On April 7, Hearthstone's new celestial year commences. After following the journey of the League of EVIL and the League of Explorers, ultimately concluding in a clash of dragons, the Year of the Dragon makes place for the Year of the Phoenix with the Ashes of Outland expansion as the first new card set.
As has become usual at the dawn of a year and thus a new expansion cycle, the Hearthstone developers seize the opportunity to address some Basic and Classic Hearthstone cards. While they are still determined to keep the Basic and Classic set as evergreen content for Hearthstone's Standard mode, a select few enter the 'Hall of Fame' and become Wild-only after all. This year, Blizzard is rotating a total of 11 cards to the Hall of Fame and is introducing six replacement cards.
Cards we'll be saying goodbye to
The amount of cards rotating to the Hall of Fame is unprecedentedly high, trumping last year's record of nine cards. The standout, most well-known card entering the Hall of Fame is Leeroy Jenkins. The five-cost stood the test of time for years as the card for aggressive decks. Though in the past the Hearthstone developers have defended Leeroy's existence in Standard, it seems like now is the time to wave goodbye to the charging maniac.
Another target area of this Hall of Fame wave is tech cards: cards you include in your deck to counter specific strategies you might face online. Mind Control Tech, a direct counter to board-flooding strategies, is on this year's chopping block and is cut off from his Classic set buddies. Spellbreaker, mostly added to decks to neutralize one enemy card's oppressive 'Deathrattle,' aura or repeated effect will become Wild-only too, making Ironbeak Owl the only evergreen, neutral card in Standard.
The largest amount of cards entering the Hall of Fame are Basic and Classic Priest cards. It's part of the large overhaul the Priest class as a whole is receiving—read more about that here.
With the exception of Northshire Cleric—who has been an auto-include in just about every viable Priest deck in Hearthstone's history—all Priest cards going to the Hall of Fame directly seem to have a common theme: they allowed Priests to deal a great amount of damage. That no longer fits the design philosophy Blizzard has for the class, so out they go.
The cards that will replace them
For the six aforementioned Priest cards leaving Standard, the Hearthstone team is bringing in replacements. Whereas previously Blizzard only rotated one or two class-specific cards to the Hall of Fame, with not a very notable gap in the collection, six cards rotating is a different beast.
Psychic Conjurer is the Battlecry-equivalent of Journey to Un'Goro's Crystalline Oracle. Scarlet Subjugator is a cheaper Shrinkmeister, while Kul Tiran Chaplain is Power Word: Shield slapped onto a River Crocolisk. Basically. In the spell department, Power Infusion is a lighter version of Whispers of the Old Gods' Power Word: Tentacles, still giving a pretty significant buff. In case your opponent overwhelms you with large minions, you can pull the trigger on Shadow Word: Ruin and clear them all.
Finally, there's Natalie Seline, the replacement of Prophet Velen. She's another big removal tool, and somewhat reminiscent of Goblin vs Gnomes' Vol'jin. Except, in this case, Natalie Seline gets all the health while the targeted minion gets squat.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.