Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here! Starting up a new (hopefully regular) segment, documenting those changes to the game that are under the hood and not necessarily have been specified by Counterplay. I'll run over each change, and a basic breakdown of the effect on the game. As this is my first go at it, feedback would be much appreciated, either here or on Discord at Alexicon1 | C67#0939.
Without further ado, let's begin with the Vanar secondary General: Kara Winterblade.
So, firstly this change is very interesting from a deckbuilding perspective as it really opens up new opportunities for some fun stuff. Obviously Counterplay, along with us, are sick of Kara's lethal of choice being 8/7 Saberspine Tigers pounding our faces in, and have made a definitely worthwhile change to counter that.
Overall I believe this is a buff to everybody, both players and to the health of the game, as we don't want Generals being so blatantly overpowered and ruining the experience for everyone else. As CP said, Kara is a staple of the tournament scene, and although this change may dampen her appearance slightly, don't expect it to knock her out completely, unlike the Zirix BBS change that saw him ungraciously eliminated from the meta pre-Shim'Zar.
This change will definitely mean new archetypes for Kara, especially Zoo and Wall decktypes. Just imagine.... for 3 mana..... 4 x 1/2 Gravity Wells..... with Provoke. Bonechill Barrier has received a huge buff when used in synergy with Kara's BBS, delivering 3 1/3 Walls, guaranteeing at least one stun unless your opponent miraculously has dispel for all of them. And don't get me started on Jax, I am loving the 5 2/2 Ranged minions, now not killable by Skorn. Voice of the Wind is wonderful now, especially when proc'd by Snowchasers coupled with some Glacial Elementals. Pretty nice boardclear, I must say
I believe that this change is a really nice one, definitely needed and I'm really happy that Counterplay are taking our opinions to heart.
So, next up, a major component of the Baconator... Saberspine Seal.
Well then, for starters this is generally a buff to control decks, as even a single mana delay on the Baconator combo allows for those late-game decks to dig their toes in and grab a foothold to withstand that out-of-hand onslaught. Huge change to tempo right now as these sort of decks are forced to have an alternate play on this new gap in their game plan. This may drop the playrate of such decks, but it still will be quite powerful and firmly stamps a dependence on Mana Vortex even more to get those combos out earlier when your opponents are still finding their feet.
Continuing the trend of Counterplay dealing with our issues, this potentially opens up opportunities for some counters to Songhai! Although this a surprising nerf, with the benefit of hindsight I believe it is a healthy one and supports players being able to survive more than five turns against Songhai and the Baconator.
I'm not sure how this will enable new archetypes to come in as this is a flat-out card nerf, but may increase use of other archetypes in Songhai, such as Backstabhai and Onyxhai with which I am seeing some quite nice decks popping up.
Next up, another surprising change, the 0 mana Vetruvian Spell... Siphon Energy.
At first glance this seems to have become the Dispel version of Entropic Decay, but actually means a lot in the current Vetruvian metagame. No longer can Vet players stand back and drop potent threat after potent threat and removing enemy threats all the while, but now they must join the fray and be in the thick of it. This overall is a buff to Ranged deck archetypes, potentially revolving around Jax Truesight and minions whose effect outweighs the need to join battle, such as Kelaino or Shadowdancer, making it seem like a straight-up Abyssian buff. Also is a buff to Wall Vanar slightly, as the the General now needs to be in reach of your other minions and General to clear your lovely, artfully sculpted Walls.
Like I said above, this change is actually quite surprising and I believe I would be hard-pressed to find anyone that expected this change, especially seeing as players tend to express concerns about other aspects of the Vetruvian Imperium. Siphon Energy's nerf almost singlehandedly removes Vet's "Jack of All Trades" status, now almost requiring more aggressive play.
Similar to Saberspine Seal, I'm unsure how this will empower Vetruvian's most played archetypes right now as it is again a flat-out nerf, although with that condition now that the General has to be in the thick of it, artifacts may see wider use. Who knows, maybe soon Oserix will be a Vetruvian staple... one can dream. I'm not yet convinced what this will do to Vetruvian as a faction, more testing will be needed to see what far-reaching consequences this nerf has.
