The Hearthstone team announced this year’s theme and all the changes that will be rolling out as a part of the Year of the Mammoth. As this will be just the second year of Hearthstone’s Standard format, Blizzard is still tweaking the system significantly. The biggest changes that will lumber in with the Mammoth are a change to the types of sets released and the introduction of a new “Hall of Fame” designation for some Classic cards.
In previous years, releases of full expansions where you had to purchase packs of cards were alternated with single player adventures. It was already planned that instead of alternating between the two release types, the first release this year would be a full expansion—the first time for two expansions of this type to be released back-to-back. It turns out that the adventures are being eliminated as a release format completely. If you’re miffed about missing out on single-player content, however, Blizzard is now promising some optional missions that will be a part of every Hearthstone expansion.
How meaty the new single-player missions will be has not been revealed, but the biggest known difference is that they won’t simply unlock new cards. The Hearthstone team has since revealed that free packs or other rewards are still possible. These adventure-replacement missions won’t show up with the first expansion this year but will make their debut with the second set.
The competitive game will be impacted more by the introduction of the new Hall of Fame card designation. When the Standard and Wild formats were initiated at the start of last year (The Year of the Kraken), one of the more contentious and questioned decisions was to keep all Classic and Basic card sets in the Standard format. Going forward, certain Classic cards can be flagged for use in the Wild format only, or placed in the Hall of Fame.
Six cards will be relegated to this category when the next expansion releases, each for slightly different reasons. Generally, if a card was considered an “auto-include” in too many decks (Azure Drake) or was too powerful (Ragnaros) then it got moved to the Hall of Fame. Sylvanas, Power Overwhelming, Ice Lance, and Conceal also got moved out of Standard.
In order to quell some of the anger from this decision, players will receive dust for these cards they already have in their collection. Normally, Blizzard allows cards to be dusted for their full value when a change is made to the mechanics of a card. In this case, the dust will be placed in everyone’s accounts without destroying any cards. This is to prevent people from trashing these useful cards that can help strengthen the fledgling Wild format. Players will only receive dust up to the maximum number of cards that can be put in a deck, however, and not for each and every copy in their collection.
This gift of dust has led many to wonder if they could game the system by crafting golden legendaries now, be given their dust value when the expansion releases, and therefore essentially get the card for free. Blizzard confirms that this is completely possible and they aren’t discouraging it.
As always, feelings are mixed about these big changes to Hearthstone, with some players disappointed in every piece of the announcement, others only befuddled at the removal of Ice Lance from Standard. Additional appeasement methods were listed in the announcement, such as daily login rewards and a new Rogue Hero skin that can be earned by simply winning ten games. Blizzard is holding a Q&A session this afternoon where grievances will likely be aired, but hopefully some more tidbits will be handed out as well.
What do you think of these changes? Are you excited about the increase of full expansions or would you prefer to keep the adventure format? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!