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Warcraft’s cast gets reintroduced through Hearthstone’s Book of Heroes

Starting with Jaina’s very sad backstory

Hearthstone - a tauren and a gnome at Scholomance Academy look through a mysterious book Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

The Warcraft lore is long and complicated, spread across three real-time strategy games, multiple novels and comics, and nine installments of the massively multiplayer game. Now, players are going to get a chance to catch up on some of the most important cast members through Hearthstone — the digital collectible card game.

The free Book of Heroes campaign comes with origin stories for each hero class, who happen to be part of the World of Warcraft MMO’s main cast of heroes and villains. The first one will cover Jaina Proudmoore, and will launch during the second week of the Forbidden Library event, which begins on Sept. 8.

Each campaign serves as a greatest hits of all the Hearthstone hero’s moments, coming together as one CCG-driven narrative. These are inspired by the recent Illidan campaign, which was generally well received by the Hearthstone community. For instance, Jaina’s story will explain her appearance in her Hearthstone icon, but not her more recent stories — campaigns like those may come in a future update. “The potential is always there to revisit stories if fans keep enjoying the content,” said Valerie Chu, a narrative designer on Hearthstone, in an interview with Polygon.

Each story is also told from the character’s point of view, which leads to slight embellishments or exaggerations. The encounters are canon, but characters might disagree on how certain events happen, and their interpretation will play out in the Book of Heroes.

Each fight will play out differently, acting as a puzzle for players to solve.

“We’re using Wild decks, and there will be some new cards available that are exclusive to Book of Heroes,” said Chu. “Jaina gains the staff of Antonidas later in her life, and her hero power changes with each mission as we see her grow in power.”

These campaigns may prove to be one of the best tools for helping new people get into Warcraft lore, or understand the content that they missed. Some of these characters have complex stories told through World of Warcraft in-game events that have since been removed, or date back to the original RTS games.

For example, Gul’dan the Warlock hasn’t even been alive since after Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness... until the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft, where players jumped into an alternate universe, freed a mirror version of Gul’dan, and then chased him back into the timeline to stop him from his evil schemes. Hearthstone’s Book of Heroes aims to collate all these stories in one understandable experience, easily accessible to fans.

Chu says the team is aiming for roughly one installment in the Book of Heroes a month, which means the entire run will be ten months. The Book of Heroes will roll out with The Forbidden Library, which also contains updates to the game’s Battlegrounds mode and a new Tavern Brawl. Completing Jaina’s Book of Heroes campaign will award the player with a pack of Mage cards. While the Book of Heroes is free, players can pay to use a Scholar Jaina skin for their Mage hero.

The next level of puzzles.

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