“Whispers of the Old Gods” is coming to Hearthstone on Tuesday the 26th of April and that’s exciting. Different formats are being introduced at the same time and that’s also exciting. New card backs are coming and that’s… expected, but still cool. There’s a new emote and that’s got to be the greatest thing ever. And some Basic and Non-Basic cards are being changed to go along with the formats being rolled out and that’s kind of neutral.
Let’s go with the shiny first. Behold, new card backs:
Nice, right? Those celebrate Halfhill Market, Zul’Drak and Shadowmoon Valley and will be the “Play ranked games to Rank 20 in the season” reward for July, June and May respectively.
“Whisper’s of the Old Gods” is the name of the set and it’s, as the name implies, heavily based on the Old Gods of Warcraft lore. In addition to a few more interesting deck options centering around anticipating an old God coming into play/being driven mad by said God we will also see some Old God themed versions of mainstay cards from previous sets like Corrupted Healbot (more casting cost, bigger, heals for more) Polluted Hoarder (you will probably still mind if he rolls need, he’s also bigger, more casting cost and has his usual Deathrattle effect) and, my personal favorite, Validated Doomsayer. Where in previous sets the Doomsayer was a semi-effective method of clearing creatures off the board (low cost, high health, beginning of your next turn kill all creatures) now he’s a low cost powerhouse that might turn the tide of a game on turn five when on your next turn high attack becomes equal to that high health I mentioned. Since, you know, it turns out he was right about the “doom” after all.
So Blizzard still has lore/mechanics figured out, is what I’m saying.
The formats will make several sets no longer playable in the Standard ranked format. Specifically we’re talking about Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins v. Gnomes. This comes as terrible news for people who invested the gold/real money into getting Naxx and great news to people that don’t like spending money and want that damned Mad Scientist out of the hands of people that do. Currently word is the Naxx cards will be craftable once the patch is live, no confirmed word on whether they will be disenchantable for full price for a short period. And Naxx/GvG cards will still be playable in “Wild” format, the ranking for which will still count toward you getting the precious, precious card backs.
Some frequently used cards are getting updates. This is a regular occurrence and part of what makes an online card game better and worse than a physical one. On the one hand, cards don’t need to be “banned” if they turn out to have a clever game breaking use. On the other hand, your hard earned cards can go from super-playable to almost useless with a patch. We’re seeing a lot of “going to almost useless” in this patch. A few highlights are:
Ancient of Lore – Card draw is down to 1, from two (cost the same)
Keeper of the Grove – Health down to 2, from four (cost the same)
IronBeak Owl – Cost increased to three from 2 (no other changes)
Hunter’s Mark – Now costs a mana (didn’t before)
Leper Gnome – Attack reduced to 1 from two (cost the same)
And the list goes on in that vein but essentially we’re seeing cards that were no-brainers to be included in all decks of a particular type becoming judgement calls or at least far less versatile. It appears Blizzard’s goal is still to get players to use as many different cards as possible.
And lastly, seriously, you guys, a new emote! We’re getting “WOW” instead of “Sorry” and this is the greatest thing! Okay, so it’s also getting mixed reactions. It appears the goal is to create more positive reactions (“Sorry” up to this point was mostly used to passive aggressively compliment the speaker for being great, like “Sorry I just destroyed all you’re carefully laid plans” or “Sorry, not sorry”). I assume they hope that “WOW” will be less difficult to interpret as anything but positive. I think they continue to underestimate the potential for creative negativity in someone who is losing at Hearthstone. I, personally, will appreciate having a way other than “Well Played” to tell someone I’m impressed with what they just pulled off. But I’m just a ray of friggin’ sunshine, so I’m probably a bad example.
In any event all that is coming (checks watch) essentially now, in a few hours at least. So get your iPad’s out and join me at the ‘arth.