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Hearthstone’s New Year’s Event The Year of the Gryphon,  a new expansion called Forged in the Barrens, strategic RPG mode Hearthstone Mercenaries, and card updates just got announced at BlizzConline.

BlizzConline showcased three dragons that will receive updates. Ysera the Dreamer will get Dream cards immediately upon playing her. Malygos the Spellweaver will also receive a new Battlecry. Once on the board, he will draw spells until the player’s hand is full.

As for Deathwing the Destroyer, he will still be a strong board clear. However, unlike the past, he would no longer leave the player with an empty hand.

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Deathwing the Destroyer Hearthstone card update. Image provided by Blizzard Entertainment.

Along with this, the Standard format will be receiving a big shake-up. The launch of the Core Sets will replace the Basic and Classic card sets with a collection of 235 cards. This will be in addition to the arrival of 29 new cards. According to the announcement, the Core Sets will be free.

“This new Core Set is a revamped take on well-known cards from Basic, Classic and Wild that are buffed, revived and revolutionized,” Ryan Masterson, a game designer on the Hearthstone team, said. “We’re looking to better match the set with modern gameplay. We also want to provide newer players with a strong starting point for their collection. And, we want to create a structure that can shake things up from year to year.”

One way that Hearthstone will modernize the set will involve not moving forward with some of the weaker cards such as Goldshire Footman and Frostwolf Grunt.

“Many of these cards don’t serve a significant purpose for this set,” Masterson explained. “We also want to make the game more approachable for returning players or players stepping into the tavern for the first time.”

For Hearthstone players who enjoyed the game when it first launched, there will be a new Classic format.  It will be fully supported and include the use of its original set of cards.

blizzconline hearthstone classic
Cards in Hearthstone’s upcoming Classic format. Image provided by Blizzard Entertainment.

Hearthstone’s first expansion in the Year of the Gryphon will be Forged in the Barrens. It will feature characters that World of Warcraft fans have loved over the years. One of them will be Shadowhunter Vol’jin, who was once the Warchief of the Horde. The card is currently free for Hearthstone players upon login. This is in addition to a brand new card back.

blizzconline hearthstone voljin
Shadowhunter Vol’jin in Hearthstone. Image provided by Blizzard Entertainment.

Another card coming to Hearthstone will be Blademaster Samuro, which has the new Frenzy keyword.  When a minion takes damage for the first time and survives, Frenzy activates. This can allow for a devastating board clear.

For players who enjoy playing the Shaman class, they will receive the new Chain Lightning spell from the Nature school of spells. Chain Lightning deals damage to a minion and a random one adjacent to it. It can be upgraded when the player has five and later 10 mana. BlizzConline noted that Alliance heroes will have a time to shine later in the year.

Hearthstone Mercenaries will also shake up the game. The strategic RPG game mode will allow players to build teams consisting of iconic World of Warcraft characters. Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros, King Krush and Gruul the Dragonkiller will be among them.

The Hearthstone Mercenaries game mode will consist of randomly generated rogue-like missions. Each node will offer a unique challenge to players. Heroes will gain levels, get new equipment and have the opportunity to evolve into more powerful versions of themselves.

BlizzConline noted that more information about these Hearthstone updates will be revealed later in 2021.


Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!


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