Goodbye Corvo, welcome Drago . No, we're not talking about the Chinese New Year, but the arrival of big news for the popular Blizzard digital card game. As usual, the approach of the New Year brings with it a large amount of changes, additions, and various adjustments that will enrich (hopefully ever better) the gaming experience in the busy Hearthstone Inn.
The Year of the Dragon is, however, expected not only for the unpublished contents that will arrive during the months. 2019, in fact, more than " of the Dragon " must be the year " of the redemption ". It is undeniable, net of the arrival of new competitors in an increasingly crowded market (think only of Magic), that Hearthstone has recently lived (and made players live) a rather troubled period. The beginning of the latter (whether simple or not fatal we are not interested) coincided with the melancholic goodbye of the volcanic director Ben Brode shortly after the Hearthstone World Championship Amsterdam , now flown to other shores, and the arrival of the Year of the Raven : bird notoriously a harbinger of bad omens.
In fact, the parable of the Blizzard card game began to slowly flex until it reached the last expansions that, unfortunately, seem to have suffered more than other times from a sort of creative "aridity". The domino effect, then, did the rest, reverberating its effects on the overall balance and, in general, on the same gaming experience of the millions of fans who still flock around the welcoming warmth of the Locanda.
The roar del Drago
2018, in short, we can store it as an interlocutory year that, hopefully, can be served to the development team above all to absorb the backlash due to changes at the top (new executive producer and new director). Recall that in addition to the rocky Brode, have left other prominent figures such as Che Chou, recently merged into Ubisoft .
Second, ended the previous creative cycle (which inevitably was still affected by the influence of Ben Brode ), just the new grafts will lead to a renewed vivacity and a path of unprecedented growth, perhaps in close contact with the community.
Finally, for what concerns the substantial competitive life of the title, the desire of pro player (currently not really in seventh heaven) and "normal" players is that Blizzard may have finally developed a unique and clear format, profiled on a coherent roadmap, as we will see shortly.
According to what the developers told us, the new competitive season should definitely start off on the right foot … and with a considerable load of novelties that will come in the whole year.
New Year, new Hall of Fame
Hearthstone owns multiple personalities . We try to clarify the concept. It is normal that, at the beginning of a product's life cycle, this can catalyze the attention of a plethora of indistinct users who will gradually enter – naturally or artificially – into well-defined categories. There is the competitive first-class player; who plays for pure pleasure; who, on the other hand, makes a leap from time to time. And then, there are the players who want the single player; those fasting game mechanics, not counting the issue of users who, for one reason or another, move away and in some way must be reconquered. How can we satisfy everyone and make sure that Hearthstone can be an accessible title but, at the same time, able to give satisfying challenges? Simply impossible, true. The team, however, even with a few missteps last year tried to do everything possible, improving the matchmaking, adjusting the ladder and recalibrating the " learning curve " for new players.
This work will continue this year, assure the developers, who will try to proceed with uniqueness of intent, pledging to listen more carefully what the community has to say.
Balancing and constant updates, therefore, they will represent the foundations on which to rest the amount of content that will come.
The first novelty concerns the enrichment of the Hall of Fame . This year will be nine cards that will be to flesh out the group of old glories. Among these we will find the paper of the Druid " Naturalization ", to exalt a weakness of the class, or the inability to effectively remove the minions more powerful opponents. To the cheerful brigade of old glories will also be added Demon Guardian Favor Divine and, listen to hear, Baku la Mangialune and Genn Mantogrigio
Baku and Genn, with the archetypes " even " and " odd ", were imposed as meta definer since their debut. All too effective, in fact. This is why the development team decided to send them to punishment earlier than expected because – it seems – the two creatures were going to tarnish the new features foreseen in the Year of the Dragon. Together with them, clearly, the cards complementary to the archetypes in question will also exit the scene.
Smart deck builder, set rotation and other amenities
Not just Hall of Fame. The first part of the year gives us the other, spread on different "plans" that will go from the aesthetic to the technician .
Regarding the aspects, so to speak, "secondary" these inherit mainly the back of the cards and the hero portrait . Starting from the new season, players can choose to start each match with a back of the cards drawn randomly from their collection. The specific function can be activated directly in the list of backs earned. In addition (and finally) the victories in the Arena will count for the release of the golden version of the Hero.
