Update (9/6/17 – 8:45am PDT)
Ben Brode commented further on the change to Murloc Warleader this morning:
The reason we changed Warleader was not because it was confusing. We changed it for balance reasons. The reason we changed it in the way that we did is there is minor upside to not exposing players to an interaction that isn’t very intuitive as often. It’s not like we’re killing ourselves to do that, obviously there are other cards that grant Health and that’s fine. But it’s why we did +2 Attack instead of +1/+1, for example. In a world where we are going to change it anyway, there is minor upside in avoiding that interaction.
This was a response to a thread discussing Blizzard’s design priority:
“when reading the justification for the change to Fiery War Axe (and, by extension, the Murloc Warleader change).”
I just want to make it clear that those are meant to cover some of the thinking behind why we went with option A over option B – not why we decided to make a change to begin with.
In a world where we are looking at making a change, we felt like these changes are slightly less disruptive and that is upside, in a vacuum.
It’s not a vacuum, obviously, but the goal here was to reduce power level because the ratio of basic/classic cards in Standard decks is still too high (they represent the biggest percentage of played cards, still).
Commonly, when we mention that we think about a wide variety of players, it can come off like we are focusing on new players at the expense of currently engaged players. That isn’t the way we think about it. Usually we look for win-win solutions, where a change is good for the ongoing fun of playing Hearthstone and is also not disruptive to loosely engaged players. We’ve definitely made changes that are quite disruptive because it’s very important to keep Hearthstone fun for engaged players. Just because we prefer non-disruptive changes doesn’t mean we are trying to do that at the expense of other types of players.
Specifically, we made these changes for engaged players who are most affected by imbalance (deck diversity goes down the higher rank you are), and who are most likely to want to see the meta change when new sets come out or during the yearly set rotation.
Someone asked how they will make the game accessible to new players if they won’t be able to make meta decks as quickly in the future.
Hoping to have something to announce that will help with these problems early next year. We have a lot of work to do on the new player experience, but some of these problems can be mitigated by matchmaking, to some extent.
For players who like constant change, Standard is meant to be a format that changes dramatically when new sets are released. We’ve been very open that the evergreen sets pose a great challenge to that dream – if you’re playing against the same cards year after year for many years, it is more difficult to create an always-changing format. Our Hall of Fame solution helped us to make small changes each year to push us a little closer to a format more defined by the things that change.
Right now many of the top decks still run a huge percentage of basic and classic cards. We think that percentage is a little too high right now, and that ends up making new sets and rotations less fun than they could be.
Our goal isn’t to cripple archetypes. Control Warrior needs control cards, yes, but is it fun to play the same cards every year? Wild is an option for players who want a format with less change, but Standard should be all about change. We’d rather create new and different cards that present new challenges and new options to Control Warrior players.
The difference between these zoo decks is a good example of how archetypes can change over time.http://i.imgur.com/xN0KYGy.png (from Tempo Storm Meta Snapshot, Jan 2015)https://tempostorm.com/hearthstone/decks/zoolock-standard-meta-snapshot-june-5-2017
They only share 9 cards, and yet, it feels like the same Archetype. If we love an archetype, we can continue to support it with new cards. Having archetypes come in and out (and in again) with different metas can also help keep Standard fresh.
Regarding the reasoning for change, please check out this post I made in another thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/hearthstone/comments/6ya6t9/blizzards_design_priority_being_on_players_that/dmlxdz3/