Blizzard announced changes today to the Hearthstone standard and wild sets in anticipation of 2017, which it dubs the “Year of the Mammoth.” Several core Hearthstone cards are being retired from the competitive scene, in order to open up new options for deck construction.
Neutral class cards Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, and Ragnaros the Firelord will be put in the wild Hall of Fame set. Warlocks will lose Power Overwhelming, Mages cede their Ice Lances, and Rogues can no longer use Conceal in standard decks.
The structure of standard and wild was instituted last year, to deal with the influx of new expansions piling on top of old sets. As part of this year’s rotation, a new 130-card expansion is expected in the spring, which will push Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers into the wild set. Though you can compete in either format at any time, standard is the basis of competitive play and the ranked ladder, while wild consists of any card from any set.
Unlike the tradition for past cards that received major changes, players who own one of these cards won’t trade them in for dust, Hearthstone’s in-game card-purchasing currency. Instead, Blizzard will send the full amount of dust for each card to each player who owns one, and they will keep the card too. Those who still want to run Sylvanas in wild competition can still do so, while also having dust to buy new cards for standard competition.
Blizzard teased a few upcoming announcements as well, including two more 130-card expansions in the future, as opposed to the largely Adventure-focused roll-out of 2016. There will also be a Heroic Tavern Brawl held for wild cards in the future, which will allow players to theorycraft the strongest decks possible using every Hearthstone card in existence.
These changes will have massive implications for the competitive metagame of Hearthstone, and also open up new avenues for Blizzard to address its classic set foundation in hindsight, allowing them to tweak balance as more and more cards pile up on top. As long as they don’t touch my E.T.C., I’m happy.
This post has been updated to clarify how the new cards and dust will roll out.