By now, we should expect the Hearthstone dev team to spit out big news when we least expect it. It happened again today, with a big announcement of Standard Play. All of it is well-explained on Hearthpwn but here are some key points:
- Standard Play is an entire game mode which excludes every card of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes. The regular game mode with all cards is going to be called “Wild.”
- Arena rewards will not include Naxxramas or Goblins vs Gnomes.
- There are separate ladders in Ranked play for Standard and Wild.
- Competitive eSports in Hearthstone will be Standard Play only.
- 9 more deck slots!
Of course, the exclusion of Naxxramas and GvG does not hit all the cards equally.
- Mech decks are completely gutted. The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers effectively carried 1 mech each. All mech synergy cards are also gone, or useless.
- Classes hit the hardest include Warlock, Paladin, Mage, and Priest.
- Warlock – High value cards like Imp Gang Boss, Imp-losion and Voidcaller are out, as well as boss Mal’ganis.
- Mage – Mech mages hit the hardest here. Mad Scientist hits hard as well.
- Priest – Velen’s Chosen! Lightbomb limits the Auchenai Circle combo.
- Paladin – Nothing to play on Turn 1-3 now it seems. Turn 4 if you count Piloted Shredder. Avenge is the best Paladin spell, and now likely subbed by something like Eye for an Eye.
- Classes hit less or not at all include Warrior, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman, and Druid.
- Warrior – Shieldmaiden and Death’s Bite are staples now. Death’s Bite can be effectively traded in for Arcanite Reaper, thought not well.
- Hunter – Losing Glaivezooka makes Face Hunter a lot weaker. Mad Scientist out as well.
- Rogue – While it is clear that Oil Decks are out, Mill Rogues, Mech Rogues and Pirate Rogues are also out as well. As a Rogue player, this isn’t really a huge loss as Cold Blood can come back. Miracle is also workable without the banned cards.
- Shaman – No real big losses honestly. Crackle can be replaced by a sure thing in Lava Burst.
- Druid – The biggest loss is probably Anodized Robo Cub, so no big loss. Druids will still terrorize Standard Play with the combo.
While this announcement is basically a fancy way to announce restricted cards in the game, there are a number of reasons why this was done:
- The Hearthstone devs now don’t have to focus on rebalancing through nerfs and buffs. No more calls for Dr. Boom’s head!
- Really annoying cards you see all the time will be gone! Thank god for no more Shielded Minibot.
- The pool of Hearthstone players will be divided quite a bit now, with some people committing to either Standard Play and Wild, with some muddling the two modes. It should be easier to play Ranked, just because there is less competition in the competitive ranks.
- The restriction of Naxx and GvG galvanizes every class balance significantly, with the strongest constructed classes now shot down. I expect Druid or maybe Shaman to become the strongest Constructed class, as they seems to be unaffected by these changes.
- On the eSports side, this is where skill divergence will be evident. The true pro players should be able to endure not having to play really good cards and adapt, while the less good players will burn out from this change.
But if you’re not game, you can just play Wild mode and forget this all happened. And this humongous shift will occur with the next expansion coming out in the spring!