Ben Brode Comments on the Standard Rotation – More Classic Cards Could Rotate Out of Standard!

Ben Brode commented on the official Hearthstone forums about the upcoming Standard rotation. One of the maybe surprising comments is that one of the ways they could potentially keep Standard fresh is by rotating additional Classic cards to Wild. This is interesting, because originally most people thought their Classic cards were safe from being rotated out of Standard. Hopefully, Blizzard will give full dust refunds on any of these cards that could be rotated out!

The goal with Standard is to keep the meta fresh for each yearly rotation. There are some benefits to keeping Basic and Classic cards in Standard: Returning players have an entry-point to the new format, and new players experience classics like “Hogger” and “Arcane Missiles” that are iconic and great introductions to the game. People take breaks from Hearthstone, and being able to jump right back in with a few cards you already own and understand makes that experience a lot better.

That upside has a real downside in working directly against the big goal for Standard. It needs to feel different each year, and if Basic and Classic cards are still appearing in large densities year after year, we will not be achieving our goals for Standard.

We knew we weren’t going to get there when the Year of the Kraken began, so we nerfed 12 basic/classic cards, to put more of the weight of the meta into the rotating sets. We always knew we’d have to watch the meta to see if any future changes would be needed when we got ready for the next year of Standard. If things are looking like they are going to be too same-y for that next year, we could see more nerfs, or we might rotate some additional classic cards to Wild, like we did with Old Murk Eye. No matter what, we’re committed to making Standard fresh and exciting each new year.


Given the goal of Standard is to keep the game fresh each year, it’s important to keep a lot of the power of the cards in the expansions, and not in the basic and classic sets. It’s not clear what that balance of power should look like (is it ~10 cards from the basic and classic sets on average?), but we’re currently skewed so high towards basic and classic cards in decks, that we are at high risk for ‘samey-ness’ as the years change in Standard. Buffing Basic/Classic cards *increases* that risk. If the goal is to get more cool cards into the meta, just releasing awesome new cards in expansions should make an impact there, and still keep Standard fresh.


Update: Ben Brode has added some followup comments to this thread on Reddit. He also mentioned that if they decide to nerf or rotate out certain cards then you will receive a full dust refund.

The entire point of classic was to have a stable base set on top of the basic set.

There are close to 400 cards in Basic and Classic. Nerfing a few of them, or moving them to Wild, still keeps a stable evergreen set. Also, that isn’t the entire point of Classic. It introduces players to the game at a slightly lower complexity level. It lays a baseline for generic Warcraft flavor (Hogger, Mukla, etc).

Now you are admitting that retaining classic was a mistake, and instead of rotating it out. We are just going change cards and bend it to where it is no longer a complete set by rotating out random cards and… what!? Just rotate Classic out!

We believe there are real benefits to an evergreen basic and classic set. What we are talking about is very similar to the 12 nerfs we made when Standard launched, to help it succeed in its goals. Standard needs to be fresh each year.


In response to Blizzard not liking that F2P players are using Classic/Basic cards all of the time when making decks:

Blizzard doesn’t like that F2P players are using classic/basic cards all the time and when making their decks so they want to nerf those cards to oblivion in order to force them to spend money/gold on adventures/expansions pack.

That’s just not true. Some players like it when Hearthstone has a fresh meta, where you can explore new deck types. It’s one of two reasons we introduced the Standard Format (the other was making sure new players wouldn’t have to collect every card ever made to be competitive). Wild is going to change a lot less often. Some players like that too. But we have a commitment to keep Standard fresh and ever-changing. We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback that Classic and Basic as they currently stand are a real threat to that.

And then when F2P players finally found a way to reach Rank 1 with a cheap OTK Warrior deck, they decide to nerf Charge while saying “omg guiz u have no idea how gud dis iz!!!11”.

I see you took the time to look up my exact quote! 🙂 We nerfed Charge (the spell) because we knew the upcoming Grimy Goons mechanic in combination with Enraged Worgen and Charge was not really fair or fun. There have always been F2P players at Legend, and there have continued to be since that change.

Almost all cards that get nerfed (or “changed” as Blizzard likes to put it) never gets played again.

