This spring Hearthstone will undergo seismic change. When the
new ‘Standard’ format arrives, the Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes sets will no longer be eligible for play in it, removing more than 150 cards, many of which are some of the most powerful used in decks today. (Those cards will still be fine to use in the ‘Wild’ format, which will see no set rotation, and is essentially the game we’re playing today.)
The spring set rotation, which is due to take place annually, will simultaneously see the release of the next, currently unnamed, card expansion. A shift of this scale will impact every layer of Hearthstone, from the most casual phone jockeys to the heights of the pro scene. A few months from now, we’ll be looking at a very different experience. To gauge the temperature of the competitive community, we polled seven of the best players to find out if they’re happy about the change and what they expect to happen next.
Ryan “Purple” Root
“Any change to Hearthstone is good. After a few months without new cards, the meta and the best decks get discovered and we end up seeing a total of, say, five tier one decks. With the announcement of the new format, it is hard to say what will end up happening without seeing the cards that will be released [in the new set]. However, it’s notable that Loatheb, Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot get cut [from Standard].”
“In a lot of games, the statement ‘I win this unless my opponent has exactly Loatheb’ can be applied, which I feel has been an issue for a while. Losing Belcher and Healbot is scary as well, given they are two of the best defensive cards in the game and without them many control archetypes of decks will not be able to exist because of Face Hunter, [Aggro] Shaman and other aggressive decks. Those are my fears for now, but like I said it’s hard to predict without knowing what new cards will be introduced alongside the changes.” —
Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy
“It’s really hard for me to form an opinion on the basis of just this announcement. I think we’ll have to see what problems occur with the rotation of the old sets. I guess it will be substantially more difficult to keep all the nine classes and the aggro decks balanced, since you will always have to fill the roles of the cards that rotate out. I cannot see the future and how it will all develop, but then again with more changes comes more room for deckbuilding, which I greatly appreciate.” —
“Two days before it was announced I actually started writing an article about how Hearthstone would face problems in the future if they kept adding cards, without changing the ones they already had. So, even though my upcoming article lost its news value, I am really happy that Blizzard figured out that they need to change some basics to keep Hearthstone healthy.”
“Previously, when Hearthstone released new cards they had to compete with the existing cards. For example, when they made a new four-drop it would instantly be compared to Piloted Shredder. Now that Piloted Shredder will be left out [from Standard] in future it opens up more discussion and comparison around new four-drops. Personally, I’m really excited and happy that Blizzard are spending a lot of effort in keeping Hearthstone the awesome game it is by constantly updating.” —
“I am really happy to welcome the new standard Hearthstone format. It will be healthy for the game when expansions are limited in the competitive scene. It will ensure that the meta keeps switching around. A big challenge for Blizzard now is to make sure the standard and common cards from the different classes are even in power to each other. Balancing them in full might be hard, but I can’t wait to try out new decks, see some old decks gone, and get ready for a big new expansion with 200 new cards!” —
“Some form of rotation is very healthy, if not essential, for the future of Hearthstone—and it makes room for card design. Cards you release from now on don’t always have to compete with Piloted Shredder in order to be playable. It’s really exciting to see more change in Hearthstone, and for competitive players to hopefully be able to showcase more skill in terms of tournament preparation. As for the metagame, I think it’s too early to say much. There are still current cards to be changed and an entire expansion to be released which will come with substitutes for cards that were removed with Naxx and GvG.” —
“I think the Standard [set] rotation is the best thing that has happened to Hearthstone so far. Not only does this create a more diverse format, but it also acts as an automatic fix to the cards we’ve grown tired of such as Dr. Boom and Piloted Shredder, and will do so for every future set to come. This system is already implemented in Magic: The Gathering and is the biggest reason why this 20+ year old game remains new and fresh. I have very high hopes for standard, and can’t wait to see how it rewards the good deck builders out there. I’m very happy with this change.” —
“The new Standard format is really appealing to me. Before Hearthstone I used to play Magic: The Gathering which has used a similar system for more than ten years. The main advantage of the standard format is that with a huge card pool it’s nearly impossible to make a new successful deck as all the staple decks use most powerful cards and have been tuned for a long time. Standard will challenge players a lot more in terms of deckbuilding and this aspect makes the game even more interesting.” —
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