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HearthstoneMar 17, 2020 1:37 pm CT

The Demon Hunter class comes to Hearthstone in the new Ashes of Outland expansion

The next Hearthstone expansion is Ashes of Outland and we really weren’t prepared for this one. It’s the first expansion for the new Year of the Phoenix, and it’s coming with a pretty big game addition: a brand new class. In addition to the normal 130 or so cards, Ashes of Outland introduces the often-requested Demon Hunter. That’s right: Illidan is Hearthstone’s new breakout star.

And he isn’t alone, because we’re getting a lot of nostalgia-fueled fun as we head through the Dark Portal (again). While Ashes of Outland isn’t coming out for a while, some rewards will be here sooner: the new Kael’thas Sunstrider card will be live today. All you have to do is log on and you’ll get this card immediately. If you want more cards, you can also pre-order Ashes of Outland now.

But that’s not all that’s coming from the Hearthstone team. There’s a lot of excitement is on the horizon:

  • March 26: Major Priest class rework, new round of cards going into the Hall of Fame
  • April 1: Ranked play updates, including better rewards and better matchmaking
  • April 2: Free Demon Hunter prologue missions will introduce the class and unlock 30 class cards for everyone
  • April 7: Ashes of Outland goes live with the Demon Hunter class

In short, a lot is happening in Hearthstone over the next month. Here’s everything we know about Ashes of Outland, Demon Hunters, and Priest changes so far.

The Demon Hunter class

Illidan will be the default Demon Hunter hero, and his Hero Power is Demon Claws. It’s similar to the Druid Hero Power in that in grants 1 attack, but it only costs 1 mana and doesn’t grant any armor. Who needs pesky armor when your opponent will fall before you sooner than later?

The class strengths are card draw and pressure, which will favor aggressive decks like the current Hunter class. Hard removal and card generation are their weaknesses. Demon Hunters won’t have spells like Assassinate, Polymorph, or Execute — like Rogues and Druids, they’ll use their face to remove enemy minions, but more often than not, slam into the opponent’s Hero. The class cards we’ve seen so far have a big focus on hero attacks and building out a board of minions, with mix of small minions that could favor zoo-style decks and big demons to close the game.

Demon Hunters also have a class-specific keyword: Outcast. This keyword gives a card an addition effect if  played if it’s the right-most or left-most card in your hand. We’ve previously seen this effect with Stargazer Luna, a Mage Legendary card from The Boomsday Project set, which seems like a it was probably a test case for the new keyword. Her card text reads:

After you play the right-most card in your hand, draw a card.

Outcast is similar, but a little more flexible because it triggers whether the card is on the left-most or right-most side of your hand. So you can play your Outcast cards immediately when they hit your hand or hold on to them for a while.

The core of the class will be in a 30-card “initiate set.” The class and the initiate cards will be free, and each expansion this year will have 15 Demon Hunter cards to build up the class. Look for these cards to show up with a prologue mission that goes live on April 2, while the Demon Hunter class itself will go live with the expansion on April 7.

Big changes are coming to Hearthstone’s Priest class

My jaw dropped at the Priest changes. I love them. They seem to be moving Priest away from the OTK (One Turn Kill) style of play, which is one of my least favorite strategies in Hearthstone.

To that end, Blizzard is buffing some Priest cards and moving others into the Hall of Fame. Prophet Valen, Northshire Cleric, Shadowform, Holy Fire, Divine Spirit, and Auchenai Soulpriest are all leaving Standard. (Thanks for the dust.) Several cards received mana reductions: Thoughtsteal, Temple Enforcer, Shadow Word: Death, Shadow Madness, Power Word: Shield (now zero mana), and Holy Nova. Holy Smite now does 3 damage, instead of 2.

The goal is to give Priests more play options, so they aren’t just running a Divine Spirit/Inner Fire deck for OTK wins. Look for these changes to go live on March 26.

Venture back through the Dark Portal in Ashes of Outland

We’re going back to Outland in this expansion, which is packed with nostalgia for anyone who misses the Burning Crusade days. We’ll see lots of familiar faces, like Teron Gorefiend, and favorite items, like the Bulwark of Azzinoth. We’ll also have “prime” cards, which are powerful characters that get shuffled back into your deck when they die, so they can come back even more powerful. We’ll also run into the occasional imprisoned demon, which will be dormant for two turns after it’s played before busting out with a powerful effect.

The expansion looks to have a lot of surprises, and you can browse through all of the cards we know about so far to get a taste for how it will play.

But Demon Hunters are still the most exacting reason to trek back through Outland. They have all the tools to keep their opponent’s board in check while mounting continuing pressure. They have as their strength the card draw any aggressive deck covets. This doesn’t sound like a game plan that appeals to my Control-loving heart, but I’m sure aggro players will love it.

Ashes of Outland will release on April 7, but pre-orders begin today. And don’t forget: the first card from Ashes of Outland is available today! All players who log in will receive the Legendary card, Kael’thas Sunstrider, for free. When Kael’thas is on the board, the third spell cast every turn is free. Your last loss was merely a setback!

Are you excited to try the Demon Hunter class? Do the Priest changes fill you with renewed hope for the class? Let me know in the comments.

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