Why Now Is a Great Time to Get Into ‘Hearthstone’

When developer Blizzard launched Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in 2014, it was the perfect time for players to get in on the ground floor of a great new collectible card game. After a handful of expansions, Hearthstone has managed to stay enjoyable, but it has gotten significantly harder for new players to become powerful competitors. Thanks to an update launching soon, that’s about to change.

Any online game with a dedicated user base becomes a tough nut to crack for newbies after a while. In card games in particular, players who’ve been there from the start have had years to build up their card collections and piece together nearly unstoppable decks.

Blizzard announced it’s about to level the playing field as much as possible. Starting this spring, the multiplayer modes of the game will be split into two formats: Wild and Standard.

Essentially, Wild is the game as it is now. In Wild matches, players will be able to use any cards they have in their collection to assemble a deck. Wild represents Blizzard throwing a bone to longtime players. Unfortunately for them, Wild isn’t the core of Hearthstone going forward. That’s where Standard comes in.

Standard is a new mode that limits which cards players can use. According to the new rules, Standard will only allow cards released in the current and previous year, plus a selection of Basic and Classic cards. In other words, older expansions will only be available in Wild, while Standard will continue to refresh each year. This is great for newcomers, because it makes it much easier for them to build up competitive decks in Standard.

Really, Standard is a good thing for all players, because the high-level play in Hearthstone has gotten a little stale of late. Now that a few optimal deck constructions have bubbled to the top, players tend to use those same kinds of decks over and over again. Limiting the cards players can use in Standard mode will help phase out old overpowered cards, forcing players to find new strategies with newer cards. If it goes according to plan, Standard mode will continually keep the game fresh and interesting.

Standard mode will be available when you play Friendly Challenges, Ranked, and Casual matches. It will also be the default format for competitive play, which means high-level players will be highly encouraged to use it.

For those who like sticking to the old way of doing things, Wild will still be available in every mode, including Arena, Solo, and Adventures. The only difference is that when you play the multiplayer modes in Wild, you’ll only be able to play against other players with Wild decks. You’ll also find yourself with two rankings, one for Standard and another for Wild.

It might sound a little confusing, but the idea is to ensure new players never find themselves woefully far behind when it comes to collecting cards and assembling decks. It will also make the competitive scene more dynamic as reliable old cards fall out of Standard play.

These changes might ruffle the feathers of some current players, but they pave the way for a more exciting and dynamic game going forward. That’s good news for everyone.

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