The HearthPwn 2017 Hearthstone Year in Review
2018 has begun in most parts of the world so let's take a look back at what the past year of Hearthstone brought us and reflect upon our experiences.
Below you’ll find our annual Year in Review for everything Hearthstone and as usual, we’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the past year. It’s important that we mention:
- This year’s three expansions added the most cards to the game in a single calendar year - 405!
- Once again, over 300,000 decks were added to the site which helped us pass 1 million decks!
We remain the top Hearthstone deck sharing website.
The Dark Wanderer
The new year kicked off with a Tavern Brawl which celebrated the demons of Hell, a Dark Wanderer, and Cows. The brawl was a nod to the 20th Anniversary of Blizzard’s Diablo franchise which also held an event of its own, though for the entire month of January.
Diablo III see their Darkening of Tristram event return in 2018 as a celebration for the 21st Anniversary of Diablo, though we aren’t certain if we’ll see the return of the brawl which rewarded an exclusive, awesome card back.
China Releases Player-specific Game Stats
Out of nowhere, the Chinese version of Hearthstone released individual player stats for all of its players which included the amount of gold you earned all year, the games you won with all your health remaining, and how many 12 win arena runs you earned.
None of this was available to players on other servers which lead to a lot of questions from the community at why Blizzard couldn’t make this happen for everyone. If you aren’t aware, the Blizzard we know, love, and sometimes love to hate don’t run the game in China which is why China ends up with fun toys.
In a nice turn of events though, later in the year, monthly stats were made available to some players as a beta run and Blizzard is working on bringing them out to everyone. These stats are emailed to players some time after a season ends and contain fluffy information such as how many Murlocs were played in your region or more important details like how many games you played.
A Mammoth of a Year
Thank you for the birthday gift, Blizzard!
Blizzard announced the new Hearthstone Zodiac for the upcoming season which was the Mammoth. With the announcement, several interesting bits of information came out to showcase how different the year would be.
- Six cards were going to move to a new wild only set - Hall of Fame.
- No adventure would be released during the year, only expansions.
- More wild events would take place to support the format more.
- Rogues would be getting a new hero, Maiev Shadowsong.
The six cards which were going to be moved to the Hall of Fame in an upcoming patch to keep Hearthstone fresher than ever were:
Owners of the above cards were given dust equal to their crafting values and got to keep the cards once the changes went live.
To The Crater We Go!
Almost two months into the year we saw the announcement of the newest expansion coming to Hearthstone, Journey to Un’Goro. This was the first expansion where players received two class legendaries instead of the one that we were used to seeing for expansions. Highlights of the news include:
- Legendary Spells! The first time in Hearthstone’s history. These were all in the form of Quest cards which are 1-cost spells that are always in your opening hand, though they can be mulliganed.
- Adapt - A new mechanic which augments your cards with 1 of 3 options (like Discover) out of a pool of 10.
Five cards were revealed during the announcement.
Initially, we saw Awaken the Makers, Pyros, Volcano, and Gentle Megasaur all seeing play in decks. Nowadays, Gentle Megasaur makes Murloc Paladin strong and we still see Mages running Pyros.
The Fall of Aggro?
Two of Hearthstone’s most hated cards which contributed to an era of Pirate Warrior, Pirate Rogue, and Aggro Shaman were slaughtered.
- Small-Time Buccaneer's Health is now 1. (Down from 2)
- Spirit Claws' Mana is now 2. (Up from 1)
Ultimately it did help curb a bit of the aggressive decks we saw, but Patches the Pirate continued to be the bane of our existences for the rest of the year to much hatred of many players. I’m in chaaaaaaarrrge now!
The patch in which these changes arrived in was also when the Poisonous keyword was introduced into the game and reaching rank 15, 10, and 5 no longer allowed you to drop below those ranks during that season.
🔥 🔥The Journey ft. Ben Brode
STRAIGHT FIRE! Ben Brode’s first ever Hearthstone rap video not only set the bar for future expectations from our favourite member of team five but also gave us what the community desired - a song for the expansion.
Previously, expansion trailers had contained a musical number which was absent during the Un’Goro announcement video as Elise was instead speaking about the creatures she saw while in the crater.
If you didn’t listen to the rap god, do it.
Journeying in Un'Goro & Standard Rotation
After a couple weeks of waiting and a couple weeks of card reveals, adventurers dove in to the Journey to Un’Goro expansion which kicked off the Year of the Mammoth (bye Reno Jackson!) and brought plenty of Dinosaurs into Hearthstone.
