A Year of Mammoth Proportions!
We’ve got a lot of great things on the horizon for Hearthstone in 2017, including new content launches, innovative ways to get together and play with friends, improvements to keep Hearthstone fresh and exciting, and more! Read on to get the full scoop on what’s happening this year.
Year of the Mammoth Roadmap
2017 marks the end of the Year of the Kraken and the beginning of a new Hearthstone Year: The Year of the Mammoth. Each new Hearthstone Year brings a fresh start in the form of a new Standard format. Once the Year of the Mammoth officially begins with the first major expansion of 2017, Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers cards will become exclusive to Wild.
Set Rotation Is Coming
Last year, we introduced a New Way to Play, which introduced the Standard and Wild game formats to Hearthstone.
In order to keep Hearthstone exciting and accessible as more cards are added, Standard allows players to use the most recently released cards, as well as a core of Basic and Classic cards. Our overall intention with Standard is to keep the game feeling fresh for all of our players, and to allow newer players to jump into Hearthstone quickly, without collecting lots of cards to build a competitive deck. Standard also gives our developers more freedom when designing new cards for the future.
However, over the course of the Year of the Kraken, certain cards in the Classic set have contradicted these goals. When cards show up too frequently in decks and are considered auto-includes, deck-building becomes more limited. Deck variety stagnates, potentially interesting build-around cards fall by the wayside, and the gameplay experience begins to feel less dynamic. Most cards should feel like situational additions to a deck, depending on the deck archetype the player is trying to build.
To help meet our goals, certain cards from the Classic set will become exclusive to the Wild format. These cards will be added to the new Hall of Fame set, which will also include cards that are currently in the Reward set.
Developer’s Note: The first three of the six Classic cards that will be added to the Hall of Fame set are powerful Neutral cards that show up in many decks and reduce the chance of new cards having an impact. This is truer for cards in the 5+ mana cost range because players tend to use fewer of these cards in a deck.
Azure Drake is a strong Neutral card that ended up being a bit too versatile, and thus became one of the most played cards in the game. There should be more five drop options for players, rather than considering Azure Drake an auto-include.
Similar to Azure Drake, it’s hard to see a card at the six mana cost out-value Sylvanas. In addition, Sylvanas has the most powerful Deathrattle effect in the game—as a comparison, the Priest card Mind Control costs 10 mana. We have exciting Deathrattle build-arounds coming soon, and in combination with Sylvanas, they would be too powerful for Standard.
Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros is heavily played in both control and mid-range decks and even shows up as a finisher in certain types of aggro decks. His high immediate value and strength at the eight mana cost made the decision during deck-building, “Is this eight mana minion better than Ragnaros?” rather than, “Is this eight mana minion the best choice for my deck type?” Dozens of cards in the seven to nine mana range never saw play because Ragnaros was always the easy choice in that range, and some decks only want to run one high cost card.
Power Overwhelming allows for extremely mana-efficient minion trades or high spikes of damage for only one mana. Keeping this card exclusive to Wild will prevent some crazy combinations and spike damage. Warlock decks also tend to use lots of Classic cards, so the decks changes less when new expansions release. This change will help increase the variety of cards in Warlock decks over time.
Freeze Mage is a fun deck that has been around for over three years now, and we’d like to see more variety with Mage decks after each major release. This move allows Freeze Mage to continue existing in Wild, while creating more variety in Standard. Ice Lance also prevented us from making powerful Spell Damage cards and designs that allowed you to duplicate your cards. Ice Lance was also a very high burst damage card, sometimes being a key component of 30 damage combos.
Stealth is a very powerful mechanic, and can also be very frustrating to play against—more for some classes than others. Hearthstone should ultimately be a game of plays and counter plays, and Conceal makes it increasingly more difficult for other classes to interact with Rogue minions as time goes on. We considered promoting Gadgetzan Auctioneer to Wild instead, but in the end we decided to move Conceal because Auctioneer has proven to be one of the most skill testing cards in the game. We think the power level of Auctioneer decreases with this change, and games where Auctioneer is played will be a bit more interactive.
