Over the past few weeks, Blizzard's August Dean Ayala, known as Iksar to the Hearthstone community, has been discussing the impact of Force of Nature and Savage Roar. A game designer on the title, he's well versed on the balance of these two cards, commonly known as the Druid Combo, and how they actually perform across the wide range of ranks and game modes. There have always been advocates for nerfing one of the two, but for so long it's been baked in as part of the class' identity and eliminating it could drastically change its performance as a whole.

Prior to Blackrock Mountain there were few who took issue with the finisher. For nine mana, with those two particular cards in hand, you could do 14 points of damage on Turn 9. However, Emperor Thaurissan came along and made it so that not only can this be accomplished sooner, but it can also deal a much greater amount of damage. With just one activate of his effect, Force of Nature + Savage Roar + Savage Roar was now easily feasible. That's now 22 points of damage for only nine mana and that's assuming you had zero board presence.

It has now been more than nine months since Emperor Thaurissan landed in our card collections bringing about the age of combo decks and some have taken issue with this specific one.

Was wondering why I never drew Emperor, just forgot to put him in but went 6-1 anyway, druid being good is just bad for the game.
@NaViXiXo Because of combo or you just don't like nature?

@IksarHS @NaViXiXo You are fighting against the druids draw instead of the player. Druid might be the easiest class to play in the game.
@duckfruids @NaViXiXo i agree it probably is the most simple class, but I think having that is upside.

@IksarHS @NaViXiXo Druid has the most draws that instantly win or lose them the game. Difference between ramp and not is huge in games.
@duckfruids @NaViXiXo instantly win or lose the game is a pretty dramatic statement. I wonder if T2 ramp or Combo demoralize people more.

@IksarHS @duckfruids considering in most cases it is the right play to hope they dont have combo and set up lethal instead it definitly 1/2

@IksarHS @duckfruids isn't fun to just check if they combo or concede and have that decide most of your games


And Xixo wasn't the only high profile player to complain about it. Player, host, and analyst ThatsAdmirable had something to add:


@SPY_Th3RaT @Shevvek @bdbrode @IksarHS I beat plenty who curve out. And bad draws are on me
@ThatsAdmirable I'm not super happy with combo, but having it in your deck is not actually very good. If the argument is a power level thing


They all have fair points, it simply isn't fun having to either play around combo and set yourself behind, effectively giving them more time to draw the exact combo, or just push for lethal and hope they don't have it.

Regardless of which camp you find yourself in there are really only two ways a nerf could go: a change to Force of Nature or Savage Roar. But which one would be more appropriate? We're personally in favor of touching Force of Nature as it would have less impact on the Druid class as a whole. Savage Roar is extremely useful in a variety of decks including Egg and Aggro Druid whereas Force predominantly sees action thanks to its complimentary spell card.

@IksarHS @NaViXiXo @duckfruids I wouldnt mind seeing something like, 2 mana - 3 1/1 charge, can only attack minions.
@ThatsAdmirable @NaViXiXo I tend to dislike 'can't attack heroes'. Okay in special circumstances like Icehowl, though.

@IksarHS @NaViXiXo Well we do have a precedent of splitting them in druid. Can Swipe face, can't Wrath though.
@ThatsAdmirable @NaViXiXo for some reason 'to a minion' spells are easier to parse and more intuitive than 'can't attack heroes' minions

@ThatsAdmirable @NaViXiXo I tend to dislike 'can't attack heroes'. Okay in special circumstances like Icehowl, though.
@ThatsAdmirable @NaViXiXo I'd be interested in other ways to change combo if you had to. I think about ways to do that often.

@IksarHS @NaViXiXo arent the minions kind of a spell though?
@ThatsAdmirable @NaViXiXo I'm willing to accept I'm crazy but the text 'can't attack heroes' on a minion bugs me


What seems ideal for you? Increased cost? Decreased attack? Decreased buff? Something completely different? Here are a few options that we came up with: Decrease the attack of the Treants, or increase the cost of Force of Nature such that the combo can only be played with ten mana or an activate of Emperor Thaurissan. The latter is probably a bit much, but depending on what releases in the future, there very well may be a time where Blizzard opts to change it favor of freeing up some healthy design space.

forceofnaturenerf1.pngforceofnaturenerf2.pngforceofnaturenerf3.png


And there's always the option to leave it as is, some think having what basically equates to dead cards in your hand is punishment enough.

@IksarHS @ThatsAdmirable This. Opportunity cost of having to play out your other turns with combo pieces in hand.


Update 1/11/16: The discussions have continued to be rampant throughout the community and Iksar, upon seeing posts like ours, simply comments saying he's trying to avoid steering the conversation such as to avoid any kind of developer bias in the opinions of others. We'll continue highlighting these talks about this topic in our weekly Blue Tweets articles, but in the meantime, keep on expressing your opinions and ideas for solutions, know the Blizzard team is listening.

@Skiffington_ @NaViXiXo always happy to read more feedback, certainly nothing definitive about our conversations. Combo/Druid...
@Skiffington_ @NaViXiXo is something that has come up a lot lately I'm just interested in hearing what people have to say without steering
@Skiffington_ @NaViXiXo the conversation anywhere in particular, which apparently I have failed at since it appears combo in particular

@Skiffington_ @NaViXiXo the conversation anywhere in particular, which apparently I have failed at since it appears combo in particular
@Skiffington_ @NaViXiXo is what ended up being the story haha ;). Always keeping our eye on things, thanks!


Update 1/14/16: We asked you what you thought about the potential nerfs and here are the results.

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