Blizzard has announced its plans for the next Standard rotation of Hearthstone, which include retiring three high-profile Classic cards.
In a recent press briefing, Blizzard confirmed that the next Hearthstone expansion will mark the start of the 2018 set rotation, entitled The Year of the Raven, meaning all cards released before 2017 will only be playable in Wild formats. This includes cards from the following expansions: Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. (Blizzard has yet to announce details on the next expansion.)
Alongside the 2016 expansions, Blizzard will be retiring three Classic cards from Standard play: Molten Giant, Coldlight Oracle, and the Mage Secret, Ice Block. Molten Giant will also be returned to its original form (20 Health), allowing Wild players to experiment with traditional archetypes like Giant Handlock.
The removal of Ice Block in Standard play will most definitely cause a dynamic shift in top-tier play, as Mage archetypes have long relied on the card’s ability to stall an opponent’s assault, sometimes completely nullifying their endgame tempo. Secrets are often abominated by Hearthstone players for their deceptive nature and, especially in the case of Mage Secrets, the preponderance of opportunities allowed for drawing or playing them at no cost (minions like Kirin Tor Mage allow the player to play a Secret at no cost, while Arcanologist lets you draw a Secret out of turn). Needless to say, the retiring of Ice Block will be accepted graciously by many.
Once The Year of the Raven kicks off, players who possess the three Hall of Fame cards and choose to keep them will receive their full Arcane Dust value as if they were disenchanted.
Blizzard also announced a new system which will allow players to host their own Hearthstone tournaments from within the game. A beta is planned for the tournament system for later this year.