A Patch and a Disappointment

A new patch came down from the development team a few days ago and made some major adjustments. Pyroblast was upped to 10 mana, Unleash the Hounds was dropped to 2 mana, Blood Imp became useless, and Novice Engineer found itself easily killed by mages, rogues, and druids. Most of the changes, and the rationales behind them, make sense.

Defender of Argus was a powerful, basically essential 4 drop. A bit expensive for a 3/3, but still workable, but with even a single other creature on your side Defender of Argus really showed its strength. It’s new attack may see it pulled from some decks, but not many. Dark Iron Dwarf and Abusive Sergeant were transformed into versions of each other that made sense and seemed less like accidents or creations of parallel development teams. Sylvanas is still a 5/5 for 6 that requires a Silence, Polymorph, or careful board control from your opponent. A nerf, but not much of one.

The significance of Pyroblast‘s change will be revealed in time. Right now I’m not expecting much. Two more mana is a higher price but mages are more than capable of delaying for several turns, drawing cards, and collecting both spells in their hands. Pyroblast followed by double Arcane Missiles, or a Frostbolt, was obviously a finisher before the patch. It may be gone or it may just make Sorcerer’s Apprentice more valuable.

Honestly, the changes I find the most perplexing are to the Warrior. The developers state, clearly, that removing OTK combos is a primary concern. Being crushed in one turn is hardly fun for the person being crushed. I understand the sentiment behind the change. The rationale, however, bothers me.

Both [Warsong Commander and Charge] were key components in “One Turn Kill” or “OTK” decks that kill your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. We want the game to be about playing minions and fighting for board control rather than just waiting until you can play your big combo and win in one turn with no interaction from your opponent.

I played OTK decks and can say, quite confidently, that OTK decks are about board control as much as any other deck. It’s not enough to simply survive whatever onslaught your opponent unleashes and then, on turn 5, destroy them. The combos require careful card use, fodder to draw and sacrifice, and holding on to your combo cards until you have enough mana to unleash them. It’s not a passive, hand collecting deck strategy. And the opponent’s goal is to bait out pieces of the combo and break it to keep whatever lead your deck doesn’t have. If the combo happens on turn “n”, the opponent has n-1 turns to break, prepare, and counter the combo. Part of winning the game isn’t just solving the puzzles your opponent presents, it’s also predicting the puzzles your opponent might try.

The premise behind the OTK deck changes, with the previous version of Unleash and now these, is disappointing. Despite all the data available to them, the Hearthstone development team doesn’t seem to understand how some want to play their game.

Travis Morrow

Travis is a writer and designer who thoroughly enjoys getting pummeled in Hearthstone. His personal website is www.travisem.com

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