Who let the dogs out? Bloody everyone, it seems, because the next move in Blizzard's ongoing balancing of the cards in Hearthstone will be to change the cost of playing Unleash The Hounds from two mana to three. It's a small hike, but a significant one in that it should help stem the tide of cheesy Hunter decks which rely on the card.
Unleash The Hounds works by summoning a 1/1 dog for each minion your opponent currently has on the board. What makes it so effective is that it synergises brilliantly with many of the Hunter's other cheap 'beast' cards. Play a Timber Wolf first and all the hounds will have 2 attack. Play a Starving Buzzard and for each hound that's summoned you'll draw another card, all but guaranteeing you hold card advantage. Play a Scavenging Hyena and each time a dog dies – which they will, as they can attack immediately with Charge and are generally used to clear the other side of the board – you'll receive +2/+1 buff.
It's brilliant or awful stuff, depending on whether you're on the receiving end. Speaking on Battlenet, community manager Zeriyah said the decision hadn't been taken lightly: “Since we've seen many cards and deck types in the current state of the game rise and fall as players adapt, we did not want to change Unleash the Hounds immediately. However, Hunter decks have become increasingly more dominant and are doing better than we are comfortable across many levels of play.”
Because the card generates so many cheap but powerful possibilities, Hunters using Unleash The Hound combos have been dominating the current “metagame”. And, as our resident expert Vincent Sarius noted in his article about the most popular decks , there's also no easy answer to the 'Midrange Hunter' deck at the moment.
This change seems designed to fix that, as Zeriyah further explained: “We do like the idea of decks that have a really big turn and pull off a sweet combo, but when playing against Hunter decks, you may feel punished too much for playing minions. Playing minions is one of the key, fun pieces of the overall Hearthstone puzzle, and feeling like your options are limited by the opponent creates a play experience that may not be particularly enjoyable.”
What's interesting is that since the Hearthstone beta started this is, by my reckoning, the third time that Unleash The Hounds has been tweaked. It's clearly a card Blizzard loves, but is struggling to get the value of correct. What do you think? Will a one mana price change be enough to stop the canine carnage? And which other cards do you think require a rethink? Maybe it should be one of our 46 favourites …