Hearthstone Is About To Get An Overhaul


Big changes are coming for Hearthstone players, whether you’re a hardened veteran or just starting out.

Hearthstone is almost two years old! This mobile card game based on figures and themes prevalent in the Warcraft has been widely applauded, winning several awards in 2014 for best mobile game, including said title at that year’s The Game Awards. To celebrate its upcoming anniversary while simultaneously making the game more accessible to an even wider audience, Blizzard revealed to Polygon today some drastic changes to Hearthstone gameplay coming within the next few months.

The easiest to understand and praise of these changes is the addition of 9 more deck slots, doubling the original amount. This simply means that a total of 18 decks can be saved to an account at a time, a much-needed change, seeing as how there are nine hero classes, and dailies tend to require playing all the classes at some point.

The rest is a little more complex. For starters, Blizzard is splitting the game into two different flavors: Standard, and Wild. Wild is the traditional format players are accustomed to now–all cards are legal, from all expansions, adventures, and packs. Ranked and Free Play will still be available in this mode, with appropriate rewards, just like normal. Arena and Tavern Brawl (most of the time) will also remain as Wild play modes.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-08-15 17.44.54
Hearthstone Screenshot 09-08-15 17.44.54 /

Standard mode is a more restricted form of play that only allows cards from the Basic and Classic sets, plus any expansions or adventures from the last two calendar years. This means that later in 2016 when this is released, cards from the Curse of Naxxramas adventure and the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion will no longer be allowed for use in Standard play. Eventually Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers will phase out, too, making way for new expansions as they are added. Old expansions and adventures will be “retired” when they are removed from Standard, and will no longer be available for purchase. All cards will be available by crafting only (even those that are currently uncraftable).

The goal is to allow new players an easier way to access the meta-game, while simultaneously enabling Blizzard to add more meaningful cards in each successive expansion. As lead designer Ben Brode put it when speaking to Polygon:

"The volume of feedback that we’ve been hearing is, ‘Hey, it’s getting more and more difficult to get my friends to play Hearthstone.” We really want each new thing that we release to really shake up the meta-game. It’s one of those things that very slowly, over time, it gets harder and harder to do that."

Standard will become the usual format for all Blizzard-sponsored tournaments and events, and will immediately include a brand new expansion that Blizzard has in the works now, aiming for a 2016 release date. Both Casual play and Ranked will be available in Standard and Wild, with golden heroes and the usual rewards presented for successes equally in both modes.

As a casual Hearthstone player myself, this is excellent news. I’ve often felt that the game was just too hard to play for free, when other players who have been playing for years have piles of Dr. Booms and well-crafted Secret Paladins decimating players as low as Rank 19. The only frustration is that older cards will be difficult to obtain–I’d rather spend my dust on current cards. If Blizzard offered older cards at a discount in coins or real money, though? That might be a more worthy solution.