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HearthstoneJun 27, 2022 12:11 pm CT

Murder at Castle Nathria is Hearthstone’s next expansion

There’s been a Murder at Castle Nathria, and Sire Denathrius is dead!

Here we are in Castle Nathria, where a terrible mystery has unfolded! The ruler of this area is one of the Venthyr, a vampire-like being known as Sire Denathrius. With his iron rule of Castle Nathria, he has come to make quite a few enemies.

In order to suss out which one of them was the worst, or to get to know what their motivations are, he invited them to a dinner party — where he unfortunately met his demise.

But on the bright side, we do have the intrepid detective Murloc Holmes on the case to work on solving this mystery, and figure out which of the ten suspicious dinner guests was indeed responsible!

Hearthstone’s newest expansion will be full of mystery, investigation, and many new features that are absolutely going to break the way the game is be played, such as a new permanent card type called Location, and the ability to build decks with 40 cards!

We got to sit down with Senior Narrative Designer Valerie Chu and Associate Game Designer Leo Robles Gonzalez to try to learn as much as we could about this mystery. So let’s try to solve it!

New card type: Location gives you on-demand effects from your board

Locations are a new card type, and a permanent addition to Hearthstone. You play these cards on the board, just like you’d play a minion. Once they’re there, you can activate their effect by dragging them into a minion on the board.

Doing so spends one point of the Location’s durability, and places it on a two-turn cooldown — it visibly closes shut, and only slightly creaks open on the next turn, to show it’s still on cooldown and unusable. On the turn after that, it’ll be fully opened and usable again — so you can only use it every other turn. Once the Location’s durability is completely spent, it vanishes.

Leo said that the design team has wanted to translate actual areas from World of Warcraft into into Hearthstone for a very long time, and we might have seen hints of that over time — but this is really their grand effort to make locations feel “as amazingly as they possibly could.”

Prince Renathal lets you start the game with 40 cards in your deck, and 40 health!

Prince Renathal is a Legendary minion with simple 3/4 stats for a 3 mana cost. But his actual effect is far more compelling: if you add him to your deck, you can add up to 40 cards to it, and you start the game with 40 health as well!

Keep in mind, however, that having that many cards might not be an advantage for every deck type, as Leo explains. Far from it: if your deck values consistency and aggression, you’ll only be diluting the pool and making it harder for you to find the cards you want, since there are far many more cards to draw than the exact tool you might need at that moment.

And the extra ten health, while a potentially huge advantage for Control decks, matters far less for Aggro strategies, which don’t care as much about taking damage — they need to close the game quickly, long before that extra health might even matter, after all.

New keyword: Infuse lets you bolster your cards with the Anima of dead minions

The new Infuse keyword works like this: whenever a friendly minion dies, any cards with Infuse that are sitting in your hand get one point of their requirement ticked off — so if a card has Infuse (3), for instance, its Infuse requirement will be fulfilled once you see three friendly minions die while it’s in your hand. The number will also visibly count down: a card with Infuse (2) will have its text changed to Infuse (1) once a friendly minion dies.

When a card with Infuse gets its requirements fulfilled, it becomes its “Infused” version, changing in both effect and art.

The size of the minion that dies doesn’t matter — as long it’s friendly, the Infuse counter from all cards in hand will go down, and once the amount of deaths required for that particular Infuse effect is fulfilled, that card will transform into its more powerful “Infused” version.

Murloc Holmes is on the case — play intelligent games, win intelligent prizes!

Our detective buddy has a real neat Battlecry effect: it makes you play a guessing game, trying to uncover three clues about your opponent’s deck.

As soon as you play Murloc Holmes, you’re shown three cards, like a Discover prompt, asking you to guess which of those started in your opponent’s hand. If you guess it right, the game moves on to the next round: you’re now shown three other cards and asked which of them is currently in your opponent’s hand. Succeed on that round, and you move to the final one: three more cards are shown, and you’re asked which of them is currently in your opponent’s deck. If you also get that one right, congratulations: besides getting precious information (and feeling really smart), you net yourself copies of those three cards!

In the cases where you play this effect when your opponent has no cards in hand or in their deck, that particular round of guessing is simply skipped. The first round, which concerns their starting hand, always happens —  for obvious reasons.

Legendary Suspects: it was Baroness Vashj, at the Muck Pools, with the Primordial Wave! (Or was it?)

Who killed Sire Denathrius, and why? Those are the going to be the main questions asked throughout this expansion — but according to Valerie, the right answer will be eventually revealed. “Every good mystery has a good ending,” she states.

Before that happens, however, we might be able to puzzle out the culprit ourselves: there are ten prime suspects, each taking the form of a Legendary minion for one of the classes. But each of these Legendary Suspects also has one associated Location where they might have committed the crime, and a weapon of choice that they might have used, in the form of an actual weapon, or a spell. All three of those cards — minion, location, and spell — will fit together thematically and gameplay-wise for the class they belong to.

Decimator Olgra — the Legendary Suspect for the Warrior class, previously known as Olgra, Mankrik’s Wife — goes hand-in-hand with Sanguine Depths, which is the Warrior Location. You can use Sanguine Depths to ensure that there are damaged minions that Olgra’s Battlecry can benefit from in her quest for vengeance from beyond the grave.

There’s a murder case to solve, and a lot is yet to come

The developers didn’t go too in-depth about cards that weren’t a part of this initial reveal, but when asked about particular deck archetypes from the past coming back for Murder at Castle Nathria, Leo mentioned Evolve effects for Shaman — which we’re seeing with Vashj and her related cards — as well as the return of “beloved decks” for Paladin and Rogue. No more info beyond that for now!

To finish the reveal, after spotting some artwork of a cute Steward minion behind them, I tried my hardest to extract from Leo and Valerie whether we’ll see Sika in the expansion (because Sika is the best). Sadly, there was no definitive answer yet. But the possibility of us seeing one of the murder suspects come from Bastion — one who might even happen to be a Steward, perhaps! — was ventilated as a “definitive maybe.” We’ll see!

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