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Hearthstone's Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion won't just add new cards. It's also going to make changes to three popular cards thanks to an accompanying balance patch.
"During the development of Goblins vs Gnomes, we kept an eye on the state of game balance as more Hearthstone matches were played with the new cards we introduced with Curse of Naxxramas," Blizzard announced on Hearthstone's forum. "After careful consideration we have decided to make balance changes to the following cards: Soulfire (Warlock), Gadgetzan Auctioneer (Neutral), and Flare (Hunter)."
Soulfire is a zero-mana Warlock spells that hits their opponent or minions for 4 damage. It's a great card for players who want to play quick and aggressive. Warlocks can quickly gain control of the board with cheap minions and one or two Soulfires.
However, Blizzard decided that this early-game strategy is too effective. They've bumped the mana cost for Soulfire up to 1. This makes it more likely that a Warlock's opponent can counter their early rush.
Hunters, another popular class, are being nerfed again. Blizzard previously targeted Unleash the Hounds and Starving Buzzard. Now they're going after Flare, the 1-mana spell that lets them reveal all their opponent's Secrets and draw a card. The upcoming patch will raise Flare's cost from 1 to 2.
"Flare allowed the Hunter an advantage versus decks that revolve around Secrets, while also allowing the Hunter to draw a card for little cost. We want to encourage a variety of decks in Hearthstone. With this change, Flare will continue to be useful against decks playing Secrets, but will be weaker against other decks."
The third card being weakened by Blizzard is Gadgetzan Auctioneer, a staple of the Miracle Rogue deck. The Auctioneer draws a card every time you cast a spell. Rogues would use this card in conjunction with cheap spells to build up their card count and overwhelm their opponent with a barrage of attacks. Blizzard decided to make this strategy a bit less effective by increasing the Auctioneer's cost from 5 to 6.
"Gadgetzan Auctioneer’s ability allows for a player to potentially draw many cards for little cost. Card draw and card advantage are important to the game—overall, games are less interesting when a player draws their entire deck. This change brings Gadgetzan Auctioneer’s cost more in line with its power level."
Goblins vs Gnomes will add over 120 cards to the game, including a new Mech type. The expansion also introduces a new mechanic called Spare Parts that might seriously shake up the balance of the game even more than the changes announced today. Blizzard plans to launch the expansion sometime this month.