To encourage more deck variety in constructed playlists, Blizzard is making some big changes to Hearthstone’s Standard format this year, including retiring some popular classic cards.
Once the next Hearthstone expansion drops, the “Year of the Kraken” will end, meaning Standard playlists will no longer accept decks using cards from 2015 expansions and Adventures. This includes cards from the Blackrock Mountain, Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers updates.
The update, initiating the “Year of the Mammoth,” will also omit certain Classic cards from the Standard playlist, relegating them to the new “Hall of Fame,” (where retired Classic cards go to grow old). These cards will still be playable in Wild formats, and to encourage players to keep the cards instead of dusting them (exchanging them for in-game card-constructing currency), Blizzard announced that it will award players the full dust value of any cards going into the Hall of Fame.
Up to the maximum number of cards you could put in a deck, we will give you the full dust value of any cards you have that are being added to the Hall of Fame set. (Yes, that means if you have at least one Golden Ragnaros, you’ll get 3200 dust!) The dust will be automatically awarded upon log-in once the Year of the Mammoth begins.
The Classic cards going into the Hall of Fame set are: Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord, Power Overwhelming (Warlock), Ice Lance (Mage), and Conceal (Rogue).
Classic cards have been in rotation since Hearthstone launched back in 2014, and even earlier through the game’s pre-launch beta. Last year, at the start of the current Standard rotation (titled the Year of the Kraken), Blizzard made some alterations to a few of the most played Classic cards at the time, including the Ironbeak Owl, Big Game Hunter, and the Druid spell Force of Nature. This new implementation of the Hall of Fame denotes a new, more aggressive strategy for Blizzard in attempting to balance the game’s meta and give way for more card variety, especially in top-tier play.
Blizzard also announced that the card release cycle will change from its usual expansion/Adventure pattern to a three-expansion cycle with optional single-player missions released with each expansion. This seems to mean that expansions (which were built as mere card library expansions) and Adventures (less substantial expansions with single-player missions) will be fused into one ~130-card expansion with story-based quests and missions. This new format will begin with the second expansion of 2017.
The Year of the Mammoth rotation shift will begin once Blizzard drops the first Hearthstone expansion of this year. No release window was given besides “at the start of the year.” Whispers of the Old Gods, the first expansion of last year, launched on April 26, 2016.