Year of the Phoenix - Ladder Changes - Duplicate Protection!

Year of the Phoenix - Ladder Changes - Duplicate Protection!

It is that time of year again when a new Standard rotation comes to Hearthstone. On Thursday, March 26th 2020, Old expansions are rotating to Wild and the Year of the Dragon gives way to the new rotation year: the Year of the Phoenix!

There is a lot of cool new stuff coming with this new rotation, and a lot of old stuff going away so here’s a short overview of what you can expect:

  • Coming Thursday, March 26th 2020!
  • The Duplicate Protection System has been expanded across all rarities.
  • New rewards and introductory missions for returning players.
  • Ranked Ladder improvements including rewards and new MMR based matchmaking.
  • The 2020 Hall of Fame Class includes 5 cards. Find out more in our in-depth article.
  • Huge Priest changes including 5 replaced cards and changes to 6 others. Find out more in our in-depth article.
  • Year of the Phoenix Rotation: The Witchwood, Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan's Rumble rotate from Standard to Wild.

Year of the Phoenix | Duplicate Protection | Returning Players | Ladder Improvements | Set Rotation

HearthPwn: Last year, in the Year of the Dragon, Dragons became a huge deal in the end. Is there similar significance to Year of the Phoenix or is it just a cool name with no deeper meaning?

Dean: It’s a cool name, but I would be, I think… *trails off thinking* I’m just going to stop. *laughs* I wanted to try and get clever, but *laughs again* I don't wanna reveal anything.

Year of the Phoenix

When we went to the Hearthstone 2020 Summit in mid-February, Blizzard told us about their plans for this new Year of the Phoenix. Their main point of emphasis was clear: They want to produce more and different content and updates to the game.

The content plan includes bigger changes to the game, like Battlegrounds was, but also smaller ones. For now their main announced plans include 3 phases, one with each expansion in Year of the Phoenix.

  • Phase One: Ashes of Outland: Updates to the Ranked Ladder system.
  • Phase Two: Mid Year Expansion: Brand new way to play, fueled by your collection, similar in scope and scale to Arena (but not gameplay).
  • Phase Three: End of Year Expansion: Rework of progression system, including an achievement system.

We, as a team, decided that going 4 months between content is too long, and that Hearthstone is a live-service game and that we want you to log in and for new things to be happening. Just something every month, every month and a half, where something new is happening.

Duplicate Protection

With the next expansion we get the introduction of increased coverage of the Duplicate protection system that we already have for Legendaries. It will now cover ALL cards -- legendary, epic, rare and common. You can not get any duplicates anymore until you have every card of that rarity in the full set.

Not only will this new measure cover all card rarities, it also covers all expansions, new and old. Including card packs you already own.

We’re trying to make the game more accessible to everyone, including new players, with the new duplicates protection. You’re going to find you are going to have to buy less packs in order to play the decks that you want. That was really the goal, to make 1 change that would help everybody.

Returning Players

If you return to play Hearthstone again in the Year of the Phoenix, you will be greeted by a brand new re-introduction campaign.  This will not only bring you back up to speed with the game, but also reward you with your own competitive deck of the class of your choice, as well as some card packs.

When you log in after returning, you will first play through 3 quick catch up missions as Illidan...back in the time when he was a Mage! After this you will receive your rewards and can go out and play the game freely.

The new catch up missions also perfectly line up with the new Demon Hunter prologue, where you continue the story of Illidan, this time as a Demon Hunter!

Ranked Ladder Improvements

Significant changes are coming to the way Ranked Ladder works on April 1st. The system is more straightforward and there will be more and better rewards.

The way it will work is that instead of simply numbered ranks, there will be ranges of ranks, much like you are used to in other competitive games. They are (in order):

  • Bronze: 10 through 1
  • Silver: 10 through 1
  • Gold: 10 through 1
  • Platinum: 10 through 1
  • Diamond: 10 through 1
  • Legend

For 50 ranks total + Legend. Each Rank will have 3 stars and you will not lose stars in Bronze. Every 5 Ranks there will be a plateau where you cannot sink past again.

