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Hearthstone: Nerfing Leeroy Jenkins is Unnecessary


Hearthstone: Nerfing Leeroy Jenkins is Unnecessary

Hi, I’m Camzeee and I hit top 100 legend for the month of September. I want to address one of the two major Blizzard nerfs that took place a week ago.

The nerf I’m talking about is the change to Leeroy Jenkins. Blizzard decided to up Leeroy’s mana cost to 5 mana up from 4 and I think it’s an unnecessary step for a few reasons.

Yes, Leeroy is a strong card, but he is a Legendary after all and decks can only run 1 copy of him. His effect is akin to a Fireball and the Whelps he spawns are an additional drawback. It’s not as if he’s doing an unprecedented large amount of damage for his mana cost. The biggest draw of Leeroy is that he’s a minion which can receive buffs.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

Let’s take a look at what decks he’s most frequently played in pre-nerf.

Miracle Rogue: 8 mana, 3 cards > Leeroy, Shadowstep x2 for 18 dmg

Handlock: 10 mana, 3 cards > Leeroy, Power Overwhelming, Faceless for 20 dmg

Hunter: 7 mana, 2 cards > Leeroy + Unleash the Hounds for 6 + # of hounds.

Miracle Rogue takes the biggest hit after the Leeroy nerf for sure because it straight up destroys its ability to use the double Shadowstep combo to end the game. Miracle Rogue is one of the strongest deck archetypes in Hearthstone, but it’s not because of Leeroy: it’s because of the incredible card draw engine provided by Gadgetzan Auctioneer and cheap spells. So if Blizzard’s intention was to hurt Miracle Rogue, it’s going after the wrong card.

Gadgetzan Auctioneer and its incredible card draw engine should be more to blame than Leeroy.

Handlock also was hurt by the nerf since it lost its 3 card mega burst. But Handlock as well is not built on the finisher, and its strength lies in its hero power which gives it incredible card advantage. Handlock has continued to be a dominant threat post nerf even without the burst finish so the Leeroy nerf wasn’t really justified if its intention was to make Handlock less potent.

Leeroy by itself has little strength… it’s the card draw engines available to the best classes that make it so lethal

Hunter has always used Leeroy as additional aggression rather than a key combo piece. In its absence, Hunter has simply phased it out, kept it in sometimes or just used Arcane Golem as charge damage. Leeroy doesn’t really affect how hunter play.

So if nerfing Leeroy doesn’t really hurt these three dominant decks and the way they play, why was he nerfed?

Clearly Blizzard must’ve felt he unbalanced the game somewhat. Their reasoning was that Leeroy makes the game uninteractive by making some decks focused more on big finishing combos rather than board control. The problem is, nerfing Leeroy seems to be in accordance with gamers’ sentiment that he can be unfair rather than an objective look at how much power he offers. Previous Blizzard nerfs have targeted cards which offer too much value and thus made the card itself unbalanced such as Tinkmaster Overspark or Novice Engineer, but in a vacuum, Leeroy at 4 mana is a balanced card and instead of trying to nerf him to reduce the combo decks, they should instead target the card draw mechanics that enable them.

Previous nerfs such as the one to Tinkmaster Overspark was more well deserved because the card offered too much value for its cost.

Leeroy by itself has little strength, but it’s the card draw engines available to the best classes that give it the possibility of assembling the exact three or four card combo that can deal massive lethal damage. Leeroy in Shaman post-nerf actually still has incredible burst potential, but because Shaman doesn’t have the card draw engines of the aforementioned decks (hunter pre Buzzard nerf) it doesn’t see much play.

That’s the crucial element here. Leeroy was nerfed because these big combo decks could use him to deal a huge amount of damage. But the problem with these uninteractive combo decks that Blizzard is trying to remove is the card draw engine, not the finish. Leeroy has been made a scapegoat and should not have been nerfed because Miracle Rogue took the fun out of fighting for the board. He was just the best finisher available and now those decks get a small setback and Leeroy becomes worse not because the card itself was overpowered but because the decks that used him can setup combos too reliably. The problem with those decks persists, and that’s where Blizzard should be turning their attention if they want to really deal with non-interactive decks.

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