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One of the top free-to-play digital card games in the world has some big changes coming.

Publisher Blizzard is breaking up its Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft card battler into two distinct play formats. The first, called Wild, is the same Hearthstone you’ve played since its release in 2014. It enables you to use any card and any deck you want for the familiar and hectic fun that the company admits is “crazy.” But the second format is “Standard.” And the publisher explains that this format will limit the cards you can choose for your decks. The purpose behind this decision is to make the game more accessible to new players and to ensure that future expansions have a bigger effect on play.

The digital card market is a $1.2 billion business, and Hearthstone sits atop that mountain. It makes more than $20 million every month, according to research firm SuperData. With that kind of revenue on the line, Blizzard is looking out for Hearthstone’s long-term viability, which relies on microtransaction purchases of card packs and Adventures (single-player experiences that give you cards as well) from engaged and dedicated players. But if gamers feel like new cards won’t have that much of an affect on their chances when playing against other people, they probably will lose their lust for new booster packs. This move seems specifically designed to head off that kind of player malaise before it can poison the entire player base.

Going ahead, the Standard format will now act as the go-to mode for official Hearthstone tournaments. This is telling in that the company wants to position this limited pool of cards as what really matters.


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To help people transition to these formats, Blizzard will also give people more slots for decks so they can start experimenting for both Standard and Wild.

Hearthstone lead designer Ben Brode goes into a deeper explanation about his team’s reasoning in the video below:

Standard will primarily comprise only decks made out of Basic and Classics cards as well as the expansions or adventures released since the beginning of 2015. Those include Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, The League of Explorers, and anything due out in 2016. This will eliminate cards from the Curse of Naxxramas adventure and Goblins vs. Gnomes. Not only will you not have the option to use those cards, Blizzard will stop selling them when Standard kicks in. Some of the most popular cards in the game, such as Naxxramas’s Sludge Belcher and GvG’s Dr. Boom and Piloted Shedder are part of these excluded pools.

Although, Blizzard has said that you can craft or disenchant these older adventure cards, which is not an option that you previously had.

Finally, Blizzard isn’t going to treat every class the same. If an older Basic or Classic card is giving too much power to a Druid, for example, it will review it and possibly reduce its power (a process developers call “nerfing.”)

Updated with info about how crafting and disenchanting older Adventure cards will work. 

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