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Video Game / Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

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Who said good games had to be epic in scale?

Thrall: "It is said that wars are only won upon the anvil of honor."
Jaina: "Others believe victory requires strategy, and a mastery of power."
Illidan: "War is deception, a game played best from the shadows."
Garrosh: "Only strength and raw power can assure total dominance!"
Innkeeper: "But o'course, you could forget all o' that... And just have fun!"

The pet project of a few Blizzard Entertainment employees turned into an experiment in less-than-epic game development for the company, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an online game released on PC, iPad and Android tablets based on Warcraft's discontinued Collectible Card Game.

The game allows you to step into the shoes / boots / what-have-you of the original nine character classes from World of Warcraft (plus the Demon Hunter and Death Knight), each represented by a character from the Warcraft universe. Each class has a special Support Power costing two mana (except the Demon Hunter, whose power costs one mana), which can be used once a turn (another change from the original, where hero abilities could only be used once period). Each class has its own unique cards, along with neutral cards that every class can use.

The game is very streamlined compared to most CCGs. New mana crystals are automatically gained each turn without having to play/sacrifice a card, to a maximum of 10. Mana is spent to cast Minions (creatures), Spells (one-shot effects that act directly on the game state), Weapons (which your Player Character wields to deal direct damage, but are breakable), Hero Powers (weak abilities that can be used once per turn), Hero Cards (cards that give you a new, stronger Hero), and Secrets (traps which sit on your character until triggered, typically by something your opponent does). Secrets are your only way to interact with the opponent when it's their turn: they make all the other decisions, being able to target your Minions with their own, or bypass them entirely to hit you in the face. Targeting Minions can be worthwhile, though, because — as in the original CCG — damage is not reset at the end of each turn, so applying Death of a Thousand Cuts to a large enemy creature is a viable strategy. The game also takes advantage of its digital medium to embrace certain mechanics, like shuffling things into your deck, mechanics like "50% of the time, this Minion attacks the wrong enemy," and single-player duels against AI bosses, which are much easier to implement digitally than they would be at a gaming table. Because of its emphasis on swiftness and spectacle, cards can have extravagant effects, such as wishing for the perfect card, or shuffling a copy of your opponent's deck into yours. (And that's before we get into the really absurd things played by those AI bosses.)

Like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone has its own expansions which are released every few months. In addition to the standard Expansion Pack which adds new cards, there are also Adventures, single-player campaigns where players quest through famous Warcraft raids to take on the bosses within to earn the new cards, featuring Heroic mode for those looking for a true challenge. (These also add new cards, though typically fewer of them.) The timeline for expansions is as follows:

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    Discussing Cards 
  • Minions all have attack power on the left, and health on the right, which are read with a slash between them, e.g. Chillwind Yeti 4/5 has 4 attack and 5 health. Mana is usually spelled out, e.g. "4 mana 4/5" rather than abbreviated with symbols.
  • Weapons have attack power on the left and number of uses on the right, so a 3/2 weapon means you get to attack twice for 3 damage each time. Mana works the same way as with minions, you may occasionally see something like 3-3/2 but usually the word" mana" is just used to avoid confusion.
  • Spells have no set system involving 2 numbers and their effects have to just be spelled out in text. Similarly, Locations have no attack value, so to avoid confusion both their mana and durability are spelled out, e.g. "3 mana 2 durability".
  • Hero Cards are generally a bit more complicated, but they have a few consistent rules. Almost all of them grant 5 armor when played, so the armor gain is only specified when they grant a different amount. Additionally, Hero Powers are almost always 2 mana, so their cost isn't mentioned unless it's a different number.

    Card sets 


  • Core: The Core set of Hearthstone, which comprises 235 free cards given to every player. It's made of cards from previous expansions as well as a handful of original ones, and its contents change every year. It replaces the old Basic and Classic system, giving the team more control over what's playable in Standard format.
  • Legacy: The original Basic, Classic, and Hall of Fame sets, depreciated and moved to Wild. They can still be played in Wild format, and owning them lets you use their unaltered versions in the Classic format.
  • Demon Hunter Initiate: A special card set added with the Demon Hunter class. It contains 20 cards, all of which were given for free upon completing the Demon Hunter Prologue. It is considered part of the Year of the Dragon and rotated to Wild alongside it.
  • Path of Arthas: The Death Knight class' equivalent to the Demon Hunter Initiate set, containing 26 cards designed to pair with Death Knight's Core set to create three starter decks. Unlike the Initiate set, Path of Arthas is essentially an additional mini-set, with all of the cards only available by purchasing the whole set outright (either standalone or through the March of the Lich King Mega Bundle) or via crafting — the Death Knight Prologue instead unlocks the class' Core set.
  • Caverns of Time, August 2023: The game's first-ever Wild-exclusive set, Caverns of Time introduced 34 new cards and 113 buffed reprints of old cards. The Infinite Dragonflight has gone back to the Battle of Ahn'Qiraj and are seeking to rewrite its outcome. It's up to you to stop their meddling... or help them succeed! This set focuses on reimagining sets from 2016 and back, primarily Whispers of the Old Gods and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. It includes new and improved synergies for C'Thun, Jade Golems, hand buffing, Inspire, Dragons, Mechs, and other core features from the era.
  • Gift, February 2024: A special set of 12 cards celebrating Hearthstone's 10th anniversary, received for free by logging in during the Year of the Pegasus celebration. The set includes the legendary Harth Stonebrew and one card for each class that lets them Discover an iconic spell from their class.

