Hearthstone trimming Spirit Claws, squishing Small-Time Buccaneer

Two powerful cards in Hearthstone [official site] will be toned down in an update later this month, Blizzard have announced. Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws are good enough that they appear in too many decks, Blizzard say, so they’re getting the ole nerfaroo. Having played years of cardboard CCGs, I’m still fascinated by digital card ’em ups being able to respond quickly and tweak things. I’m used to powerful cards being banned or restricted, and interesting-but-weak cards reappearing redesigned under new names in expansions years later. How magical this digital future is!

Blizzard explain the rebalancing in a forum post:

Small-Time Buccaneer now has 1 Health (Down from 2)

The combination of Small Time Buccaneer and Patches the Pirate has been showing up too often in the meta. 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. Small Time Buccaneer’s Health will be reduced to 1 to make it easier for additional classes to remove from the board.

Spirit Claws now costs 2 Mana (Up from 1)

Spirit Claws has been a notably powerful Shaman weapon. 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. Increasing its mana by one will slow down Spirit Claws’ ability to curve out as efficiently.

All of which should lead to a wider variety of decks. Well, until players figure new cards and combos to abuse then clone decks spread like wildfire across the ladder.

These changes will arrive in Update 7.1 at the end of the month, which will also introduce Ranked Play floors. Basically, once you hit Rank 5, 10, or 15 in a season, you won’t be able to drop below that no matter how much you lose.

Blizzard say that they want “to make the overall climb from rank to rank feel like more an accomplishment once you hit a certain milestone,” and that Ranked floors should “promote deck experimentation and reduce some of the feelings of ladder anxiety some players may face.”

Sounds nice!


  1. Cinek says:

    Very welcome changes. Personally I expected them to debuff the +2 attack on STB, but nerf to 1 health is still welcome.

    I also expected a bit more changes than just 2 cards, but well… given how rare any balance patches are in Hearthstone… I have to enjoy the very little I get.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      A 1-mana 2/2 would still be quite effective. A 3/1 can be killed by a hero power or any other 1-mana minion. It’s a threat, but it can now be dealt with using literally any early game removal.

  2. Stirbelwurm says:

    It’s kind of funny, that you bring up the quick balance changes, because a lot of people think that Blizzard is not fast enough with them. In fact, most tend to take around 6 months (someone described that pretty well here)

    I think they could do better in that regard, but I mostly don’t care since I’m only a filthy casual. I don’t reach the ranks where balance truly matters. In fact, I think they could have done more about the ladder, especially making sure that the best people start higher up the ladder every month, since the start of each month is quite the mixed bag for players in the lower ranks.

  3. Mutak says:

    But Reno Jackson remains unchanged. Call me when that bullshit cycles out of play.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Just a month or two then. It *is* a horrible card, leading to boring decks which play boringly. I just wish they hadn’t designed cards like Kazakus with the same mechanic. They’re not going to see any play when Reno is gone.

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      buenaventura says:

      AMEN! I hate Reno decks, so bloody booring to play against. Like “Oh, this is going well, aggroin’ out well here, balanced and fun, that’s a weird card he’s packing, ooooh wait, there is only one of each card and now… Reno. gg. thanks for wasting 10 min of my life. I’m so happy that you drew that, yeah. Fun.”

  4. thomas16632 says:

    Reno is not really broken, it’s a kind of 1/2 chance to win against aggro. Which is, totally rng :)

    but hey, Hearthstone is a funny mindless noskill game full rng lol, so that’s the game.

  5. Captain Narol says:

    Alice, of all digital CGGs you have played, which ones do you consider the deepest and have the the most lasting appeal ? (which might not be the same ones for each half of the question, of course)

    Additionnally, how would you compare Hearthstone to the other digital CGGs you have played, from a complexity standpoint ?