It's almost that time of the year again. Standard rotation. Time to say goodbye to Journey to Un'Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds & Catacombs. Goodbye, Year of the Raven. But how will those huge shoes be filled? Well, today the Hearthstone development team shared some of the very impactful changes the Year of the Dragon is going to have.
A Hall of Fame filled with surprises
First of all, the team announced which cards will be joining the Hall of Fame upon rotation. These cards have become so core to Hearthstone gameplay that they don't allow for much experimentation, and therefore quickly make the meta feel stale.
Of these three, Doomguard is probably the most-anticipated to go the Hall of Fame. Ever since Hearthstone's inception the grumpy demon has been an extremely powerful choice for Warlocks, especially in decks like Zoolock. Naturalize is a curious one at first glance, given that it only really started to see play when Carnivorous Cube was added to Hearthstone. However, it's safe to say Naturalize's true power only just began to reveal itself then. Given that Druid shouldn't have access to the best removal in the game, this Hall of Famer is perfectly reasonable. Divine Favor is the sleeper of the three, but arguing against its rotation is going to be hard. Every aggressive Paladin deck needs it, as it allows them to refill their hand in an instant.
But, there's more.
That's right, for the first time ever, cards are making a premature exit from Standard. Genn and Baku sprung archetypes from the moment The Witchwood was introduced, and never let go of their grip on the meta. Both upgrading one's Hero Power one way or another, the two became staple archetypes of different classes. With the team (rightfully) fearing that another year of Genn & Baku decks would be too frustrating, both, accompanied by the handful of specific Odd/Even-cards, will not be missed.
Where are my dragons?!
Of course, when you title your year "The Year of the Dragon", you can't get away without giving us some glorious firebreathers. Well, Blizzard isn't trying to. In the announcement the developers say that they're trying something new in the Year of the Dragon: a year-long theme. Whereas previously each expansion would focus on its own story, the three expansions in the Year of the Dragon will all be part of the same story. Blizzard even gave us a teaser as to what we can expect from the expansions!
All the single playersput your hands up!
Sometimes, you just don't want to queue against another opponent playing the best deck in the meta. For those players, and those longing to set out on a completely different adventure, the Hearthstone developers are investing more in Hearthstone's single player content. And when we say investing, we mean investing.
Having noticed the massive success of modes like Dungeon Run, Puzzle Lab and Rumble Run, even more PvE challenges will be introduced in the upcoming year. These challenges will offer new heroes, new hero powers and, as part of the reward: card backs and packs! Much like the good old Adventures such as Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain, the single player content will consist of wings. The first wing will be free, after which players can unlock the others for 700 gold, or unluck them all immediately for $20.
Arena rotation is finally here!
For Arena players, the Year of the Raven was quite a blessing already. The mode saw a lot of support with, most notably, the introduction of 'card buckets'. These changed up the way cards were offered from rarity-based, to "weighted strength"-based.
And Team 5 is not slowing down in the Year of the Dragon. Instead of sticking with the Standard rotation to determine which sets are viable in Arena, the team is going to a big mixup: they're switching the card pool twice every expansion. Upon the first set's release, the Arena card pool will consist of these sets: Basic, Classic, Curse of Naxxramas, Whispers of the Old Gods, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, The Witchwood, and the first expansion of this year.
Making the Hearthstone life better
We know, it's quite a lot to take in already. But the developers were not quite done yet. The year of the Dragon will also mark the introduction of a couple of Quality of Life changes. Changes that may not look huge, but add that extra flavor to Hearthstone. First of all, expansion-themed Daily Quests are going to be re-rollable. While the majority of players probably doesn't mind completing them, as they contribute to the flavor of the set, it's always good to give players the option to skip, instead of force-feeding content.
Secondly, there will be a "random card back" option, for those who just can't decide which sleeve to wear. What's exciting, though, is that the wooden card back itself is also a possible option!
Finally, there's two pretty small adjustments: Arena wins will now count towards acquiring a golden version of a hero, and the auto-complete deck builder will be updated to suggest better alternatives to cards you don't own.
What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!
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