Blizzard just dropped the biggest Hearthstone announcement of the year, detailing all of their exciting plans for 2018 and “The Year of the Raven”.
Three cards will rotate to the Hall of Fame, Lunara joins the cast of Heroes, and a variety of new and exciting improvements will be coming to Hearthstone during “The Year of the Raven”.
Blizzard just dropped their biggest Hearthstone announcement of the year, detailing their plans for Hearthstone in 2018 and “The Year of the Raven”. Accompanied by an enthusiastic (as always) Ben Brode video, The Year of the Raven will rotate three cards from the classic set to the Hall of Fame, promises larger quest rewards, will bring us our first new Druid hero, and will introduce an in-game tournament mode (Yes!!! Finally!). Each of these announcements would have been a major headline on their own, and each has me more excited than the last about the future of Hearthstone. There’s an awful lot to break down, so let’s get started.
Ice Block, Coldlight Oracle, and Molten Giant Added To The Hall of Fame
Say hello to your Hearthstone Hall of Fame class of 2018! The second group of cards to enter the hall, Ice Block, Coldlight Oracle, and Molten Giant will rotate from Standard when the next set is released. Just like last year, players who have these cards in their collection at the time of rotation will receive dust for these without having to deconstruct them.
Ice Block has been on the chopping block for a long time, and was referenced by name in multiple balance patches during The Year of the Mammoth. One of the most polarizing cards in the game, Ice Block will be pushed out of standard due to its outdated power level, which has made it a necessity for Combo and Control Mage decks. To quote Ben Brode, “It’s time to make room for new Mage decks in Standard”, and I’m inclined to agree.
Defensive Mage decks will need some new tools from the upcoming sets to replace Ice Block, and I think it’s fair to assume they’ll come. In all likelihood, Blizzard pegged this card to be added to the Hall of Fame quite a while ago, and has had ample time to design new cards which will promote more compelling deck design choices and play decisions than Ice Block ever did.
Goodnight, sweet prince. Fans of fatigue and mill strategies everywhere will be sad to see Coldlight Oracle go, but I can’t blame Blizzard for wanting to rotate this card. To quote today’s post, “[Coldlight Oracle] limits some designs related to Battlecry and effects that return a minion to hand”. So long as Coldlight Oracle exists in Standard, Blizzard has to be extremely careful when printing cards such as Murmuring Elemental or Grumble, Worldshaker, which puts a serious damper on the power level of cards which are meant to excel in otherwise healthy and compelling decks (such as Elemental Shaman). As much as I love what this card brings to Standard right now, I’m optimistic that its departure will open the door for bigger and better things.
Molten Giant is getting the classic “un-nerf then ban” treatment, having its mana cost reduced back to 20 for Wild players everywhere to enjoy. To borrow the words of Pesty, they probably should have just set this card’s Mana Cost to 5 and got it over with. Naga Sea Witch decks have been dominant since the change to the game’s rules back in September, and she will continue to be completely agnostic of the number written in the upper left corner of Molten Giant. Regardless, this card was completely unplayed in Standard, and I will be quite happy to receive an influx of 800 free dust when the next set is released. Thanks Blizzard!
Quests to Reward More, Require Less
The majority of Hearthstone’s quests will be receiving tweaks to their wording which will make them reward more gold or require less time to complete. For example:
Only the Mighty
OLD : Play 20 minions that cost 5 or more. Reward: 40 gold
NEW: Play 12 minions that cost 5 or more. Reward: 50 gold
Each quest that rewarded 40 gold will now reward 50, quests which rewarded 50 or more gold will have their requirements reduced, and Blizzard has promised to make even more improvements to quests in the future. Hearthstone’s stingy quest system has been a topic of frequent complaint on internet forums of late, so I expect the Hearthstone community at large to feel both relieved and victorious at this portion of the announcement. We did it, reddit!
In-Game Tournament Mode
Aside from an in-game replay feature, tournament mode has been the most curiously absent feature of the Hearthstone client for quite some time. The burden of enforcing the various rules of a Hearthstone tournament currently belongs to players and tournament organizers, but that will no longer be the case once this long-awaited new feature is launched. This should make it all but impossible for players to cheat in tournament games by playing with unregistered lists, and should ultimately reduce the number of headaches which are currently associated with conducting a Hearthstone tournament.
The feature will include “matchmaking and checking decks” when it beta launches sometime “the middle of this year”, but promises to expand and improve over time. Though we can only speculate as to what this means, the features I would personally most like to see out of an in-game tournament mode are a ranked tournament ladder (self explanatory) and a “tournament spectator mode” which allows you to see both player’s hands at the same time. Both of these features would have been a pipe dream just yesterday, but the advent of tournament mode has suddenly made them into realistic possibilities!
New Druid Hero – Lunara
After Nemzy Necrofizzle was announced as a reward for attending Fireside Gatherings, Druid became the final class in the game to not have an alternative hero portrait. Lunara will change that when the first set of The Year of the Raven is released (likely in April). Players can obtain her by winning 10 games of ranked or casual mode, just as Maiev was given to players at the start of The Year of the Mammoth. A familiar face to fans of both World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm, Lunara’s emotes will be announced on a future date.
Teasers For The Year Of The Raven
Blizzard teased the upcoming expansions in 2018 with this image, but left nothing else for us to guess as to what it might mean. I’m reasonably sure that Hearthstone’s top internet detectives will be able to come up with something meaningful out of this image, but I for one am not quite sure what to make of this. With that said, I’m most excited for the pink set by far and reject all green-and-red set truthers.
Buried near the bottom of today’s announcement was also a promise to continue developing and improving Fireside Gatherings, as well as the announcement of a Twitch.tv live stream on March 2nd with Game Director Ben Brode and Lead Producer Yong Woo, where they will hold a Q&A session (presumably with Twith chat?) about the upcoming Hearthstone year.
Phew! I can hardly remember the last time I read that much good news in one place. Hearthstone in 2018 has already kicked off with a bang, but today’s Year of the Raven announcement has me convinced that the best has yet to come.