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Hearthstone is getting 3D animated 'Diamond' cards and a revamped reward track

Hearthstone cards
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Hearthstone's sizable community of fan artists has often created cards with characters busting out of the frames to show how cool it would look. I never expected to see those designs made real, but Team 5 has been breaking a lot of self-imposed rules recently, and today pulled the curtain back on Diamond cards. These are a swanky new sort of card in which 3D-modelled artwork pops right out of an ornate diamond border.

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Note that these cards are a purely cosmetic option, rather than an additional new tier of rarity (the example shown in the tweet above is a Legendary). According to Blizzard's blog post today, "each expansion will include one or more handcrafted Diamond Legendary cards." I'm pretty sure all Hearthstone cards are handcrafted, but we digress.

You can get two Diamond cards as part of the new Forged in the Barrens expansion, which launches on March 30. Diamond Cards cannot be earned from packs, and cannot be disenchanted once you own them. Instead, the criteria for getting hold of them is as follows:

  • Diamond Blademaster Samuro: Obtained by purchasing the Forged in the Barrens Tavern Pass and immediately claiming the card on the Rewards track.
  • Diamond Bru’kan: Obtained by collecting all Legendary cards from the set.

Bru'kan is a particularly stiff requirement, even with duplicate protection from packs, given that a typical Hearthstone set will contain ~25 Legendary cards. I wouldn't be surprised if there's quite a bit of pushback over the effective cost. That said, the game is probably long overdue a coat of fresh paint in terms of the options its art team has to play with (I've long been jealous of Gwent's incredible animated cards) and Blizzard is clearly on the lookout for more cosmetic ways to monetise the veteran CCG.

Speaking of cash, the same post also detailed the revised way in which the Tavern Pass will be structured. As indicated in our interview with game director Ben Lee last month, this isn't a wholesale revamp, but rather the implementation of learnings from the (rocky) rollout of the first version. Emma will be delving into the value in more depth tomorrow, but at a glance it's clear that the rewards in terms of gold, packs and skins is largely the same, but spread out over 100 levels rather than 50 to feel better (because you're getting a dopamine hit from unlocking something more often).

One notable point of difference is that the free track now includes 13 uncraftable golden cards, with an additional golden Legendary on the paid track. Once again, these cannot be disenchanted or found in packs (though the plain copies can be opened as normal). The upgradeable hero skins being offered on the paid track this time around are for the Priest, Warrior and Demon Hunter classes, and to my mind the pick of the bunch is the Priest one—which is a shame, because only degenerates play Priest. 

One final note from the post: Forged in the Barrens will also be followed by a mini-set of additional cards, and Blizzard confirmed that this will again be purchasable with either actual money or in-game gold. Because, let's face it, it'd be a riot we could all do without otherwise.  You can see all the cards revealed so far here, and PC Gamer will be revealing a Forged in the Barrens card tomorrow, at 7 pm PDT. Paladin players won't want to miss it.

As an inveterate Hearthstone addict, Tim spends most of his time trying to explain why all Priest players are degenerates. The rest of his day is spent playing Destiny 2. Seriously, he's on it right now.