Standard 2017: Nerfing Classic Cards vs Moving Them To Wild Format
”Do you prefer some evergreen cards to be nerfed, rotated to wild, or kept in Standard even if it results in a staler meta?” – Ben Brode
Hello, dearest readers, today I’ve got a juicy piece of discussion for you. There was a recent streak of blue posts from Ben Brode where he had talked about the current state of the standard format and what the standard format might look like this year when it comes to the classic set. If you’re interested, the summary of all posts can be found here but what I want to specifically discuss with you today is the question asked at the beginning of this article: nerfing classic cards vs moving them to the wild format?
Why Did It Come To This?
The developers have been listening to our feedback since the introduction of the standard format and they have been concerned about one crucial part of the feedback which is that the meta has become stale due to the presence of an evergreen set, the classic set, and a stale meta completely conflicts with their idea of what the standard format should be. The standard format serves to introduce the players to the fresh and ever-changing Hearthstone metagame while the wild format remains the stale and unchanging one. In order to fix this the developers have said that they will consider additional nerfs but they have also offered another possible solution which is moving cards from the classic set to the wild format which should result in some decks phasing out of the standard format. Why classic set? Because it is both evergreen and Ben Brode considers it the most powerful set in the standard format (which it objectively is).
Nerfing Cards vs Moving Them
Now that you know all that you need to know it is time to talk about the possible solution and the implications of the same.
So far we have never been in the situation like this before where we get an additional option regarding some problematic cards. Up until now cards that were considered to be unhealthy for the game were simply nerfed, some more and some less, and that was the end of it. Nerfing some cards had accomplished the goal of phasing out some more powerful decks, like Undertaker hunter, while it was unsuccessful with some other decks like miracle rogue which is remains strong even to this day. When the standard format came out there were 12 classic set cards nerfs in total with the goal of weakening some of the more powerful decks and getting rid of the cards that would potentially limit design space. Several cards have greatly suffered from these nerfs and some of them are Ancient of Lore, Blade Flurry and Molten Giant. Did the nerfs accomplish what they were set to do? Yes, I believe that they have, but is continued nerfing of the classic set cards a correct path to take with balancing the game? No, it is not.
You see, when there is a talk about a stale meta it mostly refers to some decks and/or deck archetypes that have been around forever. I personally believe that all the truly problematic single cards from the classic set have been dealt with which in my opinion leaves only those cards that enable the continued success of the stale meta. Some decks are powerful because of certain cards which they can use. Some decks exists because certain cards exist. In order to phase those decks out of the metagame one would need to take the tools that make those decks work. Nerfing Force of Nature is a perfect example of completely phasing a persistent deck out of existence. That is what I consider problematic.
We have something that is called a wild format where all cards are available. If a card is nerfed to phase out a deck from standard, let’s say, Alexstrasza for freeze mage or Gadgetzan Auctioneer for miracle rogue, than that nerf affects the wild format as well and if the deck is phases out of the wild format that it simply no longer exists. No one, not players who have played this deck before nor new players can ever experienced it again. Nerfing key cards to phase them out of a single format can result in phasing them out of the entire game. This is why moving them from one format to another would be better because this way you’ve fixed the problem of the stale meta but the deck remains alive and untouched in a different format where both old and new players can experience it. This is why I believe that moving problematic cards to the wild format is healthier for the game overall than simply nerfing them.
That was my take on the proposed way of dealing with the stale meta. Now I wish to know what do you think? Should they just nerf cards and risk having them phase out of the game or should cards be moved to the wild format where the decks can still exist? Let me know in the comments below. I’m looking forward to your reading your opinions on this. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstonequestions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can.