If you go down to the woods tonight, you’re sure of a big surprise. Spoilers: the surprise is the announcement of Hearthstone‘s Witchwood expansion, which will add 135 new cards and a new singleplayer adventure mode with a similar format to Dungeon Run from Kobolds and Catacombs. Monster Hunt mode will have you hunting monsters in the titular Witchwood, choosing new cards as you go along.
More details await below, along with a video of the devs romping around a real life spooky forest.
Dorky as it is, that grew on me as it went along. If you just want the official trailer – which might be Hearthstone’s best yet – skip to 0:53.
I’ll get to the new cards in just a tick. First though, here are the specifics on how you gain new cards after beating each encounter in Monster Hunt:
“Your choice is between three sets of three cards picked randomly from a number of different thematic buckets available to your current hero. Additionally, at certain intervals you get to add special cards to your deck that improve your unique hero power or otherwise synergize with your hero in a powerful way.”
I’ve just realised how similar that is to Slay The Spire. I said I’d check out Dungeon Run and never got round to it, though now that I’ve made the Spire connection I’m determined to see if Hearthstone’s spin on adventuring and deck-building can tickle my brain in a similar way. Dungeon Run was free, though there’s no word on if you’ll need to pay for Monster Hunt.
Blizzard have revealed 6 of the new cards so far, which include a 7-mana minion with a 3/3 body that replaces your hand with a copy of your opponents. I like how that puts the game in a state where both players have access to the same information, though it does seem expensive for an effect that your opponent could benefit from too. Also of interest are two cards that make your hero power better or cheaper if you have only odd or even cards in your deck, and one that swaps its health and attack every turn its in your hand.
There are also two new keywords: Rush is like Charge in that it allows minions with it to attack on the turn they’re played, but they can only target other minions. Echo is a new keyword that lets you play a card as many times as you like in one turn, so long as you can afford the mana cost. Which is cool, although my first thought was ‘oh no, another keyword that has the same name but does a different thing in Eternal’.
Eternal is another free-to-play CCG that I’ve dipped my toes into since loads of you told me to in the comments on my mini roundup of great non-Hearthstone CCGs. I’ve played through all of the free campaigns and a ‘Forge’ run, which is a lot like Hearthstone’s Arena where you assemble a deck of 30 cards by choosing 1 card at a time from sets of 3. It’s…ok!
Thing is, most of the problems I have with Hearthstone are here too. It’s much closer to Magic: The Gathering with the way attacking and mana gains work, which is a nice change of pace – but I still feel like my decks are mostly playing themselves. I know decision making will get more complicated and interesting the more I play, but it still seems like the fundamentals can’t open up a design space that can compete with the creative plays possible in Duelyst and Netrunner. The headache that comes with trying to manage decks packed with 75 cards was the final nail in the coffin for me.
You can find more details and see other cards on the expansion’s page. Blizzard haven’t announced a release date for Hearthstone: The Witchwood yet, although the past two years both saw them drop expansions in April.