We wanted to allow players to disenchant Classic cards that are being added to the Hall of Fame set for full dust refunds, but then felt that incentivizing players to dust their cool Wild cards was counter to our goal of making Wild awesome.
So instead, we're just going to give you the dust, and you can keep the cards!
Up to the maximum number of cards you could put in a deck, we will give you the full dust value of any cards you have that are being added to the Hall of Fame set. (Yes, that means if you have at least one Golden Ragnaros, you'll get 3200 dust!) The dust will be automatically awarded upon log-in once the Year of the Mammoth begins.
Adventuring in Expansions
Looking back, we learned a lot in 2016 with the introduction of the Year of the Kraken. One of the things we’d like to put additional focus on for the Year of the Mammoth is having additional deck-building options and deck variety in Hearthstone. To help give players additional tools and options to accomplish this, we are changing up the way we handle our release cycle. Previously, a Hearthstone Year alternated between Expansions and Adventures.
For the Year of the Mammoth, our release cycle will include a ~130 card expansion at the start of the year, a ~130 card expansion in the middle of the year, and another ~130 card expansion at the end of the year.
Why the change of release cycle?
At their core, Adventures paint colorful and thematic stories about the Hearthstone universe. Imagine being able to learn about the history and lore behind each of our sets inside the game in a similar way! Defining who the Jade Lotus are through a series of battles between the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan families would have been a great way to supplement the overall Gadgetzan story arc. That concept is something we would like to do more of in future sets: Take the storytelling and cool missions of Adventures, and combine them with the card pools of expansions.
Cards will be acquired via packs like other expansions in the past; additionally, each release will include optional single-player missions that will help develop the expansions’ thematic narratives and offer fun challenges.
We’d like to continue being flexible and refine the way we roll out content so it’s more enjoyable for all of our players. The second expansion of 2017 will be our first step into this new design, and we plan on building on this concept over time. Additional details about our free single player content will come at a later time.
Where the Wild Cards Are
With the cards from Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers becoming exclusive to Wild, the Wild format is going to be more exciting than ever before! For our players that enjoy playing in Wild, we’ll be supporting it in more ways in 2017.
Sometime after the release of our next expansion, we plan to run a Heroic Tavern Brawl utilizing the Wild format. With so many cards at your disposal, our most passionate and hardcore Hearthstone players and deck-builders will be put to the test.
We will also be collaborating with third-party tournament organizers to promote additional Hearthstone tournaments using the Wild format. Whether players are dueling in competitive Standard or Wild, we want our community to be excited about all of the various ways to play Hearthstone, and we hope additional official support for both formats will help to accomplish this.
We’re super excited about the ever-growing Wild ecosystem, and we’re looking for new and interesting ways to continue supporting it in the future.
Gather ‘Round for Fireside Gatherings
If you’re not familiar with Fireside Gatherings, they’re a great way to get out and meet people just as passionate about Hearthstone as you are! Fireside Gatherings mean a lot to us, and we’re planning on beefing up this program and adding additional in-client features to support Fireside Gatherings during the Year of the Mammoth. Keep an eye out for more information about Fireside Gatherings closer to the release of our first expansion this year—it’s never too late to become an Innkeeper!
Celebrate the Year of the Mammoth Together!
That’s not all for the Year of the Mammoth! Before the release of our next expansion, we’ve got a flurry of activity planned to support its launch: Daily login rewards will be available for a limited time— offering dust, gold, and expansion packs—as well as a few other surprises in the weeks before launch to blaze a trail for everything our next expansion has to offer.
Login rewards aren’t the only things we’re offering to get players excited for the Year of the Mammoth: A new Hearthstone Hero approaches the Tavern!
The new Rogue Hero, Maiev Shadowsong, has emerged from the shadows, eager to become a part of your Hearthstone collection after 10,000 years of tolerating bad “You are not prepared” jokes from Illidan. Legion beware: Adding this vengeful Night Elf to your collection will be easier than teaching an old felhound new tricks. Just win 10 games of Hearthstone in Standard Ranked or Casual mode after the next expansion officially launches to acquire her.
Year of the Mammoth Wrap-up
There’s a lot on the horizon for Hearthstone in 2017; we hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the year ahead and we’ll see you at the Inn!