The Year of the Phoenix is in full effect, and while most players are still busy with single-player content and resolving the meta of Ashes of Outland, Team 5 just yesterday announced Hearthstone’s newest upcoming expansion, Scholomance Academy!
Especially with the last extended announcement trailer for Ashes of Outland, the Hearthstone development team raised the bar by quite a lot – production value, excellent method-acting, and tons of Warcraft as well as pop culture references. Due to the current global pandemic caused by COVID-19, Team 5 had to rearrange plans to do an extensive shooting and adapt to the work-from-home situation. But in the end, the exceptional circumstances we all have to live with are making the Scholomance Academy announcement trailer so much more special and relatable – not last because we see tons of possible hints hidden away on Kel’Thuzad’s old laptop.
Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the data structures, file names, chat logs, and glitches seen on Team 5’s hardware support online meeting!
Let’s start with what is shown at the beginning of the trailer: Kel’Thuzad’s desktop. We will learn about some of the stuff lying around during the presentation, so let’s start with things we didn’t hear about at all:
MrB_Cute.im/MrB_Sleeping.mim/CatBackground.im: Everyone with a cat has pictures of their cat on their desktop. Kel’Thuzad and his dear Mister Bigglesworth is not an exception!
MageSummit.mim: This one’s interesting. This could be a memory of old times, back when Kel’Thuzad was part of the Kirin Tor in Dalaran, or is a promotional trailer for an upcoming event called the Mage Summit?
CultAddress-1232.mim: Most likely a shot of one of Kel’s speeches as the leader of the Cult of the Damned – but what does 1232 mean? Are we talking about the 32nd of December? A special New Year’s Eve cult party? Who knows!
DevTeamPic.im: Maybe a Team 5 employee used this laptop to transfer data? Or maybe Kel’Thuzad was into development?
IMG_Naxx_103.im: As we all know, Kel’Thuzad ended up being the Lord of Naxxramas – and that picture right there might have been the first look on his future real estate!
Dear_Anub.scrl: This text file most likely includes correspondence between Kel’Thuzad and Anub'arak, a crypt lord and king of the nerubians. In the short story Road to Damnation by Evelyn Fredericksen, Kel’Thuzad manages to make it through Azjol’Nerub and Naxxramas thanks to Anub’arak’s help, who was a high-ranked lieutenant of the Lich King back in the day. He also was featured as a Rogue legendary in the beloved Grand Tournament set back in 2015.
Last but not least, Kel’Thuzad’s desktop features a very unique messenger, including correspondence with several lore figures that crossed his path in the history of Warcraft. During the video, we can see a chat log between him and Yogg-Saron, Hope's End that reads as follows:
Kel’Thuzad: What? Bow down to whom?
Kel’Thuzad: The god of death is a Murloc?
Kel’Thuzad: Alright, well I really don’t know who you are, sorry, this is very random.
Yogg-Saron: All souls can be devoured! There is no escape!
Kel’Thuzad: Well that’s something I can get behind.
Kel’Thuzad: Tell me more about this devouring of souls …
Yogg-Saron: The fish know all the secrets …
Kel’Thuzad: Fish? I don’t have time for these games, give me knowledge or leave this chat!
Yogg-Saron: All that you know will fade in time, bow down before me to gain what you seek!
In canonical Warcraft lore, Kel’Thuzad was primarily the right hand of the Lich King and never had anything to do with Yogg-Saron and the Old Gods directly. However, the Old Gods are the source of corrupted magic, and thus may have been involved with KT’s love for necromancy in the first place. The only “real” homage to Warcraft in this chat is paid by Yogg-Saron, mentioned the all-knowing “fish” – a reference to N’Zoth, another Old God, and one of the antagonists of Warcraft’s current Battle for Azeroth expansion. In the cinematic trailer “Warbringers: Azshara” we learn about the fate of the naga queen, who was influenced by a talking fish that turned out to be N’Zoth himself.
Besides talks about Old Gods, we hear Kel’Thuzad speak about a murloc being the God of Death – this pays homage to a wide-spread discussion about the origins of Sylvanas’ evil plans that has been held within the Warcraft community over the last few months.