Maybe you’re intentionally exaggerating, but you can count ’em and it’s not “almost all”. And not every card is targeted at competitive play. We do intentionally make bad cards. Here’s a video, if you’re curious about some of the reasons why:


Our intention is to keep Basic and Classic evergreen. This does have severe disadvantages if cards from Classic end up making Standard fail at its goal of being fresh each year. It’s feedback we’ve been hearing since the introduction of Standard: ‘This isn’t enough – we will eventually end up in a stale Standard without additional changes.’ And we’ve always said that we didn’t consider our work here ‘done’. If Standard is at risk for becoming stale thanks to the evergreen sets, we’ll consider additional nerfs. This isn’t the first time we’ve said this, and we said it even before Standard launched. We’ve reiterated it over the past year:

Assuming both avenues resulted in full dust refunds of the affected cards, would people prefer:

  • Nerfs
  • Rotation to Wild (like Old Murk Eye)
  • Staler Meta in Standard


There are a couple options here:

  • Leave cards the same and let the Standard Meta be staler than some people would like.
  • Nerf cards and leave them in Standard.
  • Rotate cards to Wild, which should have less change and a higher power level.

Recently we’ve been getting feedback about the first point being a non-starter. What do you guys think? Assuming the other two options granted full-dust refunds for the affected cards, which do people prefer?

I should add this is a general question about all Classic cards and not specifically about Legendaries. We’re not sure which cards would be the right ones to target, if any, just yet.


In response to only rotating some of the powerful Standard cards by greed:

We did this in 2016 when we nerfed 12 classic cards and it made a huge difference in how much the meta was able to change with the release of Old Gods (instead of just continuing to be Druid Combo). New players were able to reach legend without spending money after that change, and I expect that will be continue to be true if we change a few more cards in 2017.


Leave a Reply


  1. Michaelfligo
    April 24, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Хороший ресурс)) Темы интересные и дизайн красивый)

  2. Pablopiola
    January 9, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Seems like a good idea, but… In the end, they don’t care about us as a game community, they just do it to push our wallets.

    Card games are expensive, but when you play a card game like Magic, you pay for a collection item that can be sold when you get bored of it or when you need the money. Instead, when we pay for hearthstone, we pay for data. Data that can be deleted in the future, data that you can’t trade, sell, or… nothing, with a sick crafting system that forces you to destroy 4 cards to get 1. That’s not fair. The only safe place for our collection into the game was the Classic set, and now they want to destroy it.

    If they really wanted to work for a safe environment with a more variable meta-game, and for a more inclusive game for new players, well… let’s try with other strategies. Of course that they can do all the changes they want. They can transfer all the Classic set into wild too, BUT please don’t come with that kind of hipocrisy to tell us that these changes are for the community health. Until they doesn’t stop their greed, all those ideas are nothing but lies.

    With a cheaper game, or a better crafting system, or with the possibility of trade cards with your friends, all of us could try with different kinds of decks, anytime, all of us could try with new strategies, our own experimental strategies, or try with underused cards with big potential (Like Beardo or Lorewalker Cho, as an example), instead of just netdecking because we need to do efficent use of our small collections, and quit the game when new expansions comes, because our decks get obsolete (Paladin and Hunter, you’re welcome), without the possibility of real change until new expansions comes, unless we pay-to-win.

    Hearthstone’s sickness is Blizzard’s greed. Nothing else.

    • Jgrhymes
      January 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Yes, it would be disappointing. Any player who has played for a while will have spent a lot of dust (and likely some money) on the classic cards they thought would “always” be relevant. Having said that, we need to keep in mind that there will be a full dust refund. I have spent dust on a golden Rag, Sylvanas, Leeroy, etc…and I would be gutted to see them leave standard, but, if I REALLY wanted to, I could spend that dust on another classic gold card.

      I think they need to be really careful here. If the best cards (or at least the majority of them) are from the expansions and adventures, then I think people would be heavily disincentivized to invest dust and money in those sets. Gold cards don’t appeal to everyone, but it’s always fun to have a few that will stick around regardless of rotation.

      • Pablopiola
        January 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm

        Yes, I know that there will be a full dust refund, BUT… What happens to all of us that use to play in the Wild format too?

        Full dust refund doesn’t fix the problem of banning Classic-cards from standard. It’s not fair in a game that pushes you to spend a LOT of time on it, or a lot of real money if you can’t play everyday, all for get overvalued cards that get useless after a new expansion breaks in. That’s why a lot of new players just quit, and that’s why a lot of players take “breaks” from the game. There’s not enough respect to the “collection” concept of the game.

        • Jgrhymes
          January 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

          You and I share that concern. Like I said, I may not be the average collector, but I just spent a lot of dust to get gold copies of neutral legendaries that see a lot of play. If those cards get nerfed or leave standard I would be pretty upset.

