Blizzard announced today that Hearthstone's Year of the Hydra will kick off on April 12 with the launch of Voyage to the Sunken Sea, the underwater expansion announced in March. The new year will bring "a renewed focus on sustainability and optimization," Blizzard said, along with all-new content and updates for Hearthstone's established game modes.
"You can expect quality-of-life and other improvements, such as being able to equip a random hero skin, in-game reporting, and an overall emphasis on client-performance improvements," Blizzard promised, clearly cognizant of complaints about how buggy the platform has become in recent years. "That’s on top of our usual three card sets and a mountain of planned new content for Battlegrounds, Mercenaries, and more."
The start of a new year in Hearthstone will also see the rotation of card sets: Ashes of Outland, Scholomance Academy, and Madness at the Darkmoon Faire will go to Wild, leaving the Standard card pool to include Forged in the Barrens, United in Stormwind, Fractured in Alterac Valley, Voyage to the Sunken City, and the Core set.
Speaking of the Core set, today's announcement also detailed which cards are being cut, and which ones are returning. Top billing goes to the original League of Explorers, all of whom are back in the Core set: Reno Jackson, Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, and Sir Finley Mrrgglton.
Some people are happy about this development:
So core set just got rid of a lot of bad cards and put good ones in, very cool.April 5, 2022
Others, not so much:
Reno Jackson is a stupid card for idiots being brought back by morons who should know betterApril 5, 2022
Reno has always been a highly polarizing card because he grants a full heal to your hero (so potentially +29HP) when played—provided your deck has no duplicate cards in it at the time. Against aggressive decks this proved a back-breaking effect, but also meant games would often come down to, "If my opponent draws Reno I lose, otherwise I'm good."
Other notable returning cards in the Core set include Lyra the Sunshard, Radiant Elemental, Fandral Staghelm, Ragnaros Lightlord, Azure Drake, Wild Pyromancer, Doomsayer, Animal Companion (I should just say Huffer, honestly), Drakonid Operative, Northshire Cleric, Acolyte of Pain, and Kalecgos. This time around, Blizzard hasn't printed any brand new cards, which makes sense given that there should be less obvious gaps to fill these days. The general consensus so far is that this is a very strong Core set, with a bunch of cards likely to see play in competitive decks. The presence of Reno alone will ensure that "Highlander"-style decks are experimented with across various classes.
For the full rundown on what's coming in Hearthstone's Year of the Hydra, which will also see changes in the Hearthstone Mercenaries update schedule and a shift of Battlegrounds into a new seasonal model, hit up playhearthstone.com.