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Hearthstone: A New Way to Play

Updated on February 9, 2016


Today, we are going to be taking a look at the new Hearthstone formats and examining the overall changes coming to Hearthstone in 2016, "The Year of the Kraken".

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is "Hearthstone"?
  3. "A New Way to Play"- Standard
  4. "A New Way to Play"- Wild
  5. Interview with Ben Brode
  6. List of Neutral Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
  7. Lists of Class Specific Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
  8. Changes to Competitive Decks
  9. List of Neutral Naxxramas cards
  10. List of Class Specific Naxxramas cards
  11. Changes to Competitive Decks
  12. A Word from the Author

What is "Hearthstone"?

Hearthstone is a free-to-play collective card game based off of the popular MMO "World of Warcraft" by Blizzard Entertainment. Released in March of 2014, Hearthstone has grown to be one of the most popular online games world wide.

Originally released as PC-based card game, Blizzard has expanded it's parameters to now include iOS and Android compatibility.

"A New Way to Play"- Standard

With the coming of 2016 and "The Year of the Kraken", Blizzard Entertainment has recently released the formats for competitive and casual play: Standard and Wild

What is Standard?

Standard is the format that will be used in competitive play for upcoming tournaments.

Standard allows players to face off using the most recently released Hearthstone cards. Decks will be built with cards released in the current and previous calendar year. Any and all adventures released in previous years will be cycled out and will no longer be available for use in Standard. In this format, you will only be matched with players also using Standard decks.

Cards that will be available for play in Standard:

  • Basic
  • Classic
  • Blackrock Mountain
  • The Grand Tournament
  • League of Explorers
  • Upcoming 2016 Expansions

Cards that will no longer be available:

  • Goblins vs. Gnomes
  • Curse of Naxxramas

This means out of the 382 cards released to date, 153 cards will be removed.

With this new system, new players who are interested in playing Hearthstone will be able to build and customize more competitive decks without having to buy adventures and card packs to be able to have a top-tier competitive deck.

Standard will ONLY affect Friendly Challenges, Ranked and Casual play. Arena, Solo play, and Adventures will become part of the casual Hearthstone experience: Wild

"A New Way to Play"- Wild

As Standard has been introduced for both competitive and casual Hearthstone, Wild will stay true to the Hearthstone that we all know and love.

What is Wild?

Wild is the Hearthstone format where anything goes. Unlike Standard, any and all cards will be available for use. So if you recently purchased packs from GvG (Goblins vs. Gnomes) or have yet to raid CoN (Curse of Naxxramas) and are worried about wasting money/gold, you will still be able to use these cards in your decks.

Wild gives the casual Hearthstone player the ability to play using whatever cards from whatever expansion without fear of certain cards being removed.

This means that all 382 will be available, making this format truly Wild.

In the Wild format, nothing changes. You will still be able to finish quests, earn gold, rank up in ladder, and earn Legend ranking. When queuing for Wild in Arena, Ranked or Casual play, you will only be matched up against other players using Wild decks.

Interview with Head Designer Ben Brode

Card Change Review and Analysis

As the new Standard format is released, we are going to see a lot of popular cards be taken out of competitive play. Both Goblins vs. Gnomes and Curse of Naxxramas have very strong cards that have shaped the meta for Hearthstone decks over the past few years.

Here are the Goblins vs. Gnomes cards that are going to be taken out of Standard.

(Note: These cards WILL still be available for Wild format!)

List of Neutral Goblins vs. Gnomes cards

Basic Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
Basic Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
Rare Goblins Vs. Gnomes cards
Rare Goblins Vs. Gnomes cards
Epic Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
Epic Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
Legendary Goblins vs. Gnomes cards
Legendary Goblins vs. Gnomes cards

List of Class Specific Goblins vs. Gnomes cards

Druid class specific cards
Druid class specific cards
Mage class specific cards
Mage class specific cards
Shaman class specific cards
Shaman class specific cards
Warrior class specific cards
Warrior class specific cards
Warlock class specific cards
Warlock class specific cards
Priest class specific cards
Priest class specific cards
Rogue class specific cards
Rogue class specific cards
Paladin class specific cards
Paladin class specific cards
Hunter class specific cards
Hunter class specific cards

How These Cards Affect Competitive Decks

Goblins vs. Gnomes introduced 153 new cards to Hearthstone including a new Mech type minion. This expansion centers around Mech synergy and a lot of heavy hitting minions. We'll analyze a few of the major aspects made present in the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion.


