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Hearthstone’s new expansion, Forged in the Barrens, is live

Time to go adventuring!

Hearthstone - a troll shaman in the Barrens unleashes chain lightning on a quilboar Image: Blizzard Entertainment

The newest Hearthstone expansion has arrived, bringing back one of World of Warcraft’s most recognized zones: The Barrens. Forged in the Barrens adds 135 new cards to the game, allowing players to create new decks and combinations.

This is the first expansion for Hearthstone’s Year of the Gryphon. There’s a new card rotation system; players have access to a Core Set, which replaces existing Basic and Classic sets. The Standard ranked mode will continue to limit players to decks comprised only of cards from the most recent expansions, allowing for the best possible competitive balance.

Forged in the Barrens introduces the keyword Frenzy. When cards with the Frenzy status survive damage, they trigger an additional effect, like doing damage to other minions or healing a hero. The update also changes the way spells work. First, spells have been separated into six schools so Blizzard can set up more complex interactions with spells and other cards. A spell will now specify that it does Fire or Nature damage, as opposed to just damage. Second, spells can have ranks, so holding onto a Chain Lightning can have big benefits as it levels up and becomes more powerful. Finally, the expansion contains 10 cards that are Legendary mercenaries. For now, these cards just round out a player’s deck and provide benefits on the usual battlefield. These Legendary-quality cards will show up again, with more detail and complexity, in 2021, when Hearthstone’s Mercenaries campaign mode rolls out.

Players can now earn Forged in the Barren packs by playing. A Tavern Pass, which offers new hero portraits, golden Legendary cards, gold, and other rewards, can be purchased for $20. In addition, the Duels game mode has received an update with more cards for players to choose as they build their deck and face off against other players.