Hearthstone shuffles the deck with the Whispers of the Old Gods Expansion.
Hearthstone’s latest update, Whispers of the Old Gods, is a massive expansion of the widely popular online card game. This iteration includes a division of the online play mode, new card mechanics and some core adjustments to classic cards.
By far the biggest update included with this expansion is the separation of the online play mode into two distinct game sets. Wild, is the classic play mode which includes every card every released in Hearthstone and Standard, which is the new format containing classic cards and cards from expansions released in the last two years. The idea behind the split is to enable new and returning players a jumping on point for the game, while keeping its dedicated fan base engaged. In only its third year, Hearthstone already had signs of a game that was quickly becoming inaccessible for new players with several expansions already released and cards from those expansions required to compete in any level of ranked play. By splitting the game modes, Blizzard follows the trend of other prominent card games — most notably Magic — in devising clever ways to keep a core audience, but still have an accessible area for new players to join in.
Whispers of the Old Gods also introduces a new mechanic in the card C’Thun, which every player gets for free upon release along with a few other cards and some free packs. The design is based around boosting the legendary C’Thun with other cards from your deck to deliver a mighty one turn combo when it eventually enters the battlefield. The idea of building decks around one or two legendary creatures isn’t a new one, but never taken to such lengths. There are many intriguing possibilities surrounding C’Thun and many will be waiting with baited breathe as the top players figure out how to best deploy it.
The final piece of the update surrounds several of the most common cards in Hearthstone receiving significant tweaks. You can see the full list of updates here, but there are two of significant note that dramatically alter how the game is played.
The first is Force of Nature, a card used in near every Druid deck and frequently paired with Savage Roar. Previously a six-mana card where three 2/2 creatures with charge would enter play and die at the end of a turn, now the card is a five-mana card where three 2/2 creatures are placed on the board.
The other is Arcane Golem, a basic card used primarily in Zoo deck or FaceHunter decks. Previously a 4/2 with charge, now the card’s health is boosted by two, but loses the charge ability. The link in both cards is the charge mechanic. Charge is probably the most derided card mechanic in Hearthstone by game makers because at its core Hearthstone is a game focused on reactions and counters. The issue with these cards and the charge mechanic in general is that it prevents players from reacting to what’s taking place. Instead you were forced to preemptively play cards, usually something with taunt, to prevent these cards from ending the game. And due to their relatively cheap cost, especially when combined with other cards as buffs, these were game ending actions happening before turn nine. By removing the mechanic, Hearthstone is slowing the pace of play and hopefully enabling other innovative deck types based on late game combos, akin to the types of decks expected to be built revolving around C’Thun. It’s a welcome change for many players, but any card “nerf” is expected to receive some critical feedback.
So will you rejoin the ranks of Hearthstone players, are you excited or disappointed in the changes Whispers of the Old Gods bring? Let us know in the comments below, and maybe I’ll catch you at a Fireside Gathering.