The new Hearthstone expansion will be titled “The Witchwood”.
The first Hearthstone expansion of 2018 is exploring some familiar design spaces, and will pack new single-player content similar to Dungeon Runs.
Hearthstone’s first expansion of 2018 will be titled The Witchwood, and will be a horror-themed set with werewolves, ghosts, curses, a few “new” keyword abilities, and a single-player game mode called Monster Hunt which appears to be similar to Dungeon Run. Blizzard released a short song and animation for the new set today, as well as the set’s first six cards:
Hearthstone: The Witchwood Trailer
Six New Cards From The Witchwood
New Keyword Abilities: Rush and Echo
The two new keyword abilities in The Witchwood are clean adaptations of abilities from previous sets. Rush is like Charged Devilsaur – it allows a minion to attack other minions the turn it is played but not the enemy hero, while Echo is like Unstable Evolution – it adds a copy of the card to your hand which can be played repeatedly until the turn ends.
Many have speculated that Hearthstone would eventually create a keyword ability like Rush. Shadowverse (another digital card game) has an ability with the exact same name and function as Rush, and the ability has been well-received in that game. Making Rush a keyword ability and not a Battlecry trigger makes it harder to pull-off combos (Charged Devilsaur can still attack the enemy hero the turn it is played if summoned from a card like Kathrena Winterwisp), and it allows the Hearthstone design team to step away from Charge going forward, which has proven itself to be one of the more problematic abilities from a balance perspective. I’m very happy to see Rush added to the game, and expect it to be a big boost to Midrange decks when the new set drops.
Unstable Evolution was one of my favorite designs from Kobolds & Catacombs, which makes the announcements of Echo as a keyword ability a very pleasant surprise. Echo is a highly flexible ability which forces players to decide between present value and future value, and I expect that it will lead to plenty of interesting decisions in both casual and competitive games alike.
Start of Game Effects: Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater
Blizzard has tried out many cards in the past which impose unique deck-building restrictions in exchange for powerful effects, such as Prince Keleseth and Reno Jackson. The primary pitfall of these cards is that games are often defined by whether or not the they are drawn, which leads to quite a few feel-bad moments on both sides of the table. The Quest cards from Journey Un’Goro were another attempt to encourage unique deck-building restrictions in exchange for powerful effects, but Quests cards on the whole fell a bit short, and are considered to be categorically less powerful than the Death Knights from KFT or the Legendary Weapons from K&C.
With all of the Highlander cards rotating from Standard with the release of The Witchood, the new Start of Game cards are looking to fill in the design space being left behind by Highlander. These two new cards impose some pretty rough deck-building restrictions, but the reward is an effect which is guaranteed to take place at the start of the game. This design appears to be somewhere in the middle of Highlander and Quests, but with so many unknowns ahead of us it is still far too early to know how these cards will pan out in practice. Interestingly, the two Start of Game minions announced today both have relatively weak bodies for their mana costs, which makes them more like Patches the Pirate and less like Kazakus in that you probably never want to draw them.
New Single-Player Content: Monster Hunt
After the resounding successes of the Dungeon Runs in K&C, the thing which many Hearthstone players were most excited for from the upcoming set was the single-player content. With Monster Hunt, Blizzard appears to have borrowed a lot from the Dungeon Run formula while adapting it to fit the new set’s horror theme:
And that’s everything we know about Monster Hunts! I get the impression that Monster Hunts and Dungeon Runs will share quite a few similarities, which is A-OK in my book.
Though not much is known about upcoming dates for The Witchwood, Hearthstone’s previous release schedule suggests a mid-April release for the new set. We can expect The Witchwood to drop two weeks after spoiler season begins, which means we’ll likely have to wait until the second week of April for The Witchwood if we don’t see a spoiler schedule before the end of the week. In the mean time, you can pre-purchase The Witchwood today to unlock the set’s shiny new card back. This time around, the pre-purchase will give players 70 packs for 49.99 USD, which is 20 more packs than previous pre-purchases were at the same price.
What are you most excited for from The Witchwood? The new abilities? Monster Hunts? Set Rotation? Let us know in the comment section below!