Non-expansion (Retired)

  • Basic & Classic: The original Core set of Hearthstone. Two omni-present sets of cards that would never rotate into Wild, except a few which are sent to the Hall of Fame each year. Most Basic cards were given to all players for free, with a small handful unlocked by leveling the respective class to 20. Classic cards can be opened in Classic packs, and have more complex mechanics. With the first set of 2021, these sets were depreciated and moved to the Wild format.
  • Hall of Fame: A small set of Basic and Classic cards (and a few Witchwood cards) found to be too powerful to be permanently core. These cards cannot be opened in packs but can still be crafted and used in Wild format. Like Basic and Classic, all Hall of Fame cards were be folded into Legacy or their home set with the start of the new rotation.


  • Curse of Naxxramas, July 2014: The first adventure and expansion in general featuring 30 new cards, based on the Naxxramas raid; players trekked through the horrors of the fortress to defeat the lich Kel'Thuzad and his forces. The main focus was on Deathrattle minions and synergies with minion death as well as more counters to the then-metagame.
  • Goblins vs. Gnomes, December 2014: The first expansion to add a new card pack, it added the new Mech tribe and 120 new cards with a major focus on random effects. It also added the new Spare Part keyword, an effect that randomly grants special 1-mana spells. It's not based on any particular Warcraft instance, though the overall theme of course is the explosive rivalry between the goblins and the gnomes.
  • Blackrock Mountain, April 2015: The second adventure, with 31 new cards, wherein adventurers quest through Blackrock to defeat the two rulers of the mountain, Ragnaros the Firelord, and Nefarian, son of Deathwing. It featured synergy for the Dragon tribe with the unique theme of gaining effects if you have a Dragon in your hand (Dragons existed previously, but it was just Rule of Cool), and it also had an emphasis on area damage.
  • The Grand Tournament, August 2015: The second card expansion, featuring 134 new cards with an emphasis on Hero Power synergy. It's based on the Argent Tournament event from World of Warcraft, though unlike the Argent Tournament the participants aren't so much here to prove themselves worthy to fight the Lich King and more just to beat each other up for glory and for fun. It featured the new Inspire keyword, an effect that triggers after you use your Hero Power, and the unkeyworded Joust ability, which reveals a card from each deck and grants a bonus if yours costs more.
  • The League of Explorers, November 2015: The third Hearthstone adventure, with 45 cards, focusing on the four members of the eponymous league in their quest to find and assemble The Staff of Origination. The expansion featured the new Discover keyword which lets a player pick between three cards and place one in their hand. This is also the first Adventure not based on an old WoW raid (though one of the adventure "wings" is Uldaman, a WoW zone), and many of the boss encounters and four out of the five Legendary minions are original Hearthstone characters. Discover also marked the first new keyword that returned in later sets; all previous keywords were locked to their own.

Year of the Kraken

  • Whispers of the Old Gods, April 2016: The third card expansion, with 134 new cards. Focused on the horrific Old Gods from World of Warcraft, and their rise and corruption of various minions. It did not introduce any new keywords, but there was a strong theme and mechanics based around buffing the aforementioned Old Gods before they come in to play, strengthening their effects. It also introduced Standard and Wild modes; Standard only contains cards from the most recent sets (as well as the Classic set) while Wild contains everything.
  • One Night in Karazhan, August 2016: The fourth adventure, with 45 cards. Based on the legendary Karazhan raid, the players arrive early to Medivh's wicked awesome party, only for the archmage to be nowhere in sight. Without his presence, his machinations begin to unwind and tear the place apart, leaving it up to the adventurers to save the day. It featured no new keywords, but had a strong theme of spell and secret synergy. It's also the last traditional adventure, according to Team 5; they will still exist but will be part of expansions instead and will be entirely free.
  • Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, December 2016: The fourth card expansion, with 132 new cards. It's a mafia/gangster styled set based in the seedy criminal underworld of the goblin capital, Gadgetzan. It featured the new Tri-class cards, special neutral cards that can only be used by a group of three specific classes. The expansion featured new mechanics for each of the gangs: the Grimy Goons (Warriors, Hunters, and Paladins) buff cards in your hand; the Jade Lotus (Druids, Rogues, and Shamans) summon Jade Golems that grow bigger as you play related cards; and the Kabal (Priests, Warlocks, and Mages) have a host of powerful "potion" spell cards, and legendaries with powerful effects that only trigger if your deck has no duplicates.

