Blizzard has a very clear system for how cards are rotated out of the Standard format with each year of play that rolls around. The Basic and Classic cards are always available for this core game mode, but only the latest expansion cards can be used whenever each new annual season rolls around. (We've got a Standard rotation guide if you're not fully up to speed on this.)
The developers have decided to go further than this, however, and have recently announced a new Hall of Fame categorisation for certain cards. This special status will be reserved for those cards from the Classic set deemed to be too overpowered - or restrictive for future design - and so also need to made exclusive to the Wild format.
Not may cards have made their way into the Hall of Fame for this first attempt at rebalancing, but there are some important ones that you need to be aware of. For that reason, we thought it would be useful to maintain an updated page where you can check which Classic cards are no longer available for Standard play. We've also included the developer comments which justify the decision.
Hall of Fame Neutral cards
“Azure Drake is a strong Neutral card that ended up being a bit too versatile, and thus became one of the most played cards in the game. There should be more five drop options for players, rather than considering Azure Drake an auto-include.”
“Similar to Azure Drake, it’s hard to see a card at the six mana cost out-value Sylvanas. In addition, Sylvanas has the most powerful Deathrattle effect in the game—as a comparison, the Priest card Mind Control costs 10 mana. We have exciting Deathrattle build-arounds coming soon, and in combination with Sylvanas, they would be too powerful for Standard.”
“Ragnaros is heavily played in both control and mid-range decks and even shows up as a finisher in certain types of aggro decks. His high immediate value and strength at the eight mana cost made the decision during deck-building, “Is this eight mana minion better than Ragnaros?” rather than, “Is this eight mana minion the best choice for my deck type?” Dozens of cards in the seven to nine mana range never saw play because Ragnaros was always the easy choice in that range, and some decks only want to run one high cost card.”
Hall of Fame Class cards
“Power Overwhelming allows for extremely mana-efficient minion trades or high spikes of damage for only one mana. Keeping this card exclusive to Wild will prevent some crazy combinations and spike damage. Warlock decks also tend to use lots of Classic cards, so the decks changes less when new expansions release. This change will help increase the variety of cards in Warlock decks over time.”
“Freeze Mage is a fun deck that has been around for over three years now, and we’d like to see more variety with Mage decks after each major release. This move allows Freeze Mage to continue existing in Wild, while creating more variety in Standard. Ice Lance also prevented us from making powerful Spell Damage cards and designs that allowed you to duplicate your cards. Ice Lance was also a very high burst damage card, sometimes being a key component of 30 damage combos.”
“Stealth is a very powerful mechanic, and can also be very frustrating to play against—more for some classes than others. Hearthstone should ultimately be a game of plays and counter plays, and Conceal makes it increasingly more difficult for other classes to interact with Rogue minions as time goes on. We considered promoting Gadgetzan Auctioneer to Wild instead, but in the end we decided to move Conceal because Auctioneer has proven to be one of the most skill testing cards in the game. We think the power level of Auctioneer decreases with this change, and games where Auctioneer is played will be a bit more interactive.”