Hearthstone Marks 2018 as the 'Year of the Raven'

The Year of the Mammoth is at an end, as Hearthstone prepares to usher in the Year of the Raven, with a new Druid Hero and a new round of Hall of Fame cards.

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Hearthstone is officially ready to introduce a new Standard year. With that said, say goodbye to the Year of the Mammoth and say hello to the Year of the Raven. And with the introduction of the Year of the Raven comes a few new reveals, including a new Hero and the next batch of Hall of Fame cards.

A new Druid Hero was revealed on Tuesday morning. It's the dryad Lunara, first daughter of Cenarius. Heroes of the Storm fans will recognize this character as the ranged assassin character first introduced after BlizzCon 2015. She didn't make her World of Warcraft debut until later when the Legion expansion was released. She'll be fairly easy to unlock for Hearthstone. Just like Maiev last year, players will simply have to win ten Standard games.

The next round of Hall of Fame cards was also revealed, but unlike last year, the list is noticeably smaller this time around. While last year saw six cards from the Classic set get shifted into Wild, this year it's only three cards: Ice Block, Coldlight Oracle, and Molten Giant.

"But wait!" some Hearthstone players may exclaim. "Wasn't Molten Giant already nerfed a long time ago?" It certainly was, hypothetical Hearthstone player! But as part of its Hall of Fame induction, Molten Giant is getting a rare nerf reversal. That means it's going back to its original 20-mana cost to give Wild players a new toy to play around with. Just as was the case last year, players will get the full dust value for all of their Hall of Fame cards as a bonus, with no disenchantment required.

While it's interesting to see which cards have made it into the Hall of Fame, it's more intriguing to see which ones didn't. In particular, Shacknews was surprised to see the Silence-inducing Spellbreaker not make this cut, given its overwhelming presence in decks over the last few months. But according to Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode, the minion was never under consideration.

"We actually did not have Spellbreaker on our list of cards that we were considering," Brode told Shacknews. "I think it's important to have cards that help in a scenario where the meta goes in a certain direction and you need an answer. Right now, there are a lot of cards where you really feel like you want Spellbreaker to deal with those cards and if you don't have that in the Classic format, that's okay, but then we need to make sure we have answers to those things in all of our rotating sets. Right now, we this with dealing with Secrets, where in the Classic set, only Hunter can deal with it with Flare. But if you're really frustrated with Secrets and you want an answer to Secrets, we have to make sure to print one of those in every other year of Standard so that there is an option for players if we happen to make Secrets quite good and they're frustrated by seeing it over and over again. So I think Spellbreaker is in an okay spot. He sees a lot of play when there are lots of cards that are quite good to be Silenced and you can predict the meta well. If there's lots of different things and you can't predict the meta well, or the meta goes too far in one direction, having cards that brings that back in the other direction I think is helpful. I think Spellbreaker lands in that spot for us right now."

Brode did point out that with Ice Block going into the Hall of Fame, it does mean that a disproportionate number of Mage cards have been sent into Wild. One potential solution to this involves bringing cards from older expansions into Classic, an idea the team has been tossing around since the Hall of Fame's inception. But Brode is looking to make sure any new Classic additions aren't considered meta-defining.

"A lot of players really like playing Mage," Brode said. "It's one of the most played classes coming out of the tutorial. I would like there to be the same number of Mage cards as other classes. The trick is, the cards that we decide to rotate in, ideally are not meta-defining. That's the whole point of doing these rotations in the first place. The evergreen cards set the tone and class identity for the cards and are powerful, but not '60 percent of all the cards in the Standard' viable. It needs to be a smaller percentage than that. So we need to make sure they're, in some ways, either weak or niche. So the kinds of cards that we're rotating in are not the level of power of the power of the cards that are rotating out. An example for this is, we've considered rotating Shatter back in. I don't think players are itching to see Shatter, but I think it does help define what Mage is about and that's freezing effects. It's actually exciting for players coming into the game, because it's a cool combo, but it's not like we would rotate cards back in that are going to make a huge impact on the Standard environment."

Hearthstone players can also expect to see a new Tournament feature coming soon. This will allow anyone to create in-game tournaments, where the client takes care of matchmaking and deck requirements. While this is mainly aimed at Fireside Gatherings, anybody can utilize this feature. Look for the beta to kick off this summer.

More information on the aforementioned additions to Hearthstone can be seen in the video below.

One thing the video did not cover is that the Year of the Raven will usher in some changes to daily quests. All 40 Gold quests are going by the wayside, with all quests going forward awarding a minimum of 50 Gold. On top of that, requirements will be eased. For example, quests that require three wins will only require two wins, while quests that require playing 50 certain card will only require 40. This is in an effort to make completing daily quests easier and make the overall game more welcoming to newcomers. With that in mind, the team is open to further changes down the road.

