Is “nerfed” now a simple antonym to “buffed,” in the context of game changes (rather than “de-buffed” for, say, a spell that reduces your armor by 20 for 15 seconds)? Or do we (should we?) reserve the term for a reduction that makes the play value questionable? The imagery of the term still suggests its original use: our swords have been replaced with nerf swords (and killing things with nerf swords is about as difficult as doing so with a herring). But the term also arises on smaller changes, like a 5% reduction in one ability’s damage. Do we have another term in general use for a weakened ability that does not suggest that any decrease makes the ability worthless? I don’t hear “weakened” much, although it seems apt.
Or perhaps that is the nature of internet discussion. There is no word for “reduced in effectiveness but in a reasonable and non-alarming way, such that one might continue using it, whereas before its power was a potential balance issue.” If it’s your class, it’s “nerfed”; it it’s his class, it’s “fixed”; if you’re a developer, it’s “re-balanced.”