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HearthstoneApr 10, 2020 1:37 pm CT

Demon Hunters receive Hearthstone’s quickest nerfs ever

Ashes of Outland, the latest expansion for Hearthstone, saw some nerfs to its brand-new Demon Hunter class on day two. That’s fast.

The Hearthstone team used to be noticeably slow to react to imbalances, but has been getting faster and faster over the past few months. And this nerf, which happened only one day after the class was released, clearly shows that when the team looked at the numbers, they saw a big problem.

While we don’t have access to the numbers ourselves, we do have third-party addons that collect data from players. The data from one of those popular sites, HSReplay, showed Demon Hunters with a winrate as high as a staggering 56% on day one; far ahead of the 50% to 51% that the next classes had at that point.

And what exactly was nerfed, you ask?

The nerf list

Aldrachi Warblades will still see play, but given the power of Lifesteal effects — especially for Demon Hunter, a class that is constantly using its face to attack things — there is definitely some impact. I don’t expect players to drop this card completely, though. When paired with other power-increasing effects like Inner Demon, it can still be a game-changer.

Eye Beam receives the smallest adjustment. That one-mana cost to deal three damage to a minion is almost incidental. It will still be a valuable removal tool, but neither too weak nor too strong, and will see use in decks that warrant that kind of tool.

Imprisoned Antaen is frankly a little surprising to me. This is fully anecdotal, but the card hasn’t felt overly strong to me, neither when playing with it nor against it. The effect is very powerful, but the tempo loss of doing nothing to affect the board for five (now six!) mana on the turn you cast it is rough — combined with the fact that it’s essentially dormant for one extra turn, since it still can’t attack on the turn it “wakes.” But I’m not about to question Blizzard’s data; clearly, their numbers showed them that this card was netting too many wins when played.

Skull of Gul’dan is still very powerful. The card was frankly too strong at release — drawing cards is a very powerful effect on any card game, and “mana-cheating” (reducing the mana cost of cards, allowing you to cast powerful, high-cost cards earlier than anticipated) is the mechanic with the most potential to break the game, historically. The card remains very strong at six mana, and is unlikely to leave the majority of DH decks.

One day after the nerfs, Demon Hunters are now hovering between third and sixth highest winrate overall — again, according to third-party (not official) information.

Other adjustments

There were also some adjustments for Arena:

Originally Posted by Kerfluffle (Official Post)

For Arena, we’re making changes today that will see Demon Hunter class card offering rates decreased until we’re able to properly address the class with more accurate micro-adjustments in a future patch. The following cards have had their offering rates reduced in Arena:

  • Chaos Nova
  • Coilfang Warlord
  • Command the Illidari
  • Flamereaper
  • Furious Felfin
  • Glaivebound Adept
  • Illidari Felblade
  • Immolation Aura
  • Metamorphosis
  • Netherwalker
  • Nethrandamus
  • Priestess of Fury
  • Skull of Gul’dan
  • Twin Slice
  • Umberwing

And, as is par for the course, Blizzard offered a Dust refund option for players who might have crafted those cards:

Originally Posted by Kerfluffle (Official Post)
A full Arcane Dust refund will be issued for both regular (100 Dust) and golden (800 Dust) copies of Skull of Gul’dan and Imprisoned Antaen, as well as golden Eye Beam (1600 Dust).

How will these changes affect Demon Hunters?

The Demon Hunter class is still good, but fluctuating.

New decks are still being tested: Highlander DH was very strong on day one, but then got overtaken by Tempo DH. Other deck concepts, like Token DH and OTK DH are also being used by the community, without much success yet. But the fact that DH decks are still evolving shows that the meta is very much in flux, and it will be a while before we have a final word on how powerful the class is.

Either way, I’m confident that it is no longer as “overpowered” as it was at release. And it is certainly good to see the Hearthstone team react to problems in such a proactive fashion.

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