Big Hearthstone Changes Revealed For 2017

The Year of the Mammoth is almost here.

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After announcing some balance adjustments that will arrive as part of Hearthstone's February update, Blizzard has now detailed some of the major changes on the way in the upcoming season of content, the Year of the Mammoth.

For starters, Blizzard doesn't like that Standard mode has seen some cards become almost mandatory in terms of deck-building. As a result, it's moving a handful of Classic cards to the Wild format by making them a part of the new Hall of Fame set.

These include a trio of one-mana class cards--Conceal, Ice Lance, and Power Overwhelming--as well as three more expensive, neutral cards: Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, and Ragnaros the Firelord.

"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," Blizzard explained in a blog post. "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."

This change will cause some players to want to disenchant these Classic cards, but Blizzard said it realized that "incentivizing players to dust their cool Wild cards was counter to [its] goal of making Wild awesome." As a result, it will let players keep cards being added to the Hall of Fame set and give them the full dust value for them, up to the maximum number you could include in a single deck. This dust will be handed out once the Year of the Mammoth begins.

Another key change is the way Blizzard handles the release of Adventures and expansions. Year of the Mammoth will shift to a new schedule with a total three card expansions, each consisting of about 130 cards. These will be released at the beginning, middle, and end of the year.

"At their core, Adventures paint colorful and thematic stories about the Hearthstone universe," Blizzard said. "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."

This won't begin until the second expansion released in 2017. Details on free single-player content will be announced "at a later time."

Blizzard also shared that it plans to host a Heroic Tavern Brawl that uses the Wild format. Daily login rewards will be available for a "limited time" prior to the next expansion's release; it will offer free dust, gold, and expansion packs for logging in every day. A new Rogue hero, Maiev Shadowsong, is also on the way as part of the next expansion. Once that's out, you'll be able to obtain Maiev by winning 10 Standard Ranked or Casual matches.

Specific dates for all of this haven't been announced yet, but we'll report back as Blizzard shares more.

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