Six cards from the game's "classic" set will be retired from the game's Standard format when the Year of The Mammoth begins.
Last year, Blizzard completely shook up the way we play Hearthstone by introducing the Standard and Wild formats. The first year of Standard was dubbed the "Year of The Kraken," and only allowed players to play with sets released in 2016, and the game's classic set. Now that 2017 is upon us, the second year of standard play, the "Year of the Mammoth" is about to start, and its bringing with it some big changes. Chief among them is the removal of a few, "problematic" Classic cards from the format all together, as well as the removal of the "Adventure"-style expansion.
"To help meet our goals, certain cards from the Classic set will become exclusive to the Wild format. These cards will be added to the new Hall of Fame set, which will also include cards that are currently in the Reward set," wrote Blizzard. The cards that are being retired, and the reasoning behind the decisions, are as follows:
Azure Drake is a strong Neutral card that ended up being a bit too versatile, and thus became one of the most played cards in the game. There should be more five drop options for players, rather than considering Azure Drake an auto-include.
Similar to Azure Drake, it's hard to see a card at the six mana cost out-value Sylvanas. In addition, Sylvanas has the most powerful Deathrattle effect in the game-as a comparison, the Priest card Mind Control costs 10 mana. We have exciting Deathrattle build-arounds coming soon, and in combination with Sylvanas, they would be too powerful for Standard.
Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros is heavily played in both control and mid-range decks and even shows up as a finisher in certain types of aggro decks. His high immediate value and strength at the eight mana cost made the decision during deck-building, "Is this eight mana minion better than Ragnaros?" rather than, "Is this eight mana minion the best choice for my deck type?" Dozens of cards in the seven to nine mana range never saw play because Ragnaros was always the easy choice in that range, and some decks only want to run one high cost card.
Power Overwhelming allows for extremely mana-efficient minion trades or high spikes of damage for only one mana. Keeping this card exclusive to Wild will prevent some crazy combinations and spike damage. Warlock decks also tend to use lots of Classic cards, so the decks changes less when new expansions release. This change will help increase the variety of cards in Warlock decks over time.
Freeze Mage is a fun deck that has been around for over three years now, and we'd like to see more variety with Mage decks after each major release. This move allows Freeze Mage to continue existing in Wild, while creating more variety in Standard. Ice Lance also prevented us from making powerful Spell Damage cards and designs that allowed you to duplicate your cards. Ice Lance was also a very high burst damage card, sometimes being a key component of 30 damage combos.
Stealth is a very powerful mechanic, and can also be very frustrating to play against-more for some classes than others. Hearthstone should ultimately be a game of plays and counter plays, and Conceal makes it increasingly more difficult for other classes to interact with Rogue minions as time goes on. We considered promoting Gadgetzan Auctioneer to Wild instead, but in the end we decided to move Conceal because Auctioneer has proven to be one of the most skill testing cards in the game. We think the power level of Auctioneer decreases with this change, and games where Auctioneer is played will be a bit more interactive.
This time around, instead of being able to disenchant these cards for full dust value, Blizzard is instead just going to give out free dust for every card being added to the "Hall of Fame" that you have in your collection (up to the maximum allowed in a deck).
The second big change that the Year of The Mammoth brings is the removal of the smaller "Adventure" expansions, such as One Night in Karazhan. Instead, all three expansions released in 2017 will be fully-fledged 130-card expansions. If you're bummed about missing out on the cool singleplayer content that Adventure expansions bring, Blizzard has stated that each one of the new expansions will feature some sort of singleplayer story.
You can read more about the changes on Blizzard's official blog.