I must admit I did a double take when I initially read the blurb sent over by Blizzard for Hearthstone's next expansion and saw 'Tradeable' cards among the bullet points. Had the maniacs finally gone and done it? As it turns out, they have not. These are not cards you can swap with other players—instead, Tradeable is a new keyword that lets you swap that card with a random one from your deck. So you're effectively trading with yourself. Forever alone, etc.
Thematically, the Tradeable keyword ties nicely with the set's Stormwind setting, given that the vast Alliance City has a sizable trade district. The expansion, which is due to launch on August 3, continues the arc which began with March's Horde-flavoured Forged in the Barrens set, telling the story of 10 plucky mercenaries—one for each class—who effectively serve as proxies for WoW starter characters.
Narrative fluff aside, United in Stormwind comprises 135 cards and adds multiple new mechanics. Here's the key stuff:
Pay Mana to swap a Tradeable card for a new one
Any card with the new Tradeable keyword can be swapped for another in your deck, for a price. Drag the card from your hand back into your deck, pay 1 Mana, and you'll draw a replacement. The idea here is to add greater consistency to your deck by enabling you to swap away situational cards that you don't currently need in the hope of finding something you do. A good example is Rustroot Viper, a 3-Mana 3/4 Beast with Battlecry: Destroy your opponent's weapon. If you're not facing a class that normally uses weapons, you might want to ditch the snek. Although speaking of weapons…
Use Profession Tools in the weapon slot
Profession Tools are cards which get equipped in the weapon slot, but don't have an attack value. Instead, they have passive effects which proc on particular conditions. For example, Paladin's Prismatic Jewel Kit reads: "After a friendly minion loses Divine Shield, give minions in your hand +1/+1. Lose 1 Durability." Tools are not restricted to Hearthstone's traditional weapon-centric classes, either. Ruined Mithril Rod is a Warlock tool which reduces the cost of the cards in your hand by 1 each time you draw 4 cards. The developers told me that not all tools will affect the cards in your hand, some will interact with the board.
Complete three-part Questlines
The latest evolution in Hearthstone's Quest mechanic involves completing three steps in order to earn a new version of that class's legendary mercenary, each of which has a bonkers powerful effect. Note that you'll get a smaller reward upon ticking off the preliminary steps along the way, the idea being these Quests are less feast or famine than the old ones in the sense that you can still see some benefit even if you don't get the whole thing done.
The Demon Seed, which is the Warlock Quest, requires you to take increasing amounts of damage on your turn. However, as you reach the target thresholds, you'll do 3 damage to the opponent's face with Lifesteal, restoring some of the Health you've lost in the process. The payoff for all that sadomasochism is Blightborn Tamsin, a 5-Mana 7/7 whose Battlecry reads: "For the rest of the game, damage you take on your turn damages your opponent instead." I wouldn't expect too many more turns once that effect is in play and the Warlock player is furiously punching themself in the face with Flame Imps
Saddle up your minions with new mount spells
As our intrepid mercenaries continue their journey through Azeroth's iconic early zones, it makes sense that they need some trusty steeds. Mounts are buff spells, much like Paladin's old Spikeridged Steed, which add a pile of stats to the minion you cast it on, but also leave behind those stats when the minion is destroyed. (The idea being that what's left is the mount they were 'riding').
Though perhaps not the most exciting cycle of cards, there's definitely the potential for mounts to be powerful. The Hunter version is called Ramming Mount, costs 3 Mana, and reads: "Give a minion +2/+2 and Immune while attacking. When it dies, summon a Ram" That's a potent effect that enables instant damage, keeps your creature alive while trading, and makes it stickier in future combat. As for the Priest variant, which costs 7 and grants +4/+7 and Taunt, I'm already having cold sweats.
Another card worth calling out is Flightmaster Dungar. He's a neutral legendary minion being given to all players as a login bonus, and—as is now becoming traditional—he's got a pretty wacky effect that should have deck-builders' brains working overtime to extract the maximum benefit.
Dungar's statline of 3/3 for 3-Mana doesn't raise any eyebrows, but the fact he goes Dormant when you put him into play does. You'll be given a Discover choice from which to decide how many turns it takes before Dungar wakes up. When he does, it'll be accompanied by an effect (see above) that's more powerful depending on the length of nap. Seems like the kind of cool card that doesn't require you to build your whole deck around, but will fit into multiple archetypes. I am once again concerned that it may be quite good in Priest.
Aside from all the new Standard cards, Blizzard is also teasing a major update to the Battlegrounds mode, with a major shakeup to the minion pool and new cosmetics that include replacement Bartenders. Read more about those here.
As ever, the new expansion comes with a couple of flavours of pre-order bundles, the larger of which comes with Lady Katrana Prestor alternate character art, which is for the Mage class.
The mega-bundle costs $79.99 USD and includes the following:
- 80 United in Stormwind card packs—plus 5 Golden card packs (containing all Golden cards)
- Two random Golden Legendary cards from United in Stormwind
- Lady Katrana Prestor Alternate Hero
- Lady Katrana Prestor card back
- Perks for Hearthstone Battlegrounds that last until the next expansion
- Ve’nari Alternate Bartender for Hearthstone Battlegrounds
The smaller bundle will set you $49.99 for 60 packs, two random legendary cards, and the Lady Katrana Prestor card back. You can find the remaining cards revealed today in the gallery at the below.