A little less than two weeks after announcing them, Hearthstone’s nerfs for powerful cards like Spreading Plague, Innervate, and Fiery War Axe are here. Why the wait? Well, Blizzard didn’t want to disrupt Hearthstone’s current meta before the 2017 HCT (Hearthstone Championship Tour) Americas Summer Playoffs, which took place this past weekend. Unfortunately, that competition had its own problems.
During the event, competitors had to deal with instances of disconnections and a laptop that froze (one that Blizzard provided) ending games prematurely. When that happens, you have to restart the game. So if you were winning, but your laptop froze and you then had to restart and lost the rematch, well … tough luck. That’s exactly what happened to Hearthstone pro Luker, who was competing at the event.
Luker wrote about the experience on Hearthstone’s Reddit page.
During the series, at 1-2, I was massively ahead as Warlock vs. Pirate Warrior. While the game was going on (at a near-impossible place to lose), the laptop Blizzard provided froze. As per the rules, a regame was called, and I lost. Assuming I won this game, my Priest was slightly favored vs Pirate Warrior and I could complete the reverse sweep.
Luker went on to explain that he isn’t upset, and that he believes Blizzard is aware of the issue.
I think the HCT circuit could use changing, but everyone is aware of that. We need a tournament mode, we need a better format (one where tie breakers aren’t considered or weighed as heavily), and we need better venues/equipment. There’s a lot we need, but I’m certain Blizzard is fully aware of this so I’m not worried.
The venue problem not be an issue for long, as Blizzard is opening its own place for tournaments in the old “Tonight Show” studio in Los Angeles. But Blizzard holds tournaments around the world. It won’t always be able to depend on its own venue.
Other games are able to save states during competitive play and restore them in case of a disconnection or other issue. Hearthstone can’t. Many competitors and fans are calling on Blizzard to implement features like this and a dedicated Tournament Mode. We asked Blizzard about what it plans to do for future events to avoid these problems and will update this story if we hear from them.
It’s a bit awkward that the anticipated nerfs were delayed for an event that had issues like this. A segment of the community accuses Blizzard of being too slow to implement changes to the digital card game, which results in Hearthstone becoming boring and stagnant with certain decks seeing too much play. Others, including the popular streamer Kripparian, thinks it doesn’t make sense to delay a patch that impacts every Hearthstone player for the sake of a tournament that only a fraction will watch or participate in.
Of course, Blizzard is dedicated to keeping Hearthstone’s competitive scene fair and successful. But Kripparian does raise an interesting question: Should that come at the expense of a majority of players, most of which don’t care about competitive Hearthstone?
At least the nerfs are finally live. Maybe Druid will begin fade. It could be the end of Pirate Warriors. This could be the age of Priest. But even if the meta stabilizes, Blizzard’s will have plenty of Hearthstone work ahead of it.