Major balance concerns on Hearthstone Battlegrounds are finally addressed
The Battlegrounds mode for Hearthstone is no longer super unbalanced! Ever since the Elemental patch dropped, a returning hero rose to stardom, leagues ahead of everyone else: Ragnaros the Firelord. He was, frankly, overpowered. And so was his diminutive clone, Lil’ Rag, which became the single most defining card in the meta since its inception. Well, the great news is, they’re both being nerfed! And so are other strong heroes, such as Maiev, and Jandice (albeit indirectly).
And there’s more! A few heroes that had been under-performing have gotten some much-needed buffs, and will perhaps become more viable now. The changes are part of one of the biggest balance updates this game mode has ever seen below.
Which heroes are getting changed (or removed)?
Let’s get the more noteworthy balance changes out of the way first: The nerfs, both direct and indirect, as well as a few removal of cards and heroes from their respective pools.
Ragnaros the Firelord
- DIE, INSECTS!
- Old: After you kill 20 enemy minions, get Sulfuras.
- New: After you kill 25 enemy minions, get Sulfuras.
- Old: At the end of your turn, give your left and right-most minions +4/+4.
- New: At the end of your turn, give your left and right-most minions +3/+3.
Let’s open with the most important news. Ragnaros the Firelord, who was being considered by many to be the sole Tier 1 hero in the game since his return, is being greatly nerfed. His ability to earn an enormous double +4/+4 buff came too quickly. Now, it will take 25 minion kills instead of 20, and the buffs will be reduced to +3/+3. A more than fair nerf.
- Old: Make a minion in Bob’s Tavern Dormant. After 2 turns, get it with +1/+1.
- New: Make a minion in Bob’s Tavern Dormant. After 2 turns, get it with +1 Attack.
Much like Millhouse before her, Maiev continues on her rollercoaster of buffs and nerfs. When she was first introduced to the game, she was too weak. But later buffs placed her firmly on the top spots. Now, she’s being dialed back, and I think her new power level will be more adequate.
Our little friendly robot gets to take a vacation from Battlegrounds. Perhaps he’ll return all changed up in the future.
And which heroes are getting buffed?
- Old: After you play 3 Elementals, reduce the cost of upgrading Bob’s Tavern by (2).
- New: After you play 3 Elementals, reduce the cost of upgrading Bob’s Tavern by (3).
Out of the four Elemental heroes introduced recently, this one and Rakanishu have been under-performing — but perhaps the data from the Hearthstone team indicates that Chenvaala is the only one who was truly in dire need of a buff. Getting an extra gold reduction on the cost to Tavern Up might be what it takes to get him up there, even if it doesn’t sound like that much.
- All Patched Up
- Old: Start with 50 Health instead of 40.
- New: Start with 55 Health instead of 40.
As we all have know for quite a while, Patchwerk want to play. And perhaps he finally can! That five extra health is the kind of change that is difficult to evaluate without seeing how our big Abomination friend does in practice, by playing a few games.
- Stay Frosty
- Old: At the end of your turn, Frozen minions get +1/+1.
- New: At the end of your turn, Frozen minions get +2/+1.
Despite not being one of the most powerful, I’ve always found Sindragosa to be one of the most fun heroes to play. Her Hero Power is very skill-testing, but the payoff for using it correctly was not enough. Well, I hope that now it is, and that this is not just some pathetic buff that will betraAaAaAaAay her.
- Now has a chance to give King Mukla a Big Banana that gives a minion +2/+2.
A nice little buff for him. Rumor has it that Big Bananas come from Venus, so maybe the planets will align to make our monkey pal rise to the glory he is deserving of!
What about minion changes?
A couple of minions are being completely removed. The first is Whirlwind Tempest, which barely had any time to do anything — perhaps the developers found out that Mega-Windfury simply doesn’t work, for some reason?
But the other, far more noteworthy removal, is that of Pogo-Hopper. Good night, sweet mechanical hopping bunny prince. You are being sacrificed as an indirect nerf to Jandice Barov, one of the strongest heroes in the game precisely because of her interaction with you. Hopefully you can return one day, when things are different!
And the other immense change that is certainly to alter the state of the game is the tier nerf for Lil’ Rag.
- Old: [Tier 5] 4 Attack, 4 Health.
- New: [Tier 6] 6 Attack, 6 Health.
Lil’ Rag was so strong that you didn’t even need to be playing Elementals for him to be an extremely useful, often game-winning minion for you. You could place him down and then start purchasing Elementals, in other to buff just about anything else you had going for you. This strategy became a little too prevalent.
The good news is, this strategy will still exist and be a viable way to win — but thankfully, it should happen far less often, since you will need to find Lil’ Rag on Tier 6 instead of Tier 5 now. Between the two nerfs, at this point, Ragnaros the Firelord probably doesn’t want us to talk to him or his son ever again.
Other Tier nerfs include Selfless Hero going from Tier 1 to Tier 2, and the brand-new Deadly Spore going from Tier 4 to Tier 5. But now that the minion nerfs are out of the way, let’s talk minion buffs!
- Old: At the end of your turn, give your left-most minion +1 / +1 for each Elemental you played this turn.
- New: At the end of your turn, give your left-most minion +1/+1. Repeat for each Elemental you played this turn.
From first-reading it, it sounds like a simple rewording. But actually, Executus will now guarantee at least one +1/+1 buff every turn, even if you don’t play any Elementals on that turn — as clarified by Hearthstone designer Cora Georgiou:
It is a mechanical change. Even if you play 0 elementals he will buff for +1/+1 at the end of the turn.
— Cora 💙 (@Songbird_HS) October 13, 2020
A couple of Pirates are getting buffs:
- Salty Looter goes from a 3/3 to a 4/4.
- Bloodsail Cannoneer, from a 4/2 to a 4/3.
A similar thing is happening to some lower-end Elementals:
- Party Elemental goes from 2/2 to 3/2.
- Arcane Assistant is buffed from 3/2 to 3/3.
In all of those cases, I feel like Blizzard simply wants to make those specific Tribes stronger in the early game, to better compete with the dominance of Dragons, Beasts, and the rest during those stages.
Last, but not least, Gentle Djinni is moved down to Tier 5, taking the spot that was formerly from Lil’ Rag. That comes with a nerf to its stats, from 6/8 to 4/5, which is warranted since he’ll become much more common — and since his effect of generating more Elementals for you is very powerful.
Let the hunt begin!
In other news, Chapter 2 for the Book of Heroes single player content has also been added today! It features
our favorite SMOrc master the hunter Rexxar, as you journey through his story. With it, a brand new hero bundle has also been added to the store, featuring 5 packs containing only Hunter cards, and a new Hunter skin, Warsong Rexxar.
You only have until October 22 to grab this bundle, so if you want it, you should act quickly!
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