Dev Insights—Upcoming Card Adjustments

The following is being posted on behalf of Aleco Pors, Final Design Lead.

Hey everyone!

We’ve got a really big balance patch planned for later this week, with changes to around 30 cards, including buffs and nerfs—and a few Wild changes. Since this patch has different goals from most other patches, I’d like to provide you all with some more context as to what we’re thinking and how we got here.

In this patch, we are attempting to address issues which have cropped up with the overall health of Standard, as opposed to correcting issues with the health of the specific meta like we normally do. Alarm bells started to go off within the design team when we noticed that the power level of Hearthstone didn’t seem to drop much (if at all) after the recent annual rotation. This sparked a lot of internal discussion about certain gameplay patterns in the current meta – particularly hyper-efficient AoE board clears, “OTK” style decks that lack sufficient counterplay, and powerful Legendary cards like Zarimi, Reno Lone Ranger, and Wheel of Death, which tend to either end the game on the spot or create such a dramatic swing in the game state that the game can feel like it is effectively over. While these cards are a lot of fun for the players playing with them, it was clear that those playing against these cards often felt they had little agency in their ability to affect the outcome of the game.

Increasing the overall feeling of player agency is our key focus with this patch, and it will continue to be our key focus in future patches until it feels like the trend of powerful low-agency cards and archetypes has been reversed. We think it’s fine for there to be exciting, dreamy, and lower-agency cards in the game, but not if they’re also the most powerful cards in the game.

In the latest expansion, too many of these lower-agency designs were allowed to become powerful meta contenders. As the lead of Final Design, it’s ultimately my responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen. We hope that this upcoming patch will be a big step towards course-correcting a few of these mistakes, and that by closely monitoring feedback from our players after big changes like this, the game will be a great spot for future expansions in the Year of the Pegasus.

-Aleco, Final Design Lead


This is the best thing I’ve read regarding the design direction of this game for YEARS!

Thank you!


Thank you so much, this is what Hearthstone needs right now! Let the Fun and most of all the INTERACTION begin:)


Not sure I understand how Reno is a threat to player agency when seemingly half of people/bots in ranked play Plague Death Knight. Now plagues with no counter, THAT is a threat to player agency, especially when there are no less than NINE highlander cards in Standard right now!


Quest mage needs nerf SMOrc


Here is an idea. If you use your armor to clear something, (shield slam, sanitize) it should actually use the armor. The cards should use the resource that it encompasses. Brawl, if you do not have a minion on board, then the highest attack/health minion should stay on board. All aoe spells should effect all minions/players. If you do not have a minion on board, then what aoe damage is done should affect your HP as well.

I think all cards should have an offensive and defensive componet. We should not be able to wipe out 4/5 turns and 20 or so mana spent, just to have the other player spend 3 mana and destroy our entire board. There should be a balance and thought in moves and not braindead play. Now I love mindless offensive palystyle, as I play aggro most of the time, so I would be nerfing the way I play as well, but I think it would be better for the game. And whoever designed Zarimi should never be allowed to “contribute” to the game again. That is the most busted card ever created.


You complained that there was no interaction but you systematically made the same mistakes which led to this. (Flash of lighting). And fortunately it didn’t work (not yet) but Owlonius, the day it becomes viable we will be back to square one…


Glad you are not on the balance team


This is the best news I have read from Hearthstone in years. I had all but quit the game at this point after years of almost uninterrupted play. The current state of affairs in standard was a complete breaking point for me. I have been playing some battlegrounds for a bit and I was waiting to see what balance changes they decided to do in this balance window, but my expectations were low and I was ready to uninstall this forever and disengage from the HS community entirely.

Reading this is a blessing. I am hoping that the design and balance direction is corrected and I can enjoy the game again as I used to. So really, thank you very very much for this. Looking forward to see what you cooked!


And the ridiculous quest requirements that haven’t actually been fixed yet, just made less awful? Are those being addressed?


As the Lead you should also be saying something about the Weeklies debacle instead of hunkering down and hoping the fervor dies away. Nothing else matters until this is addressed including an apology for trying to sneak in the change in a BG patch and not being upfront about why this was done.


Allow 30-40 cards decks and base your starting health to be = to that

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Zarimi: please don’t just increase the mana by 1 or 2 with stat increases that litteraly doesnt help, it needs to be 8+ mana for a card like that ATLEAST. Reno: I’d say make him wipe the ENTIRE board and prob give him 10 armor instead of 5 to make up for this, since i think he would be too weak at that point, ecpecially since highlander has little other support cards rn in standard. wheel of death: on the card it says 5 turns but in reality its 4, so i’d say fix that for 1, and maybe another little slap on the wrist alongside it, like 9 mana maybe? regaurdless reading the card should explain the card, and the card says 5 turns, when its actually 4, big oversight.


Nice, that’s great news. The game has been really unfun as of late, which is a bummer specially since Badlands was one of the best metas (minus Brann).

Also here goes my nerf suggestions:

Stealth only lasts for a turn

Helya - only the 3 plagues shuffled are endless
Sif - starts at 0 spell damage
Thirsty Drifter - not less than 1
Zarimi - 3/5
Flash of Lightning - not less than 1
Forge of Wills - 4-mana
Shield Block - 4- armor
Stoneskin Armorer - revert
Boomboss - turn into deathrattle
Miracle Salesman - 2/1
Reno - clear the entire board except for your leftmost card, and limit each side to 1 minion for a turn

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Just stop designing uninteractive cards. This is supposed to be a card game where people counter strategies, that means
A - stop removing or nerfing the counter cards
B - stop overpowering all the instant 40 damage in 1 turn combos
C - stop creating all these endless uninteractive, looping ‘instant board fills’ like Hunter this meta and Shaman previously
D - finally for once empower slow board control players instead of the Turn 4 instant mega cccccombo players
E - stop designing uninteractive cards that take away peoples entire turn like Reno and remove exploitative cheat combo cards like Bran

It seems like Blizzard just keeps designing cards for instant unstoppable damage, but zero thought goes into actually playing the game, how people actually are supposed to counter anything. Games and sports are supposed to be interactive, back and forth. Football matches aren’t just shooting balls into an open goal either, that’s why we invented keepers and defences.


There’s ALWAYS interaction. This saying line of thinking is so played out and wrong.

Even playing against decks like Sif OTK that hoard cards until they go off have interaction.

They have to INTERACT with your board and whatever else is your win condition while they get their pieces together. They have to survive long enough to win.

You can INTERACT with them by disrupting the pieces they need. Dirty Rat to pull Sif out early. Silences on Traders to prevent them from getting zero cost oils. Mill them to burn pieces.


Make Reno and other Highlander cards have a Start of Game Trigger for the highlander effect would be a good start. It’s the same problem with Priest abusing from Zephyr back in uldum/dragons. not a highlander deck, but it draw a lot of cards that it’s no time for it effect activates.


Finally some good news

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And what deck is currently unplayable that you want to play? There’s always going to be some top decks, just curious which one you want it to be to keep you happy and playing.

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