When Blizzard announced the format change to Hearthstone’s Standard and Wild last year, one thing was promised to remain consistent: Classic cards would always be available to players.
As it turns out, that wasn’t entirely true.
Six Classic cards will be cycling out of play come the first expansion of The Year of the Mammoth (also known as 2017). Neutral mainstays Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, and Ragnaros the Firelord are all being relegated to the Wild. They’ll be joined there by potent class cards Power Overwhelming (Warlock), Ice Lance (Mage), and Conceal (Rogue).
“When cards show up too frequently in decks and are considered auto-includes, deck-building becomes more limited,” says Blizzard of the decision. “Deck variety stagnates, potentially interesting build-around cards fall by the wayside, and the gameplay experience begins to feel less dynamic. Most cards should feel like situational additions to a deck, depending on the deck archetype the player is trying to build.”
Players who currently own these cards will be given their value in Dust, and of course they’ll be perfectly acceptable to use in future Wild shenanigans.
The cards won’t be entirely out of competitive play, either. Whereas the Wild format felt a bit abandoned by Blizzard in 2016, the developer will be “collaborating with third-party tournament organizers to promote additional Hearthstone tournaments using the Wild format.”
The six will be following all the cards from Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and The League of Explorers into the wild blue yonder.
Blizzard will also be changing up Hearthstone’s expansion release schedule. Whereas previous years saw them alternating between large expansions and smaller-scale Adventures, 2017 will feature three 130+ card expansions. Just like the current expansions, cards will only be available via buying packs.
Fear not, fans of Adventures. Single-player challenges will be accompanying the larger expansions. That way, every quarter or so, the competitive meta will shift dramatically but players who love Adventures will get their fill. The second expansion of the year will be the first that gets the single-player component.
To celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Mammoth, Blizzard will be offering daily login rewards in the days leading to the new expansion and then a new Rogue hero in Maiev Shadowsong upon its release.
For how the new expansion cycle affects competitive play, head over to the Yahoo Esports Hearthstone hub.
Follow Taylor Cocke on Twitter @taylorcocke.