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Having already revealed that they would be making a few adjustments to the game, Blizzard detailed out some of the content that players can expect in Hearthstone as part of the new year’s content. Dubbed “The Year of the Mammoth”, the new content will include new ways to play and overall improvements to the game, and obviously new expansion cards.
In order to keep things fresh with the game last year, Blizzard introduced a new way to play; Standard or Wild. Standard allows players to only use the most recently released cards, obviously including the core cards of the game, while playing Wild includes everything else that came before. Those added to the Wild format will become part of the Hall of Fame Set, which will initially include three of the six Classic cards considered to be powerful neutral cards that, “show up in many decks and reduce the chance of new cards having an impact”.
Our overall intention with Standard is to keep the game feeling fresh for all of our players, and to allow newer players to jump into Hearthstone quickly, without collecting lots of cards to build a competitive deck. Standard also gives our developers more freedom when designing new cards for the future.
Standard, according to Blizzard, gives their developers more freedom when they sit down to come up with new design ideas for cards. “However, over the course of the Year of the Kraken, certain cards in the Classic set have contradicted these goals. When cards show up too frequently in decks and are considered auto-includes, deck-building becomes more limited. Deck variety stagnates, potentially interesting build-around cards fall by the wayside, and the gameplay experience begins to feel less dynamic. Most cards should feel like situational additions to a deck, depending on the deck archetype the player is trying to build.”
Blizzard wanted players to be able to disenchant Classic cards that will be making their way to the Hall of Fame set to allow for full dust refunds. But in order to keep away from “incentivizing players to dust their cool Wild cards”, they opted to just give players the dust while also allowing them to keep the cards. This means that,
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.
Year of the Mammoth will also be seeing a new release cycle that will include a 130 card expansion at begin the year, middle of the year, and end of the year. “Cards will be acquired via packs like other expansions in the past; additionally, each release will include optional single-player missions that will help develop the expansions’ thematic narratives and offer fun challenges”.
All these changes won’t be implemented until the second expansion rolls around, so basically the middle of 2017. Prior to this first expansion being released, Bethesda has planned out a bunch of little extra events to support its launch. Players will get daily login rewards such as dust, gold, and expansion packs for a limited time. They will even be offering up a “few other surprises in the weeks before launch to blaze a trail for everything our next expansion has to offer”.
The blog post didn’t reveal any specific dates for when exactly these expansions would be released, though it would seem that the best option is to sit tight and try not to look at the clock every minute.