Blizzard announces changes to Hearthstone’s Ranked mode and “small” card nerfs

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The current Hearthstone meta game needs a kick in the pants. That, at least, is the opinion of the community at large.

Blizzard for its part has been rather silent when it comes to balancing its collector card game, which has been dominated by pirates and weapons since the release of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Blizzard community manager Christina “Zeriyah” Sims posted proposed changes to Hearthstone that will form part of update 7.1.

Walk the plank

At present only two cards are being changed up. The first is Small-time Buccaneer.

This little pirate that costs one-mana has 1/2 stats and text that reads “Has +2 Attack while you have a weapon equipped” is met with a sigh whenever its played and Blizzard has had enough of it.

“The combination of Small Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate has been showing up too often in the meta,” said Sims in a reddit post.

“Weapon-utilizing classes have been heavily utilizing this combination of cards, especially Shaman, and we’d like to see more diversity in the meta overall,” the community manager said, explaining why the little pirate was being nerfed.

Small-time Buccaneer’s health will be reduced to one so that other classes can remove it before it discovers “who goes thar”.

The second card getting a change is Spirit Claws. This seemingly innocuous weapon with 1/3 stats has one killer feature, whenever the player has Spell Damage on the board the weapon gets +2 damage.

While Spell Damage doesn’t come cheap the Shaman class has a one in four chance of getting spell damage from their hero power.

“At one mana, Spirit Claws has been able to capitalize on cards such as Bloodmage Thalnos or the Shaman Hero power to provide extremely efficient minion removal on curve,” said Sims.

To change this Blizzard will increase the mana cost of Spirit Claws from one to two.

Climbing the ladder

It appears as if cards isn’t all Blizzard wants to change though. The developer also wants to make Ranked mode a lot more enjoyable.

The biggest problem with Ranked is that folks build find a deck online that guarantee’s them a high win percentage and then they stick to that deck until they reach Legend rank.

“In order to promote deck experimentation and reduce some of the feelings of ladder anxiety some players may face, we’re introducing additional Ranked Play floors,” says Sims.

Once update 7.1 goes live players will no longer be able to drop ranks once they surpass rank 20, 15, 10 and 5.

This is something we feel should have been a part of Hearthstone for a long while now. Reaching Rank 20 gives you an assurance that you won’t be punished for trying out a fun deck. After that however there’s very little motivation to climb further, especially after face Pirate Warriors and Jade Shamans.

These are small changes to Hearthstone but they’ve been welcomed by the community who has been calling for Blizzard to take a more hands-on approach to their beloved card game for the longest time.

Whether these changes will shift the meta-game, even slightly remains to be seen but we have a feeling that once patch 7.1 goes live we’ll hear a lot less “who goes thar” and we’re totally okay with that.


Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.