From the amusement we pass, however, to the juiciest things. First of all, in order to meet the newcomers (and those who have long since abandoned the title), the automatic construction of the deck has been revised. The so-called Smart Deck Builder will exploit a new algorithm that can more accurately compare the player's collection with the current goal, in order to allow the creation of current and competitive decks. In particular, according to what we have been told, the system will update the data concerning the destination on a daily basis
The Arena mode will also undergo a very important update. In the Year of the Dragon, the development team aims to change the format every two months rotating the sets and mixing standard sets with the Wild one. The first rotation of the Arena will contain the following sets: Basic, Classic, Curse of Naxxramas, Whispers of the Old Gods, Gadgetzan, Boscotetro and the first expansion of this year.
As usual, this year too competitive will greet some old sets which will end up in the Wild. The Dragon, in short, will kick the Mammoth on the hairy feet. There will be bonuses for those who log in to the game between midnight on March 25th and midnight on April 2nd will reward you with a package each of the expansions: Un'Goro, Knights of the Ice Throne and Coboldi & Catacombs . There will also be a new fight: the Brawl Block – Year of the Mammoth . This constructed brawl will only allow Journey to a Goro, Knights of the Ice Throne, and Kobolds & Catacombs, and will award the usual package with the first victory.
A year long story
Hearthstone, as we know, it has made its way into these years. And not just for the multiplayer experience. The Blizzard card game has also expanded into the game offer dedicated to solitary wolves. The single player, over time, has changed its face, going from the dedicated content – proposed separately from the main releases – to the adventures included (completely free of charge) to the side of the various expansions. With this stratagem, the team aimed not only to deepen the narrative background of the expansion and provide a challenge (as well as some small reward), but also to attract new users.
Now the single player content changes radically, a sign of the development team's desire to guarantee greater attention to form and content, to satisfy even the most demanding palates and finally give a sense of coherence to the game's lore.
For the first time in the history of the title, in fact, the single player will not have a different background for each expansion, but will present a unique narrative substratum that will develop along all three contents of 2019 .
In short, a story " a year long " will accompany us throughout the year. The grand debut will take place one month after the release of the first expansion and will immediately show some of the improvements and additional content that the dedicated team (whose number of components has now doubled) has decided to implement exploiting the expertise gained in the last two years.
The adventure that will follow the first expansion of the Year of the Dragon will begin with a free chapter where players can experiment with new game mechanics, new cards and keywords.
You want some clues ? First, each chapter (will be five in all) will present a series of unique rules (and two game modes, including one " Anomaly Mode " with special random modifiers at each match) , eight randomly generated bosses at each run. The player can choose his hero, unlock up to three alternative powers and build the deck thanks to the rewards provided after each victory. Something very similar to what we have already learned to know during previous adventures
There is, however, something more: during the adventure there will be space for some " friendly encounter ". These will be nothing but a " safe zone " in which players can modify and further customize the deck. A little 'as happens in RPG, will visit the Innkeeper, who will throw on the board new cards to choose from. In this phase, therefore, you can upgrade, recruit new creatures or replace those already in possession by spending specific tokens.
In addition, the rewards for those who complete each chapter have been revised and improved: there will be dust, gold , packs of cards to wait for adventurers
Players who want to dive deeper into single player history can buy the other chapters as they are released for 700 gold coins each , or unlock the whole single player experience for 19.99 € .
The Factor E (sport)
Che Chou told us, during the interview at the World Championship of Amsterdam, that their goal was to grow not only the competitive scene, creating a healthy and prosperous environment for everyone, but also to favor the public's affection for professional players in order to transform them into real recognizable and loved opres star
The choice to change again the rich competitive format (now profiled on three levels Master and on a format Specialist that will replace the current Conquest ) wants to go in this direction, without obviously neglecting the need to make the game enjoyable and interesting to watch for the public. In addition, the decision to release the new expansion just before the April world championship, aims to add that extra touch of unpredictability that should catalyze the public's attention on the most important event of the year. The idea is to attract spectators interested in enjoying the event and to observe in action the solutions adopted by professional players who, obviously, have had very little time to test the new archetypes.
We will see if Blizzard's choice of revolutionize again the competitive environment will be successful or not.