Blizzard has started to outline its plans for the coming year in Hearthstone, including details on new Hall of Fame inclusions, its new approach to single-player content, and changes to quests and Arena. The Hearthstone Blog dubbed this the Year of the Dragon, and it will begin with the release of the first expansion of 2019.
As usual, the new year will bring several sets rotating out of Standard play, along with some hand-selected cards joining the Hall of Fame. Induction into this group means they’ll no longer be playable in Standard, and it’s usually reserved for cards that are especially powerful and potentially problematic going forward. This time the rotation includes some doozies.
The Druid card Naturalize, the Warlock card Doomguard, and the Paladin card Divine Favor are all being moved into the Hall of Fame. These are all mainstays that each class has had in regular use for years, but in each case Blizzard feels they overcompensate for class weaknesses in a way that hurts their class identity.
Two more shocking changes are to Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane, two cards that were introduced in The Witchwood. Ordinarily Blizzard would wait for cards from an expansion to rotate out on their own, but these two cards–which introduced powerful “Odd” and “Even” decks–have been too prevalent and risk overshadowing the new cards introduced this year. The fan community has been especially vocal about the adverse effect they’ve been having on the game. Gloom Stag, Black Cat, Glitter Moth, and Murkspark Eel are also joining the Hall of Fame, since each of them relied on the even/odd mechanic from Baku and Genn.
The blog goes on to explain that this year’s single-player experience will be one continuous story, with more customization and decks. A free chapter will hit a month after the first expansion, followed by other chapters for 700 gold each, or $20 for the bundle. Completing all five chapters will net you a special card back and Golden Classic pack.
Other quality of life improvements include the ability to re-roll legendary quests, a random card back option, a smarter deck builder, and Arena wins counting toward earning your golden hero. Plus Arena itself will get a big change, as the draft pool will consist of a mixture of sets from throughout the game’s lifespan. The first rotation will include the Basic, Classic, Curse of Naxxramas, Whispers of the Old Gods, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, The Witchwood, and this year’s first expansion.
Finally, as Hearthstone prepares to say goodbye to the current year, you can get a login reward. Logging on between March 25 and April 2 will get you one pack each from Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, and Kobolds & Catacombs. A special Tavern Brawl is also planned for that week. All of this suggests that the first expansion for Year of the Dragon will come sometime in April.