The year of the mammoth has finally dawned upon Hearthstone and the meta has shifted to welcome the new cards and play style from Journey to Un’Goro. Within the ladder, players are trying out new deck archetypes and experimenting with new cards, so they can become the first player to discover the strongest deck of the meta. It’s been quite a long time since an expansion was able to shake up the meta so wildly, but this has not come with its own faults.
First, let’s focus on the positives. How long has it been since you’ve seen someone put Stonetusk Boar in their deck? Yeah, well what about Youthful Brewmaster, then? Well, with the newly re-invented Quest Rogue, those two cards are now commonly seen in the meta again. No one really saw this resurrection coming and that’s one thing that’s so great about this expansion. Unlike the others in the past, Un’Goro felt pretty unpredictable. Between the different quests, the elementals and the new Adapt keyword, it was hard for players to truly pinpoint the strongest card in the expansion. Unlike expansions such as The Grand Tournament, where pretty much only Mysterious Challenger managed to significantly shape up the meta, this rotation has relentlessly released strong cards without the worry of ‘breaking’ the metagame.
I especially love this because it has managed to make Arena fun and exciting again. A few months back, Blizzard decided to significantly revamp Arena by making the card pool the same with that of Standard. Additionally, the numbers have been tweaked so rarer cards tend to appear more often. Although many people favored this change, this ended up greatly increasing the variance in power levels amongst a typical arena deck. I hated this change; there were a lot of epic cards that were just bad, and I typically found my drafts ruined when I was forced to draft those cards. With the individually strong cards introduced within this expansion, I found myself enjoying Arena more.
Now, let’s talk about the more controversial topic that this expansion has introduced, power creep. As mentioned earlier, Blizzard had tried to avoid printing stronger cards in the past, due to the possibility of making certain cards obsolete. Now that the distinction between Wild and Standard has been solidified, Blizzard no longer has to be afraid of creating a super powerful combo deck. Additionally, now that the Hall of Fame has taken some cards into Wild, Blizzard has widened up their design space even more. With this new environment, some may claim that these decks have become much stronger than before, but the answer remains uncertain. Instead of speculating on the fluctuating meta, I argue that we should be focusing more on a typical player’s experience with this expansion.
A common complaint that people have had in the past is the fact that Legendary cards tend to be rather useless. Flame Leviathan, Varian Wrynn, and Herald Volazj, for example, never became strong cards that helped redefine a deck archetype or class. Although it made those legendaries less satisfying to use (both in Arena and in Constructed scenarios), it allowed newer players to tackle the constructed scene without having to spend money on the different packs. Now that Journey to Un’Goro have introduced quests, there are a lot more legendary cards for players to be aware of. As a player, I would be inclined to say things along the line as “Blizzard really should give away more legendaries or more cards,” but I don’t really know how Hearthstone is doing for Blizzard financially. I’ve spent a total of $5 on that game and I really cannot comment on the others. As a collectible card game that gets more complicated over time, I can’t imagine the rate of new players trying out Hearthstone to be increasing with every expansion. Hearthstone is a game I really enjoy and I hope it will be able to stay afloat for a long time.