RNG, or random number generator, has always been a mechanic of the game (percentage chance of drawing certain minions over others, etc.). With the introduction of Goblins vs. Gnomes, RNG became a larger mechanic and could either win or lose you the game. Cards such as Piloted Shredder, Sneed's Old Shredder, Ogre Warmaul and Ogre Brute all played to this mechanic. For example, since the release of The League of Explorers, there are 88 2--cost minions. This give every 2-cost minion a 1.14% chance of summoning upon activation of Piloted Shredder's deathrattle ability.


Although this feature was not newly introduced with this expansion, it became a major theme because of it's high rate of RNG and synergistic elements with cards such as Lil' Exorcist. Piloted Shredder, Piloted Sky Golem and Sneed's Old Shredder have an "ejection" mechanic meaning that on activation of their deathrattle, they release a minion of a certain mana value. An example of deathrattle synergy would include playing a Piloted Shredder and the spell Feign Death which triggers all death rattles. This would spawn a random 2-cost minion while also keeping the Shredder on board.

One card that will be greatly missed is Dr. Boom. It's a 7 attack 7 health legendary minion that summons 2 Boom Bots. These Boom Bots have the deathrattle effect of "Deal 1-4 damage to a random enemy". Along with being a large body, the inclusion of the Boom Bots made this card a must have in almost every competitive deck.

Clumsy Ogre

This is a unique mechanic in that it's a 50-50 chance of it activating. This "clumsy" mechanic basically means that it has the chance of it attacking a random enemy. Although the RNG behind if it triggers or not is only 50%, the chance that it attacks a certain minion is much smaller. This mechanic brought about a sort of "RNG-stacking". Let's say that you needed your Ogre Brute to hit your opponent's face to win the game. There is the 50-50 roll to determine if it will strike the correct target and if it doesn't, another roll takes place to decide which minion it will actually hit. This mechanic is both good and bad in that it can either win you the game or lose you the game. Although these cards can be used in certain deck styles, they are rarely seen and probably won't be missed.

Card Review and Analysis

Here are the cards from Curse of Naxxramas that will be taken out with the coming of Standard

(Note: These cards will also be available in the Wild format!)

Neutral Curse of Naxxramas cards
Neutral Curse of Naxxramas cards
Class specific Curse of Naxxramas cards
Class specific Curse of Naxxramas cards

How These Cards Affect Competitive Decks

With Curse of Naxxramas being the first Adventure released for Hearthstone, there are a lot of cards that have been in a lot of top-tier, competitive decks for a long time. These cards gave way to control decks like Control Warrior and aggressive decks such like Face Hunter. Here are a few cards that are going to drastically change the way that some competitive decks are structured and played

Sludge Belcher

Known for being one of the most used taunt minions in the game right now, Sludge Belcher holds a special place in a lot of decks because of it's unique deathrattle ability. As a 5-mana 3-5 with taunt, it is pretty decent in terms of value but it's deathrattle is what gives this card the edge, leaving behind a 1-2 taunt slime when Sludge Belcher dies. Basically, it turns a 3-5 taunt minion into a 4-7 with taunt, which is pretty good. Sludge Belcher is seen in a lot of decks, especially control decks in order for players to slow down the game with beefy taunt minions absorbing most of the damage. With this card gone from competitive, the game will surely pick up in terms of overall pace and tempo.

Zombie Chow

This is another defensive card because it also has a unique deathrattle effect. As a 1-mana 2-3, the value alone makes this card strong. Unfortunately, it's deathrattle is the only trade off for this early game monster. The deathrattle effect, when triggered, heals the enemy hero for 5 health. In the early game, this isn't a whole lot because generally Zombie Chow is taken out within at least 2 turns of being played. This card has a large focus on the early to mid game because of it's low mana curve and base stats. During the mid game, players are starting to get stronger minions on the board so the 5 health given from the deathrattle is almost negated by the large amounts of damage that many classes pack.

