Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few days, you've probably heard the hype machine starting to hum for the next big Hearthstone update. How many new cards will there be? Will it be themed around the Argent Tournament? Are we getting a new game mode?
No-one really knows right now, although the rumour mill has started to run at full pace. To help you get on top of all the facts, rumours and speculation that are currently doing the rounds in the community, we've put together a handy guide to what we might be able to expect when Blizzard officially reveals the next expansion on 22nd July.
What is the Argent Tournament?
The Argent Tournament was a World Event added to World of Warcraft in 2009. This was during the game's Wrath of the Lich King expansion, and saw adventurers gathering together to prepare an assault against the Lich King. The strongest warriors would be chosen to begin the assault against the Icecrown Citadel, home of the Lich King.
Why might the Argent Tournament be the next Hearthstone expansion?
Earlier this month, PCGamer received a scroll in the mail from Blizzard, hinting at an upcoming announcement for the game. Here's a video showing what they received:
We've reproduced the text of the scroll below:
"Champions are gathering from around the world to witness the next exciting thing Hearthstone has in store. News travels far and wide in search of brave new faces ready to answer the call to arms - Are you one of them?
"Muster for battle and mark July 22 on your calendar. The next bit of news won't come by carrier pigeon - thankfully, we have much better ways of communication now."
This text is thematically very similar to that used in the call to arms for WOW's Argent Tournament patch, and so has set tongues wagging that this is indeed the setting for Hearthstone's next content update.
Will there be a new game mode for Hearthstone?
It seems a little early to introduce a new format for the game, given how recently Tavern Brawls were added to Hearthstone, but it's not impossible either. The Spectator mode that was introduced with Goblins vs Gnomes did much to help tournament creators get the job done, but it's still not possible to create and organise a tournament entirely in-game.
If the new Hearthstone expansion is themed around the Argent Tournament, it's by no means ridiculous to expect improvements to Hearthstone's tournament side. Perhaps we'll be able to set up different competition formats, invite friends, or just have some new formal in-game tools for bringing players together to determine who's the champion.
How many cards will there be in the next Hearthstone expansion?
This is the great unknown. We've had an Adventure in the form of Naxxramas, an expansion called Goblins vs Gnomes, and the Blackrock Mountain Adventure. If the pattern continues in the same fashion, we would expect a similar number of new cards as GvG introduced - around 130. This is all speculative, of course, but the metagame would certainly benefit from a significant influx of new cards right now. An Adventure's-worth of new cards doesn't feel like enough.
Perhaps the Argent Tournament will be something altogether different. It might be a new form of Hearthstone content that sits somewhere between the massive card drop of an expansion, and the moderate increase introduced by Adventures. Certainly this would solve the problem of new players struggling to keep up with the bloating collection of cards in the game.
How would Argent Tournament cards be themed?
Again, we can only speculate at this stage. While it's possible any new cards would relate exclusively to the Argent Tournament, that would be quite limiting if Blizzard wants to create a significant pool of new cards. Instead, it seems more likely that any new Hearthstone content themed around this event would draw from the wider continent of Northrend.
Is the Death Knight Hero being added to Hearthstone?
This is another interesting point that's been picked up by the community. The scroll itself is decorated with red roses, and a signature spell of the Death Knight uses this same icon. The Death Knight class was added with WOW's Wrath of the Lich King expansion, so it's possible we'll be playing with a new Hero shortly.