Blizzard today announced that the next year of Hearthstone will be known as The Year of the Hydra. It will commence on April 12 (April 13 in ANZ) with the release of Hearthstone’s newest expansion, Voyage to the Sunken City, and will see three sets leave the Standard format – Ashes of Outland, Scholomance Academy and Madness at the Darkmoon Faire. It’s going to be a massive shakeup, and not just because the card pool will be significantly smaller for Standard players, but also because the game’s foundation – the Core Set, which is free for all players to use – will be radically different to The Year of the Gryphon’s.
Last year’s Core Set was 235 cards, but for The Year of the Hydra, the set will expand to 250 cards. In terms of changes, 57 cards are rotating out, and 72 cards are coming in. I’ll get to some of the most significant returning cards in a minute, but first, it’s worth pointing out that 11 cards are getting buffs or having previous nerfs reverted. Execute is back to one mana (from two), for instance, while Nourish is returning to five mana (from six). Equality, meanwhile, is two mana once more (after spending time at both three and four mana), which means the classic Equality + Consecrate board clear costs six mana again. The changes are all pretty significant and indicative of how powerful the Voyage to the Sunken City cards are projected to be, as well as how Hearthstone’s cards have grown more powerful in general. You can see the full roster of updated cards in the slideshow below.
Many of the cards being added, meanwhile, have been deck-defining, highly played or key tech choices in the past, so have the potential to really help shape the new meta in The Year of the Hydra. In neutral, a few of the returning cards that really jump out are the original League of Explorers: Reno Jackson, Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker and Sir Finley, not to mention Doomsayer, Murloc Warleader, Tar Creeper, Lifedrinker, Wild Pyromancer, Sea Giant, Primordial Drake and Mossy Horror. Each class also gets some powerful new (old) tools. Hunter, for instance, sees the return of Houndmaster Shaw, Animal Companion, Springpaw, Cloaked Huntress, Marked Shot and Candleshot. Priest, meanwhile, gets a selection of stone cold classics sure to drive non-Priest players mad, including Lyra the Sunshard, Northshire Cleric, Radiant Elemental, Lightbomb, Murozond the Infinite and Drakonid Operative. You can see the full Core Set in the slideshow below to get an idea of each class’ foundation.
For those who want to see the changes at a glance, here’s a list (via Blizzard) of the Core Set changes.
57 Cards Rotating Out
Neutral: Arcane Anomaly, Argent Squire, Cogmaster, Young Priestess, Mini-Mage, River Crocolisk, Toxicologist, Brightwing, Earthen Ring Farseer, Flesheating Ghoul, Ice Rager, Injured Blademaster, King Mukla, Spider Tank, Stoneskin Basilisk, Baron Rivendare, Gurubashi Berserker, High Inquisitor Whitemane, Barrens Stablehand, Clockwork Giant
Demon Hunter: Ashtongue Battlelord, Warglaives of Azzinoth
Druid: Enchanted Raven, Landscaping, Menagerie Warden, Nordrassil Druid, Ancient of War
Hunter: Webspinner, Lock and Load, Scavenging Hyena, Headhunter’s Hatchet, Bearshark
Mage: Water Elemental, Mirror Entity, Fallen Hero, Coldarra Drake
Paladin: Holy Light, Pursuit of Justice, Guardian of Kings
Priest: Crimson Clergy, Shadowform, Lightspawn, Temple Enforcer, Natalie Seline
Rogue: Bladed Cultist, Patient Assassin
Shaman: Windfury, Unbound Elemental, Draenei Totemcarver, Earth Elemental
Warlock: Dread Infernal, Possessed Villager, Enslaved Fel Lord, Ritual of Doom
Warrior: Warsong Commander, War Cache, Warsong Outrider
72 Cards Coming In
Neutral: Zola the Gorgon, Sir Finley Mrrglton, Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson, Murloc Warleader, Mistress of Mixtures, Acolyte of Pain, Doomsayer, Beaming Sidekick, Gorillabot A-3, Tar Creeper, Lifedrinker, Wild Pyromancer, Sea Giant, Plated Beetle, Azure Drake, Twilight Drake, Escaped Manasaber, Primordial Drake, Mossy Horror, Faerie Dragon, Vulpera Scoundrel, Cobalt Scalebane, Injured Tol’vir
Demon Hunter: Metamorphosis, Wrathscale Naga, Flamereaper
Druid: Fandral Staghelm, Earthen Scales, Wrath, Living Roots, Mounted Raptor, Ancient of Lore
Hunter: Houndmaster Shaw, Animal Companion, Springpaw, Cloaked Huntress, Marked Shot, Candleshot
Mage: Kalecgos, Pyroblast, Blizzard, Pyromaniac, Explosive Runes
Paladin: Flash of Light, Amber Watcher, Bronze Explorer, Ragnaros Lightlord
Priest: Lyra the Sunshard, Northshire Cleric, Radiant Elemental, Lightbomb, Drakonid Operative, Murozond the Infinite
Rogue: Tess Greymane, Buccaneer, Hench-Clan Burglar
Shaman: Krag’wa, the Frog, Far Sight, Flametongue Totem, Maelstrom Portal, Bloodlust
Warlock: Voidwalker, Imp Gang Boss, Abyssal Enforcer, High Priestess Jek’lik, Darkshire Librarian
Warrior: Darius Crowley, Shield Block, Bloodhoof Brave, Bash
11 Cards Getting Updates (Buffs/Nerf Reversions)
Neutral: Gorillabot A3 costs 3 mana; Azure Drake has 5 Health
Demon Hunter: Feast of Souls is 1 mana; Wrathscale Naga has 2 Health
Druid: Nourish is 5 mana
Mage: Kalecgos is 9 mana
Paladin: Equality costs 2 mana; Bronze Explorer has 3 Attack
Warlock: High Priestess Jek’lik has 5 Health
Warrior: Execute is 1 mana; Darious Crowley has 5 Health
Today’s announcement also saw the remaining cards revealed for the Voyage to the Sunken City set. We’ve now seen all 135 and it’s shaping up to be one heck of a set, with big impactful Colossal minions that take up multiple board spaces, the new Naga tribe with their interesting spell synergies, the ability to sink cards to the bottom of your deck then Dredge them back up, and generally interesting directions for almost all the classes, whether we’re talking about Murloc Warlock, the return of Mech Mage or the rise of Multicaster Shaman. You can see all the cards below.
Our Voyage to the Sunken City begins on April 12 (April 13 in ANZ), and promises to kick off an exciting year. You can find out more about the set and the team’s plans for the year ahead over at Hearthstone’s official site.
Cam Shea has worked at IGN since before the before times and has been following Hearthstone since it was first announced. When he’s not playing games he’s mixing records.