Update: The expansion is live! Have fun!
Murder at Castle Nathria is the second expansion of Year of the Hydra (2022). The Shadowlands is normally where souls go after they die, so when someone dies in the Shadowlands, that’s a special kind of mystery. Sire Denathrius invited 10 of his counterparts and enemies to Castle Nathria for a dinner party so that he could address the malicious rumors that he is hoarding anima, the life-energy that is drained from tortured souls and used to power the Shadowlands. But just after the festivities started, Sire Denathrius was found dead! It seems a gaggle of enemies does not a good dinner party make. Now the illustrious Murloc Holmes, and his trusty sidekick Watfin, have been called to solve the case.
The expansion will add 135 new cards (with mini-set adding 35 more at a later date), as well as a variety of new mechanics and synergies. Learn everything you should know about it below!
Let’s start with the most important – when does the new expansion launch? For years now, Hearthstone sets have had a simultaneous launch across the globe, so Castle Nathria should be out on every server at the same time. However, the time it launches for you depends on where you live – some countries from the Eastern Hemisphere will have it out on August 3 instead of the “official” August 2 release date because of time zone differences. Here are some examples:
- 10 AM Pacific Time on Tuesday (August 2)
- 1 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday (August 2)
- 7 PM Central European Time on Tuesday (August 2)
- 2 AM Korean Standard Time on Wednesday (August 3)
- 3 AM Australian Eastern Time on Wednesday (August 3)
Since the expansion was already pre-loaded a week ago, you won’t need to download a big patch when it launches. It also means that mobile release should happen exactly at the same time as PC. Just make sure to open the game early and download any patches if you haven’t been playing lately.
When new expansion launches, players are usually greeted with some free stuff, like packs, free Legendaries etc. Here’s what we know so far about Murder at Castle Nathria:
- Prince Renathal was given out as a free Castle Nathria Legendary in Patch 23.6. If you haven’t picked him up yet, just log in and he’ll be waiting for you in-game.
- Sire Denathrius is unlocked on Level 1 of the new Rewards Track, which means that you can get it as soon as expansion releases.
- Not exactly “free”, but if you plan to buy a Tavern Pass, you can get a Diamond version of Murloc Holmes on Level 1. While Tavern Pass is mostly about XP boosts and Cosmetics, the extra Legendary you get at the start is also a nice bonus.
- The first few levels of rewards track require almost no XP, so they are meant to be unlocked nearly instantly as you start playing. You will unlock three extra Murder at Castle Nathria packs over the first 9 levels, which you should easily be able to achieve on Day 1 (only 1550 XP is required to get there). You can get even further if you kept your Weekly and Daily Quests to get a jump start into the new rewards track.
New Card Type – Locations
Locations is a completely new card type introduced in Murder at Castle Nathria expansion. It’s the first new card type ever since Hero cards back in Knights of the Frozen Throne.
When playing a location card, you need to pay its initial cost and it lands on the board, where you can use it immediately. Each Location card has a limited number of uses equal to its Durability counter – after using all of them, it disappears from the board. Until it’s gone, it takes the minion slot, but it can’t be damaged or destroyed through regular means (like damage or “destroy” effects) unless the card specifically says so.
There’s a one-turn cooldown between two uses of the same Location. For example, if you play it and use it on Turn 1, you can’t use it again on Turn 2, but it will be usable on Turn 3.
Locations are Hearthstone’s take on “board” or “ongoing effect” cards. They already experimented a bit with those through Objective cards in Alterac Valley, but unlike those, Locations can be used on-demand. You control when you need the effect instead of it triggering every single turn. They’re quite interesting overall and should add an extra layer of strategy to the game.
New Keyword/Mechanic – Infuse
Infuse is this expansion’s new keyword/mechanic. Thematically, it’s based on Warcraft’s “anima”, the essence of souls that get to Shadowlands – it’s a very precious resource in the lore and it acts as the lifeblood of the afterlife world. In Revendreth, where Castle Narthia is located, anima is used for sustenance, currency, and as a power source.
As for how it works in Hearthstone – Infuse (X) means that in order for the effect to trigger, X friendly minions need to die while you’re holding the card in your hand. For example, Infuse (2) means that the card will get upgraded after two friendly minions die.
