HearthStone update 7.1 has been released today, but what does it change?
Update 7.1 lays the groundwork for the next expansion — due in April — “Journey to Un’Goro”. The update does a lot more though and some of the changes are considerable.
Two cards have been nerfed as part of the update and thank god too. Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws have both been changed, hopefully for the better.
Small-Time Buccaneer was a 1/2 Pirate who gained +2 attach when a their player had a weapon. Aggro decks LOVE Small-Time Buccaneer and when partnered with Patches it was particularly hard to defend against.
The nerf chops the card’s health in half so now the card is 1/1. It’s a significant change, but one that doesn’t out and out neuter the card. While it will be much easier to counter, smart players will still be able to make use of it.
Spirit Claws has been broken for far too long and thankfully it’s being wound back. It used to cost 1 mana to play for 1/3 with an added +2 attack when Spellpower wsa on the board, but now it costs 2 mana.
Again, this change seems minor, but it’s actually quite significant. Doubling the mana cost will make Spirit Claws play out very differently in the curve. Shaman players will probably need to decide between Spirit Claws and Jade Claws.
Shaman Pirate is especially affected by both nerfs as players won’t be able to use a coin and play both Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer on their first time. Huzzah!
Playing Ranked can be a tough experience, especially for new players with limited cards. On reaching Ranked Level 20, even if a player loses, they’re unable to go below Level 20.
Update 7.1 adds new floors at Levels 15, 10, 5 and Legend. This means that on reaching these levels, players should be more free to experiment with other decks without fear of dropping back down too far.
Arena is one of the toughest places to play HearthStone. With over 940 cards in the draft pool, it was always daunting to create a 30-card deck. Many of the cards included were long removed from Standard into Wild and have also become unavailable to purchase.
Update 7.1 is changing Arena and limiting the cards to those available in Standard. Blizzard has said that any Arena runs started prior to the patch with still include Wild cards.
As more cards are added to the Arena pool, having each game feel meaningfully different actually becomes harder to accomplish. Many of the cool synergies between cards, such as Jade Golems or Mechs, live within each individual set release.
Attempting to create decks that utilize these meaningful synergies in a wide and diluted card pool will become more and more difficult as the Wild card pool grows larger.
Arena runs then becomes less about card synergies and smart deck choices and more about being fortunate enough to be presented with the best card from each set.
This change should put the focus back on the player for good, synergistic Arena choices and make Arena decks feel more cohesive.
Removing Wild cards from Arena isn’t the only change. Blizzard has said that it will increase the frequency of Rare, Epic and Legendary cards appearing in the draft.
Common cards were taking up 78% of all Arena draft cards and “that number was too high considering that many of the cards that focus around individual class identity and power level rely on the common cards of any given class.”
Spells will increase in frequency in drafts so that players can counter opponents who flood the board with minions. This should help those who get left behind when they’re unable to stop minions and will punish players for overextending.
Classic Neutral minions will decrease in frequency as they’re less useful in Arena than they are for beginners to learn with. River Crocolisk and War Golem are two such cards that are generally weaker than other cards of the same cost. Reducing their appearance “helps make more room for spells, class cards, and expansion cards to show up at a higher rate,” Blizzard said.
Finally, two spectacular board clear cards are being reduced in frequency in Arena drafts. Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike will appear 50% less often in drafts. Abyssal Enforcer is a 7 mana Shaman card; a 6/6 Demon that does 3 damage to all characters when played. Flamestrike is a Mage spell that costs 7 mana and does 4 damage to all minions.
Journey to Un’Goro
HearthStone’s next expansion isn’t due until April, but update 7.1 gives players the option to pre-purchase 50 card packs for $79.99 AUD ($49.99 USD).
Players who purchase this set will also get the “Un’Goro” card back.
The cards included in the expansion are so far largley unknown, but the HearthStone subreddit is putting the pieces together. Five of the 135 cards have been revealed and as more are revealed the list will be updated.
New to HearthStone in “Un’Goro” will be the keyword ‘Adapt’, card type ‘Quests’ and Tribe ‘ Elemental.’
Adapt allows players to discover one of 10 abilities which can be used to enhance their minions. Known adaptations can be found here. Quests are cards that start in a player’s opening hand and require specific prerequisites to be met.
Once the prerequisite is fulfilled a powerful effect occurs. The new ‘Elemental’ Tribe will apply to new and old cards alike. Old cards affected include Rangaros, Al’Akir and ragers.
In “Un’Goro” each class will receive two Legendary cards, one quest and one minion. It will be available in April.
HearthStone update 7.1 is live now and the next expansion, “Journey to Un’Goro” will be available in April.