5

What's the difference between "nerf" and "debuff"?

8

A nerf is typically a balance change made by developers of the game to reduce the effectiveness of an item or strategy:

January patch notes: Reduced the damage of the diamond axe from 9 to 7

A debuff on the other hand is typically a temporary status effect that is inflicted on players/characters in the game:

I got hit by a splash potion of weakness; my diamond axe only does 5 damage for the next few minutes.

Bear in mind that both of these terms share the same antonym of 'buff', which can easily lead to confusion. This would be a buff (opposite of nerf):

February patch notes: Increased the damage of the diamond axe from 9 to 10

This would also be a buff (the opposite of debuff):

I drank a potion of strength; my diamond axe now does 12 damage for the next few minutes.

17

Typically, I would consider a nerf a lowering (or otherwise worsening) of the stats of a race/class/character/boss/playstyle/(etc...) in the game code (often as the result of a patch).

Debuffs tend to be more transitory - you often apply debuffs in-game to lower the stats of something for either a limited time, or until the target of the debuff dies.

There is some room for overlap...

  • 7
    One addendum: the main problem with the confusion is that the opposite of nerf and debuff is buff in both cases. A game code increase in power as well as an ability temporarily increasing your power are referred to as a buff. – Dulkan Aug 14 '18 at 6:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.