With new nerfs coming, classes and decks will change. Not incredibly much, but enough to shake up the meta. Players were struggling against beating decks like Control Warrior, Pocket Galaxy Mage and Combo Priest. Funny enough, there was even a nerf for the Wild Format. Barnes went from four mana to five. Something that doesn’t happen often, the Wild Format usually stays untouched with how many cards are around. But, the decks in Standard are the most interesting. Since they are constantly changing and have so many different strategy options. And now, there comes a new change with how to combat decks and how to use them.
Dr. Boom, Mad Genius has been a problematic card since its release. His battlecry and rotating Hero Power makes him a very powerful card. His power level rivaled all of the Deathknights from the Frozen Throne and Hagatha the Witch. And getting him on turn seven was always a powerful turn seven play. He was always the best play for warriors on turn seven. Given that most classes get their swing cards by turn eight, this put the warrior above the rest.
With the release of Omega Devastator, this put Control Warrior even higher, for the combo allowed warriors to deal fourteen damage for only four mana. This outdoes the health of every dragon in the Classic Set. Granted there are cards that have this exact effect, like Power Word: Pain and Power Word: Death. However, the main difference is that Dr. Boom, Mad Genius can discover multiple copies of it. This means that no big minions are safe, since you can’t just bait out the Devastators and then keep your minions safe.
Now with this nerf, players will be able to use aggressive decks to outpace the Control Warrior. Being able to wear down the opponent’s health before they can turn into Dr. Boom is now possible. And as an additional benefit, no matter what turn Control Warrior turns into Dr. Boom, they can’t use his Hero Power unless they have The Coin. This nerf will absolutely slow down Control Warrior but not take them out of meta listing. Players using Control Warrior will have to decide when the perfect time to change Heroes is since they won’t be able to do much of anything other than a Shield Slam.
Pocket Galaxy Mage
Perhaps one of the most random decks in the meta, this deck would utilize Luna’s Pocket Galaxy to make its massive minions cost only one mana. Allowing for multiple big minions to be summoned in one turn. Using this with Arcane Intellect allowed players to play cards like Kalecgos and Mountain Giant on turn six or even turn five if they have The Coin. This became a heavy uphill battle for the enemies if they get it on curve. But if they don’t get it and have to struggle to find it, the Mage has to stall the game or lose the game entirely.
The nerfing of this card will help a ton when fighting it. Although putting it back to the original cost may make this card completely useless again. Turn seven is far too slow for this card to be effective. Even if it is still in use after the nerf, it will most likely lose out to Secret Mage in efficiency. Certain cards from this deck will absolutely still see play. King Phaoris will still have a time in the spotlight with Big Paladin. And Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron will absolutely see play, just like Yogg-Saron.
Combo Priest has been the one deck archetype that has lasted since the beginning. The way this deck would work was to buff the health of the minions and then use Inner Fire or Topsy Turvy to make their attack equal to their health. This would cause a huge amount of burst damage.
Some of the biggest problems that come when facing this deck are in the early game. And with Extra Arms, that was incredibly powerful in the early game. It allowed Priests to play a Northshire Cleric on turn one and then follow it up with Extra Arms on turn two, making a 3/5 with benefits. Even on turn three there was More Arms and Power Word: Shield to make it even stronger. If opponents couldn’t find an answer to deal with it, they would lose incredibly fast. Now with Extra Arms going back to its original mana cost, this allows players to get an answer to counter the combo or to destroy the minions the Priest makes.
The deck doesn’t become completely useless after this nerf, just slows it down by a turn. This deck can still function, especially with the quest available. The best part about Activate the Obelisk is that it can function without creating a deck around it, since the Priest class can heal with its Hero Power and it also heals from spells. It can function in multiple ways. As long as Inner Fire and Divine Spirit go unchanged, the combo will remain and making Priest have at least one viable deck.
Where to go from here
These nerfs are welcomed, but perhaps they aren’t enough. Control Warrior has been around for far too long and Dr. Boom is the source of the problem. Blizzard needs to do more work when it comes to nerfs going forward. Instead of changing mana cost, they need to consider changing text on cards. For example, removing the Rush Dr. Boom gives to Mechs and removing Mech from Omega Devastator, giving it a good nerf that will keep it stable and make it fair for others that fight it. Another one would be Divine Spirit giving an additional five health instead of a straight doubling of the current health. This would make it easier to fight and better for the Priest to make smaller minions bigger early in the game.
If Blizzard really wants to make nerfs and buffs really matter, they need to look at the text rather than mana. Mana will only cause games to slow down and not change much of anything. It’s understandable that they want the games to go slower to make their esport events last longer and keep viewers watching. But they also need to keep the player base and have variants in the game.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment