We speak with Kibler and Fr0zen about the impending balance changes.

Late last week, we spoke with ADWCTA about the upcoming Hearthstone nerfs and how they'll affect the Arena. Today, we wanted to shine a spotlight on what pro players and streamers have had to say about the nerfs. Fiery War Axe, of course, remains the most controversial as it goes from being the most powerful weapon for its cost in the game to a sub-par King's Defender.

We reached out to Brian Kibler and Frank "Fr0zen" Zhang, runner up at the 2017 Hearthstone Winter Championship, both of whom provided us with some comments.

"I'm glad Blizzard took this as an opportunity to change basic and Classic cards that stand to be a problem moving forward, even if they aren't an issue right now (like Hex)," says Kibler. "That said, I'm concerned that nerfing Druid and the best decks against Druid at the same time may not shift the balance of power as much as they might like, though Innervate is probably the most significant of all of the cards that were changed."

As with most of the high-level community, Kibler is fearful of one class taking over once the nerfs finally go live. "I am also concerned that this may just make Priest outrageously powerful, since it's already among the best decks, and virtually every other top deck is taking a major hit."

Here's what Fr0zen had to say:

I think the [Innervate] nerf was too harsh and it really takes away from a lot of druid archetypes in the future as well as combo mechanisms from the game. Innervate, in my opinion, is one of the hardest cards to use correctly and killing off the card just seems unreasonable.

I really don't mind nerfing [Fiery War Axe] but making it unplayable really hurts control decks in the long term. I agree with everything Fibonacci said.

[The Spreading Plague] nerf is fine, [but it] should be harsher [such as] a nerf to 1/4 taunts [which] would be better. 6 mana plays don't clog Jade Druid as much as you would expect since there aren't many 5 mana plays to pair up with Spreading Plague later in the game anyway. This will affect Midrange Token builds much more due to delaying the combo of Spreading Plague + Strongshell Scavenger [on] one turn vs aggro/board flood decks.

Hate this [Hex] nerf, takes away a lot from midrange shaman archetype while the archetype is not even oppressive.

[The Murloc Warleader nerf was] much needed. I think it's perfect maybe +1+1 is a little better but something needed to be done to this cards potential to snowball games. Allowing some AoEs like Wild Pyromancer + Equality to clear Murlocs is nice. 

No Priest nerfs???? I really think this will be a problem. Priest is already oppressive in the metagame and every deck with decent matchups against Priest are getting nerfed. I think Razakus priest will be top of Tier 1 by a large margin and extremely unfun to play against just like vs Reno decks a few metas ago.

In a public tweet, which Fr0zen references, renown Warrior played Fibonacci didn't have any kind words to share, "Nerfing war axe around aggro deck that rotates out in 8 months but crippling all other archetypes forever. also reasoning is just insulting." The original tweet went out on September 5, Fibonacci has not tweeted since then to clarify or expand his opinion.

TSM's Cydonia wrote a lengthy Facebook post called "Fiery Win Axe No More." You can read it all here, but these were his thoughts on the War Axe nerf:

The immediate impact of the change will be to weaken Pirate Warrior in the current metagame. This could have been accomplished by nerfing any of the other core cards of the deck. However, Blizzard has a preference towards changing or removing Classic cards, as mentioned previously and Fiery War Axe has been a Warrior staple since the beginning. More than that, it has been the main reason Warrior has always had its place near the top of the metagame, whether it is Control, Patron, Dragon, Tempo or Pirate. Fiery War Axe has been one of the strongest cards in the game for a long time, but personally for nostalgic reasons I am sad to see it changed. I am also worried, like others, that Warrior will be relegated to being a weak class in the near future. From a flavor point of view, I am disappointed that Warrior, which I see as the weapon class, has its iconic weapon reduced to being a strictly worse Eaglehorn Bow, Rallying Blade or Shadowblade. It does open up space to design more powerful Warrior cards in the next expansion, but as we have seen following the Blade Flurry nerf, this is all but guaranteed.

A friend of the site, G2's Rdu shared a Twitlonger with his thoughts on the nerfs. He talks about each card specifically, but the most interesting part was his thoughts on the lack of a nerf to Ultimate Infestation and Blizzard's announcement.

I think Ultimate Infestation also had to be nerfed, the card not getting hit at all will just make all jade druids play the full amount of ramp and even though they will be slightly weaker than before the deck will still very likely be top tier for the next 7-8 months. Their reasoning for not nerfing it was purely based on numbers but numbers can be flawed if you don't look at them the right way. I think they should have considered how people are going to build jade druid after the nerf and see if it's still going to be a problem(to which I think the answer is yes) and then at least slightly nerf the card. On top of nerfing UI, I also think Blizzard should have nerfed priest a bit because priest has way too much to gain after the announced nerfs. The next step would also be nerfing aggro decks a bit but that part I think they did well. Warlock also gets quite better with these changes so I'm confident we will have a better and more varied meta game than now but still not a perfect one.

Another thing that I didn't like in the blog post was the way some of their nerfing explanations 
where written down, in similar fashion to the already classic not implementing more deck slots because it's too complicated for new players. Even if as game designers they need to make things very intuitive and easy, you shouldn't really tell that to the players explicitly or else a big percentage of people will have their intelligence insulted and that's not a good thing.It's kind of as if a company who makes doors would come forward and say the reason they put a push bar on the door is for the people to not pull a door that is supposed to be pushed, it's a logical process in designing anything to try to make it as simple and intuitive as possible but it shouldn't be pointed out. I think they really need to find a different way of writing things so that the players don't feel dumb or feel like Blizzard is only catering to new players.For example instead of saying that one of the reasons they nerfed Fiery War Axe is that it's easier to see the cost of the card than the attack they could just say it was a dominant card for way too much time, it could cause a lot of problems in the future and just end the explanation there.

All in all, I think the changes could have been better but the ones we got are decent enough and all I want is that if they don't work out, Blizzard should keep an open minded approach about doing another balance patch before the next expansion, which would show the community that they are carefully observing how things evolve and aren't afraid to step in more than once between expansions if they feel it's needed.

For a more in depth look at the changes, check out the following videos from Kibler, Kripp, and Trump.