The newly added Classic Format uses only the original 240 cards that existed in Hearthstone at the game’s launch, and what’s more, any changes to those cards that have happened since their initial release have been reverted. That means, for instance, that the Leeroy Jenkins card only costs four mana now instead of five, Warsong Commander can give minions charge, and Holy Smite can target opponents directly instead of just being able to hit minions. Numerous other cards are being reverted in different ways to their original forms, including cards like Leper Gnome, Fiery War Axe, Hex, Innervate, Ironbeak Owl, Mana Wyrm, and Knife Juggler — all once-staples of decks that have been changed over the years.
Classic Format appears to be following in the footsteps of World of Warcraft: Classic, which launched in 2019 as a way for players to enjoy World of Warcraft in its original form and has since received regular content updates in the order the original game saw, maintaining an active player community alongside the retail version of the game.
And like its WoW predecessor, the new Hearthstone format is already being celebrated across social media. At the time of publication, replies on the Twitter announcement of the changes are almost all positive, top comments on a link to the announcement on the Hearthstone subreddit are praising the move, and the memes are looking pretty good too.[poilib element=”poll” parameters=”id=069fd53b-fbdd-4299-bf45-d32c8766436a”]
Alongside existing players who are excited for the new format, some discussion also revolves around the new format’s potential to draw in players, both veterans who may have lapsed over the years as well as new players. To the latter point, several note that Hearthstone has become increasingly complex and expensive over the years with its many modes and the need to constantly catch up with new expansions. Classic decks can often be cheaper to make, and many of their components are available to players for free by virtue of being a part of the class sets players can earn by leveling up characters through play.
Classic Format isn’t the only update to Hearthstone Blizzard announced. In another celebrated change, it’s increasing the total number of slots for saved decks players can have from 18 to 27. And as it nears the release of a new expansion, Hearthstone is shaking up all its formats by introducing a new Core Set of cards that will be free for all players.
The Core Set consists of 235 cards — including returning cards from previous sets, reimagined cards, and 29 brand new cards — that can be earned by leveling up each Class in Hearthstone. Core Set cards will be updated and rotated in and out on an annual basis. Meanwhile, Blizzard is moving all its old Basic and Classic cards that aren’t staying with the Core Set into its existing anything-goes Wild Format under a new name: the Legacy Set.[ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/11/09/hearthstone-madness-at-the-darkmoon-faire-deck-of-lunacy”]
Put simply, this means Hearthstone will have three game modes going forward. Standard will include the aforementioned Core Set and whatever expansion sets are current, right now Legacy of the Phoenix and whatever new expansion Blizzard announces at BlizzCon next week. Wild Format will include all Core Set cards, as well as just about every other older expansion of cards from over the years: so all Classic cards, retired expansions, and just about everything else. And Classic Format will only have the original cards from when the game launched in 2014.
Blizzard is expected to announce more details about these changes at BlizzCon on February 19.
Late last year, Blizzard dropped a new battle pass in Hearthstone that was not nearly as well-received as today’s changes, with Blizzard acknowledging after its launch that it had communicated the pass’ rewards poorly and that its requirements and benefits weren’t laid out in a clear way to players before they spent their money. Blizzard has since been working to address these issues, and earlier this year launched the game’s first “mini-set” of 35 cards: The Darkmoon Races.[poilib element=”accentDivider”]
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.