We like to joke about Valve Time, but Blizzard don’t seem to care about temporal flow as a concept. First an overhaul for Warcraft III just yesterday, and now a clearly Halloween-themed expansion for Hearthstone in the middle of April. Still, The Witchwood seems a good enough excuse as any to sling some cards, splat some monsters and delve some dungeons, as it’s out now… mostly.
Halloween is a year-long thing for Blizzard, as The Witchwood is apparently the beginning of a series of dark and sinister updates coming to Hearthstone as part of their Year of The Raven season. The year has already brought with it a scary reshuffling of the accepted Standard format cards. For the foreseeable future, only the Basic, Classic, Un’Goro, Frozen Throne, Kobolds & Witchwood sets are allowed in Standard play, with the rest being relegated to the less balanced Wild zone. A handful of other cards (you can see the full patch-notes here) have been exiled to the Wilds as well.
Sadly, the single-player component of The Witchwood, a free new solo Adventure mode, isn’t going to be rolling out for another two weeks. For the time being you’ll just have to enjoy the new cards, features and the off-season atmosphere. Plus, it’s a great excuse to re-watch the delightful musical trailer that heralded the announcement of this particular expansion.
Anyone logging into Hearthstone will find themselves gifted the usual trio of new-expansion boosters, including one class legendary. The Witchwood adds 135 new cards with some interesting new quirks to them. Two cards in particular – Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater – are deck-defining, as they limit you to building a deck with only odd or even-cost cards in exchange for a buff to your hero power.
The expansion has also improved the quality of life for everyone. Daily Quests are now easier to complete, and pay out 50 gold instead of the frustrating 40 that they gave previously, making it far easier to land on a nice square 100 for a booster pack. For casual, friendly matches you can now lend an entire deck to a buddy for them to try out, though the patch notes do mention that this isn’t usable in Tavern or Fireside brawl modes.
The Arena has also seen a few minor tweaks, with some ‘below average’ cards now being less likely to turn up between rounds, and the Humongous Razorleaf and Ancient Watcher cards being booted out entirely, presumably due to their overly loud and rowdy nature. There are plenty more minor tweaks and changes, and you can see the entire list here.
Hearthstone, as always, remains free-to-play, with booster packs for the Witchwood expansion priced (rather cheekily) at a numerically similar £3/$3.