Hearthstone has captured the hearts and minds of World of Warcraft (WoW) players and card game fans alike. Taking due care to honour events within WoW’s massive universe and condense them in its 3rd year with the Year of the Mammoth. But what does the Year of the Mammoth mean for players?
The Year of the Mammoth welcomes massive changes to Hearthstone and its current state. That means some expansions; Blackrock Mountain, The League of Explorers, and The Grand Tournament will all leave Hearthstone’s standard format in April. And it’s not just the expansions that are planning to leave the Standard format, several cards from Hearthstone’s basic set will also be joining them through a new event called The Hall of Fame. All of which will have a lasting impact on Hearthstone’s Meta.
Going forward, we will see cards like Azure Drake, Ragnaros, Sylvanas Windrunner, Power Overwhelming, Conceal, and Ice Lance all enter the Hall of Fame. It might not seem clear at first for some of these cards, but the power levels are off the charts. Azure Drake, Ragnaros, and Sylvanas were almost instant picks for their respective mana curves in nearly every powerful deck. Their removal will open up spots for more interesting cards and hopefully bring diversity to the field without constraining ingenuity like they once did. The other cards, like Conceal, Ice Lance, and Power Overwhelming filled different spots that don’t appear to fit Blizzard’s aims for the structure of Hearthstone in the year to come. Conceal would deny many classes the ability to address large/difficult board states with a rare few cards guaranteeing your kills on any minions on board while undermining the stealth abilities of other cards.
Ice Lance had incredible synergy with Frostbolt and allowed large amounts of damage to be dealt in one turn – although this is now at a diminished capacity now that Emperor Thaurissan is cycled out in Blackrock Mountain. The same applies to Power Overwhelming; it allowed players to deal excessive amounts of damage from hand without engaging the board and allowed basic minions to trade outwith their value when combined with cards like Shadowflame. Thankfully Blizzard will be compensating players that already own these cards, giving the full disenchant dust for each card while allowing you to keep them in your collection to use in future Tavern Brawls and the Wild format.
And those are just the select few cards rotating out into the Hall of Fame. There are plenty more that will be leaving in the rotation. We won’t bore you with a breakdown of every card that’s on their way out, but it’s definitely worth mentioning the type of decks that will cease to exist. Shaman will see a significant drop in power with the exclusion Tunnel Trogg, Tuskarr Totmeic and a few others. All the Reno Jackson based decks will be gone, every last one. Paladin will lose Anyfin Can Happen, impacting the ability to have incredibly long control heavy matches. Brann Bronzebeard will impact more battlecry heavy focussed decks. Also, Rogue will have less access to coins with Tomb Pillager’s removal – directly impacting the amount of free cycle some decks had with Gadgetzan Auctioneer. To think that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the impact all these changes will have on decks.
Thankfully this will all be remedied with the massive plans Blizzard has for the upcoming year and their expansions. Unlike previous years, Adventures will be free and provide different rewards. That means we are getting 3 full expansions to Hearthstone; Journey to Un’Goro and 2 unknown expansions. All of them having 130 cards each. That’s a whopping 390 cards, more than Hearthstone released in the first two years combined.
Not only do these cards promise to expand the card pool massively, they will also offer new mechanics and monumental shifts in the balance of Hearthstone. We already know that Un’Goro will introduce a Quest mechanic and the Adapt mechanic. Adapt is a new form of Battlecry that allows a player to select 1 adaptation from 3 potential adaptations (from a bank of 10) that could boost a minion’s health, give the minion a divine shield, or even add a poison effect. Quests are considerably more interesting than Adapt as they act similarly to secrets, but are always drawn in your starting hand. So far we have only seen one Quest and in the current Meta it might be considered a little too slow, but Blizzard promised the rewards will be worth sacrificing a crucial card in our starting hand.
A lot hinges on the success of Hearthstone’s next expansion. As time goes on professional players, like LifeCoach and Gaara, are growing frustrated with the Jade mechanic. Blizzard have promised big things in 2017, in fact they intend to earn their namesake and be Mammoth in proportion. With only a short wait until the first expansion, Un’Goro rears its head, we can’t help but be excited for what’s in store.