Quest Rogue thanks to The Caverns Below, a card initially viewed as complete garbage, immediately started on a path to destruction which would remain for quite some time. We also saw many Aggro decks loving the additions of Fire Fly and Bittertide Hydra to the game, staples which remain in these decks to this day, and Tar Creeper became a must-include card if you wanted to attempt to stomp out the archetype.
Things felt very fresh with the rotation and all the new cards and although there were definitely imbalanced, there was a lot of positivity in the community in how the expansion was received.
Hearthstone Hits 70 Million Players
WHOOOOOAAAA! What a crazy milestone. Hearthstone continued to grow throughout the year and hit the 70 million player mark, announced at the start of May. To celebrate the feat, all players who logged in during the month received three Un’Goro packs for free. Not bad!
Deck Imports & Questing with Friends!
A big problem for a long time with Hearthstone was how hard it was to share your decks with others. Blizzard finally came up with a solution and allows direct importing and exporting of decks using a special deckstring. Prior to this, players using decks found on sites were forced to manually enter cards into their decks one by one or use a client such as our own Innkeeper which craftily added cards to your deck using a HearthPwn deck page link.
We added support for deckstrings immediately to make everyone’s life easier. You can still copy your decks from Hearthstone and share them with our community by pasting them into our deckbuilder. The inverse is also true as you can copy any deck on the site and paste it into your Hearthstone client on both desktop and mobile. Sweet.
Another quality of life addition we saw added was the ability to complete all of your daily quests with your friends. This was requested for years from players and Blizzard finally decided it was a good idea.
Blizzard China Gets Around Loot Box Regulations
Hearthstone happenings in China are always interesting with the only difference being that this time around, this was a law put into place for all games with “loot boxes”. The regulation was added which required game publishers to disclose the odds of obtaining certain items from the loot boxes.
To get around needing full disclosure, players in China no longer purchase card packs with their hard earned cash but instead buy a small amount of Arcane Dust. As a gift to players for purchasing dust, Blizzard gives them free card packs, equal to the amount they would get before the change. That’s one hell of a way to get around the need to disclose your odds.
Interestingly, this may become an issue again over here in the west with Apple’s App Store requiring the odds within loot boxes to also be disclosed. We still haven’t seen any action from Blizzard about the policy change, but it certainly will be interesting to see what happens in the new year.
Midsummer Fire Festival
A new holiday event celebration was added to Hearthstone for a couple of weeks - The Midsummer Fire Festival! Ragnaros hosted the event which brought a special Tavern Brawl, unique visual effects to emotes, and double gold from quests for all players.
IT IS I, RAGNAROS THE FIRELORD, AND IT IS TIME TO PARTY, INSECTS. THE MIDSUMMER FIRE FESTIVAL BEGINS TOMORROW, AND YOU WILL CELEBRATE IN MY HONOR.
Overall the event was a success and a lot of players used it as a comparison for events going forwards and there’s much desire to see double quest gold return in the future. Blizzard pls!
You know what the best part about the Midsummer Fire Festival was though? Ben Brode hinted at it a few weeks before it began when he talked about Keeping Hearthstone Spicy. We’re onto you, Ben.
A Chilling Announcement
Blizzard hit us all in the feels when it was announced that The Lich King was coming to Hearthstone with Knights of the Frozen Throne. At a time when we were all on fire, this chill stepped up to our door and shared with us some awesome news.
- Death Knights were being added to Hearthstone as new Playable Hero cards, one for each class.
- Lifesteal is being added to the game which heals your hero for the amount of damage dealt by the card with the mechanic.
- The expansion would come with a completely free adventure which rewarded card packs, the Prince Arthas Hero, and a Death Knight hero card.
Truly an exciting time for veterans of the Warcraft series, many of whom wanted to see when Hearthstone would bring The Lich King and Icecrown Citadel to the game.
As tradition would indicate, five cards were revealed for the expansion, showcasing new card types and mechanics.
The Caverns Have Been Nerfed
Great news everyone! If the recent Knights of the Frozen Throne announcement wasn’t enough, one of Hearthstone’s most hated cards received a nice nerf.
The Caverns Below was changed to require 5 cards of the same name (up from 4) to be played before the quest could activate. There was a lot of talk about the card being sent to the trash tier after the news that it would be nerfed, but in practice the deck still exists to this day. It’s not as brutal as it once was, but you still want to punch your monitor when Rogues pull it off.
Ahune's Frost Festival
Move over Ragnaros, the Ice Lord Ahune is here to end your Midsummer nonsense! To celebrate the upcoming release of Knights of the Frozen Throne, gears were changed to give the game a more frosty theme.
Definitely debatable, buddy.
The Frost Festival gave out plenty of great items to players brave enough to compete in the Arena.
