Many of the most popular cards in the Hearthstone library will be excluded from what Blizzard will position as the new standard ranked play mode for its card battler.
The developer last night announced some big changes to the title, not least of which is its split into two types of ranked and casual play modes.
First off is what will simply be called Standard Mode. Available in both Casual and Ranked play, Standard will limit card selection to Basic and Classic cards, as well as all premium cards released in the last 12 months. This means cards released as part of the Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes expansion will not be available when Standard Mode arrives this spring.
As a result, some of the game's most relied upon cards will be cut out of the loop – including Dr Boom, Piloted Shredder, Sludge Belcher, Mad Scientist, Antique Healbot, Mechwarper, Haunted Creeper, Shielded Minibot, Imp-losion, Tinker's Sharpsword Oil and Muster for Battle.
Cards from newer expansions will be cycled out as new sets are introduced.
The second game mode will be called Wild and is basically what we have now – all cards available at all times. Each mode will have its own ranked ladder and players will be segregated from one another when battling. Crucially, however, Standard will become the official format of the Championship Tour.
Player's end of season rank will be drawn from whichever ladder they ranked highest in.
Another new addition will undoubtedly delight fans – the total number of deck slots is being increased from nine to 18.
More controversial is the fact that cards that are no longer part of the standard format will no longer be available to buy as part of Expansions or Adventures, although they will still be craftable in exchange for dust, including Adventure cards that could previously not be crafted.
Standard will help make for a more dynamic and balanced metagame,” Blizzard said. A select set of cards makes each new card have more impact. The developers will have more freedom to design exciting new cards. It lets newer players jump in faster without having to collect as many cards.
The arrival of Standard format will also be an excellent time for us to take stock of Hearthstone. While normally we're quite conservative about making balance changes to Hearthstone cards (and we'll continue to be in the future), we're planning to take the new Hearthstone year as a golden opportunity to re-evaluate a number of cards in the Basic and Classic card sets, including class cards, and make some long-considered adjustments.”