Blizzard announces Hearthstone nerfs – Will it be enough to stop Cubelock?

With Hearthstone fans generally upset that the Witchwood did very little to changeup the meta, Blizzard has finally announced an upcoming balance patch. It’s clear that this new patch is looking to knock the highest tier decks down a peg. The question is, will it be enough? Let’s take a look.

Nerf #1 – Naga Sea Witch Now Costs 8 Mana. (Up from 5)

This is a nerf meant specifically to serve the Wild crowd. A while ago a mechanical change made it so that Naga Sea Witch’s effect applied to cards before further mana reductions applied. This made it extremely easy to cast nearly every giant in the game at 0 mana. This led to Giants.dec, another Warlock deck, ruling the Wild meta. This new nerf lets the deck continue to exist but slows down the combo to the endgame where more decks will have answers. Note, that this completely nerfs Naga Sea Witch in every other context, making it practically unplayable outside the Giants deck. But hey, at least you get a free 800 dust.

Nerf #2 – Spiteful Summoner Now Costs 7 Mana. (Up from 6)

Ever since Spiteful Summoner was revealed, “spiteful decks” always had a spot in the meta. Last meta it was Spiteful Priest and this meta it’s Spiteful Druid. The plan is always the same: play Spiteful Summoner as soon as possible, get out a 10 mana creature, and hope that the opponent has no answer. Blizzard acknowledged that Spiteful became more powerful since the last meta rotation, since all the 10 mana pack filler from Whispers of the Old Gods has rotated out.

Not only does this nerf cause Spiteful Summoner to come out one turn later, it gives the player another chance to draw the spells that Spiteful triggers off of, rendering it useless. Spiteful Druid was already barely holding on to its Tier 1 slot and that was just because it was such a good counter to Cubelock. After this nerf, it will definitely fall a few tiers, and hopefully that won’t mean Cubelock won’t get too much of an indirect boost in power as a result.

Nerf #3 - Dark Pact Will Now Restore 4 Health. (Down from 8)

Dark Pact is the go-to activator of choice for Cubelock. For one mana you can destroy one of your own minions and heal a bunch of health. This means that Cubelock can easily kill its own Cubes and Possessed Lackeys for very little cost, and heal up any damage it might have taken in the meantime. This made it incredibly resistant to aggressive decks, since it could just cheat out a Void Lord while healing up.

Blizzard’s solution was to make it heal half as much life, but I don’t think this is the problem. The problem is that it still lets Cubelock kill its cubes for a one mana investment. I’d rather it have cost two mana and had the same affect. To be honest, I think if this card read one mana: destroy a friendly minion, with absolutely no positive effect, it would still be run. The ability to drop a cube and destroy it in the same turn is just too good.

Nerf #4 - Possessed Lackey Will Now Cost 6 Mana. (Up from 5)

Another nerf to Cubelock. Hooray! Possessed Lackey is Cubelock’s main method of sneaking out demons like Doomguard or Void Lord. Nerfing it by one mana means that all of Cubelock’s shenanigans are delayed by a whole turn. Primarily this will allow aggro decks extra time to run over their face.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t do anything against Cubelock’s other method of sneaking cards out, Skull of the Man’Ari. It also doesn’t do anything about their ability to recur cards with Bloodreaver Gul’Dan. Does it hurt Cubelock? Yes. Will it be enough to take Cubelock out of the meta? No. In fact I’d say that Cubelock will still reign supreme after all of this, and if that does come to pass, Hearthstone is going to start hemorrhaging players.

Nerf #5 – Call to Arms Will Now Cost 5 Mana. (Up from 4)

Paladins rule the aggro deck roost right now, and Call to Arms is why. The ability to recruit low cost minions and build a wide board is just hard to beat. It gives Paladin decks a lot of resistance to board clears. It also takes it out of even paladin all together, which is going to seriously nerf that deck. This is a shame because it was another one of Cubelock’s primary predators.

With the new nerf, Call to Arms will still likely see play in Murloc Paladin, and that’s about it. Yes, it can be used in Odd Paladin, but there it can only ever pull three one cost cards. Besides, it costs the same as Level Up, which Odd Paladin will still want to run.

Unfortunately, I think all this will do is reduce the power of both Even and Odd Paladin, leaving Murloc Paladin the top Paladin deck. This was the exact same deck that was at the top of the tier list in the Kobolds meta, which means Blizzard may have just made the meta more stale, not less.

Nerf #6 – The Caverns Below Gets Nerfed Again, Crystal Core Now Makes Minions 4/4. (Down from 5/5)

This is the second nerf to The Caverns Below. Now, not only will you have to play five minions with the same name, but your minions are now weaker. This, once again, will just take Quest Rogue out of the game. Unfortunately, Quest Rogue was yet ANOTHER major predator to Cubelock, so this will indirectly increase its power.

One has to wonder, if Blizzard has such a problem with the Rogue Quest, why not just change its function completely? Every time it gets nerfed it gets nerfed into unplayability. If it’s just a bad card idea, give Rogues something else that they can work with.

Conclusions

Honestly, I’m disappointed in these nerfs. Even and Odd Paladins will just take a backseat to Murloc Paladins now, which was the exact deck that was dominating the meta last expansion. All of Cubelocks predators have been nerfed, even though Cubelock itself has been nerfed. This will probably keep it high on the tier list.

And if Cubelock and Murloc Paladin remain the go-to decks, then this balance patch won’t have helped the meta at all. It will have just ruined some of the other viable decks in it. We will have the exact same top decks that were top in Kobolds and Catacombs and that might be enough to get people to leave Hearthstone (especially with Artifact coming up.)

If anything, this will make Shudderwock decks played more often since they are the only Cubelock predator that hasn’t been touched. However, most Hearthstone fans hated the Shudderwock. They hated it so much that it got the first nerf of the set, limiting its Battlecry copies! Increasing the appearance of a hated deck won’t do much to make the meta very healthy.

What do you think? Will these nerfs save Hearthstone’s meta? Let us know in the comments.