You reset to Bronze 10 every month, but, do not despair, because there is a new measure in place to not make this awful.

Because although you reset back to Bronze 10, you will get a bonus multiplier for your wins, up to 11, depending on how high you ranked last month. This is on top of Win Streak bonuses. In practice this means that on your first win at the start of the month, you may get 10 stars instead of 1 and with a win streak 20 stars instead of 2. This bonus multiplier slowly goes away as you rank up and get closer to the rank you held last month, and when you reach that rank again, your multiplier will be gone fully.

The match ups you get when you queue will also no longer be just randomly against players at a similar rank, but you will get opponents based on a hidden Match Making Rating, to make matches more fair and engaging. Blizzard hopes this will be a more satisfying experience for players, especially at the lower ranks.

Then there’s the improved rewards. First of all, you now get your card back immediately after getting your first 5 wins. You also get immediate rewards for reaching a certain rank for the first time, including a Legendary card for reaching Legend for the first time. For the reward at the end of the month you now get cards and packs.

It is very similar to how MMR works in Casual, we still match you based on MMR, but they are 2 distinct values. So losing a whole bunch of games in Casual is not going to influence your MMR in Ranked.

Card Rotation to Wild

With the introduction of Year of the Phoenix there will also be another rotation of the older expansions. The Witchwood, The Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan’s Rumble will all be making the journey from Standard to Wild. We’ve highlighted some more notable cards that will no longer be available in Standard.

The Witchwood

From this set we have already seen Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane moved to the Hall of Fame.

The Boomsday Project

With this set basically any impact mech card is being moved to Wild.

Rastakhan’s Rumble

After 15 months in Standard this powerful but thematically underwhelming set rotates to Wild.

Quote from Blizzard

We dropped a mountain of information about all the exciting changes to Hearthstone alongside today’s patch notes, including a deep dive on the new Demon Hunter class! When you’ve finished reading about the Year of the Phoenix, check out the rest of what we’ve got going on:

We’re ready to share with you a host of major changes coming to Hearthstone in the immediate future, as well as a roadmap of what we’ve got coming to the Tavern in the months to come!

Where We've Been and Where We're Going

Where We've Been!

The Year of the Dragon started with Rise of Shadows, where we introduced the League of E.V.I.L. and Arch-Villain Rafaam’s sinister scheme to commandeer the magical floating city of Dalaran. We then saddled up with the League of Explorers in Saviors of Uldum to stop E.V.I.L. from unleashing Uldum’s ancient secrets upon Azeroth. In the final act, Descent of Dragons, the League of Explorers put the kibosh on E.V.I.L.’s campaign to resurrect the dreaded progenitor dragon Galakrond. With the Year of the Dragon’s end at hand, the time has come for Rastakhan’s RumbleThe Boomsday Project, and The Witchwood to enter Wild and rotate out of Standard.

Where We're Going!

With the announcement of Hearthstone’s newest expansion, Ashes of Outland, it’s time to brave the hazards of that shattered world following the Rusted Legion’s hostile takeover. Ashes of Outland marks the start of the first phase of our new Hearthstone year—the Year of the Phoenix! 

Year of the Phoenix Calendar

We’ve got expansions, Battlegrounds updates, seasonal events, new Tavern Brawls, a solo adventure, and so much more planned. On the roadmap below, you can see the massive amount of content we have coming this year!

Year of the Phoenix RoadmapClick to enlarge.

Year of the Phoenix Roadmap Phase 1

We’re kicking off the new Hearthstone year with some big changes. Follow us on TwitterTwitchYouTubeFacebook, and Instagram to stay up to date on what’s coming.

Card Pack Changes

A few years back, we made changes to how opening card packs works to ensure that every time you got a Legendary card, it would be one that you didn’t already have. Starting March 26, we’re extending this to cards of all rarities!

SURPRISE!Once this change goes live, you will no longer receive more than two copies of any Common, Rare, or Epic until you have owned two copies of all cards of that rarity in a set. Crafting a card counts towards acquiring it, and any cards you acquire and later disenchant (whether golden or non-golden) count as well. This means that if you get a card that you don’t want, you can disenchant it and you will not receive it again until you have all cards of that rarity from that set. This change does not affect the overall distribution of rarities in card packs.

