The third and final expansion of Hearthstone's Year of the Dragon is called Descent of Dragons, and appropriately enough, it's scaly bois all the way down. The new set was just announced by Hearthstone creative director Ben Thompson on-stage at BlizzCon, who promised "more dragons than has been in any set before." Above you'll find the full announcement trailer that goes into detail with some of the new cards.
Descent of Dragons releases on 10 December and will wrap up a narrative arc that's been running throughout 2019 involving the League of E.V.I.L. battling a coalition of good guys led by the League of Explorers.
Thompson said Descent of Dragons comprises a handful of new mechanics and an entirely new keyword: Invoke. Invoke is tied to to Galakrond, progenitor of all dragonkind—a super powerful new hero card that can be upgraded through three different forms. Interestingly, these transformations can occur while Galakrond is in your deck. It seems a little like C'thun, insofar as other cards with the Invoke keyword on will trigger the transformation buffs.
All players will receive Galakrond upon logging in once the set launches, so you can expect to see a lot of him. Bear in mind that each of the evil classes gets a slightly different version of Galakrond (you can see how the Rogue, Warlock and Priest iterations vary in the gallery below), but Thompson confirmed players will get all five types of Galakrond free.
Galakrond will only be available to the E.V.I.L. classes—ie Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior—but the good guys will have some potent toys to play with too. Specifically: Side Quests. Available only to Mage, Hunter, Druid and Paladin, these are slimmed down versions of the current Quest Cards. They don't start in your hand automatically, and you can run two copies of them, but otherwise they work in a similar way: Play the card, fulfill its requirement, receive a reward upon completion.
In the cased of the Mage card 'Learn Draconic', the Side Quest requires you to spend 8 Mana on spells, after which you'll receive a 6/6 Dragon. Not bad! I do wonder if Side Quests won't be a little slow to see play, given how fast the Hearthstone meta tends to be. They're also a terrible top deck when you're out of cards, but perhaps fit into decks which cycle super fast.
Bringing the fire
Every class is also being given given its own legendary dragon card. Druid gets a new version of Ysera (below), which looks like a disgustingly strong late game control card. Summon a free Deathwing? Don't mind if I do.
Surprisingly, Hearthstone will also be launching a brand new mode, which Thompson said had been inspired by the auto battler scene (think Team Fight Tactics and Dota Underlords). Called Hearthstone Battlegrounds, the official description says: "In Battlegrounds, you’ll take on the role of a familiar Hero straight out of Hearthstone history, craft a powerful board of recruited Minions, and face-off in an action-packed series of duels until a single winner is crowned!"
A new mode is something of a shock given that Hearthstone very rarely mixes up the core offering, but presumably Blizzard was feeling the heat from rival games siphoning off its strategy audience (and many of the game's most high profile content creators).
Battlegrounds will also be available startlingly soon. The mode goes into early access on November 5, provided you pre-purchase the Descent of Dragons expansion, have a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket, or were at the convention in person. After a week, an open beta for Battlegrounds will launch on November 12. Check out some screenshots and a video below, featuring everyone's favourite barkeep: Bob.
Pre-orders are live now via the expansion's official site. The Mega Bundle includes a new Warrior portrait based on the humanoid form of Deathwing (see below). Speaking of Deathwing, Warriors get an amazing new version of the iconic dragonlord called Deathwing, Mad Aspect, which attacks every minion on the board when it arrives.
On stage Thompson confirmed that the set will feature many of the best known dragons from WoW lore, plus a few the Hearthstone team have cooked up themselves. You can see the full gallery of cards revealed so far here. Let me know in the comments which scaly monster you most want to see bearing down on you. Uh, let me rephrase that...
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With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.