Hearthstone Is Getting Some Big Changes (And More Deck Slots)

Hearthstone Is Getting Some Big Changes (And More Deck Slots)

Blizzard is overhauling some core features of Hearthstone, adding a new format to their addictive digital card game and, perhaps most importantly, giving players more deck slots. In short, Hearthstone multiplayer games will now be separated into two modes. There's "Standard" mode, which will require players to use decks built from cards released in the "current and previous calendar year" as well as Basic/Classic packs. Right now that list includes the expansions Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers.

There's also "Wild" mode, which is essentially the Hearthstone we have now: any card from any expansion pack.

You can read more about the changes over at battle.net. Blizzard's designers hope that this new Standard mode — which will be the default format for competitive Hearthstone play — will help ensure that the meta-game doesn't get too unbalanced and out of control.

Blizzard also says that before this Standard update goes live in autumn, they plan to double players' deck slots, finally addressing one of the game's most-requested features. When that buff hits, every player who has unlocked all nine heroes will be able to juggle between 18 decks.


    So my shade of naxxramas is out?

    Can someone with more TCG experience please explain the reasons for excluding older cards?

      There are two reasons really.

      1.) It allows the creators far more control over the "play experience". By having a more limited card pool, they can try and minimize any "unexpected" card interactions that may pop up. It also allows them to control any problematic cards by letting the "cycle out". This also applies to dominant strategies to cycle out as well. This stops a format going stale.

      Or more cynically

      2.) By printing more cards, it renders your current deck useless as it cycles out and forces you to buy more packs to get cards to build a new, "legal" deck.

      It's a standard rule used in most offline TCG tournament play, particularly Magic: The Gathering. As the range of cards increases with new expansions, it becomes more and more difficult to ensure that they all work together smoothly and don't create strange or unbalanced conditions. Also a factor is that most physical TCG tournaments use draft play (ie. opening new packs and distributing the cards in them to players under certain rules), which can only really be done with packs that are readily available, which limits them to recent releases. Other beneficial side effects are that it tends to keep deck strategies fresh and interesting, and overpowered mistakes from previous expansions get filtered out of the rotation eventually.

      (Source: I used to be an MTG tournament judge.)

      As for why Hearthstone would do it as an online game, the first reason is probably the main thing: minimising the range of allowedw cards makes it much easier to maintain balance and provide a competitive experience. Any long-time Hearthstone player will remember that before Grand Tournament, the top decks were dominated by face hunters and patron warriors, which makes the experience bland, repetitive and frequently frustrating. Being able to filter out Grim Patron, for example, eliminates that type of deck from competitive play after a certain amount of time and forces players to come up with new strategies to win.

      Basically, if you just let every player use every card ever printed at once then the game gets bigger and bigger and bigger and harder to control as new cards are released that might have unexpected interactions with old ones. For example, Warsong Commander had been around for a long time and had been problematic several times, but it was the release of Grim Patron that finally drove it to the point where Blizzard felt they had to destroy it (not saying it was a good decision, mind, that was the most RETARDEDLY excessive nerf ever). Basically, as long as there's no "current format" play like this then Blizzard need to take into account every card they've ever released when designing new ones because of the concern about unexpected interactions with cards that they'd forgotten about.

      I can only say it's a good thing, especially since they're retaining Wild mode if you want to play your full collection. For one thing, Mysterious Challenger decks will basically be almost useless in the new Standard mode because not only are they losing Avenge, they're also losing Divine Favor. And secondly, can you imagine a meta without Dr. Boom? What a wonderful thought!

        And secondly, can you imagine a meta without Dr. Boom? What a wonderful thought!

        Amen to that!

    This was inevitable to be honest. The barrier for entry was becoming far too great for new players, now they need only focus on the current 'Standard' sets to be competitive. Also, decks utilising all expansions and adventures were becoming far too efficient to the point where if you didn't draw exactly what you needed against them, there was no coming back.

    I like this change and knew it was coming. Unfortunately this news will also result in the vocal negative fanbase (not all of them, just the whiners) against these changes even though they make perfect sense.

      I can totally understand the feedback. But fortunaty at least Blizzard is allowing those players not interested in Standard to play "Wild". It's like Magic players who quit standard in that game who got tired of games of "Creature: The Tappening" that standard became.