          I also get that wild is a thing, I’m just not interested in playing it right now. That’s a personal preference thing but I think a lot of people feel that way as well. So I have zero incentive to craft a golden legendary from a set that has already rotated out. They’re playing a pretty dangerous game if they decide to hit classic cards or rotate them out.

    • Tiago Sampaio
      January 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Classic cards still dominate because most players cant afford to make all the legendaries when each set comes out.. and by the time they have the cards its rotating again.. Hearthstone is not just a couple streamers and pros, theres many casual players or competitive players who dont or cant afford to buy 40 packs every month or so and even more when the set rotates.

      So productive changes? Make all non standard card full dust value when disenchanting, so we have the option to at least change them all for new ones. Wed still spend cash to get a reasonable amount of legendary and such guaranteeing at least a certain amount of profit from each person without being a bottomless bucket.
      I started playing hearthstone when I sold my magic cards, and I play it because its free, and I did buy some packs to get me started and a couple more when an expansion launches but I am getting tired and its starting to get expensive, plus im still trying to get the legendaries for the new meta and were talking about rotation already.. One of this days Ill quit for good when I cant even make the deck I want to play, diversity is the fun of card games, having card to switch and try and play around is part of it, if you cant keep up with card releases it gets boring fast. So Id say make it easy to swtich the old cards and at least maintain standard decks easy to make for free players or make the packs much cheaper, like half the current price both in gold and dust, or substantial increases in mission gold reward and season end rewards… Make the economy cheaper and it will live stronger, make it more profitable and your falling down the same problem of Magic and other card games which never breaks the niche genre because of the cost involved.

  3. fliprushman
    January 9, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I don’t think the rotation solution is going to be the ideal method for dealing with the auto include core/basic cards. The cards that will be chosen will most likely skew the meta further in one direction over broadening it as intended. Though it is to bee seen what the next set will bring out to replace these cards that would be on the chopping block, lets say that Azure Drake is rotated out, though I don’t see this card being an auto include anymore. That severely weakens dragon decks at this time, not because of the spell damage but because of the cost of the card, the body it provides, and the card draw mechanic. Then it begs the question, why is this card so cost effective? Then why doesn’t it get a nerf to reduce this effectiveness some? Rotating the card out seems just lazy to me and negates the idea that the designers can be held accoutable for the poor design of some of the cards.

  4. TacoRocco
    January 9, 2017 at 6:43 am

    If we are going to have Classic cards shifted to Wild, then we should have some cards shifted to Standard. Justicar is one of those cards because it is such a unique card. Another consideration is something like Antique Healbot, because that sort of heal is what some classes have just been lacking. Personally, I don’t agree with shifting cards out of Classic to Wild because having the base set is one of the things that makes Hearthstone’s rotation unique compared to MTG, Pokémon, etc. If they don’t like a card in Classic, then nerf it, but don’t rotate it out or you might as well just rotate all of Classic out. What if we open a Classic pack and I pull some of those rotated out? It doesn’t make sense to split a pack up like that.

    • CD001
      January 10, 2017 at 5:39 am

      Yeah – I agree that some Wild cards should be moved into Standard play.

      Tunnel Trogg, for instance, is about to leave rotation – granted Shaman is pretty badass these days but it’s just such a good card for the Overloady-Shaman and fits that 1 cost 1/3 slot like Mana Wyrm, Void Walker, Northshire Cleric or Vilefin Inquisitor (which will also leave Standard eventually).

      Bring back Warbot! 😀
      (and make Vilefin Inquisitor Standard and Common like the others)

      … though maybe that’s the point, maybe they’ll be moving staples like Mana Wyrm and Northshire Cleric out of Standard.

  5. Bling
    January 9, 2017 at 1:13 am

    I swear if you take my rag…

  6. David
    January 8, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Just no Legendaries please, I as many of us have have spent countless hours and for me nearly $300 dollars earning the cards I have, I hate when they nerf my hard earned cards.

  7. GoldenPants
    January 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Which cards does he mean?
    Shamen ones surely! Doom hammer is the one.

    • ashaman
      January 9, 2017 at 3:26 am

      He probably refers to neutral cards that are auto-include in many different kind of decks simply because they are OP and not because they synergize with the deck. e.g. Azure Drake is included in many decks and not only in dragon-decks.

      Something similar holds for Bloodmage Thalnos (even though I would hate to see it go).

  8. deepblue
    January 8, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks Ben(!)