Year of the Mammoth

  • Journey to Un'Goro, April 2017: The fifth card expansion and the first one to come back-to-back from another expansion, with 135 cards, centered on a children's field trip lead by Elise Starseeker into the jungles of Un'Goro Crater. It added two keywords: Adapt, an ability that allows you to choose one of three random effects from a list of ten to enhance a minion; and Poisonous, the keywording of an existing mechanic (it previously appeared as the text "Destroy any minion damaged by this minion"). A new type of card was also introduced: Quests, Legendary spells that always appear in your mulligan and are placed on the board. Each Quest has a requirement, and rewards the players with an obscenely powerful card when fulfilled. Finally, it also added the Elemental tribe, which gain powerful effects if you played an Elemental on the previous turn.
  • Knights of the Frozen Throne, August 2017: The sixth card expansion and the first one to come with set of single-player Missions (replacing old Adventures), with 135 cards. This set explores an Alternate Universe where the playable heroes died and were resurrected as the Lich King's death knights. It introduced new type of card, Hero cards, which replaces the player's hero, triggering a unique effect and granting a new hero power. It also keyworded a previously seen mechanic, Lifesteal, which causes you to gain life equal to damage dealt by cards with this ability. Much like Poisonous in Un'Goro, most cards that already had this mechanic were updated with the keyword.
  • Kobolds & Catacombs, December 2017: The seventh card expansion, the set takes you into the vast caverns dug out by the kobolds in search of riches. The expansion brought 135 cards and a new single-player mode called Dungeon Run, a mode where the player starts with a 10-card deck and fights through a series of bosses, getting more cards along the way. The set also gave every class a legendary weapon, the last card type to gain the legendary status, and introduced Spellstones, spells that upgrade and have their effects increased when certain conditions are met. Finally, it also added a new keyword, Recruit, which pulls a random minion out of your deck and immediately puts it into play. While this ability did exist, it was not keyworded on to older cards, to keep the flavor of the set intact.

Year of the Raven

  • The Witchwood, April 2018: The eighth card expansion with 135 cards, set in the twisted woods of Gilneas; depicting the struggle between the worgen and a greater, wicked evil. The expansion added three new keywords; Start of Game, an effect that does something when the game begins; Echo, allowing you to replay the card as many times as you'd like on the same turn; and Rush, allowing the minion to attack other minions the turn it comes into play. All three of these appeared in varying forms in previous sets, but have been greatly expanded here. It also added the Monster Hunt mode, a new Dungeon Run using four new, unique classes instead of the regular nine.
  • The Boomsday Project, August 2018: The ninth card expansion, with 136 cards. This set explores Dr. Boom's secret laboratory in the Netherstorm, and all of his insane scientists and their inventions. The set reintroduced Mech synergies and included a new keyword mechanic for them; Magnetic, allowing you to play certain minions either on the board or as buffs for your mechs. It also added Legendary non-Quest spells and Omega cards that become more powerful when played at 10 mana. It also introduced the Puzzle Lab, a singleplayer set of puzzle challenges.
  • Rastakhan's Rumble, December 2018: The tenth card expansion, with 135 cards. This set takes place in the Gurubashi Arena, as King Rastakhan has assembled all of the troll tribes to compete for glory. The set added the new Overkill keyword, an effect that triggers when the card kills a minion by more damage than its total health. It also gave each class a Loa, a powerful Legendary with deck-restrictive conditions, and introduced Spirits, highly synergistic minions that have Stealth for a single turn. Finally, it added the Rumble Run, a new singleplayer mode where you play as rookie brawler Rikkar, fighting your way through the arena with special Shrine cards.

