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‘Hearthstone’s’ Year of the Dragon Brings Some Big Changes

Blizzard is making some big changes to its digital collectible card game “Hearthstone” in 2019, which it’s officially dubbing the Year of the Dragon, it announced in a blog post on Thursday.

Nine cards are moving into the Hall of Fame, Blizzard said, including two that are being rotated out of the Standard format a year earlier than expected. Those two cards — Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane — are from The Witchwood expansion and are key components of Odd and Even decks. These decks force players to use only odd or even numbered cards in return for a boosted Hero power, and they’ve been more prevalent in Standard than Blizzard intended.

Since Baku and Genn are out, Blizzard is also moving several other cards into the Hall of Fame predominately used in Odd and Even decks. Those cards are Gloom Stag, Black Cat, Glitter Moth, and Murkspark Eel. A few classic cards are being retired from Standard as well, including the Druid’s Naturalize, the Warlock’s Doomguard, and the Paladin’s Divine Favor. As usual, all of these cards will be available in the game’s Wild format once the changes take effect.

Blizzard is also overhauling “Hearthstone’s” single-player experience in 2019, promising something “bigger, deeper, and much more ambitious than anything we’ve ever done.” It will use its previous Dungeon Run-style missions as a framework, but will add more customization options, including the ability to unlock multiple starting decks and Hero powers per class. There will also be a non-combat tavern encounter where players can fine-tune their decks.

The first single-player content launches about a month after the first expansion of the year, Blizzard said, and it kicks off with a free chapter. Subsequent chapters cost 700 gold each, or $20 for the entire solo adventure. Each chapter includes two all-new characters to play and rewards players with three card packs from the new expansion. People who complete all five chapters get a card back and a golden Classic pack.

Meanwhile, Blizzard is updating the Arena draft pool this year by rotating out sets and adding new ones twice every expansion. The first rotation includes Basic, Classic, Curse of Naxxramas, Whispers of the Old Gods, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, The Witchwood, and the first expansion of this year.

A couple of smaller upcoming features worth noting are the ability to display random card backs during matches and a smarter deck builder. Blizzard said it will share more details on the latter at a later date.

The Year of the Dragon will likely kick off in April alongside the next expansion. This means professional “Hearthstone” players will have a new meta to contend with during Blizzard’s new Hearthstone Masters Tour, which makes its first stop at the LINQ Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Jun. 14-16.

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