Hearthstone just received patch 9.1, the promised nerf to Druids that Hearthstone Game Director, Ben Brode, tweeted about recently. For players, including popular Hearthstone streamer, Kripparian, we expected heavy-handed nerfs, comparable to Warsong Commander and Starving Buzzard which were nerfed to unplayable status, to the Jade Ramp Druid deck. But to many it seems like we received quite the opposite: Druid got hit with the most nerfs with Innervate and Spreading Plague, with Innervate being nerfed to a Coin and Spreading Plague being increased to six mana. Which were both relatively minor changes.
Personally, I wished to see Innervate changed to reducing the next minion played by two mana, or pushed more towards the late game by raising its mana cost. I believe that making another class-based Counterfeit Coin was a lazy way of approaching this card. For Spreading Plague, I believe that this change only makes the Aggro Druid deck much more viable and swaps the top two decks to be Aggro Druid first and Jade second instead of the other way around. This one mana increase does not change much, especially since instead of competing with Nourish for the 5-mana spot, it competes with Jade Behemoth instead. Overall it seems that we did not get heavy nerfs for the Druid class and the deck will be just as powerful as before.
Warrior, on the other hand, received one of the worst nerfs by far. With only Pirate Warrior existing in the top meta decks for Warrior, they received a Fiery War Axe nerf, from two mana to three. This change is devastating to the Pirate deck, now with only Bloodsail Raider as it’s primary (and practically only two drop); it seems that we may not see this deck for much longer. Fiery War Axe now costs the same as Bloodsail Cultist, which means you cannot buff it the turn after without floating a mana crystal. There are not many other alternative weapons to fill the Fiery War Axe slot, Blood Razor kills off most Pirate minions and Molten Blade is very inconsistent. Small-Time Buccaneer is also a very weak replacement in the deck. It seems that Pirate Warrior may die quickly with this 1-mana increase.
Shaman makes a surprising appearance on this nerf list with Hex being increased to 4 mana. With Shaman in the smack middle of Tier 3 and only one viable deck on the ladder, very few, if any, were expecting Shaman nerfs. Nerfing Hex to be the same cost as Polymorph also seems pretty unexciting for the Shaman class, especially since Shaman does not have any reliable removal for the remaining 0/1 Frog like Mage does. Hex seemed very key to the Midrange/Control Shaman identity and this one mana change does not seem to affect these decks much at all. I feel as this change was too out of the blue, especially since Hexing a large Jade minion is now even more irrelevant. Also since this does not affect Midrange or Control Shaman at all.
And to round out the list, we have Murloc Warleader, with its effect nerfed from +2/+1 to only +2 attack to your other Murlocs. Not much to say about this nerf, now Murlocs now have less of a chance to trade up, which was one of its ways to beat Jade Druid. This nerf makes Gentle Megasaur seem much better for Murloc survivability. I personally believe that Murloc Warleader will still be a staple within the Murloc Paladin deck, but just not as effective. Overall this set of nerfs seems mostly irrelevant for Jade Druid with minor setbacks with Spreading Plague and Innervate but also having it’s harder matchups nerfed, ie Pirate Warrior and Murloc Paladin, makes it seem like Jade Druid will still be doing well off. Aggro Druid feels the same impact with the same matchups nerfed and with the nerf of Spreading Plague. It seems we are in for another few Jade filled weeks.