New and exciting changes are coming to Hearthstone. By shaking up the way that the game is played, Blizzard Entertainment is giving themselves more freedom to try new things without having to worry about conflicting with previous content. One of the many new things the Hearthstone community has been asking for is the inclusion of the remaining three World of Warcraft classes – Death Knight, Monk and the soon to be available Demon Hunter. This retooling of the game provides the perfect opportunity for Blizzard to do just that. Except they’re not going to. Yet.
One of the big changes coming to Hearthstone is the arrival of two different play types – Wild and Standard. While the Wild format is the same rules and cards you’ve been playing with the past two years, Standard limits the total amount of cards that can be played. This is accomplished by only allowing cards “released in the current and previous calendar year” as well as Basic and Classic cards. Standard will be the format used for all official tournament matches.
The difficulty in releasing any new class for Hearthstone is it having significantly less cards available to it than all of the existing ones. Unless Blizzard were to go back and add cards to the Curse of Naxxramas adventure and Goblins vs Gnomes expansion, any new class would be at a disadvantage. By removing all of those cards from Standard format, the number of cards existing classes would have over new ones shrinks dramatically. Once the new Hearthstone year rolls around next year, the total number of playable cards per class would be equal.
Another big change is the re-balancing of Basic and Classic cards, those available at Hearthstone’s release. Over the past two years, Blizzard has occasionally adjusted a cards mana cost or effect in order to solve larger problems. Notable examples are the changes made to Warsong Commander and Gadgetzan Auctioneer. While Blizzard has previously only adjusted cards “in case of emergencies”, they now seem keen to return to the drawing board and create a brand new Hearthstone experience. This provides the perfect opportunity to introduce additional cards into the Basic and Classic sets, further reducing the amount of cards and new classes would have from existing ones.
All of these changes are set to take effect with the release of the new expansion, but when they announced Whispers of the Old Gods on March 11, there was no mention of any new classes. Not all of the 134 cards of the expansion have been unveiled, and we have yet to hear about any changes to the Basic and Classic cards, so it’s still possible, but very unlikely.
At initial glance, this makes some sense. While Death Knights have been around since 2008’s Wrath of the Lich King, and Monks since 2012’s Mists of Pandaria, the Demon Hunter class won’t be widely available until World of Warcraft: Legion. The current alpha gameplay of Legion does give us some insight into how the class will play and its abilities, but anything can happen between now and its expected summer release. It wouldn’t make sense to have a class in Hearthstone that isn’t yet available to everyone in World of Warcraft, but that certainly didn’t stop the Blizzard from debuting the physical form of old god N’Zoth for the first time in Warcraft history as a Hearthstone card.
It is unrealistic to think Hearthstone players will be getting new classes anytime soon. Not only does the already released content limit Blizzard’s ability to implement new classes into the game, they don’t seem to think it’s a very good idea. In an August 2014 interview with Icy Veins, Senior Game Producer Yong Woo stated that nine classes is “enough complexity right now for most people to sink their teeth into” and that there were no plans at the time to release new classes. Lead Designer Ben Brode reiterated the same response with VentureBeat just last month.
The only logical time for new classes to be introduced is at the dawn of a new year in the Hearthstone zodiac. That’s the time every year where old cards are phased out and new ones are released. Whispers of the Old Gods provides a more opportune moment than any in the future because of the adjustments to Basic and Classic cards as well. Blizzard can claim there are no current plans, but I believe the question of more heroes is more of a “when” than an “if”.