Just after announcing a new patch that nerfs two overpowered cards and makes the climb up the Ranked Play ladder easier for players, Blizzard revealed massive changes coming to Hearthstone for the Year of the Mammoth.
The Year of the Mammoth, which will launch with the release of this year's first major expansion, will replace the Year of the Kraken and introduce a brand new Standard format to the digital card game.
Year Of The Mammoth: Set Rotation And Classic Cards Going Wild
Once the Year of the Mammoth kicks in after the release of the next expansion, rumored to be the dinosaur-themed Lost Secrets of Un'Goro, cards from Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers will rotate out of the Standard format and be exclusive to the Wild format.
In the Wild format, players are allowed to use any card ever released for Hearthstone, but in the Standard format, players are only allowed to use cards from the most recent adventures and expansions, in addition to Basic and Classic cards. However, as Blizzard noted in an official blog post, the Standard format of the Year of the Kraken some Classic cards showed up too frequently in decks, limiting creativity in building decks and causing stagnation in deck variety.
To address the problem, Blizzard will be pushing some Classic cards out of Standard and into the Wild format, adding them into a new Hall of Fame set.
There are a total of six Classic cards that will no longer be allowed in Standard decks. For the neutral cards to be added to the Hall of Fame, the rare minion Azure Drake, considered to be too versatile, heads the list, followed by the legendary minions Sylvanas Windrunner and Ragnaros the Firelord, which are considered to be too powerful.
Also getting the boot out of Standard are three 1-cost spells, namely Power Overwhelming for Warlock, Ice Lance for Mage, and Conceal for Rogue. The relegation of these cards to the Wild format will hopefully lead to more variety when designing decks of these classes.
Blizzard usually allows cards that undergo changes to be converted to dust for the full amount, but for these six cards, players will be able to receive their dust equivalents without having to give them up. Players will receive the full dust value of up to two copies of each card, in addition to golden ones, that they own, which will be automatically given once the Year of the Mammoth kicks in.
New 'Hearthstone' Release Cycle
Starting with the Year of the Mammoth, Blizzard will utilize a release cycle of an about 130-card expansion to start the year, a 130-card expansion in the middle of the year, and another 130-card expansion at the end of the year. This cycle will introduce more cards to Standard, as the middle release used to be a 45-card set, and prevent the format from stagnating.
As such, there will no longer be Adventures such as Blackrock Mountain and League of Explorers. Instead, the storytelling found in Adventures will be incorporated into new expansions, with Blizzard to start offering optional single-player missions tied to expansions beginning the second set for the Year of the Mammoth.
New Rogue Hero for 'Hearthstone'
Blizzard also announced Maiev Shadowsong as a new Rogue hero, who will be an alternate to players using Valeera Sanguinar.
It will be easy to unlock Maiev Shadowsong, as players will only need to win 10 Standard matches, whether in Ranked Play or Casual, once the Year of the Mammoth begins with the launch of the new expansion.