So, today we’re going to talk about some great tournaments and some…I’m kidding; today is all about the announcement for the upcoming Hearthstone (Free) expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods that has finally arrived. On Saturday night, Ben Brode and Young Woo gave us the announcement in typical Ben Brode fashion, welcoming the Old Gods to the world of Hearthstone. Many wondered whether Blizzard would go with such a dark theme after introducing the playful Adventure that was League of Explorers. Well, Blizzard managed to have it both ways; as you’ll see in the trailer for the expansion, there’s definitely a sinister theme but, at the same time, there’s a Disney-like gloss that makes the Old Gods intimidating yet ‘safe’ for those younger players.
In addition to the trailer, we got to see a few of the new cards, got information about the pre-order, and got to hear the approximate release date, which unfortunately is not as near as we all would’ve liked. This week I’ve decided to focus this column on the expansion announcement as well as a few stories about Standard. Next week we’ll return to our regular programming. Well, let’s see what Blizzard and the community had to say about the new expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods.
Heed The Whispers of the Old Gods
The official Whispers of the Old Gods website offers some of the lore behind the new expansion, describing how the Old Gods’ influence has crawled even into the tavern, corrupting cards and giving tentacles and even more eyeballs to many of our “old friends." We’ll be getting four Old Gods with tricky spelling (C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, Y’Shaarj, and N’Zoth) who love evil only marginally more than they love apostrophes. We’ll be getting 134 cards (I was expecting more cards, to be honest), and among those 134 we’ll see corrupted versions of old cards, like Corrupted Healbot whose deathrattle restores 8 Health to the enemy Hero (great with Auchenai Soulpriest), and more.
The only one of the four Gods we got to see was C’thun, a 10 mana 6/6 with a Battlecry “Deal damage equal to this minion’s Attack randomly split among all enemies." However, what makes this card fun is how it can get buffed from his various cultists (like Beckoner of Evil) even if it’s in your hand or deck. In a way, its a more focused Mistcaller effect.
The other interesting news about the expansion from the presentation is that all players will get 3 free packs, and in those free packs they’ll get the Legendary C’Thun and the Beckoner of Evil, which should help newer players get into the new expansion. There is a pre-order opening this week where you can get 50 packs for $49.99 along with a fantastically-creepy card back. Unfortunately, though, the expansion won’t be arriving before later April at the earliest, so you’ll have to be patient.
Beb Brode and Young Woo Press Conference on WOG
On March 8th, many members of the Hearthstone community and the press, including our very own Eric Ford, went to Blizzard’s lair (not a headquarters, clearly a lair), to catch a first glimpse of the new expansion. While there, there was a press conference where Brode and Woo answered various questions about the expansion and the shift to Standard. Brode said that they want to give C’Thun for free to everyone because so many cards in the new expansion are directly tied to C’Thun. If they didn’t give it to everyone, players who didn’t own it would see reminders of how important that card is on many cards. Also, they wanted to “surprise and delight players." The decision to give away C’Thun came when they designed C’Thun and many cards that interact directly with him.
They decided to go with the Old Gods theme after kicking it around for many years since that theme was only half-explored in other Blizzard games, and they were excited to explore new territories with Hearthstone. Woo also loves the idea of bizarro versions of things, like Mario/Wario, so it was a fun theme to explore. The developers said that deciding on the format changes and the design of WOG happened kind of simultaneously, most of it during the balancing phase of the project. They were designing a bunch of awesome cards, but then had to rethink them because of other pre-existing cards. WOG cards will have a much bigger impact now because of Standard. There’s a lot more info in the story, so check it out here.
Expansion Details With Commentary from Developers
This story mostly repeats what the official announcement stated about the expansion, but it does offer some more details about various aspects of the expansion like lore, cards, etc. What is interesting is that it pairs up expansion details with commentary from people like Brode, Donais, Woo, and more. That commentary offers further insight into the expansion, so go check it out here.
Pro Players Share Opinions on New Cards
When new cards are spoiled, everyone turns to the pros to see what they think. This PC Gamer story is all about that. Reynad thinks that C’Thun is pretty awesome because it makes use of the whole digital space of Hearthstone and incorporates a mechanic that only a digital game can. C’Thun looks playable in most classes because the cultist minions have solid stats, and it should feel different depending on the class you play it in. Kibler likes the C’Thun mechanic and sees it fitting best in Priest, Mage, or Warrior control decks, StrifeCro likes C’Thun but thinks Anyfin Can Happen is actually a better card (although he admits we haven’t seen all the synergies yet), and Frodan sees C’Thun as Blizzard’s attempt to introduce diversity in the way we approach deckbuilding.
Amaz thinks C’Thun is a cool card but agrees with StrifeCro that Anyfin Can Happen is better, while Noxious likes how the C’Thun mechanic makes it feel like the Old Gods are lurking in your deck and feels that Rogue will use the card most effectively because of cards like Shadowstep and Conceal. Overall, some positive first reactions to C’Thun, which isn’t always the case with fresh legendaries. We’ll see whether these predictions end up coming true.
The New Expansion Should Briefly Push Revenue Up 50%
According to this story, when Hearthstone expansions hit, there’s a 50 to 60 percent increase in revenue for the first 2 to 3 months, and with Hearthstone pulling in well over 20 million dollars a month, that’s a lot of money. At the same time, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this upcoming expansion increase revenues even more than usual because of the upcoming shift to Standard and Wild. So, if all goes as planned for Blizzard, the company should make quite a lot of money these coming months. Read the story here.