Year of the Dragon

This year marks a unique change, with every set following a single narrative instead of three unrelated stories. It also saw the Lackey mechanic, cards that generate special 1/1 minions for 1 mana with potent Battlecries, spread throughout the year.
  • Rise of Shadows, April 2019: The eleventh card expansion, with 136 cards. This set saw a Villain Team-Up of several antagonists from previous sets, led by the sinister Arch-Thief Rafaam, setting out to rob the mage city of Dalaran. The set featured a new keyword: Twinspell, causing a spell to add another copy of itself to your hand after being cast, although with the second copy lacking the Twinspell effect. It also introduced the Dalaran Heist, a new single-player mode where the player uses several special heroes to capture wings of the city.
  • Saviors of Uldum, August 2019: The twelfth card expansion, with 135 cards. After Rafaam's conquest of Dalaran, he sent the city to the deserts of Uldum in search of artifacts. However, the League of Explorers have returned to stop him. The set added a new keyword, Reborn, which causes a minion to return to life with 1 health the first time it's destroyed. It also saw the return of Quests, which now directly award a Hero Power. Finally, it added the Tombs of Terror singleplayer mode, where you play as one of the four Explorers and fight through the unleashed evils with dual classes and unlockable signature treasures.
  • Descent of Dragons, December 2019: The thirteenth card expansion, with 140 cards. After escaping Uldum, the League of E.V.I.L. has enacted their final scheme; resurrecting Galakrond, the progenitor of the dragons! The set focused on dragon synergies, as well as introduced two new keywords. Invoke has five different effects based on which class is playing it, strengthening their respective Galakrond Hero Card and activating their Hero Power. Sidequests are similar to Quests but aren't Legendary and require and award something much smaller.
  • Galakrond's Awakening, January 2020: The fifth adventure, with 35 cards. The final confrontation, as the League of Explorers hurries to stop the League of E.V.I.L. and save Reno from a terrible doom. This is a traditional-style Adventure, and officially the final set of the Year of the Dragon. It is the usual Single-player content for Descent of Dragons, but adds new cards to Standard. It uses a wing-based system, with players venturing through both E.V.I.L. and Explorers chapters.

Year of the Phoenix

This year introduced a brand new playable class: the Demon Hunter. The Demon Hunter employs swift attacks, demons, and their class keyword Outcast, which activates an additional effect if the card is played from either outermost spot in the hand.
  • Ashes of Outland, April 2020: The fourteenth card expansion, with 135 cards. The realm of Outland is being threatened by a mysterious new force called the Rusted Legion, which is capturing demons and even rulers of Outland and augmenting them with cybernetic parts. The set keyworded the Dormant ability, allowing minions to begin as passive Permanents and awaken after a few turns or upon filling a condition. It also featured Primes, Legendary minions that shuffle powerful bio-augmented versions of themselves into the deck on death. Also included is the solo adventure Trial by Felfire, a new set of story missions as well as a series of challenges against some of the toughest bosses in Outland.
  • Scholomance Academy, August 2020: The fifteenth card expansion, with 135 cards. Set in the wizarding school of Scholomance run by headmaster Kel'Thuzad, before it became a den of necromancy.note  The set naturally has a heavy theme of spell synergy, with the new keyword Spellburst triggering a one-time effect after you cast a spell. It also added dual-class cards, which can be played in either class and combine themes of both classes together. In place of a themed adventure, this expansion opened the Book of Heroes, a 10-part series of missions with monthly updates that tell the origin stories of each basic hero.
  • Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, November 2020: The sixteenth card expansion, with 135 cards. It's a day at the faire, and the Old Gods have returned to spread their insanity! This set featured a new triggered keyword, Corrupt, which gives the card extra effects if you play a higher-cost card while it's in your hand.
    • Darkmoon Races, January 2021: The first ever mini-setnote , with 35 cards. Taking place on the blazing trails of the Darkmoon raceway, as competitors from Outland, Scholomance, and Darkmoon all gather for an epic day of racing. This set brings back mechanics from the previous year, combining keywords in new and interesting ways.

Year of the Gryphon

This year follows a narrative focusing on ten Mercenaries - five Alliance and five Horde. Their story is told throughout the expansions as well as in the new Book of Mercenaries missions.
  • Forged in the Barrens, March 2021: The seventeenth card expansion, with 135 cards. The Barrens are a dry savannah territory, where would-be adventurers of the Horde come to prove their mettle. This set featured the new Frenzy keyword, an effect that triggers the first time the minion takes damage and survives. It also introduced Spell Schools to the game, allowing spells to benefit from tribal synergies, with the schools Arcane, Fel, Fire, Frost, Holy, Nature, and Shadow. Additionally, it featured Rank spells that become more powerful while you have 5 then 10 mana.
    • Wailing Caverns, June 2021: The second mini-set, with 35 cards. This set follows Rokara and her band of mercenaries as they venture into the Wailing Caverns. This is no ordinary adventure however, as the nightmares of Archdruid Naralex have twisted nature itself throughout the caves. This set featured Dungeoneers, minions that draw a spell and gain an effect if that spell was from a specific school, and Adventurers, 2/2 tokens that come into play with one of eight different bonus effects.
  • United in Stormwind, August 2021: The eighteenth card expansion, with 135 cards. After surviving the Barrens, the weary mercenaries have returned to Stormwind to rest up and gear up for their next adventure. It introduced the new Tradeable keyword, an ability that lets the card be traded into the deck for 1 mana, drawing a card to replace it. It also saw the addition of Questlines, legendary 3-part Quests that award something relatively minor for completing the first two parts but have a massive final reward. It also introduced 0-Attack "profession" weapons, and mount spells that give a minion a buff and summon their mount on death.
    • The Deadmines, November 2021: The third mini-set, with 35 cards. Finishing their Stormwind adventures, the mercenaries have tracked down more Naaru shards that have ended up in the hands of the Defias Brotherhood. This set had a Pirate theme and features a series of parrots, minions that repeat something that happened on a previous turn. Additionally, it introduced new Tradeable cards which also have a secondary benefit upon being traded.
  • Fractured in Alterac Valley, December 2021: The nineteenth card expansion, with 135 cards. The Alliance and Horde mercenaries have finally come to a head, fighting for their faction for dominance over Alterac Valley. This set reintroduced Hero cards, representing the max-level mercs with game-warping abilities. It also featured a new keyword, Honorable Kill, which grants a bonus effect if the card dealt exactly enough damage to kill a target. It also added a series of "objective" spells that have an immediate effect and continue to give benefits for two more turns.
    • Onyxia's Lair, February 2022: The fourth mini-set, with 35 cards. After defeating Kazakusan and recovering the shards of Mi'da in Alterac Valley, the mercs have tracked Lady Prestor - truthfully Onyxia - to her lair in Dustwallow Marsh for the final confrontation. In addition to bringing back mechanics, keywords, and deck archetypes from all of the year's prior sets, much like Darkmoon Races from the year before, this mini-set fittingly has a heavy focus on dragons.

