Year of the Gryphon is Coming! Roadmap, Expansion Teasers, Yearly Standard Rotation, Classic Format, Mercenaries, New/Returning Players Experience Update

It’s official – 2021 will be a Year of the Gryphon. And it’s going to show up in style, with the biggest Hearthstone rotation to date. A lot of changes are coming – we’ve already covered some of them in separate post, but here’s a quick recap of what we should expect from the new Standard year.


Here’s a new roadmap for this Standard year. To be frank – it doesn’t tell us much. Phase 1 (first expansion) shows all the things announced recently, like Core Set, Classic Format or the new Mercenaries game mode (but we don’t have an official release date for it, so it might get delayed further). There’s also a single “Spell Locked”, which we’re curious about. Is there still something they haven’t announced?

Phase 2 is absolutely standard – there’s nothing really interesting planned for it outside of the regular expansion, updates & events.

Phase 3 is again the same, but with one “Spell Locked”. Given that Team 5 has committed to releasing a lot of new game modes, I suspect that it might be one of them. Assuming Mercenaries release within the next few months, it’s possible that we’ll see another game mode late in 2021 or early in 2022.

Expansion Teasers

We already know that first expansion of the year is Forged in the Barrens. However, so far we don’t know anything about 2nd or 3rd. Or, to be more precise, we don’t know any specifics. What we know is that Year of the Gryphon will feature a year-long narrative, which means that expansions will be connected by their story.

Since the first expansion is Horde-focused, it’s only natural for the second to be Alliance focused. And it looks like the third will mix up both and feature some sort of fight between those two factions.

My guess would be Stormwind City for the 2nd expansion and Alterac Valley (which was a massive, 40 vs 40 war between factions in WoW) as the third one. But, of course, we won’t really know until they’re announced!

Yearly Standard Rotation

Year of the Gryphon will feature the biggest rotation in history. That’s because on top of the regular, scheduled rotation, the entire Basic & Classic sets (so almost 400 cards in total) will also rotate. Here’s a full list of sets that will rotate out:

  • Basic
  • Classic
  • Rise of Shadows
  • Saviors of Uldum
  • Descent of Dragons
  • Galakrond’s Awakening

Basic & Classic will be replaced by the Core Set – a 235 card set that will contain some cards from Basic, Classic, Wild expansion, as well as some brand new ones. Many of the cards will be updated too. Check out a full list of Core Set 2021 cards we know so far here.

The rotation will happen alongside new expansion – we don’t know exactly when that will be yet, because no official dates were given out yet, but I would suspect mid-late March or early April at the latest.

Classic Format & Mercenaries Game Mode

If you’re bored of the regular Standard and want to play Hearthstone in new ways, this is going to be an exciting year.

To boot things off, Classic Format will be released. In this format, the game will be back in its state from June 2014, before the first adventure got released. Everything will be played like it was back then – cards that got Hall of Famed or nerfed will be back, strategies that we haven’t seen in years will be viable again and so on. You can read more about the Classic format here.

On top of that, we’re getting a brand new game mode – Mercenaries. It’s a roguelike experience with permanent progression, mixing PvE with PvP. Players take titular mercenaries through a randomly generated map with different encounters, leveling them up and collecting amazing loot. We haven’t seen any gameplay yet and don’t have a release date, but we should learn more about it soon. You can find everything we know about it so far here.

New/Returning Players Experience Update

We’ll also see some updates to new/returning players experience. Here’s a quick list of changes:

  • Legendary Quest line for returning players will be shorter and award 15 packs now.
  • New players Quest line will be updated, so some of the Quests can be completed in Battlegrounds. Quests will also give packs from the latest expansion instead of Classic.
  • Players will now be able to unlock Demon Hunter just like any other class, without playing prologue. Prologue will be an extra PvE content and award one Demon Hunter card pack for completing.
  • New players will also be able to unlock their Heroes through Book of Heroes solo content. Completing all Book of Heroes missions for a certain class will unlock that class.


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. NotToday
    February 21, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    They can change whatever they want. It will still be a brainless game for aggro or combos little champions. Complete waste of time.
    Hs is dead and buried

  2. Ginnel
    February 20, 2021 at 3:37 am

    So will you still get a free deck for newbies as well as the 15 card packs?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      February 20, 2021 at 7:29 am

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure that free decks aren’t going anywhere.

  3. H0lysatan
    February 19, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    Assuming Basic Fireball got rotated out, and we get the Common version of Fireball, we may gonna have 2 version of Fireball, the free ones, and the old ones.
    And all those old Basic cards should be disenchantable. (probably turned to common cards, both gold and non).
    So, again, it might be a good idea to level your hero to 60 to get all those golden cards. An extra 50 dusts each is gonna help a lot. (if you’re not playing wild that is).
    ~400 cards to disenchant gonna be a lot of work.

    • Ginnel
      February 20, 2021 at 3:36 am

      I’m pretty sure they said for basic you won’t get any dust when it rotates as you never paid for them in the first place.

    • Pandamonium
      February 20, 2021 at 4:29 am

      Basic just goes into legacy set. No reason they’d make them commons. Either way it’ll say uncraftable.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      February 20, 2021 at 7:30 am

      I don’t think that Basic cards will be disenchantable. If I remember correctly, after they rotate out and become a part of Legacy set, they will be given for free to new players after unlocking Wild.

      • H0lysatan
        February 23, 2021 at 7:19 pm

        With the Classic Set joining the Legacy Set in Wild, all Classic cards and their Golden versions will now be craftable and disenchantable. Basic cards and their Golden versions will be granted to all players that have Wild unlocked for free at rotation, as will the normal versions of Demon Hunter Initiate cards (Golden Demon Hunter Initiate cards will still be craftable and disenchantable).

        That’s a quote from Blizzard Core Set announcement.