Get ready to go back to school with Hearthstone’s fifteenth (and newest) expansion – Scholomance Academy! This set is the second to be released in Hearthstone’s Year of the Phoenix and is an adaptation of Scholomance from Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. Within WoW, Scholomance is a rather grim academy where necromancers would study under Kel’thuzad, an archlich and servant of the Lich King. Hearthstone’s developers chose to portray it as more of a typical educational institution, and this depiction fits right in with Hearthstone’s more lighthearted and goofy themes. The trailer gives us a peek into the wacky and perhaps sinister happenings within the college’s halls, and as we get closer to the expansion’s full reveal I’m sure we’ll learn a lot about it. Scholomance Academy will bring 135 brand-new cards to Hearthstone, as well as several new mechanics.
An example of these shared synergies are cards like the new legendary Shan’do Wildclaw, or the new epic spell Devolving Missiles. Shan’do Wildclaw is a dual-class Hunter and Druid card that gives players of both classes access to a powerful effect: strengthen all Beast minions in your deck, or give yourself a copy of a Beast you control. Devolving Missiles gives Mages and Shamans strong control of the board state in devolving their opponent’s minions, which in some cases is better than flat out destroying them.
Both these cards are great examples of the purpose of dual-class: mixing class identities. The “Choose One” mechanic that Shan’ do features is a special keyword that only Druids have access to, which Hunters may now use through this card. Devolving Missiles combines the Shaman themes of evolving and devolving minions with the Mage theme of firing off arcane missiles and disruptive spells. The new dual mage-rogue minion Wand Thief gives Mage access to Rogue’s signature keyword, Combo, while giving Rogues access to Mage spells, and the new druid-shaman spell Lightning Bloom gives Druids the ability to use Shaman’s signature Overload keyword while giving Shamans the ability to gain mana crystals, something only Druids can do.
Dual-Class isn’t the only addition to Scholomance Academy – there’s also a brand new keyword. Keywords are the main mechanic in Hearthstone, giving minions, spells, and even weapons special effects, and every expansion receives its own exclusive keyword. Scholomance Academy’s is Spellburst – a perfect fit for an expansion focusing on the study of the arcane.
Spellburst, as featured on these new minions, is a very strategic keyword. A minion with Spellburst can only trigger their effect for the first spell played after they are summoned. For example. the Diligent Notetaker would return the first spell you played after summoning him to your hand, while Goody Two-Shields would regain her Divine Shield once if you played a spell after her losing it. Wretched Tutor has the ability to do 2 damage to all other minions on the board if you play a spell after summoning her. This keyword can lead to a lot of tough calls – do you want to take immediate advantage of a minion’s Spellburst, or wait and risk the minion being destroyed?
Of course, dual-class and Spellburst aren’t the only new cards being added – Scholomance Academy will still bring plenty of new and interesting effects outside of those mechanics. One of the more notable new cards is the legendary Warrior minion, Rattlegore. While he starts off with 9 Attack and 9 Health for 9 mana, every time he’s destroyed he comes back with 1 less in each stat. So the first time he dies he’ll be resurrected with 8 Attack and 8 health, then 7, then 6, et cetera et cetera. Another interesting addition is the new rare neutral minion Cult Neophyte, whose Battlecry effect increases the cost of your opponent’s spells. This can be quite a strong effect against just about any deck, due to the importance of spells for any class.
Scholomance Academy kicks off the second phase of Hearthstone’s Year of the Phoenix, and Blizzard promises several major updates to the game, from balance patches, to Battlegrounds features, to a whole new game mode! While the expansion doesn’t have a solid release date yet (Blizzard promises an early August release date), players can log in right now to receive two free copies of a Scholomance epic minion, Transfer Student.
Transfer Student has a different effect depending on what board you summon him on, and Hearthstone has 25 unique boards that you can use, so you probably won’t see the same effect back-to-back very often.
You can also pre-purchase Scholomance Academy – for $49.99 USD you get 55 packs, a random golden legendary minion, and the special Kel-thuzad cardback, while for $79.99 you get 80 packs, a random golden legendary, the cardback, access to Battlegrounds perks, four free Arena entries, and the prepurchase-exclusive Kel’thuzad mage hero, depicted in his skeletal archlich form.