Blizzard Entertainment announced nerfs for three Hearthstone cards today. The changes to the PC and mobile digital card game will go live on October 15, and they will impact the Neutral minion Giggling Inventor, the Mage minion Mana Wyrm, and the Druid Legendary minion Aviana.
Hearthstone is the king of the digital card game market, with intelligence group SuperData estimating the free-to-play game will bring in $414 million in revenue this year. Hearthstone makes most of its money by selling digital card packs to players. To keep fans buying packs, they have to keep playing the game. These balances changes can keep fans satisfy while creating a more fair competitive environment, which can help Hearthstone stay on top of the digital card game genre against rivals like Gwent (and Valve’s upcoming Artifact).
Here are the changes as detailed by Blizzard:
Giggling Inventor — Will cost 7 mana. (Up from 5)
Giggling Inventor is one of the most powerful and popular cards we’ve ever created. You have virtually no downside to including it in a deck, and because it’s neutral, it’s played in almost every deck. We think it’s important to take risks when making powerful cards, especially when it comes to neutral taunts, given the role they can play in encouraging minion interactions and making games more interesting. However, Giggling Inventor has stepped beyond its intended role, and we don’t feel that it should be as effective as it currently is.
We initially tested this card at (6) mana in both the current Standard format as well as with cards that will be released in the future. Ultimately, we felt that its power level was still higher than is appropriate for a Neutral card with no build-around requirements. At (7) mana, we expect Giggling Inventor will find its way into fewer decks in general — and be much less effective in Quest Rogue — while remaining situationally playable within specific deck archetypes, such as Evolve Shaman.
Mana Wyrm — Will cost 2 mana. (Up from 1)
Over time, we’ve been moving away from powerful, early-game 1-drops like Mana Wyrm. It can often feel like the outcome of a game is decided by whether Mana Wyrm was played on turn one, and if it could be removed quickly by an opponent. Mana Wyrm has also steered us away from making powerful low-cost Mage spells. We’d like Mana Wyrm to remain an option for decks it synergizes with, while preventing it from being a huge turn one threat.
At (2) mana, it will be easier to deal with Mana Wyrm the turn it’s played, and it will be harder to buff it with cheap spells early in the match. We still expect it to remain an option in decks that have a heavy focus on cheap spells, but it should be a less appealing option in decks that aren’t built with that focus in mind.
Aviana — Will cost 10 mana. (Up from 9)
Changing Aviana to (10) mana means it will no longer be possible to play Aviana and Kun the Forgotten King on the same turn without some additional help from cards like Innervate or The Coin. It also means Juicy Psychmelon will no longer draw both Aviana and Kun. This should make the combos Aviana and Kun produce less consistent, while still allowing decks that use the combos to exist for the players that enjoy playing them.
Balancing Standard and Wild
Giggling Inventor is from the newest expansion, The Boomsday Project, which launched in August. The minion is neutral, meaning it can be in used for any deck in the game. For just 5 mana, the card would create a wall of taunts — cards that block damage to the player — that prove annoying for other players to get through. Even just by looking at it in terms of pure stats, Giggling Inventor gives a lot of value. Although designed to be an anti-aggressive tool, Giggling Inventor has found its way into just about every kind of deck.
When Blizzard nerfs a card, it will often increase its mana cost by 1. That’s what we see with the other two nerfs on this list. But Giggling Inventor is going up by 2. That shows you just how overpowered Blizzard thinks the card is in its current state.
While Giggling Inventor is new, Mana Wyrm has been in Hearthstone since it launched in 2014. The 1 mana minion has always been powerful, and now it’s helping aggressive Mage win thanks to its synergy with cheap spells. Now Mage will be missing its best turn 1 play.
Aviana’s nerf is all about balancing the Wild format. In Wild, players can use cards from all sets, while Standard limits decks to cards from the original sets and the most recent expansions. By its nature, Wild is a bit crazy. With so many cards, people will always find insane combos and decks. But Aviana was a key part in a specific Druid combo that was dominating Wild — Star Aligner Druid (aka AK47 Druid). This OTK combo (that means one-turn-kill) can win games as early as Turn 5, and it’s warped the Wild Meta around the deck — folks are either playing it, aggressive decks that deal lethal damage before the combo can take place, or using tech cards to disrupt it (like Dirty Rat, which pulls a random card out of the player’s hand. Pulling a Star Aligner, for example, breaks up that combo). This nerf will give fans of that format some relief.
Aside from trying to make a more fair experience, nerfs are good for Hearthstone just for the sake of change. Players have to wait about four months between expansions. Toward the end of that cycle, the game can feel stale as players go up against the same decks over and over again. Nerfs shakes things up. Now some of the most powerful decks may not be as strong as they once were, which could open the way for new decks and strategies.