Kel’Thuzad’s Folders and Files
Driven by curiosity, Alec, Liv and Dave sift through Kel’Thuzad’s files to find more information about his secret academy inside of Scholomance. Besides more off-topic folders like “MrB_MealPlan” or “NewBannerDesign“, we can also extract valuable input regarding the future of Scholomance and Hearthstone. The first shown main folder includes folders called “TappingOldGodPower” and “SummoningForDummies” – both clear indicators towards Kel’Thuzad’s intentions of bending the laws of common magic.
What most people don’t know is that Kel’Thuzad was kicked out of the Kirin Tor. He once was a member of the Council of Six, a group of the most powerful mages who led the magocracy of Dalaran. He has always been attracted by the dark side of magic, and the Lich King was informed about this weakness, thus calling and recruiting him through “mental summoning”.
Back to the folders: The most interesting sub-folder to this point is called “DMFaire_SchoolBooth“. What looks like plans to attend Warcraft’s most famous fair and show off the academy’s most recent magical findings could be the first of many bread crumbs leading towards the third expansion of 2020. As we have already stated in our annual expansion teaser analysis, the third teaser picture blatantly hints towards an expansion around the Darkmoon Faire.
Another very promising folder name is “Naxx_Reno“- will Reno, member of the League of Explorer and self-made blue dragon, be involved in future Naxxramas content?!
In the next folder shown called “Academy“, we are treated with some shots of Scholomance’s environment, as well as the academy’s brochure:
The introductory text mentions that Scholomance believes “that no magic is off-limits”, referencing the ignorance of the Kirin Tor who wrongfully expelled Kel’Thuzad – at least that is what he likes to think.
The trio infernale of Team 5 continues to browse the directory and reaches the “Research” subfolder where several folders and files are stored:
TheOldGods.scrl: This could be it! The pamphlet that proves Kel’Thuzad’s ties to the Old Gods. What lore nerds would pay for reading through this text file, oh my!
Arcane/CurseRemoval: Teaching the art of arcane magic implies that KT still acknowledges the “usual ways” of using magic which include the removal of curses, giving a clear indication that we’re living in a timeline before Scholomance’s inevitable corruption.
3feFFr%*.crpt: I’m at my wit’s end with this one. At first sight, it doesn’t really make sense. I hoped it would be an exact hexadecimal number, but that’d only apply to 3feff, which translates to 261887. That again could be a spell ID from World of Warcraft, in this case the Warrior ability Overpower – a far, far, FAR stretch if you ask me!
TeachingRules: The folder name says it.
S$%%tches.crpt: Another corrupted file! The file name could point towards a famous Warcraft NPC called Stitches. This abomination roams the streets of Duskwood and terrorized leveling players in the Alliance zone. Abominations are a common sight in Naxxramas, Kel’Thuzad’s future home turf.
Nefarious: Nefarious … Nefarian … Deathwing! Old Gods, Lich King, and now the Worldbreaker? Could it be that KT tries to cover all evil bases in the Hearthstone universe?
UndeathAndYou.scrl: Scholomance Academy lives in the past, and eventually, Kel’Thuzad will turn into an undead lich – maybe these were first-hand reports by other undead for KT’s private studies?
Thaddeus-2.0_Windfury.crrd: Remember when we were talking about abominations? Thaddius is the very worst of them, and Hearthstone might remember the 10-cost 11/11 monster that was summoned when Stalagg and Feugen died in the same game. By the looks of it, Thaddius will retury with card text involving Windfury!
Y’Sha*$jm#ntidt.crpt: This card file seems to be heavily corrupted as well, and the first few symbols imply thatY'Shaarj, Rage Unbound, one of the Old Gods, might have something to do with it. The second part of the file name could include the word “mantid”. These insectoids from Pandaria worship the dead Y’Shaarj up to this day – maybe this means the return of Xaril, Poisoned Mind? After a possible art spoiler by Jim Nelson depicting a mogu guardian, this is the second hint towards possible content from the lands of Pandaria.
LeadWithTrust.mim/Cult_101.mim: Even the most persuasive archmage needs inspiration to lead an actual cult, right?
