Blizzard recently announced, via their Hearthstone forum, that they will be nerfing two very prominent cards soon. Both Leeroy Jenkins, which is a notorious finisher, and Starving Buzzard, which is one of the best card draw engines in the game, are being changed, possibly for the worse.
- Leeroy Jenkins now costs 5 (up from 4)
- Starving Buzzard now costs 5 (up from 2) and now has 3 Attack and 2 Health (up from 2 Attack and 1 Health)
Before these nerfs, Leeroy was one of the best end game finishers, even for non-combo decks. Playing Leeroy in conjunction with almost any sort of buff spell (i.e. Power Overwhelming) guaranteed a ton of damage instantly, thanks to Leeroy’s “charge” and 6 power. Where Leeroy really shines is in “combo” decks, like Miracle Rogue or Zoolock (albeit, Zoolock isn’t really a combo deck, but does run a couple “finisher” spells that can do insane damage in one turn.)
Now that Leeroy Jenkins will cost 5 mana instead of 4 he will still be a great end game combo-finisher, but the added mana limits the kinds of damage he can do by limiting the kinds of combos he can be added to. If you’re using Leeroy outside of a combo-deck, this will hardly change him at all, as 5 mana will be easily accessible once you will want to be using your late game finisher. This does make Leeroy objectively worse (4 < 5), but I don’t think it will change how he is played or to the frequency that he is played.
On the other hand, the changes to Starving Buzzard are much greater and more interesting. Not only does it now cost 3 more mana than before (up to 5 from 2), but it is now a more powerful creature on it’s own. Basically, instead of being a two drop combo-card, Blizzard seems to be moving Buzzard more towards being a stronger, more long term combo engine. Rather than tossing Buzzard down (for 2 mana, by the way) and then comboing a bunch of other cards off for the win, players are more likely to play Buzzard earlier than usual (i.e. turn 5, 6 or 7) and playing beasts more naturally to combo off of Buzzard, rather than doing it all at once. The biggest problem becomes paying 5 mana for 2 health, because although it now has double the health, one health also doesn’t matter on a creature that you don’t need to survive until the next turn. At 2 mana, the Buzzard was able to be played mid game and combo’d together with a bunch of other beasts without having to worry about the other player responding on your turn. Now, at 5 mana, players are going to find it much harder to combo other cards with Buzzards (especially the 3 mana Release the Hounds combo that is ever so popular), which makes Buzzard’s health much more important. It seems that finding ways to increase Buzzard’s health before turn 5 is going to be important to seeing it survive long enough to start gaining crazy card draw value now, as opposed to before.
What are your thoughts on the changes to Leeroy & Buzzard? Will Zoo Hunter still be incredibly strong? Will Leeroy still be one of the best finishers in the game? Leave a comment below or message me @pandamanana on Twitter or Facebook telling me what you think on this subject.