- Each week during the event, we received a free Arena run ticket.
- All Arena runs made during the event started with 1 win.
- Playing three Arena games each week gave players a Frozen Throne card pack.
In addition to the Arena fun times, a brawl was active during the first week of the festival which featured a Ragnaros target dummy card and a fierce battle between Uther’s buff cards and Jaina’s Reno Control deck.
There were some complaints that the event wasn’t as good as the Midsummer Fire Festival since Arena was forced upon players who didn’t care for the mode, but everyone still appreciated the free stuff.
Hearthstone's First Comic
Hearthstone got its own digital comic! Released throughout San Diego ComicCon, three issues of a Frozen Throne themed comic made its way to the interwebs.
It was definitely something different to try, and it was repeated again recently for Kobolds & Catacombs though only one issue came out. These comics come after Blizzard’s Overwatch franchise popularized the medium to tell more of their story.
Where did this go wrong, why did you turn to darkness?
Ben Brode brought out his second rap single, this time for Knights of the Frozen Throne. I’m not even sure if you could call this a single because compared to the Un’Goro rap, it feels like an entire album.
If you haven’t heard the story of Arthas, let Ben tell it to you.
Many years ago there lived a Paladin
He was prince of the Alliance when our story begins
This ain't a happy story it’s a little dark.
This ain’t no summer day this ain’t no walk in the park
You see this prince’s name was Arthas, AKA the Lich King.
This is the story of how he became him.
Wild Packs Return
Ever since sets were moved to a new format called Wild back in 2016, players were unable to purchase packs or adventures from the set. Thankfully, Blizzard saw the error of their ways and gave in to player demand which saw the release of these sets into the Battle.net Shop.
We’d love to see them in the in-game shop for more accessibility, but the Hearthstone team has stated they wanted to make sure players weren’t buying the wrong cards and that new players should focus on Standard since it’s more accessible.
Who knows what 2018 will bring for the Wild format, other than Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Karazhan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan becoming exclusive to the format once the new Hearthstone year shows up with the release of the first expansion; Only time will tell..
Legendaries Get Easier to Obtain
A new patch arrived which allowed Legendary cards to become easier to obtain in two ways!
The well-documented pity timer which ensures players almost always receive a Legendary card every 40 packs got a friend which does the same thing but for the first 10 packs opened for every set. This one time bonus really adds value to the 50 pack pre-order bonuses Hearthstone has for each new set because it means you’re going to add 2 Legendaries to your collection at the very least. Awesome.
In addition to the new pack timer, it has been made impossible for duplicate Legendary cards to be received from packs! No more will you open up fifty Millhouse Manastorms. If you have a particular Legendary card in your collection, you will not be able to receive it again until you complete the collection’s set of Legendary cards. This does mean that you may want to hold off on disenchanting Legendaries you don’t want though because you certainly wouldn’t want to receive it again - that would super suck.
Death Knights, Death Knights Everywhere!
Knights of the Frozen Throne releases! With the guaranteed Death Knight everyone received for what was essentially logging in to the game (yay free loot), and the high power-level of most of the Death Knights, almost everyone was running them. The Lich King was also seen as a must-craft at the start of the expansion and remained that way for quite some time. He’s definitely fallen out of favor in a lot of decks though in recent times but damn is he fun.
It was during this expansion where we saw Control Warlock become a powerhouse, Jade Druid become the most vile deck known to man thanks to Malfurion the Pestilent & Ultimate Infestation & Spreading Plague, and a lot more Highlander Priest / Evolve Shaman decks.
Overall, pretty great flavor for an expansion with lots of new tools to make Hearthstone awesome… and frustrating.
⛏⛏⛏ Seriously though, How Long Could This Go On? ⛏⛏⛏
The Greats Will be Missed
In one of the most community-shattering patches ever, five of Hearthstone’s greatest cards were nerfed. The goal behind the nerfs of the following cards was to try and get them out of every single deck from the classes that were making use of them and to limit the need to add more cards to the Hall of Fame set introduced earlier in the year.
These cards were changed - forever.
- Innervate - Down from 2 crystals.
- Fiery War Axe - Up from 2 mana.
- Hex - Up from 3 mana.
- Murloc Warleader - No longer gives +1 Health to Murlocs.
- Spreading Plague - Up from 5 mana.
Spreading Plague ended up being a very controversial change due to players believing the real problem with Druids was Ultimate Infestation. While it remains a strong card, Blizzard has stated Spreading Plague alone won more games for Druids than Infestation.