      Less about making it welcoming to new players (could've been just as easily accomplished through discounts or special bundles which hasn't happened once since the game launched).

      More about making sure Blizzard can force players into purchasing about (I think PC Gamer did the math on this) 350 packs per expansion as older more stable cards are drafted out.

      I appreciate Magic has this system as well but Magic you have the freedom of purchasing second hand rare cards for a fixed cost. With Hearthstone there is no fixed cost. Cards being turned into dust is an average of 50 dust for a single pack and legendaries cost 1600 = 32 packs and rares are 800 = 16 packs.

      On paper they just tripled their ability to make money and someone in design and finance just got a big fat bonus.

      The game mode is what the game needs; but it also needs a massive revamp of the in-game economy to make this new game mode viable which Blizzard have shown they don't mess with historically.

        Minimum dust per pack is 40 (1 rare, 4 commons). And I think you meant epics at 800 dust, not rares.

        Yes this encourages more pack purchases with new releases. But honestly I feel this benefits Blizzard and the players. Discounting should have happened at some stage too, I agree. But heavily discounting the expansions to avoid them rotating out doesn't solve the issue of card bloat which the game has been approaching for a while now. The issue with card bloat is that new expansions become less meaningful because the top tier cards remain in play whereas only the best of the best from the new expansion become part of the meta. Case in point, which cards do you see often from TGT? Only Mysterious Challenger and Darnassus Aspirant really (arguably, I accept). Rotate some previous expansions out and more cards will see play, the meta will change and remain fresh more often. This is healthy for the game.

          Sorry yep in my head orange is 1600 and purple is 800 =P I forgot the labels blizz whacks on the colors.

          As someone who plays a few ranked matches a day I don't want to be forced into a meta where it's more than likely Secret paladin's are going to be overplayed together with Freeze mages. The current meta while can be argued has card bloat is one of the most diversified I've seen since the game launched.

            Yeah the current meta is actually quite good I agree, better than it's been in ages. It will be an interesting transition moving to Standard format. I feel the meta will change massively and am hoping the variety will be there too i.e. no obviously OP decks or classes.

            Regarding Secret Paladins - the move to Standard format will essentially kill that deck. It will will lose Shielded Minibot, Muster for Battle, Avenge, Piloted Shredder (run in midrange Secret pally), Dr Boom, Haunted Creeper and maybe some others I'm forgetting about. That's a severe loss of early game, and the loss of Avenge will greatly hurt the Mysterious Challenger too. Freeze Mage is a different story, I think that will become the dominant Mage deck with the move to standard as it doesn't lose much apart from Mad Scientist.

            I fear for Rogue with this change though. They're gonna lose Oil archetype, and that's really the only 'competitive' deck they have right now. The Standard format will be implemented with the release of the new expansion, so I really hope there are some excellent Rogue cards there.

              I've actually been running death rattle rogue and it does well in the early ranks however is out tempo'd in legend. That said it's basically a dead deck now :(

              I think Shaman and Druid are going to be in bad places in standard as well. Chances are we'll see a resurgence of meta decks from classic Hearthstone with new xpac cards added in to boost tempo until everyone get's accustomed to the new system. Control Warrior is another archetype that's going to do well, that said this new standard meta might just provide enough of a slow down for inspire decks to make a stand.

              However without antique healbot and sludge belcher aggro decks have some pretty free reign now.

        Average dust per pack is around 100 based on a lot of meta analysis. One I looked at just earlier was on just under 500 pack sample data and came out at 105 dust per pack. It's enough to buy 2 commons or a rare per pack, an epic every 4 packs or a legendary every 16. Packs don't have to be bought with real money either, you win them as rewards for arena play or season play, or you can buy them with gold.

        It'll certainly change the economy, but I don't take the cynical view that Blizzard is doing it to pad their pockets. There are tons of guides on no-buy decks that are quite successful and I don't expect that to decline much. The skill component of the game is greatly underestimated by a lot of people who think it's entirely driven by luck and card availability.

        Last edited 03/02/16 11:52 am

        Realistically anywhere between 50-100 packs, and dust, is all that's needed to get the good/viable cards from an XPAC.

    All i really wanted was a nerf to Shielded Minibot.

    Fuck that card man, like really...

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now