Descent of Dragons, the latest expansion to Blizzard's ever-popular CCG Hearthstone, is now live. The culmination of the clash between the League of Explorers and the League of E.V.I.L. will add 135 new cards to the game, a new "Invoke" keyword, a new solo adventure called Galakrond's Awakening (coming in January), and the official launch of the mega-popular autobattler mode Hearthstone Battlegrounds.
The new card set coming in Descent of Dragons, the third and final part of Hearthstone's Year of the Dragon, is widely viewed as one of the most overpowered sets to come along in years, which could lead to some interesting situations (and post-release tweaks) once it's fully out there. It was almost bound to happen, though: This is the third set to come out this year, so Blizzard would naturally be inclined to push hard to move the meta and ensure that the new cards see action.
What's more interesting, I think, is the potential impact of Battlegrounds on Hearthstone itself. The new mode has been a huge hit, and now that it's fully and officially live it will be very interesting to see if it cannibalizes the core game, particularly over the long term. We touched on this in a recent interview with Hearthstone designers Mike Donais and Conor Kou on the making of Battlegrounds: They told us that they support people engaging with Hearthstone in whatever way they like, and that if there were a mass migration to Battlegrounds, "we could figure out some system to let people who love our game gives us money."
The rollout of Descent of Dragons will also see the launch of a redesigned in-game shop, with a free Tyrande Whisperwind Priest Hero skin and card back for everyone who stops by to check it out. Speaking of free stuff, players who log into Hearthstone within 90 days of the launch of Descent of Dragons (so, today) will also get three Descent of Dragons card packs, two copies of the Shield of Galakrond card, and all five Legendary Galakrond Hero cards.
The full lowdown on what's happening in Descent of Dragons, including the new Galakrond hero cards, the Side Quest mechanic, and the new Arena rotation, is up at playhearthstone.com.