6.1.3 Balance Changes in Numbers
In this article, we will be going over the 6.1.3 balance changes and their effect on the Ranked Standard metagame by analyzing hundreds of thousands games from one week before and one week after the nerf. All the data is sourced from HSReplay.net replays.
Specifically, we will be looking at popularity (how often a card is included in a deck) and card rank. The rank of a card is based on how often it is played across all games. Neutral cards naturally have a higher rank and popularity as they are played in more decks. For example, Azure Drake is ranked #1 most played card with ~2.93% popularity, both pre and post nerf.
Rockbiter Weapon’s mana change was the most numerically impactful of all the nerfs. Its drop in playability is evident as it went from one of the most played cards to fringe playability. I personally expect its rank to continue to decrease as players migrate to more refined variants of Shaman that do not include the card.
On top of being a fantastic removal tool, Rockbiter Weapon allows for a huge burst potential when accompanied with Doomhammer. With its potency greatly reduced, Doomhammer’s rank dropped significantly as well from #109 pre-nerf to #254.
At this point, it’s clear that Midrange Shaman has cemented itself as the superior Shaman deck. As the meta continues to evolve and move farther away from the standard aggro deck, decks like Freeze Mage and Rogue, too slow to deal with Aggro Shaman’s speed and burst damage, become more popular.
Now we’ve looked at Tuskarr Totemic’s variance before, in partnership with Disguised Toast. It’s clear why it was nerfed. Rolling high on turn 3 would end the game right there and then far too often, which was very unhealthy for the game.
To no surprise, the card went from being one of the most played to just making the top 100 and still decreasing. The nerf, accompanied with Rockbiter Weapon’s, plain and simply removes Aggro Shaman from the metagame. Unlike Rockbiter however, long term I do not expect Tuskarr Totemic to seriously be played anymore. Its power level is simply too low now; we discovered that before the nerf, in the Disguised Toast video.
Despite both of these nerfs, Shaman remains unbeatably Tier 1 with a scary high winrate. With the expansion (and new Standard season) hopefully only a few weeks away and the last expected patch already released, it’s hard to imagine any more card nerfs being announced before then. It looks like we’re stuck with Shaman.
Call of the Wild
|Call of the Wild||Pre-Nerf||Post-Nerf|
Although Midrange Hunter lost some popularity after the Call of the Wild nerf, the deck is still seeing some play with very similar decklists. Call of the Wild is a really powerful card still, often cementing a win on turns 9 and 10.
The only exceptionally favourable matchup was Control Warrior. I fully expect to see more of them, despite the Execute nerf.
Let’s look into this one now.
Execute has been by far the most interesting nerf to look at. Despite its popularity slightly dropping, it is actually played more often comparatively to other cards.
This could be due to the meta shifting. With less static decks, there are fewer cards that see astronomically more play than others. Execute, despite its nerf, remains a staple in control warrior lists, keeping the card very relevant.
The difference between 1 mana and 2 mana is the most impactful 1 mana difference of all cards… maybe outside of 10 to 11. We see this pretty clearly here with Rockbiter and Call of the Wild, two undercosted cards that increased by 1 mana, with completely different outcomes. Yet despite being a significant nerf to the card, it has had very little impact on its presence across the class.
Execute was never an early game card - Control Warriors very often play execute with several points of floating mana. As predicted by many, the nerf was more targeted at Aggro/Midrange Warrior decks that used Execute as a tempo play.
A really well executed nerf.
Abusive Sergeant got the Leper Gnome treatment! A lot of its drop can be credited to the disappearance of Aggro Shaman; another nail in the coffin of the archetype’s playability; Its effect is still potent enough to remain playable in value-aggro decks, such as Zoo, but it is no longer worth playing just for the body. Whereas a 2/1 was always worth pinging with a hero power and blocked a 3/2 from being played, a 1/1 does neither.
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
|Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End||Pre-Nerf||Post-Nerf|
It’s fair to say Yogg-Saron’s nerf was the most anticipated one of all. The card has been a thorn in the side of competitive Hearthstone since the release of Old Gods. As we see by the numbers, Yogg-Saron has seen a significant decrease in play, but it’s still viable in some archetypes. Some of the decks that relied heavily on Yogg, such as Malygos Druid, have already seen a decrease in play. Moonfire, a card nearly exclusively played by that deck, dropped by 24 ranks from rank 135 to rank 159, the highest play drop of any druid card post-nerf. Decks such as Tempo Mage are still relevant, but rely less on Yogg as a win condition.
That’s it for the card nerfs - Due to Charge’s minimal impact on the metagame, we did not look at it in depth this time around.