Hey look, it’s another Demon Hunter nerf! Who could have seen that coming? For once, it has brought along a new type of gameplay approach, which means we actually have quite a lot to discuss this week.
- Introduction – 0/1000
- Week 1 – 118/1000
- Week 2 – 147/1000
- Week 3 – 208/1000
- Week 4 – 280/1000
- Week 5 – 388/1000
- Week 6 – 421/1000
- Week 7 – 529/1000
- Week 8 – 597/1000
- Week 9 – 640/1000
- Week 10 – 672/1000
- Week 11 – 704/1000
- Week 12 – 752/1000
Scorpio Slice, or the Nerf Bat Strikes Again
Another week, another Demon Hunter nerf to discuss. It’s getting a bit silly, honestly. Even before we look at the merits and the execution of the Twin Slice nerf, can I just point out that 10 out of Demon Hunter’s 35 initial cards (a whopping 28.5%) have been nerfed in the two and a half months it got to spend in the game? No matter what you think of the specific card changes or the ensuing metagame at any given point, where’s the point where we can chalk this up as a massive failure on the design team’s part? Across each game format (at least the ones that actually use cards) Demon Hunter was the runaway leader of the win charts at one point or another, and the change made to Twin Slice has catapulted the already top tier Odd Demon Hunter deck to disgusting new heights in Wild, making it basically just as oppressive as the class’ original builds were in Standard for those sweet 24 hours.
You know, what will future players think of this period in the game? How will we even explain what it was like that Demon Hunter’s first deck was so busted that even it’s least refined form required an instantaneous nerf after a single day of play? People already can’t wrap their heads around how good Undertaker Hunter used to be.
(Undertaker Demon Hunter, now there’s a thought…)
As for the Twin Slice nerf, I’m of two minds about it. It’s fine from a gameplay perspective and multiple pros proposed a change to the card previously as well. It also seems like it hasn’t killed the card (Herosfunky’s refined post-nerf top 10 Legend build still features both copies), which is always nice to see. It served as a good fix for some particularly egregious swing turns and it was hard to imagine any future build regardless of archetype which would not have featured both copies in its zero-mana state. From a Standard gameplay perspective, the change is fine.
Wild, of course, is a very different story. The evergreen format was always going to be an inevitable casualty of any such change, and Team 5 can’t even make Wild-specific nerfs to Demon Hunter for the foreseeable future to tone things down, making their situation even more difficult. Still, the currently reported 56.9% global winrate (nice) per HSReplay is simply unacceptable. Also, I’m also somewhat disappointed with the change from a flavor perspective as well: Twin Slice was clearly meant to be analogous with Rogue’s Backstab, a 0-mana deal 2 damage card with face damage downside. That, as a slot, has been lost, never to be refilled.
Speaking of which, I also hated how Cold Blood was nerfed to cost the same as Eviscerate, removing a clean teaching tool for new players which shows that Eviscerate’s extra cost was justified by the fact that you didn’t need to have a minion ready to attack in order to make use of it. Now, Cold Blood only sees play as a redundancy option, which is quite lame. All the changes made to Demon Hunter this early on risks that their planned class identity will be reduced to an inconsistent mush. Is the Altruis the Outcast change justified now that the two parts of Twin Slice cost 2 mana instead of 0? We’ll have to see.
Facing the Rusted Legion
The “story mode” of the Ashes of Outland solo content has finally been released, and it’s worth a short discussion just because it serves as the perfect continuation of what we’ve seen in Galakrond’s Awakening: as I’ve discussed in this related article, these PvE content pieces no longer fill the same role as they used to in the past, and they should be judged accordingly. With no deckbuilding (therefore, no collection) required, no reward beyond the time-exclusive quest and fairly simple battles, these encounters are quite clearly aimed at kids. Yes, the non-stop rhyming scheme and the “friendship conquers all” conclusion made this all the clearer this time around – and based on a few high-visibility Reddit threads, it seem to have performed just fine with the expected audience – but as I argued in the aforementioned article, this is nothing new. Paying customers are expected to spend as little time as possible with PvE these days. In this sense, Dungeon Run was a victim of its own success.
Basically, no regular Hearthstone player will find any challenge in these encounters and anyone who has played the previous solo content has basically seen all of it before. Is this a bad thing? With all else that’s been happening on the content side of Hearthstone, probably not.
What I don’t understand is why Team 5 opted to separately release the challenges a week later. It’s quite likely they will also be fairly easy to complete and this sort of PvE content has never really attracted streamers to create content around it. I can’t see it meaningfully boosting the engagement numbers in any way, shape or form. Maybe we’ll learn the logic behind this decision one day as well.
You’ll note my win count has not gone up as much as I would have liked, and this was mostly due to the fact that there were non-Tempo Demon Hunter builds in high Legend which I had to figure out. Shocking, I know. Unfortunately, 淡淡的忧伤‘s OTK Demon Hunter build only caught my eye on the day the Twin Slice nerfs were announced so I only had a chance to play a few games with it: it’s essentially the same Kael'thas Sunstrider/Inner Demon setup we’ve seen in the past, revised to have more staying power. It’s likely dead now that you don’t have four zero-cost spells to work with, but Eddie’s “control” build and Eggowaffle’s subsequent variation on it may have finally cracked the code in terms of adding staying power to the existing Demon Hunter strategies against Warrior (and partially Priest).
Instead of gunning for early board presence and repetitive damage, these builds opt to maintain board parity with a plethora of removal tools and Lifesteal cards to then try and burn you down with Warglaives of Azzinoth and Metamorphosis, with a beefy extra reset option with Magtheridon. Eggowaffle’s variation goes a step further by including Hoard Pillagers to refresh the weapons for a longer battle. It’s certainly an interesting new alternative, one I will have to test further next week (as I spent most of my playtime with Eddie’s version, which I did find quite prone to running out of damage in certain gameplay scenarios). Of course, my first thought seeing that was that maybe we can get away with cutting Umberwing for Hoard Pillager in the Tempo Demon Hunter builds. Then again, I’m a madman. I definitely wouldn’t recommend experimenting with that on the ladder if I were you – just wait until next week when I report back with my findings.
A quick note if you’d like to stick to the more standard approach: keep in mind these decks usually rely on damaging or killing your minions with Lifesteal spells to regain health (and don’t run that many creatures of their own), so once you’ve got them down to burn range and you’ve got a two-turn kill setup in your hand, don’t give them a target so that they can heal back up.
My Predictions, for What They’re Worth
I was planning to retire this section of the article simply because it felt like Tempo Demon Hunter was the be-all and end-all of the archetype until the release of the new set, but we’ve got something brand new to ponder this time around.
I suppose the million dollar question is whether it’s worth it to craft Magtheridon for this deck, and I’d probably reserve judgment on the matter if you’re low on dust. It’s very early on in the post-nerf landscape (not that this means as much as it used to in the past), and I think the jury’s still out as to whether this is a meaningful upgrade on the Tempo Demon Hunter builds, especially once the Warriors make their inevitable adjustments to this new threat. They’re like the Borg. They’ll probably just assimilate an Execute or two. I’ll give it a cautious thumbs up: I included the card in my initial theorycraft of Highlander Demon Hunter, and I think the class will have a very easy time awakening the monster.