Hearthstone’s Year of the Gryphon Kicks Off with A Ton of Major Announcements
Posted by Paolo Arciga February 22, 2021

Did you catch the Hearthstone streams from last weekend’s BlizzConline? Considering all the simultaneous major announcements for other Blizzard games like Diablo, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft, no one can blame you if you found yourself jumping from one stream to another every five minutes or so. But while you were checking out those other streams, you might have missed out on some big Hearthstone news. For your convenience, here’s a recap of all the major announcements from the Hearthstone BlizzCon streams.



The Year of the Gryphon takes flight


(Source: Blizzard)


We’ve come to know the Year of the Phoenix as a year of big changes–it shook things up in big ways through a new class, a new game mode, and even a new progression system. With the Year of the Gryphon fast approaching, it seems that the Hearthstone dev team are showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to updates and changes. In the Year of the Gryphon’s roadmap, we can see that they’re planning on continuing to update various Hearthstone game modes both PvE and PvP. 


When the Year of the Gryphon goes live through the game’s 20.0 patch, we’ll also be moving on to the upcoming Core set from the Basic and Classic sets. The full Core set will be revealed in the coming weeks as the Year of the Phoenix comes to a close. Don’t worry about missing your Basic and Classic cards, though, because the Core set will be accompanied by the release of the Classic format, which will let you experience Hearthstone in its early days with cards as they were in 2014. You can read more about the Core set and Classic format here



Forged in the Barrens brings more of the Horde to Hearthstone



In the Deep Dive stream for the Year of the Gryphon, Hearthstone Game Director Ben Lee discussed their plans for expansions in the upcoming year. For the next three expansions, the Hearthstone dev team will be revisiting old Warcraft lore to bring more classic Warcraft characters to Hearthstone, and they’re starting with the rough and rowdy inhabitants of the Barrens. Home to the kaldorei, centaurs, and quilboars of the Horde, the Barrens makes for the perfect setting to introduce some classic characters like Shadow Hunter Vol’jin and Blademaster Samuro.


The new keyword to be introduced in Forged in the Barrens is Frenzy, which is an effect that triggers when your minion survives damage for the first time. Much like the recent keyword Spellburst, its one-off, time-based effect will prove handy in extracting value for each card’s mana cost. 


Alongside the new keyword, Forged in the Barrens will also be introducing Spell Schools. Spell Schools will function as “tribes” or classifications for spells, dividing them into seven categories: Arcane, Fel, Fire, Frost, Holy, Nature, and Shadow. What’s exciting about these new Spell Schools is that they’ll be retroactively applied to already-existing spells in the game, so even classic spells like Fireball and Frost Bolt will be getting a slight update with their new classifications as Fire and Frost spells.


A new game mode: Hearthstone Mercenaries


(Source: Blizzard)


Another big addition coming soon to Hearthstone is the new game mode: Mercenaries. The upcoming mode will feature RPG and rogue-lite style gameplay, tasking players with building a team of mercenaries and battling their way through a randomly generated map for new cards, items, and upgrades. A glance at the mode’s sample map indicates that it might be similar to games like Monster Train or Slay the Spire, but further details on the gameplay are yet to be revealed.


Quilboars are coming to Battlegrounds


(Source: Blizzard)


And finally, the hugely popular Battlegrounds mode is getting its own exclusive minion tribe: quilboars. The addition of quilboars was teased on Day 1 of Hearthstone’s stream, and it’ll be tying in with the upcoming Forged in the Barrens expansion. While no quilboar cards have been revealed yet, Game Designer Alec Dawson described the quilboar minion tribe as having a playstyle that relies on resource management. Will quilboars be the new value-for-gold Battlegrounds minions after Pirates and Elementals? We’ll find out soon when they roll out in the middle of the upcoming expansion.



Which of these announcements are you most excited about? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! You can read more about the upcoming expansion, the Year of the Gryphon, as well as the current updates being made to the game on Hearthstone’s official blog. And if you’ve got some time to spare, check out the full Deep Dive on the Year of the Gryphon below. 


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