Year of the Hydra

  • Voyage to the Sunken City, April 2022: The twentieth card expansion, with 135 cards. The wealthy nightborne investor Ambassador Faelin has paid a team of explorers to discover the ancient city of Zin-Azshari, which has sunken under the ocean. It's not smooth sailing however, as the city is guarded by vile naga and monstrous sea creatures. This set added a new minion tribe, Naga, which gain bonus effects if you did something while the Naga was in your hand. It also added two new keywords: Dredge, which looks at three cards at the bottom of your deck and lets you put one on top; and Colossal, which causes the minion to take up {X} extra board spaces, with the body parts having their own effects.
    • Throne of the Tides, June 2022: The fifth mini-set, with 35 cards. The ocean depths around Zin-Azshari aren't just the home of naga and sea monsters- it also acts as the battleground for a war between the naga-controlled patriarch of the krakens, Ozumat, and the Elemental Lord of water, Neptulon, who fight for control of the latter's domain. In keeping with the theme, this mini-set introduces more Naga and Elementals, in addition to building upon Sunken City's additions and class themes.
  • Murder at Castle Nathria, August 2022: The twenty-first card expansion, with 135 cards. A formal dinner party at Castle Nathria has suddenly turned grim as its host, Sire Denathrius, has been found murdered! The attendees call upon the legendary Murloc Holmes to figure out which of the guests was the killer. This set introduced a new card type — Locations, which are played on the battlefield like minions but cannot be attacked or take damage. Their activated effects can be used once every other turn and costs 1 Durability each use, and the location is destroyed once it's out of durability. It also added a new keyword, Infuse, which causes the minion to become Infused after {X} friendly minions died while it was in your hand, gaining a bonus effect.
    • Maw and Disorder, September 2022: The sixth mini-set, with 35 cards. Sylvanas has been brought before The Jailer to answer for her many, many crimes. This mini-set introduces new Accusation spells that take effect after a certain condition has been fulfilled, as well as Advanced Infuse cards that only become Infused by specific types of minions dying.
  • March of the Lich King, December 2022: The twenty-second card expansion, with 145 cards. The Lich King has awoken to lay siege to the Blood Elf capital of Silvermoon, with his legions of ravenous Undead minions at his command. This set saw the debut of the Death Knight class and its associated mechanics: Corpses, a secondary resource generated by friendly minion deaths, and Runes, a trio of symbols (Frost, Blood and Unholy) selected during deck creation that determine which Death Knight cards are eligible for use depending on your chosen combination of Runes. Additionally, the set saw the return of the Reborn mechanic as an evergreen keyword, as well as the debut of the Manathirst keyword, which empowers cards after certain thresholds of mana have been achieved. Finally, the Undead tribe was introduced, which also necessitated the creation of Dual Tribe minions.
    • Return to Naxxramas, February 2023: The seventh mini-set, with 38 cards. The dread citadel Naxxramas has appeared over the skies of Silvermoon, to aid the Lich King in the conquest of the city. This mini-set featured call-backs to features from the original Curse of Naxxramas adventure, as well as mixing together mechanics from throughout the year and bringing more focus to Dual Tribe minions.

