Hearthstone heads underground in December with the Kobolds & Catacombs expansion (updated)

As part of this afternoon's "Hearthstone: What's Next" presentation at BlizzCon, Blizzard shed more light on what to expect from the forthcoming Kobolds & Catacombs expansion, which is due out in December. Plenty of cards were revealed on stage, including examples of how some of the set's new mechanics work. You can see some of the cards, including Marin the Fox the free legendary ever player will get, being played in the footage above. 

Here's the other stuff we learned from the the presentation...

Legendary Weapons 

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The Priest card Dragon Soul was revealed earlier in the day, but now we've also seen Aluneth for the Mage class. It's a 6 Mana 0/3 weapon which draws 3 cards at the end of your turn. Drawing three extra cards every turn seems like bonkers value. On stage designer Peter Whalen said that all the weapons of the caster classes (ie Mage, Priest and Warlock) will have 0 attack, to maintain their identity. As far as I can tell the weapon's durability won't go down unless you somehow buff it and start attacking, or your opponent uses a weapon destruction card on it. 

As noted earlier today, given that each class will have one of these legendary weapons, and people will want to experiment with them, Harrison Jones is going to be an auto-include in the first week of the expansion. All players will receive one random legendary weapon when they log in after the set launches.

Unidentified Items 

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Based on the example we've seen, these cards are items that buff your minions but have an accompanying randomly-generated effect which isn't revealed until you draw the card. So at least you can control how that RNG effect is applied. Check out the Priest card Unidentified Elixir, and it's possible variants, in the gallery below to get a sense of how these new cards will function. Mission designer Dave Kosak hinted that a shield and a weapon were among the Unidentified Item cards yet to be revealed. 

Spellstones 

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Remember the somewhat unloved handbuffing mechanic? Well now it kinda works for spells. Again, each class has one of these, and in the gallery below you can check out the Shaman and Druid variants. In each case, if you fulfill certain conditions while the card is in your hand—eg gaining armor or overloading your Mana crystals—the spellstone will be upgraded to its second and then third and final form, with accompanying power boosts when you cast it. 

The Shaman card in particular seemed very strong, and could give the overload archetype a real boost. Whalen said that he felt it was the kind of card that entire decks could be built around.

More new cards!

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During the presentation we also got to see one of the most bonkers legendary cards Blizzard has designed so far. Rin, the First Disciple is a Warlock card with one of the longest, slowest payoffs I can recall. Once you've played her, and she'd died, you'll receive a card called The First Seal. Playing this will summon a small 2/2 demon and give you The Second Seal. And on it goes until you play the Sixth, which summons a 6/6 demon, and puts Azari, The Devourer into your hand. He's a 10-Mana 10/10 with the Battlecry: Destroy your opponent deck. Yup, play Azari and every card left in your opponent's deck gets nuked, putting them immediately into fatigue. 

I struggle to imagine any serious competitive deck being able to pull this off consistently, particularly given that every seal costs 5-Mana to cast, but I'm equally sure that plenty of streamers will spend days trying to do it.

You can see all the steps between playing Rin and getting Azari in the gallery above, which also includes the other cards that were shown on stage. Keep an eye out for the new Recruit keyword, which summons random minions from your deck, based on particular criteria. Just in case you were worried there wouldn't be any egregious RNG to worry about. 

For more info on the set, including how you'll receive two free legendary cards, read the original story which is below the cinematic trailer.

Original story: Generally speaking I make it a rule to avoid caves, particularly if they're already occupied, as the only loot you're likely to find are syringes and brandy bottles. But I'm willing to make an exception for Kobolds & Catacombs, the underground-themed expansion for Hearthstone which was announced today at BlizzCon. As expected, this is another full-size set, meaning 135 new cards will be added to the Standard and Wild pool when it launches sometime in December.

Every player will get Marin the Fox free

Marin's treasures are pictured below.

You can watch the typically jaunty cinematic trailer above. Sadly, the fact it has a theme song means we won't be getting a rap from game director Ben Brode this time. 

On stage Brode announced all players will receive the legendary card, Marin the Fox, on 6 November. If you're lucky enough to be at BlizzCon now, or watching via a Virtual Ticket, then yours will be golden. (Hey, it's 1,600 dust.)

I would advise against dusting him, though, because his effect is a lot of fun. Marin is a 6/6 who summons a 0/8 'treasure' on your opponent's side of the board. Destroy it and you'll be rewarded with one of several disgusting overpowered loot cards. How OP?

Take a look...

Here are the cards you can draw from Marin's Treasure Chests. They're all stone cold crazy.

As the name of the expansion suggests, Kobolds & Catacombs is all about uncovering treasures from the tunnels built deep below Azeroth by those candle-loving kobolds. As for what that means in terms of new mechanics, we're told to expect nine powerful legendary weapons, (one for each class), with unique effects.

Dragon Soul is the first ever Priest weapon

The first of the nine legendary weapons revealed so far is for Priest. Not great for smacking your opponent in the face, but pretty good in spell-spam 'Razakus' decks. I'm also delighted to note that these weapons use the correct legendary card template with dragon adornment.

It's safe to assume these will be powerful build-around cards, a bit like the Old Gods and the Quests were. Each player will also receive one of these weapons for free the first time they log in after the set launches, which is good news given the current concerns over the cost of the game

Beyond some niche interactions, certain classes such as Druid and Priest have never had weapons as part of their toolkit before, so it'll be interesting to see what deck-building possibilities are opened up. You also have to assume that weapon destruction cards such as Harrison Jones and Acidic Swamp Ooze are going to be super popular when Kobolds & Catacombs launches.

The other major talking point in terms of new mechanics is Spellstones, which are enchanted items that your hero must hold until the stone is powered up and ready to use. We'll find out more about how those work at the Hearthstone panel scheduled for 1:45–2:30pm PST today, and I'll update this story with the info and cards that come out of it.

Here's the new board, complete with dungeon crawling vibes.
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Perhaps most surprisingly, Kobolds & Catacombs sounds like it's going to have a substantial PvE element. The new single-player, called 'Dungeon Runs!', will involve starting with a novice deck and facing off against a string of battles against what we're told is a "pool of 48 unique bosses" in a randomly selected order. 

You begin with only 15 health and 10 cards. After each successful battle you'll be able to add cards from the boss's deck into your own, picking from three piles of loot after each victory. These include some crazy OP cards that aren't found in the main game (see gallery below for some examples). However, one loss ends your run, making this as close to Hearthstone-does-roguelike as we're going to get.

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Cards from the Dungeon Runs! mode (note these aren't collectible)

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Unlike Arena mode, these runs are free, and I like the sound of Dungeon Runs quite a bit—especially if you're still able to complete daily quests at the same time. We'll look to find out more when we interview some of the developers later. As ever, an in-game pre-order offer went live immediately following the announcement, with the usual 50-pack bundle on offer ($49.99, one per account) which also comes with an exclusive card back. That offer will roll out to Android and iOS app users from 6 November. 

I've embedded the initial batch of cards shown as part of the announcement below. It's worth noting that Tolin's Goblet is an example of the kind of 'awesome loot' which the new legendary Marin the Fox can net you. 

You can also dive deeper at koboldsandcatacombs.com.  

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The first Kobolds & Catacombs collectible cards revealed

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The first Kobolds & Catacombs collectible cards revealed

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One of Marin's treasures

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The first Kobolds & Catacombs collectible cards revealed

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The first Kobolds & Catacombs collectible cards revealed

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Here's the card back you get for pre-ordering.

Here's the card back you get for pre-ordering.