Lastly, there's the subject of expansions. The Year of the Raven will see three new expansions, with the next one set to be revealed in March. In addition to new cards, the expansions all promise to feature new single-player content. While Blizzard didn't offer any hints as to what the next expansion would be, there is one minor hint. Remember that the "Year of the Kraken" heralded the Whispers of the Old Gods, while the "Year of the Mammoth" hinted at Journey to Un'Goro. So take the Raven as your sole hint.

Those looking for a chance to talk to Ben Brode and Yong Woo themselves will get their opportunity on Friday, March 2 at 11AM PT. That's when they'll jump on the Hearthstone Twitch channel to take community questions and look back at the Year of the Mammoth.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty

  • reply
    February 27, 2018 10:06 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Hearthstone Marks 2018 as the 'Year of the Raven'

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:12 AM

      Hall of fame 3 cards that rarely if ever see play (currently) and also kills the only viable Warrior deck. Mage is kind of fucked now except the Burn/Secret one.

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        February 27, 2018 10:20 AM

        Arcane Artificer and the Death Knight should help keep Mage players alive.

        Losing Coldlight Oracle means they're trying to phase out mill decks, which is for the best, because they're annoying as hell.

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          February 27, 2018 10:23 AM

          Boo! Mill is fun. Especially the Kingsbane version.

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          February 27, 2018 10:26 AM

          Looking at Vicious Syndicate report (https://www.vicioussyndicate.com/vs-data-reaper-report-81/) the arcane artificer + DK list is a Tier 4 deck with bad matchups versus everything but Quest Mage (now dead), Combo Priest (only top tier deck in this list), Zoo Warlock (tier 3) and the other bottom 3 decks.

          So, basically that is terrible. Quest is dead. So Alluneth burn is the only Mage deck left until the xpac / rotation.

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 10:34 AM

            Mages are losing some key cards.
            Cabalist's Tome, Babbling Book, Medivh's Valet, and Firelands. So it is safe to say quest mage is dead. Unless they add a bunch of spell generators in to the game that also are tempo cards. Since that was the whole idea behind quest mage is that you sacrifice tempo, and board because you have ice block to stop damage.

            Secret mage is also going to hurt with the removal of Ice Block and Valet.

            • reply
              February 27, 2018 10:55 AM

              Ice Block is a tech choice in Secret Mage which doesn't affect the win rate much at all (according to hsreplay the most sampled secret mage has one with and one without ice block and the one with out is like ~1% higher win rate).

              Fireland isn't played in quest mage though (or shouldn't be). There is enough spell generation to keep quest mage alive, but losing ice block makes it pretty much dead on the spot.

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 10:56 AM

          Trying to phase out mill is stupid, they've never been very effective.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 11:11 AM

        rarely see play? Ice block is in almost every mage deck, and coldlight is in many top decks.

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 11:24 AM

          Wrong. Ice Block is literally in one mage deck currently (Quest mage). Even big spell mage doesn't use it though some people tech it into Secret Mage and have a slightly worse win rate due to it (see hsreplay).

          Coldlight is in many top decks? Like what?

          Warlock- no.
          Paladin- no.
          Mage- no (quest is dead so this is a no now--though would give it to you w/o Ice Block HOF even though it is a tier 4 deck that is really bad atm)
          Rogue- yes (kingsbane is a tier 4 deck so not really a top deck, but I'll give it to you)
          Hunter- no
          Druid- no
          Priest- no
          Warrior- yes (the deck I mentioned which is also a tier 5 deck, lol)
          Shaman- yes (Jade shaman tier 4 deck)

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 11:27 AM

            Did you forget quest rogue?

            • reply
              February 27, 2018 11:32 AM

              You're right it's also a T4 deck. Funny enough if you look @ the bottom 4 decks of Tier 4 (according to Vicious Syndicate) it is all of the Coldlight Oracle decks in a row.

              Jade Shaman, Kingsbane Rogue, Quest Mage, Quest Rogue. (and then below them is Dead Man Hand Warrior which they don't even bother listing as a deck).

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 3:27 PM

            Ice Block is in 90% of cometitive secret mage decks

            • reply
              February 27, 2018 3:55 PM

              It's in every tempo mage I've seen on ladder. The card is a bit strong imho.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 11:48 AM

        My take on the card rotation is that these cards needed to be phased out in order to introduce some new, exciting, sexy cards. The interaction between the existing ones and the incoming ones ended up being too strong.

        Bummed to see ice block go though. That was one of the most versatile cards.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:20 AM

      lol they put Kripp pushing the button in the announcement video.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:21 AM

      i play with a murloc paladin deck

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:27 AM

      Theories on the new sets? https://bnetcmsus-a.akamaihd.net/cms/gallery/vy/VY8RH5NG5OGB1519344039240.png

      Looks like Emerald Dream, Kirin Tor/Dalaran, and Sholazar

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 10:34 AM

        I'd go with Emerald Nightmare, Arcane magic shit and Vashj'ir / naga shit.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 10:39 AM

        The only clue I got yesterday was that Kraken pointed to sea creatures, Mammoth pointed to land creatures (Un'Goro, specifically), and Raven is an air creature.

