I keep hearing the term nerf over the internet, specially in Hearthstone discussions.

For example: "Six Hearthstone Cards That Need a Good Nerf". & "Why Blizzard won't nerf Dr. Boom?"

What does it mean in terms of hearthstone? cite an example. Could you explain it in jargon-free way. Sorry for my bad English.

Edit: According to classic definition on Wikipedia, it says: In video gaming, a nerf is a change to a game that makes something less effective or desirable. The word can be used as a verb to describe that change. Which I get it.

  • 1
    A nerf is a reduction in the effectiveness of some game element. If a Hearthstone card gets a nerf (such as a 1/2 minion becoming a 1/1 minion), then the card may be disenchanted for the full crafted dust value for a limited time.
    – Amy B
    Apr 1, 2015 at 11:57
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    I don't get the point for the downvotes, here. It seems a valid question, to me.
    – Andrea
    Apr 1, 2015 at 13:58
  • @Andrea Both because it's a duplicate and because the user made zero effort to find the answer themselves.
    – Waterseas
    Apr 1, 2015 at 15:53
  • Duplicates shouldn't be downvoted though, they're closed as duplicates instead of simply deleted for a reason.
    – scenia
    Apr 3, 2015 at 16:15

4 Answers 4


Especially in competitive games, balance is very important. If something in a game (in this case a card) is too strong, it is often considered "OP" which is short for overpowered. No one likes overpowered items in games, because it gives the player who uses it an advantage.

In order to make the game balanced again, the "OP" item (card) gets nerfed. This usually means the stats get reduced. The most common nerf in games is lowering the damage of something. A nerf isn't always lowering a stat though, it can also mean a stat like mana cost or cooldown get increased.

  • Aah, That makes sense.
    – Swetank
    Apr 1, 2015 at 10:19

Nerf pretty much means to make something weaker. This term is not unique to Hearthstone.

The wikipedia article has some more information.

The opposite of a nerf is a buff (make something stronger).

  • Not completly true. "They nerfed Argent Squire". By all means does not imply that "I" find it overpowerd, only that it strength was reduced.
    – Shaeldon
    Apr 1, 2015 at 10:08
  • I removed that sentence to make it clearer...
    – 5pike
    Apr 1, 2015 at 10:13

A nerf is the opposite of a buff.

In this context, it means weakening the card, for example by increasing its mana cost or reducing its stats, sometimes also changing how its effect works so it's less strong.

Nerfs are often called for by communities, but especially in growing card games, they are rarely implemented in favor of new releases, which can sometimes change an existing card's power level in relation to the cards and strategies that are often played (the so-called metagame).

  • The opposite of a buff is a debuff.
    – Flater
    Apr 13, 2015 at 13:46
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    @Flater not necessarily. A buff in the meaning used in balancing is the opposite of a nerf. What you're talking about is a game effect placed onto a character. The same word (buff) is used in different contexts, but its opposite is a different word (nerf/debuff) depending on that context. A similar case is the word "hot", which has the opposite "cold" when it's used as a measure of temperature, but "mild" when it's used as a measure of spicyness.
    – scenia
    Apr 13, 2015 at 15:18

From wikipedia:

In video gaming, a nerf is a change to a game that makes something less effective or desirable.

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