In a move that some may have predicted, Blizzard have reshaped Hearthstone’s game formats in order to address a problem that plagues most card games – stagnation.
The new Standard format ensures player’s battle against one another with only the most recently released Hearthstone cards, as expansions that are two or more years old are cycled out of the game. As a result, Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes cards have been removed from the new mode.
Upon the launch of the new Standard format, the only cards that players will be allowed to use are those that were released in 2015 and 2016, as well as the Basic and Classic card sets. As a result, a good number of popular decks within the current competitive scene face retirement or sudden changes, such as Mad Scientist's ban which will cause havoc for most Hunter decks, Freeze Mage, Piloted Shredder, who had been a staple of most decks due to the value of its deathrattle, and everyone's favourite card Doctor Boom, much to the relief - or panic - of most players.
This change will also mean that any adventures that become invalid for the Standard ruleset will be taken away from the marketplace and be classed as retired, as will expansions with card packs. However, this won't render them permanently inaccessible for those who don't have the cards in their collection, as they will become craftable.
For those who find this news horrific, there is also some additional good news. Hearthstone as we know it, will become a separate mode known as Wild, where there are no card restrictions. Both Standard and Wild will have their own separate ladder, but any end of season rewards will take your highest rank from both.
These changes are not due until the currently unnamed expansion launches in Spring, but there is good news regarding the Basic and Classic cards - in the post outlining the new mode, Blizzard said that "While normally we’re quite conservative about making balance changes to Hearthstone cards (and we’ll continue to be in the future), we’re planning to take the new Hearthstone year as a golden opportunity to re-evaluate a number of cards in the Basic and Classic card sets, including class cards, and make some long-considered adjustments. " Cards will be rotated out of the Standard list when the first expansion of the year drops each year, which will be given a name to coincide with Warcraft's zodiac, with 2016 being dubbed the Year of the Kraken.
This will result in an interesting competitive scene as Standard is set to become the official mode for the Hearthstone World Championships, forcing many players to re-evaluate decks and create new strategies.
In turn, the new update will also make the game easier for newer players to get involved with, as there will less cards to collect - as it stands right now, there are approximately one thousand cards available in the game.
What do you guys think? A good idea that will keep Hearthstone eSports interesting, or not so much?
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