Mike Donais and Peter Whalen Talk WOG
IGN has an interesting interview with Senior Game Designer, Mike Donais, and Game Designer, Peter Whalen, where they talk about the upcoming expansion. They talk about the importance of having a shift in tone from the silliness of League of Explorers because they want to keep the game evolving. Also, they enjoyed playing around with the Old Gods because it was a fun design direction to explore. They feel that Standard will improve all expansions from now on because of the increased impact of all the cards. As for C’Thun, there will be 16 cards that will interact with the God in some way. If you Entomb it, it won’t be that great because you haven’t played all of its followers. Thoughsteal can also steal C’Thun from your opponent.
As for the rest of the Gods, they will all be flashy, but only C’Thun has the followers mechanic. They are all 10 mana minions, but the other 3 will feel more like standalone cards. The whispering theme plays into a card like C’Thun because each time the God gets buffed, your opponent will see it, and the dread will increase. As for the delay between announcement and release, Donais said they are trying to make Standard a great experience, and that requires a lot of engineering, UI, and design work to make it a great experience. They’ve brought in players to try Standard out, and they watched their reactions in order to make the introduction to Standard as clear and clean as possible. There’s even more info about Standard and the expansion in the story, so go check it out here.
Breaking Down the first 6 Cards of WOG
This story has a quick, early analysis of the cards revealed so far. Though not the most in-depth analysis, it does talk about what cards already existing in the game might work with the newly-announced ones. Check out the story here.
Hands-on With WOG
The writer of this story got to play a bit with preconstucted decks containing C’Thun and the cultists and has some early impressions about the upcoming expansion. The first one is that Polymorph will become your best friend because it quickly takes out the God (after taking the first salvo of damage, of course). In general, he talks about the need for good removal in decks that play against C’Thun because that card is very dangerous.
After paying 8 matches, he had this to say: mulliganing for cultists is a blessing and a curse since you aren’t guaranteed to see C’Thun in the game. You’ll want to remove Twilight Elder from the board soon because he’s a nasty one, and mage decks seem to be good counters for C’Thun because of all their spells. There’s a lot of interesting take aways from playing with the new cards, so go check out the story.
The Old Gods Lore
If you’re the kind of player who enjoys knowing the story behind the cards, then you should check out this piece on LoreHound. It talks about the role of the Old Gods in the world of Azeroth and the incredible power of the Old Gods before the four Elemental Lords rose up to challenge them. While their victory was not fully realized, it ruined Azeroth. Then, the Titans took up arms against the Old Gods, and one by one the Old Gods fell; but the Titans soon realized that killing the Gods would mean killing Azeroth since the two had become intertwined. So, they decided to imprison them alive, but Gods like these couldn’t remain imprisoned forever. Go here to check out the rest of the story along with descriptions of the Old Ones; it will give you a better idea of what Hearthstone‘s newer expansion is all about.
Patch Coming This Week and Other WOG News
In preparation for Standard and for the expansion, Blizzard will release a patch this week that will give us some client updates. We’ll get the extra 9 deck slots (that we don’t really need since the expansion isn’t out yet), a preview of the new UI that will show how going from Wild to Standard will look, and Deck Recipes (which we’ve talked about in the recent past). When it comes to the nerfs, we won’t know which cards will get worse until close to the expansion release. Philosophically, they are looking at cards that are very meta game defining since if they aren’t changed, Standard won’t be able to reach its goal of giving us a dynamic format that changes annually.
They are also looking at a greater percentage of Druid cards since so many of the cards used in decks now are from the Basic and Classic sets, unlike other classes. Brode doesn’t rule out redesigns as opposed to simple nerfs. Also, C’Thun and his cultists won’t be included in the Arena because they’ll be useless; if you don’t manage to get C’Thun, the cultists are basically useless. That’s good news especially for newer players because it would be disappointing picking those low-rarity cards only to find out they are pretty useless in your Arena run. There’s more information about the expansion as well as comments on future releases, so check the story here.
Reynad Talks about 10 Old Cards Blizzard Should Nerf
Reynad made a list of the cards he predicts will get nerfed, and it’s an interesting yet relatively-predictable list. Big Game Hunter is the first to get nerfed, with the nerf making it destroy any dragon. Molten Giant and Mountain Giant both get more expensive, Savage Roar gets more expensive but gives +3 Attack, Knife Juggler turns into a 3-mana 3/3 minion, Alexstrasza summons the last friendly minion that died this game, Leper Gnome becomes a 1/1 minion, Ironbeak Owl only silences minions with Taunt, Ice Block only makes you immune for that turn, and Innervate makes the next minion you play this turn cost 2 less. So, what do you think of Reynad’s ideas? Do you agree, or would you rather see different nerfs?
Q&A About Whispers of the Old Gods With Ben Brode
Trump Talks Whispers of the Old Gods
Kripp Reacts to the Expansion News
Who are the Old Gods?
Whispers of the Old Gods Impressions
Noxious Talks Whispers of the Old Gods
Review of Whispers of the Old Gods‘ Revealed Cards
Whispers of the Old Gods Additional Cards Review
New Expansion Initial Reactions
The New Expansion in 2 Minutes
Kibler Talks About Card Evaluation in Standard
As always, we have some good resources on the site for you in case you are new to the game or simply want to sharpen up your game. There’s never such a thing as too much help in Hearthstone, although with all the changes coming up, we might need to update everything.