Year of the Wolf

This year saw Magnetic make a temporary return to Standard, and the Tradeable mechanic introduced in United in Stormwind was also made evergreen.
  • Festival of Legends, April 2023: The twenty-third card expansion, with 145 cards. The Festival of Legends is Azeroth's greatest music festival, and eleven different bands have come to compete for the crown of greatest band ever! This set introduced the new keyword Finale, which activates if you spent all of your remaining mana to cast the card. It also added Overheal, a new evergreen keyword exclusive to Priest that triggers when the minion is healed past its maximum health. Additionally, the set added non-legendary weapons for every class as well as another full set of legendary spells.
    • Audiopocalypse, May 2023: The eighth mini-set, with 38 cards. The Festival has been rocking for weeks and weeks, and the local Grimtotem tribe have decided they've had enough — they're going to destroy all music, for good. This mini-set featured the return of dual-class cards, as well as introduced "Remixed" cards that gain a different effect every turn they're in your hand.
  • TITANS, August 2023: The twenty-fourth card expansion, with 145 cards. Long ago, before mortals came to being on Azeroth, the great and mighty Titans came and used their awesome powers to bring order to the Old God-corrupted planet. Before they left, they imbued Keepers with their power so as to watch and nurture the planet as it grew, leaving behind advanced technology to aid in that task. We now return to that ancient time, and call upon the Titans and their servants to aid us in battle! This expansion introduced the titular Titan keyword for minions; once per turn, Titans can use one of three special abilities instead of attacking. Each ability can only be used once, and once all three have been used the Titan can attack normally. Also added was Forge, a new keyword that allows you to pay 2 mana while the card is in your hand to upgrade its effect. In addition the Titans, each class also received one of the Keepers as legendary minions, and new minions featuring the Magnetic keyword were also added.
    • Fall of Ulduar, September 2023: The ninth mini-set, with 38 cards. Ulduar was designed to contain the evil of Yogg-Saron, but there is no prison that can hold an Old God forever. This mini-set had themes of Shadow spells and randomness. It also introduced a special "anomaly" event for Constructed; for the first week after launch, Yogg-Saron caused one of twenty random effects at the start of every game. Afterwards, from then until the next expansion launch anomalies had a 25% chance of appearing.
  • Showdown in the Badlands, November 2023: The twenty-fifth card expansion, with 145 cards. The Bloodrock Mining Company has come to the Badlands, seeking to excavate valuable Azerite ore. However, the locals are upset about the rampant damage Bloodrock is causing the environment, leading to outlaw gangs forming to put a stop to their business. The set introduced two new keywords: Excavate allows you to dig up a random treasure, with the treasures getting more and more valuable the more you dig up, and Bloodrock classesnote  eventually digging up a powerful, unique class Legendary. Meanwhile, Quickdraw is a bonus effect that activates if you play a card on the same turn it was drawn. The set also reintroduced Highlander effects and Elemental synergies.
    • Delve Into Deepholm, January 2024: The tenth mini-set, with 38 cards. Despite the outlaws' best efforts, Bloodrock has dug too deep and unearthed a portal to Deepholm, the domain of the Elemental Lord of earth, Therazane — and she's not happy about the intrusion. With the outlaws and Bloodrock now working together to combat Therazane, this mini-set sees each side's signature mechanics (Highlander synergies and Excavate) cross party lines, further emphasized by the addition of more dual-class cards. Other additions include cards that mix together or put new spins on mechanics from throughout the year, more Elementals and Elemental synergies, and a few more Excavate treasures, including unique Legendary treasures for Paladin and Shaman.

Year of the Pegasus

This year commemorates the game's 10th anniversary, which was celebrated in various ways: the year's expansions brought back and put new twists on cards and mechanics from years past, the Core set reintroduced a number of iconic cards that weren't in Standard for a while (on top of adding 4 brand-new cards inspired by Warcraft Rumble), and the special Gift set was given away for free (see the Non-expansion section above for details).
  • Whizbang's Workshop, March 2024: The twenty-sixth card expansion, with 145 cards. The Splendiferous Whizbang, Azeroth's greatest inventor and toymaker, has opened the doors of his magnificent toy factory/shop to all! Mind your step, though — between the magic in the air, all the familiar faces scrambling about, and Dr. Boom definitely not up to some sort of scheme in the basement that doesn't exist, things can get out of hand real quick. This set introduced the Miniaturize keyword, which adds a 1 mana 1/1 copy of a card to your hand when it's played. It also added Elusive, the long-awaited keywording of "Can't be targeted by spells and Hero Powers", which was also retroactively applied to a number of old minions. Other notable additions include a set of "Artist" cards that draw cards and trigger effects based on what kind of card they draw, "Wind-Up" minions whose effects grow stronger when Traded, and the first-ever fully-customizable card in Zilliax Deluxe 3000.
    • Dr. Boom's Incredible Inventions, May 2024: The eleventh mini-set, with 38 cards. Not one to be shown-up by his associates, Dr. Boom has come back to prove that his toys are even better — and even bigger — than Whizbang's! This is the first mini-set to introduce a new keyword, Gigantify, which adds an 8 mana 8/8 copy of the card to your hand after it's played. It also adds cards that open a pack of 5 temporary cards, and more callbacks to previous sets.

