The best laid plans and all that: it was hardware instead of the ladder I had to focus on last week, and now there’s a whole new patch to dissect and analyze as I slipped out of the top 100.
- 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
Life Finds a Way (To Screw Me Over)
You know, I was looking forward to a nice week of Hearthstone grinding. Instead, the computer errors I thought vanquished have returned with a vengeance, which meant I spent most of my time staring at BSOD error messages, corrupted files, MemTest86 logs and more. I’ll spare you the details, mostly because I can’t make heads or tails of them myself.
This also meant that I spent my limited playtime across three different machines, around the same time when Hearthstone Deck Tracker was bricked by the game’s Unity update to begin with, leaving me without the usual slate of stats to present to you. It’s exactly the sort of situation where I would have otherwise just taken the week off. However, a goal is a goal and a grind is a grind, and the show must go on, even if in a limited capacity and performed in an empty theatre. The headline number tells the whole story: a slip back to Legend 147 with just the 33 wins added to the pile. I don’t recommend multitasking high-level Hearthstone with PC fixing attempts.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Yay, free Nemsy!
So instead of another deep deckbuilding and matchup dive – what would be the point with an impending patch anyway? – this week we’ll focus at the Demon Hunter gameplay experience in general, Beaming Sidekick as a tech option, and the potential impact of the new slate of nerfs.
Also, I was going to show one streamer clip nevertheless – courtesy of BoarControl – but it was removed ☹ Let’s just say he wasn’t happy when I played a free Questing Adventurer, a free Priestess of Fury and a free Mana Burn all in the same turn!
What If I Didn’t Have to Do This?
‘Have’ is a strong word, but I was asked a few days ago which other decks I’d be playing if not for this grind/challenge I set to myself at the beginning of the expansion. Truth be told, I’d probably be doing much of the same! Apart from producing the deck guides, not many of the current meta decks appeal to me as a player. Galakrond Rogue treats both the 30-card limit and the mana cost of cards as a mere recommendation, Highlander Mage and the No-Minion Mage both feature a ton of random generation, Quest Warlock is a meme, this abomination of a Zoo deck sits back and then vomits out extra stats (or even chargers) instead of consistently contesting the board, Big Druid tries to stay alive long enough for an auto-win, which I don’t find fun, and look how they massacred my Uther.
Eggro Warrior is fine. Neat. Alright, even. Still a bit too cute for my liking. It would certainly be my deck of choice if Demon Hunter wasn’t an option whatsoever. Of course, the patch may very well shake things up again, and maybe the buffs will have some sort of a meaningful impact, but as things stand so far in Ashes of Outlands, it’s quite likely I would have spent almost all of my playtime with the new class even without this challenge.
Another day, another patch: in what’s becoming a regular occurrence, Team 5 has decided to shake up the metagame once again, with a set of buffs introduced alongside yet another bunch of nerfs. Since we’re focusing on the Demon Hunter side of things here, I won’t go into detail about the rest of the changes in this column, but let me just say that I find it quite annoying how they seem to have decided to tune down key cards from each meta-relevant deck just because they’re good. Did anyone really have a problem with the performances of this gimmicky Zoo deck or Eggro Warrior? Did you really have to butcher both Secret payoff cards for a class with no realistic use for them otherwise? Do we really have to move on from the previous meta already? As I’ve previously said, consistent changes are good if you don’t enjoy the current gameplay environment, but they’re incredibly frustrating when you’re on the other side of the fence.
So, the Demon Hunter card changes. Priestess of Fury finally got its well-deserved gut punch, and the reduction of two health points preserves the card’s identity but makes it less of an instant game-winner in faster matchups. I think the change is fine and I don’t think the card’s dead: Priests and Mages already had to use hard removal tools against it to begin with, the main difference seems to be its reduced staying power against faster opponents. The Bloodboil Brute attack reduction still makes it line up well against the card, so the Warrior matchup will probably become that much more difficult. (I still did fine with my build, but the wider stat distribution suggests it’s a problematic matchup for Demon Hunters.
Crimson Sigil Runner at a 1/1 doesn’t seem worthy of an inclusion for me anymore in the current archetype. Not only is it a crucial loss of relevance on the board now that it can’t deal with similarly-costed threats, but the recent innovation of Beaming Sidekick in certain high-Legend and GM builds forces us to find new slots in the early game to begin with. It’s a cycle card with the occasional awkward application, and a much less relevant token after the patch. I’d expect it to get cut in future Tempo Demon Hunter builds – experiments seem to suggest we can do better.
I’ve played a few games with Nova’s top 80 build on Sunday too but it felt like a losing proposition. Lower-curve builds offer a more consistent early game and a faster Skull of Gul’dan reload but the boards are so brittle that it doesn’t feel worth it to sacrifice the extra burn. Game states I would have happily handled with my homebrew against Warriors were insta-concede material with this, and I couldn’t leverage any supposed benefit against faster opponents either. Maybe it will suit you better! I will say this: if you decide to cut a Glaivebound Adept, reach through Taunts becomes a lot more relevant, and it makes sense to toss Kayn Sunfury back in.
Also, Beaming Sidekick, considered by certain GMs to be the be-all and end-all of innovation, is certainly worth consideration. The extra health on crucial early minions like Satyr Overseer can keep it on the board in the mirror, against Rogue, Warrior and Mage too, but it can be a bit finicky. I’ll try to find a way to make it work alongside Questing Adventurers at some point: those cards can work very well together. However, it requires more cheap minions for consistency, which puts us back to square one.
Now if you excuse me, I’ll go back to my error logs and endless memory tests. Next week, I’ll be back to check out other players’ builds – it might be a while until I feel confident enough again to put my own spin on them. Will there be meaningful changes to Demon Hunter after this round of balance changes? I honestly don’t think so – but I hope I will be proven wrong!
My Predictions, for What They’re Worth
I’m not going to make predictions about my playtime or results for next week simply because I’m not sure when and if I’ll have my desktop PC in a workable condition again. However, that won’t stop me from making educated(?) guesses about the post-nerf meta:
- Eggro Warrior will not be impacted by the nerfs
- Paladin will show signs of life, Shaman won’t
- Tempo Demon Hunter remains the class’ only archetype
- Reddit will complain even more about Priests.
I will have my vengeance.