Everything changes in the world of Hearthstone next week.
Blizzard has confirmed that expansion Whispers of the Old Gods will be released on April 27th in Europe and April 26th in the US. The DLC also marks the arrival of the new Standard and Wild playmodes that represent the biggest shake-up to the game yet seen.
Whispers of the Old Gods introduces 134 new cards. Players are still currently able to pre-order a bundle of 50 card packs at a discount. These can then be opened on the day of release.
The most interesting development, despite the reveal of some truly menacing cards over the last few weeks, is that 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.
Hearthstone is going to be 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.
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.