Year of the Dragon is the upcoming Standard Year! For the first time ever, each expansion of the upcoming Standard year will be linked by a storytelling. Baku the Mooneater, Genn Greymane (as well as Odd & Even synergy cards), Doomguard, Naturalize and Divine Favor are rotating out to Hall of Fame (read more here). That’s already exciting, but the Hearthstone team isn’t done yet!
We have some more interesting news to share. First of all – Year of the Dragon will add a bunch of interesting functions and things that players have been asking for years. On top of that, we’ve played the Single Player content from upcoming expansion and have some details to share!
Smarter Deck Builder
This is might just be the biggest new addition to Hearthstone ever since the Standard format was introduced.
For the casual and hardcore fans alike, Blizzard has overhauled the deck builder to provide a more positive experience. Plenty of players had issues with what the game would put together if you asked it to complete a deck for you, as well as with a rather questionable card replacement tool, and the developers have heard those complaints. Hearthstone is getting a smarter deck builder. What does that mean? Quite a lot actually!
“If you own all of the cards, for example,” Donais explains, “and you go into any class and hit make me a deck, it’ll make you the best deck of that class. Literally the highest win-rate deck of that class.
It gets better though. Let’s say that for some odd reason, you decide you want to use Flame Leviathan, Duskfallen Aviana or another card you have never seen on the ladder. The smarter deck builder will take that into account and build the highest win-rate deck with that card. And you can do this with any combination of cards too!
“If you take the best deck and you subtract some cards that aren’t working for you, it’ll put the best cards in that slot,” Donais says. “For casual players, it turns out people experiment a lot with any given deck. They try out all kinds of cards and we get data for that.”
Donais cites the thousands of threads where players ask how to replace any given Legendary, saying the smarter deck builder is a fantastic solution for it. No longer will players have to go back and forth recommending alternatives that might not be in the original player’s collection.
The smarter deck builder will start running at full strength about two days after a set comes out. Before then it’ll still function, according to Donais, but it might not be working as well as expected (since it might not have enough data to work on yet).
Random Card Backs
While not as important as the smarter deck builder above, this is a feature that’s been asked about for ages. Random card backs are finally here!
If you want to play with a different card back every game, boasting all of the flashy ones you’ve got through the years of playing, you will no longer have to stick to a single one or change it manually every game.
Once the update is live, you will find a “Random Card Back” in your collection. Set it as your favorite and you’ll get a new card back each game! Occasionally you’ll even get the exclusive “Random Card Back” itself!
Arena fans have something to look forward to as well! While the game still has bucket systems and the developers will still be making small adjustments as needed, Blizzard is introducing Arena seasons. Arena seasons are two months long and will rotate which sets are available! Tired of a certain removal spell? Maybe next season it won’t be available! Do you like a certain class, but it’s not that great in the current meta? Maybe it will become Tier 1 with a different set of expansions!
Donais says that the biggest reason the development team made this change was just to give players something fresh halfway through the expansion. It also has the side effect of helping hardcore Arena players while not off-putting more casual fans.
“There’s no downside, it’s just upside,” he says. “It’s not that hard for us to do it, so we should do it.”
Arena wins will also start counting towards Golden Hero Portraits once the update goes live. Hearthstone will not be updating these retroactively, however, which means that any wins prior to the update won’t count.
The first Arena rotation after expansion released will contain: Basic, Classic, Curse of Naxxramas, Whispers of the Old Gods, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, The Witchwood, and the first expansion of this year.
Rerolling “Legendary” Quests
While it’s more of a QoL feature, it’s always welcome to see those. Remember the “special” Quests related to new Standard year, single player content etc.? The only way to get rid of them before was simply finishing them. Until you did, they’ve blocked your Quest slot.
Now you can reroll them into a regular Quest. If you don’t feel like playing Monster Hunt with all of the classes, then you can simply get a regular Quest instead!
On top of that, Legendary quests from one expansion will expire with the release of another one.
Year of the Mammoth Goodbye
In with the Dragon, out with the Mammoth. Logging into the game March 25 through April 2 will award one pack from each Year of the Mammoth expansion: Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds & Catacombs.
During the “event”, we’ll also get a special Tavern Brawl (“Brawl Block”), letting players build decks only with Year of the Mammoth cards.
Single Player Experience
While we can’t go in-depth as to what Blizzard has planned for the single-player experience we can promise you that it feels bigger than all of the previous adventures combined. Longtime players will be familiar with the updated format. Chapters (like the ones in Adventures) are back and there are five of them this time around. You’ll start as a Mage and do battle with eight random bosses in each run. After completing your first run through, there’s even more to do. Heroic mode is returning, providing fans with an added challenge. And if you want to spice things up, activate Anomaly Mode for some truly wackadoodle moments!
Countless times I’ve been playing one of the recent single-player experiences, wishing I could just change a few problematic cards in my deck. That bucket I’ve picked might not have worked out well since I didn’t get enough synergy later. Or maybe a combo would be better if I just had one more combo piece. For the first time ever, a non-combat experience is coming to Hearthstone! During your single player journey, you will be able to visit someone who offers you some help with your decks.
If that sounds like a lot to do, you’re right! Thankfully, Blizzard is adding player progression tracking. You’ll now be able to see which chapters you’ve beat on which settings and with each class. Complete Chapter 1 with Mage on regular and you’ll still need to do the same on Heroic and Anomaly. For each class, there are four different starting decks and three different hero powers. You won’t truly be done until you finish each encounter with all of them! There’s just a ton of boxes to check, something that completionists will surely appreciate.
And you’ll certainly want to complete them. Blizzard is upping the number of rewards with card backs and card packs, both golden and standard.
Pricing is similar to the previous adventures, at $19.99 or 2,800 Gold for the four chapters (700g per chapter). The first chapter is free. Each subsequent one comes with two new characters, so you’ll want to double back to complete previous chapters with the new heroes!
The new single player experience will be available in May, a month after the first expansion comes out in April.
If you own all five wings, you’ll also get a new card – Zayle, Shadow Cloak. It works just like Whizbang the Wonderful, but lets you play with five new deck recipes. It also comes in Golden, so your entire deck will be shiny!
Author’s note: For the sake of complete context, I bounced pretty hard off of Hearthstone recently. Thankfully I have Stonekeep to lean on to coordinate freelancers and keep Hearthstone Top Decks up to date. In the past, I’ve beaten the normal difficulty experience in just an hour or two and then never touched it again. This feels like so much more than that. I can easily foresee myself coming back to this again and again, hoping to check those boxes. Now there is actually some kind of recognition for beating each encounter with each class in each mode. I am thoroughly excited to dig deep into what Blizzard is offering. After playing four or five hours of it, I wish I could just log in and play some more right now. That alone should tell you enough about the quality of what’s about to come.