Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is switching things up this year, overhauling the game by introducing new play formats Standard and Wild this Spring. The Standard play mode whittles down the playable cards to the core sets and cards released in the last two years, while Wild lets players go at it in any way they choose (basically, it’s a new name for the way the game has been played up until this point). Standard will become the go-to for the official Championship tour, but both formats will have separate ranking systems and be used in Tavern Brawls (depending on the week’s rules). In addition to the new play modes, Hearthstone is also finally increasing the amount of deck slots available.
The Standard play mode, available in Friendly Challenges, Ranked, and Casual, is intended to allow for more creativity in new cards and act as a more structured game that allows new players to dive in with minimal confusion. When Standard rolls out, the following sets can be used to build a deck (in addition to Basic and Classic): Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, The League of Explorers, and the yet-unnamed Spring 2016 Expansion. Any expansions released this year will also be playable in Standard.
Then, in 2017 when the first expansion of the year is released, Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and The League of Explorers will no longer be allowed in Standard; instead, players will work with the Spring 2016 expansion, any releases made during 2016, and those that come out in 2017. This rotation will continue, resetting every year. Ultimately, it reduces the amount of playable cards in Standard to around 600 at any given time.
Hearthstone is planning to alter some of the cards in Classic and Basic prior to the release of Standard to better balance gameplay, but there aren’t any specific details as of yet outside of a vague: “more than two, but less than 20” adjustments from lead designer Benjamin Brode. To go along with this overhaul – the cards that are not available for play in Standard will no longer be purchasable in the shop. However, players will be able to craft anything their hearts desire with Arcane Dust to play those in Wild.
Wild is essentially everything Hearthstone players have always loved – a free-for-all that lets you build your deck with anything from any expansion. It will also be the go-to format for Arena, Solo play, and the Adventures, none of which can be played in Standard. You’ll be able to play Ranked and Casual in Wild – basically, it functions exactly as Hearthstone always has, the only difference being that there will be a separate ranking for Wild and Standard when playing Ranked, and Wild won’t be used in the official Championship.
Before all of this goes down, Hearthstone is doubling the number of deck slots for a total of 18. This change was last discussed back in Fall, 2015 after a Hearthstone manager got players in a tizzy on Reddit by downplaying the need for more deck slots. But given the separation of play formats, additional deck slots became even more necessary.
Interested in what Standard will be like? Check out the preview video, and stay tuned for information on card changes and release dates!