Ben Brode responded to an open letter thread from the r/WildHearthstone subreddit. The thread addresses the seemingly lack of care for the Wild format, and the non-addressed changes to Naga Sea Witch which has made waves in the Wild meta.
Thanks for writing this all up. Happy to have a public discussion about Wild. Maybe I can provide some insight and we can chat together about how to improve it.
you made a change affecting Naga Sea Witch that was not communicated, and it’s tearing up the Wild meta
It was clearly a mistake that this change missed the patch notes. We’ll take a look at our internal process for how to handle this type of thing going forward.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the data for the Naga Sea Witch deck and it’s definitely not looking overpowered today (it’s got about a 50% winrate). We think people are likely to get better at the deck and it might continue to climb in winrate. We’re happy to nerf things if it gets into a bad place.
it would be nice if you cared about the Wild format.
Wild is a lot more fun this year than I think it was last year when it was only 2 sets different from Standard. And I think it will get more fun every year. This year we showed more support for Wild than every before, hosting a Wild Tournament, and offering Wild sets for sale again for the first time since the format launched. We also nerfed our first Wild-only card (Dreadsteed) because we were very worried about what would happen to the Wild metagame when KFT launched.
I don’t think we’ve done a good job historically supporting Wild enough. But I do think we’ve been doing better lately, and it’s very important to us that Wild be a real format that is properly supported.
Feedback about what players like to see in Wild, and how we can better support the format is very helpful to us, and things like bringing back Wild sets to the online store are a direct result of this feedback.
He also made a statement to VentureBeat about some of the controversy and community’s reaction to the change of Fiery War Axe:
I always love to read discussion about Hearthstone, and there’s been a lot of healthy back and forth about the pros and cons of this particular change and the timing of it.
However, some of what I read in the community response seems to be a core misunderstanding that we are nerfing cards because we think players are confused by them (and therefore we think players are stupid). I want to be super-clear — these cards are being nerfed for power level reasons, or because we are curating the set of evergreen cards to help Standard feel fresh and more fun with our yearly standard rotation. The language about certain changes being more disruptive than others was related to why we decided to make one change over another, once we’d already decided to make a change.
We absolutely don’t think players are stupid.
I, like a lot of players, have memorized every Hearthstone card. If I show you a picture of Arcanite Reaper, I bet you don’t have to read the card to know that it’s a 5/2 weapon. Art becomes a shortcut to game mechanics. When we change the underlying game mechanics without changing the art, players who don’t read their cards every time they play a game won’t notice that one of the words on the cards has changed.
I want to make this clear — we don’t think players are too stupid to read their cards. We think players have the capacity to memorize thousands of cards’ text and recognize them by art alone. Nobody double-checks Arcanite Reaper to make sure it’s still a 5/2 weapon each time they cast it. That’s nuts. That’s why it’s less disruptive to change mana cost than Attack, Health, or card text. The card is literally not castable or highlighted green any more, and that makes it obvious that a change has been made to players who have every card memorized.