Hearthstone has officially taken the next step in its evolution as a competitive game. Blizzard announced today that they will be introducing a new mode featuring only the cards released within the current and previous year - effectively creating an entirely new metagame.
The new style will be called "Standard," and will encompass friendly challenges, ranked, and casual play. Cards from Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes will be unavailable in this new mode, which will form the foundation for the Hearthstone Championship Tour in the coming year.
For those who have grown accustomed to the previous metagame, the changes will require some major adjustments. Here are just a few of the cards to miss the cut:
- Loatheb: A staple in the five-mana slot for a variety of decks. Loatheb's effectively makes enemy spells unavailable for a turn - an ability that will be missed.
- Haunted Creeper: Introduced in the Naxxramas expansion, the Haunted Creeper potentially gives you three minions for the cost of two mana. Killing it creates two new 1/1 spiders, giving it tremendous value. The Haunted Creeper is a staple for the Hunter class.
- Piloted Shredder: The Piloted Shredder is one of the strongest cards in the game, dominating the four-mana slot with its excellent offensive capabilities and its ability to spawn a random two-mana minion when it dies. Removing the Piloted Shredder will do a lot to relieve the congestion in the four-drop position.
- Dr. Boom: Possibly the best card in the game. Dr. Boom has long been considered a must craft for new players. His departure opens the door for a host of new and interesting legendary minions.
No class is being left unscathed by these changes. Paladin players will lose the Shielded Minibot; Warriors will be left without Death's Bite, and Secret Mages will have to contend with the absence of the Mad Scientist. In their place, new standards will blossom, and The Grand Tournament - considered by many to be a disappointing expansion - will be given some room to breathe.
If you really want to play Hearthstone the previous way, though, all of the older cards will be available via the newly-announced Wild mode, will retain its own ladder.
One final announcement: Blizzard has announced that they are doubling the number of available deck slots from nine to eighteen. So if you're the experimental sort, you won't be constantly bumping up against the deck limit.
Blizzard has not given a firm date for these changes outside of "spring." Expect the new mode around the time of the spring expansion, which should be announced soon.