Hearthstone is hitting the books for its next expansion. Blizzard will be visiting a famous location in World of Warcraft lore. Remember Scholomance, the old School of Necromancy? WoW players never got to see the scholastic institution in its prime. Now Hearthstone players will get to witness its glory days in the upcoming Scholomance Academy expansion.
This will be the first time in a while that Hearthstone's gone into Azeroth's past. Kel'Thuzad was last seen way back in Hearthstone's first year as the big bad of the Curse of Naxxramas adventure. In Scholomance Academy, he's the school's headmaster. But study sessions and frat parties aren't the only things going on in Scholomance. Blizzard is hinting at something sinister happening along the school grounds.
Scholomance Academy's big feature involves building around a new Dual-Class Card mechanic. Long-time Hearthstone players will remember Blizzard playing around with this idea in limited-time Arena modes. Now the mechanic will become a major fixture of this expansion with 40 cards designed to work with two different classes. Each of Hearthstone's ten classes will get paired with two others to create ten distinct dual-class combinations.
"Class identity's been something that's still very important to us in Hearthstone," Hearthstone Game Designer Alec Dawson told Shacknews. "We've been building that out over the last year and a half. Going into Dual-Class Cards, we're like, 'Do we break those rules?' The answer's yes and no. Yes, we're going to do things that you may not see in your class. That's exciting. That's when Dual-Class gives us the opportunity to do some of those things, like Lightning Bloom in Shaman and Druid. It's like, 'Oh, I haven't really seen Innervate in Shaman. What does that do?' But at the same time, Priests and Warlock, when they're paired, we're not suddenly going to give Priest a ton of card draw just because it's something Warlock does. So we actually look at places where the classes overlap and heighten those class identities between them. For example, Rogue and Warrior focuses on weapons, because both of those classes do weapons and they do them quite well. All of their Dual-Class Cards are going to deal with weapons and be used in different ways within their classes themselves. That was our design plan there was to create cards that will be played differently in each class based on their own class strengths and then also have cards that you would never see before that Dual-Class Cards give us an opportunity to do."
The big keyword for Scholomance Academy is Spellburst, which will be attached to certain minions and spells. When a card with Spellburst is played, a powerful one-time only effect will trigger the next time you cast a spell. Players can also take advantage of new Studies, which will allow them to Discover a card immediately while reducing the mana cost of the next card of that type played.
While the card reveals are set to begin in earnest soon, players can get their hands on one of the new expansion's cards right now. Transfer Student is... unique, to say the least. Its effect is hard to explain, because it varies depending on the board. But you can experiment with it right now, because all Hearthstone players can pick up two copies of Transfer Student absolutely free by logging in between now and October 20.
Hearthstone: Scholomance Academy is coming soon. Those who want to prepare for the next academic session can pick up the Scholomance Academy Bundle, which offers 55 Scholomance Academy card packs, a random golden Legendary, and the Kel'Thuzad card back for $49.99. Those with deeper pockets may want to look at the Scholomance Academy Mega Bundle, which offers 80 card packs, five bonus Scholomance Academy golden card packs, a random golden Legendary, the Kel'Thuzad Mage Hero, the Kel'Thuzad card back, and a Tavern Pass that includes four Arena tickets.
There's still more to uncover when it comes to Hearthstone, because those who have followed the roadmap for the Year of the Phoenix know that a new game mode should be coming very soon alongside this expansion. There's nothing on that just yet, but Shacknews will continue to monitor what's next and offer more information as it comes in. And don't forget, the 17.6 balance update should be rolling out right about now.