Hearthstone players who wanted to craft the old Crystal Core Rogue from the Journey to Un'Goro set may remember how hard it was to acquire the requisite "The Caverns Below" card. Like the rest of Journey to Un'Goro's special spell cards, "The Caverns Below" was a legendary card, which costs 1600 dust to craft if you don't pull it from a pack.
Hearthstone designer Dean Ayala says that players can expect more cards like The Caverns Below going forward, but they not be be quite as hard to acquire. "When you have something that ties this stuff together and it's awesome, it can't always be legendary or epic, because those cards are difficult to obtain a lot of the time."
This should be good news for Hearthstone fans, who frequently complain that it takes too much time to grind the materials required to get the game's most important cards. Journey to Un'Goro in particular came under harsh criticism for making spell cards legendary when it first launched back in early 2017. Polygon wrote at the time:
Quests are an excellent way to push new deck archetypes. But by giving them scarcity, Blizzard has turned what should be something fresh and exciting for the game into something frustrating for many players. That is at the core of why so many players felt shortchanged by their pack opening. You either have get the quest, or you don’t play these decks at all.
Blizzard has since taken steps to rebalance the number of legendaries in packs, give away more legendaries, and generally make it easier to acquire the game's most important cards.
Whatever approach Blizzard takes going forward, the Hearthstone team views special card sets as a net positive, Ayala says. "In doing something that really ties the classes together was something that we didn't go super crazy with in old sets. When you think of [Journey to Un'Goro], I think you think of quests first. With Knights of the Frozen Throne, you think of the hero cards first. So having something to remember from these sets is really positive for us. It really makes Knights of the Frozen Throne feel different from [Journey to Un'Goro], which feels much different from [Kobolds and Catacombs]. So I think we'll continue to do things like that in the future."
Hearthstone's first expansion in 2018 will be Witchwood, which will feature cards that transform every other turn, as well as legendaries that force you to build decks based around cards with even or odd mana counts. It's based on the Worgens—the WarCraft universe's werewolves.
Witchwood will kick off Hearthstone's Year of the Raven, which will see several notable cards rotated out of Standard play, including the popular Jade Idol cards. The changes will take place when Witchwood launches sometime in April.