Kyle Nakasaka ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been barraged with a lot of news regarding the current state of the meta, the next standard rotation, and the future to come; a lot of exciting news, some sad news, and some rather hopeful news. Let’s just get the sad news out of the way.
Ragnaros and Sylvanas are going away, banished to roam the vast horizons of Wild for the rest of eternity. They have, however, been given a spot in the Hall of Fame, a new place where Classic cards are retired to once they become too powerful for Standard. Along with them, Azure Drake, Power Overwhelming, Conceal, and Ice Lance are also being retired and they give reasons for each of their retirements. Ragnaros just ended up being played in practically every type of deck because it was the best neutral 8 drop in the game and a lot of 7-9 drop cards didn’t see as much play as a result of Ragnaros’s strength. Similarly, Sylvanas was also hard to out value as a 6 drop. Not only that, but Team 5 is working on some deathrattle fun and having Sylvanas in the pool with those deathrattles would make the build too powerful. Azure Drake ended up being too strong as a 5 drop and a bit too versatile as it could fulfill a multitude of roles. Power Overwhelming could allow for extremely efficient trades or allow for some crazy burst damage. In addition, Warlock utilizes too many Classic cards in many of its builds and they hope that the removal of Power Overwhelming will force Warlock to use more rotation cards. Ice Lance ended up limiting design space too much as it could represent too much burst and was key in some OTK decks. Conceal ended up being too hard to play around and would ultimately make the game less interactive as it would prevent you from getting to the stealthed minions. Don’t worry though; all Hall of Fame cards will stay in your collection and you will get their full dust value for free (and yes, that includes golden cards too.) For now, that is all the bad news we have. Let’s move on to the good news.
The Ban Hammer is finally ready to squash the Small-Time Buccaneer. Yes, the Era of Pirates is finally coming to a close. Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws are both getting hit with nerfs in hopes that the influx of aggro decks will go down, but we will see. Small-Time Buccaneer is having its health reduced from 2 to 1, making it much more susceptible to things like board clears and hero powers. I don’t know if that will be enough to completely take aggro pirate decks entirely, but it’s a start. Spirit Claws is getting a nerf as well, having its mana increased from 1 to 2. This will definitely be a big blow for aggro Shaman, taking both a hit with the Small-Time and the Spirit Claws, resulting 2 2 mana weapons which may make the pirate package too clunky for Shaman to run from this point on, especially because all the pirates that Shaman will be running from this point will all only have one health, making the pirate package fairly weak for Shaman. That being said, Shaman will likely still be a very strong class regardless. Speaking of which, the future.
The future of Hearthstone has been influenced quite drastically with the announcement of the next Standard cycle; The Year of the Mammoth. The Year of the Mammoth is very close to us now and with it we see a lot of card sets leaving, those sets being League of Explorers, The Grand Tournament, and Blackrock Mountain. All cards found within that set will be found exclusively in Wild from now on. In addition to those sets, the Hall of Fame cards will now be moving there as well. However, despite Wild having been a fairly abandoned game mode for the past year, Blizzard and Team 5 have said that they intend to make more out of the Wild format, promising more Wild tournaments and even a Wild Heroic Tavern Brawl. They have also announced that they are doing away with traditional adventures and are instead going to just have 3 ~130 card expansions every year. Even though adventures were a lot of fun and people enjoyed them immensely, Blizzard has said that they are going to include a narrative style similar to what came with Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, as well as some solo missions to help make the expansion feel colorful and pose some interesting challenges.
The last big piece of news is that Arena will be shifting over to Standard formatting. Blizzard said that keeping Arena Wild wouldn’t be sustainable as a model in addition to the fact that each set tends to have a rather large overarching synergistic theme, and if they were to continue in a Wild format, it would simply become harder and harder to accomplish those synergies. In addition to that change, they have also stated they intend to reduce the drop rate on Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike, as these cards were coming up and being picked much too often, and reduce the amount of Classic neutral cards that come up as they were making up an overwhelmingly large percentage of most Arena decks. The final change they said would be coming to Arena would be that they intend on increasing the drop rate of spells so that Arena feels more strategic than just picking value minions. Oh, and a new Rogue hero, Maiev Shadowsong, is being added to the game, and you can get her simply by winning ten Standard games. The Year of the Mammoth is definitely guaranteeing some big changes and I know I am eager to see how these changes shake up the Hearthstone scene.