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Hearthstone: Mage nerfs in latest patch

A new Hearthstone patch is being applied today. Arena players will be happy to learn that their issues with actually getting into it will be fixed. Other big changes? Nerfs to the mana cost of mage spells Blizzard, Cone of Cold, and Frost Nova. You disenchant Blizzard and Cone of Cold for their original costs temporarily. I'll outline my thoughts on the mage nerfs after the jump and provide a few mage decklists that were used prior to the patch.

Hearthstone Update: Arena Issue and Upcoming Changes

We've been keeping an eye on Freeze mechanics for the past few months, and we've decided to make some changes to certain cards that utilize Freeze in this patch: Cone of Cold, Blizzard and Frost Nova. These cards are all having their mana costs increased by one. We understand that the Freeze mechanic can be frustrating to play against, and we feel that these changes should allow the opponent some additional time to be aggressive with their minions and well as slow the overall pacing of the control-based Mage play style while still keeping Freeze playable in many different types of decks.

Thank you for continuing to test Hearthstone and giving us your feedback!



Closed Beta Patch Notes - 1.0.0.4243

In this Hearthstone patch, we fixed an issue where players were unable to re-enter the Arena if the client was closed before they claimed their Arena rewards. While we're patching, we've also decided to take this opportunity to make a couple changes to certain cards that utilize the Freeze mechanic. Check out the detailed patch notes below!

General

  • Certain Expert cards have been changed and the amount of dust that you get from disenchanting these cards have been temporarily increased such that it is equal to the amount of dust that it would have originally cost to craft those cards. Affected cards are:
    • Blizzard
    • Cone of Cold

Mage

  • We understand that the Freeze mechanic can be frustrating to play against, and we wanted to make changes that would allow the Mage's opponent some additional time to be aggressive with their minions and well as slow the overall pacing of the control-based Mage play style.
  • Blizzard's mana cost is now 6 (up from 5).
  • Cone of Cold's mana cost is now 4 (up from 3).
  • Frost Nova's mana cost is now 3 (up from 2).

Bug Fixes

  • Resolved an issue where certain account states could prevent new Arena runs from being started. Previously impacted accounts should now be able to properly start new Arena runs.

Freeze: Frozen characters cannot attack the following turn.

In order to understand why the nerfs were necessary, we have to first examine a few mage decks.

The list below is called Mage Giants which is a type of Ice Block control. It relies on cycling and drawing into your stronger cards. The goal here is to stall out the game for as long as possible and get your health low to get your giants out. Trademark finishing moves includes getting your a pair of giants out on turn 8, dropping Alexstrasza on turn 9 on your opponent, and then sending your giants in for the killing blow. Cone of Cold, Blizzard, and Frost Nova can be used to completely freeze out the opponent's board. Ice Barrier and Ice Block provide extra defenses. The Pyroblast pairs are in there as an alternate win condition in case the giants are nowhere to be found.

Mage (19)

Neutral (11)



The next iteration is called Ice Block Control which is the predecessor to the above list. Unlike the previous deck list, it doesn't utilize the giants at all. However, it also relies heavily on stalling the game and drawing into your kill conditions as much as possible. This particular list was used by the Chinese in the NA vs CN championship. You'll see the similarities with the secrets and the freeze spells. The early game Mana Wyrm provides a threat or else your opponent runs the risk of them snowballing into much large minions (especially with all of those spells). I like the inclusion of the lone Mad Bomber as it can help take care of minions like Blood Imp or Faerie Dragon. Of course, the drawback is that the Bomber can also backfire and fling his payload towards you instead. It can also potentially help knock out any active Divine Shields.

Mage (23)

Neutral (7)

Let's not forget that Blizzard's ethos with this game is about fun. Mind Control was nerfed from 8 mana to 10 mana because it wasn't fun to play against. What's the point in me dropping Tirion Fordring if he's going to get stolen right after before I can even use him? At least I can get a turn or two out of it before he gets Mind Controlled. In this case, there isn't anything inherently wrong with the freeze mechanics. There are 6 AoE spells that can trigger the freeze effect in both of the previous lists. Frost Bolt can help temporarily stall a particularly larger threat. Flamestrikes are then used to help soften the board or outright sweep everything after a Blizzard or Cone of Cold is used. There aren't any spell damage minions to buff the spells but it really isn't needed at all. The win conditions in both decks are straightforward: Stop your opponent's offense until you can get yours.

And that's what made playing against a mage so absolutely frustrating. The only turns where I'd be able to do anything were the turns where I could deploy Argent Commanders for the quick Charge before watching helplessly next turn when they were frozen. I can understand getting frozen out for a turn or two. I'll even grit my teeth and bear with three. But coming into rank 8 now, I'm experiencing games where my board is getting frozen out 4+ turns in a row. I don't think I'm the only one either. Going after the mana costs of the freeze spells should buy players a little extra time to actually attempt to carry out their game plan and provide some counterplay. I love watching a good spirited game of solitaire as much as the next guy, but even this is a bit much.

I don't expect we'll see mage decks vanishing anytime soon. The only thing that really changed is the mana cost. Freeze decks like this will continue to be strong but it'll really make mage players weigh their options: Do I freeze out another turn or do I whip out my other options? Opponents will have a little more breathing room and not feel like they're being completely suffocated.

For the curious, this is the current paladin decklist I'm using that has helped me get to rank 8. I'm not sure what the future meta will bring but I'm predicting aggro decklists will see an increase again.


Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

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