ClassromFurniture/ProposedCourses: I sincerely hope that these are not KT’s secret folders full of sexy ghouls …
BurningLegion_Hist: I mean, who exactly would be surprised that Kel’Thuzad studies the Burning Legion? All this hints towards an evil master plan, that’s for sure.
El3m3%%l.crpt: While Kel’Thuzad is still a mage, summoning elementals is certainly not his special skill this time around. However, the name implies that an elemental card hides behind this corrupted file!
The folder ends with a subfolder called “Spellburst (Dangerous!)” that contains information about Scholomance Academy’s new Spellburst mechanic. Luckily enough, Dave misclicks and shows a subfolder called “Cat Toys“:
It looks like Kel’Thuzad wants Mister Bigglesworth to have only the most exotic squeaky toys – and he should get those from Dollmaster Dorian’s catalog, everyone’s favorite Hearthstone toymaker!
Next off, Team 5 looks into the NewEnrollments folder, where one corrupted text file catches our eyes: Po$%ialDa#m^ed.scrl. Maybe this one talks about “potential damned” and got corrupted by the Old Gods? The plot thickens.
The next subfolder, OrientationPacket, includes the following files:
The first interesting bit is the mention of Snaxxramas-Menus, which could be the cafeteria of Scholomance Academy? It’s also a common meme in the Warcraft community and also a part of the Overwatch map called Blizzard World. Another text file that looks intriguing is DarkmoonFaireTrip.scrl, another strong hint towards the upcoming expansion!
The next subfolder where Liv, Alec, and Dave learn about the new and certainly very unique card Transfer Student also includes different semester subfolders – with one folder clearly standing out: Emerald_Semester. We don’t really know what this means yet, but the word “Emerald” triggers all kinds of desires within the hearts of Warcraft nerds, mainly revolving around the Emerald Dream, the parallel and untouched spirit world of Azeroth guarder by Ysera – a theme that is still up for use in terms of expansion content for both World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.
The Rattlegore Glitch
After a hectic call between Dave and Wretched Tutor and a quick glimpse at a chat between “Kelz” and Anub’arak showing their weekend plans, he downloads and opens a corrupted file. Rattlegore, the first Legendary card revealed, appears as the virus contained within the file – but there are also numerous other cards and bosses shown during the glitch happening on the screen. Here is every single one of them:
All these 19 cards have their history in Hearthstone – may it be as bosses in the Curse of Naxxramas, Hearthstone’s very first adventure, as protagonists and their minions of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, or as part of the League of E.V.I.L. in the last Standard Year of the Dragon. The one that clearly stands out and was only seen for a fracture of a second is Archmage “Tony” Antonidas, who was Kel’Thuzad’s close friend during their time in the Council of Six.
The presentation of these cards during the Rattlegore glitch didn’t happen without a reason, and Liv’s not-so-low-key thirst for EVIL cards during the video also implies that something really, REALLY bad will happen during the Scholomance Academy expansion – and maybe it is Archmage Antonidas who will help us against Kel’Thuzad and his evil partners in crime.
Last but not least, the 20th image shown during the glitch shows card art that we haven’t see in Hearthstone yet:
I knew I saw that card art somewhere before, and Mister Stonekeep quickly found its source: The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game! The Blastenheimer 5000 Ultra Cannon was a card printed for the Darkmoon Faire expansion, and up to this day, it is one of the most known “rides” of the Darkmoon Faire. If that’s not the clearest indicator towards the next expansion, I don’t know what else is!
In the end, we really enjoyed the scavenger hunt for hints provided by this incredible announcement trailer, and we hope to get more content that leaves trails of Warcraft-related bread crumbs in the future! Did we miss something? What are your interpretations of the corrupted file names? Let us know in the comments!
Really interesting article! Thanks for putting all that time and effort in writing, speculating, pondering, etc. about the new expansion. I never played WoW (too busy working six day weeks in the day), so I really enjoy learning about the characters in WoW and the lore/history.
Same here!! Cool presentation and nice work!
Looking forward to the ride
Thanks to both of you! We’ll meet at Darkmoon Faire when the time is right! 🙂