Every so often, Hearthstone celebrates certain special holidays. A few of these celebrations are purely cosmetic (save for any special bundles added to the shop), such as Talk Like a Pirate Day or the Lunar New Year, which merely change each Hero's "Greetings!" emote, and there are also holidays only celebrated through special Tavern Brawls, like Noblegarden (WoW's equivalent to Easter), but there have been a number of events- both holiday-oriented and not- that are of significant note, which are listed below:
  • Midsummer Fire Festival, July (Annual): An annual Summer celebration, as the name implies. First held in July 2017, this event is themed after (and usually hosted by) Ragnaros the Firelord; festivities generally include Legendary quests that provide more rewards than standard quests, unique themed Tavern Brawls, and special bundles in the shop. There have been a few twists on the festival over the years, which are listed below:
    • Frost Festival, late July-August 2017: An event that started immediately following the end of the first Fire Festival and was hosted by Ahune the Frost Lord, who looked to top his fiery rival with a festival of his own. This event featured a unique Tavern Brawl, a near copy-paste of the Fire Festival's themed Brawl literally named Ahune's Superior Brawl, as well as free weekly Arena runs with accompanying Legendary quests.
    • Fire Fest-E.V.I.L., July 2019: A mini-event that continued the story of the Year of the Dragon, and the first time where the Fire Festival had a Hostile Show Takeover. While on their way to Uldum, Dr. Boom accidentally crashed Dalaran into the side of Blackrock Mountain. The event added a brand new Tavern Brawl modelled after the Dungeon Run where the player takes control of one of the members of the League of E.V.I.L. as they climb through Ragnaros' lair. Other special Tavern Brawls and a special community challenge to more quickly reveal cards for the upcoming expansion were also a part of the event.
    • Felfire Festival of Music & VENGEANCE, June 2020: A mini-event completing the story of Ashes of Outland. Mecha-Jaraxxus is ready to conquer Outland with his Rusted Legion, and only Aranna Starseeker, sister of Elise Starseeker, and her new Demon Hunter allies can stop him. The event added Trial by Felfire, a new set of story missions as well as a series of challenges against some of the toughest bosses in Outland. In addition, the usual Fire Festival trappings were present, the Pirate tribe was added to Battlegrounds, and Aranna was introduced as an alternate Demon Hunter hero.
  • Hallow's End, October (Annual): Hearthstone's annual Halloween celebration, usually themed around The Headless Horseman. First held in October 2017, activities include themed Tavern Brawls, Legendary quests, special shop offers, and most notably, Dual-Class Arena, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: players first pick one of the ten default Heroes (all appropriately dressed in costumes), then they get to pick another class's Hero Power to use. From there, drafting occurs as normal, with cards from both of the chosen classes available for grabs.
    • Doom in the Tomb, October 2019: A mini-event that took Hallow's End's place during the Year of the Dragon, themed around The Headless Horseman haunting the Tombs of Terror in Uldum for one cursed night, and the League of E.V.I.L. and League of Explorers teaming up to take him down. This take on Hallow's End featured both Dual-Class Arena and a Tavern Brawl modelled after the Dungeon Run that saw players delve into the titular Tombs of Terror to defeat the Horseman as a member of either the League of E.V.I.L. or the League of Explorers. The most notable aspect of this event, however, was a major shake-up for the Standard meta: 23 (in)famous Wild cards were temporarily added to the format, and unlike the other parts of the event, this lasted all the way until the launch of Descent of Dragons that December.
    • Knights of Hallow's End, November 2022: 2022's Hallow's End event marked the debut of a new events system that introduces event-specific reward tracks (on top of the one for the current expansion). What really set this Hallow's End apart, though, was a new twist on Doom in the Tomb's gimmick: with March of the Lich King on the horizon, every card from Knights of the Frozen Throne was temporarily added to the Core set, and also like Doom in the Tomb, this lasted all the way until the new expansion launched in December.
  • Other:
    • Winter('s) Veil, December (Annual): The first true seasonal eventnote , initially held in December 2015 and based on WoW's annual Christmas celebrations. In addition to special quests and shop offers, this event features a special Tavern Brawl, Gift Exchange, in which players craft decks and utilize gifts dropped by Greatfather Winter to defeat their opponent. Notably, winning a match in this Tavern Brawl for the first time rewards the player with a special holiday-themed card back instead of the usual pack reward.
    • Friendly Feud, July 2016/February 2017: An event in which players could earn quest rewards through challenges to friends on their friends list. Was made obsolete when this feature was, by popular demand, made permanent later in 2017 with the launch of Journey to Un'Goro.
    • Wildfest, February-March 2018: An event celebrating the Wild format. In addition to themed Tavern Brawls, cards from all sets were made available to draft in Arena for the event's duration (excluding any cards that had already been banned or excluded from the drafting pool). Was more-or-less made obsolete following the launch of Rise of Shadows in 2019, when the current rotating draft system was introduced to Arena.
    • Taverns of Time, June 2018: A mini-event exclusive to the Arena format, based on the Caverns of Time instances. It added 28 new cards with themes of hand, deck, and card draw manipulation. The cards would all be invokedGame Breakers in Constructed, but are kept in check thanks to the Arena format.
    Game Modes 

