Hearthstone Is Having Serious Balance Issues

Illustration for article titled iHearthstone /iIs Having Serious Balance Issues

Since Hearthstone launched in early 2014, the addictive digital card game has gone through various balance phases. At one point, Miracle Rogues dominated everything; more recently we saw the rise of the Patron Warrior. Today, it’s the Paladin’s turn to shine.

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For at least a few weeks now, the Hearthstone competitive ladder has been dominated by a deck called the Secret Paladin, built around triggering as many “secrets”—trap-like cards that are hidden from the opponent until they’re triggered—as possible. Secret Paladins are everywhere these days, and general consensus in the Hearthstone community is that they’re overpowered as hell.

This deck is built around a card called Mysterious Challenger that looks like this:

Illustration for article titled iHearthstone /iIs Having Serious Balance Issues
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“Battlecry” is an ability that’s triggered as soon as you summon the minion in question. So as soon as you play this Mysterious Challenger, you’ll set yourself up with a ton of different secrets with buffs like “give your minions +1/+1” and “when an enemy attacks, summon a 2/1 Defender as the new target.” If you’ve played the game, I’m sure you can see why this might feel a bit overpowered.

Hearthstone’s meta-game has always moved in cycles, and perhaps Blizzard’s fine with that—plenty of classes have had their opportunities to shine over the past year and a half. But as many on the Hearthstone subreddit and elsewhere have pointed out, the current rise of these Secret Paladins—and, to a lesser extent, Aggro Druids—has made for a far less interesting competitive climate, to the point where tensions are reaching a breaking point.

Fans are frustrated with how Hearthstone balance has been approached, especially in the wake of the nerf to Warsong Commander last month, which effectively killed Patron Warriors for good. Many fans have been asking: Why can’t there be smaller, more frequent balance updates to a game that many perceive as stale? As one veteran player told me in an e-mail this week, “Hearthstone is a digital card game. Not a real, physical card game. Meaning, nerfs, adjustments and buffs should be possible and done; something Blizzard has refused to do.”

This weekend at Blizzcon in Anaheim, California, the developers at Blizzard will lay out their plans for the future of Hearthstone. It’ll be interesting to see what they do next.

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You can reach the author of this post at jason@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

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DISCUSSION

I said it back then and I’ve been saying it all year and I’ll continue to say it, GvG broke the game in more ways than one and started this madness. The team handling Hearthstone(mainly the leads making the decision) clearly don’t give a shit about Hstone as it has become more and more RNG reliant.

Either they don’t care or they truly don’t understand the game. For months Patron decks sat in the top rankings and one of the easier decks to climb into legend with(given you knew how to play Patron, it wasn’t a breeze like facehunter) and what do they do? Nerf Warsong Commander into the ground and make it beyond useless. Know what made Patron decks so strong? It wasn’t the Patron’s themselves or even Warsong Commander, it was having bodies on the board and getting a OHK Frothing Berserker out and winning in a single turn.

GvG was the start of the madness, TGT has just gone completely left field. And what bothers me most is you still see the same types of decks, handlock, control warrior/priest/mage, aggro hunter/druid/pally and a variety of other proven types with little changes here and there with another new card usually based around RNG thrown into the mix.

At this point, the only way to get some semblence of balance and enjoyment is to play arena. There you will still see the control deck, the agro deck, mid range and so on, but rarely are they constructed and so heavily reliant on certain meta cards/setups. Sadly arena is an investment both in gold and time and less suited towards more casual play or a casual player.