Blizzard announced earlier that they had looked at community feedback and were going to announce changes specifically to the Druid class. Blizzard announced today there are changes to five cards coming in Update 9.1. While nerfs to at least one Druid card were expected I doubt anyone realized Blizzard had all of this in mind. Let’s get into the details;
Spreading Plague Now Costs 6 Mana (up from 5)
Spreading Plague is a very powerful card right now. While it’s possible current players would adjust over time to having Spreading Plague in the meta it’s clear that Spreading Plague is having too adverse an effect on the current meta game. While this is a nerf, I don’t think this will have a huge effect on Spreading Plague as a defensive tool. The spell is still fantastic for what it does. Leaving the Scarab’s health at 5 is makes me convinced Spreading Plague could still see a lot of play.
Innervate; Gain 1 Mana Crystal This Turn Only. (down from 2)
This is a huge deal. Druid still has an abundance of slower ramping cards available; but this effective lowers Druid’s options to quickly overpower their opponent. It’s likely that Innervate could still see play just like Spreading Plague. This will slow down all Druid decks which should hopefully give every other class a chance in Standard ladder play. Despite these two nerfs I still expect Jade Druid to be am extremely powerful deck, just slightly slower. Infinite scaling is still amazing and Ultimate Infestation went untouched.
Firey War Axe Now Costs 3 Mana (up from 2)
I sincerely believe this is the most significant nerf in this balance update. Firey War Axe has been a staple of nearly every competitive Warrior deck since the Hearthstone beta. It’s true that there are few cards that have the same value as Firey War Axe and that fact was definitely one of the driving forces behind this change. This is a direct nerf to Pirate Warrior; but more importantly this is a huge nerf to all other competitive Warrior decks. Warriors already had to adjust to the Execute nerf and most decks lack enough Armor gain to make Shield Slam a viable option. This nerf will severely impact Warrior’s ability to respond to early threats and significantly weaken Warrior’s as a viable class.
Murloc Warleader: Your Other Murlocs Have +2 Attack
So Murloc Warleader no longer gives +1 Health to other Murlocs. I understand the rationale behind this change; but man this one stings. Anyone who’s ever seen this card in action once will tend to immediately remove it from that point onward. With only three health Murloc Warleader was easily removed by a large number of removal spells among every class. I believe that this card will be used as a neutral Savage Roar or a neutral Bloodlust. This change makes it an uphill battle for Murlocs to trade with enemy taunt minions, let alone survive another turn. Without a Coldlight Seer to buff them it was already simple for most control decks to wipe a board of Murlocs clean. This is a huge nerf to Murloc Paladin, that deck can still be very uptempo but it’ll be significantly easier for any opponent to put a large taunt minion in the way and force the Paladin player to sacrifice multiple Murlocs that would have survived before this change.
Hex Now Costs 4 Mana (up from 3)
The reasoning behind this nerf as provided by Blizzard is entirely valid. I honestly don’t understand why this had to happen now. The best Shaman deck to run on the Ranked Ladder and to use at competitive events is still Evolve/Token (the names are interchangeable, it’s the same deck) Shaman. That deck doesn’t even use Hex. That deck is strong but the player is still dependent on the rng nature of Evolve and Thrall, Deathseer. Shaman is by far the weakest class to get nerfed in this update and until Blizzard offers a detailed explanation I will never understand this completely.
Who’s Meta is This Now?
Honestly the meta on the ladder and at competitive events had to change. Everything was thrown out of wack by Jade Druid but I doubt that deck will be too severely impacted. Yes, Jade Druid and all other Druid decks will be a lot slower and incapable of the same enormous swings of tempo that have become a hallmark of that class. Jade Druid can still scale infinitely into the late game. The rest of Druid’s ramp cards are untouched. Malfurion the Pestilent is still the best Death Knight Hero card by a significant margin. Fandral Staghelm is still in standard. I think these nerfs bring Jade Druid out of the realm of being overpowered but Jade Druid should still be a staple at competitive events and possible still a top deck to use on the ranked ladder. The nerfs to other top ladder decks could slow the meta down even further than it is right now; which will benefit the best control deck in the game, Jade Druid.