally play the whole game to eventually draw Thaurissan and finish my opponent off from a really high life total.

If you don't want to see the whole game and just see what the Emperor can do to a game you can just fast forward to 07:15 in the video (if you got time I recommend the whole game though).


The total mana I would have spent on that turn without my cards being discounted would be 19, that is almost twice the amount of mana you should be able to use in any given turn and as you can tell, it leads to pretty busted stuff.

So how would I personally fix the card then? There are a lot of discussion about the card, because it is certainly not something that is healthy for the game in the long term. One idea is to make him trigger at the start of your turn instead just as they did with Nat Pagle, another is to have the effect only happen once and not several times if he stays in play. I am honestly not sure exactly how I would do it myself so I will leave this up to you readers to discuss in the comments. How would you try to make Emperor Thaurissan a more balanced card? I will read all the comments and chime in with my own thoughts on what you guys have to say.

Thank you all for reading this article. Let me know in the comment section what you think about it and also I'd love to hear if you got any suggestion what I should write about next!


Twitter: @ArchonOrange


Jon "Orange" Westberg

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