Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is rapidly approaching its second birthday and Blizzard are about to deploy some pretty sweeping changes to their world-beating digital CCG.
Dubbed The Year of the Kraken, 2016 will see the introduction of two new play formats – Standard and Wild. Standard will be played with a deck made up of cards released “in the current and previous calendar year,” which means everything from the Blackrock Mountain, Grand Tournament, League of Explorers, all your basic and classic cards and this year’s autumn (spring for Aussies) expansion will be fair game. Anything from Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes is off the table. Blizzard’s press release promises a “dynamic and balanced metagame,” claiming that Standard mode will become the official format of the Hearthstone Championship Tour. Using this format will allow Blizzard to rotate cards in and out with each passing year.
The Wild format is Hearthstone as you currently know it, a savage, anything-goes wasteland of unbelievably brutal min-maxed decks, just under a different name. So, business as usual.
This concept of having different formats and game types will be instantly recognisable to anyone who’s ever played other CCG’s before. You can feel the Magic: The Gathering fans narrowing their eyes right now. The idea of having different formats is to put limits on which cards from certain sets can be played in a particular game.
Not content with simply adding new formats and calling it a day, Blizzard are also jumping at the chance to shake things up in other areas of the game. You can all finally stop bellyaching about not having enough deck slots because Blizzard are doubling your carry capacity from the current nine to a total of 18. This is, of course, provided you’ve unlocked all nine heroes in the game. If you haven’t, get to work.
So when can expect all of these changes to start coming in? The standard and wild formats will arrive with the first set of fresh cards for 2016 but, aside from saying they’re coming “this autumn” (which is rather soon indeed), Blizzard’s playing coy about when that will be for now.