Active Game Modes:note 

  • Hearthstone: (often called Constructed) Build decks of 30 cards from your collection, and battle against other players. It comes in three formats, each with Ranked and Casual options.
    • Standard: Decks only use cards from the Core set as well as from the current and previous Year of Hearthstone.
    • Wild: Every card can be used, although they are still subject to any nerfs. The larger card pool results in an explosively high power level.
    • Twist: Cards from various expansions can be used, and the available sets change every season. Additionally, some seasons may impose additional restrictions, such as no neutral cards.
  • Solo Adventures: Play against a challenging AI opponent, usually through a story mission. This was originally restricted to the Adventure sets, but has expanded to include more varied content.
  • Arena: Draft a 30 card deck by choosing from 1 from 3 cards offered. Compete against other players until your deck has 12 wins or 3 losses. Legal card sets rotate every few months, mixing together formats that never existed in Standard. Games require a small entrance fee (which can be payed with real money or gold), but the cards do not come from the players' collections, offering cards you might not own. Rewards are based on the number of wins achieved, roughly breaking even after four wins and becoming exponentially more valuable from there.
  • Tavern Brawl: A lighthearted gamemode with a different ruleset every week. Changes can be simple, like having a deck of random cards, but can also include game-warping rules like playing as Adventure bosses, all minions being 1 mana 1/1s, Discovering cards instead of drawing them, etc. The first win each week awards a card pack from the previous Standard-legal year.
  • Battlegrounds: An auto-battler game, and essentially Hearthstone's second primary game mode, complete with its own dedicated shop and rewards track. Players fight in an 8 player free-for-all, taking turns recruiting, selling, and buffing minions before transitioning to 1v1 automated fights between their boards, with the winning player damaging their opponent. Each player also has access to a unique hero with their own hero power. Players gain more gold and access to stronger minions as the game goes on. Boards are kept between rounds, letting you steadily build an unstoppable army.
    • Battlegrounds Duos: A cooperative variation of Battlegrounds. All eight players are paired into teams of two that share a combined life total, but their boards, taverns (tiers included), and gold are separate. Both teammates can view each others' taverns and board states at any point during the recruit phase and pass cards between each other's hands (at a cost of 1 gold per card). Combat meanwhile sees one warband from each team battle it out first, with the second teammate only fighting if their partner falls; if one team member manages to beat both enemy warbands, their teammate's warband spawns in to damage the opponent further. The pool of minions and heroes is also adjusted to make the mode more balanced, with unique minions and heroes also available that take advantage of Duos' unique mechanics.

Inactive/Cancelled Game Modes:note 

  • Classic: A format of regular Hearthstone where only cards from the Classic set could be used, the main draw being that the mode used the original, largely unbalanced version of the Classic set, allowing players to re-experience Hearthstone as it was within a couple months of the game's launch. The Classic format was introduced with the Year of the Gryphon in 2022, and was eventually replaced with Twist in June 2023.
  • Duels: Build a deck of 15 cards from a selection of legal sets, then choose a special hero power and signature treasure to compete against opponents until you have 12 wins or 3 losses. At the end of each game, players could draft bundles of cards and occasionally gain new passive and active treasures. Hero Powers and treasures were Purposely Overpowered (Though not as much as their Solo Adventure counterparts, considering it was still Player Vs Player), and warp the game entirely. Came in Normal, which was free to enter but just for practice or fun, and Heroic, which had an entrance fee and gave rewards for high wins (the fee and rewards were identical to Arena). Duels was added to the game on November 17, 2020, and was sadly removed on April 16, 2024.
  • Mercenaries: An RPG and Roguelike-style mode. Players build a roster of Mercenaries which are earned through mode-specific card packs and quests. After building a team of 6, the player selects a bounty and progresses through a randomly-generated map to claim it. Each map is filled with encounters, both of the combat and non-combat varieties. In combat, you select three of the Mercenaries in your party to place on the board. Each Mercenary has up to three abilities to use, and once all abilities are chosen combat will resolve, with abilities taking action sequentially based on their speed. Mercenaries level up through combat to become more powerful, and their abilities are upgraded out of missions using a mode-specific currency. Initially added on October 21, 2021, development of new content for Mercenaries ceased after February 14, 2023, with the only updates since being bugfixes and occasional balance adjustments.

Despite its youth, Hearthstone is among the likes of Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! as one of the most played card games in the world, and rakes in the cash like there's no tomorrow with an estimated 20 million dollars in revenue generated per month. It's also one of the most popular games to livestream on Twitch, generally being among the top three most viewed games at any given time, beating out even its own main series in viewership, and is one of the leading games in the eSports scene. Impressive, for what was once such a small project.

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The song switches from "Never fall back" to "Hurry, fall back" after Bru'kan summons the Ice Lord.

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