Changes Coming to Hearthstone with Year of the Raven

Year of the Mammoth Makes Way for Year of the Raven

Exciting changes are coming to Hearthstone as we say farewell to the Year of the Mammoth! With the start of the Year of the Raven the following sets will no longer be available in the standard format. Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan and the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan will soon be wild exclusive.

On top of this, we will also be seeing Ice Block, Coldlight Oracle and Molten Giant (in it’s un-nerfed form, back to 20 base cost) moving to the Hall of Fame making them wild exclusive as well.

With these changes, a lot of archetypes will disappear and open the way for new decks to rise. The most notable decks leaving standard are the following: 

  • Dragon Priest due to the loss of Drakonid operative, Netherspite Historian, Potion of Madness and Kabal Talonpriest.
  • Secret Mage, which loses Kabal Lackey, Medivh’s Valet, Kabal Crystal Runner as well as Potion of Madness.
  • Murloc Paladin, Losing Grimscale Chum, Vilefin Inquisitor, and Rallying Blade.

With Mean Streets leaving the standard format this removes all types of Jade from the meta of which Jade Druid and Jade Shaman will no longer be playable in the standard format.

Quest Reward Buffs

With the upcoming changes quests will also be seeing a small buff following a pattern Hearthstone has followed over the years, making quests easier and quicker to complete and less like a chore.

All quests currently awarding 40 gold will be buffed to give 50 gold, and some of the longer quests will be completed faster. “Only the Mighty” will now have you play 12 cost 5 minions or more instead of 20, “Class Victory” wins will be lowered from 2 to 1 and “Class Mastery” will be lowered to play 30 class cards down from 50. The rewards for these quests are being left untouched.

Tournament Mode

A Tournament Mode has been one of the most requested features since the early days of Hearthstone, later this year it’ll finally go into beta! I can’t describe how excited I am to finally see this being implemented. No longer will we have to rely on 3rd party sites or worry about our opponents changing decks mid-tournament. Thanks to the deck-submission features announced as a part of the new mode such worries are a thing of the past.

This feature finally becoming a reality in addition to improvements they are making to the HCT format this year shows that the Hearthstone team might finally care more about the competitive environment. Thank you Blizzard!

New Hero: Lunara

With the Year of the Raven also comes a new Druid hero, Lunara. To unlock Lunara, all you have to do is win ten games of Hearthstone in Standard Ranked or Casual mode after the expansion launches later this year.

Also mentioned in the announcement is that once Lunara enters the game you will no longer be able to unlock Maiev Shadowsong, who was introduced last year with the start of Year of the Mammoth. So make sure to unlock her if you haven’t yet!

Arena Changes

With the next patch, there will be a lot of changes coming to Arena! One of the biggest changes will be to the way you draft cards. As it is now the cards are available to draft based on a card rarity system, which often leaves you with certain picks just being stronger than the others regardless of your draft.

In the new system, the cards will be offered on a more “power level” based system. I like the idea behind this change but it remains to be seen how accurate Blizzard’s ratings for cards actually are.

Starting in patch 10.4 your first 10th, 20th and final pick of your arena draft will be guaranteed to be rare or above, though nothing is mentioned about their power level. On top of that it was mentioned that, for now, there will no longer be an increased chance to see cards from the newest expansion.

Arena Unique Cards

Probably the biggest and most exciting change for Arena is the new Arena unique cards coming to each class. The information we have on each class card so far is as follows:

Warrior: Blazing Longsword
  • 3 mana. “Also damages minions next to whomever your hero attacks.”

Not a lot to say about this card. It’s strong but not game-breaking. It’ll make some of the other weapon-buff cards a bit better and will definitely show up whenever you face a warrior or play it yourself in Arena.

Mage: Polymorph: ???
  • 5 mana. “Choose a minion. Discover a new minion to transform it into.”

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the discover effect and as such a huge fan of this card for arena format. While the mana cost is a bit on the high end, the flexibility of this card more than makes up for this.

Hunter: Deadeye
  • 2 mana. “For the rest of the game, your Hero Power can target minions.”

 While this may seem like a weak card, getting the ability to target minions with a 2 damage hero power can be extremely effective in an arena environment.

Paladin: Hand of Salvation
  • 1 mana Secret. “When your second minion dies in a turn, return it to life.”

By itself, it just isn’t that strong, but the fact that it exists will have an impact on Paladin in the Arena. Its main use will be through cards like Hydrologist or together with the occasional Mad Scientist or Mysterious Challenger if arena remains in the Wild format. If it reverts to the standard format, as is planned, this card will likely never get picked and thus won’t see any play.

Warlock: Bottled Madness
  • 0 mana “Replace your hand with random Demons.”

This card is very hard to judge. Since it only replaces the cards in your hand, its random nature will leave this card too weak to be a high priority pick. With the things this card could leave you with however, it’ll make a great story.

Druid: Nature’s Champion
  • 3 mana. “Return a friendly minion to your hand and give it +5/+5.”

These kinds of effects are incredibly powerful. I would even say this card would see play if printed for the standard format. Most definitely pick often when offered, due to the strength of this card and no randomness involved with it either. Big fan.

Shaman: Crackling Doom
  • 0 mana “Deal 12 damage to all minions. Overload: (10)”

Regardless of its incredibly high overload cost, this card is immensely powerful. With card draw being a rarity in Arena, a card that can allow you to make a complete board swing with no mana cost is incredible. Being able to clear your opponents board if you are behind and load up on your turn is really powerful. Even if you lose a turn for it afterward since board swings are so much harder to come by.

Rogue: Smoke Bomb
  • 1 mana “Give a minion Stealth until your next turn. Draw a card.”

On first glance, this card is already fantastic. A one-mana Stealth is reasonable but on top of that, it draws a card which is even better! It doesn’t specify friendly or enemy minion, which means you can also use this card to bypass enemy taunt minions! This card will likely be picked every single time and puts rogue in a much better spot!

Priest: Generous Spirit
  • 2 mana: “Choose a friendly minion. Give it to your opponent and draw 3 cards.”

Once more a very strong card with many uses. Giving your opponent a weak minion and refilling the cards in your hand. Likely the best time to use this would be before you plan on using one of your board clears. Another use is to give your opponent minions they wouldn’t normally want, his card’s synergy with doomsayer is undeniable. In a more common scenario, it is a way to overdraw your opponent with card draw minions or Northshire cleric.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming changes that Year of the Raven will be bringing to Hearthstone?