Something's always OP. Part of the fun of Hearthstone is finding those cards and decks that, at a certain point in the meta, are degenerate. But the question is how degenerate is too degenerate? Sometimes cards are so powerful—or at least seem so powerful—that they become the season's version of 'that one damn shotgun in CoD I'm always getting killed with.'
This time around, it's Shaman card Mogu Fleshshaper, a seven-cost minion that can be played early because its practical mana cost decreases with each minion on the board. Pair that with evolve effects like Mutate or Witchy Lackey, both of which transform a minion into one that costs an extra Mana, and suddenly you have a random eight-cost minion early in the game.
Making matters substantially worse right now is the presence of the card Evolve itself, which is part of the Whispers of the Old Gods set, but has returned to Standard as part of a temporary event. It's incredibly potent because it transforms all the minions on your board, which makes for even more nutty synergies with Mogu Fleshshaper and, notably, Desert Hare.
The good news for those sick of Shaman spam is that Evolve will leave Standard at the same time as the expansion, Descent of Dragons. However, Mutate and Witchy Lacky are sticking around, which means Fleshshaper will likely still be a problem.
According to HSReplay, the Murloc Shaman deck, which employs Fleshshaper but not Evolve, has a 59.7 percent win rate when Fleshshaper is kept on the first draw.
Hearthstone pro James "Firebat" Kostesich recently revealed that he was told by a developer at BlizzCon that the data doesn't back up the need to nerf Fleshshaper. Even so, "it's just not fun to play against," he said.
Speaking to Hearthstone game designer Alec Dawson at the show, I didn't get yes or no answer as to whether the Shaman class will be getting nerfed soon. It does sound like there's a good possibility, though, as he admitted the current cards are creating unhealthy patterns.
"I think with Shaman currently, there's some gameplay patterns that we aren't the most happy with," said Dawson. "I think when you do have an eight-Mana minion that you evolved [from] a Mogu Fleshshaper on turn four, that's not a healthy gameplay pattern. I think that's going to be a card going into Descent of Dragons that we're definitely going to keep an eye on.
"I think when it comes to some of these effects that cheat Mana and do things like that early on, that's something that we're looking at as a team and we're making sure that these effects aren't ruining your gameplay experience. So, we are definitely aware of it, and we're definitely going to be keeping our eye on a few cards going into the next expansion to see how their power level shakes out."
It sounds like Dawson is roughly in agreement with Firebat, then. Sometimes what matters isn't just how strong a card might be in a vacuum, but how frustrating it is to face it when the combo goes off at the earliest opportunity.
Descent of Dragons releases on December 10, and any planned balance changes will probably come a few weeks after that. Also on the way is the new Auto Chess-inspired Battlegrounds mode, which expansion pre-purchasers and BlizzCon attendees or Virtual Pass holders can try now.
I'm liking Battlegrounds quite a bit, though Tim says it's not for him: "I'll stick with playing ladder despite it making me furious." Classic Tim.