Infuse can be a healthy mechanic for the game, as it promotes board shenanigans. In order to trigger Infuse cards, you need to play minions, so they will be much less useful in so-called “solitaire” decks that try to play their own game without developing the board.
New Rewards Track
The rewards track, first introduced in Darkmoon Faire, is getting another refresh. When Murder at Castle Nathria launches, all players will get reset to Level 1 and will work their way up through the track again. If you were playing the game last expansion, then you pretty much know everything you need to know, since the rewards track looks exactly the same content-wise (of course, the exact packs, cards etc. you get are different, but they come in the same amounts and rarities). Tavern Pass is a bit weaker compared to previous one, with one Constructed and a couple of Battlegrounds skins less (however, the previous one was the best Tavern Pass we got up to date, so we’re basically “back to normal” – it’s still weird that Blizzard is downgrading the cosmetics a bit, though). And if you weren’t playing the game since their introduction, you can find a full list of rewards in this post.
Your daily & weekly Quests will NOT reset when the new expansion launches. It might be a good idea to save them for after the launch to give you a nice boost through the early levels of the rewards track. The only situations in which I’d recommend finishing all your Quests under the old rewards track is if you have Tavern Pass right now, but you don’t plan to buy a new one after launch, or you haven’t finished the previous rewards track and you’re close to leveling for some good rewards. In the second case, if you want to min-max, try to hit a new level on your current rewards track and stop there because any “excess” XP won’t carry over.
Additionally, I would advise everyone to open their packs BEFORE visiting rewards track and claiming their level 1 rewards. This is because Blizzard has issued a full Dust refund for Golden Sire Denathrius as well as regular & golden Murloc Holmes. The reason for dust refund is that you will be able to get those cards from the rewards track, and it would feel bad to get duplicates. However, now that you can disenchant them for their full crafting cost, it’s actually beneficial to try to open them before getting copies of them from track & triggering duplicate protection. 1600 Dust is always better than a Legendary, because when you have 1600 Dust you can craft whatever you want. So I would recommend opening Castle Nathria packs FIRST, before you claim your Level 1 reward(s). Just keep in mind that if you want to disenchant those cards for their full crafting cost, do it quickly – the refund period only lasts until August 5!
New expansions also come with new Arena rotations. Here’s a full list of sets that will be available in Arena once Castle Nathria launches:
- One Night in Karazhan
- Saviors of Uldum
- Rastakahn’s Rumble
- Scholomance Academy
- Madness at the Darkmoon Faire
- Murder at Castle Nathria
If you have no active Arena run, start one now! If you have an active run, DO NOT FINISH IT! Preferably play until two losses and stay there. When rotation happens, your run will get forcefully retired, but you will get a free Arena Ticket as compensation. Keep in mind, however, that Arena entries usually close a few hours (or even longer) before the expansion’s launch, so be sure to create one as soon as you can. If you’re already seeing the error, I’m afraid that it’s too late.
Returning Players Experience
If you haven’t been playing the game in a while (120+ days to be exact), you might be happy to hear that there are some extra goodies waiting for you once you log in. Returning players get two things – extra Quest Chain with some nice rewards and a free Standard deck of their choice. Those free decks are updated every expansion, but notably DO NOT include any cards from the latest set (so, for example, Castle Nathria decks include cards from up to Sunken City). However, they are a nice start and can serve you early into the new set before you can open enough packs or craft something else.
You can find a full list of decks here. If I were to make some recommendations – Hunter and Paladin are great picks, especially if you haven’t been playing a while. But to be perfectly honest, all of them besides Warrior (because the class is in a pretty bad spot right now) look quite good. And since it’s hard to say how well they will perform in the upcoming expansion, I would just pick based on which class you like playing the most.
New Murder at Castle Nathria Decks
Don’t know what decks to try out when the expansion launches? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Once the expansion launches, we’ll spend the first few days mostly adding new decks from streamers & pro players. We usually start adding new decks roughly an hour into the expansion and post a few dozens of them in the first 24 hours.
You can find our deck lists roundup here. We’ll also be posting them to all of our social media.