The era of endless Voidlords and charging 5/5 boars might, just might, be drawing to a close. This morning Blizzard unveiled the next round of Hearthstone nerfs, and the cards being changed will come as no surprise. Warlock, Rogue and Paladin, easily the three most dominant classes in The Witchwood meta, are all on the chopping block, as are two problem neutral epics. Here are the nerfs:
Naga Sea Witch: will cost eight mana (up from five)
Spiteful Summoner: will cost seven mana (up from six)
Dark Pact: will restore four health (down from eight)
Possessed Lackey: will cost six (up from five)
Call to Arms: will cost five (up from four)
Crystal Core: all minions become 4/4s once the quest is complete (down from 5/5s)
As previously reported, these balance changes will go live sometime after the HCT playoffs conclude on Saturday, May 19. Blizzard hasn't provided an exact date for when the update will arrive, but it's reasonable to assume next week.
The reasoning behind most of these changes is fairly clear. Call to Arms is the best card in basically every Paladin deck other than Odd, so it's no surprise to see it toned down. At their current costs, Naga Sea Witch and Spiteful Summoner can both create insurmountable board states absurdly early on. As Blizzard explained, "by increasing the cost of Naga Sea Witch to 8 Mana, the deck’s concept remains intact, but the combo is delayed." Some players are likely to believe seven Mana is still too cheap for Spiteful Summoner—particularly given that the set rotation actually made the card more consistent when used in conjunction with 10-Mana spells—but I'm optimistic because the rest of these nerfs could also weaken Spiteful Summoner.
Part of the reason Spiteful Summoner is so powerful is due to the relative lack of aggro on the ladder. It's mostly a midrange and control meta, meaning Spiteful decks aren't really getting punished for their lack of early removal spells. And the lack of aggro is largely due to the popularity of Warlock and its ability to not only cheat out Voidlords on turns five and six, but gain a bunch of health in the process. Most aggro decks simply cannot beat the Lackey-Pact combo.
The nerfs to Dark Pact and Possessed Lackey, which will weaken Warlock's healing and delay its Taunt walls, will allow more aggressive decks to shine, and those aggressive decks will probably be able to kill Spiteful decks by turn seven. In the same vein, Quest Rogue, which is not only 20 percent weaker thanks to its nerf, will be up against more aggro decks, which have always been good against it. Warlock has been a dominant force in the meta for months, so hopefully neutering it will help other classes share some of the spotlight.