Free Deck for New and Returning Players

aaaDeck_Random_Class_Blasssnk.pngThere’s always a lot going on in Hearthstone, so if you’re new to the game—or you’ve been away for a spell—we’d like to help you get right into the swing of things. Starting March 26th, players new to the game who graduate from the New Player ranks will get a free deck from a class of their choice, built with cards from the Year of the Dragon! This also applies to players who haven't logged into the game in the past four months*. We’re hoping this will help players feel empowered to jump right in and experience the latest of what Hearthstone has to offer!

*Free deck only available to players who have not logged into Hearthstone in the past 4 months beginning on March 17, 2020. Limit one per account.

Ranked Mode Overhaul

Last year, we started exploring ways we could make Ranked Play experience better. Primarily, we wanted to figure out ways to make the matchmaking experience fairer, and give players more rewards for playing in Ranked, all while preserving the essentials of the core system that’s already in place.

02_27_HS_Blog_YearofthePhoenix_enUS_InlineBlogImage_RankedRevamp_1920x1080_JY_v01_KurtCropWEB.pngClick to enlarge.

Starting with the April 2020 Ranked Season, we're replacing the existing ladder in Ranked Mode with a new league system. There will be five leagues in the new system, each made up of 10 ranks. Players start each season at Bronze 10, and climb their way to Bronze 1 before graduation to the Silver league, and on through Gold, Platinum, and Diamond before hitting Legend. Each league will also have rank floors at rank 10 and rank 5, where you cannot go down in ranks for match losses. The New Player ranks will have their own league that runs from ranks 40–1. The Legend ranks will continue to work as they currently do.

Star Bonuses

To go from one rank to the next—say, Gold 10 to Gold 9—you will need to gain three Stars. You’ll gain one Star for each match you win, and lose one for a loss. At the start of each season, players will be awarded a Star Bonus based on their performance the previous season. This Star Bonus acts as a multiplier on the Stars you earn from each win.

For example, if you have a Star Bonus of 5x and you win a game, you’ll get five Stars instead of one. If your winning game is a part of a win streak, you’ll get double that: 10 Stars! Upon hitting each ranked floor in your climb, your Star Bonus will be reduced by one. When playing with a Star Bonus you’ll be matched by your matchmaking rating (MMR), meaning you’ll be matched even more precisely with players of your similar skill level when climbing!

Ranked Rewards

As mentioned earlier, we’ve reworked the rewards you earn at the end of each season of Ranked play. Your reward chest can now contain card packs from the latest expansion, Rare cards, and even an Epic card, based on the rank you achieve. Five wins at any rank will also award the seasonal card back immediately, instead of at the end of the season.

There are also brand-new first-time rewards. Primarily aimed at helping new players, these one-time rewards of Classic card packs, Rare cards, and Epic cards will be granted immediately upon hitting a ranked floor for the first time on your account. Hitting Legend for the first time in the new ranked system will grant a random Classic Legendary card!

**Ranking up To****End of Season Reward****First-time Rewards**|------ **Legend**1 Latest Expansion Pack1 Random Classic Legendary Card |**Diamond 5**|1 Random Standard Epic Card|1 Classic Pack |**Diamond 10**|1 Latest Expansion Pack|1 Random Classic Epic Card |**Platinum 5**|2 Random Standard Rare Cards|1 Classic Pack |**Platinum 10**|1 Latest Expansion Pack|1 Random Classic Epic Card |**Gold 5**|2 Random Standard Rare Cards|1 Classic Pack |**Gold 10**|1 Latest Expansion Pack|4 Random Classic Rare Cards |**Silver 5**|2 Random Standard Rare Cards|1 Classic Pack |**Silver 10**|1 Latest Expansion Pack|4 Random Classic Rare Cards |**Bronze 5**|1 Standard Rare Card|1 Classic Pack

Priest Update


We wanted to make several changes to the Priest class in the Year of the Phoenix, in order to bring it more in line with its class identity. In order to achieve this, we’ll be rotating six cards to the Hall of Fame and adding six brand-new Priest cards to the Basic and Classic Sets. We’ll also be updating seven existing Priest cards to improve their Basic and Classic Sets. The cards we’re replacing will go into the Hall of Fame, so they’re eligible for play in Wild.

