In a move already being greeted with an almighty collective sigh of relief by most Hearthstone players, Blizzard has finally swung the nerf hammer on Leeroy Jenkins. The card's cheap cost, relative to its high damage and Charge ability, has seen it deployed as a 'finisher' in a multitude of decks. Most egregiously, in Miracle Rogue, Handlock, and certain Shaman Decks, players were able to couple it with damage buffs and cards like Faceless Manipulator or Shadowstep to do enormous 20+ damage combos.
In order to prevent some of these, Blizzard is increasing Leeroy's cost from 4 to 5 Mana. While that might seem like a small change, it should limit some of the more ludicrous game-ending 'wombo combos'. In the blue post explaining the change, Blizzard community manager Zeriyah wrote :
“Leeroy Jenkins created a strategy that revolved around trying to defeat your opponent in one turn without requiring any cards on the board. Fighting for board control and battles between minions make an overall game of Hearthstone more fun and compelling, but taking 20+ damage in one turn is not particularly fun or interactive”
Amen, sister. And Blizzard wasn't done there, either. The other card to be altered is Starving Buzzard, which in combination with Unleash The Hounds enables Hunter players to draw huge numbers of extra cards and has, in combination with the new Curse of Naxxramas Beast cards, been a key part of the class's current dominance. The card will be changed to cost 5 mana and have 3/2 stats, as opposed to costing 2 mana for 2/1 currently. Zeriyah explains:
"The amount of cards Starving Buzzard allowed Hunter players to draw ultimately ended up being too excessive for its low cost. This change will allow the Hunter's opponent more time to react to both the Starving Buzzard and the cards drawn by its power."
Both changes come into effect from 22 September, after which Blizzard says it won't be making any changes until after BlizzCon in November, where it's hosting a huge Hearthstone tournament with a $250,000 prize pool. (speaking of which, why not check out our masterclass with Hyped , the #1 NA American player right now.) From that time players who own those cards will be able to disenchant them for full dust value. A nice bit of business if you've been holding onto a spare Leeroy in anticipation of exactly this.
What's interesting about the Leeroy nerf is that several of the Naxxramas cards—particularly the excellent Sludge Belcher—felt designed to prevent burst damage. Clearly, the overall problem remained. When I spoke to senior game designer Ben Brode around the launch of Naxxramas, he made it clear that Team 5 wanted to wait until all the cards were out and the dust had settled on the metagame. Now it has, and with Hunter everywhere and Leeroy still going strong, they've acted. Good, I say. Anything to hear less of this…