Just like clockwork, it’s time for the first Hearthstone expansion of 2020. For those who play the game, we know that expansions typically come out in April, August, and December so when Blizzard announced something big for March 17, we pretty much knew what was coming but what we didn’t know was all of the details. Even if we did, we at least know to schedule our posts AFTER the NDA is lifted.
This time; however, we received more than just an expansion announcement. We got a look at some of the things coming with expansions two and three later in the year. We got a deep dive into some of Ashes of Outland’s features and we even discovered that it’s not all coming at once! Everything is rolling out in phases and the first thing is rolling out… RIGHT NOW! So rather than list everything that’s happening, we’ll be taking a look at what’s coming in a timeline-like fashion.
March 17 – June 29
Everyone who logs into the game within that date range will receive the neutral legendary card Kael’thas Sunstrider for FREE! You can also start playing with him immediately! Of course, it’s pretty obvious that the Lord of the Blood Elves belongs in a spellpower OTK Mage deck!
March 26, 2020
The Year of the Phoenix
As with the first expansion of a new year, it’s time for sets to rotate out of Standard format. Of course, if you play Wild format, this won’t matter to you since all cards are at your disposal all of the time. As with every rotation, the expansion sets from two years ago (2018 in this case) will be rotating out so say goodbye to The Witchwood, The Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan’s Rumble. This means that the new Standard set will include Basic, Classic, Rise of Shadows, Saviors of Uldum, Descent of Dragons, Ashes of Outland, and whatever two expansions are coming in August and December, respectively.
Duplicate Protection System
This is something people have been asking for (myself included) for a LONG time. Legendary cards use both the Bad Luck Protection and Duplication Protection systems. This means you will never get the same Legendary card twice until you have all of them. Bad Luck Protection simply means each time you don’t get a Legendary, your chances increase with your next pack open until you get one. Typically, you’re guaranteed to get a Legendary every 40 packs.
But now, Legendary cards are not the only cards to enjoy Duplicate Protection. ALL cards now have that! Common, Rare, and Epic cards will stop being generated for you until you have 2 of every card. To make more sense of it, say you open a Classic pack and you get two Murloc Tidehunters in one pack. You will not see that card again in any of your packs until you have two of every common card in the classic set. Once you obtain two of all classic cards, you will then see those Tidehunters come back. Same goes for Rares and Epics.
Returning / New Player Catch Up System
New or returning players will be greeted with a short introduction / re-introductory campaign. Once you complete the campaign, you will be rewarded with an ENTIRE DECK for the class of your choice as well as some card packs!
Balance changes are coming to Hearthstone in a big way. They are coming in Wild, Standard, and Battleground formats.
The class seeing the biggest changes is Priest. They are going back to a control style rather than an OTK style class. That means that Prophet Velen is, indeed, heading to the Hall of Fame and will only be playable in Wild format! Don’t worry, you’ll never be able to go full Northshire again because Northshire Cleric will also be joining him! Divine Spirit, Auchenai Soulpriest, Holy Fire, and Shadowform are also hitching a ride to the Hall of Fame as well!
Some other changes are coming like Holy Nova going to 4 mana (down from 5), Power Word: Shield losing its card draw but going to 0 mana (down from 1), Shadow Madness getting its nerf undone and going back to 3 mana, Thoughtsteal going to 2 mana (down from 3), and Shadow Word: Death going to 2 mana (down from 3).
Priest is getting some new basic cards to help balance their losses such as the new Shadow Word: Ruin which will destroy ALL minions with 5 or more attack for 4 mana, and a new legendary card, Natalie Seline, which is an 8 mana 8/1 with Battlecry: Destroy a minion and gain its health. There are others but we’ll have a link at the end to all of the card reveals thus far so stick around (or just jump to the bottom of the post. Who am I to tell you what to do?)
On the Wild format front, there are some nice buffs coming such as Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End no longer stopping its triggers when it leaves the battlefield, Raza the Unchained once again making your Hero Power cost 0 (was 1 after the nerf) and more! Other cards moving to the Hall of Fame will be Leeroy Jenkins, Mountain Giant, Mind Control Tech, Acolyte of Pain, and Spellbreaker!
Battlegrounds are seeing old heroes, some heroes leaving, and new heroes joining up!
Returning: Sir Finley Mrrglton, Professor Putricide
Hero Changes: Lich King’s hero power is now targetable, Ysera’s hero power is now passive and automatically adds a dragon, Pyramad’s hero power now grants +4 Health (up fro +3), Millhouse now starts with 3 gold, Rat King gives whatever tribe its hero power cycles to +1/+2 (up from +1/+1), Malificent Manastorm gives Mechs +2 attack (up from +1), Deathwing gives all minions +2 attack (down from +3), Reno Jackson’s hero power reduced to 3 gold (was 4)
New Heroes: Illidan Stormrage! His Hero Power is Wingmen where the left and right minions will always attack immediately, meaning he will always attack first! Use this to your advantage!
