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Blizzard Announced Upcoming Balance and Ladder Changes in Hearthstone


Blizzard have ended speculation as to the fate of Small-Time Buccaneer by announcing nerfs that will be active with Update 7.1. The ladder system will also see a small change.

The changes were outlined by Blizzard in a Reddit post, and they should shift the metagame significantly.

The big, although expected, news is that Small-Time Buccaneer will be nerfed to become a 1/1 rather than a 1/2. This puts it into turn 2 ping range and should stop the card getting out of control. It remains to be seen if it will still be playable considering it will still fetch patches, and still trade one Mana for two Mana in a lot of early game situations.

Spirit Claws also sees a change, and although expected by many, was a minor surprise to me as Blizzard generally dislike messing with cards from adventures. The cost of the card has been raised from 1 Mana to 2 Mana. This might seem like a minor change, but the implications are huge. It will be very awkward in the early game with Bloodmage Thalnos and Wrath of Air Totem, and it will almost certainly see far less play after the update. 

The ladder changes feel like Blizzard dipping their toe in the water, rather than a full on change. There will now be a series of Ranked Play floors, which are ranks that you can't de-rank below within a season. Those ranks are 5,10, and 15. This should help a little with ladder anxiety for many people.

No date has been confirmed for the patch yet, but it seems likely that it will not be before the APAC Playoffs which end on February 25.

Overall I feel that the changes are good. There will be chance for more sweeping changes when the new expansion hits later in the year, but these should tide us over in the meantime. Reno Jackson decks will be the obvious beneficiaries of the changes, but this means that Jade decks will be stronger. It will be fun to see where the meta settles down.