Early this month, word slipped from a voice actor that Hearthstone’s next expansion would be titled “Lost Secrets of Un’Goro.” Today, Blizzard has confirmed that the rumor was correct in spirit if not exactly in name: The next expansion for Hearthstone is titled Journey to Un’Goro, and it will arrive sometime in April.
As usual with expansion announcements, Blizzard today revealed a handful of the 135 cards that will be added in Journey to Un’Goro. In this case, the cards are even more telling, as they reveal some huge mechanics that we’ve never seen in Hearthstone previously.
The biggest addition to Hearthstone in Journey to Un’Goro is a completely new type of legendary card: Quest cards. If you have one of these in your deck, it will always be in your opening hand. Once you put it into play, you’ll have a quest — a task you need to finish — upon completion of which you will earn another card as a reward. When a quest is active, it will rest on your character’s portrait like a secret, though it’s worth noting that your opponent will be able to see any quests you have active.
So far, Blizzard has only revealed one Quest card: Awaken the Makers. This priest-only quest challenges a player to summon seven minions with Deathrattle effects. As a reward, they receive the legendary minion Amara, Warden of Hope. Who or what is Amara? Well...
Amara is extremely powerful. For only five mana, you get an eight attack, eight health minion, and on top of that huge value, she also will set your Health to 40 — not only healing any damage you’ve taken but pushing your character 10 health past the usual max.
While we don’t have any other examples of Quest cards, Amara gives some good insight into what to expect from rewards. Basically, if you can fulfill a quest’s requirements, you’re probably going to get something overpowered in return.
New keyword: Adapt
Blizzard hasn’t introduced a new keyword to Hearthstone since Discover in 2015’s The League of Explorers adventure set. It’s no surprise, then, that Adapt borrows some notes from that extremely successful addition.
When a minion gains the ability to adapt — as with the Druid-only Verdant Longneck, pictured here — the player will be able to choose between three upgrades from a total pool of 10. Here are the six possible adaptations Blizzard has revealed:
- Crackling Shield - grants Divine Shield
- Flaming Claws - grants plus three attack
- Lightning Speed - grants windfury
- Liquid Membrane - minion cannot be targeted by spells or Hero Powers
- Living Spores - grants “Deathrattle: Summon two 1/1 plants”
- Massive - grants Taunt
In the case of Verdant Longneck, it will adapt immediately upon being played as a Battlecry. But beyond that we can imagine spells, quests or other Adapt triggers to be included in the full Journey to Un’Goro set or other expansions down the line.
New tribe: Elemental
Blizzard has not added a minion type — commonly referred to by players as “tribes” — to Hearthstone since the game’s first full expansion, Goblins vs. Gnomes, way back in 2014. Journey to Un’Goro introduces the Elemental tribe, including the new mage legendary minion, Pyros.
As a two attack, two health minion that costs two mana, Pyros isn’t anything particularly special. What makes it interesting is its Deathrattle: Upon dying, Pyros will return to your hand, transformed into a six attack, six health minion that costs six mana to play. And when that form of Pyros dies, it will return to your hand once more as a 10 attack, 10 health minion with a mana cost of 10. All three forms of Pyros carry the Elemental tag and thus have the potential to benefit from any general Elemental buff effects.
Beyond Pyros, there are a number of existing Hearthstone cards that we assume will receive the Elemental label. The shaman’s Earth Elemental, Rumbling Elemental and Fire Elemental cards are obvious choices, as are the mage’s Water Elemental and the neutral Frost Elemental. It’s also possible that the neutral “giant” cards — such as Frost Giant, Molten Giant and Sea Giant — could fit under the Elemental tag, depending on how liberally Blizzard wishes to apply it.
That’s not all
Beyond the really new stuff showcased in the previous cards, Blizzard revealed one (1) other card that will be part of the Journey to Un’Goro expansion — and if you’ve been waiting for Shamans to be less powerful, this one might sting.
The Shaman spell Volcano costs only five mana but deals a whopping 15 damage. There are a couple of important caveats, however. First off, that damage is only to minions, and it’s split randomly among them, including minions on the Shaman player’s side of the board. And on top of that, it has an Overload of two, meaning that on the next turn the Shaman won’t be able to utilize two of their mana crystals.
Even still, Volcano sounds like a potentially very powerful board clear, especially in situations where a Shaman is behind. It also seems like a great pick for Arena. So despite some important Shaman cards rotating out of Standard mode this year, don’t count on Shaman domination to end just yet.
2017 — or the Year of the Mammoth, as it’s being called in Hearthstone — is shaping up to be a year of big changes for Blizzard’s digital card game. When Journey to Un’Goro releases, three sets will rotate out of play in Standard mode: Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers. Blizzard has also revealed planned changes to the game’s ranked ladder and to the arena mode coming soon.
Beyond what was revealed here, Blizzard still has 130 or 131 cards left to unveil — depending on whether the developer is counting Awaken the Makers and Amara, Warden of Hope as two separate cards in the set. But it also has a long time left to reveal them: Journey to Un’Goro will launch sometime in April. In the meantime, players will be able to pre-purchase a 50-pack bundle for the new expansion for $49.99, which will also net them a unique card back.
We’ll be talking to Blizzard and revealing more details about Journey to Un’Goro as they hit.