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HearthstoneFeb 27, 2018 1:45 pm CT

The Year of the Raven is coming to Hearthstone with Lunara

Ah, it’s our favorite time of year, when we get announcements of announcements (possibly of announcements). Today, Ben Brode gifted us with a video talking about the next Hearthstone Year and teasing an as-of-yet-unannounced Hearthstone expansion that we’ll find out more about “soon.” But soon could actually be very soon (or, as Brode phrased it, “real soon.”)

Brode says we’ll find out about the new expansion next month. Since next month starts on Thursday, that could be sooner than Blizzard’s typical “soon” time scale. Brode will be doing a livestream Q&A on March 2 (that’s this Friday!) with Lead Producer Yong Woo — and we may get an announcement then.

But it’s downplaying the video to call it an announcement of an announcement. Brode dropped a bunch of real news about Year of the Raven. Here’s what to expect from Hearthstone soon. (Or possibly real soon.)

Goodbye, Year of the Mammoth

With the launch of the next expansion, Hearthstone’s Year of the Mammoth will end and Year of the Raven will begin. With this switch, Standard mode will be losing cards from Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. While that’s a lot of cards in and of itself, three cards are also heading to the Hall of Fame: Ice Block, Coldlight Oracle, and Molten Giant (with its mana cost reduced to 20). If you have these cards, you’ll keep them but get the amount of dust it would take to craft them. It’s a decent reward for their loss in Standard play.

That’s over 300 cards heading out to pasture — er, to Wild mode — with around 100 due to join the lineup when the next expansion is released. Dragon Priest, Secret Mage, Murloc Paladin, Jade Druid, and Jade Shaman decks will all take big hits without these cards. That will hurt if you’re running these decks, but it also means a new, interesting meta to look forward to.

Ranked Play changes will arrive with the new Year

Year of the Raven will also be changing up Ranked Play which should even out matchmaking. With the changes, high-ranked players won’t have to fight their way from the bottom to the top of the ladder each month and low-ranked players won’t have to get crushed under their feet while they climb. Each player will only be set back four ranks at the beginning of the month. Each rank requires five stars to advance to the next, meaning it takes the same number of wins to earn each rank.

While low-rank players will require more wins to advance, this evens out the advancement curve. With fewer high-rank players fighting through the lower ranks, it should be less frustrating to earn those wins. That’s excellent news for casuals like myself for whom the start of the month can be an exercise in frustration. I assume the top-tier players will enjoy not having to grind so much to make it back to the top, too.

Quest rewards are getting buffed

Everyone should be pleased by these quest changes, which increase rewards for some quests and lower requirements for others. Quests currently offering 40 gold rewards will be upgraded to 50 gold. Quests across the board will require less of a gameplay grind to finish. For example, Only the Mighty (play 20 minions that cost 5 or more) will only require 12 minions. Class Victory (win 2 games with particular classes) will only require 1 win. And Class Mastery (play 50 class cards) will only require 30 class cards.

This means quicker quests and faster gold — another casual-friendly change, as we won’t have to grind through however many games it takes us to play 50 class cards. (Spoiler: it’s a lot.) The Hearthstone team is looking to make more quest improvements moving forward… I hope improvements that will keep me from getting constant Shaman quests. Seriously, Hearthstone, please stop. I will never complete a Shaman quest.

Finally, Tournament Mode is coming to Hearthstone

The big surprise in today’s announcement is the launch of a much asked-for Tournament Mode. This new mode will let anyone easily set up tournaments in-game, with the game itself handling matchmaking and deck validation. The feature will launch in beta within the next few months and Blizzard will work with players to flesh out the feature over the course of the year. This will seriously streamline tournaments and make it easier for to host them or play in them, and we’re pretty dang excited to see it in action.

And about Lunara…

Oh, and did I mention Lunara? We’re also getting Lunara as a Druid Hero. You can earn her by winning 10 Standard games in Year of the Raven. I, for one, will be thrilled to kick Malfurion to the curb and welcome our new Dryad overlord. However, this means you’ll lose the chance to earn Maiev, who you currently earn with the same 10-win requirement. If you want to pick up this alternate Rogue hero, you probably have a month or so to get it done.

Tune in to the Q&A this Friday to find out more!

We mentioned it at the beginning of the post but let’s be honest… we’ve all forgotten it already, haven’t we? Game Director Ben Brode and Lead Producer Yong Woo will be live on the official Hearthstone Twitch channel March 2 at 11:00 a.m. PST to answer questions about Year of the Raven… and maybe talk about the next expansion. We’ll find out!

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