One of the most popular cards in Hearthstone is about to be weakened in an upcoming patch. Blizzard announced today that they're raising the mana cost for "Unleash the Hounds."
"Unleash the Hounds" is a Hunter-only card that summons one Hound minion with Charge for every enemy minion on the board. In other words, if your enemy has a lot of minions, you can instantly summon a small army of rabid dogs that can attack in the same turn.
Granted, these Hounds only have one health and one attack. However, they can be extremely effective when used in conjunction with other cards. For example, cheap cards like Raid Leader and Timber Wolf can double their attack. A pack of Hounds can be also be used to quickly buff up a friendly Scavenging Hyena, a minion that gets bonus attack and health when a fellow minion dies.
The cheap cost (2 mana) of Unleash the Hounds and their powerful potential made them a very popular card among Hunters. They were often used in "aggro" decks that rely on a fast assault with several low-health minions. The idea is to overwhelm your opponent before they build up enough mana crystals to play their heavier cards.
While Blizzard said that there are a lot of different decks being used in Hearthstone, even at the top ranks, they feel that Hunter decks have become too dominant. Furthermore, they feel that overuse of Unleash the Hounds is making the game less fun.
"We do like the idea of decks that have a really big turn and pull off a sweet combo, but when playing against Hunter decks, you may feel punished too much for playing minions," community manager Zeriyah said on the Hearthstone forums. "Playing minions is one of the key, fun pieces of the overall Hearthstone puzzle, and feeling like your options are limited by the opponent creates a play experience that may not be particularly enjoyable."
"We take any balance changes very seriously, and we will continue to hold true to our stance that we plan on only making changes to cards if we feel it is completely necessary."
In an upcoming patch, Unleash the Hounds' cost will be raised to 3 mana. The card is still cheaper than it once was (it cost 4 mana until January) but this change should make zerging a bit harder for Hunters. I'm sure UTH will remain in many players' decks but it might not be as omnipresent as it once was.
Hearthstone is currently in its second season of Ranked play. Players can earn two card backs by climbing the ranks in head-to-head competition.