April 1, 2020
Ranked Ladder Overhaul
People wanted better rewards, they’re getting them… along with an all-new type of ladder climb. There still 50 ranks but they are now divided into categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Legend. All ranks (except for Legend which remains unchanged) have 10 ranks to them. Each rank only requires three stars to advance… or 150 stars total. You cannot lose stars in Bronze rank and you now have a safety net every 5 ranks (i.e. Silver 10, Silver 5, Gold 10, Gold, 5, etc.). So if you lose at 0 stars on Gold 5, you stay at Gold 5.
At the start of every new ladder season (the first of every month), everyone will be set back to the bottom which is Bronze 10. While this may cause some concern for newer players running into pro-level players on day one, Blizzard addressed that by no longer matching players up based on rank. Instead, they will be using an internal MMR (Matchmaker Rating) to find a player more inline with your skill level. This will (hopefully) keep pro players away from those just starting out and, therefore, allowing newer players to enjoy the game without getting stomped out by Turn 4.
However, if you reached Legend rank, don’t expect to slog through all 50 ranks again. In addition to getting the typical double star bonus from a win streak, you also get a LOT of bonus stars (or maybe a little) based on how high you ranked that previous season. You could, in theory, get up to 20 stars with a single win if you played well enough. The higher you climb the ladder with this bonus on, the more it will decay. Eventually, the bonus will disappear either shortly before or at the previous rank you reached, making it a faster climb to get back to the top once again.
Rewards are reworked to being instant… to an extent. Now, you get your card back instantly after 5 wins. You also get immediate awards for reaching a new rank for the first time as well as for hitting Legend which is a random Legendary card. You will still return on the first of the month to claim your chest but gone are the small amounts of dust you used to get. Now you get rare cards, epic cards, and card packs!
April 2, 2020
Ashes of Outland Prologue Adventure
This is a free adventure that everyone can play that tells the story of Illidan Stormrage from when he was a mage up to when he became a Demon Hunter. When you complete this prologue, you will unlock Hearthstone’s 10th hero class (and first-ever new class in the game’s history) the Demon Hunter! Of course, the hero for the Demon Hunter is none other than Illidan Stormrage!
It should be noted that the Demon Hunter class is completely FREE to everyone! The Demon Hunter is also unique in the fact that its Hero Power only costs 1 mana versus all other classes which costs 2. The reason behind this is that it grants your hero 1 attack that needs to be piled on top of either weapons or other cards to buff your attack because this will be the main way you will be removing minions. Demon Hunters have zero removal like Polymorph, Assassinate, Shadow Word: Death, etc, etc. They do have AoE cards but if you don’t draw those, going face to minion is going to be your method of removal if you wish to preserve your minions on the board.
Just like Rogues have Combo, Shamans have Overload, Druids have Choose One, etc… Demon Hunters are getting their own unique Keyword called Outcast. Cards with the Outcast tag will trigger a special or additional effect if they are played from your left-most or right-most position. So, in order to get the benefit, you would need to play the card as soon as you draw it, have two cards in your hand both with the Outcast tag, have it as the only card in your hand, or wait until your Outcast card moves all the way to the left, forcing you to play cards you’ve been holding onto.
Here is an example of a Demon Hunter card with Outcast.
Since the Demon Hunter is a new class to Hearthstone, they will start out with 45 cards this expansion. 15 more will be added with the second expansion and another 15 with the third, giving them a total of 75 cards by the year’s end. This is up slightly from the normal 10 cards that each class receives in order to get Demon Hunters to a place where they can feel competitive against other established classes without falling too far behind.
Demon Hunters, as far as playstyle is concerned, are thought of in three ways: Weapons + Aggro, Minion Swarm, and Control w/Big minion finishers.
April 7, 2020
Ashes of Outland Launches
Now we finally get to the meat of this update! The actual expansion! There will be 135 new cards (120 + 15 Demon Hunter cards). In addition to Demon Hunters and Outcast, we have two new minion types for this expansion coming!
Prime Minions: These are Legendary cards that have a Deathrattle. When they die, they go back into your deck and become a Prime version with more powerful effects.
Imprisoned Demons: When played these minions will be dormant. After a predetermined number of turns they’ll unleash a powerful effect.
To check out everything that was changed, nerfed, buffed, nerfbuffed, Hall of Fame’d, and all of the brand-new cards that have been revealed so far, head to the official Hearthstone page for Ashes of Outland here: https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/expansions-adventures/ashes-of-outland/
Blizzard didn’t just talk about Ashes of Outland. They talked about the future! Ashes of Outland is only Phase 1! In Phase 2, there will be a brand-new (yet to be announced) game mode. It was stated that it will have something to do with your card collection.
In Expansion 3, there will be an Achievement system coming to Hearthstone! They also talked about adding rewards to Battlegrounds at some more, more FREE adventures, and mini updates to give people stuff to do every month to month and a half!
Needless to say, this was an information overload this time around and I’m sure that I missed a great deal of it! That’s why Blizzard has all of it detailed on their site I linked above! Lots of great stuff is coming to Hearthstone this year! For now, log in, grab your Kael’thas, make your mage deck with it, and have fun!