Warsong Commander nerf goes live, Hearthstone pros react

Warsong Header

The day has finally arrived for everyone to get out of here. Hearthstone has just been patched, and with it comes one of the most drastic card nerfs in the history of the game. In one fell swoop, Grim Patron Warrior—which has indisputably been the strongest deck in the meta for the past six months—has essentially been removed because the Warsong Commander card, its most vital combo piece, has been made unplayable.

To mark the occasion, we asked some of the top pro Hearthstone players, streamers, and casters for their reaction, and gathered additional opinion in the form of videos and blog posts from a few more. Some are happy about the death of what had become an oppressively powerful deck, others think the nerf went too far, while a couple think the timing of the patch is worse than the change itself.

Read and watch below to see what the pros think of Warsong's demise, then give us your take in the comments below.


"The Warsong Commander nerf is beneficial in many ways, but what I'm most excited about is the design space Blizzard frees up for the future. It's sad to see such a unique and cool Warrior deck get the nerf bat, but think about what the WC also potentially breaks in the future. Blizzard surely tested every type of nerf and maybe realized fundamentally the finishers aren't the root of the problem, it's the mechanic that makes it happen: Charge. I think this is a strong step in the right direction for future card design. That said, I am sad to see Patron nerfed so heavily because fundamentally I think it was sweet a deck that existed in HS: low variance, high skill ceiling."

Brian Kibler

"Warsong Commander has only ever been used for non-interactive combo kills and Hearthstone is a better game with it gone. The World Championships at BlizzCon will be much more exciting with the new metagame that results from this change rather than the same decks that have been around for months."


"Grim Patron Warrior was the only tournament deck that had only one bad match-up, which was Handlock. [...] It was basically a deck that had almost no weakness—and even in the weakness, it still wasn't that bad—so it made it a really safe pick in tournaments, even though it didn't have an overwhelmingly high win-rate."

Watch the video below for Kripparian's full thoughts.


"I think the Warsong nerf was a little too much. The card is totally unplayable now and weakens the Patron deck as a whole by a lot. I do believe nerfing Patron is a good thing for Hearthstone though, since most people didn’t enjoy watching it nor playing against it."


"I think the change was absolutely necessary and I fully agree with taking away the 'give minions Charge' thing from it. Increasing the mana cost by 1, or a similar solution, might've been a band-aid for now—but with new cards getting released it would have become an issue again. [Blizzard also couldn't] make the cards they want to, because they had to keep the potential power in combination with Warsong in mind. The new Warsong Commander is a terrible card that nobody will play anywhere, and the statline on it could've been a bit higher to help out arena players."

"While Grim Patron was a cool deck, giving minions Charge had to be stripped away completely with future card design in mind. Also, I don't think it's possible to create anti-Warsong cards very easily, so the impact of new expansions would've been a joke, as we saw with The Grand Tournament. Patron is the meta-defining deck for competitive matches, and it is very likely that it would've stayed that way and the meta would never get fresh, resulting in tournaments being repetitive and boring. I think TGT was a very cool expansion, but Warsong-Patron decks made 99% of the cards irrelevant for tournaments."


"It turns out that the scapegoat is Warsong Commander, and boy is that getting the Starving Buzzard treatment. I really cannot agree with the severity of this. I didn't agree with Starving Buzzard, and of course Starving Buzzard never sees play now—but Warsong Commander, surely that could have been a 2-mana 2/3 or a 3-mana 3/4."

Watch the video below for Trump's full thoughts.


"I think that the nerf to Warsong Commander does accomplish Blizzard's goal of expanding design space, but why now? Ben Brode talked about how when they were designing Curse of Naxxramas this was already on their radar. Instead of changing it at any other point, they waited until BlizzCon to shake up the stale meta. This isn't a new tactic for them as they did a similar thing last year with Starving Buzzard. Creating interest in your most important tournament of the year in this way seems cheap and not very creative to say the least. I wouldn't mind the nerf post BlizzCon and think that all the discussions about the severity of the nerf detract from what the main issue at hand is, which is the timing."


"I'm actually very surprised that anybody is opposed to this nerf whatsoever, but there seems to be two major concerns to what's happening here: the timeframe around when it's being nerfed, which is right before the World Championships. We're now giving players about two-and-a-half to three weeks to prepare to play for a $250k prize pool, certainly a concern that some people have. And the other one is that the skillcap of the game is being lowered right now. That the highest skillcap deck has been taken out, and as a result there's not really that much of an edge to be had, which is a ridiculous notion considering that we're basically heading into a new format."

Watch the video below for ThatsAdmirable's full thoughts.


"In my opinion the Warsong Commander nerf was justified for a couple of reasons that I mentioned in my recent vlog [seen below]. In short, it will create more open space for the developers to create new cards in future sets. It shakes the tournament metagame forcing qualified players to adapt and show even more competitive skill. Lastly, it will also create a more pleasant and approachable viewer experience for the World Championship finals."


Noxious has written a fantastic piece about "design limitation" and the nerf over on his site, which you can (and should) read in its entirety right here. We've pulled out a choice quote below about the difference in perspective between players and developers:

"If you're a player, you approach the problem from a more immediate perspective: you see the problem on a day-to-day basis with the same scenarios arising. Warsong Commander is played, Frothing Berserker comes out, and you're being hit in the face for 30 damage. [...] On the other side of the mirror, you're a developer, and you're looking at the future of your game. You already have a year's worth of content planned, or at least a solid chunk, and you're looking at the current state of the game, which is already past design as far as you're concerned. Your playerbase is frustrated, and you understand why. You share their sentiment, even, and it's time to act. You have more information and the ability to tilt the game in any direction. Which change do you make? You could attempt to change every outlying gameplay element and homogenize the power curve across the board, but that's either futile or a surefire way to make the game stale. When it comes to modifying largely functional game systems, a simple and elegant solution is probably the best one to go for. You have to find and make the change that's the most future-proof."

Value Town (ChanmanV with Reynad, Jab, and Monk)


"They didn't do this because they wanted to nerf Patron, they did it because they can't print cool low-attack minions as long as Warsong is in the game. Grim Patron is a really cool card, it's really interesting design. And it stops them from designing cards like that in upcoming expansions as long as this is around. "

"Whether we disagree or agree with the nerf—if they indeed wanted to appeal to the casual players to prevent people from posting all these OTK moments with Frothing Berserkers—it changes the entire BlizzCon format, and I don't think necessarily for the better."

"I'm a huge fan of the nerf. It's going to mix things up a lot for BlizzCon, which I think is actually a good thing for the viewing experience and to see how players adapt. [...] I don't like the way they changed it, however, because they basically just removed the whole deck from the game. I think you could've just toned down the power level a bit."

Watch the video below to see the full Value Town segment on the nerf.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on Twitch.tv/pcgamer to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.