Hello fellow Hearthstoners,
Some of you may already know me from my Miracle Rogue guides or just from seeing me in a tournament and/or on streams. For those who wouldn’t know who I am, my name is Guukboii and I’m a semi-pro Belgian Hearthstone player currently playing for Sector One competitively and from time to time I write guides and give my opinion on certain changes in the meta.
This article will be about my point of view on the upcoming balance changes that Blizzard has announced and the impact it will have on the meta.
First of all we will be talking about Small-Time Buccaneer (In short: ‘STB’). His health will change from 2 to 1. This might not seem significant at first because he is mostly used to go Face anyway, right?
What does it matter if it’s a 3/1 hitting face or a 3/2? In that case, it doesn’t.
But there is something huge about 1 health, being that it dies to certain hero powers. (Druid, Mage, Rogue and in a way Paladin, although not instantly) this means that STB will become a lot worse when going second.
When these classes had to skip their turn 2, going first, into a STB they would be taking a lot of damage in the next few turns, sometimes up to 9 due to wanting to play a minion on turn 3.
But now our precious Small-Time Buccaneer (/s) also dies to certain spells (Inner Rage, Mortal Coil, Whirlwind, Arcane Explosion, Fan of Knives, Swipe and so on) meaning that in the mid and lategame it won’t have that much survivability anymore since it dies to collateral damage.
Secondly, Spirit Claws, a much hated card for many reasons, the most defining one is probably seeing a spell power totem being rolled when the weapon is equipped.
Instead of being a 1 mana weapon that turns into a more durable Fiery War Axe it will now need 2 mana to be equipped.
This nerf was probably the most obvious one, competing with ‘+ 1 attack with spell power’ instead of 2.
How heavy is this change?
In my opinion the card will be completely taken out of every deck until Shaman gets a more consistent way of getting a spell power minion on the board. They already have multiple weapons with 2 mana, the strongest one being the Jade Claws and I would be extremely surprised to see someone put 4 weapons with 2 mana in his deck.
What exactly is the difference between 1 and 2 mana?
Obviously that you cannot play it on turn 1 anymore, but more importantly, you can’t use it anymore as a quick way to deal with an aggressive start of your opponent. Playing it on turn 1 allowed Shamans to ‘ping’ enemy minions for 3 turns straight while having the potential of killing stronger minions with 1 swing whenever they got spell power.
It was possible to play the weapon on turn 1 and follow it up by a Bloodmage Thalnos or possibly a spell power totem on turn 2.
Since this scenario is off the table and there are no 1 mana minions with spell power to do it the other way around I think we can safely assume Spirit Claws is doomed.
How much impact will it have on the current meta?
Due to Patches the Pirate still being an extremely good card and STB being a pirate, I think it will still see some play. Although the number of pirate decks are going to be reduced significantly. With the combination of Spirit Claws being nerfed hard Aggro Shaman might become completely dead.
Does this mean Shaman will be bad again?
No, I don’t think so. There are more than enough Shaman archetypes that are currently viable, they will just be more midgame-based.
As for Rogue, the only class that has a guaranteed weapon on turn 2, they might keep playing STB because a 3/1 for 1 mana that summons a 1/1 charge minion (Patches the Pirate) is still really good. Pirate Warrior might not feel the impact much because they also have a really good chance of having a weapon on turn 2 (or 1), being Rusty Hook from N'Zoth's First Mate or simply Fiery War Axe.
Since Pirate Warrior had a fairly hard time dealing with Aggro Shaman and Aggro Shaman will be dead I think we might see Pirate Warrior become stronger again, even though they will slightly feel the nerf as well.