The Caverns Below Nerf Is Great – Quit Bitching

I don’t usually play Hearthstone, but when I do, I play control.

Shit, that’s great. I should put that in a meme.

the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world-i-dont-usually-play-hearthstone-but-when-i-do-i-play-control
Done my generational duty

But you’ve read the title, and you know where this is going. I’m a control player, and The Caverns Below was making my life a fucking misery.

If you’re not familiar with TCGs, there are a million different ways to build decks, but each one generally falls into one of three broad categories: aggro, midrange, and control. You can easily understand the aim of each by understanding when each aims to put pressure on an opponent: aggro decks aim to put pressure on from the get-go, rushing damage to the opponent’s hitpoints (face) to close a game out early. Control decks are the opposite of this playstyle, aiming to draw the game into the late game, and exhaust the opponent of their removal options and minions. Midrange decks fall into the middle ground between these two archetypes, and aim to take control somewhere between the early game and late game. If you’re familiar with physical TCGs, YuGiOh can be considered an overly control-oriented game, where ignoring enemy minions in favour of direct face damage isn’t possible, and the aim to is to stop your opponent from playing the game. Control playstyles tend to revolve around starving the opponent of resources, and slowly grinding them into submission.

grinding
Pictured: Immortal Priest in action

So I’m one of those assholes who plays control. I’ve been primarily running Brian Kibler‘s Reno-Kazakus-Quest-Priest deck in Wild, which I affectionately refer to as “Immortal Priest”. With the inclusion of Reno Jackson (refill your hitpoints to full if you have only one copy of any card in your deck), and Priest’s Quest reward Amara, Warden of Hope (set your hitpoints to 40), the aim is to simply outlast your opponents with a seemingly inexhaustable supply of life and minions that keep coming back from the dead. Most of the time I grind opponents down with sheer numbers of undying minions. I’ve had opponents just give up and leave after running out of options. It’s a disgusting deck, and I love it dearly.

And it had a near enough 100% lose rate against Quest Rogue.

Un’Goro introduced Quests to Hearthstone, giving players rewards if they managed to complete certain tasks during games. They tend to focus decks down a certain playstyle, and they’ve had a varying rate of power, from the pretty good, to the downright terrible. The Priest Quest, Awaken the Makers, tends to fall somewhere in the middle. It’s good in Wild, but the lack of great Deathrattle minions in Standard makes it somewhat underpowered (something that The Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion will hopefully fix).

The Rogue Quest, The Caverns Below, was downright broken.

715px-Crystal_Core_full
AHHHHHHH!

The quest revolves around playing minions with the same name four times. This involves “bouncing” minions back to your hand – something that the Rogue class excels at thanks to cards like Shadowstep and Gadgetzan Ferryman. And the reward? For the rest of the game, your minions have 5 attack, and 5 health.

Doesn’t sound so bad? The community didn’t think so either, and pre-Un’Goro reviews essentially wrote the card off.

But hoo, when it came out, it certain proved them wrong.

The problem comes from how easy it is to complete this quest, coupled with the types of minions generally played in this deck. Against a Quest Rogue that draws well, you might be facing 5/5 minions by turn five. And they cost 1 mana. And they often come with Charge, or card draw. The only real way to beat Quest Rogue is with sustained early damage.

So, playing an aggro deck.

Control decks have a ridiculously hard time against this deck. They’re simply not made to give the sort of early pressure needed to win, and they can’t last into the end game due to the sheer amount of damage that usually lands on the board by turn five. Not even by beloved Immortal Priest has the healing needed to last against seven 5/5 minions on the board that I can’t clear. It’s gotten to the point where as soon as that Quest lands on turn one, I concede.

Jack_escaping_Pall
Pictured: control decks vs. Cavern Below decks

And so, Blizzard has chosen to nerf The Caverns Below, changing it to *five* minions, rather than four. This makes the quest marginally harder to complete, and slows the deck down.

And the backlash was immediate.

Yes, Quest Rogue isn’t a tier 1 deck. Yes, it doesn’t have anywhere near the win rate of the some of the more successful decks. And yes, it should have still been nerfed.

As I alluded to earlier, the crux of the problem lies in the fact that Quest Rogue is far more successful against control-based decks. Aggro might not have much of a problem, because aggro can push that early pressure that seals the win. Control couldn’t, and control would constantly lose to Quest Rogue.

caverns below
Accurate card text

Has the change fixed Quest Rogue? The stats for the last seven days show a drop in win rate against last month, so possibly. As a control player, it’ll likely still be a ball-ache to beat Quest Rogue, but hopefully no more than it is to beat Pirate Warrior, or Aggro Druid.

But as a control player, I’m still happy to see the change, even if it kills off Quest Rogue as we know it. It was just too polarized a deck to exist.

For more discussion about this change, and a far better analysis than I can hope to achieve, check out Kibler’s video below.

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