'Hearthstone' Announces Year of the Dragon; Baku and Genn Move to Hall of Fame

On Thursday, Blizzard announced some major news for Hearthstone . The next yearly rotation will be the Year of the Dragon, the strongest of all the mythological creatures. It will feature three new expansions tied together by one overarching story. Long sought-after features, like card back randomization, Arena wins counting towards a Golden hero and a rotating Arena format, will also roll out over the next few patches.

The Hall of Fame announcement happens around a Hearthstone Standard rotation or when Team 5 feels that urgent change is needed. Other inductees were also announced, including cards like Divine Favor and Naturalize. Two of the powerful bosses that have been shaping decks since being released in The Witchwood were also included in this round of layoffs: Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater. These cards respectfully gave players cheaper or stronger Hero Powers for building decks with only even or odd numbered cards. Odd Paladin, Even Druid and countless other archetypes spawned out of these cards, putting a stranglehold on the meta.

hearthstone year of the dragon hall of fame rotating card back
Genn Greymane is no more (in Standard) Blizzard

"Baku and Genn represent a success in the sense that it allowed for three different types of decks and ways to play per class," Creative Director for Hearthstone Ben Thompson told Newsweek at a preview event in Los Angeles. "It was an insanely interesting meta change when it happened, but it's caused a lot of those same decks to be seen very prevalently all the time."

When Team 5 looks at nerfing, buffing or removing cards in Hearthstone, they have a few boxes they need to check, Thompson said.

  • Does the card being played fall into the identity of the class? (For example, Naturalize is being rotated out because Team 5 wants Druid to trade with their minions and not have access to high-level board removal.)
  • Are we seeing the same decks all the time?
  • Are these decks changing with each new expansion or are they staying relatively the same?
  • How much fun are these decks to play against?

Even and Odd decks check off each one of these boxes. Odd Paladin currently dominates the meta, flooding the board with small minions before the enemy has a chance to respond. Level Up! was nerfed in December in an attempt to cull some of the deck's power, but it just wasn't enough. The mana cost change barely hurt Odd Paladin's power; players just replaced the card with something else." Playing against (Baku and Genn) becomes kind of boring, stale and shapes the meta in a way that in a year from now, it's not something that we would want to be playing," Thompson said.

Alongside the two main nerfs, Hearthstone will add four even and odd activating minions. Black Cat, Glittermoth, Gloom Stag and Murkspark Eel will all head to the Hall of Fame. Thompson and his team believe that with the shelving of the snake and werewolf, these cards "become a lot less interesting." Since the meta has been limited by the even/odd mechanic, they feel that they have to "go all in on the decision and commit to it." Players will be receiving a full dust refund for these cards, which Thompson said "should take the sting out of removing cards that were pivotal to decks for some players."

Like all Hall of Famers, Baku and Genn will be playable in the Wild format. The Hearthstone team currently has no intention of changing the card when it moves out of Standard. "It's something we are going to look into and change if we need," Thompson acknowledged.

Goodbye Genn and Baku, you made ranked ladder a nightmare for six months. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

'Hearthstone' Announces Year of the Dragon; Baku and Genn Move to Hall of Fame | Gaming