Blizzard caught all of us off guard today with the announcement of the first Hearthstone expansion of 2018 and The Year of the Raven. It is known as The Witchwood and will contain the following features:
- 135 new cards
- New Dungeon Run Mode
- 2 New Keywords
While the list of “features” is pretty short, the impact on the game is going to be huge! It should be noted that when this expansion launches, One Night in Karazhan, Whispers of the Old Gods and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan will be rotating out of Standard format, but will still be playable in Wild format.
Rush – This keyword is basically Charge. The only difference here is that Rush minions can only attack other minions on the turn they are played. Charge minions can attack either minions or the enemy player on the same turn its played, so it’s basically a nerfed version of Charge. Pretty simple and straightforward. In fact, we’ve already seen this “keyword” in Journey to Un’goro with the Charged Devilsaur card which was an 8 mana 7/7 with Charge and Battlecry: Cannot attack enemy players this turn. They simply turned that card into a keyword.
Echo – The second keyword can set up some pretty nice combos depending on what kind of cards we will see with. Echo, essentially, allows you to play the same card over and over again as long as you have the mana pool to support it. Again, we’ve already seen this card “keyword” with the Shaman card Unstable Evolution where for one mana, you can transform a friendly minion into a random one that costs one more than the current minion’s mana cost. You can keep casting that card over and over as long as you have enough mana to play it.
Both of these keywords will be pretty dynamic and could lead to some deep strategies in some games!
Monster Hunt is the new version of the Dungeon Run feature that was introduced with Kobolds and Catacombs. This time, things are a little bit different. In Dungeon Run, you had a pool of bosses that randomized and you had your choice of all nine of Hearthstone’s classes to play for that run. Here, you don’t get to choose any of Hearthstone’s nine classes. Instead, you get a choice between four different heroes to play and these heroes are unique to the Monster Hunt feature and cannot be played outside of it.
The four heroes are labeled as Cannoneer, Houndmaster, Time Tinkerer and Tracker. No abilities nor hints at what classes they are based on have been given as of yet, but outside of this, Monster Hunt will work the same way as Dungeon Run. Pick one of the four unique heroes, beat a boss, build a deck and keep going until you either defeat all eight bosses or you fail.
There is also a new card back that has been associated with the expansion. We can only assume that it belongs to completing the new Monster Hunter mode or it may be an end-of-season reward. While its source is still up in the air, you can take a look at it for yourself.
The First Six Cards
We got our look at the three of the game’s neutral legendary cards as well as three examples of what the new keywords will be like! On the subject of cards, it is confirmed that each class will receive two legendary cards this expansion in addition to all of the neutral legendaries that will be revealed.
New Game Board
Patch 10.4 and the Pre-Order
You can pre-order The Witchwood when Hearthstone patch 10.4 goes live which is… right now! Blizzard is offering a 20 pack bonus to those who pre-order the expansion. Normally, for $49.99, you would get 50 card packs which are 10 more than the regular price of 40 packs, but this time, Blizzard is upping the card pack opening ante and giving you a whopping 70 card packs for the same price!
As you can see, I’ve already got my expansion pre-ordered! Doing so will not only net you 70 packs, but it will also give you special card back, which is available to use immediately!
Along with the pre-order, Patch 10.4 brings the new balance changes to drafting cards in arena.
- New Draft Rules: Each pick in an Arena draft will now feature 3 cards of relatively equal power level, but mixed rarities.
- Picks 1, 10, 20, and 30 will continue to have a guaranteed Rare quality card or better.
- The increased chance to draft cards from the most recent expansion has been removed until the launch of The Witchwood.
- New Arena cards chosen at BlizzCon are being added to the Arena for a limited time.
- All cards that are excluded from the Arena draft pool remain unchanged.
- All the other existing Arena rules in place that affect appearance rates are unchanged.
As you can tell from the screenshot above, Hearthstone: The Witchwood will be available in mid-April which is, roughly, four to five weeks from this post! Last, but not least, check out the announcement trailer below!