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Hearthstone’s Year of the Dragon is coming to an end and Year of the Phoenix is taking its place. Blizzard’s fifth-ever themed year is set to arrive shortly and with it comes a slew of improvements and changes.
A new class is being added to the game for the first time in history – Demon Hunter will be a part of the upcoming expansion. Talking about the expansion, Ashes of Outland set will be full of familiar faces, since we’re being taken through the Dark Portal to the broken world of Draenor. On top of that, Priest class & ranked systems are getting a rework. The game is also getting more F2P friendly with a variety of changes, such as no duplicates in packs at any rarity (previously it only applied to Legendary cards).
But in this post, we’re going to focus on the Year of the Phoenix and Hall of Fame rotation. We have five Neutral cards being moved to Wild, as well as six more Priest cards (Anduin is getting a rework, like mentioned above).
This time around we already know what the first expansion will be – Ashes of Outland launches on April 7. However, we still have no clue about Expansion 2 or Expansion 3, and just like every year, Blizzard released this teaser. If you have any guesses or predictions, share them in the comments!
Year of the Phoenix Roadmap
For the first time, Blizzard has shared a roadmap for the upcoming Standard year. While most of the new stuff happens right alongside the first expansion, we see some interesting stuff ahead. For example, we’ll get a new mode in Expansion 2, and there are still some locked “spells” showing that they still haven’t announced everything that’s coming.
Hall of Fame (March 26)
This year’s Hall of Fame rotation is pretty big. Five Neutral cards are out. And while I have actually predicted three of them (Leeroy Jenkins, Mountain Giant and Mind Control Tech – but honestly those weren’t hard to guess), I was really baffled by the other two. Acolyte of Pain and Spellbreaker are definitely not cards I would put on my “might rotate out” list. Both of them are kind of staples that we’ve seen throughout the history of Hearthstone in dozens of different decks and the metas. And I guess that’s the point. They don’t want to have a powerful Neutral draw engine, for example – they want to control which classes can draw and how quickly they can cycle. As for the Spellbreaker, I think that it might have something to do with introduction of Prime Minions in this set. If those become popular, having an easily accessible, Neutral Silence option might ruin them. Yes, Ironbeak Owl will still be there, but it’s much weaker than Spellbreaker ever since it was nerfed. With Spellbreaker gone, they will also be able to control how much Silence there is in the meta by either printing some Neutral Silence option (but e.g. more expensive) or maybe some class cards.
And back to the three cards I expected to be HoF’d. Leeroy was by far the most obvious one. Not only they’ve been going away from Charge in favor of Rush for a long time already, but for the last few expansions Leeroy was one of the most popular cards in the entire game (right after Zilliax). Classes that Blizzard didn’t necessary want to have access to a finisher like this could use it. It was also probably limiting their design space a bit, preventing them from creating cards that could be used to copy, bounce etc. Leeroy.
Mountain Giant was also kind of to be expected. It was always one of the earliest big threats some decks could drop – especially Warlock builds thank to the Hero Power, but it has seen some play in other classes too. The issue is that an 8/8 dropped on Turn 4 or 5 isn’t particularly exciting to face or fun. Then when you add ways to copy it, such as Carnivorous Cube, Conjurer's Calling or even the good old Faceless Manipulator, it gets even worse, because opponent is forced to remove it at all cost or else he might just lose game on the spot. But it’s not always easy to remove such a big minion so early. It lead to many unfun situations. While Twilight Drake is still there, the difference between 4 and 8 attack is massive. Even if Drake hit you 3 times, it wasn’t the end of the world – you lost 12 health. Giant hitting you 3 times meant that you are nearly dead. While I always loved to play decks like RenoLock, Handlock and other slow Warlocks builds that took the biggest advantage of Giants, I’m kind of happy that it’s gone. At the same time, builds like Handlock will now need much, much, MUCH more to be playable since their main weapon is gone.
And finally, Mind Control Tech. Here’s the thing – the card wasn’t really overpowered, oppressive or anything like that. It was just straight up annoying to play and unfun. It’s one of those cards where one of the players is nearly always upset at the outcome. Most of the “RNG” cards have some high rolls and low rolls, but most of the outcomes are just okay. And given that most of them have dozens or even hundreds of different outcomes, things just average out more easily. But in case of MCT, it’s usually dropped against 4 minions, so there’s 25% chance to get any of them. Since there’s nearly always the “worst” and “best” target since board are rarely full of the same minion, very often one of the player swill get angry at the outcome. Snatch the biggest minion – your opponent will be mad. Low-roll the 1/1 – you will be mad. Additionally, there’s an extra layer of annoyance at play here – it doesn’t feel good to be punished for just playing the game. It’s not like MCT is some specific tech card that only punishes the extreme board flood decks – no. Being limited to 3 minions sucks for most of the decks in game. It feels bad to not be able to drop the 4th minion in fear of MCT. It’s not the case right now, but it was absolutely like that whenever you played against the deck running this card. MCT is just not fun and adds unnecessary RNG, so I’m really glad that it’s gone.
Hall of Fame happens on March 26, alongside the Priest rework!
Priest Hall of Fame (March 26)
There’s also a “second part” of Hall of Fame. Six Priest cards are rotating out in order to make space for new ones that will be added to the game soon. You can learn more about it in our dedicated Priest Rework post.