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 10:43 AM

          I guess that makes sense. I figured Raven would point more towards Arcane creatures, given Medivh and all that.

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 12:37 PM

            We tried to guess Medivh and didn't get a denial or a confirmation.

            Ben Brode did tell us "Even if you guys guess it, just like the other expansions, you probably won't guess the Hearthstone twist to it."

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 12:27 PM

        I expect we see a "legendary spells" expansion sometime this year. each class getting one legendary spell.

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 1:10 PM

          And they'll just give mage ice block as a legendary

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 1:34 PM

        Reddit thinks: 1. Emerald Dream/Moonglade 2. Etherals / Tempest Keep 3. Trolls (white teeth under the circle) and red/blue paint for sen'jin troll colors.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:38 AM

      RIP quest mage.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 11:22 AM

        ice block isnt relevant to quest mage

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 11:51 AM

          Babbling Book, and Cabalist's Tomb sure are. And Ice Block is in every quest deck because it gives you an extra turn or two to assemble exodia.

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 12:06 PM

            I’m 99% sure quest mage is unplayable without ice block.

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 11:58 AM

          100% disagree. This deck can barely stay alive to combo with Ice Block.. what makes you think it is still alive without an extra turn or two via Ice Block?

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 12:12 PM

          I’m 99% sure the deck is unplayable without ice block.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 10:46 AM

      Just murder all cube lock players and I'll be happy. That's all I want.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 10:56 AM

        Cubelock with mountain giants, faceless manipulators, and doomguards is actually a really fun deck. I took it to legend this month. And it's a lot weaker to aggro than control warlock which aims to win in a fatigue race. But control is considered stronger and it's super boring. And they're removing key cards to counter that deck...

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 11:12 AM

      I wish they'd give mage some replacement cards for the ones that have got HoF.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 11:14 AM

        I’m sure they will be generous in the expansions

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 11:14 AM

          Not like it really matters to me, I play more Wild than standard these days.

          • reply
            February 27, 2018 11:16 AM

            Just saw this too - https://twitter.com/frodan/status/968559233317855232

            • reply
              February 27, 2018 11:17 AM

              Wow, between that and the quest reward bumps, they are almost making sense!

            • reply
              February 27, 2018 11:19 AM

              A guy replied "If you read the full article he mentions shatter which nobody cares about", lol.

              Article: However, don't expect these cards to be meta-defining for the obvious reason that they want to avoid creating new problems. In fact, Brode gave the specific example of Shatter as a possible choice. "I don't think players are itching to see Shatter, but it's kind of a cool combo."

              Just some PR fluff really.

              • reply
                February 27, 2018 11:51 AM

                I mentioned it too. In this very article.

                The full quote:
                "A lot of players really like playing Mage," Brode said. "It's one of the most played classes coming out of the tutorial. I would like there to be the same number of Mage cards as other classes. The trick is, the cards that we decide to rotate in, ideally are not meta-defining. That's the whole point of doing these rotations in the first place. The evergreen cards set the tone and class identity for the cards and are powerful, but not '60 percent of all the cards in the Standard' viable. It needs to be a smaller percentage than that. So we need to make sure they're, in some ways, either weak or niche. So the kinds of cards that we're rotating in are not the level of power of the power of the cards that are rotating out. An example for this is, we've considered rotating Shatter back in. I don't think players are itching to see Shatter, but I think it does help define what Mage is about and that's freezing effects. It's actually exciting for players coming into the game, because it's a cool combo, but it's not like we would rotate cards back in that are going to make a huge impact on the Standard environment."

                • reply
                  February 27, 2018 12:00 PM

                  No one played Shatter when it was available and no one would play it if it came back. It would need to be changed to a 0 or 1 cost card which is what everyone said about it when it was first announced.

                  To replace Ice Lance. I would love Forgotten Torch. But I am guessing it will be either Dragon's Breath, or Flame Lance (does the same thing as shatter without needing a card combo).

                  And for Ice Block it will be Arcane Blast, although I would like Echo of Medivh.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 12:57 PM

      Was hoping Doom Guard was HoF. That card needs to go. Other then that... kind of upset they didn't announce any cost savings with dust or packs. No triplicate epics would have been awesome.

      • reply
        February 27, 2018 1:31 PM

        They indirectly gave you cost savings via the quest update (albeit not much).

        • reply
          February 27, 2018 1:32 PM

          3650 extra gold a year on average. It’s a start.

    • reply
      February 27, 2018 3:19 PM

      Lies! It's year of the dog, according to that overwatch puppy stream

      • Zek
        reply
        February 27, 2018 4:22 PM

        Overwatch uses the real Chinese zodiac designations, Hearthstone uses make-believe Warcraft versions.