Hearthstone Is Exciting Again: Year of the Phoenix Adds New Demon Hunter Class & Slew of Changes
March 18, 2020 Andrew Cheng

Blizzard just released a slew of announcements for Hearthstone, and they are quite exciting. Not only is a new class coming to the card game for the first time ever since its release, there are also a large number of changes across the board for the Year of the Phoenix. These include a new ranking system, balance changes, and an overhaul of the Priest class.

There are a lot to talk about here, so we’ll break it down to the biggest new changes coming to Hearthstone in the next few weeks.

New Demon Hunter Class Starring Illidan Stormrage

Illidan Stormrage is finally a playable Hero, and he belongs to a whole new class: Demon Hunter. The 10th class in Hearthstone has access to an exclusive new keyword, Outcast, which triggers a powerful effect when the card with the keyword is played from the most left or right position in your hand.

Another unique aspect of Demon Hunter is its hero power, Demon Claws. It costs only one mana, and it gives the hero +1 attack power. It may seem like an underwhelming hero power, but its low cost could allow for a more consistent mana curve.

Naturally, the Demon Hunter class will be available to everyone for free once they complete the prologue of the class. It’s divided into four single-player missions, which retell the story of Illidan in the Hearthstone universe. The prologue is releasing on 2 April, and the Demon Hunter class itself will be unlocked on 7 April.

More Rewarding Ranking System

The current ranking system in Hearthstone is divided into 25 different ranks (excluding the other 25 for new players), and as you climb the ladder, you’ll need more stars to progress to the next one. Well, from April 2020 onwards, this will change into a league system divided into five leagues: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Above these leagues are the Legend ranks, which remain the same.

In each of the league, there are 10 different ranks, and you need to get three stars before you get to the next one. Once you’ve reached rank 10 or rank 5 in each respective league, you won’t drop down to the previous rank; these are the rank floors. Blizzard also says that matchmaking will be based on matchmaking rating (MMR) now, so you’ll be matched more precisely with players of similar skill levels.

Given the sheer amount of stars you need to gain in order to reach the Legend rank, it may seem very grindy, but Blizzard is also introducing the Star Bonus multiplier system. Based on your performance in the previous season, you’ll get a specific multiplier, which can be as high as 10x. Needless to say, this would make the ladder climb a lot faster.

What about the end of season reward? Well, that’s getting an overhaul too. Each time you hit a new rank floor from Bronze 5 onwards, you’ll get additional rewards, which include Rare cards, Epic cards, and even packs from the latest expansion. There are also additional rewards that are given to those that reach these rank floors for the first time.

No More Duplicates From Card Packs

Here’s another sweet change: you will no longer get duplicate cards of any rarity every time you open a new card pack, unless you’ve already got two copies of all cards of that particular rarity in the set. This used to apply only to Legendary cards, so it’s great to see that it now extends to Epic, Rare, and Common cards too.

Priest Is Getting a Rework

Tired of Priest’s same strategies over the years? Then you’ll be happy to know that Blizzard is reworking the class. Not only are a number of Classic and Basic cards from the class are moving to the Hall of Fame (banning them from Standard play), a good number of Priest cards will see some balance updates too.

Of course, six new cards will be added back to the class’ Classic and Basic sets to make up for this, and they certainly look more in line with Priest’s class identity of a control-oriented archetype. This balance change will go into effect on 26 March.

More Cards Moving to Hall of Fame

Besides the six Priest cards, five neutral cards are also rotating to the Hall of Fame as part of the balance update. These cards are seen as “pushing classes in directions different than the rest of their tools,” which is why they are moving out of Standard play.

Most of these changes will take place on 26 March, with the exception of the Demon Hunter class. The new class will be released alongside the Year of the Phoenix’s first expansion, Ashes of Outland, on 7 April. These are definitely exciting new changes coming to Hearthstone, and it’ll be interesting to see how they would impact the card game, especially with the addition of Demon Hunter as the 10th class.