All players will get the appropriate dust refunds automatically when these changes go into effect on March 26th.

Priest Cards Entering Hall of Fame

Rotating these cards to the Hall of Fame will bring Priest more in line with its class identity and help them explore exciting new archetypes. Players who own the Classic cards below will be granted the full dust refund for each. Players who do not have access to the Wild format will have the two Basic cards removed from their collection and will be granted a full dust refund for both.

Priest Balance Updates
  • **Power Word: Shield**
      - Old: [Cost 1] Give a minion +2 Health. Draw a card. - ***New: [Cost 0] Give a minion +2 Health.***
  • **Shadow Word: Death**
      - Old: [Cost 3] Destroy a minion with 5 or more Attack. - ***New: [Cost 2] Destroy a minion with 5 or more Attack.***
  • **Holy Smite**
      - Old: [Cost 1] Deal 2 damage. - ***New: [Cost 1] Deal 3 damage to a minion.***
  • **Holy Nova**
      - Old: [Cost 5] Deal 2 damage to all enemies. Restore 2 Health to all friendly characters. - ***New: [Cost 4] Deal 2 damage to all enemy minions. Restore 2 Health to all friendly characters.***
  • **Shadow Madness**
      - Old: [Cost 4] Gain control of an enemy minion with 3 or less Attack until end of turn. - ***New: [Cost 3] Gain control of an enemy minion with 3 or less Attack until end of turn.***
  • **Temple Enforcer**
      - Old: [Cost 6] 6/6 - Give a friendly minion +3 Health. - ***New: [Cost 5] 5/6 Give a friendly minion +3 Health.***
  • **Thoughtsteal**
      - Old: [Cost 3] Copy 2 cards in your opponent's deck and add them to your hand. - ***New: [Cost 2] Copy 2 cards in your opponent's deck and add them to your hand.***
New Priest Cards

Players will automatically be granted the two new Basic cards, and the four new Classic cards can be crafted or obtained from Classic card packs.

  • **Basic - Psychic Conjurer**
      - [Cost 1] 1 Attack, 1 Health - Battlecry: Copy a card in your opponent's deck and add it to your hand.
  • **Basic - Power Infusion**
      - [Cost 4] - Give a minion +2/+6.
  • **Classic - Kul Tiran Chaplain**
      - [Cost 2] 2 Attack, 3 Health - Battlecry: Give a friendly minion +2 Health.
  • **Classic - Scarlet Subjugator**
      - [Cost 1] 2 Attack, 1 Health - Battlecry: Give an enemy minion -2 Attack until your next turn.
  • **Classic - Shadow Word: Ruin**
      - [Cost 4] - Destroy all minions with 5 or more Attack.
  • **Classic - Natalie Seline**
      - [Cost 8] 8 Attack, 1 Health - Battlecry: Destroy a minion and gain its Health.

Neutral Cards Entering Hall of Fame


At the start of each Hearthstone year, we take the opportunity to reevaluate the Basic and Classic sets. As Hearthstone has evolved and we’ve better defined and distinguished the classes, several cards from those sets stand out as pushing classes in directions different than the rest of their tools.

Five neutral cards will join the Hall of Fame on March 26. You will be able to keep your copies of these card once they move to the Hall of Fame, and you’ll also be granted the full Arcane Dust value for each card (up to the maximum number that can be used in a deck). The dust will be automatically awarded once you log-in after March 26.

Welcome to the Year of the Phoenix!

The Year of the Phoenix is shaping up to be the best yet, and this is only the beginning! Be sure to check out our Ashes of Outland announcement and our announcement of the new Demon Hunter class!


So there you go, this is what we know about the Year of the Phoenix so far. Now you too can go on to wonder what the announced new way of playing with expansion 2 will look like and what Dean "IksarHS" Ayala wanted to say about the Year of the Phoenix that he kept to himself in the end. Hmmmmmmmmm.



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