Hearthstone: How the Discover "Nerf" Actually Works

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Yesterday Blizzard pushed a surprise update. Most of the stuff in it is pretty standard. It added the voice lines for the new Tombs of Terror expansion, among other things, but one change under Game Improvements stood out:

Discover:

  • Cards that Discover from a random pool no longer apply a class bonus. As Discover pools have gotten more specific, some are too narrow and repetitive. This change will increase the variety of cards from random Discover pools.

This is a surprisingly significant change to make out of the blue, so let's break down what this means.

First of all, a quick rundown of how it used to work. The "class bonus" in question was that when you played a Discover card, the game was 400% more likely to show you a class-specific card than a Neutral card. For example, before last year's rotation, Paladin almost universally ran two copies of Stonehill Defender (3 mana 1/4 Discover a Taunt Minion) because that card had a very high chance of giving you either Tirion Fordring or Sunkeeper Tarim (both powerful cards). If I recall the math correctly it was something like a 60% chance of getting offered one or the other, so Odd Paladin, in particular, ran Stonehill to get access to cards they would not usually be able to run in their deck (both Tarim and Tirion are Even cost cards).

More recently, Warrior has been dominating the meta in part due to this clause. Doctor Boom, Mad Genius has a very high chance of providing class Mech cards like Omega Devastator and Tomb Warden, while Frightened FLunky often provides copies of the latter as well. This makes playing against Control Warrior more oppressive than it would be without that.

However, I think calling this a "nerf" is a bit too simplistic. While it certainly nerfs Control Warrior specifically (and significantly), it is also a bit of a buff for other cards and classes. Mage, for example, may play Power of Creation now without fear that they summon a pair of 3/3 minions for eight mana as was often the case (Mage has a surprising number of 6 mana 3/3 minions).

In the future, this rework opens up design space for value Discover cards that summon minions to be more useful, while cutting down on the wild fluctuation in the value of the mechanic based on a class's specific cards of that Discover type.

Hopefully, this is another positive shake-up to the meta, which is already one of the most diverse in recent memory.

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