Blizzard has announced the next set of balance changes coming to Hearthstone, and they’ll have a big impact on the mainstays of multiple classes. This update is aimed almost entirely at the Basic and Classic sets–that is, the cards that never go out of Standard play rotation–and the company says it’s because they’ve just proven too persistent over multiple expansions.
“We’re changing these particular cards because each one has been highly prevalent, regardless of what strategies have been popular or what other cards have existed around them,” the note on the Hearthstone blog states. “When Basic and Classic cards become this ubiquitous, they take away some of the flexibility players have when building decks, ultimately stifling the diversity of decks we see when playing Hearthstone.”
These sweeping changes impact four class cards: the Rogue’s Cold Blood, Shaman’s Flametongue Totem, Paladin’s Equality, and the Hunter card Hunter’s Mark. Each one is having its mana cost raised by one, except for Equality, which is being raised by two. The actual card effects are going unchanged in each instance, but Blizzard hopes that by raising the mana cost they’ll be less “auto-include” cards and encourage more diversity in those decks.
Finally, one more change was announced, this one hitting a non-Basic/Classic card. The Hunter’s Emerald Spellstone, from the Kobolds & Catacombs set, will go from five mana to six. The Spellstone cards change their effect throughout a match as certain conditions are met, and this one had a big reward for fulfilling relatively easy conditions. Blizzard says it’s raising the cost to make it more of a mid-to-late game threat rather than an aggressive early one.
Blizzard tends to announce changes like these, impacting Basic and Classic cards, in anticipation for a new Standard rotation. When the first expansion of 2019 comes out, the three released in 2017–Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, and Kobolds and Catacombs–will all rotation out of Standard play. That also makes the change to Emerald Spellstone more forward-facing for Wild play, where it will still be playable after the changeover.