Anyway, onwards to, in my opinion, the most surprising card change I have seen in a long time: the staple card Ephemeral Shroud.
To be completely honest, I was frankly shocked when I saw this little guy taking centre screen on the Patch 1.74 page. Never did I expect a change such as this. But obviously Counterplay have some vision about Dispel that this change is a step towards. This now neatly trades, without much second thought into almost every card in the game. Now Shroud has become Cass BBS fodder, dead to Skorn and Bloodtear, Lilithe can sacrifice a Wraithling into it without a second thought. Overall, this is actually a buff to Abyssian, and also Songhai (especially Reva), as now they have effective responses when their potent minions have their power leached from them, in the form of Reva & Cass' BBSs among others.
Again, similar to Siphon Energy, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone that expected this change, especially since it is such a widely used card. This really is a nerf to everyone, sadly, except perhaps Lightbender who may be unceremoniously placed into the spotlight as the game's premier and most reliable source of Dispel, although I expect that most decks will still run this card.
A straight nerf, this won't augment any decks run by anybody and is just more easily dealt with now. However, this may mean that more beefy two-drops are placed in decks to prevent Player 2 obliterating any chance at a ramp with nary a Skorn or Bloodtear Alchemist. I think players will begin to think twice about dropping a Shroud turn 1 for potentially only loss.
After my tears are dry, we will continue to the next card, an interesting one: one Zen'Rui the BlightSpawned.
The moment I saw this, the little Abyssian in me leapt for joy at the fact that your opponent can't just casually drop Zen'Rui the moment after you play your Kelaino and completely negate a powerful turn. Considerable thought now needs to be put into whether you steal that minion that your opponent may have an immediate answer to in their hand for a large tempo loss. As well as Abyssian, Songhai is the other major recipient of this buff, as that early Lantern Fox now almost requires immediate dispel, lest a hand be filled with flames.
I was caught unawares by the change, but actually this is quite a healthy one, meaning that control decks now have to devote more resources to sustaining the Zen'Rui and the captured minion, and that +1 health begins to compensate for that. Unsure about how this change will play out, I will eagerly await to see if decks can remain competitively viable with the 6 mana Zen'Rui in them.
As a result of this change, we may begin to see a larger resurgence in Abyssian as that early Kelaino now definitely needs to be dealt with, otherwise your opponent will remain at 25 health long after they should have been dead. Coupled with the Saberspine Seal nerf, this could encourage larger use of Spellhai over Baconator (not saying Spellhai is obsolete and unused though) which would be a nice change from turning away with 20 health to return to a DEFEAT screen.
Now, last, but definitely not least, the (maybe former) premier 5 drop of Duelyst, the Shim'Zar Terror: Inquisitor Kron.
Folks, this is the one we have been waiting for, we've been asking for it and Counterplay have heard our cries. The -2 Health change to Kron is a definite buff to most archetypes, because although 4 Health has some weight behind it, 6 Health coupled with Kron's other effects was simply too powerful. The change may begin to accomplish Counterplay's vision of Replace-oriented decks and I have already seen some springing up on my climb through the Diamond ladder towards S-Rank.
This change, although definitely expected, defied what I think many thought the change would be, but it definitely does not disappoint. Kron should no longer be such a terror on the ladder anymore, although he remains quite powerful especially with that effect of his. Dispel is now no longer a must as Kron can be dealt with a General hit and a contribution from most two-drops. I am looking forward to see how players take the new Kron into new directions.
From this nerf and the Zen'Rui modification, the market for neutral 5 drops really opens up. Grovekeeper and Sunset Paragon will definitely see more use as people start to move away from the mentality that, "They are putting Kron in because he is so ridiculously overpowered", and start to shift towards more synergistic cards. Definitely a healthy change to the game, and it really couldn't have come soon enough.
With that, so concludes the inaugural version of "Under the Hood", so tune in next month for patch 1.76's card changes! Feel free to leave any comments, compliments or criticisms below, I'll be sure to read them!
Until next time,
On Turn 1 Mystic, we aim to teach new players how to climb to Gold Division as soon as possible, then from Gold Division to S-Rank as soon as you're interested and have time.