Unleash the nerfs!

Like in any competitive game, balance is a big issue in Hearthstone, developer Blizzard’s hit digital card game. Just recently, one of the game’s most notorious cards, Unleash the Hounds, got a needed downgrade (it went from costing 2 mana to 3).

Hearthstone, however, still has plenty of cards that seem too strong. That’s why GamesBeat brought out its resident Hearthstoners (feel free to use that one, Blizzard): managing editor Jason Wilson and me, staff writer Mike Minotti. We came up with a list of controversial cards that we think could also use some nerfing.

Any Hearthstone cards you want to see adjusted or downright obliterated? Or do you want to defend any of the ones we picked? Let us know! Now, here are our selections:

Starving BuzzardStarving Buzzard

Jason: This gives you one additional card for every Beast you play — even after the nerf to Unleash the Hounds, players still complain that this is the broken card because of how it can help you draw an amazing amount of cards on one turn. If you play it plus two UTH against a board with three or four minions, you could get up to eight cards.

Mike: Worse, the Starving Buzzard and the Unleash the Hounds combo, which all together only costs 5 mana (even after the UTH nerf), dissuades opponents from playing minions.

I mean, the only way to protect yourself is to not have many cards on the board, but that’s also an easy way to lose fast. I think that Starving Buzzard could use an increase in mana cost, too.

Hunter's MarkHunter’s Mark

Jason: Sometimes sneered at as “Huntard’s Mark” in online forums, Hunter’s Mark costs 0 mana and instantly sets any minion of your choice to 1 health. Imagine taking the legendary dragon Ysera, with 12 health, and setting it to 1 — and then killing it with a boar. You just killed a 9 mana card with 1 mana — congrats!

No wonder people hate Hunter’s Mark.

Mike: I think it’s fine that Hunter’s Mark exists. Every class needs a way to deal with high-level threats. But it’s insane that it costs nothing. I mean, would it really hurt the Hunter that much if Hunter’s Mark required 2 mana? That seems much more fair.

Paladins, for example, have Equality. That card turns the health of every minion, friend and foe, to one. It has a downside, and it doesn’t work great in every situation. Right now, Hunter’s Mark is pretty much always useful and viable. Who would make a Hunter deck without it? Actually making it cost a little mana wouldn’t hurt.


Jason: Even if Blizzard fixed Hearthstone’s most powerful Mage spell in January, changing its cost from 8 mana to 10, the 10 damage Pyroblast still causes rancor. It can still turn a match’s tide whenever it’s played, and unless you’re a Mage with the Counterspell secret, you can’t do anything about it.

Except cry.

Mike: Pyroblast is essentially the Mage’s instant-win card, assuming that they’ve got their opponent down to at least 10 health. Basically, it eliminates the late-game aspect of Hearthstone.

Of course, other classes can do 10 (or even more) damage in a single turn, but it usually requires a combo of cards. Pyroblast just requires pointing and clicking.

Northshire ClerifNorthshire Cleric

Jason: This is the standard first-round play from almost every Priest you face. At 1 attack and 3 health, Northshire Cleric is effectively a first-round taunt — few cards can remove it in the first round. And attacking it with a foe that can’t kill it just plays into the card’s power, which is drawing a card when the Priest player heals anything.

Priests love this card, but every one else wishes it would just leave town. (Or that Blizzard would at least nerf it to 1/2).

Mike: I think the concept of a 1/3 minion that lets you draw a card every time you heal is fine. I think Blizzard just needs to increase the mana cost. That’ll stop Priests from playing it so early that no one can potentially counter it for a few turns.

Ragnaros the FirelordRagnaros the Firelord

Mike: It pains me to pick this one, since I have Ragnaros in a lot of my decks. Of course, pretty much everyone does. He’s just too good. At the end of your turn, even the one you play him on, he’ll do 8 damage to a random enemy (either a minion or the hero). Considering you only have 30 health and very few minions, even the most powerful ones, don’t have more than 8, that is a lot of damage.

Silencing also doesn’t work on Rag, since he can still dish out 8 attack without his ability and has a hefty 8 health. I think Rag would still be a viable (and much more fair) card even if his damage output got pulled back to 6. Or Blizzard could just lower his non-ability attack so that silencing is a more viable counter.

Jason: Ragnaros was my first Legendary, so maybe I’m just partial to the big scamp. I don’t really see him as that controversial. He’s exactly what a Legendary should be — big and powerful with a high mana cost but not so strong that you can’t remove him. I just don’t get all the whining I’ve read online about him. The one problem I do get is that he is likely overpowered at 8 mana. Look at the other 9 mana Legendaries, like Ysera — he’s arguably stronger and a better play even at 9 mana.

And I’d rather face Rag than a deck of Murlocs any day. Murlocs are for babies.

Leeroy JenkinsLeeroy Jenkins

Mike: This is another Legendary card I love to use, but even I have to admit that Leeroy Jenkins could use a little nerfing. For just 4 mana, he’s a 6/2 minion with charge. He also gives the opponent two 1/1 Whelps.

The low health and Whelps may seem like downsides, but everyone easily avoids them by saving Leeroy as the card that deals the killing blow. Plus, you can use a lot of other cards to increase Leeroy’s power considerably. Simply put, he does too much damage for too little mana.

Jason: I love Leeroy Jenkins, even though I don’t own this Legendary yet. I giggle every time I hear his charge. But even as I smile in delight, part of me winces when I see him smash me.

At 4 mana, Leeroy is the most effective damage-to-mana-cost minion in the game. Yes, this makes him Legendary, but maybe he’d be a little more special — and rarer — at 5 or 6 mana.


Mike: Every class has an area-of-effect spell that deals a little damage to every enemy minion. It’s helpful for turning the tide of battle in the early stages of the game. The Mage, however, has Flamestrike. It deals a whopping 4 damage to every enemy minion for 7 mana. That’s enough to clear a board full of mildly expensive mid-game cards.

Sure, the Mage class should have the most powerful spells, but Flamestrike seems like a bit much. Considering how many strong minions it can kill at once, it should cost more than 7 mana.

Jason: Whenever I play against a Mage with my Hunter, Shaman, or Warlock decks, I know my low-mana minions are going to bite it around turns 7 or 8 because of Flamestrike.

Every class should have some form of removal, and I don’t begrudge Flamestrike so much in Constructed mode. But I came to truly hate the card in Arena, when I once lost a match when my foe had three Flamestrikes in his hand. While I don’t want to necessarily see this nerfed, I wouldn’t mind some cap on it in Arena mode that limits it to just two in one player’s hand.