I haven’t played Hearthstone in quite some time.
Actually, I tried playing just a few months ago, but had a pretty poor experience.
This has been my issue with the game for a while now. The bar to clear for new players (and re-entry point for folks who haven’t played in a while) is insanely high, both due to the cost of the game to buy packs of cards – and the prevalance of current meta decks that everyone always seems to have their hands on before you do.
I’m a big fan of Magic the Gathering (another pay-to-win addiction of mine), and it’s seemed like MTG Arena (their digital counterpart) has balanced the way you earn new cards far better than Hearthstone. However, with a few new sweeping changes, it seems like Blizzard is intent on winning back old players, and earning new ones.
New Set: Forged in the Barrens
For starters, lets talk about this new set – Forged in the Barrens. Not only is it focused in one of the most memorable and iconic zones in World of Warcraft, but the set’s aesthetics just oozes all of those things that made you fall in love with this setting in the first place.
FITB features 135 new cards, and a whole lot more. This set’s new keyword is Frenzy – which is a one-time effect triggered the first time a minion survives damage. The new mechanic this time around – which actually is a permanent addition to Hearthstone – is Spell Schools, which means Spells can now have a tag from one of seven different schools (Arcane, Fel, Fire, Frost, Holy, Shadow, Nature).
Lastly, FITB introduces 10 new Legendary Mercenary cards (one for each class) whose stories will play out across this year of content.
New Format: Classic
Hearthstone’s new Classic Format is the first major format addition to the game since launch. Prior to the most recent patch, it had just been “Standard” (the current in-rotation sets for competitive play), and “Wild” where everything is available to play with.
Now, Classic Format allows players to craft decks and compete using Hearthstone’s original 240 cards as they were in 2014 at the time of patch 22.214.171.12432 (made just after launch with some “important changes”). This is as close to “World of Warcraft: Classic” as Hearthstone is gonna get.
As of right now, Classic Packs will also add to your Collection for the Classic Format and to your collection of Legacy cards when playing in Wild Format. In addition, all of your eligible Basic, Classic, and Hall of Fame set cards have already been mirrored to – and are available in – Classic Format.
Not a bad way to let us strip back the 6 million keywords that have been added since and enjoy a more simple game. Bravo, Blizzard.
The Great Unnerfing
Finally, Blizzard is doing away with nerfs for 36 cards that have been removed from Standard before they are rotated to Wild Format. This means the old broken Quest Rogue deck is fucking BACK baby. For a full list of un-nerfed cards, check out Blizzard’s full release here.
At the end of the day, the people who dislike Hearthstone will probably not see enough to change their minds, and those who love it will still find lots to love here… But those on the fence may just see themselves tilting towards dipping back into the card pool once more. Myself included.
Hearthstone’s Forged in the Barrens set and Classic Format are live right now.