Set in the haunted region of Gilneas, the next Hearthstone expansion, titled The Witchwood, promises to shake up the game in many interesting the ways. Here’s everything we know so far about the next card set.
The Witchwood will introduce two new keywords to the game, as well as some very interesting cards with attributes that activate based on new deck-building requirements.
The first keyword revealed was Echo. A card with Echo makes a copy of itself in your hand once you play it and, if you have enough mana, you can play that card again and again that turn. The copy then disappears once your turn is over.
We’ve seen this mechanic before in the Shaman card Unstable Evolution, while the expansion reveal trailer showed it in the new card Phantom Militia – a three-mana 2/4 neutral minion with Taunt and Echo.
If you have six mana, you can play Phantom Militia twice on the same turn and if you have nine mana, you can play it three times – all while only actually using one card from your deck.
We haven’t seen enough cards with this keyword to understand its power just yet, but there could be some strong synergy with the Rogue Death Knight’s hero power.
The other keyword revealed in the trailer was Rush, which functions exactly the same as Charge, except Rush minions can only attack other minions on the turn they’re played.
The card used to show this keyword off was the Militia Commander, a four-mana 2/5 Warrior minion with the Battlecry, ‘Gain three attack this turn’.
Once again, this mechanic has (kind of) appeared once before in the Charged Devilsaur, which has Charge, but a Battlecry of, ‘Can’t attack Heroes this turn.’ The Charged Devilsaur won’t have its text changed, however, meaning it can still function very well once Recruited or as part of a Carnivorous Cube re-summon.
Given the developers have stated in the past that they believe Charge to be a ‘non-interactive’ mechanic that isn’t fun to play against – as well as the startlingly few Charge cards that have been printed since the classic set – it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rush cards printed a lot more commonly in future sets.
Finally, a number of cards now have a bonus effect that activates if your deck consists of only odd-cost or even-cost cards. Why would you even consider building a deck around such an odd requirement? Well…
What will undoubtedly be one of the biggest themes in the next expansion – potentially even the whole Year of the Raven – will be odd-cost only or even-cost only decks.
That’s because of two of the three legendary minions revealed in The Witchwood trailer. Baku the Mooneater – a neutral nine-mana 7/8 – upgrades your hero power at the very start of the game – but only if your deck consists entirely of odd-cost cards. The upgraded hero powers are identical to the ones bestowed by Justicar Trueheart in The Grand Tournament and will no doubt see the return of some infamous decks of old.
On the other side of the coin you have Genn Greymane, a six-mana 6/5, who reduces the cost of your starting hero power to one at the start of the game, but only if your deck is made up of even-costing cards.
What’s interesting here is that both of these cards, and the subsequent decks built around them, look to have somewhat poor synergy with the Death Knights that have dominated the meta recently. Whether this will see the metagame refreshed at all, or whether these cards won’t see a great deal of play, is yet to be seen.
Blizzard have revealed a handful of cards that fit in with these odd and even synergies.
These include; Black Cat, a three-mana 3/3 Mage minion with Spell Damage +1 and a Battlecry that – if your deck is odd-only – lets you draw a card, Gloom Stag, a five-mana 2/6 Druid minion with Taunt, that gains +2/+2 in odd-only decks, Glitter Moth, a five-mana 4/4 Priest minion that doubles the HP of your other minions in an odd deck, and Murkspark Eel, a two-mana 2/3 Shaman minion that also deals two damage as a Battlecry if played in an even-only deck.
As of now, it’s unknown whether all nine classes will have access to both odd and even deck synergy cards. That said, game designer Dean Ayala said in a recent YouTube video that Baku and Genn will create 18 new deck types – which sounds like all classes will be able to do odd and even builds.
The Dungeon Run single-player mode from Kobolds and Catacombs commanded high praise and Blizzard have thus far delivered on their promise to include strong single-player content with each expansion going forward.
The Witchwood will introduce a similar single-player mode called Monster Hunt. Monster Hunt shares many similarities with Dungeon Run, in that it is a run of eight matches, each harder than the last, against a random assortment of unique boss characters.
Like Dungeon Run, players will build decks as they progress through their Monster Hunt, and will also receive special powerful cards after some matches too.
Where Monster Hunt differs, however, is that the classes the player uses in this mode are unique to the game. Where Dungeon Run allows you to pick one the game’s existing nine classes, Monster Hunt has four unique characters known as the Tracker, Cannoneer, Houndmaster and Time-Tinker.
While each character does employ one of the existing class logos (Rogue, Warrior, Hunter and Mage, respectively) their as-of-yet unannounced hero powers will be unique.
The release of The Witchwood will also mark the beginning of the Year of the Raven. While the expansions released in the Year of the Mammoth (Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds and Catacombs) will still be available for standard play, the three expansions from the Year of the Kraken will be moved to wild.
That means any and all cards from Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan will be available exclusively in wild.
Additionally, the developers announced another three cards from the game’s classic set would be inducted into the wild-only Hall of Fame set. Ice Block (hallelujah!), Coldlight Oracle and Molten Giant will be removed from the game’s standard format – although Molten Giant will be un-nerfed once it hits the Hall of Fame.
Owners of any of these three cards will be credited the Arcane Dust they would have received for disenchanting them, but will still get to keep the cards. Dust refunds are not issued for Year of the Kraken set cards.
While Blizzard haven’t publically announced a specific day for release, they have stated that The Witchwood will be available in mid-April. Looking back on the last three April releases doesn’t give us much in the way of reference, with 2015’s Blackrock Mountain releasing on April 2, 2016’s Whispers of the Old Gods releasing on April 26 and last year’s Journey to Un’Goro coming out on April 6.
There is a pre-purchase offer available, however, that allows players to purchase the usual 50-pack set for the price of 40. On this occasion, however, players will also receive an additional 20 bonus packs and an exclusive card back.