Battle.net Goes Appear Offline
A special topic which ever predates the public knowledge of Hearthstone itself, the Battle.net App gives players the ability to Appear Offline to their friends. We were previously the site to initially break this news to the world 3 months prior thanks to strings datamined in the Hearthstone client - oops!
It was a long time coming and Blizzard has said many times over the years they were working on it - going all the way back to September 2012!
Now I can goof around in World of Warcraft without anyone knowing. Wait a second...
Synergy Picks Removed From Arena
A controversial change added to the Arena during the Frozen Throne patch in August, Synergy Picks, was removed with the arrival of Hearthstone Patch 9.2. This “feature” made the first two cards in your draft be more likely to include cards which worked together. Think Murlocs, or Spell Casting. Many players were not fans of it because it changed what Arena had meant since the beginning.
Oh yeah, and Vicious Fledgling, one of the dumbest (this is a fact, not an opinion) cards available to players in the mode, was also no longer able to be drafted. What a fantastic patch for the Arena.
A Challenger Approaches: Nemsy Necrofizzle
Hearthstone finally got a new Warlock hero and she’s a Gnome! Nemsy Necrofizzle was added to the game and caused quite a bit of resentment towards Blizzard. The hero is only available via participating in a Fireside Tavern which usually requires you to leave the house, though a GPS spoof trick is available.
Cry For Mercy; The Reckoning Has Come!
Hallow’s End hit Hearthstone as the last big in-game event of the year. The festivities started out with a Hearthstone brawl, contained awesome additions to the basic game boards, and featured an awesome dual-class arena mode.
As far as rewards went we saw a few free card packs for logging in to the game during two different weekly periods which gave us cards from the Old Gods and Frozen Throne sets.
Dual Class arena was a unique way of playing Hearthstone as it required you to choose your Hero and then your Hero Power (your second class). Cards picked up in the arena draft phase had a chance to be Neutral or either of your two picked classes.
Dean Ayala wasn’t kidding around back in July when he said we’d see more events in the future. They really do have people working on them and we certainly cannot wait to see what is coming in 2018.
Kobolds & Catacombs Revealed
WELCOME TO BLIZZCON! The 11th BlizzCon started and with that came the usual announcement for a new Hearthstone expansion. The expansion contained three awesome new features.
- Dungeon Run game mode which has repeatable PvE content - a first for Hearthstone
- Recruit - A mechanic which allows cards to immediately summon minions from your deck and put them into play.
- Legendary Weapons - Not only are these the first Legendary Weapons in the game but they’re also the first time we received collectible weapons for every class in the game.
We saw 14 new cards get revealed right away, with the highlights being:
Death Knights Removed From Arena
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Zeriyah posted the following statement from the Hearthstone team on the change.Quote from Zeriyah
Starting on the morning of Tuesday, November 14 PST, we will remove the nine Knights of the Frozen Throne Death Knight Hero cards from the Arena draft pool. While the Death Knight Hero Cards are exciting and powerful to play, their permanent Hero Power upgrades are hard to combat in a format where answers are limited.
We will continue to monitor Arena balance and make changes on an as-needed basis. Please note this change does not remove Death Knight Hero cards from existing drafted decks. For a complete list of cards that are not available in the Arena draft pool, please refer to our Arena Specifics forum post on the official Hearthstone forums.
Rarity Gem Changes
Hearthstone is best when consistency is above all else. A change to the way Legendary cards were labeled arrived which removed the Legendary Gem on all non-collectible cards. These cards will still have the silver-dragon portrait border though, which indicates their Legendary status.
For a short period of time, Rend Blackhand was unable to target the Master Chest spawned through Marin the Fox due to him only targeting cards with the Orange Gem. The patch that happened on this day changed this interaction and put forward a consistency pass on all the Legendary cards.
The rest of the cards in the game will also be receiving a consistency pass to ensure other tokens will also see their rarity gems removed.
The Final Expansion is Here!
At last, we come to the finale of 2017. Kobolds & Catacombs, the third and final expansion for the Year of the Mammoth arrived and oh boy was it a big one.
So far we’re still pretty early on to know exactly how things are going to progress, but Dungeon Runs were undoubtedly a huge success with some players stating they still haven’t touched constructed in favor of the mode.
What’s hot right now? We’re seeing a lot of players playing Tempo Rogue, the usual Jade Druid, and some new Cubelock action. You should check out our post from earlier today on the most popular decks from the past week if you’re interested in seeing what your fellow HearthPwnians are playing.
Here's to a Happy and Glorious 2018
Thanks for your continued support of HearthPwn, it's been a fantastic year and we can't wait to enjoy what Hearthstone has to offer next year and more importantly, make the site even better! From us to you, have a Happy New Year and we'll see you then!