If you’ve played Hearthstone at all over the last six months, you will have had your face caved in by a 30+ damage one-turn-kill Warrior combo involving Warsong Commander, Grim Patrons, and Frothing Beserkers. It isn’t a ton of fun, and crucially it is very tricky to play around because the combo effectively punishes you for playing creatures and for not playing them. You can see the combo at its most absurd here.
With the deck suffocatingly dominant in top level ladder and tournament play, Blizzard has finally decided to bring the nerfbat down hard on Warsong Commander. The card text previously read “Whenever you summon a minion with 3 or less Attack, give it Charge”, but after the nerf it will be “Your Charge minions have +1 Attack.” Which essentially means that there is now no synergy with Grim Patrons or Frothing Beserkers, and you will no longer be able to buff and attack with those cards on the same turn you play them.
The patch will go live next week, and Blizzard community manager Zeriyah had this to say:
“Going forward, we will continue to stand by our stance that we will only make adjustments to cards when we feel it is completely necessary and allow the injection of new cards into the game help our players define what the meta evolves into. In the case of Warsong Commander, we felt this change was necessary to help expand both future design space and to stand by our overarching game philosophy that battles between minions and fighting for board control is what makes Hearthstone fun and compelling.”
You can read the full statement here. In my opinion this is as substantial a nerf as the one applied to Starving Buzzard a year ago, in that it effectively kills the associated combo. Significantly, that nerf was also applied before the World Championships at BlizzCon, effectively preventing what was regarded as a degenerate deck (in that case, midrange Hunter) from ‘spoiling’ the high profile tournament.
Hopefully this guy's blade will be a little less thirsty now.
The consensus amongst the pros and streamers I speak to has long been that a nerf to Warsong Commander was coming, particularly given that Blizzard’s designers have stated multiple times how problematic balancing charge effects is. The only surprise is that the change is so substantial. Many people had speculated that the nerf would involve limiting Warsong Commander’s attack to 3-attack creatures, preventing you from charging with huge buffed Berserkers. This is a more dramatic change, which effectively nuking the card’s effectiveness from orbit. Using Warsong Commander now would force you to include creatures which already have the charge effect, and are accordingly costed more expensively, making potential combos massively less powerful.
If the Grim Patron deck even exists after the nerf—and I suspect it won’t—opponents will have more time and options in terms of dealing with Patrons or Berserkers. Perhaps combo-orientated Warriors will retreat back to using Raging Worgens in combination with the card Charge, but honestly I can’t see it. RIP in pepperonis, Patron.