Hearthstone’s zodiac will embrace 2019 by entering the Year of the Dragon. The Blizzard team has delighted players by providing us with quite a lot of information about new releases and game updates. As such, there’s much material to pick apart and analyze before the Year of the Mammoth definitely leaves us.
Oodles of Single-Player Content
Sadly, we had to wave Ben Brode’s beautiful beard goodbye.
In this rendition of the Hearthside chat, Ben Thompson and Chris Sigerty walk us through what’s coming. First and foremost, the new content’s strong point will be the single-player experience. According to this official announcement, incoming Solo Adventures will be larger and deeper than anything we’ve seen before.
This enthusiasm for PvE development has been brought on by the overwhelming success of similar content produced so far. Much like the older adventures, Dungeon Runs—a mode where players improve a starter deck each time they defeat one of a finite set of bosses, with a ton of fun quirks along the way—are entertaining to play and offer great replay value.
A month after the year’s first expansion, players will receive access to an all-new adventure. This suggests the Hearthstone team’s schedule is at least six months ahead of current time, something which they began doing after the game’s profitable release. Chapters beyond the first will cost 700 gold each, with users able to pay $19.99 for unlimited access.
According to the language utilized in the article—”two original characters per chapter”, “dozens of bosses”—we can expect an overall ramp-up of the adventure formula we are used to. Furthermore, each completed chapter will provide the player with three packs from the new expansion. As usual, those who conquer all five will earn a card back.
Nine New Hall-of-Famers
As with every time cards are recalled from the Standard format, Hearthstone’s meta will be given a rough shake. However, it’s hard to argue against the logic that led the balancing team to their decision. Let’s get into the news.
Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater are the names that immediately jump to attention. It can perhaps be said that they were “too much of a good concept”. Presenting players with a deckbuilding challenge is indeed interesting, but causes stagnation when it becomes too prevalent. Odd & Even decks were too efficient for their own good, and they had to be cut down for the game’s health. As such, Gloom Stag, Black Cat, Glitter Moth and Murkspark Eel will follow them. Though it no longer has a place in the rotating format, it will be interesting to see how this mana cost mechanic integrates into the Wild meta.
Our last three nominees are Naturalize, Doomguard and Divine Favour. They are all leaving for the sake of maintaining class identity: Naturalize provides awesome removal to Druid decks —which are supposed to lack it—, Doomguard tons of out-of-hand damage to Warlock, and Divine Favour a ridiculously cheap hand recharge to Paladin.
Miscellaneous Changes and News
Beyond the Hall of Fame inductions and incoming content, Blizzard told us about quite a number of Year of the Dragon changes:
- Legendary quests will become re-rollable. This change will definitely help with missions that can be difficult to complete for players with limited decks. Problems such as these disappear as grinders manage to pick up multiple decks, but can be quite unfair on casual gamers or those unwilling to throw money at the cash shop.
- A random card back option will be made available. Great news for those who have been collecting these for a long time and can’t quite decide how to style their cards!
- A smarter deck builder. Considering the AI builder used so far usually even failed to help beginners obtain a fighting chance, this might be a good sign. However, this feature may be entirely scrappable: it’s unavoidable for the meta to greatly outpace whatever programmers can instruct the game to come up with.
- Arena wins will now count towards obtaining Golden Heroes. A good quality of life change for players who feel penalized by preferring Arena to the Constructed formats
- Balance changes will maintain a frequent rhythm. According to Blizzard, players have provided positive feedback in response to their more frequent interventions upon the game’s health. TCG metas are notoriously hard to balance, so this hopefully means that they’ll also make any such changes carefully.
As a last goodbye to the Year of the Mammoth, players who log in between March 25th and April 2nd will receive a pack each from the Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, and Kobolds & Catacombs expansions. Moreover, that week’s tavern brawl will come in the form of a Constructed format limited to cards from the expansions above.
A fiery Year of the Dragon to you all!