It was inevitable that Blizzard would eventually have to do something to address the issue of newer Hearthstone players not having access to old cards. Last year, some Internet crank suggested Magic: The Gathering-style set rotation, and that will soon become reality.
The new Standard format only allows cards from the Basic and Classic sets, as well as anything released in the last two calendar years. The “reset” will occur when the year’s first expansion is released, and for 2016, that will be when an unnamed expansion releases in the spring. When that happens, cards available for Standard format will include Basic/Classic cards and anything released in 2015 or 2016: League of Explorers, The Grand Tournament, and Blackrock Mountain. (Sorry, Goblins vs. Gnomes and Curse of Naxxramas.) When the first expansion of 2017 comes out, we’ll lose LoE, TGT, and BRM, but have everything released in 2016 plus that new expansion.
You can still play using any cards in the Wild format. Both formats are available in friendly, casual, and ranked play. Ranked play will be split between the two formats, and you’ll have to decide which to play for each match. Your monthly rewards will be based on your highest of the two rankings. Arena will still pull from all cards available in Hearthstone, and you can use all cards in solo PvE play.
The dev blog announcing the changes also contained some other important news. Before the spring expansion hits, players who have unlocked all nine heroes will receive an additional nine deck slots, bringing their total up to 18. When the expansion does come, adventures and expansions that aren’t part of the Standard set mix won’t be available for purchase after the rotation occurs. You can still craft cards from those sets using Arcane Dust.
This last part rubs me a little the wrong way. A big reason why set rotation is required in physical card games like Magic is because older expansions are difficult or expensive to get a hold of; only so much of an expansion printed 15 years ago is still actually in existence. That’s not a concern for a digital game like Hearthstone. There are no supply/demand issues, so artificially removing them from sale makes little sense to me.
Still, I’m pretty stoked about the changes and think they’ll play a big part in keeping Hearthstone alive and kicking for quite a while. What are your thoughts?