Insert your Chuck Norris jokes here, kids, because Hearthstone is heading to The Barrens.
It's that time of the year where Standard sets rotate, with a lot more change than usual with the new Core set arriving at the same time. But nothing defines the Hearthstone meta more than the latest set, so Forged In The Barrens is the big news we've been waiting for.
The set introduces a new keyword, Frenzy, that triggers the first time the minion survives damage – an interesting shift from the Spellburst where you needed to play another card to trigger the action. With Frenzy you don't even have to be the attacker, just to survive the first damage you take.
In one example, Blademaster Samuro can Rush the board and his Frenzy will deal damage equal to his Attack to all enemy minions. In another, Druid of the Plains, Frenzy will transform this minion into a 6/7 Kodo with Taunt.
With a sense of going 'back to the early days' of World of Warcraft with a Barrens expansion, Ranked Spells will make many WoW fans think back to the days of yore. But these cards will give a deck greatly enhanced capability across the course of a game, with the card ranking up to become more powerful once you pass 5 mana and 10 mana stages of the game.
A Ranked Spell still maintains its original cost, so this isn't an additional spend, just a boost to effectiveness as the game progresses. In the Imp Swarm example, the card is a 2 cost that starts summoning one 3/2 Imp, then summons two after you reach 5 mana and three after you pass 10.
The set will also introduce new Spell School focused cards into the Hearthstone universe as a permanent addition to the game. All existing cards are being given Spell School associations, which will then work alongside cards in Core and Barrens that will start to interact with the schools (Fel, Fire, Frost, Nature, Shadow, Holy, Arcane – which leaves Death on the sideline in a WoW lore context).
The example we've seen so far is the Spirit Healer, which gives a random friendly minion +2 Health any time you cast a Holy spell. No doubt we'll see a lot more cards as the set is revealed over coming days and weeks in the lead up to a typical release timing around April.
All the usual trimmings are available for your pre-purchase pleasure – bonus characters, card backs, packs and the works, and if you launch the latest update from today you'll score a free Shadow Hunter Vol'jin card that swaps a minion on board with a minion in the player's hand. And that's either player, not just yourself...