A raft of updates were announced for Hearthstone today, including a brand new mode, a brand new expansion, and a complete overhaul of the game’s progression system. Let’s go through them.
First up, the new mode is called Hearthstone Duels and it takes the build-as-you-go deckbuilding gameplay that has been so popular across many of Hearthstone’s Solo Adventures of recent years and lets you take on other players. If you’ve played Dungeon Run, Monster Hunt, Rumble Run, The Dalaran Heist or Tombs of Terror, you’d have some idea of the format, but a key difference here is that Duels is structured like Arena, so players are striving for 12 wins, while three losses ends the run.
At the start of a run, players choose a hero, each of which has a bespoke hero power, and then builds their own starter deck of 15 cards to take into the run. These cards can be anything from the current legal pool for the mode, but instead of the usual limit of one copy of each legendary and two copies of each card of other rarities, Duels only allows one copy of each card, regardless of rarity. With each win, players can choose between different options to add cards to their decks, and – as anyone who has played the Solo Adventures would expect – powerful treasures will also be a fixture of the mode, allowing players to make truly over-the-top plays.
With each season, the heroes, hero powers, treasures and card pool will change. The debut season’s theme is Wizard Duels, so the ten heroes are pulled from the Scholomance Academy expansion. And in terms of the cards players can use, Season 1 will include the Basic and Classic sets, as well as Scholomance Academy, Curse of Naxxramas and One Night in Karazhan.
Duels will be a free game mode, although there will also be a Heroic Duels option for 150 gold or a Tavern ticket, with rewards based on how well you perform. The Duels beta officially launches on November 17, but there will be ample opportunities to play it before then. Players who pre-purchase a Madness at the Darkmoon Faire bundle (yes, that’s the next expansion – we’ll get to it in a sec) will get early access to Duels. How early? It’s running right now. And once November 12 rolls around, early access will open up for everyone.
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Old Gods, New Tricks
The Hearthstone team also announced the game’s next expansion, and it’s a doozy. Welcome to Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, so named because The Old Gods have chosen WoW’s iconic Darkmoon Faire as the site of their return. Yes, all four Old Gods are back as new legendary cards, and are packing game-swinging power. Not only that, but the set will also include four Old God Artifacts – powerful spells inspired by the original Old God card designs from Whispers of the Old Gods.
Across its 135 new cards, Madness at the Darkmoon Faire will also play host to a new keyword – Corrupt. Cards with Corrupt can be upgraded in hand by first playing a card of a greater cost than the corruptible card. In a neat touch, the corrupted card then gets a new, twisted version of its original artwork. This feels like a thoughtful new mechanic that should make for interesting deckbuilding, not to mention plenty of decisions within matches.
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Madness at the Darkmoon Faire (MDF) will launch on November 17 (or Nov 18 in ANZ), but there are two pre-purchase options available now. The first bundle is $39.99 USD ($53.95 AUD) and contains 45 Madness at the Darkmoon Faire card packs, one random MDF legendary card, the N’Zoth card back and early access to Hearthstone Duels.
The Mega Bundle, meanwhile, costs $79.99 USD ($109.95 AUD) and includes 80 Madness at the Darkmoon Faire card packs, five golden MDF card packs, one random golden MDF legendary card, the playable N’Zoth Warlock Hero, the N’Zoth card back, Battleground perks and early access to Hearthstone Duels.
Last but by no means least, the team has also announced the biggest overhaul to Hearthstone’s progression system ever, and it’s coming on November 12. The change includes an achievements system, a central Reward Track, a quest revamp and an updated profile page. Let’s run through these.
Achievements have been requested since the very beginning of Hearthstone and they’re finally coming! The system will include a broad set of stats across every game mode, will let you chase in-game accomplishments by class, and will even let you easily keep track of your card collection and ranked milestones.
Another huge change is the shift to an experience-based reward system. Yes, with each new expansion, players will be able to earn experience by completing quests, unlocking specific achievements and simply playing the game, and in doing so make their way through a 50-level Reward Track. Along the way you’ll be given gold, card packs, cards and cosmetics. And hitting level 50 will earn players one of ten all-new hero skins. Purchasing a Tavern Pass can also add bonus earnable items to the Reward Track, including XP boosts and extra cosmetics.
As mentioned, completing quests now rewards players with XP to push them along their Reward Track. There will, however, be even more quests to complete, with daily quests being joined by all-new weekly quests. You’ll get three at the start of each week, and like daily quests, one weekly quest can be re-rolled each day.
Lastly, as of November 12 each player will now have an in-game profile page with lifetime stats for their accounts. Nice.
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