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.