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Analysis: What Blizzard's Hearthstone changes mean for you - Hearthstone

The Doctor is out.

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About John Bedford

John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief, and is responsible for all of the Hearthstone news, features and guides content on the site.

Yesterday evening, Blizzard announced a fundamental change to the way that Hearthstone will be played following the release of the new expansion. After this point, competitive play will be split into two different formats: Wild and Standard.

In the former, you'll be able to use any cards you wish - from the entirety of Hearthstone's expansion history - in order to build your deck. In the latter, you'll only be able to use cards from the Basic and Classic sets, along with cards from expansions released in the current or previous year. There are lots of finer details involved with these planned changes, and we recommend getting up to speed by reading the official announcement and FAQ.

What do we think this news means for the playerbase though, and what impact will it have on the future of the game?

Overall, we feel the changes are a positive step forwards for the community. Hearthstone needs a constant influx of new players in order to both grow and remain relevant, and these sorts of format changes have been hinted at for some time. The card collection paywall for new players has been acknowledged in the past, and these changes feel instinctively like the least disruptive way to solve a large and deepening problem.

In terms of how the playerbase is divided, in the first Year (the so-called Year of the Kraken), we expect both Wild and Standard modes to enjoy a great deal of popularity, with newcomers naturally gravitating towards the latter format. As for our own coverage, we'll be tracking the metagame of both Standard and Wild in separate deck round-ups, with even more deck guides to help you stay on top of the competition - whichever path you choose to travel on the road to Legend.

Once the second Year begins, however, we think the audience will begin to skew more heavily towards the Standard format. It is Blizzard's default "official" mode for the game when it comes to ranking for tournaments, after all, and gameplay balancing will be focused on this area. From this point, we think Wild will become increasingly....well, wild, imbalanced and combo-fuelled. Still fun, in other words, but less crucial to Blizzard's vision for the game, and with a smaller sub-community.

As for the subject of balancing, we're intrigued to see what happens to the Hero-specific and neutral Basic cards that Blizzard has promised will be revisited and refined. With a stated desire to improve the health and diversity of Hearthstone's metagame, are some of the more powerful cards like Flamestrike or Fiery War Axe about to be softened?

This is fundamental stuff for the team to be tinkering around with, and getting these changes right the first time around is crucial if the new player experience is to be protected. It's hard to imagine another window of opportunity for the team to make this kind of dramatic re-appraisal of Hearthstone's foundational cards, and reverting or amending any of these changes will cause confusion and a loss of confidence.

As for losing more and more established and popular cards in Standard format over time, there's something else worth considering. Are we really sure we'll all be as sorry as we think we will to see the departure of Dr. Boom? He may well be the default, recommended first Legendary for players to craft - and that makes for a dull metagame for newcomers and veterans alike - but he also introduces elements of random interaction on the board which add some degree of vitality. Isn't he arguably a symptom of a different problem - a lack of other options for the Mana slot?

In that sense, the proposed changes lay a heavy gauntlet down for Blizzard. If the developers can use this segregation of the Hearthstone audience to create a truly dynamic metagame, and fix these issues of card diversity, it will be an exciting evolution for the game. Otherwise it feels as though the problem is simply being delayed for another day. We'll get the first signs of how the team intends to meet that challenge when the new expansion is revealed in the coming weeks.

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  • kumbertjoehl-lee73 #1 3 years ago
    No this is not fair...if they do such stuff they must and i really mean MUST make a tradeshop where you can trade your stuff with other players...otherwise you won't have a chance to get good cards without spending a ton of moneys...on other physical card games you can at least trade with some friends and other people....this is needed ....if not this game will not get far because a lot of people will get pissed off i guess maybe it is also my own opinion...And if you say it is everything possible to craft with essence okay it is but you must play very hard to get coins..almost three days okay if you play a ton than maybe one day if you play with a class 30games and win them all....and the chance to get a legend is rare and you need 4 legendary cards to destroy to get one you really want.
    (everything in this comment is my opinion and you don't must agree with me and b.t.w my english is bad i know ;p )
  • kumbertjoehl-lee73 #2 3 years ago
    No this is not fair...if they do such stuff they must and i really mean MUST make a tradeshop where you can trade your stuff with other players...otherwise you won't have a chance to get good cards without spending a ton of moneys...on other physical card games you can at least trade with some friends and other people....this is needed ....if not this game will not get far because a lot of people will get pissed off i guess maybe it is also my own opinion...And if you say it is everything possible to craft with essence okay it is but you must play very hard to get coins..almost three days okay if you play a ton than maybe one day if you play with a class 30games and win them all....and the chance to get a legend is rare and you need 4 legendary cards to destroy to get one you really want.
    (everything in this comment is my opinion and you don't must agree with me and b.t.w my english is bad i know ;p )
  • loudmouth32 #3 3 years ago
    In my opinion I am very disappointed. For the past few moths I was really starting to enjoy Hearthstone as a game that seemed much more balanced and creative. Hearthstone has always been that game that I go to when I want to play something that is both laid back and fun but also can be very competitive. In my eyes Hearthstone was really just beginning to come out of it's premature toddler years as a game and enter adolescence. I feel that this is something most other games haven't yet done despite being out for longer than Hearthstone. Look at League of Legends, yes the two games are completely different in play style, but League is a game that has been out for a very long time and is still a cespool or over powered meta breaking characters that never truly find balance. Hearthstone finally seemed to be on the verge of becoming a great game that was fun for all players. As for the argument that it was hard for new players to get into the game that goes for any game in the world that has any sort of expanding universe. That being said it's not impossible to get started. When I first started playing I hated the game. I thought it was way to hard. The game seemed to be this giant mountain of cards that I would never get to the top of. Yet here I am playing on a daily basis with a pretty good idea of how the game works and a pretty good ranking to back me up. I'm by no means the best player but I overcame the fears of being a new player and now place around rank 14 to rank 12 each season. And I've been steadily improving.
  • Bludsh0t #4 3 years ago
    It's a bold move for sure. I hope they offer a double dust amnesty period for people (like me) who just crafted a whole load of new G&G cards. (cheers Blizzard)

    Sure new players was a big problem, and this will definitely help them out, but lets not pretend this is anything other than a big money spinner for Blizzard.

    Until then It takes effect, I guess The Area is fairly pointless. Just save that gold until this goes live I guess

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