Haunted Creeper

Haunted Creeper is one of those cards that I wasn't sure was going to be good. It is a 2-mana 1-2 with a deathrattle effect that summons 2 1-1 spectral spiders. I didn't see the value in this card and didn't see a place for it in a lot of decks. What I failed to see was the increasing number of zoo-type and face decks that were out there. In those style decks, this card fits right in. Zoo and Face are all about flooding the board and always having minions to clear enemy minions off the board. For early game pressure, the Haunted Creeper plays a big role in making sure you have at least 1 to 2 minions on board for the first few turns. With this card being taken out of competitive play, aggressive Zoolock and Face Hunter decks will need another card to mimic the pressure that Haunted Creeper brings.


Loatheb is a 5-mana 5-5 legendary minion with the battlecry affect that makes all enemy spells cost 5 more mana for their next turn. This card is huge in and against control decks because of it's battlecry. The additional 5 mana cost on spells in the mid game limits control decks ability to remove threats from the board such as Loatheb and Dr. Boom during turns 5-7. This card has a strong affect against decks like Freeze Mage where most of it's burst damage and a.o.e clear. Without Loatheb, the tempo of decks will increase, especially in the mid game.

A Word From the Author

Hey guys! I hope you find this Hub helpful with the upcoming changes to Hearthstone. I am very excited for this new format to be implemented. I think it will keep the game fresh and exciting.

In this section, I'm just going to share my thoughts and personal feelings on the upcoming changes and how I think the game will change.

Disclaimer: This is only my opinion, not fact! I am not trying to "rock the boat"

Although Hearthstone has a lot of cards and a lot of possibilities for deck customization, the card variety seemed to be getting somewhat stale. The cyclical nature of Standard makes it so that while cards are being released, it opens up spots for other cards to shine and to be introduced. When Standard takes effect in the next few months (hopefully), CoN and GvG will be cycled out, opening spots for cards released in the next expansion to fill.

The alternative to this format is simply scaling cards to be "stronger" than cards previously released. Yu-Gi-Oh has this sort of "power creeping" card style. Power creeping is basically scaling cards ridiculously making older cards obselete. Scaling health, attack and mana costs is not the way to keep Hearthstone fresh and exciting. Although it is nice to see a 30 attack Frothing Berserker, making high base stats on cards isn't balanced.

Blizzard does a good job in keeping a lot of cards relevant with the introduction of new card mechanics. Deathrattle minions synergized well with Feign Death and now with cards like Museum Curator and the "discover" mechanic, it opens up a whole different level of synergy available. League of Explorers added a few different mechanics that changed the game and created some pretty competitive decks. A few of the big cards seen right now are cards such as Reno Jackson and Elise Starseeker/Golden Monkey. These cards change the way that certain decks are played completely. This is not to mention the 2-200 basic and classic cards that are going to be changed and buffed/nerfed from the original sets.

One thing I think people seem to forget is that Hearthstone as we know it now is only being changed for one game type. Wild is still going to be available and will allow you to play Dr. Boom until your heart's content. I think some people saw that a portion of Hearthstone was being changed and jumped to conclusions like "Blizzard is ruining Hearthstone! I just bought these expansions yesterday now I can't play them!" when in reality, nothing changes in Wild.

Overall, I think that Standard is the best thing for Hearthstone at this point in it's lifespan. It keeps people excited for the next expansions and it keeps the possibility for new and exciting decks to be created. Obviously, there are still a lot of cards that will remain in decks and the core of a lot of decks such as Freeze Mage and Patron Warrior won't change but it does give other cards and decks to be experimented with.

If you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think! Thanks!


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    • Noah Gonzales profile imageAUTHOR

      Noah Gonzales 

      2 years ago

      I think overall standard will bring a different structure to the game. Although it is unfortunate that CoN and GvG are being cycled out, the next expansion that will be released will more than likely release cards that will replace cards cycled out. It's hard to say right now seeing as though we don't know what new cards are being released but I am pretty sure we will see similar mechanics as we did in GvG and CoN

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I have been playing Hearthstone for a while now. I bought CoN a while ago but now won't be able to use those cards in standard? Seems kind of strange to set up a system that denies you the ability to use cards that you spent money on. I know you can use them in wild but still, I was looking forward to standard but now, I'm not so sure

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Wow this is so interesting!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Noah Gonzales profile imageAUTHOR

      Noah Gonzales 

      2 years ago

      This is my first post so I hope it was helpful and insightful on the new Hearthstone formats! Let me know what you think and let me know what I can improve on!

      Disclaimer: I know the images are extremely small. Its hard to read the text on the cards. It's just way they uploaded so I apologize!


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