Hearthstone's next patch will nerf Kael'thas and Mindrender Illucia, plus bring a bunch of Battlegrounds changes

Hearthstone Kael'thas Sunstrider
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Last week, we shared some thoughts—with the able assistance of some notable Hearthstone pros—about which cards from the new Scholomance Academy expansion were likely to be nerfed first. Today, Blizzard announced the upcoming 18.0.2 balance patch, and it looks like we landed two predictions correctly: Kael’thas Sunstrider and Mindrender Illucia are both getting a whack from the nerf hammer, with game designer Alec Dawson noting that these changes are "focused on feels".

First, Kael’thas Sunstrider: Originally, every third spell he cast cost 0, but after the update the cost of every third spell will be 1. Exactly as we called it.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

I know one person in particular who will appreciate this change.

Kael'thas has mostly been seeing in play in Guardian Druid, where he can combo out high-cost spells such as Overflow, Survival of the Fittest, and the titular Guardian Animals for free. The fact these spells will now cost 1 should slow those power spike turns down considerably. Tim thinks there's even a chance the card may not be run in Druid anymore,  with players opting to focus on spamming free Beasts from Exotic Mountseller instead.

Note that as Kael'thas was a free legendary gifted to all players, it's unlikely you'll get any free dust, as the card can't be disenchanted.  

The other Standard card being nerfed is Mindrender Illuciam whose cost is being increased by the update, from 2 to 3. For those who really don't care for the change, the card will be eligible for a full dust refund for two weeks after the patch goes live. Illucia's effect was simply too good at 2 Mana, because it meant she could be played 'on curve', often enabling you to waste the opponent's Coin. 

Stats guru ZachO from Vicious Syndicate thinks this is a deceptively big nerf and will likely lead to the card being cut from Priest entirely. "Her power level is not the reason she was nerfed," he said. "She was strong but there are stronger cards in the format, but she was problematic for gameplay reasons."

(Image credit: Blizzard)

The update also makes a number of changes to Battlegrounds, which is Hearthstone's autobattler mode. On the chopping block are Gentle Megasaur and Arcane Cannon from the minion pool, with Lady Vashj being banished from the Hero pool. The result should be a welcome reduction in power to the Murloc and Pirate tribes, and players will also be delighted to see the OP Captain Eudora hero power toned down.

  • Rabid Saurolisk - Old: 3 Attack, 2 Health → New: 4 Attack, 2 Health
  • Rat Pack - Old: [Tier 2] → New: [Tier 3]
  • Pack Leader - Old: [Tier 3] → New: [Tier 2]
  • Monstrous Macaw - Old: 3 Attack, 2 Health → New: 4 Attack, 3 Health
  • Primalfin Lookout - Old: [Tier 5] → New: [Tier 4], now only Discovers minions from your current Tavern Tier or below.
  • Nat Pagle, Extreme Angler - Old: Overkill: Summon a 0/2 Treasure Chest. → New: After this attacks and kills a minion, add a random minion to your hand. (Minions generated are from your Tavern Tier or below.)
  • Mama Bear - Old: [Tier 6] 5 Attack, 5 Health. Whenever you summon a Beast, give it +5/+5.→ New: [Tier 5] 4 Attack, 4 Health. Whenever you summon a Beast, give it +4/+4. 
  • Goldrinn, the Great Wolf - Old: Deathrattle: Give your Beasts +4/+4. → New: Deathrattle: Give your Beasts +5/+5.
  • Captain Eudora - Buried Treasure - Old: Dig for a Golden minion! (4 Digs left.) → New: Dig for a Golden minion! (5 Digs left.)
  • Reno Jackson - Gonna Be Rich! - Old: [Cost 2] → New: [Cost 0]
  • The Lich King - Reborn Rites - Old: [Cost 1] → New: [Cost 0]
  • Galakrond - Galakrond’s Greed - Now freezes the minion added to Bob’s Tavern.

And as always, there are also a small number of fixes:

  • Fixed a visual bug with Archwitch Willow’s play animation.
  • Fixed a bug where Southsea Strongarm was showing incorrect art.
  • Fixed a bug where casting Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron with Rattlegore on board would cause the game to freeze.
  • Fixed several technical bugs that would cause the game to crash.

The 18.0.2 patch is set to go live "in the coming days."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.